May. 27th, 2009 12:41 pm
webofevil: (all hail)
A police officer who admitted altering his notes about the death of Jean Charles de Menezes has been cleared following an inquiry. The Special Branch officer deleted text from his computer note before speaking to the inquest in October last year.

The IPCC said the officer, known as “Owen”, had acted naively, but found no evidence of deliberate deception.

Last October, the officer told the inquest he deleted a line from computer notes which quoted Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick. The note had originally claimed Dick had initially said the electrician could “run onto Tube as not carrying anything”. But at the inquest he said: “On reflection, I looked at that and thought ‘I cannot actually say that’.” The officer, a supervisor in the operations room at Scotland Yard, told the court he had removed the line because he believed it was “wrong and gave a totally false impression”. [BBC]

So this man altered his notes so that there was no record that Menezes was believed not to be carrying anything. Another officer altered the surveillance log after the event, though admitted doing so only after forensics revealed that the alteration had been made:

Part of [the log], in Laurence’s handwriting, read: “A split second view of his face. And I believed it was not NT.” NT is the acronym for Nettletip, the code name for failed July 21 suicide bomber Hussain Osman.

Scientific analysis showed that the words “and” and “not” were added after the rest of the entry.

Laurence had been given “words of advice” over the incident, but his senior officers had accepted he had not changed the log with “wrong intent”, the inquest heard. [BBC]
The evidence from surveillance officer “Ivor” in that same story is worth quoting:

The surveillance officer said Mr de Menezes was wearing appropriate clothes for the weather that day, noting: “He was dressed virtually identical to myself.”

Mr Mansfield told the inquest Mr de Menezes had his denim jacket undone “at all times” and was not carrying a bag.
Or, to put it another way, he was wearing unseasonably bulky clothing and carrying a bag, had been acting suspiciously on the way to the underground, was challenged by officers in the ticket hall, vaulted over the ticket barriers to get away from them and ran on to a train where armed officers chased and overpowered him, at which point he again acted aggressively exactly like a suicide bomber, which is why they had no choice but to shoot him in the head. All of which, apart from the “overpowering and shooting in the head” part, is a complete fabrication, but was submitted as fact in the initial police evidence to the post-mortem.

That makes three verifiable falsifications in this case. Then there’s the claim by the police that the CCTV system was not working in Stockwell tube that day, which is at some variance with the staff’s claim that it was working fine and they had in fact handed the tapes over to the police. There are the claims by the police, both official and leaked, that de Menezes’s death was linked to, variously, (a) his visa status, (b) his occasional cocaine use or (c) a rape allegation that was quickly found to be false. And, looming over all this, there’s the fact that we probably wouldn’t know the half of any of this if someone working at the IPCC hadn’t leaked the details to the press because she was not confident that they would ever be released in full to the public.

The lesson here: try not to get mistaken for someone of a completely different ethnicity and then shot by CO19 due to massive human error because, although in the end the truth will probably stagger wheezily into view, in the meantime the Met, as well as covering their own tracks, will do everything to discredit you up to, but not excluding, exhuming your body and filming it having sex with a child.
webofevil: (Default)

“We just can’t find them sexy since they had that man shot in the face,” said the spouses of (contd.)
webofevil: (Default)

Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair last night declared his force’s investigation into its handling of the reckless and violent suicide of Jean-Charles de Menezes “a glittering success”.

“I feel vindicated,” he told reporters on the steps of New Scotland Yard. “I’m glad it has finally been proved that my force is, in some respects, more blameless than the infant Christ.”

The Met chief put to rest lingering questions about de Menezes’s motive for apparently running amok in July 2005. “He had rage and hatred in his heart,” said Sir Ian. “He knew his UK visa had run out, and he hated our freedom. We can only imagine the carnage his cocaine-fuelled rampage could have resulted in. But the moment our officers intervened by politely asking him to stop, he knew the game was up. From then on it was simply a question of self-defence.”

Sir Ian played down claims that the outcome of the investigation might have been different if it had been conducted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. “That’s absurd,” he said. “The IPCC would quite naturally have arrived at exactly the same conclusions. No-one can doubt our impartiality and professionalism, thanks to the recent Aspersions (Police, Armed Forces Etc.) Abolition Act.” [BBC]
The force has also released a picture showing how de Menezes had transformed his appearance to look as much like a black man as possible in order to fool the police into thinking he was bombing suspect Hussain Osman:

webofevil: (Default)
This is, honestly, a picture the Met have presented to the court as a central pillar of their defence; a composite shot of two men who don’t really look very much alike but who do admittedly have short black hair.

