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Friday, September 22, 2006 

Lessons still not learned.

The government just doesn't get it. Even the title of the latest report into the 7/7 bombings, Lessons Learned, which reaches similar conclusions to the earlier report by the London Assembly, suggests that they consider the matter closed. Everyone just needs to move on. Let's move on. Forward, not back.

The introduction to the report, signed by John Reid and Tessa Jowell, ends with:
This document is our attempt to let those whose lives were so affected know where we’ve got to. Now we invite those affected by the 7 July bombings or with an interest in improving our nation’s resilience to scrutinise it and tell us how we can do better.
Within a few pages though, it's clear that they're not willing to listen to those who survived the attacks of that day:

The Home Secretary explained that the Government does not believe that a public inquiry would add to our understanding of the atrocities. There has been an independent inquiry by the Intelligence and Security Committee which examined the intelligence and security matters relevant to the attacks.
The Government is also of the view that a public inquiry would divert resources, in terms of personnel, away from the police and security agencies at a time when they are actively engaged in the investigation into the events of 7 July and, importantly, the detection and prevention of further atrocities.
Actively engaged in the investigation of the events of the 7th of July? After a year and two months? What are they still investigating? What are they going to find now? Any trails that might have existed will have long since disappeared. Why has the additional CCTV footage of the bombers which is known to exist still not been released in any shape or form? How would doing that harm any eventual court case against those still alive who were involved? What is the loss of a couple of days work to the security services and police compared to the lives of those who died on that day, as well as those who survived? If they can't find suitable cover, then that's the fault of the government, police and services themselves, not the inquiry which would also have as its main goal learning the lessons necessary to stop such an attack from happening again, just as the government claims to be doing.

The reason the government so adamantly opposes an independent inquiry is because it knows full well that if one were given the opportunity to designate its own remit, to investigate both the events of July the 7th and the lead-up to the events of July the 7th, that it would expose foreign policy as being a major contributor to the motives behind the attackers. The government will not admit that the Iraq war has left us far less safe, as well as transforming what was a secular, proud nation, albeit a repressed and impoverished one, into a hellhole splitting along sectarian faultlines, where bombings have become so common place that they're no longer properly reported by the Western media. Almost 7,000 have died there in the last two months alone.

An independent inquiry may also find failings in the security services; we already know that Mohammad Siddique Khan had been in the sight of MI5, but was thought to only be on the edges of Islamic extremism and so he wasn't kept under surveillance. What else did they know about the other men who carried out the bombings? Were they really unknown?

We shouldn't be surprised by both the government's refusal and the security services contempt, though. The head of MI5 this year refused to even give evidence to a government committee in secret, knowing that she was likely to be asked awkward questions. We're living in a time when we are meant to rely on these people to save lives and protect us from those who want to take them, but instead of them being open with us they're as secretive as they have ever been. Oh, that changes when there's a terrorist raid; then the spooks and police sources suddenly appear, hawking what they know to any journalist who'll listen. That these briefings are designed to scare everyone and smear those arrested before they've even been charged doesn't matter, as after all, desperate times call for desperate measures. We've seen this happen with the Koyair brothers, we've seen it happen over the alleged plot to bomb airliners, and again over the raid of an Islamic school. When those same sources are asked to come out of the shadows and give evidence under oath, they're a lot more shy.

Rachel from North London, an incredibly brave woman, wants to move on but can't because this government pretends to listen but in reality has its hands sewn over its ears. David Davis, probably more out of opportunism than genuine concern wants a public inquiry. It's time that all the other political parties and the media united in calling for one. It's the very least that the relatives of those who died on that day deserve, not to mention the survivors.

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Thank you for that.

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