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July 24, 2005

Comments

Factory

"what would a rational person conclude, that the policemen were guilty of negligence"
Well that's easy, because in this case we know that de Menezes was in fact innocent, ergo the police failed in their job. That is not a problem, ppl screw up all the time, the police included.
It's the inquiries job to determine if the the screwup was avoidable, or if the police acted improperly.

As a possible weak point, de Menezes was .apparantly shot after he was pinned down. IMHO that weakens the case for saying that he has was going to blow himself up. If had wanted to blow himself up, he could have done it in the time from when he got on the train to the time that he was held down.

dsquared

Abiola, you do appear to be staking out a position well to the right of the Metropolitan Police on this issue.

Abiola Lapite

" Well that's easy, because in this case we know that de Menezes was in fact innocent, ergo the police failed in their job. "

Hindsight is 20/20 and talk is cheap. How were they supposed to have known he was innocent before the fact - through satellite-controlled mind reading rays? And what exactly would *you* have done in their shoes, put the lives of scores of commuters at risk? Had this man turned out to have been a suicide bomber who successfully pulled off a deadly attack, I'm willing to bet that you'd be amongst the very many people wailing online about the "incompetence" of a police force that failed to use deadly force as needed.

"As a possible weak point, de Menezes was .apparantly shot after he was pinned down. IMHO that weakens the case for saying that he has was going to blow himself up. If had wanted to blow himself up, he could have done it in the time from when he got on the train to the time that he was held down."

This is just plain ridiculous: the man tripped and fell on entering the damn carriage, only to be almost immediately pinned down! Even if he was a suicide bomber, he'd still have required a second or two to recover and pull whatever switch he had on him, and here you are writing as if the policemen on his trail had all the time in the world to engage in Hamletesque navel-gazing as to what course to pursue. This may surprise you, but cops want to live too!

I'm bemused by your eagerness to find fault with the actions of these policemen: it's amazing how cool and collected one can be from behind a monitor, doling out criticism to people who are putting themselves in harm's way to preserve one's own life. In killing this de Menezes guy, these men in fact followed to the letter standard operating procedure elsewhere for dealing with suicide bombers, and yet every besserwisser whose closest contact with danger consists of exchanging dirty looks with a local tough is hauling them over the coals for doing their jobs in accordance with their training.

Abiola Lapite

"Abiola, you do appear to be staking out a position well to the right of the Metropolitan Police on this issue."

As public servants they have to be emollient towards the braying mob, regardless of what they might think in private, but I am not bound by any such restrictions. These policemen did their jobs correctly, and I'm outraged that so many people seem bent on hanging them out to dry when more hesitation on their part could so easily have led to plenty of needless deaths. I'm far from being alone in feeling this way either:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4711189.stm

Abiola Lapite

Actually, it turns out that I may not be at all to the right of the Metropolitan Police after all.

http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/jul252005/foreign1742312005724.asp

["British police on Sunday defended a policy of shooting to kill suspected suicide bombers after shooting dead a Brazilian electrician by mistake in the hunt for London’s bombers."

[...]

"“I think we are quite comfortable that the policy is right, but of course these are fantastically difficult times,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair told Sky Television. Asked if the instructions were to shoot to kill if police believed a suspect was a suicide bomber, he said, “Correct. They have to be that.”

“It is still happening out there, there are still officers having to make those calls as we speak. Somebody else could be shot,” Blair added."]

I'm both surprised and impressed to see them sticking to their guns on this matter, despite the rantings of professional grievance-mongers like the Islamic Human Rights Commission and politically washed-up, rent-a-quote ignoramuses like Robin Cook.

Chuckles

I must say, the British Police have shown remarkable restraint.
Were the tables to be turned and the Islamic world to be the recipients of Terror, you can be sure mass hangings would be taking place now.
Do you know how many Nigerians have been killed for trying to bring Bibles into Saudi Arabia?
There simply is no moral justification for Moslems who stand by the practices of the Arabian world to complain of discrimination in the West. None whatsoever. You cant have it both ways.

Abiola Lapite

"Do you know how many Nigerians have been killed for trying to bring Bibles into Saudi Arabia?"