The defence is taking the robust line that the prosecution hasn’t a clue about actual policing and that everything was done as well as it could have been. Presumably that includes falsifying transcripts by inserting the word “not” and submitting a false report to Menezes’s post-mortem. Are you reassured yet?
webofevil: (Default)
The information emerging from the trial of the Metropolitan police over the killing of Jean-Charles de Menezes is compelling. In a fine bit of slapstick, “one armed officer put a gun into a colleague’s chest and a Tube driver was chased down a tunnel”, while upstairs in Stockwell ticket hall Special Branch officers entertained passengers with an uproarious custard pie fight involving a pantomime horse.

There has been carping in some quarters about the fact that the only prosecution being brought against the Met for de Menezes’s death is over health and safety, but don’t underestimate the impact of this trial on the force. They will be forced to make sweeping changes—mainly, the introduction of new signage:

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Snatching this month's coveted “What Do You Have To Do To Get Fired Around Here?” award from the alcoholism counsellor with several previous convictions for fraud, Cressida Dick, the woman who oversaw the unsuccessful test drive of Operation Kratos, has just been promoted.

Because a member of the army reconnaissance team assigned to watch a block of flats left his post for a crafty piss and so missed the moment when Jean-Charles Menezes left the building, no-one knew whether or not Menezes was a potential suicide bomber. The evidence against: He had just come out of a suspect block of flats thought to house one of the 21 July terrorettes. In his favour: The fact that our incontinent hero saw enough of him to identify him as white European, which is the one thing the terrorettes definitely weren’t.

As the surveillance team followed Menezes they became more and more certain that this was not their man. All the aspects of his behaviour later raised by a sceptical public—not acting suspiciously, not carrying or wearing anything suspicious and bulky, being Brazilian—were already fairly obvious to officers on the ground. By the time they got to Stockwell they were convinced, and said, that Menezes was no risk, which is why they were happy to let him board a tube train. They knew he might make a useful witness, living in the same block as Hussein Osman was believed to.

They didn’t know that at one point during the caper one Special Branch officer had positively identified Menezes as Hussein Osman. Based on what, no-one knows, but that was the entry in the log that was later amended by cunningly adding the word “not”. Despite the fact that all other officers at all other times said, with varying degrees of conviction, “This is not our man”, A Certain Someone in charge that day (I’m told it’s all right if I say it rhymes with “Cessida Drick”) appears to have made her decision on the basis of that one guy that one time, and unleashed the men with guns.

The IPCC’s report on the shooting is due soon. This is the report Sir Ian Blair fought so hard to block, presumably because the Met’s own report initially had Menezes just falling on some bullets that were lying around in the carriage, or begging officers to shoot him and end it all, or, get this, I’m on a roll now, he acted threateningly and vaulted the barrier to escape from pursuing policemen! All right, I’m kidding. Obviously no police officer would actually falsify a report like that.

Chances are we'll get a traditional British establishment I Ching-influenced judgment: Bad things happened. No blame. Impartial, impassive, impotent. Can’t be anything else when someone’s pension is on the line.

The police are doing an incredibly tough job in extraordinary circumstances, you say? I entirely agree, which is why it might be better to bestow greater operational responsibility on someone who hasn’t been at the helm of such a fuck-up. Apart from anything, it looks bad. Just as in Social Services, all the emphasis seems to be on protecting people’s jobs rather than actually addressing what’s gone wrong. Plus Menezes’s family are quite miffed, although obviously in matters like this grieving relatives rank somewhere below “coroner’s au pair”.

[Poll #819852]

In related news, the post-mortem has revealed that eleven shots were fired in total on the train: seven into Menezes’s head, one in his shoulder and three that missed. That’s two men, either SAS-trained or themselves special forces, pinning a man to his seat, firing at point blank range and missing him three times. I wouldn’t even begin to question the SAS’s hardness, but on this evidence, given a firearm and a human face, Dick Cheney has a better strike rate.
webofevil: (yikes)

Vaguely alleged terrorist Abul Koyair, apparently underwater

Ah, the sounds of an English summer. The drone of excuses, the smack of truncheon on Muslim. “Nobody identified themselves as police as they stormed in wearing terrifying black hoods and started bashing them over the head,” says the lawyer for the men who were attacked by officers acting on “specific intelligence”. This last phrase is routinely used so reverently you’d think the speaker had just found the mummified remains of Christ, as if the police’s intelligence-gathering hadn’t been exposed as effectively fucking useless in last summer’s hilarious south London romp. (“Sir, we’ve shot a Brazilian in Stockwell.” “Oh my God, how many’s a Brazillion?”, etc.)

