The FBI want to know what is inside Farook’s Apple iPhone for the same reason that we wanted to know what was inside the 2005 bombers' phones. Is that so wrong?Read More
When a criminal commits a crime, they try to do so without getting caught.
When that crime is a simple one like shoplifting at Marks and Spencer, whereby they run in, grab a handful of dresses and run out of the store; that’s a fairly easy risk for the would-be criminal to calculate, in terms of getting caught.
All they have to worry about is a few CCTV cameras and an overweight security guard – all risks that they can see in advance.
Yes, the police will come and report the crime. They will take some stills off the CCTV and hopefully, all being well, some eagle-eyed police officer will recognise the thief and they will get arrested.
The police catch criminals by their ‘footprint’- the things they leave behind by which they can be traced and found. Every single crime ever committed is solvable, every one, without question. It’s just a matter of having the time, money, resources and crucially…knowing where to look for the clues.
Now obviously criminals don’t want to get caught – so they employ methods to avoid this happening. In the case of the dress shoplifter, he or she might wear a baseball cap so the CCTV camera doesn’t get a clear look at their face, and they might have a car waiting outside with the number plates removed.
The police don’t put many resources into catching shoplifters so the counter measures to avoid getting caught can be crude and simple. As the crime becomes more violent, the loss is bigger – such as that involved in a murder or in a terrorist act – then the resources used to catch the criminal increases.
For the criminal, the counter measures to avoid getting caught then have to be more considered and complex.
So, clever criminals – when they’re considering planting a bomb or cutting off the head of a soldier – know that to avoid being caught they need to put a great deal of thought into how they’re not going to leave a big footprint behind. If you’re communicating with others you need to talk in code; you need to use unregistered pre-pay mobile phones; you need anonymous e-mail accounts; you need to talk in open spaces because your car or house might have listening devices in them; you need to turn your phone off and remove the battery when you are talking ‘dirty’ because the Security Services can turn your phone into a bugging device remotely without you even knowing; you need to use chat rooms in internet cafés.
And all that is before you’ve even committed the crime.
How do you think these people are located? I mean before they’ve actually planted a bomb, or cut someone’s head off? It’s simple – the criminals have made a mistake in their planning in the run up to the actual crime – and that mistake probably involved the internet or mobile communication of some type.
So when I read: “Thank you Edward Snowden – you’ve helped us win back the internet,” or when I see people complaining about the Security Services’ and Counter Terrorist Police’s “outrageous use of RIPA” (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) to monitor us all for no reason – I wonder what these people think actually goes on in the background? Do they really think we care what porn sites they visit? How many phone calls they made to the premium rate sex chat line? What their mum had for dinner last night? That they are secretly gay?
None of that matters. We all have secrets. But when that secret is that you want to bomb an airliner, or a Tube train – lets hope that someone finds that before it happens, shall we?
You’ve not helped anyone that I care about Edward Snowden, you’ve just helped the criminals understand how things are done, and, now, you’ve put us all at greater risk.
Thanks for nothing, Edward Snowden.
The old lady sat in the armchair crying. She was holding a cup and saucer in her hand with the dregs of tea in it; the cup rattled against the saucer as she spoke. The uniformed police officer was sat on the settee adjacent to her with his note pad open.
“I didn’t actually see him, not really, but…” said the frail old lady as she put down the cup and saucer on the side table.
“Can you tell me what he looks like? Anything at all Mrs Jones?”
“Lots of people know what he looks like…I just didn’t see him myself. He is very big; massive; big muscles; completely bald and hairless everywhere; has small, mad staring eyes…utterly terrifying.”
The reporting officer made his way back to the police station after ensuring that Mrs Jones's family were aware of what had happened. They were going to come over and take her to their place for a few days. The officer had done various house-to-house enquiries – the same name had been given over and over though no one had actually seen what had happened.
Back at the station the officer spoke with a detective in the CID office:
“So you’ve got this name, but no one has actually seen him?”
“No – no one’s seen him. No one saw him do anything but everybody is convinced that it was him,” replied the officer.
“That’s no good is it? We need some evidence; something solid; something you can hang your coat on…” the detective tutted. “leave it with me – I will do some digging.”
The detective tapped the description into the intelligence computer – one name came up; the same name again. He looked at the photo. That’s him. It can’t be anything else.
I need to stop the story there…
Would we race round and arrest this ‘suspect’? How do we even know he exists? Sure everyone knows his name and is happy to point the finger; the intelligence also appears to suggest he’s the one – but what if the intelligence was wrong? What if everything on the computer and all the people naming him had all got the information and the details from the same place? What then?
I like to know facts. Evidence. Things that are true without any question.
What if Mrs Jones had been attacked by a Tyrannosaurus rex? The description fits. Everyone said the name T-Rex to the officer when he did his house to house. The computer shows that T-Rex existed. But what evidence is there? I mean really?
As a Detective you want things first hand. All the books tell me he did exist. The Natural History museum tells me he did. The internet tells me he did. There are films about him; songs about him.
There is a whole industry built around dinosaurs and their supposed existence – these people have a vested interest in us all thinking that dinosaurs existed. The first dinosaur bone wasn’t even discovered until 1676 and they didn’t even document that find until 1763.
Ahhhh – but the Greeks and Egyptians must have known about the big bones being found and this is what their mythology is based on?
Michelangelo, the great sculptor and painter was born in 1475 – and not once did he think of telling the world of these great beasts whose bones must have been turning up all over the place. Why?
We've known about dinosaurs for 250 years - what or where is the evidence of anyone ever mentioning them before? Are we that gullible? Has the 'Dinosaur industry' been having us over for years? Is it all a fraud?
Case dismissed: Lack of evidence..?