Daily Archives: November 9, 2007

Dead man’s family seeks inquiry into mysterious Menezes-like police slaying

  • Azelle Rodney was shot dead in Edgware, north London in 2005
  • Mr Rodney’s death had echoes of the Menezes case
  • Secret evidence cannot be made public
  • Police have admitted it was a “pre-planned” operation but they have refused to release more details.

BBC News | Nov 5, 2007

Shot man’s family want law change

By Chris Summers

The family of a man shot dead by police have urged the government to change the law so his inquest can proceed.

Azelle Rodney was killed by armed police on 30 April 2005 – three months before Jean Charles de Menezes died.

The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service but, unlike the Menezes case, no charges were brought against the Metropolitan Police.

But a coroner has said he cannot hold a lawful inquest because of secret evidence which cannot be made public.

Last week the Metropolitan Police were convicted of breaching health and safety laws over the shooting of Mr de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician mistaken for a suicide bomber. The trial heard that the Met were guilty of 19 “key failings”.

In August coroner Andrew Walker, sitting at Hornsey in north London, announced he could not proceed with a full inquest into Mr Rodney’s death because of a large number of redactions – passages crossed out – in police officers’ statements.

The redactions were made under the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which covers information obtained from covert surveillance devices such as telephone tapping or bugs, said the solicitor for Azelle Rodney’s family, Daniel Machover.

Mr Machover said he had written to the Home Office and Ministry of Justice asking them to change the law so the coroner can proceed with the inquest.

He said he had warned them if they refused to legislate he would take the matter to the High Court and seek to obtain a declaration of incompatibility to show Ripa was in breach of the Human Rights Act.

Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander has been waiting for more than two years for an inquest.

Mr Machover said: “She has to see for her own peace of mind what it is that the secret evidence reveals and how it affected the state of mind of the officers concerned.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said an independent review is under way into whether evidence from phone taps or bugs should be used in courts.

She said: “We accept the arguments in favour of using it but only if there are the necessary safeguards to protect methods of intelligence.”

Mr Machover said: “The RIPA ‘criminalises everything’ so that when the officer says ‘I shot him because of X and X’ we are not allowed to know what X refers to.”

‘Hard stop’

Armed officers stopped the car in Edgware, north London, after having its occupants under surveillance for three hours.

Mr Rodney, who was sitting in the back seat, was shot dead after armed police were ordered to carry out a “hard stop”.

Immediately afterwards police said the dead man had been seen holding a firearm but it later emerged this was not true.

The officer who shot him claimed he thought he was reaching for a gun.

The police have admitted it was a “pre-planned” operation but they have refused to release more details.

One newspaper claimed at the time of the shooting that police believed the trio were on their way to kidnap and rob a drug dealer.

But Mr Machover said there were many unanswered questions, such as why the police did not arrest the trio when they were in the street in Harlesden, rather than waiting for them to get back in the car.

Three guns and ammunition were found in the car.

The driver and front seat passenger, Wesley Lovell, 26, and Frank Graham, 24, were later jailed for seven and six years respectively for firearms offences.

At the pair’s trial Samantha Cohen, prosecuting, said: “They were again followed by police and at about 7.40 a decision was made to stop the Volkswagen Golf they were in proceeding any further.

“That operation involved armed officers, and Rodney, who was in the back seat of his car, was shot in the course of that stop. He died.”

But Mr Machover said: “While others in the car were later convicted of firearms offences there is no doubt that Azelle was not holding a gun at the time of the shooting.”

He said the case had naturally been overshadowed by the Menezes case but he said it was very significant in its own right.

Mr Walker, who usually sits as deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, has been involved in a number of high profile inquests and made his name when he urged the attorney general to consider pressing charges against US troops who shot dead ITN reporter Terry Lloyd in Iraq.

The Parts Left Out of the Good Shepherd

Hollywood recently released the first behind-the-curtain account of the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and its relationship with a secret society at Yale University known as Skull and Bones. HIGH TIMES asked the world’s leading authority on the group to help us separate truth from fiction.

High Times | Nov 2007

By Kris Millegan

I hope you are lucky enough to meet someone you trust. I regret to say. I haven’t.

-Dr, Fredricks [Michael Gambon] in The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd is Robert De Niro’s effort to mine the dramatic materials at the very real-life nexus of secret societies, intelligence agencies and recorded history, apparently in an attempt to forge a Godfather-style franchise.