The question isn’t “Why did they shoot?” but “Who had convinced them they were about to face down swivel-eyed terrorists in the first place?” Where are they getting this duff intelligence from? I’d really like to think that there's good work going on that we don’t hear about, actual intelligence being acted on and dealt with quietly, but high-profile all-guns-blazing actions like this that produce no results don’t inspire confidence.

The ex-commander of the Met Flying Squad said he thought the raid was “very unprofessional... If you’re going to mount an operation like this, you want to have enough evidence to charge people with a criminal conspiracy... You don’t go in on the speculation that you might find the product.” If the Sweeney is telling you you’re being too eager and heavy-handed, you might be due a rethink.

Does the fact that Mohammed Kahar was shot in the shoulder indicate crap marksmanship or a deliberate shift in policy? And if he had died, would we now be facing another sorry round of “the dog ate my homework” from Special Branch?

Leaked official report damns Met bosses for de Menezes shooting  )
webofevil: (yikes)
So today is officially National What The Hell Happened There? Day, and Panorama is going out tonight while I'm here at work, dammit. Given what we now know about Special Branch's desperate attempts to occlude their every fuck-up, it's amazing de Menezes wasn't found with the gun in his hand and a note saying "ITS A FAIR COP I DUN IT SARGE".

Silver linings:

(1) Jean-Charles de Menezes no longer poses a threat to British security.

(2) He now has his own Wikipedia entry.

Unsettling and criminally negligent events like this demand stern, illiberal responses, such as this from the BBC's Have Your Say page:
I bet these so-called “liberals” who object so much to the shooting wouldn’t complain if it was a terrorist who got shot when he was about to blow himself up, or even if someone else got shot by accident on the scene as long as the terrorist was killed at the end of it. Once again it’s one rule for them and another for terrorists and innocent bystanders.
A moment's scrutiny will reveal that this “rule” makes no sense. “Don't shoot me, but do shoot innocent bystanders” is not something any “so-called liberal” has ever said. This has not deterred one reader (so far) from unreservedly recommending the comment. I have also awarded myself bonus points for the use of the phrase “Once again it's one rule for them...”. I invite those with a modicum of free time to join me in this weird, fetid pit that passes for a representative snapshot of public opinion and see if we can't make Joe Omnibus out to be even stupider than he already is.
webofevil: (Default)
Look, I (and, I suspect, you) don’t want this journal just to become

so I’ll keep this update brief:

* The policemen responsible for de Menezes’ death lied in almost every pertinent detail on the form they submitted for his post-mortem (bulky jacket, ran when challenged, vaulted the barrier etc etc).

* Senior sources from the Underground have apparently claimed that there were tapes in the platform CCTV cameras, and at least three out of the four were working. However, the police sent back tapes after the incident saying “Sorry, these are no good to us – they’re blank”. These are the cameras that would have captured de Menezes’ behaviour on the platform and confirmed whether or not his behaviour was in any way “threatening”.

Or is a month officially considered long enough these days that we’re now required, in the words of one of Britain’s most inspirational orators, to "put this behind us and move on”?
webofevil: (Default)
Right. So it turns out that police weren't able to corroborate the surveillance officer's hunch that Jean Charles de Menezes (fig. 1) was Shepherd's Bush terrorette Hussain Osman (fig. 2), because he was having a piss when de Menezes appeared and therefore couldn't video him to check his identity.

Fig. 1 - Jean Charles de Menezes
Fig. 2 - Hussain Osman
Fig. 3 - Stan Collymore, [ profile] cornfedpig's mistaken-identity victim of choice

* Police instructions were to stop de Menezes getting to the Underground station at all costs. This, you cannot fail to have noticed, was not done.

* Instead of the suspiciously bulky "winter jacket" he was said to have had, he was in fact wearing a thin denim jacket.

* Rather than vaulting the ticket barrier at Stockwell tube, as police claimed, he picked up a copy of Metro and walked normally through the barrier; walked, in fact, on to the platform and on to the train. He did this because the police tailing him issued no warnings.

* Once on the train, he was pinioned to his seat by an officer who restrained both his arms. It was in this position that he was shot seven times in the head. Apart from any other questions this raises, it makes a mockery of the idea that his upper body was a no-go area for fear of setting off any impact-detonated explosives.

* Curiously, all the CCTV cameras in the station that could have caught any of this on film "were not working" on the day, so "no film exists" (although we now know the one on the train was working).

* The Met Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, spent the hours following the shooting trying desperately to persuade the Home Office and No. 10 to let the Met investigate the incident themselves, rather than allow it to be handled by an independent body. To his credit, Charles Clarke declined Sir Ian's selfless offer.

Under the circumstances, I think we are permitted to raise a quizzical eyebrow.

