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Friday, July 22, 2005 

Man shot dead on tube, more on the 'bombs', and police want even more draconian measures...

Police shoot man dead at tube station:

Police today shot a man dead at Stockwell tube station in south London.

Scotland Yard said: "We can confirm that just after 10am armed officers entered Stockwell tube station. A man was challenged by officers and subsequently shot. London ambulance service attended the scene. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

A witness described the man being "shot dead" in front of him as an officer "unloaded five shots" from a pistol. Another witness said he heard three shots.

None of the witnesses describe the man as carrying any weapon, or even a bag or rucksack. He did however have on a heavy coat, a sure sign that he was asking for it. There was talk of there being a 'shoot to kill' policy on suicide bombers, but this man doesn't fit that description, and neither does the way in which he was executed. In those situations it is meant to be one shot to the head, not 3 or 5 shots. The fact that the police tried to resuscitate him speaks volumes. Why shoot someone 5 times then try and bring him back to life? Obviously he may well have dropped an package or bag that may have had explosives or a weapon in, but I would have thought if he had the idea then would have been to take him alive, not dead.

On the 'bombings', police haven't made anything clear yet on what happened. Experts have said that the possibility of 4 bombs all failing to detonate would be extraordinary. Only 2 of the attacks have confirmed reports of men actually running away, at the Warren Street and Oval stations. The package on the bus in Shoreditch was apparently left on there. Witnesses have reported both smells similar to vinegar and to burning rubber. On the whole, these all seem like completely amateurish attempts. That said, the police may yet come forward and say that the explosives did fail to detonate. Many questions still remain though. Why let the bombs go off at 12:30 in the afternoon, when there's a lot fewer people on the tube than would be during the morning and evening rush hours? If you're an al-Qaida affiliated grouping, the point is meant to be to cause as much carnage and death as possible. The only things these achieved was a couple of hours of panic, at the most. The one thing they have demonstrated is that they have shown that security is woefully lacking, but in that respect there is very little than can be done about it. These challenges have to be faced up to. I still feel that it's possible these people could have been pranksters, or mules, perhaps thinking they were transporting drugs, which would explain the men transporting the rucksacks running away. The bag left on the bus could have been for someone to pick up at a later stop along the way.
Again, it seems like it could be a distraction away from something much bigger that is being planned. It seems pointless to speculate, but the whole thing is deeply worrying.

Even more worrying is the draconian measures which the police are now demanding in the wake of these further 'attacks'.
Police ask for tough new powers:

Police last night told Tony Blair that they need sweeping new powers to counter the terrorist threat, including the right to detain a suspect for up to three months without charge instead of the current 14 days.

Senior officers also want powers to attack and close down websites, and a new criminal offence of using the internet to prepare acts of terrorism, to "suppress inappropriate internet usage".

They also want to make it a criminal offence for suspects to refuse to cooperate in giving the police full access to computer files by refusing to disclose their encryption keys.

The police would also like to see much clearer information given to the public about the threat level, the creation of a specialist border security agency and further discussions about the use of phonetap evidence in terrorist cases.

The Association of Chief Police Officers published its list of 11 further changes in the law it wants after meeting Mr Blair and security services chiefs yesterday.

Other powers police told Mr Blair they needed include:

· Terror suspects to give compulsory answers to questions similar to obligations on company directors in fraud trials;

· A duty on the private sector to install protective security in designated locations;

· Putting private security staff at the disposal of the police in the immediate aftermath of an outrage;

· New generation CCTV cameras at ports and airports.

The police sought extra funding for a regional network of Special Branch officers and a further £45m to ensure national coverage for the new generation CCTV cameras, which scan number plates and alert intercept teams.

Police complain that 14 days isn't enough to get enough evidence against supposed terrorist suspects. Instead of then asking for a more reasonable month, or 6 weeks, they demand 3 whole months. These measures beg the questions: what are they doing to the suspect in those 3 months? Are they going to be depriving them of sleep? Are they going to be facing hostile questioning for hours at a time? Are they going to be allowed to have lawyers present? Even more frightenining is the possibility of them demanding encryption keys. How long before software companies demand that police use similar powers to take hold of programs created by others which they feel are a threat? The power to shut down and 'attack' websites, whatever that means, is even more of an attack on free speech. I've long felt that a huge clampdown on the internet is overdue, and it looks like the police are going to use the current circumstances to their advantage. What is inappropriate internet usage? Will record companies be able to use similar circumstances along those lines to attack by complaining to police about those using file-sharing software?

However, perhaps most frightening of all is the removal of the right to remain silent. This has been held to be one of the tenants of rights of anyone arrested in any democracy and courtroom. As we have seen with terrorist legislation being used against demonstrators and others, is there any chance that if this gets onto the statute book it'll end up being used against those arrested who have nothing to do with terrorism? At the moment the whole country seems to be on a very slippery slope. What's more, how do they make people talk? Do they just charge them with perverting the course of justice, or something more sinister? We seem to be now entering a new era in Britain, and it's one that's very frightening. Not because of those who wish to cause us harm, but because of those who govern us and think they are doing what is right.

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