Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Speechless

Not my reaction to Gordon Brown's speech, but to Nick Cohen.

I don't want to defend the Met's mistakes but it is blindingly obvious that when the police think they are confronting suicide bombers they will shoot first and ask questions later.


Blindingly obvious, but not, in fact, the case.

Footage shows Menezes journey:

The cameras also captured an undercover officer sitting a few seats in front of him, the inquest at the Oval heard.


Jean Charles de Menezes inquest timeline:

10.06: Officer Ivor, having followed Mr de Menezes onto a Tube train at Stockwell station, gestured to firearms officers "he's here". Mr de Menezes stood up and walked towards him. Ivor said he "seemed agitated" and grabbed him, pinning him back into his seat.


My emphasis. Life is not like Dirty Harry. (OT: article contains my favourite opinion about Hillary Clinton ever.)

62 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

A note, by the way, on Stockwell Tube station.

You cannot get off a bus and walk straight into the station. You have to cross a road first.

It can be a large road - Clapham Road - if you get off the bus at the stop most people who want the Tube get off at (because it comes first) the one at the end of Stockwell Road.

Or it can be a small road - Binfield Road - if you get off at the next one (which is closer) where Lambeth Road starts, outside Nat West.

I've never, in all that's been written about this, been able to discover which he got off at. If anybody knows, please tell me. In the meantime - if it was the first one, they'd have ages before he got to the Tube. But even if it was the second (less likely, but quite possible) he still can't just hop off and duck straight into the station. That was the impression the press coverage gave - even without the "jumping the barriers" stuff - but it's just not like that.

I actually think the officers who did the shooting are the least culpable of all of them, although I didn't much like their evidence in court. But the whole police operation was a shambles and it was because it was a shambles that de Menezes ended up dead.

I'd like to know who from the Met smeared de Menezes in off-the-record briefings in the period immediately after the shooting. This seems to happen a lot, and I wonder whether it's not standard, but deniable, practice.

9/24/2008 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Alex Higgins said...

Thanks CC - I'm always annoyed by how people have managed to overlook the central fact of the De Menezes case.

The police had control of him, pinned him down and were in a position to see he concealed no bomb - then they shot him in the head repeatedly.

Mistaken identity is understandable - but this was just murder.

And ejh is right, the police always smear people they kill, so their version of events gets into the press first. It's a practice that needs to be exposed.

9/24/2008 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I don't want to defend the Met's mistakes but it is blindingly obvious that when the police think they are confronting suicide bombers they will shoot first and ask questions later.

But they had absolutely no grounds for believing that they were confronting a suicide bomber.

It may well be true that the guys who pulled the trigger were so badly informed that they they did genuinely believe that this was the case but that just pushes culpability further up the chain of command.

There are no excuses, no mitigating circumstances.

9/24/2008 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous IslingtonSet said...

"The police had control of him, pinned him down and were in a position to see he concealed no bomb - then they shot him in the head repeatedly."

I disagree, Alex. The BBC animation of the incident is useful in it shows the relative speed of the operation. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/629/629/7073125.stm)

There is no sense from the evidence that the armed police/special forces who shot de Menezes identified him before they did so, they probably didn't look at him. He was pointed out to them by other people who'd presumably identified him. The whole thing was an absolute mess as ejh said. But to think that in a split-second JCDM could have been searched sufficiently to definitively rule out that he had an explosive device is rather fanciful.

The truth of the matter is that it should never have got to that stage.

9/24/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

"Within hours of the shooting, I realised his killing was almost a relief for many."

This is really sad. I was going to ask what the technical term for this in Decentpedia is but I don't really think Nick is a member of the Decent Left anymore, is he?g

9/24/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

There's nothing to say that BBC animination is real time?

9/24/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

It's pretty clearly projection, since Nick did actually write this column, among others, in which as far as I can see he is admitting that he was glad to be proved right by the 7/7 bombings himself.

It's not really even too difficult to understand why people say things like this, or like "the liberal left would rather have seen Saddam in power". What's difficult to understand is why they expect to continue to be treated with respect and consideration after they've said them.

9/24/2008 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I've believed for some time that the people in charge of the operation genuinely believed JCDM was one of the 21/7 bombers, but didn't believe he was armed (or loaded). In other words, I suspect it was planned as the extra-judicial execution of a suicide bomber, just not of a suicide bomber who was a danger to the public at that moment. The only thing I'm relieved* about is that they didn't actually get the right bloke - if they had, I'm not sure even the HSE investigation would have got off the ground.