De Menezes' family are demanding a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death. The very fact that they have to ask is testament to our ruling elite's notion of justice, and indeed to the ever-bruited British "sense of fair play". For all the noise currently being made about this risible snafu (Carry On The Day Of The Jackal?), it's entirely conceivable that there won't be an inquiry at all.

The fact that the Brazilian police have no qualms about gunning down anyone who gets in their way has been raised in some quarters as some kind of debating point here. I suggest that we shouldn't have to resort to comparing our police force to sinister Latin American paramilitaries before we can start to identify its positive aspects, otherwise we're in more trouble than we thought.


Jul. 28th, 2005 02:03 am
webofevil: (Default)
On Wednesday, police captured Yasin Hussan Omar, one of the would-be bombers from last week’s failed attacks.

According to the BBC, they took the rucksack he was carrying, suspecting it was full of impact-detonated high explosives, and threw it out of the window.

Meanwhile, ex-Met Commissioner Lord Stevens is becoming so hawkish on the issue of terrorism that he’s in danger of losing as much perspective as the terrorists: “My heart goes out, not to [Jean Charles de Menezes’s] family, but to the man who pulled the trigger”, he wrote in Sunday’s News of the World. Isn’t there maybe room in the noble Lord’s heart for both? Or did de Menezes somehow have it coming?
webofevil: (Default)
You don't need me to tell you that the death—the execution—of an innocent man on the Underground is a disaster. Still, here I am anyway.

One thing I have to stand by, though, however hard it is to swallow, is the decision to fire. Jean Charles de Menezes was, at that moment, a suspected bomber, and the second he ran on to that train the officers’ range of options dwindled to a single point. It’s not the man who pulled the trigger who should bear the brunt of the shitstorm that’s about to fall—although he's almost certainly the one who'll be charged—but the people who provided the “intelligence” and “leadership” that led straight down to Stockwell’s northbound platform.

Incidentally, that’s how you get to my station from Stockwell. Oval is the next station north. That's the route New York Boy took on Thursday, when he tried to blow himself up next to a mother and child, at the station next door to where I live. This is a big part of the reason my initial reaction on hearing of the shooting was relief. Like many people—including, apparently, every single news editor—I assumed this had to be one of the suspects. Stockwell, for God’s sake, it had to be, too much of a coincidence. But then clearly the police were also operating on assumptions.

They say he emerged from a house they were surveilling in Tulse Hill. They followed him to the Tube, where they challenged him. He panicked and vaulted the barrier, and the rest, we know the rest. Was it a shared house? Had he, as he was an electrician, been working there? Were there any other conceivable reasons for his presence? If they thought he was that much of a potential threat, why didn't they intercept him before he got to a crowded Tube station? Why didn’t they surround him, then or before? How did it get so out of control so fast? I don't want to be too much of an armchair general, but these questions have to be asked. And some answers wouldn't go amiss.

If, as the Daily Mail salivated, these officers are “SAS-trained”, is that potentially more of a problem than a benefit? Possibly so, if, the first time the police’s unpublished guidelines on how to react to a suspected suicide bomber in a public place are put into action, an innocent man is shot in the head. The SAS pride themselves on playing by “big boys’ rules”—you want to carry weapons and play soldiers, you accept the risks. De Menezes was doing neither, which perhaps the training should take into account.

Even before today I was worried that, for all the talk of London “standing united", the ultimate objective of splitting our society along its faultlines and pitting people of different faiths against each other might well be reached. Just in case foreign capitalists don’t depart en masse from the Middle East, Israel isn’t suddenly destroyed, Britain doesn’t convert to Islam and no-one reinstates the 1924 Turkish Caliphate, a permanent religious war would make an acceptable Plan B. British Muslims discovering that the state has given its footsoldiers the nod to gun down any of them looking like they might get a bit tasty could just nudge us all that bit closer.

The Brazilian foreign minister is flying to Britain to hear an explanation for de Menezes’ death direct from Jack Straw. On my list of “meetings I really wouldn’t like to have to attend”, that’s straight in at number fucking one.

You’ve got to admit, he looks a bit like an Arab

EDIT: De Menezes’ brother has apparently compared the killing of his brother to the killing of “25,000 innocent people in Iraq”. The silly sausage. US and allied troops have of course only killed around 9,500 people in Iraq, though fans will be pleased to note that this still roundly trounces the approximately 2,500 people killed by actual insurgents—almost four times as many. That’s good shootin’, soldier!

One down

Jul. 22nd, 2005 10:47 am
webofevil: (Default)
Suicide bomber shot dead in Stockwell tube station. Apparently Definitely. (That's his death that's confirmed, not his identity. Look, I'm as confused as you at this point.)

But is it one of these?

EDIT: No! It was another trick question.

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