But one is left wincing at the thought of The Good Shepherd.  Part II, given that the film begins and ends with the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and its aftermath, with the assassination of JFK and its attendant wilderness of conspiracy lurking just over the horizon, Will the “right people” end up washing the blood off their hands in a sequel, laying the action off on some mob operation gone rogue, which then had to be covered up for “the good of the country”? All just an honest mistake….

But I seem to be getting ahead of myself. I have often been asked. ‘What do you think of the movie The Good Shepherd? And the best response I could usually offer was: “Well. I haven’t seen it yet.” I’d been aware of the film for several years, and followed its progress to the silver screen, but I don’t get out much. Then, finally, the DVD version of the film wound its way to our local store, and I picked up a copy to see what I could find.  My first viewing brought up a host of indignant furies, all riled at the historical hubris of the tale and the simple fact that most of the characters in it and even the film’s central story of betrayal are amalgamations at best, and total confabulations at worst. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t watch this movie, As a matter of fact. I recommend it highly — but with caveats, as will soon become clear.

Similar emotions were probably experienced by the relatives of Mafia members when The Godfather came out: contempt for its errors, but still a satisfaction at seeing a film with some semblance of reality, accurately portraying the Mafia’s attitudes, atmosphere and activities while, at the same time, exposing a very tragic and very real group that plays by its own rules and affects us all … immensely. Being an intelligence brat. I can only speak about The Good Shepherd, but if you’re interested in the views of Mafia whelps. I suggest reading Mafia Princess by Antoinette Giancana, or maybe watching some Growing Up Gotti on A&E.

But then, my own dad wasn’t a big boss; he was just a lesser boss, someone who had been in some very interesting places at some very interesting times, which had given him an overview of the agency beyond the standard compartmentalization. The last overt job that my father, Lloyd S. Millegan, had with the CIA was serving as a branch chief, the head of the East Asia Research Analysis Office. Before that, he’d been in the Office of Strategic Services (0SS) and a few of the other alpha-named agencies that eventually morphed into the CIA. After his initial contact with the intelligence community in 1936. as an 18-year-old exchange student at the University of Shanghai. He joined the OSS before World War II. In 1943, he entered the world of deep politics, “monitoring” Gen, Douglas MacArthur and his staff for the OSS and its boss, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Dad had many interesting adventures in those days, including running guerrillas and (ironically) getting sued by the Japanese government for his actions in sequestering the Japanese-puppet Filipino government’s library during the Battle of Manila, before the US troops arrived there in 1945.

My father quit the CIA in 1959. He’d already started toward the exit after a trip to South Vietnam in 1956, where he’d met an interesting real-life character named Edwin Lansdale, who could conceivably play a big part in The Good Shepard. Part II [assuming there is one], and who had recently taken control of the opium trade in the Golden Triangle, Dad started talking to me about all this in 1969, which led me to begin exploring a phenomenon that officially doesn’t exist: CIA involvement in narco-trafficking.

Which leads to my biggest beef with the film: Instead of touching on the CIA’s illicit drug-trade connections, now well documented as going back to the early postwar era, the story offers up the standard Hollywood-cliche mole maze, set against the disingenuous dialectic of the Cold War. Thus, the first major sin of The Good Shepherd is one of omission: no mention of the long-standing role that drug trafficking has played in the agency’s arsenal of “dirty tricks.”

Nonetheless, it is through the routine spy story that the movie interjects one of its greatest truths, albeit through the lips of a tortured Russian defector stoned on LSD:

Soviet power is a myth, a great joke. There are no spare parts; nothing is working — nothing. It’s nothing but painted rust. But you, you need to keep the Russian myth alive to maintain your military-industrial complex. Your system depends on Russia being perceived as a mortal threat. It’s not a threat. It was never a threat. It will never be a threat. It is a rotted, bloated cow.

How might this sobering fact be received by the audience, coming as it does from the mouth of an enemy agent tripped out on acid, appearing in a fictional film based upon an unreliable chronicle? Might it just covertly confirm the reality that many know to be true — but without causing the uproar that such a significant revelation should engender?

Around this real-life charade revolve some other themes of the movie, leaving us with an insight into Napoleon’s famous dictum: History is a set of lies agreed upon. For when even “honorable” men lie, who is trustworthy? What is real? Are our secrets safe? Do secrets give us safety? And at what cost?

My good friend Antony Sutton was ostracized from academia for uncovering the truth that forces in the West had been propping up the USSR since its inception, there even having been surreptitious Western help in producing the war materiel that was used to kill American soldiers in the Vietnam War. Tony demanded that the evidence he’d gathered be published. He was instead warned, “not to break his rice bowl.”            .