*Nasty use of 'almost' there; the sentences following read as if he'd written 'something of a relief' or 'an unacknowledged relief', but 'almost' is logically equivalent to 'not'. I suppose you've got to keep the lawyers happy.

9/24/2008 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

There are two big logical fallacies in Nick's piece. The first, which I mentioned earlier, is that the police's actions can be excused because they believed they were dealing with a suicide bomber.
The second is that because we have robust procedures for dealing with cases where the police abuse their powers (leaving aside the question of exactly how robust those procedures actually are) this somehow mitigates the said abuse of power.
Actually, there's also a third - that this case has anything to do with people's attitude to radical Islam.
Actually, it's just a very very crap piece.

9/24/2008 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous islingtonset said...

"There's nothing to say that BBC animination is real time?"

Okay, let's say it isn't. How long do you think there was in between the armed officers reaching the carriage and JCDM being shot dead? Miliseconds, seconds, minutes? I'd say the whole business was over in a few quick seconds, this is the impression from the evidence - enough time for a guy to get pointed at, tackled and shot; not quite enough time for a strip search or a frisk. Suicide bombers don't wear signs, and it isn't obvious whether they are armed or not otherwise CT would be a heck of a lot easier.

Once you have armed police (or whoever) racing towards a man they are positive is a suicide bomber, under Operation Kratos there is only one possible response. The scandal is, of course, why he wasn't negatively identified and the dogs called off sooner; that was effectively the death sentence. The shooters weren't murderers anymore than the Pierrepoints were. Its that specific point I take issue with Alex about; and I guess Phil too.

9/24/2008 08:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Once you have armed police (or whoever) racing towards a man they are positive is a suicide bomber, under Operation Kratos there is only one possible response.

Yes. But, however confused the police command & control operation was, I simply don't believe it was so confused that "we think it's Osman Hussain" could turn into "we think it's Osman Hussain and he's about to try it again" between the flats and the tube station, without anyone thinking that it didn't look as if he was about to try it again. The assumption that Kratos was being invoked on the grounds that 'Hussain' was about to blow himself up also raises problems in accounting for what the police actually did, as the original post notes. My alternative version, macabre as it seems, deals with both of these difficulties (and is perhaps suspect for precisely that reason, reality generally being messy and so forth).

9/24/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger BenSix said...

I declined as politely as I could and asked if she really didn't know the moral difference between Osama bin Laden and Sir Ian Blair.

Like shit.

He's just stolen the Martin Amis Moral Equation that was adumbrated many months later.

9/24/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

I was going to ask what the technical term for this in Decentpedia is...

I've been a bit lax recently, but if I was going to propose an appropriate term it would be Wankenfreude.

9/24/2008 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous islingtonset said...

"I simply don't believe it was so confused that "we think it's Osman Hussain" could turn into "we think it's Osman Hussain and he's about to try it again" between the flats and the tube station, without anyone thinking that it didn't look as if he was about to try it again."

I think the police were in the state of mind, rightly or wrongly, that "Osman Hussein is about to try it again" before they even clapped eyes on JCDM. When 4 suicide bombers fail, the perhaps natural reaction is to assume that they'll be back for another pop (so to speak). So I think positive identification of Hussain = the notion that he'd be lethally dangerous = the probability that he'd be shot (barring some extremely favourable circumstances of arrest, like the other 3 and you saw the palaver involving balconies and underpants.) So, you ask, if Husain was deemed lethally dangerous from the get-go why was he allowed on the bus and why was he allowed to proceed serenely Stockwell Tube. I cannot answer, except refer back to my previous truistic statement that the whole thing was a complete shambles from start to finish, from taking a leak to taking lethal force. Except to say, those armed officers, in their minds, were shooting a suicide bomber. How that conclusion was reached and why that conclusion was transmitted to the guys with the dum-dum toys IS the shambles - not the shooting itself.

Now let me confine myself to the dustbin of Decentist apologia once and for all by adding the boilerplate comment - why is no blame being attached to the suicide bombing tactic, which forces police and soldiers into the shoot-to-kill doctrine? Mind you, I suppose the SAS on the Rock didn't have that excuse.

9/25/2008 04:22:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

The "I don't want to defend ... but ... [behaviour completely predictable in the circumstances]" trope is, let us recall, a regular target of Decent abuse. After all, it isn't a difficult one to run for suicide bombers, the Iraqi resistance or "resistance" etc.

9/25/2008 06:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...


why is no blame being attached to the suicide bombing tactic, which forces police and soldiers into the shoot-to-kill doctrine?


Forced my ass. As ejh said in the first comment, they could've stopped him before he entered the tube, they could've apprehended him at any point before he got on a bus, and so on.

