Tuesday, August 16, 2005

News and Outrage

Okay, so I was concerned that the biggest news was going to be about how Iraq illegally amended the interim constitution to allow another week to haggle over differences in the governments that each faction of the country could live with. Everything from federalist options with soveriegn states to non-federalist options with provincial rule to how their supreme court would work and yatta yatta yatta. Now they've got another week, but I have doubts they'll come about a solution. The only lack of delay is that they won't have to re-elect the entire interim body to finish the constitution. But then I found this story and my whole post went out of whack. It's about our sad Brazilian that was shot in the tube by London police as a suspected bomber. We learned that he was wearing a heavy coat, that he ran into the tube vaulting the turnstile. Now CCTV evidence from the lobby and stairwells reveal otherwise:
" Initial claims that de Menezes was targeted because he was wearing a bulky coat, refused to stop when challenged and then vaulted the ticket barriers have all turned out to be false. He was wearing a denim jacket, used a standard Oyster electronic card to get into the station and simply walked towards the platform unchallenged.

It has also been suggested that officers did not identify themselves properly before shooting de Menezes seven times in the head.

In the absence of CCTV footage the inquiry will have to rely on the testimony of eyewitnesses, though many of those who claim to have seen the incident have provided contradictory accounts of what happened.

The inquiry comes as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, announced an expansion of his firearms unit to cope with the new terrorist threat.

Despite the death of de Menezes and the charging of two firearms officers with murder in connection with the case of Harry Stanley, shot dead when officers believed the table leg he was carrying was a shotgun, Blair believes there will be no shortage of volunteers for firearms duty, insisting the officers feel 'very well supported' by the force.

He insists the shoot-to-kill policy is the 'least worst' way of tackling suicide bombers and refuses to rule out other innocent people being shot in similar circumstances. 'I am not certain the tactic we have is the right tactic, but it is the best we have found so far.'

Known to his friends as Jem, Jean Charles was one of two children of Maria and Matozinho de Menezes, a farming couple in Gonzaga, a village 800 kilometres (nearly 500 miles) north-east of Sao Paulo."

Read the rest for more info on this victim. I wouldn't have called him that before, but London police are claiming cameras weren't functioning and that's the reason why there's no view of the actual shooting. Timing of reports matched with the available CCTV shots show that he was indeed in the tube tunnel before the agents called for the backup of armed enforcers. This man was shot dead for reasons that no one but the officers involved know. Seven times in the head.

"The Observer has discovered that a key element of the investigation will be scrutiny of a delay in calling an armed team to arrest de Menezes, which meant he had already entered the station by the time the officers arrived.

That delay was crucial. If the police thought de Menezes was dangerous - perhaps a bomber - the fact that he was already in the station would have heightened tension and increased the chances of something going wrong.

Evidence of this hold-up should have been provided by CCTV footage from dozens of cameras covering the Stockwell ticket hall, escalators, platforms and train carriages.

However, police now say most of the cameras were not working. Yet pictures are available of a bombing suspect leaving another station nearby, and after the 7 July attacks tube boses could have been expected to make extra efforts to see that all their cameras were in action."

Yes, you would think that after a bombing takes place, esp. the type of attack on July 7th that you would mandate all subway tunnels to have good working surveilance equipment. But again, something was fishy about this to begin with and now it's becoming obvious that either this was a scare tactic or a big mistake. Either way, the officers involved deserve to be penalized and the system should look at this incident with a fine toothed comb to discover how to prevent it from ever happening again.

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