Finally, to force the issue, Tony released his own book. He was unceremoniously tossed out of the Hoover Institute at Stanford for this act of courage. His career was ruined, his family became estranged and his integrity was betrayed — but because of Sutton’s act of righteous defiance in 1973, there is cold, hard proof of what the psychedelicized Soviet agent sagaciously spouts in this 21st-century morality play.

Will the film’s revelation of this manipulation of public opinion — this strategy of tension, this “playing” of a false Soviet threat — be trumpeted, trumped or simply filed away among the many other “facts” of the day? For this speaks deeply to our common perceived reality and shared experiences — especially of boomers, who as young children were being shoved under desks for “protection,” in a world about to be blown to smithereens … over ideology.

Antony Sutton paid the disgraceful price of being ridiculed by many, then ignored for the rest of his life. Deftly pigeonholed, his effort at speaking truth to power was sullied, entering the common discourse as per the Big Lie axiom:  The truth must be available, but only in a way that makes it easily discarded.

Soon, the only place that a person could find Tony’s books was in a John Birch Society bookstore, which for most people immediately tainted what he had to say. Tony was never a member and abhorred the group. Interestingly, when researching the JBS, a person finds a very, convoluted history — one with spook fingerprints all over it. (Was part of the JBS’s operational capability to associate conspiracy research with the domain of wacky old white men concerned about precious bodily fluids, Commie boogiemen and such?)

Which leads us to another grim reality disclosed within this Hollywood fantasy: the very real manipulation of the Fourth Estate, and thus our collective civic understandings and abilities, by intelligence agencies, political hacks, corporate flacks and bureaucrats using propaganda techniques to spin “truth out of lies.”

In The Good Shepherd, the following is spoken by Phillip Allen (William Hurt] as he hands off the film’s protagonist, Edward Wilson (Matt Damon], to Wilson’s English handler in wartime 1941 London:

You are going to have to learn, and as quickly and thoroughly as possible, the English system of intelligence, the black arts, particularly counterintelligence — the uses of information, disinformation, and how their use is ultimately … power. They have agreed to open up their operations to us — they can’t win the war without us — but they don’t really want us here…. Intelligence is their mother’s milk, and they don’t like sharing the royal tit with people that don’t have titles.

Phillip Allen is clearly patterned, at least in part, after longtime CIA chief Allen Dulles, especially since, in the movie, Allen resigns — as Dulles did in real life — after the failed Bay of Pigs operation in 1961.

Philip Allen is also supposed to be a member of Skull and Bones’ class of 1912, and the top three guys at the agency in the movie are Bonesmen, which is historically inaccurate. This is not to say that Yale and its secret-society system — especially Bones — haven’t played a huge part in the structure and execution of our country’s intelligence operations, for they have, and of course Allen Dulles was part of this power establishment. So, even by Hollywood’s historical standards, this is in the right ballpark.

But for me, many features of Phillip Allen also evoke Bonesman Prescott Bush, the grandfather of the current Bonesman in the White House, and the father of another member of Skull and Bones: the former head of the CIA and ex-president, George HW. Bush.

For Prescott Bush was more than an investment banker for the Nazis (read: the creation of an enemy) who later became a US senator, partly through the suppression of the news that the companies he’d run had been seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Prescott had begun working with the intelligence community during World War I, and he maintained those contacts until his death. Also, Prescott Bush raised money for — and was on the board of directors of — the CBS television network, which was founded by William Paley, the former deputy chief for psychological-warfare operations on the staff of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

And, probably most telling, Prescott — along with his son, Prescott Jr.; future CIA director William Casey; and corporate economist and intelligence gadfly Leo Cherne — founded the National Strategy Information Center (NSIC) in 1962. Some of NSIC’s early funding went to the London-based World Forum Features, which in turn circulated CIA-authored disinformation and manipulative news articles worldwide. They hoped that the “news” from these articles would subsequently be picked up and reported as fact by the US media, a process that spooks call “blowback.”

Other material discrepancies in the film abound, such as putting the wrong dates on several scenes of historical fact; books appearing in the movie before their print date; and city buses full of people going to work on Sundays. And, as students of deep politics know, the real story of the Bay of Pigs is this: JFK went to bed the night before having given the okay for the necessary air support for the invasion. That directive was then “bungled” by presidential advisor and Skull and Bones member McGeorge Bundy, because the Bay of Pigs “invasion” was a planned debacle, leaving in place a convenient “enemy” to rattle fear in American souls and dollars out of the US treasury. It also gave operational cover for other adventures and tied an albatross around the new president’s neck.

