Tony Blair's First Trophy: "Shoot to Kill"
Mike Whitney – CounterPunch.org August 23, 2005
Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27 year old Brazilian electrician, was apprehended by Scotland Yard's special Firearms Unit on July 22 in the London subway, and shot 7 times in the head at point-blank range. He becomes the first victim of Britain's new "shoot-to-kill" policy and the first trophy in Blair's war on civil liberties.
When Tony Blair boasted two weeks ago that "the rules had changed", he probably never imagined that his edict would produce such immediate and horrific results. But, let's be clear; Blair's bloody fingerprints are all over this pointless murder just as they are in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis who have been unable to avoid British and American aggression in their own country.
At present, the blame for the incident has been shifted onto acting Police chief Sir Ian Blair, the main-player in a massive and inept cover-up of the events surrounding the shooting. Sir Ian delivered a statement shortly after the killing that has since been completely discredited. The Police Chief said:
"Whatever else they (the police) were doing, they clearly thought they were faced with a suicide bomber and they were running towards him. That is cold courage of an extraordinary sort." There was nothing "cavalier or capricious" about the way the police carried out their duties which, according to him, were "directly linked to anti-terrorist operations".
Blair insisted that his officers had no choice but to use "lethal force".
In fact, according to eyewitness accounts, de Menezes was actually held down and shot while sitting quietly with his newspaper!
Police Chief Blair knew from the very beginning that de Menezes was not wearing a "thick, padded coat which could hide explosives", "did not run from police", "did not vault the barrier at the underground Tube," "had used his Tube Pass" to board the subway, and "had taken a seat before being grabbed by an officer". All of these fabrications were leaked to the press and never refuted by Scotland Yard for more than 3 days, until the truth began to surface.
How do we know that Blair knew the real facts of the case?
Because at least 12 members of the various police units who were present at the crime scene had to report directly to Blair.
Every detail of incident that appeared the press has been refuted and summarily disproved.
Even more bizarre, the police had confirmed that the man they were looking for was "not white", and yet, de Menezes was positively identified as white just minutes before he was shot and killed.
As one British tabloid said, "It was a massive cock-up".
What really took place in the London subway on July 22 was a "gangland-style" hit carried out by anti-terror goons masquerading as law enforcement officers. The operation was supposed to prove that the police needed the ability to use "lethal force" to ensure public safety but, instead, it only further undermined public confidence. The entire drill made Tony Blair's Israeli-trained "Firearms Unit" look like little more than shambling storm troopers.
Now, the policy of "shoot-to-kill", the cornerstone of Blair's anti-terror strategy, will have to be reviewed and hopefully, shelved.
Law enforcement should NEVER be permitted to use "deadly force" in any situation other than self defense. Their primary duty is to protect the rights of citizens, not to provide a security-apparatus for the state. The new shoot to kill policy confers absolute authority on the police, allowing them to act as judge, jury and Lord High executioner. It's a prescription for disaster as the de Menezes case proves.
The incident in the London subway points out how Blair plans to reshape the law to enhance his own power. The Prime Minister started hacking away at civil liberties even before the dust had settled over the London subway. He immediately recommended a 12 point "Anti-terror Program" that savages free speech, suspends habeas corpus and due process, and gives the state to the right deport aliens without judicial review.
The new legislation declares "open season" on minorities; allowing the police to completely disregard the traditional restraints that protect foreign visitors.
Blair has exploited the London bombings to the maximum; trying to use the violence to curtail (what Charles Krauthammer calls) Britain's "pathological openness" through "shrinkage of civil liberties".
"Pathological openness"? Now there's a euphemism that could have been minted in 1938 Nuremburg.
Tony Blair's "The rules have changed" speech was nothing but a public relations scam intended to announce the launching of martial law against minorities. His proclamation was no different than Bush's edicts about the "war on terror", which has led to the detention and abuse of hundreds of Muslims. Both are transparent schemes designed to eviscerate civil liberties and increase the power of the executive.
The unfortunate death of young Mr. de Menezes is the inevitable outcome of policies that were devised to lay the foundation for autocratic government. Britain, Australia and the United States are moving pell-mell in the direction of Israel; the apartheid, police-state that conceals its lack of democracy behind the pretense of periodic elections. It comes as no surprise that Scotland Yard's "Firearms unit" was trained by Israeli anti-terror goons. The "shoot-to-kill" policy has a long pedigree in Israel; where justice is casually meted out by war criminals at the top of the political pyramid. The shooting of innocent suspects is just the beginning if this "Israelization" process; it unavoidably leads to endless detentions, state-sanctioned torture and collective punishment; all in the name of "fighting terror".
Blair, Bush and Howard have all turned to a model of governance that justifies the absolute, unchecked authority of the state over the rights of the citizen. De Menezes is just the first casualty in this incipient struggle. He won't be the last.
Note: a "must read" column in the New York Times "When You Have to Shoot First" 7-28-05, by ex-IDF Haim Watzman. Watzman defends the right of the London police to kill de Menezes on the mere suspicion of being a terrorist. He also supports the killing of "wounded and disabled" persons who could potentially be terrorists even if they are unarmed and trying to surrender!?!
"Purity of Arms"?
According to Watzman the officer who "killed Mr. Menezes did a horrible thing. But he also did the right thing" to avoid the risk of the "gratuitous horrors" of terrorism.
It's chilling reading for those who really want to grasp where Blair and Bush plan to take the nation.
Mike Whitney can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated 01/02/2007