It's a funny thing - one sees Muslims complaining all the time about "Islamophobia" and not being allowed to freely practice their religion, but I doubt very many of them would be willing to be bound by similar strictures as those they themselves are more than happy to see in place where they are in the majority; the proportion of Muslims who'd like to see Saudi Arabia permit Christians to worship openly and proselytize is probably in the low single digits. The intolerant routinely demand a tolerance they would never extend to others if they had the power to get their own way.

Chuckles

[...The intolerant routinely demand a tolerance they would never extend to others if they had the power to get their own way...]

Indeed Abiola - and then they demand to have others pay or adjust to the consequences of their intolerance.

I am sure we could talk about this all day Abiola. But I was just reading a paper delivered by Jubril Aminu, once Nigeria's Minister of Education over the weekend. In that Paper, he advocated the retardation of education in the South West and the South East in order to allow Northerners to catch up. He claimed that the crises in the country was related to the "unequal social advances" in education between the 2 groups.
He said this had everything to do with the the historical advantage the Southerners had vis-a-vis education.
What he of course forgot to mention was that the reason the Southerners had such an advantage was because scores of years before, they had sent their children to study abroad and had opened up their society to education and the accompanying Xtian proselytisation. In the same period, the Northern Emirs and whatnot, closed their societies to British education and Xtianity BECAUSE of Islam; and are today suffering for it. YET, they demand that others pay for their ridiculous and knuckleheaded choices.
Its enough to drive a fellow insane!
Scores and scores of bright Xtian kids denied places at Universities in Nigeria to make way for mediocre Muslims.

http://www.nigeriavillagesquare1.com/Articles/ebe_ochonu/2004/05/opening-pandoras-box-in-support-of.html

Can anyone read the above (which, BTW, is replicated in too many instances) and not wish that such an evil ideology which holds sway over the minds of many be instantly banished to what netherrealms it came from? I for one, am done being patient. Too much suffering in this present day has been caused in the name of Islam. Way too much. Were I to be forgiving of Islam's past crimes; what about its present depravities? What excuse do they have? They refuse to succumb to reason, refuse to embrace tolerance, refuse to preach it, refuse to condemn intolerance, refuse to give to others the honor they demand for themselves, blame everybody but themselves for mysterious "root causes", chastise the West for supporting dictatorships while wishing to live under a global theocracy - what are we to do with such a bunch?

dsquared

The police are defending the "policy" (actually an administrative guidance note from the ACPO, which is a horrendously anti-democratic way to make such a major change) but not commenting on the actual case. Eyewitnesses in this morning's press say that they did not hear the police identify themselves as police. This looks like a case of panicky policemen with guns who had no reason to believe that Menezes was guilty other than that he had walked out of a house they were observing wearing a coat (on what people keep saying was a blisteringly hot day; actually Friday was quite unseasonably cool and lots of people were wearing jackets).

Factory

"In killing this de Menezes guy, these men in fact followed to the letter standard operating procedure elsewhere for dealing with suicide bombers"
1. None of us know the exact situation, so none of us can say if they acted in accordance to standard operating procedures elsewhere.
2. It doesn't matter if how they acted was ok elsewhere, it matters if they acted in accordance with standards of police for the UK.
3. The guy who was shot was a suspect, not an identified criminal.

"I'm willing to bet that you'd be amongst the very many people wailing online about the "incompetence" of a police force that failed to use deadly force as needed."
"I'm bemused by your eagerness to find fault with the actions of these policemen"
Please don't put words in my mouth and thoughts in my head.

dsquared

Actually this is a bit odd:

[In killing this de Menezes guy, these men in fact followed to the letter standard operating procedure elsewhere for dealing with suicide bomb]

How do you know? What is the standard operating procedure "to the letter"? How many warnings do you give, for example? At what point do you identify yourself as a policeman? You can't mean this literally, because we don't know what the operating procedure in the UK is, and there is no such thing as a global "standard operating procedure" for dealing with suicide bombers.

And furthermore, you don't know that they did follow any sort of procedure. We don't have any of the facts here. What we do know is that in general, whatever the industry, people who say "oh well, made a mistake, happens to the best of us" find their employees making many more mistakes than people for whom every mistake is a big deal to be taken seriously.

Abiola Lapite

"None of us know the exact situation, so none of us can say if they acted in accordance to standard operating procedures elsewhere."