The reality is much stranger than the fiction. In fact, the essence of this might be suggested by some words spoken by De Niro’s character, Gen. William ‘Wild Bill” Sullivan, the first director of the OSS: “I am concerned that too much power will end up in the hands of too few…. It’s always in somebody’s best interest to promote enemies — real or imagined.” The reality has surpassed the cine-fiction. How far? Well….

“[M]en linked to the structures of United States intelligence” was how an Italian Senate investigation described the perpetrators of the 1980 Bologna train bombing, an act of terrorism that killed 85 people and injured over 200. The bombing was part of a series of actions carried out over many years in Italy, targeting the political left by essentially blaming and demonizing it for acts done covertly by agents of the right. The plan, part of Operation Gladio, sought to terrorize the populace into voting for strong right-wing governments in order to suppress the left.

“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from the political game. The reason was quite simple: to force … the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security” was how Operation Gladio participant Vincenzo Vinciguerra put it later during his testimony to Italian authorities.

Operation Gladio, which was initially sold as a “stay-behind force” in case of the Communist takeover of Western Europe, was instead used for psychological warfare and political manipulation. Terrorism, assassination and subverting the electoral process were just a few of the deeds carried out using fascist elements, cult members, secret government agents, gangsters and covert military units.

Similarly, in Belgium, after large public protests over the nuclear-tipped missiles being based in their country, a “state security destabilization operation” was undertaken — as one participant called the series of mass killings in the mid-1980s dubbed the “Supermarket Massacres.” Investigations by the Belgian parliament determined that the goal was to instill fear and discord, trigger repressive measures, and create the pretext for stricter state control. The killers were later linked to state security, neo-Nazi groups and even to Wackenhut, a firm with US intelligence ties.

Operation Northwood was another “false flag” terrorist operation, this time emanating from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Department of Defense via a study-group report entitled “Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba,” The scheme was backed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, with the Joint Chiefs specifically supporting a proposal to down an aircraft supposedly carrying” college students off on a holiday,”

James Bamford, in his 2001 book Body of Secrets, wrote: “Operation Northwoods had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war,”

How much of our history is simply psychological warfare, including the traumatizing of the masses through fear, the creation of false enemies, media manipulation, electoral theft and other terrorist acts, all done as a means to an end?

“[A] mind-set that thrives on secrecy and deception … encourages professional amorality — the belief that righteous goals can be achieved through the use of unprincipled and normally unacceptable means,” wrote ex-CIA officer Victor Marchetti in his book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. And my ex-CIA father, in a 1979 newspaper interview, stated: “When you work for the CIA, the ends justify the means.”

Is that the brutal reality behind the horrific acts of Sept. 11, 2001? Was this watershed event a managed tragedy, an occult means to invoke repression and war? Are Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda the strategic invention of yet another enemy in a long series of created malefactors? Is it possible for us to learn and then change the way of world from the enlightened dialogue of the silver screen?

Everything that seems clear is bent and everything that seems bent is clear. Trapped in reflections, you must learn to recognize when a lie masquerades as a truth….

—Dr. Fredricks, in The Good Shepherd

So, as the Romans used to say, caveat lector! Let the reader beware —or, in other words, pay attention, and don’t believe everything you read (or see, or hear). Please hearken to those words of wisdom, but do not attempt to pass a history exam having watched The Good Shepherd … at least in my class.

Merck Gets Off Cheap In $4.85 billion Vioxx Payoff

 

The deal is estimated to cover perhaps 50,000 heart attacks, and those affected will get, on average, $125,000 each. Treating heart attacks costs far more than that.

Forbes | Nov 9, 2007

by Matthew Herper and Robert Langreth

A few years ago it looked as if product liability battles might endanger the very existence of drug giants like Merck and Wyeth. Apparently not.

Merck (nyse: MRK – news – people ) is announcing that it has entered into a plan to settle 95% of the claims against its withdrawn painkiller, Vioxx, for $4.85 billion. That’s not only far less than the $10 billion or $20 billion most analysts once expected Merck would pay plaintiffs, but also less than Vioxx generated in total sales during its time on the market.

Merck says the $4.85 billion won’t change, unlike previous deals that mushroomed as more and more plaintiffs were drawn to the prospect of easy money. “We have looked at the prior litigations and learned a great deal,” said Merck General Counsel Bruce N. Kuhlik on a conference call this morning.

