Wolf worried by civil liberties threat

Naomi Wolf in End of America
Naomi Wolf in End of America

By Alex Stevenson

US writer Naomi Wolf has called on Britons to face up to civil liberties threats posed by the government's response to the threat of terrorism.

Her comments came at the UK premiere of a documentary based on her book The End of America, which warns the Bush administration's 'war on terror' policies have led to the progressive erosion of civil liberties.

The film argues many of the steps taken by the US government since September 11th 2001 have historical parallels in the consolidations of power seen by fascist regimes of the first half of the 20th century.

One of the ten steps she outlines in the film is 'engaging in arbitrary detention and release'. George Bush authorised the ability to declare any US citizen an 'enemy combatant', meaning they can be detained under federal law.

"It's arguable that's a rubicon. These are the divides that separate civilised societies from barbaric societies," Ms Wolf said.

She told British journalists that "I feel freer in Britain now than I do in my own country".

But in response to criticism that the link between fascism and the Bush administration's policies was unreasonable she became more defensive, adding: "When I talk to Latin American journalists they get this.

"I fear that you guys are in the place we were in 2000 in testing democracy," Ms Wolf, who is best known for her feminist work The Beauty Myth, continued.

Referring to pre-charge detention, which is currently permitted for up to 28 days in Britain, she argued: "Everyone is OK with it because they know it won't be them. Sooner or later there will be an administration that will start detaining homosexuals."

Ms Wolf praised Britain for having developed the modern parliament but warned more awareness was needed of the "subtle erosion" of civil liberties currently taking place.

"These are precious values. now more than ever these are the values we want to showcase," she added.

The End of America, a documentary by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, is released on DVD on January 19th.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.