Moreover, as this was the first apllication of the Kratos doctrine and it was a dismal failure, neither stopping the real bombers nor preventing innocent people from being killed, it should've been abandonded at that point.

There are other ways of dealing with suicide bombers, ways that don't endanger the public with macho gunplay.

(Also, saying they were dealing with what they thought was a suicide bomber does not excuse the officers in question, as it wouldn't excuse me if I'd battered my neighbour to death and then said I thought he was a suicide bomber....)

9/25/2008 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think, from the animation, the answer to my question in the first comment is that he got off at the second stop. Even so, it took two minutes from getting off the bus to getting to the barriers.

Forced my ass. As ejh said in the first comment, they could've stopped him before he entered the tube, they could've apprehended him at any point before he got on a bus, and so on.

But I think they're agreeing with that - or at least saying that the shambles of the police operation was such that they put themselves in the position of not having any means to deal with the situation except to execute the suspect. They didn't know what they were doing and they didn't know what they were going to do. And because nobody would take a decision, eventually they left themselves in the position of ordering in the shootists at thr last minute.

To be honest it reminds me of Hillsborough where nobody was capable of taking a decision either.

There really, really can be no good reason why the dead man was so harmless, at Tulse Hill, that he was able to leave his flat, go to the bus stop and board the bus unmolested, and yet half an hour later, during which time he's done nothing more suspicious than get off the bus at Brixton and get back on again (which I have done many times) he needs to be shot dead on the spot.

I argued at the time, and would argue pretty much as strongly now, that the reason he was executed was not because they (meaning the police in general, not the armed officers) thought he was their man, but because they could not be certain that he was not. We now know, of course, that the reason they couldn't know it was because of their own failings and confusion. But that seems to be what happened.

However, while I'm not sure I agree with Phil's thesis, looking at the BBC animation I do find myself asking - if they had to shoot de Menezes dead, why didn't they shoot Ivor?

why is no blame being attached to the suicide bombing tactic, which forces police and soldiers into the shoot-to-kill doctrine?

I think there is, isn't there? everybody's aware that once they got as far as the Tube carriage, there was an extremely dangerous situation precisely because of that.

But in the first place, it's completely the responsbility of the police that the situation got to the point it did. I mean for Christ's sake, nobody was supposed to be allowed to leave the flat! And the game of is-he-or-isn't-he that followed...dear God.

In the second, I've argued here before, in re: Aaro's largely disgraceful musings on the H&S case, that if you (as the State) consider the prevailing situation to be so dangerous that you may have to shoot at members of the public in the street, then you need to say so and you need to declare some sort of state of emergency. And if you do not, then the situation is not to be deemed so dangerous that you need to shoot people. But what you can't do is make it up on the hoof and then say you bear no responsibility for what happened because the situation was so serious.

I don't suppose there is going to be any justice in this case, but we should remember that justice isn't only for the dead man and his family, it's for society at large, because that is the way we ensure that people with responsbility are held to account. And at the very least, this would involve the punishment of the people who fouled up the surveillance, the people who were in charge of the operation and the people who smeared de Menezes after he had been killed. (Oh, and outwith the police, the journalists and editors who did the same.) Partly because with responsibility comes accountability, but partly because these people have been covering their own arses after the fact, and this as much as anything else is what makes them culpable. Ethically, it's repugnant.

9/25/2008 07:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

why is no blame being attached to the suicide bombing tactic, which forces police and soldiers into the shoot-to-kill doctrine?

Mainly, I think, because we don't believe that suicide bombings are carried out on our behalf or that those organising them are accountable to us.

More broadly, I think Will you condemn... is the key move of Decency. Anyone who's been on the unpopular side in arguments about the Irish conflict will know that, a lot of the time, you don't condemn - at least, not without qualifications, not in public, and definitely not in response to being asked to condemn. I remember a furiously intense argument in my then office, which started with the shootings on the Rock and shifted to Michael Stone's attack in the cemetery; in both cases I was in a minority of two (although with a different ally each time). The majority view on Stone, incidentally, was that it was probably a put-up job by the IRA. If I'd said what I really thought about the IRA, the argument would have been lost straight away.

There's a real bad faith in people like Nick and Aaro (who will surely have been in positions like this) adopting this approach.

9/25/2008 07:21:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

why is no blame being attached to the suicide bombing tactic, which forces police and soldiers into the shoot-to-kill doctrine?

