Sunday, May 28, 2006

'20 conspiracies'. But don't ask why...

The Sunday Times has picked up on the meeting with Dr. Reid. 'M15 at full stretch as 20 Islamist terror plots revealed' Also on Sky news

Then the BBC World Service got in touch. I called Peter Zimonjic to double-check what we remembered and noted down in the meeting. Dr. Reidhad said ''20 major terrorist conspiracies'' not '' 20 Islamist terrorist conspiracies'' as in the Sunday Times.

Peter Zinomjic who set up London a 7/7 survivor/bereaved website has been blogging, as have I, about the need for a further independent inquiry into the Juy bombings. Like me, he attended the meeting with Dr. Reid last week and his report can be found on his blog here. We have blogged similar accounts of the meeting. Here's Peter's account

''The 20 or so of us who went to try and convince Mr Reid that he should hold an inquiry were all coming from different perspectives. Some of us were concerned about the resourcing of the security services, others were concerned about the degree to which police co-operated their anti-terrorism operations, others still wanted to know how Britain's adventure in Iraq contributed to the bombings.
Some people wanted an inquiry to address the failings in communication sharing between various departments of the security services that let the bombers through. I myself wanted a look into more practical things like how the emergency services responded, what challenges they faced and what we can learn from it all.
My general point is; I feel an incident like this is not an isolated one. There were attempts prior to this attack and, according to Mr Reid, police are investigating 20 major terrorist conspiracies at present, so there are likely to be more. We should therefore take the opportunity to dissect what happened and learn everything we can.
Unfortunately Mr Reid, and his mates at No 10, feel they have answered all the questions. When we tried to tell him we needed one place to go, one definitive account, one inquiry to pull everything together that can sit on a library shelf, for ever, rather than one report from the
Intelligence and Security Committee, one narrative from the Home Office and, one report from the London Assembly due out soon, and countless other bits and bobs from various departments Mr Reid was unconvinced.
The Home Secretary simply said that he thought all questions were answered. We said no no no. We said there are holes apparent in-between the various reports that only a total report such as the
9/11 Commission report could answer. He said; like what, we gave examples and he tried to answer those questions there and then having only been in the job for three weeks. That, I consider, insulting.
Regardless. The point, I fear is quite simply, that his government is afraid to engage in a proper report for a couple of reasons, some obvious from what Mr Reid said in the meeting with us. The first is that an inquiry would, like the
Bloody Sunday Inquiry , cost tens of millions, and require every police and intelligence officer and every victim to testify with legal counsel present. It would become a process that would take so many resources away from the intelligence and security services, he said, that the government's ability to react to a future attack would be limited. In other words; if we have an inquiry it will be so darned huge the country's ability to keep us safe will be compromised and we will, as victims who demand an inquiry, be culpable for a future attack. Need I say just how nuts this is.
I understand where he is coming from. I can sympathise with his belief that his government is incapable of holding an inquiry that is short, comprehensive, cost effective and well run. But isn't the farce that has become the Bloody Sunday Inquiry a good excuse to find a better more efficient way to do things?...''

( more on Peter's ''Editor's blog'')

The comment by Dr. Reid about the 20 conspiracies was in response to our calls for an independent inquiry, to reiterate his point that the security services could not divert resources for fear of missing further attacks, about how we'd feel if ''our'' public enquiry and subesquent resources-diversion led to more families loved ones dying. So far, so emotive, but hmmmm, I negotiate and strategise for a living and I can see through this rhetoric. It doesn't wash.

Counter-terrorism is not just about reacting to known plots. It is about preventing them, proactively, and surely part of the process of that is to learn from our mistakes, learn lessons from July when the bombers struck? You analyse success, and you analyse failure: that is good management practice.

If Dr. Reid is as gung-ho as he seems about overhauling the ''not fit for purpose'' Home Office, then surely properly examining the lessons of July 7th is a crucial place to start? Rather than rushing through legislation about ID cards and imprisoniong people for 90 days, or 28 days, or any of the other legislation and resources which the police and security services ask for, how about taking a step back and asking the hard, grown-up questions about social, foreign and domestic policy.

Looking at communication, response, preparation, intelligence, practices, resources and readiness for attacks. Looking at why the attack happened as well as what happened. Therein lie the seeds of hope for the future, a debate about freedom, liberties, hatred and fear.