A wonderfully sophistic argument which can be used to resist coming to a conclusion about anything at all. How do I know Napoleon ever really existed?

"It doesn't matter if how they acted was ok elsewhere, it matters if they acted in accordance with standards of police for the UK."

This is plain stupid. Why should the British police be expected to perform miracles beyond the abilities of policemen elsewhere?

"The guy who was shot was a suspect, not an identified criminal."

So bloody what? Nobody is an "identified criminal" until after being convicted in a courtroom, but that's no excuse for the police to refrain from force at all times.

"How do you know? What is the standard operating procedure "to the letter"?"

Don't you read the papers? There was even a long article in the FT recently about it, so your argument holds no water. What you're pushing here is an appeal to ignorance.

"And furthermore, you don't know that they did follow any sort of procedure. We don't have any of the facts here. What we do know is that in general, whatever the industry, people who say "oh well, made a mistake, happens to the best of us" find their employees making many more mistakes than people for whom every mistake is a big deal to be taken seriously."

Again, we never will have "all the facts" - this is just a truism. That doesn't mean we don't have enough crucial evidence to draw certain sane conclusions.

Now that the two of you have had a shot at picking holes in the official police line, I challenge you to now face a task more difficult than mere keyboard kvetching: what would YOU do differently in the same situation? It's quite interesting to note that neither of you even deigns to touch the issue, as if the answer were so obvious or something.

dsquared

[Don't you read the papers? There was even a long article in the FT recently about it]

I'm willing to bet substantial amounts of money at low odds that there is at least one of the following questions that has not been the subject of a media report.

1. At what point do the police identify themselves?
2. What is the precise wording of the warning to be given?
3. What steps are to be taken in order to ensure the warning is heard?
4. What standard of certainty does the police officer need to have?
5. Is the warning given before or after the gun is drawn?
6. Is there a standing order to immobilise the target if possible (in this case by tackling him) before shooting?

and so on. A "standard operating procedure" is quite a detailed thing and the fact that it isn't public is a very bad thing.

[what would YOU do differently in the same situation?]

As Home Secretary I would put major changes in police procedure in a public statement to the House of Commons, allow a short debate on the subject and then issue the guidance clearly and publicly to all armed police officers. I would also ensure that proper training was organised and funded. As a police officer, I would obey standing orders. As a Special Branch officer I would ensure that everyone involved in an armed surveillance operation was aware of exactly the status of the evidence and the likely threat. As me, I would want to see an inquiry into *every* police killing of an innocent person, in order to see what lessons could be learned.

dsquared

by the way, when you say -

[What you're pushing here is an appeal to ignorance.]

then that's because ignorance is all we have. You're claiming we can make "certain sane conclusions", but one of those conclusions definitely isn't "the Met were not at fault, this guy has nobody to blame but himself and nothing needs to be done differently in future". Since your own posts from a couple of days ago have you pretty unambiguously saying he was definitely guilty (your actual words were "Of course, all this assumes he was carrying an explosive device of some sort, but I see no reason why he'd have been running from the police if he wasn't") I'd have thought a little bit of diffidence might have been in order.

Abiola Lapite

"As Home Secretary I would put major changes in police procedure in a public statement to the House of Commons, allow a short debate on the subject and then issue the guidance clearly and publicly to all armed police officers. I would also ensure that proper training was organised and funded. As a police officer, I would obey standing orders. As a Special Branch officer I would ensure that everyone involved in an armed surveillance operation was aware of exactly the status of the evidence and the likely threat."

In other words, more talking and more publicity, but hardly a condemnation of the actual policy as such.

"your actual words were "Of course, all this assumes he was carrying an explosive device of some sort, but I see no reason why he'd have been running from the police if he wasn't""

I stand by my words, and what is more, the dead man's own Brazil-residing cousin said the same thing. There was absolutely no sane reason why a thinking human being should have chosen to run when confronted by 20 men carrying guns, whatever their origins or intentions. Even if they had turned out to be robbers rather than policemen, what de Menezes did was tantamount to committing suicide, as he couldn't possibly hope to dodge the gunfire of so many men, while simply surrendering at least bought him a shot at living to see the next day.

