Stephen the First, and hopefully the Last
The Star Chamber was an English court of law at the royal Palace of Westminster that sat between 1487 and 1641, when the court itself was abolished. Initially set up as a court of appeal, it evolved into an instrument of repression. Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. In that sense, it bears an amazing resemblance to Stephen Harper’s no-fly list.
Today the CBC reported that two boys named Alistair Butt were stopped while trying to board flights last week because their names matched Harper’s list. According to the Canadian Press, Transport Canada won’t confirm if the boys are on a U.S. no-fly list, an airline no-fly list or Canada’s new no-fly list, which went into effect on June 18.
The boys, aged 10 and 15, were eventually allowed to fly, but you have to wonder at the stupidity of it all. Our government, in the interests of protecting us from terrorism is detaining children at airports while it continues to ignore what the Senate has called “gaping holes” in airport baggage handling security.
And apparently they are letting an allegedly dangerous guy named Alistair Butt roam the country at will — except for flying, anyway. If this man is such a threat to our security, why hasn’t he been arrested and tried? And if he is not actually in the business of blowing up planes or whatever it is the authorities think he wants to do, why can’t he get on a plane unmolested?
These, of course, are rhetorical questions. Rather than perpetrators, the Alistair Butts of this world are the latest victims of the so-called “war against terrorism.”
What is not in question is that this latest version of the Star Chamber has gotta go. It is a dangerous infringement of our civil liberties. It protects no one and inconveniences innocent people. It’s only purposes are to instill fear (which nicely dovetails with its criminal “war against terrorism” in Afghanistan), and appease the Bush leaguers to the south.