UK secretly allowed pirate ransoms | The Australian.
The linked story says a lot about how lost we are to liberty. The government, under various pretexts, monitors how we spend the small portion of our own money it does not wrench from us to squander. For example, I recently had to suffer the indignity of explaining to the lawyers acting on my home purchase where the money came from. The honest answer is "30 years of hard work." That, apparently, is way too suspicious.
The state has made secret policemen of our bank managers, accountants and (God forgive us) our lawyers. Many of you will feel this is a justified intrusion into liberty; necessary to defend us against terrorism and organised crime. I disagree, and this story illustrates why.
Stephen Askins, a maritime lawyer involved in more than 30 hostage and kidnap cases in Somalia, said that each ransom payment out of London had been approved by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), a Home Office police unit, and the UK Borders Agency (UKBA).
He said the law on money laundering required every company, lawyer and middleman involved in the payment of ransoms to declare them to the government.
Well, quite. But how do the press get from that to saying;
The government has secretly approved the payment of millions of pounds in ransom money to Somali pirates despite stating publicly that it opposes such deals.
How does Keith Vaz get from that to this;
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said he would be writing to the chief executive of Soca to demand an explanation. “I am very concerned that the public position of the government seems to be at odds with what it is doing privately. I’m very surprised to hear about this. Soca is designed to tackle organised crime, not to keep organised crime going,” he said.
Can no-one else see the difference between checking that a payment is not from the proceeds of crime and "approving" an innocent citizen's reluctant payment of his own money to criminals? Can no-one else see the difference between being unhappy about people having to do something and prohibiting them from doing it with the full force of the law? No? Well then you see why I don't want government involved at all in things that don't concern it. Once the government is in the picture, mini-minds such as Keith Vaz (and most British journalists), believe that all must do exactly as it orders.
The pirates are the criminals here, not the hapless business people ransoming back their own employees and vessels. If you were being mugged on the street, how would you feel if the government wanted to make your handing over your stuff illegal? Especially if the government in question had taken the muggers in question into custody and released them again as the Royal Navy did on government orders with the Somali pirates it captured?
If it were not for the offensively intrusive money laundering laws which make all transactors guilty until proven innocent, these transactions would take place entirely off the government's radar.
Rather like the piracy in fact.