Right, what about this for a proposition: 'The government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility to protect its citizens just because the criminal law cannot, in a particular circumstance, serve the purpose.' Is it correct then, that the that the duty of a government to protect its people is above that government's obligation to obey the law? Personally I do not think so but the above is the first 'intelligent' argument for it that I have heard and I thought it might provoke some discussion. It sounds to me like the justification of every dirty trick the CIA, for example, has ever pulled. Certainly the Mercans' enthusiasm for going ugly early in any recent conflict you care to mention has cost them every cent of the moral authority they had so much of at the end of WW2. But have all the undoubtedly illegal murders, torture sessions, drug smuggling and assassinations been worthwhile? I've always liked the quote from Nietzsche along the lines of:'He who would fight with monsters should beware lest in doing so he too becomes a monster'. But perhaps the State has a duty to behave monstrously every now and then in order to keep its citizens safe from all the other monsters out there. PS - The proposition is a paragraph from an address made last week by head of MI5 Jonathan Edwards to a security conference. But I do not know the context in which it was made and I certainly do not want to traduce a man to who (whom?), as a private citizen of the UK, I undoubtedly owe more that I will ever know about, so if we can leave him out of it and just discuss the paragraph as is that would probably be good.