No it doesn't. There is a country (begins with "I", in the middle east, not many friends in the SWP, McDonalds' burger bars that don't do cheeseburgers) with substantial experience in dealing with suicide bombers and they *don't* use the shoot-to-kill tactics which went so badly wrong in the Menezes case; Israeli special forces actually commented on this in the immediate aftermath.

9/25/2008 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

they *don't* use the shoot-to-kill tactics which went so badly wrong in the Menezes case; Israeli special forces actually commented on this in the immediate aftermath

I don't know if they also commented, though, that precisely because they have experience, they wouldn't have had the oh-my-God-I-don't-know-what-to-do reaction that our police did.

The thing is, people who object to ths shooting get accused of not being prepared to see that the police were in a difficult situation, but it's not true: it's just that they do not accept that the situation needed to be dealt with as it was, they think that the situation was partly or largely the creation of the police's own incompetence and they think the police and those who support their actions have shown bad faith.

Now none of this really matters of course, because the point is usually put rhetorically, and by people who aren't actually interested in the detail: there was maybe a suicide bomber, so he was shot, boom, public safe, end of story. That's a very hard point to argue with, not because it's a good point, but because it's a point that isn't interested in the argument.

9/25/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police hit squad left the briefing at the police station under the impression that a suicide bomber had been positively identified, and psyched up to take him out. Meanwhile the watchers were following some guy around because he had come out of the same block of flats, but had not identified him. De Menezes was as good as dead as soon as the hit squad left the briefing.

At the time the public did not know that there was a shoot to kill policy, It was only after this even that this became public. (So Cohen is wrong to claim that it is blindingly obvious: in the past the Government has denied that it had such a policy.) And if there is a shoot to kill policy, the public has the right to know how it functions so that it is only used as a last resort against people who have been positively identified as being about to commit acts of terrorism. If not, the risks from terrorism are overshadowed by the risks from a police force that is not under proper civil control.

Guano

9/25/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One very obvious lesson of the killing of John Charles de Menezes is that responding to terrorism by blindly lashing out is a bad idea. It is no surprise Nasty Nick can't see this as he has made a second career blindly lashing out at anyone who shows any sign of being on the "wrong side".

9/25/2008 07:53:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Actually, it's just a very very crap piece.

agreed. but still:

I declined as politely as I could and asked if she really didn't know the moral difference between Osama bin Laden and Sir Ian Blair.

Not only is that not at all polite, not only does Nick take a later Martin Amis 'adumbration' and claim it for himself, but this is becoming a weekly feature of the Standard columns - witness last week's

I don't mean to insult Hirst when I say that they may regret their investments. [...] Look at what was on offer.

and another 'i don't want to do x but...' at the end:

I don't want to defend the Met's mistakes but it is blindingly obvious that when the police think they are confronting suicide bombers they will shoot first and ask questions later.

As CC says, the police let him get on two separate buses (exploded by 7/7 bombers and targeted by 21/7). And equally, neither inquest has ever managed to explain why it took the firearms units almost four hours to actually reach JCDM, even though he had police camped outside his door. Yes, the unit which eventually shot his was specially-trained to shoot someone in the neck seven times. But surely it would have been safer to have a non-specialist firearms unit (we do have these in south london) outside his door, to stop him from ever getting on any kind of public transport, and possibly not actually killing him? the reasoning has never been explained. If Brixton Station hadn't been shut, presumably he would have been allowed to travel on the tube by this same honest, brave Met.

That same Met, who hadn't issued a state of emergency, then decided to cry 'terrorism' and take two entire days before allowing independent investigators any access to the investigation, sufficient time for key CCTV to 'go missing' and for officers to discuss and finalise their version of events. The reason people are protesting so much is that we'll probably never actually know what really happened on that day, as a direct result of this. That, for me, is the really dangerous precedent this sets. I'm not one of the people who wank on about him being murdered, but there is something deeply suspicious about the police activity throughout the entire thing, especially the off-the-record briefings which turned out to be a pack of lies. Nick claims the Met can be held to account, but it never will be - and the people who oversaw the operation, clearly an utter shambles, have actually been promoted. There is something to protest about there, surely.

And is it only me who's only seen the '7/7 was a good thing' rhetoric coming from one direction? It's not impressive to feel 'vindicated' by the deaths of innocent people. Nick has a habit of attacking an imaginary Left for essentially celebrating terrorism in pieces where he seems awfully close to doing the same thing. It's possible to be outraged by suicide bombings and the actions of the Met over JCDM.

