Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Misuse of "National Security"

This week I heard two stories that got my interest. The first was the announcement of a lawsuit being brought by five environmental groups against the US Navy. The lawsuit attempts to prevent the navy from performing active sonar exercises in the area around Hawaii. Active sonar is damaging to whales and other marine mammals.

The second was the results from a lawsuit brought by former residents of the Chagos Islands against the UK government. The Chagos Islands are a British Territory in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The residents were moved from there to make way for the Diego Garcia air base, which it has turned out was funded by a secret agreement between the US and Britain. The former residents and their families want the right to return to the Islands. The Court of Appeals sided with the former residents.

What do these two cases have in common? In both cases the government has claimed their defense on "National Security".

The first case is actually only part of a long controversy over the Navy's sonar. The Navy has previously claimed that testing of the sonar is necessary for "national security". In the case of Diego Garcia, the UK government has lost previous cases, but tried to sidestep them by claiming royal prerogative - which means they can bypass parliament.

Frankly, I am tired of hearing the "national security" defense (or should I say excuse) anytime that any military or other organizations does want to do what everybody has to. I have seen the defense used to avoid the environmental laws, to stifle freedom of speech and press, and even to commit murder (aka assassination).

Conclusion, the national security excuse should be abolished by all government in this world.

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