Wouldn't that be a brave, an honourable thing to do, I asked the new Home Secretary who had only been in the job three weeks, and who has made so much of sorting out the crisis-ridden HomeOffice. He didn't answer.

Look. It seems clear enough to me. The public were attacked by members of the public. The public's questions about how and why this happened should be answered publicly. It doesn't need to be the most extreme, expensive, lengthy Bloody Sunday kind of inquiry, that hoovers up resources. It shouldn't be a series of pamphlets and slimline reports drafted behind closed doors by civil servants and government officials appointed by the PM either. Which unsurprisingly find no-one to blame.

(It's not about ''blame', ' anyway. Or ''closure'', or ''therapy'' or ''attention''. If I want therapy I'll go see a therapist. I could do without all the campaigning for public inquiries and July 7th stuff, it is unpaid, time-consuming and impacts on my professional and personal life.)

But I'm asking for this because I genuinely believe it is the right thing to do. Not just for people like me who just randomly happened to be on the train, not just for the injured and bereaved, but for the public at large, for all of us, since this affects all of us. It's what many survivors and bereaved have said that they want. And many voters too.

It can be a new kind of inquiry for new post 9/11, post-Madrid, post 7/7 times. But it needs to happen. And soon. I've banged on about it for months, and more and more people are saying, yes, keep going, keep asking. So I will, and we will, and we will see where we get. I'm hopeful we'll get there in the end.

The petition, if you haven't already signed....


Blogger Numeral said...

Get Lord Hutton out of retirement. He knows how to run an efficient inquiry.

May 28, 2006 8:42 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Ho ho, very droll.

I don't see why this cannot be done. I am not going to be sucked into cynicism. I am goign to push for what I beleive in: we can learn lessons from past enquiries and we can do this right. People deserve no less.

May 28, 2006 9:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fewer and fewer people are interested because they are all satisfied with the report. Stop wasting your time. Why do you want report number 2? It won't say anything different.

May 28, 2006 9:55 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

You think so? I don't.

Still to come out: Crevice, Hat, and much else is yet to come out also. If you think those who seek answers will give up after 1 meeting at the Home Office and a fortnight after the narrative, you badly underestimate us, and you are naive to do so.

Keep watching the news. There will be more, in the first week of June, and in the first week of July, and in the first week of September.

May 28, 2006 11:20 pm  
Blogger JM said...

It's interesting that you brought up the 9/11 commission report. As a US citizen who followed those events closely, I honestly feel that the report was just as whitewashed as the 7/7 report. The committee brought a lot of issues to light yet left most of them unresolved, allowing Rumsfeld and Condaleeza Rice to beat around the bush and never following through on what WAS admitted. I think the reason the objectiveness of the 9/11 commission failed is because of the current taboo against critisizing the country's response to terrorism. People think it's unpatriotic and disrespectful to the dead. It's the same thing as the military families whose child died in Iraq-- they don't want to admit that their child died for nothing. However, this sentiment doesn't seem to be as prevalent in Britain, maybe it's just good common sense, who knows-- but my point is that if you are successful in your campaign for an independent inquiry, I think there is a much better chance that the report will be much more valuable than the 9/11 commission ever was. Keep on keeping on.


May 29, 2006 1:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

News makes no difference. Government and police are not worried about BBC, Crevice and Hat. They have said how it is and won't budge. BBC are in a way the worst people to help: they have an agenda resulting from their shame at getting things wrong during the sexed up dossier scandal when the leading BBC reporter was sacked. They have an anti Blair agenda, rather unsubtle.

May 29, 2006 1:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing very constructive to say, just good luck with it.

I suspect the government fears the possibility of even more revelations of incompetence and most of all an official conclusion (that anyone with an ounce of sense knows anyway) that Iraq had a great deal to do with it.

May 29, 2006 5:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel, I've followed your blog with interest for some time and this was an excellent post. However, you fall into the most insidious mnemonic trap with talk about the 'post-9/11', 'post-7/7' world. These are memes that are exploited by Blairite warmongers in order to garner support for their 'humanitarian interventionist' aggression. They were appalling terrorist attacks. They didn't 'change everything' and don't necessitate the 'rules of the game' being changed.

May 30, 2006 1:28 pm  

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