If the deal really is ironclad, it represents a huge win for drug companies in general as they face potential liability on medicines that turn out to have side effects. The deal is estimated to cover perhaps 50,000 heart attacks, and those affected will get, on average, $125,000 each. Treating heart attacks costs far more than that.

It’s not just Merck that is getting off cheap. Another potential tort was for the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, which causes more weight gain–and, potentially, diabetes–than its peers. But Eli Lilly (nyse: LLY – news – people ) has settled 30,000 claims for a little more than $1 billion. Zyprexa generates $4 billion in sales a year.

Wyeth (nyse: WYE – news – people ) sold its hormone replacement therapy Prempro for many decades before a big government study found that it was linked to breast cancer. But lawsuits have not generated much concern on Wall Street.

When Merck made the decision to pull Vioxx three years ago after finding the drug worsened the risk of heart attacks, the drug industry braced for a repeat of Wyeth’s disastrous yanking of the diet drugs Redux and Pondimin. Six million Americans took these pills before the medicines were linked to a rare but dangerous heart valve defect.

Wyeth’s legal proceedings went sour, and it entered a settlement where the number of claims ballooned. As a result, it set aside an eye-popping $22 billion–more than Wyeth’s annual net revenue. Vioxx was taken by many more patients, and the side effect of heart attacks and strokes not only turned up in Merck’s own studies but are among the most common causes of death. Wall Street and legal experts imagined a deluge of legal experts.

It seemed disaster had hit when Merck lost its first Vioxx case for $235 million. But then Merck started winning cases. So far, it has won twice as many as it lost. By last summer, some Merck watchers were arguing that the company would emerge basically unscathed.

“The estimates of tens of billions of dollars of liability are just wrong,” Michael Krensavage, an analyst at Raymond James, told Forbes.com last June (See ” Forget Vioxx?”). “I think it’s one of the biggest misperceptions I’ve seen in pharmaceutical investing.”

Merck’s prospects appear to have become so good, in Wall Street’s view, that the stock is barely up, rising only TK% in pre-market trading. James Kelly, a pharmaceuticals analyst at Goldman Sachs, argued in a note to investors that Vioxx was “no longer a focus for investors.”

But Barbara Ryan, a health care analyst at Deutsche Bank, applauded the deal. She wrote to investors that Merck’s “aggressive and successful defense strategy has given it a heavy hand in the bargaining process” and that the cost of the settlements is clearly at the low end of expectations.

That’s good news for Merck. It’s also good news for the drug industry at large. In the current system, product liability suits are a cost of doing business, especially with the current hair-trigger environment on drug safety. But it doesn’t appear that those suits are going to break the bank.

Top cop tried to block probe into De Menezes killing

Sir Ian Blair today: Criticised for trying to halt IPCC investigation

Evening Standard | Nov 8, 2007

The catalogue of confusion and failure which led to Jean Charles de Menezes dying at the hands of Sir Ian Blair’s marksmen was revealed today.

In a report which singled out blunder after blunder which led to the deadly shooting, the Commissioner was singled out for criticism for attempting to stop the Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry from getting under way.

The move ratchets up political pressure on the embattled Commissioner – but today he refused to quit and said: “I intend to remain in this post.”

Despite his intentions, a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority on November 22 could lead to his sacking or resignation.

In an excoriating verdict, the IPCC made 16 specific criticisms of his force’s conduct on the day of the shooting at Stockwell tube station.

It also warned that Cressida Dick, the officer in charge of the operation, could still face disciplinary proceedings for what it said were a series of mistakes on 22 July 2005. The report recommends she be prosecuted for gross negligence.

Her handling of the day started with going to the wrong room for the key briefing, and saw her preside over an operation marred at every stage by failures of communication and confusion.

In a noisy and crowded command room, she issued an unclear order, telling armed officers – who were on the scene hours later than they should have been – to “stop” Mr de Menezes.

CO19 officers rushed to the Tube after being told they were on “state red”, sealing his fate.

IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick praised the two gunmen who shot Mr de Menezes as “heroes” who genuinely feared he was a suicide bomber about to detonate his bomb.

But they said Mr de Menezes was shot because his innocent reactions were misinterpreted and told how not one Tube passenger heard “armed police” – but every officer did.

The IPCC revealed 15 Met officers were interviewed under caution for allegations including murder, gross negligence, manslaughter, misconduct in a public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice – but the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to proceed with any charges.

Sir Ian said today he was satisfied that the force had “significantly improved” procedures for dealing with life-threatening situations in the wake of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith released a statement today re-stating her “full confidence” in Sir Ian Blair in the light to the IPCC report.

