Brits need nuclear attack subs like a homeless dude needs to buy a rocket launcher

I wrote a joke the other day, along the lines of: “Our greatest fear is that we die alone – which is why I intend to take quite a few people with me.” And it would be funnier, I suppose, if it didn’t constitute Britain’s actual policy on defence.

…Trident, we’re told, symbolises Britain’s place in the world. Of course, I understand Cameron saying he thinks Britain is still a great country…but we don’t actually have much sense of history, and don’t really travel, so it seems odd that we’re being told to spend hundreds of billions of pounds projecting a version of ourselves that we barely understand on to people we will never meet…Persuading austerity Britain to spend billions on Trident is like convincing a tramp he needs a bazooka.

What is the British way of life? What do we value? Daytime drinking; freedom of speech (for anybody who isn’t joking); a big centre-forward who can hold the ball up; making drunken, sexual online threats to respected academics; hating people from a broadly similar town 30 miles away…and whatever the opposite of reading a history book is. I’m not saying it’s all bad…Perhaps we need to face up to the fact that Britain is becoming a sort of redneck country that doesn’t give a shit about education or health, but needs to have the latest weapons…

…The officers in charge of launching the missiles are trained to “fire and forget”. That’s fire up to 160 nuclear warheads, and forget that the world has been reduced to a cursed sandscape where the strongest mutants will rule as Petrol Sheriffs. The government insists that we are prepared for cyber attack, but to be honest we’re rarely prepared for snow in winter. Having Trident – which genuinely has an operating system called Windows for Submarines – might almost be like a half-hearted suicide attempt…

In the final moments of life on Earth, someone will think of arranging their hands to make a shadow puppet, creating a dragon or a dove to be immortalised by the bomb. They’ll know that nobody will ever see it, but they’ll do it anyway. And this, I think, is what it is to be any kind of artist these days, with no posterity to address but still compelled, for reasons you don’t understand, to work in the terrible now.

I’ve sliced and diced this a bit to fit Frankie Boyle’s rant into a reasonable blogging space. Please RTFA – especially if you’re the sort of proper football fans we are in my household. You’ll get all the innuendo as well as any student of global politics.

“Windows for submarines?” Har.

Feds want Indefinite prison time for suspect who won’t decrypt hard drives

US federal prosecutors urged a federal appeals court late Monday to keep a child-porn suspect behind bars — where he already has been for seven months — until he unlocks two hard drives that the government claims contain kid smut.

The suspect, a Philadelphia police sergeant relieved of his duties, has refused to unlock two hard drives and has been in jail ever since a judge’s order seven months ago — and after being found in contempt of court. The defendant can remain locked up until a judge lifts the contempt order.

The government said…he should remain jailed indefinitely until he complies. The authorities also said that it’s not a violation of the man’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination because it’s a “foregone conclusion” that illegal porn is on the drives and that he is only being asked to unlock the drives, not divulge their passcodes…

The suspect has not been charged with any child-porn related crimes, yet he is imprisoned in Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center for refusing to decrypt two drives encrypted with Apple’s FileVault software in a case that highlights the federal government’s war on encryption. A federal magistrate has ordered him imprisoned “until such time that he fully complies” with the decryption order.

The man’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Keith Donoghue, is demanding that the appeals court immediately release his client from prison because he is being “held without charges.”…

In winning the contempt-of-court order, the authorities cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel the suspect to decrypt. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple, in which a magistrate judge ordered Apple to produce code to enable the FBI to decrypt the iPhone used by one of two shooters who killed 14 people at a San Bernardino County government building in December. The case was dropped when the authorities paid a reported $1 million for a hack.

The Supreme Court has never addressed the compelled decryption issue.

Not that I have any confidence in the current Supreme Court – or whatever it turns out to be after the next elections. Defending the Constitution – much less evaluating constitutional freedoms in the 21st Century – is not something today’s crap conservatives care about. It simply isn’t important in an era perfectly willing to establish a police state as the law of the land.

We have been down this road before. Most famously in the tail end of the McCarthy Era, a judge in New Hampshire ordered Dr, Willard Uphaus held in contempt of court for refusing to turn over a list of everyone who attended his World Fellowship camp. Folks interested in global peace gathered in Albany, New Hampshire in convocation for decades. Willard Uphaus refused to collaborate in a witch hunt led by the state’s attorney general and the result was imprisonment under court order. One of the most despicable violations of constitutional rights in a period notorious for teetering on the edge of fascism.

Eventually, Dr. Uphaus was released. All we have today is a different set of scumbags ready and willing to enable what properly is called a police state. There always is a scurrilous reason to cloak the appeal of coppers and crooked judges. The point remains, folks – we can’t protect the rights of individuals unless we protect the rights of everyone.