The grey guilty: "dangerous" terrorists living in the UK that the government, police and security services would like to see locked up or deported...
And if it wasn't for those pesky rules about due process that successive Home Secretaries point out are imposed on us by our European masters in Brussels - you know, legislation and judicial procedures stemming from clause 39 of the Magna Carta and the like - then these dangerous people would be safely behind bars rather than recreating scenes from Nuns on the Run to evade surveillance and escape from the watchful eye of Those Who Keep Us Secure...
But let's say for a minute we do get over our secrecy hang-ups, stop blaming the Human Rights Act and start prosecuting some of these people for terrorist offences despite the risk that disclosing certain evidence might affect national security; after all prosecuting terrorists will surely improve national security by showing the bastards that we can and will get them - and that we won't sacrifice 800 years of democratic principles just because a dozen or so people might be holding a bomb in our face...
So, let's say we do all this... There will still be people living in this country whom the security services rightly deem to be a threat to national security. (Alan Rusbridger, watch out!)
And at this point there are no easy answers other than keeping an eye on these people as best we can.
After all, in the eyes of the law at least, these terrorism "suspects" are not guilty of any crime; therefore arguing they should be locked up indefinitely is intrinsically an argument against the rule of law obliterating the boundaries that keep us free.
Yes, there is a "third way", but is it really one politicians and journalists "asking questions" want to advocate?
Forget the fudge of secret courts or classifying those we don't like as "enemy combatants" - we are faced with a straight choice between:
- Trying these suspects in a democratic or accountable manner; or,
- A compromise allowing them an acceptable level of freedom; or,
- Bastardising our entire system of democracy developed over hundreds of years for a dozen people.
So when things don't quite go to plan as they have done and will continue to do, demanding "answers" from the government as the Labour party and countless journalists are right now is like asking why so many people still die on Britain's roads whilst in the same breath stressing that reducing speed limits would be a bad idea, as would having a stricter driving test, mandatory vehicle tracking systems and increased camera surveillance would be a step too far, and requiring all vehicles to be under 6 years old would be unacceptable elitism keeping all but the richest off the roads.
Yes, ordinarily the government should be forced to explain itself. But there's a fine line between seeking answers and poisoning the debate for your own short term gain.
Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, described the situation as "extremely serious". If the escaped terrorist suspect actually gets round to detonating a bomb no doubt she'll describe the situation as "very extremely serious".
Well, if I can be very serious for a minute, In such cases I wish those who should know better would take a step back and refrain from playing on the fears of the public just so they can have a dig at the government.
And, above all, if Labour do have answers I would like to know if they fall under point (1) or point (3) above.