UK: Head of MI5 warns of the need to erode civil liberties in the fight against terrorism

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Below is the text of a speech given by the Director-General of MI5 (the UK's Security Service) in the Hague, Netherlands on 1 September 2005. The message, and the language, are very familiar: "the world has changed" (Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister and Charles Clarke, Home Secretary") and the need to protect our "way of life" (Tony Blair, Javier Solana) against terrorist attacks. She argues in favour of mandatory data retention of traffic data on all communications, hints at the need to introduce plea-bargaining (under "intelligence interviews") and that intelligence is often fragile, too "fragile" to bring before a court but that action is required.

"I think that this is a central dilemma, how to protect our citizens within the rule of law when intelligence does not amount to clear cut evidence and when it is fragile. We also, of course, and I repeat in both our countries and within the EU value civil liberties and wish to do nothing to damage these hard-fought for rights. But the world has changed and there needs to be a debate on whether some erosion of what we all value may be necessary to improve the chances of our citizens not being blown apart as they go about their daily lives."



"I am delighted to be here to celebrate the 60th Birthday of the AIVD. The friendship between the AIVD and my Service, the British Security Service - commonly known as MI5 - pre-dates even those 60 years.

I quote from a note in our files from 1946: "The friendly relationship, established during the war, with the Dutch Security Service in London continues to operate with very satisfactory results". In celebrating the birthday, I am here, not only to represent the UK, but as a symbol of all the friends of this Service and there are many throughout the world.

Perhaps that is my first message. One of the strengths we have in facing a global, international threat is long-standing intelligence relationships of trust and co-operation in Europe and further afield, created and nurtured in the case of the UK and the Netherlands over 60 years. That relationship has been tested in adversity. It is strongly-forged and, for someone with a career such as mine, a professional intelligence officer for over 30 years, the relationship means a great deal.

One of my first visits overseas as a young officer was to The Hague and, after a fascinating trip to the Mauritshuis, I remember very well meeting a Dutch officer of this Service who had been in the resistance in the Second World War while still a teenager. He had been sent to Buchenwald where he had survived because he worked as a Russian interpreter. His career was focussed first on fighting the threat from fascism then, by the time I met him, on countering terrorism.

Although I was born three years after the war and I do not speak Russian or, indeed, Dutch, and my experience was slight whilst his was extensive, we spoke a common language as we do today. Then and now the AIVD and the British Security Service understand each other and agree on the role of a modern, professional security service in a democracy. That role is to defend that democracy from substantial threats to its security and to protect, as far as possible, the way of life of its people. So, when Sybrand van Hulst invited me to speak on this occasion about the threat of international terrorism and the dilemmas in countering it, I had no hesitation in accepting his invitation.

I accepted the invitation to speak before the terrorist attacks in London in July. It is significant that we received from the AIVD an early message of sympathy and support, followed by constructive help. My Service received many offers of help from our friends around the world and our friends just acr

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