9/25/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Actually I tend to assume that he was murdered too. Bollocks to brave met firearms officers. How come they only shoot dead people who aren't armed? Whenever there's a real gunman, they wait it out in a siege protected by sandbags and god knows what else. There was nothing brave about what the shooter did. Menzies was pinned on the ground - if he was going to blow himself up he would have already done it. The shooter was hopped up on ardrenaline, and he killed someone as a result. Maybe you blame the system for that, and he was only following orders (?) - but you have a fucking enquiry into the whole culture of the gun squad to show that.

As for the whole operation. If the Met were innocent, or doing their best. Why did they smear Menzies, lie about what happened, destroy key evidence and do their best to cover up what happened. Innocent parties don't do that. They're guilty, throw away the fucking key and be done with it.

9/25/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Why did they smear Menezes, lie about what happened, destroy key evidence and do their best to cover up what happened. Innocent parties don't do that

This is not the worst point ever made.

However, I do think that the point about only shooting unarmed men (or those armed with table legs) while valid to a degree, maybe misses that where the blokes have actually got shooters, they tend to be indoors, in a stuation where they can't obviously get away, and hence you can have a siege.

But I also think that the fact that de Menezes got shot had nothing at all to do with how he reacted in the carriage. He seems to have come towards a bloke who was gesturing at him. Why would he not?

But you can get bogged down in the detail as to what happened right at the ned. Sometimes the detail is the important thing: here I don't think it is. It's how on Earth things got to the point that they got to.

9/25/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

There really, really can be no good reason why the dead man was so harmless, at Tulse Hill, that he was able to leave his flat, go to the bus stop and board the bus unmolested, and yet half an hour later, during which time he's done nothing more suspicious than get off the bus at Brixton and get back on again (which I have done many times) he needs to be shot dead on the spot.

Yes. This is also a hole in my Operation Shoot Terrorist Down In Daylight Like A Dog theory, now I come to think of it - if that was all they were ever going to do, they could have done it much sooner. Of course, conspirators can cock things up as well - either way, there's only so far that they must have wanted X or they wouldn't have done Y logic can take you.

But I will throw out one more wild speculation, because it's haunted me since I read it the other day - what if 'Ivor' thought somebody else was the target of the armed unit, and he pushed JCDM down into his seat to protect him? You'd hate to be him if so.

9/25/2008 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

If they didn't, and a terrorist detonated a bomb on the Tube, they would be denounced by the very people who are shouting loudest about the death of poor Mr de Menezes

Quoth Nick. But hang on, I thought we didn't denounce terrorists?

9/25/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

In fact, according to the IPCC Report, Operation KRATOS wasn't in effect at Stockwell; the Met never did decide during the meetings the night before which of their two contingency plans (C and KRATOS) to use, and they (or specifically, Cressida Dick) eventually came up with an ad hoc hybrid of the two.

The two differ specifically on the command-and-control arrangements; C was designed for a static, set piece operation at a major event and provided for tight centralised control from the Yard. KRATOS was intended for a more fluid situation and devolved command to the field.

In the event it was a mixture of both; the firearms team, "Trojan 80" and friends had the authority to start shooting, but they didn't have command authority over the surveillance team and they weren't on the same radio net, getting all their information from headquarters. And the silver commander was neither at HQ with all the radios (as per C) or on the scene from the beginning with the surveillance team (as per KRATOS), but with the much delayed firearms squad.

Personally, I would say that the various senior commanders involved are culpable, and so is whoever was responsible for the come-to-Jesus briefing for the firearms squad, which seems to have been nothing more than fist-pumping bollocks based on absolutely no information.

9/25/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT, but just coincidentally came across a good piece on Nick's latest pash which might be of interest to you folks: http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2006/02/_bernardhenri_l.html

9/25/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous little keithy said...

If you take into account deaths in custody then Osama and the police most probably are as bad as each other. One figure I saw was a 1,000 black and Asian people since the second world war have died at the hands of the police and there have been hardly any convictions. Even if one assumed that a majority were drug related/suicides, then that is still a lot of deaths unaccounted for. BTW a search on google books uncovered some articles by an "N Cohen" condemning the cops over cases in the early 1990s. Time changes us all I suppose

9/25/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

But hang on, I thought we didn't denounce terrorists?

The writing is sufficiently bad that it took me three readings before I worked out that Nick is claiming that we would be denouncing the police for not shooting JCDM if he was actually a suicide bomber.

If he had actually been a bomber, I'd be fairly pissed off that the police let him board two separate buses and a tube train, and took 4 hours before finally attempting to stop him, personally.

Also - as a last point - de Menezes is a different race to the man he was meant to be. had only one police officer - the one taking a leak who ID'ed hmi anyway - actually seen a photo of the wannabe bomber?

