Europe Toughens Up On Terror

The International Herald Tribune reports that, across a broad front, European countries are taking a “harder line with terror suspects”:

[M]any European governments, including some that had criticized the United States for its antiterrorism measures, have been extending their own surveillance and prosecution powers.

Most of Britain’s new counterterrorism legislation, which outlaws the vaguely worded “glorification” of terrorism, came into force on Thursday. Italy and the Netherlands have relaxed the conditions under which intelligence services may eavesdrop. French legislation recently gave investigators broader access to telephone and Internet data. German legislation being drawn up seeks to allow intelligence services easier access to bank and car registration records.

The most contentious areas concern treatment of terror suspects…. Several European countries are extending the length of time suspects who have not been charged may be held or restricted in their freedom.

Some nations have been seeking ways to deport suspects even if torture is practiced in the suspects’ home countries. That brushes uncomfortably against major United Nations and European treaties that forbid deportations if the suspect faces a risk of torture.

The predominant tone of the IHT’s piece is one of fretting about civil liberties. But European officials who are responsible for their citizens’ safety, like those in the U.S., find themselves compelled to take a more balanced view:

“We always think about the rights of the terrorists,” said August Hanning, Germany’s deputy interior minister and a former intelligence chief. “But if there is an attack that you could have prevented, you also have to be able to look into the eyes of the relatives.”

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