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Friday, 30 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 30 May 08, 06:26 PM

Terror, consent and ticking timebombs

binyam_203100.jpgThe last Briton in Guantanamo Bay has just been charged with terrorism under its Military Tribunal. Binyam Mohammed - who says he was tortured in Morocco under extraordinary rendition - could now face the death penalty. We don't know, to be frank, if he's a terrorist. But we do know that when the very practices used by the West face eyebrow raising scrutiny, and questions of legality, the so-called War on Terror itself is in danger of being undermined.

Tonight we talk to the author of Terror and Consent - a philosophical roadmap for fighting the often intangible issue of terrorism. We ask Philip Bobbitt what methods should and could be used to protect ourselves whilst retaining the values that allow civil societies to hold their heads high.


Earlier this week the prime minister called this week the "third great oil shock" of our times. It's been an extraordinary few days. New price highs, the first haulier protests against petrol tax since 2000, pan-European demonstrations and promises by the government to help those in fuel poverty. We look back on whether we've just witnessed what might - in years to come - be seen as the week oil tipped us into recession. We'll also be speaking to a man who believes this will be the last oil shock.


It's the perfect script for a John Grisham novel - the underdog abandoned by a corrupt government - and the elaborate conspiracy to cover it all up. Tonight we look at the revelations that Harold Macmillan - in the year before he became prime minister - opposed a public health campaign on the dangers of smoking. He argued, as chancellor, that he needed the tax revenue from cigarettes and didn't believe the scientific evidence of the time was strong enough anyway. But it's enough to make you wonder what dangers we're ignoring today on the basis of useful taxation revenue.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think the only thing i am not taxed on is breathing ...... there are obvious dangers if it is taxed and i start to avoid it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Binyam Mohammed is not 'a Briton'. He's an Ethiopian. Its true that he applied for asylum in the UK some years ago but after that he left the country and travelled to Afghanistan so presumably that application has lapsed.

  • Comment number 3.

    The biggest oil shock is that we have never saved a penny of thirty years revenue, unlike Norway. The Norwegians have stashed $250 billion in a 'Sovereign Fund to allow future generations to draw from, $15 billion a year at present.

  • Comment number 4.

    Agree with Blog 2, these people are not 'British' and it is not racist to point it out!

  • Comment number 5.

    If hes applied for asylum and we were, presumably, in the process of accepting him then we have responsibilities. I am happy to see that we diligently do that. Even if he was not a citizen there is still international law. If he is an innocent man then its appalling that he is going to be executed.

  • Comment number 6.

    Re-5. Clearly deeply held feelings in this post, which do you credit. But I'm with mullerman on this. Of course, in a democracy, we'd have a referendum to ascertain whether the people wish to be subject to EU/ UNO/ International law etc.

  • Comment number 7.

    If Binyam Mohammed is not a Brit then why are all the News sources calling him a Brit? Have I just woken up in a parallel world where random people bashing on keyboards get to decide on asylum cases?

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm pleased Newsnight finally did a segment on the concept of 'Peak Oil' - however as much as I understood the piece and found David Strahan's comments on consumption really interesting, why is it no one wants to discuss what this means (even Gordon Brown or David Cameron)? Surely the West is looking at economic instability unless there is a period of social change? Both the so called progressives (if they exist any longer) and the conservatives seem to be calling the 'business as usual' card - all of which prolongs the pain and ignores the bleeding obvious.

    Perhaps a Newsnight special is on order, or a Panorama to get this debate out and current with the electorate?

  • Comment number 9.

    NEWSNIGHT'S report of terror was a good start-

    It would be important to report also on the case of the Canadian Omar Khadr-

    the circumstances, involving Canadian intelligence services, are quite similar

    An important difference was that the military judge insisted that the defense have certain data- he was summarily replaced as judge yesterday.

    Keep your reporting going!!

  • Comment number 10.

    First the execution, then the trial. I only wish my government lived up to half of what Europeans accuse it of. He'll probably be tried, convicted, sentenced to 30 years, sent to the UK which will deport him to Ethopia where he will be freed. He'll go to Pakistan where he'll hobnob with Bin Laden as a terrorist celebrity, the one who got away. In ten years his picture will be on the cover of Time Magazine.

    I love hearing Euros whine about the price of oil. Be glad you can still get it if you are willing to pay enough for it. It may not be long off when you can't get it anymore at any price.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why did Emily wear those tight shorts on Thursday ? Hope Jeremy picks up the same baton when he returns from his vacation


  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Terror, consent and ticking timebombs

    i have a limited opinion on
    this topic...

  • Comment number 14.


    how high can the barrel of it can go?

  • Comment number 15.


    It should be tax, to make it hard for people to take up this habit.

    It leads to many many health problems.

  • Comment number 16.

    Surely the governmnet needs to put some serious money into bio fuels as these are clearly the future.

    They have even made cars that run on water, why can we not convert to this technology quicker?



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