9/25/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry
http://direland.typepad.com
/direland/2006/02/_bernardhenri_l.html

9/25/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I just posted my take on Nick's piece at my blog if anyone's interested.

9/25/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

That Doug Ireland piece on BHL is an epic of snark.

9/25/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Within hours of the shooting, I realised his killing was almost a relief for many. A radio producer asked me to come on her show and say that the Met was as much a threat to the lives of Londoners as radical Islam. I declined as politely as I could and asked if she really didn't know the moral difference between Osama bin Laden and Sir Ian Blair.

God hell, this is self-satirising. That post on Decent pomposity is badly needed.

Nick's Diary: To Nando's for lunch. Waitress brought me the wrong order. Asked if she really didn't know the moral difference between Osama bin Laden and Sir Ian Blair.

9/25/2008 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

And apart from anything else, it's precisely because the moral difference between Osama bin Laden and Sir Ian Blair is already assumed that "the Met [is] as much a threat to the lives of Londoners as radical Islam" is an interesting or controversial statement. I wasn't there, of course, but it sounds as if the implicit question was "Does an organisation almost everyone supports and respects actually pose as much of a danger to us as an organisation almost everyone opposes and reviles?" Nick's "no, because one's an organisation almost everyone supports and respects whereas the other [etc]" isn't really an answer.

9/25/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"time for key CCTV to 'go missing' and for officers to discuss and finalise their version of events. "

The killer point here is in the IPCC's Stockwell B report. One police log was doctored after the fact in an attempt to make it look like JCDM had been positively identified. This is a serious offence, but the delay meant that the IPCC were unable to get evidence as to which of 3 coppers with access to the records committed the crime. So the perpetrator got away with it, and the other two suspects will probably find it hard in the future to avoid some of the shit clinging to them.

"the people who oversaw the operation, clearly an utter shambles, have actually been promoted." Point of info: Hayman's out on his arse, which is no bad thing.

Otherwise, What Alex Said.

Chris Williams

9/25/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

God hell, this is self-satirising. That post on Decent pomposity is badly needed.

Here is my top Decent top five in reverse order.

5. Christopher Hitchens.

Previous (pre-2001) good behaviour is the only factor preventing this garruolus wingbag appearing further up the hall of shame. Although undeniably amusing at times, the Hitch, like Gary Glitter, has become a sad parody of his former self.

4. Norm

Prissy, sanctimonius and self-important, I'd rather eat a hairy shite than attend one of the venerable gentleman's lectures.


3. Modernity

Beat off stiff competition from the rest of the Beliggerati at HP to claim the title of the site's most pompous ass. I mean calling yourself Modernity for God's sake, its like Decency as done by Gladiators.

2. Nick Cohen

More denunciations than a Soviet show trial and a writing style that is frequently almost unbearably smug and self-righteous. Nick should realise that it is rarely attractive for a £100K+ hack to cast himself in the role of perpetual victim.

1. Oliver Kamm

Let's face it this one wasn't even close. Putting in a Usain Bolt of a performance Oliver shows the others how it should be done. Only those with a penchant for nanophilia could fail to recognise Kamm's inherent aeolism and fondness for lexiphanicism.

9/25/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Don't you know the difference between Osama Bin Laden and Sir Ian Blair?"

I often visit countries where the police are just as dangerous as any terrorist group, because

- they have lots of arms
- they are not really accountable to civilian control
- the poor justice system means that there is a temptation to use police hit squads to take out criminals.

The UK is supposed to be different because the police are supposed to be following procedures that have been agreed to by their civilian masters and because they are supposed to be accountable for their mistakes. If the police kill random people, and try to prevent proper accountability of how it happened, we have something as dangerous as terrorism.

Guano

PS I think that the word "moral" when used by Decents (as in Nick's phrase about the moral difference between I Blair and OBL) serves a special function which is worth further study.

9/25/2008 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous islingtonset said...

I should point out I was half-heartedly and only semi-seriously launching a 'Will You Condemn-athon' there (after all, see my final sentence). Moreover I didn't mean it to say, "Why aren't YOU (as in dear AW) -insert arbitrary demand here-" but just a point that one of the underpinning logics and one of the main efficacies of suicide bombing is the fact that the terrorist a) looks like an ordinary member of the public, so therefore is difficult to identify and is also difficult to identify the threat they represent and b) by their nature are unafraid to die and therefore if armed present a tricky arrest. These factors explain why the shooting, rather than perhaps merely the wrongful arrest, of the innocent is more likely due to the advent of the suicide bombing tactic. See also Rigoberto Alpizar. In past times he'd probably have been given a slap and told to pull himself together man. In todays climate, shot dead. I suppose the nub is who (or what) you blame (that word again) for todays climate.