Andrew

"2. was not an illegal immigrant in fear of deportation, ruling out one frequently batted about explanation for his flight;"

It apparently now turns out that he was in Britain on an expired student visa, so this explanation is back in play... this may not be reason to risk death in fleeing 20 armed policemen, but human beings are not, to put it lightly, paragons of rationality, especially in split second decisions. [The same could be said of policemen, though it's hard to see how you could do any better.]

Abiola Lapite

Ah, now his flight begins to make more sense.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4713753.stm

I still think it was pretty stupid (or, if you prefer, "irrational") of him to run, though. Surely it's better to run the risk of deportation and living to see another day rather than to defy 20 armed men asking you to halt.

radek

This morning getting on the Underground I overheard a police officer and a Tube worker discussing what happened. From the half minute or so conversation I overheard, it seemed THEIR theory of why he ran was that it was precisely because the guy had been three years in London, was accustomed and acculturated to it and ... knew that British police (unlike Brazilian or US for that matter) don't shoot/carry guns - so he expected that he had a half decent chance of getting away. Combined with the come to light expired visa I think this explanation makes a lot of sense.

While I don't have a problem with a shoot to kill policy, I think this also supports dsquare's contention (if that's what you're saying) that one doesn't institute a 'shoot to kill' policy without at least properly announcing it first. It's true that the press has been talking about it since the 'incidences' but I wouldn't call that a 'proper announcement'. Note that the Evening Standard story mostly describes Operation Krossos and it's source is named as 'one source' - hardly official and very different from a Met official publicly saying a 'shoot to kill' policy is being implemented (as Ian Blair did today). And not everyone reads newspapers, or sometimes they only read Brazillian newspapers.

Also I wouldn't put the blame on the individual cop shooter at all - I'm sure he was genuinely convinced he was shooting a potential terrorist in a situation that was life threatening to himself and to the many people on the train. It could even be said he acted heroically, risking his own life for what he perceived to be a public good.

The screw up may have been in the intelligence the officer was given (apparantly different teams followed the guy from his house to the tube and confronted him on the tube) - but even here I'd be slow to assign blame as intelligence screw ups happen all the time due to the inherent difficulties involved.

Not announcing that a 'shoot to kill' policy however was clearly a mistake in a city where most cops normally don't carry guns and at least to some degree responsible for the situation.

Jim

However bizarre it may seem for a Brizilian to be mistaken for an Islamic terrorist, it may not be a mistake at all. The Tri-Border are where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguiay meet has always been pretty lawless and there is a substantial Arab community there. Lots of groups use it as a refuge. The cousin may be who he says he is, and this guy may have been what his documents claimed, and then again there may be more to the story.

IF there is and the police are still workig on the rest of some cell, they could very easily prefer to smooth things over with some apologies to divert attention.

captainblak

The guy ran because he was a white Brazilian to whom it would never have occured that he would be suspected of terrorism. Afterall, terrorists are supposed to be darker-skinned barbaric types.
At least that's what one of his relatives intimated.

Jim

" Afterall, terrorists are supposed to be darker-skinned barbaric types. "

Well, then his idiot relatives have never heard of the IRA, or the 80's, and the British have never worn gloves where Irish are involved.

David B

It is a tragic case. The guy was both unlucky and unwise. Unlucky on two counts:

1) he came out of a block of flats that had been identified as connected with the bombers

2) he went to Stockwell station, and it has now been reported that 3 of the 4 21/7 bombers entered the system at Stockwell. So if the police had any doubt that he was a bomber when he left the flats, the fact that he went to Stockwell probably settled the matter. Just what are the odds? (BTW, having lived in South London I find it odd that he should go to Stockwell to get the Tube - Brixton was closer and on the route he took.)

And of course he was unwise to run from armed police. There are two suggestions why he did this:

a) he was worried about his immigration status (thought this is still unclear)

b) he had recently been mugged and thought he was being mugged again.

But I doubt that he had time to think about it, he just panicked and ran. I suspect I would have done the same, if I were young and fit. As I am not, I would probably just shit myself and collapse.

secretworm

Apparently the policemen were in civilian dress. Obviously he thought he was being mugged. See this article:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/07/26/do2602.xml

Abiola Lapite

"Obviously" indeed. Thanks for mentioning a fact everyone on here already not only knew but had pretty much discussed to death, and pushing an obvious opinion piece as if it were an actual news article.

[troll]

[My comments section is *not* a place for trolls to cheer each other on.]

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