Saturday, August 20, 2005
London police maintain "shoot-to-kill" policy
Reuters "London's police force has reviewed its controversial "shoot-to-kill" policy and left it largely unchanged despite the killing of a Brazilian mistaken for a would-be suicide bomber, Scotland Yard said on Saturday..."
"Largely unchanged" presumably means that Sir Ian Blair can go on making lying statements to compliant journalists, "Gold Command" can go on giving the order to shoot to kill random passers-by who have not been identified as even "alleged" terrorists (but who may, perhaps have wrong looking eyes), no warning will be given, people may be held around the arms and torso by one plain clothes officer while another shoots them in the head at point blank range... and all this, to make us feel "safer".
Where, oh where, is the democratic opposition to this utterly unbelievable, frightening nonsense?
In his article for Dissident Voice, Mike Whitney writes, " It always astonishes how quickly the demagogues in Washington and London swing into action when there’s a chance to hack away at personal freedom. They seem to operate on the theory that people will only be safe when the country assumes the same standards of justice as, let’s say, Egypt or Saudi Arabia."
He quotes the Prime Minister of Great Britain on the subject of "terrorism"
- "There is no justification for it, period,” Blair opined. “And we will start to beat this when we stand up and confront the ideology of this evil. Not just the methods but the ideas. …We are not having any of this nonsense about it is to do with what the British are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, or support for Israel, or support for America, or any of the rest of it.' It is nonsense, and we have got to confront it as that. And, then we will start to beat it...”
“We shouldn't even allow them the vestige of an excuse for what they do,” Blair boomed. “What is happening in Iraq is that ordinary, decent Iraqis are being butchered by these people with the same terrorist ideology that is killing people in different parts of the world.”
Really? How odd that the rest of the world sees it as the predictable reaction to a barbarous occupation"
- "... the consummate political poseur: always ready to wrap himself in the Union Jack, assume a Churchillian pose and rattle-off some patriotic claptrap about battling evil...He’s become a tattered coat on a stick flailing away at the ether to no affect; an empty gourd of a man; pallid and soulless; ..."
I too am despairing of seeing anything more than self-serving, high-handed vanity and callousness in the actions of the authoritarians we have allowed to rule our lives. The half-way decent ones such as Mo Mowlam and Robin Cook have gone, leaving behind precious few in whom we can have any trust. Reid? Clarke? Byers? Mandelson? Blunkett? Beckett? Blears? Howard and his ilk? Mere partners in a danse macarbre, choreographed elsewhere.
John Pilger writes in similar vein to Mike Whitney, describing a particularly nasty raid on the Iqra Learning Centre and book store near Leeds. The Iqra Trust is a well-known charity that promotes Islam worldwide as "a peaceful religion which covers every walk of life." Pilger, in his New Statesman article, says:
- "....The police smashed down the door, wrecked the shop and took away anti-war literature which they described as "anti-western".
Among this was, reportedly, a DVD of the Respect Party MP George Galloway addressing the US Senate and a New Statesman article of mine illustrated by a much-published photograph of a Palestinian man in Gaza attempting to shield his son from Israeli bullets before the boy was shot to death. The photograph was said to be "working people up"..... It is not known whether the police have yet read the chapter that documents how the Americans, with help from MI6 and the SAS, created, armed and bankrolled the terrorists of the Islamic Mujahideen, not least Osama Bin Laden.
The raid was deliberately theatrical, with the media tipped off. Two of the alleged 7 July bombers had been volunteers in the shop almost four years ago. "When they became hardliners", said a community youth worker. "They left and have never been back and they've had nothing to do with the shop." The raid was watched by horrified local people. who are now scared, angry and bitter...."
John Pilger's article begins by raising fears of a black list here that will go far beyond terrorism. Thomas Friedman is the New York Times columnist who wants the US State Department to draw up a blacklist of those who make "wrong" political statements - such as those who believe American actions are the root cause of the current terrorism.
- "...The latter group, which he describes as "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists", includes most Americans and Britons, according to the latest polls.
" this McCarthyite rubbish has floated across the Atlantic and is now being recycled by the prime minister as proposed police-state legislation, little different from the fascist yearnings of Friedman and other extremists. For Friedman's blacklist, read Tony Blair's proposed database of proscribed opinions, bookshops, websites. The British human rights lawyer Linda Christian asks: "Are those who feel a huge sense of injustice about the same causes as the terrorists - Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib - to be stopped from speaking forthrightly about their anger?"
Websites such as warmwell.com, make "wrong" political statements every day. They are written by perfectly ordinary people trying to make sense of an increasingly senseless world. Are we also,(in small letters somewhere at the bottom), soon to find ourselves on a blacklist?
Dammit. I shall quote the quintessentially English John Betjeman - whose poem here would no doubt have landed him on Mr Blair's blacklist too - "Come, friendly bombs..."