From daily The Guardian in Britain:
David Cameron gives spy agencies power to vet airline flight lists
All airline passengers’ civil liberties would be affected by this, not just the tiny minority of (wannabe) ISIS fighters
New access granted as Saudi king says Europe faces attack unless it acts fast
Sunday 31 August 2014 21.07 BST
David Cameron will make it easier for intelligence agencies to access information about airline passengers and announce measures to intensify cooperation with Turkey and Germany as the government moves to stem the flow of British-born jihadis travelling to and from Syria and Iraq.
As the king of Saudi Arabia warned that terror groups would attack Europe in the next month unless they were confronted with “power and speed”, the prime minister will hold a final round of talks with Nick Clegg on Monday before outlining the package of measures to parliament.
The prime minister and his deputy have reached broad agreement on plans to make it easier to strip suspected jihadis of their passports in Britain and to improve the flow of data about airline passengers to the intelligence agencies.
But Clegg and Cameron will try to resolve differences on possible plans to impose a temporary ban on British-born jihadis returning to Britain and plans to tighten up terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims), the successor to control orders.
Signs of coalition tensions were highlighted when Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon and Sir Menzies Campbell, two former leaders of the Liberal Democrats, criticised Cameron’s response on Friday to the decision by Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (Jtac) to raise the terrorism threat level from substantial to severe. Cameron warned of “gaps in our armoury” as he spoke of a “generational struggle” that could see an Islamic State-led (Isis) caliphate stretch to the shores of the Mediterranean.
Ashdown accused Cameron in an Observer article of a “kneejerk” response while Campbell warned that plans to impose a temporary ban on UK-born jihadis returning to Britain could infringe international law.
Campbell told The World This Weekend on BBC Radio 4: “That might well constitute illegality. To render citizens stateless is regarded as illegal in international law. To render them stateless temporarily, which seems to me to be the purpose of what has been proposed, can also be described as illegal. At the very least it is the kind of question that would be tested here in our own courts and perhaps also in the European court of human rights.”
It is understood that Clegg and Cameron do not see their discussions as a coalition row because they both respect each other’s record in speaking up on civil rights.
They also agree Britain must make improvements as it seeks to deal with the estimated 500 British citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Isis.
A further 250 are believed to have returned to Britain. Many have travelled through Germany and Turkey, which explains plans to improve cooperation with the two countries.
While the German and British governments spy on each other.
But there are differences over plans to impose a temporary ban on returning jihadis. It is understood that the names of suspects could be added to a list, which would then be sent to friendly countries such as Germany and Syria
Is ‘Syria’ here a mistake for ‘Turkey’, indeed NATO ‘friends’ of Cameron?
Or has Cameron already made a ‘Orwellian 1984 like U-turn‘? After Cameron almost started war on the Assad regime recently, only stopped because of overwhelming popular opposition (a war in which ISIS would have been Cameron’s ally), has Damascus suddenly become an ally?
, who would be asked to prevent them entering the UK.
The discussions between Clegg and Cameron are focusing on the legal and practical aspects of the proposal.
Legal advice has suggested that it is possible to strip a UK citizen of their passport in Britain as a way of confining them to the UK. But the legal advice also suggests that if a UK citizen’s passport is cancelled after they have left the UK they are still entitled to return home.
The discussions between Clegg and Cameron are focusing instead on proposals that would allow the authorities in the likes of Germany and Syria to prevent British-born jihadis boarding aircraft. They would then be taken in for further questioning, but would be re-admitted to Britain.
There is agreement between Cameron and Clegg on the need to improve the flow of airline passenger data to the intelligence agencies.
One problem is that some airlines do not release their passenger manifest until 30 minutes before flights leave. There will also be moves to share more passenger data. But this will involve stepping up negotiations with the European parliament, where plans to share passanger data have been challenged by MEPs concerned about civil liberties.
The two leaders have also yet to reach agreement on reforming terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) after David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, called for a strengthening of “locational constraints” in his annual report in March. This could ban those subject to Tpims from some areas or to restore the power to relocate them to specific areas.
It is understood that their discussions are focusing on how any changes to Tpims would have to make clear that these would apply only in the most exceptional circumstances.
In his warning, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not name any group but told foreign ambassadors on Friday that he was “certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America”, according to the Associated Press.
By Will Stone in Britain:
Vociferous Labour MP Dennis Skinner was far more damning.
Shining a light on the PM’s hypocrisy, Mr Skinner said his words “would be much more credible if he knew his own history,” referring to the fact that only a year ago Mr Cameron humiliatingly lost a Commons vote calling for British military intervention in Syria.
“Twelve months ago this PM stood at the dispatch box to try to get help to arm the guerillas against Assad,” boomed the veteran MP for Bolsover.
“Had it not been for the Labour Party he could have gone down that road.”
Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said the PM’s announcement meant that Tpims are now identical to control orders.
She added: “Sabre-rattling and thinly-veiled threats to the courts, but little detail from the Prime Minister.
“Why demand that the police seize passports on a discriminatory, dangerous basis rather than arrest those intent on committing murder and terror overseas?
“Control orders and Tpims become identical via internal exile at home, while the threat of external exile remains with the dangerous and innocent alike dumped like toxic waste on the international community.”