Also this "No it doesn't. There is a country (begins with "I", in the middle east, not many friends in the SWP, McDonalds' burger bars that don't do cheeseburgers) with substantial experience in dealing with suicide bombers and they *don't* use the shoot-to-kill tactics which went so badly wrong in the Menezes case; Israeli special forces actually commented on this in the immediate aftermath."

Maybe so, but maybe the tail has wagged the dog in this respect, given that now in Israel driving a vehicle erratically = several caps in your head.

9/25/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"I often visit countries where the police are just as dangerous as any terrorist group"

Such as the US. Particularly SWAT teams - though given they only raid poor neighbourhoods, Nick would be safe enough.

I was sort of half serious with that rant. It does irritate me that the default response of the press is to believe the press, despite the fact that whenever they shoot anyone, they smear them, important evidence disappears and police witnesses are allowed (and coached when they do) to collude so that their stories align. Innocent parties don't do this, they don't destroy CCTV footage.

9/25/2008 09:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When those of a Decent persuasion use the word "moral" I think that they mean that they know that person A has broken the law or some rules but A isn't such a bad person as Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, so that's all right then. Of course they don't openly acknowledge that A has broken some rules, and maybe don't even think about it, but that's the underlying meaning. However in a society that is supposedly based on rules it is important.


Guano

9/26/2008 08:21:00 AM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

OT, but does anyone fancy having a go at Aaro vs. Skidelsky in Prospect?

9/26/2008 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Obviously not. But I will defend Oliver Kamm a bit. I would imagine he finds Nick's JCDM column as disgraceful as we do. That's why, as I said earlier, I do think Nick is now just a Mail rightwinger rather than a Decent-Lefter gone a bit more loopy than the rest.

9/26/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

So if we ask whether Ollie will condemn Nick Cohen....

9/26/2008 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

OT but HP have finally gioven some attention to Pakistan, with particularly boneheaded results

9/26/2008 03:17:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

On the subject of HP, have you noticed they seem to have a new bête noire these days - the London Review of Books or the "LRB Left".

I can't say I've ever read LRB - is it really a hotbed of "anti-imperialists", "stoppers" and the like?

9/26/2008 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

They've been banging on about the LRB for longer than you realise, since it was in that publication that the supposedly infamous Mary Beard "had it coming to them" piece appeared.

It's fair to say that it publishes a lot more people that Decents don't like, than people that they would. It is also very strong on criticism of Israel and therefore attracts the Decent Rhetorical Question.

I like it very much and every twelve months give a year's free subscription to a friend: as I am entitled to do, being a long-term subscriber.

9/26/2008 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I like the LRB very much as well EJH even though i have written for them and then had the piece canned. Though I think it's been a bit underwhelming in the last couple of months. It's been a Decent whipping-boy for years though - there was a fairly recent case of a boring book review (much like mine i guess) getting canned, which got the HP regulars all worked up because the review was nice about Israel, or something.

The realHP reason for hating it, as opposed to that kind of flavour-of-the-month upset which they specialise in (wither Jenna Delich today?) seems to be more because the LRB has the temerity to print the 'shrieking, obsessive anti-Israel propaganda' of Tony Judt and Ilan Pappe, than because they were the place Mary Beard published her para on the Sept 11h attacks. This propaganda must be in the eye of the beholder because I've never thought that Pappe and Judt's work can be characterised in that manner. Oh and they published the Mearsheimer and Walt essay on the Israel Lobby.

What I can never understand, and this is something Andrew Anthony is particularly bad on in his book, is what Decents think the LRB is for. They seem to think that the people reading it absorb everything they read like a sponge, unthinkingly, and never question what they're reading for a second - but that's surely undermined by the lengthy exchanges, which went on for almost 6 months, about the Israel Lobby essay. AA writes something like it 'sets the paramters for liberal debate' but I'm far from convinced that's the case. It's too expensive to justify buying purely to read stuff you will agree 100% with.

9/26/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

even though i have written for them and then had the piece canned

Funnily enough, so have I. It was actually a shorter version of my last (personal) blog entry, written shortly after the events described therein.

More recently I offered to review a chess book for them but had the offer declined.

Qué sera sera.

9/26/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Ah yes, I remember that HP article now - LRB canns the guy's piece, said piece was pro-Israel, therefore LRB canned the piece for being pro-Israel.

They obviously have an irrational dislike of chess as well.

9/26/2008 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Back on the question of the use of the world moral by the highheidyins of Decency, I have a theory that it's a modifier allowing the user to say the unsayable. Take this as an example, from Comrade Hitchens...

