Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why nuns are not a terrorist threat

Ross Clark is glad that the European Court of Justice has annulled the EU's agreement with the US over the transfer of information on airline passengers — not least because it is a huge waste of time and money:

The obsessive gathering of information does not aid criminal investigation; it hinders it. Remember the Soham murders of four years ago? The police launched a nationwide appeal for information and were duly overwhelmed with calls reporting sightings of shifty-looking individuals, and Holly and Jessica lookalikes, from many miles away. All it seemed to achieve was to distract the police from what seemed obvious to many of the reporters covering the case: that the real culprit, the school caretaker Ian Huntley, was in front of their noses.

National security is really no different: try to monitor the itineraries of millions of ordinary travellers and you will waste many thousands of man-hours investigating people with minor irregularities, such as students whose addresses quite often do not match up with the billing addresses of their credit cards, while distracting attention from the individuals who really do pose a threat to the country.

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