Monday, July 25, 2005

Shoot-to-kill

Shoot-to-kill:

  1. The Official Story for the London police actions is set out in the Daily Record:

    "THE young man killed in Stockwell yesterday was subjected to summary execution by police operating a shoot-to-kill policy.

    It is a controversial tactic deployed only in the most extreme circumstances but one police have been preparing to use for the last two weeks.

    Minutes after first news of the four bombs ripping through the underground and the No 30 bus reached Scotland Yard on July 7, a message was sent to the Met's elite SO19 firearms unit.

    They were instructed to launch 'Operation Kratos' - codename for the secret guidelines which tell officers how to react to suicide bombers."


    and:

    "The marksmen were briefed by officers who had been to Israel to meet their counterparts there and pick up tips gleaned from the experience of dealing with Hamas bombers."


    and:

    "During the Kratos briefings, the Met team were told that, contrary to their normal arms training, they should fire at the head rather than the chest.

    Although the chest is easier to hit, it is not as reliable in causing instant death, giving a bomber a chance to detonate his device.

    A blow to the torso also risks setting off any explosives that are strapped to the body."


  2. The shooting would therefore be the act of a part of an elite London police firearms unit called SO19. As Michel Chossudovsky writes:

    "Essentially what we are dealing with is the formation of a death squadron mentality under the auspices of what is still officially considered a 'civilian police force'."


    Bad enough, but it might even be worse. Some are questioning whether this is actually a police operation, and wondering whether it might be an SAS operation (i.e., a British military special operations unit which seems to regard itself as completely unaccountable to civilian oversight). The question of who is involved may, or may not, be answered as a result of official inquiries:

    "The shooting is being investigated by officers from Scotland Yard's Directorate of Professional Standards, and will be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission."


    I would expect nothing to come of this except for congratulations for heroic police work, so the question of military involvement in policing may never be answered.

  3. We have received a rather elaborate justification for the 'shoot to kill' strategy. One problem I have with this is the fact that the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes followed none of the new guidelines. The theory is that rapid shots to the head are necessary to instantly kill a bomber before he can trigger his payload, something he could do even after shots to the torso which would normally be considered sufficient to incapacitate, or even quickly kill, a threatening person. In the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the authorities pursued him from a place of relatively few people into a crowded subway train, apparently made no attempt to fire at him until he was on the ground (witnesses reported no shots until the five fatal ones), and only killed him when he was closely surrounded by a number of official shooters. In other words, they followed absolutely no part of the protocol apparently learned from the Israelis on how to deal with suicide bombers. Had he been a real suicide bomber, they had given him ample time to set off his bomb, forced him to a place where the bomb would have done the maximum harm, and might even have accidentally triggered the bomb by their firing at him at close range, surrounded by policemen who would have been victims of the bomb. I'm always suspicious when I read elaborate explanations for official behavior that don't match what the officials actually did.

  4. There is still no logical explanation of how Jean Charles de Menezes even ended up under police surveillance. Officials claim that he was living in an apartment in the same building or in a building close to the building which the police were watching as the residence of someone suspected of being connected to the bombings. At least, that's the Official Story. It makes no sense. Did they not know what the person they were supposedly watching actually looked like? Would any person living in the building, or even in the area of the building, become a suspect? From the Telegraph (my emphasis in bold):

    "The officer can open fire only if authorised to do so by a chief police officer - either at the start of a pre-planned operation, as seems to have been the case at Stockwell, or by police radio during a 'spontaneous' incident.

    The suspect shot dead had been under surveillance and officers from the Metropolitan Police's firearms squad are understood to have been briefed that he posed a grave risk to safety."


    Pre-planned? If they thought he was a suicide bomber, why did they let him walk into a subway station? Why did they only challenge him - if in fact they did - or run after him after he was in a place where he could do real damage? The Official Story has so many holes in it that it appears that at least part of it was made up after the fact, in order to justify what seems to be an unjustifiable shooting.

  5. Shoot-to-kill makes some sense in the twisted world of Israel. After all, in the Occupied Territories, if you shoot someone in the head who you think just might be a suicide bomber, you've either stopped a suicide bombing or killed a Palestinian. It's a win-win situation! In London, however, the odds are against you. You have to weigh a very, very tiny chance of stopping a suicide bomber against the huge probability of allowing the police - or military - to be judge, jury and executioner of an innocent man. On top of that, you have to consider that the fear and anger caused by a mistake could be the cause of real suicide bombings in the future (this side effect is another thing that is considered a bonus in Israel, as the provocation of terrorism allows for the Israeli state terrorism which is being used in the ethnic cleansing of the Occupied Territories). How are young Asian men going to feel riding the subway, or even walking down the street, knowing that at any instant they might be fatally shot by plainclothes policemen? Unless the British authorities want to start a race war against a significant portion of the British population, shoot-to-kill is dumb as a practical response to terror, as well as being immoral and politically fascist. It is extremely dangerous as it is subject to abuse by the type of right-wing factions you always seem to find in the military and police who would like nothing better than to provoke a race war (which is exactly what this incident looks like).

  6. Shoot-to-kill is still official British government policy.

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