"One of the hardest thing for anyone to face is that his or her own 'side' is in the wrong when engaged in a war. The pressure to keep silent and be a 'team player' is reinforcable by the accusations of cowardice or treachery that will swiftly be made against dissenters. Sinister phrases of coersion, such as 'stabbing in the back' or 'giving ammunition to the enemy' have their origin in this dilemma and are always available to help compel unanimity..." (Letters to a Young Contrarian, p.10)

Now, this isn't the only time that Hitchens has pissed over der Dolchstoss mode of argument, which makes it rather difficult for him and his pals to sling about charges of cowardice or treachery in defence of the great big War on Whatever. Looks a bit hypocritical, after all.

The solution?

Why, bang the word moral in front of your insults, and wahey! Instant guilt-free stab-in-the-backy goodness, and you're free to call people moral cowards etc. to your heart's content.

Note - the word intellectual is also handy for this kind of obvious rhetorical dodge.

9/26/2008 06:55:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

EJH just to note how much I enjoyed - if that's the right word - the post in question.

9/27/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ta. The sequel is published today.

9/27/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heads up - next Decent target is going to be Prof. Denise Spielberg. Expect lots of Decentisms about 'agency' to be set aside in an excuse to whack-a-prof...

Chris Williams

9/28/2008 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous stephen said...

Once you have armed police (or whoever) racing towards a man they are positive is a suicide bomber, under Operation Kratos there is only one possible response. The scandal is, of course, why he wasn't negatively identified and the dogs called off sooner; that was effectively the death sentence. The shooters weren't murderers anymore than the Pierrepoints were. Its that specific point I take issue with Alex about; and I guess Phil too

Yes, that *might* be the way it happened. However I would strongly dispute your contention that the police officers were like public hangmen. The Pierrepoints had lawful authority to do what they did, under the various Capital Punishment acts passed by Parliament. What lawful authority did the policemen have? Their justification comes from the Common Law on self defence and I don't think that gives authority to kill someone on the say-so of someone else. This is the essential illegality of the Kratos policy.

9/29/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I'm not sure how good a guide the common law is to police powers these days - ever since PACE the police have had rather more power than the old picture of citizens serving in the office of constable would suggest. On the other hand, they're not a gendarmerie (or a National Guard) & don't actually have the right to use lethal force, qua police officer.

So, er, dunno. Is Chris there?

9/29/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

I'm not sure how good a guide the common law is to police powers these days - ever since PACE the police have had rather more power than the old picture of citizens serving in the office of constable would suggest

I am not a lawyer either but AFAIK certain that their rights to use force in defence of themselves or the public has not been augmented by any specific statute law geared towards the police. But if anyone knows better and can cite the relevant statute then please say.

9/29/2008 04:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like a lot of things to do with the accountability of the constable to the law, there's a giant hole there. The triggerperson is the one who has to face the legal music, but often it's impossible for them to know the full story - so whose fault is it?

This one has been bugging me since the killing of James Ashley. Other police killings also fall into the category (Diarmuid O'Neill), but not all of them (Harry Stanley). It's an obvious corporate failure, but the legal responsibility is focused on the person at the sharp end. So no-one gets the blame, or we have to use Health and Safety law to nail them. COrporate manslaughter would do the biz, but (and this is probably not an accident), it's been stuck in the legislative logjam for a decade.

That's the stick. I'm not sure about the carrot. What are the positive powers that police have, other than the 'immiment harm' bit of Common Law which sometimes lets Quakers get away with trashing weapons? Not sure. OTOH I am going to spend the day with a man who does in a couple of weeks. I will ask him.

Chris W

9/29/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Nick Davies

9/30/2008 07:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers, Mr. H: that report sums it up nicely.

Re-reading my last post, I note that it's a typical academic answer, in that rather than just say "I don't know" I answered another question. But the more that I think about it, the closer I'm drawn to the conclusion that in this case, it is a power deriving from the common law office of constable - to use reasonable force to uphold the Queen's peace and enforce the law. The key point here is 'reasonable' - it's interesting that in Davies's article, the police experts are using the ACPO guidelines as a proxy for this.

These structures of accountability worked pretty well in the C18th, mind.

Chris W

9/30/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous stephen said...

I don't know if this is the right place to say it but congratulations to Flying Rodent for swatting the usual idiots on HP so masterfully. I don't post comments on HP - they seem mostly unhinged or pompous or both - but I do read their idiocies from time and it's good to see someone swatting them so comprehensively.

9/30/2008 11:50:00 AM  

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