Monday, June 19, 2006

The Times 'fresh calls for a public inquiry'

The Times front page . Whenever I feel like giving up, I remember why I'm not going to shut up and stop asking for an independent inquiry into 7/7.

''US 'issued alert' on 7/7 bomber in 2003''
By Daniel McGrory
Fresh calls for public inquiry into London bombings after publication of American book claiming terrorist was known
MI5 has always denied knowing that Mohammad Sidique Khan was a danger (GUZELIAN)
THE leader of the July 7 suicide bombers was considered such a dangerous threat that he was banned from flying to America two years before the attack in London, according to a book written by a US intelligence specialist.

Although MI5 has always denied knowing that Mohammad Sidique Khan was a potential danger, the CIA is alleged to have discovered in 2003 that he was planning attacks on American cities...The claims contradict evidence from Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the Director-General of MI5, to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that Khan had never been listed as a terror threat before the attack that killed 52 innocent people.
A senior British security source has told The Times that they were aware of the allegations but said that they were “untrue and one of the many myths that have grown up around Khan”.
However, the disclosures will add to demands for Tony Blair to agree to a full public inquiry into intelligence lapses before the attack on July 7. Families of the victims, preparing to mark the first anniversary, are among those calling for an independent investigation to uncover all that British Intelligence was told about the suicide bombers by international security agencies...

This year, a leading US Senator, Charles E. Schumer, commenting on newspaper reports in New York that US authorities had tipped off British Intelligence, said: “This is the British version of pre-9/11, where a country receives a generalised warning and ignores it with terrible consequences.”
Suskind told The Times: “British intelligence was certainly told about Khan in March and April 2003.
“This was a significant set of contacts that Khan had, and ones of much less importance were exchanged on a daily basis between the CIA and MI5. British authorities were sent a very detailed file.
“This demonstrates a catastrophic breakdown in communication across the Atlantic.”

The Times leader stops short of calling for a full public inquiry, noting ruefully

''Fostering public trust is the answer to conspiracy theories
There is a growing, and regrettable, tendency to reject all official explanations of horrific, headline-making events and see instead plots, conspiracies and cover-ups...
The wish to believe the worst has sometimes been fuelled by unreliable official information put out too soon, as well as by the culture of spin that attempts to deflect well-deserved blame. But conspiracy theories have also been nurtured by disaffected insiders who have seen a chance to embarrass their superiors and are all too willing to spread unprovable allegations.

The bombings in London last July are fertile ground for such conspiracies. Despite the swift and admirably forthright report last month by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) into 7/7, there have been persistent rumours and speculation that not all the facts were uncovered and that crucial evidence was suppressed to spare the blushes of MI5.

There is room, nevertheless, for a swift, independent assessment of 7/7 and formal recommendations, prefer-ably by a respected public figure, of how security can be improved. This should not divert resources away from the job of making this country safer, but raise the issue of how MI5 and the police can better foster public co-operation, particularly after the Forest Gate episode. It should also look at national priorities. Were the failings of last July the result of a lack of resour-ces?
Is sufficient now being spent in relevant areas, and have enough counter-terrorism experts, especially from ethnic minorities, been recruited? And are relations with US and other intelligence services in good working order? Already the security services have established a confidential hotline, which has yielded useful information. Preventing terrorism must be seen as the responsible and ethical choice of all citizens, and not as snooping on neighbours or acting as stooges.

Inevitably, however, there is much that will remain confidential and that we have to take on trust. We are paying people to be secretive, and so secretive they inevitably will be. The security services must recognise that criticism is not a personal attack, but an inevitable quality of a questioning democracy.''

Well, quite. I am happy with an independent inquiry, with as much of it as possible being publicly available, and the bits that are not, involving rigorous interrogation of the facts with full powers of disclosure by someone with teeth. I'll start by saying'' full public inquiry'', as a negotiation opener, but I can be engaged with, and I am not alone.

The lunatic fringe will continue to speculate and spread offensive nonsense such as '' the Leeds bombers were innocent, '', bothering survivors and whipping up hatred and suspicion with talk of Mason/Zionist/M15 plots. The bereaved will grieve, and survivors puzzle, their questions unanswered, their hopes for lessons learned and information shared which could prevent suffering left to wither. The disconnect between those in power and those who feel powerless will continue to grow. And the suspicion, the cynicism will flourish.

You can sign the petition for an inquiry here. ( Click).

And you'll hear a lot more from people calling for a public inquiry over the next few weeks...

Cheers to The Times and Daniel McGrory.


Blogger Mitch said...

This completely flies in the face of what was said during the Tessa Jowell meeting. The fact of the matter is that the security services knew of Khan but did nothing, then undoubtedly got a big shock when they found he was one of the bombers.

An inquiry would bring this information out.

June 19, 2006 3:28 pm  
Blogger . said...

Agree on the need for an inquiry, but I'd be cautious of the numerous claims that are often made in books, and especially this one.

From the blurb:

"Relying on unique access to former and current government officials, this book will reveal for the first time how the U.S. Government - from President Bush on down - is frantically improvising to fight a new kind of war."

In other words, the book is setting out to justify everything the US is doing in fighting the so-called war on terror. While the claim may be true, and MI5 have completely denied it (although their failure to deal with the likes of Hamza earlier doesn't necessarily inspire confidence) the only way to know is obviously through the public inquiry.

June 19, 2006 6:14 pm  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

why does each new revelation fail to suprise me? ...because there has been no public enquiry?

June 19, 2006 10:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The book revelation turns out to be a duff. Wrong Khan. The new "revelations" are all turning out similarly,

June 24, 2006 12:48 am  

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