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) chairman Nick Hardwick said Sir Ian was responsible for “much of the avoidable difficulty” caused after the Stockwell tragedy.

The long-awaited report also revealed that prosecutors considered and rejected murder charges against the two officers who fired the fatal shots.

Charges of gross negligence against Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who was in charge of the ill-fated operation, were also considered and rejected.

Asked whether the report piled further pressure on Sir Ian, Mr Hardwick said: “Sir Ian Blair’s position isn’t a matter for us.

“I’m not going to get into a discussion about Sir Ian Blair’s future. We did not investigate Sir Ian Blair.”

Pressed on whether the Commissioner should be worried about today’s findings, the chairman said: “What he should be worried about is a matter for him. I’m not going to get inside his head.”

Report author John Cummins said the Commissioner’s steps to delay the IPCC inquiry led to a number of problems.

Crucially, the IPCC’s investigators were barred from the scene of the shooting itself, he said.

“There has been much reporting of the failure of the CCTV at Stockwell Tube station and on the train itself,” he told a press conference in central London.

“Had the IPCC investigation team been there at the outset, we would have been able to confirm that immediately. “There was a number of stories and conspiracy theories about the CCTV. We could have prevented that from the outset.”

Mr Hardwick said the IPCC had yet to decide whether it will recommend disciplinary measures for the four senior officers in charge of the operation.

“We will do that as quickly as we can,” he said.

He added that he was satisfied that good progress was being made in implementing the 16 recommendations made in the report.

“These are failings that could and should have been avoided,” he said.

It was a “fundamental problem” that the policy to stop and question anyone leaving the flats under surveillance simply had not happened, Mr Hardwick added.

Witnesses to de Menezes killing did not hear officers shout ‘armed police’

Evening Standard | Nov 7, 2007

Witnesses to the wrongful shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes did not hear officers shout ‘armed police’, an independent police report shows.

Today’s release of a damning report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission raised more questions about the police operation that led to the death of the innocent Brazilian.

One of the points raised is the fact the 17 people on-board the busy Stockwell Underground train did not hear officers shout ‘armed police’ but eight police officers in the carriage did.

The report highlighted a series of major failings, including poor communication between officers that led to Mr de Menezes being mistakenly identified as a wanted terrorist.

The report also revealed that prosecutors considered and rejected murder charges against the two officers who fired the fatal shots – and included the officers’ first public accounts of the event.

One officer, known only as Charlie 2, described seeing a surveillance officer grab Mr de Menezes.

The report said: “Charlie 2 stated that he was convinced that the man was a suicide bomber and was about to detonate a bomb.”

The second officer, known only as Charlie 12, said he shouted “Armed police” but Mr de Menezes began to “close us down” – or move towards them.

Witness accounts described how Mr de Menezes was attempting to get off the train through the open doors as the armed officers ran on board.

Investigators said this reaction, which the Met claimed during the Old Bailey added to the officers’ suspicious, was “not surprising”.

The report said: “He (Mr de Menezes) had been in London on 7 and 21 July 2005 and, in common with all commuters, he too was probably in fear of further bombing campaigns.

“His actions were more likely attempts to leave the train to avoid any further incident.”

Investigators also said officers should review the Metropolitan Police’s controversial shoot-to-kill Operation Kratos policy.

The report showed charges of gross negligence against Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who was in charge of the ill-fated operation, were also considered and rejected.

Much of the 167-page IPCC report formed the basis of the successful Old Bailey prosecution against the Metropolitan Police for health and safety breaches.

But it contained previously unpublished details about the police operation and the final moments of Mr de Menezes’ life on board the Victoria Line train.

It is sure to lead to fresh calls for the resignation of under-fire Sir Ian, who lost a vote of confidence at a meeting of the London Assembly yesterday.

The report revealed that:

• Police officers failed to take advantage of a 30-minute window of opportunity to correctly identify whether Mr de Menezes was a suspected terrorist

• There was no contingency plan available to deal with a suspect travelling on public transport despite the nature of the 7/7 and 21/7 attacks

• None of the 17 members of the public on board the Stockwell Underground train recalled hearing officers shout “armed police” but all eight police in the carriage said they had

• Ms Dick missed part of the early morning briefing at New Scotland Yard after being sent to the wrong room

• Armed response officers from the Met’s CO19 unit were not in place to intercept suspects leaving Scotia Road and were later in the wrong place to intercept him

• There were “gaps in the planning” about how the premises would be contained

• It was a “failure of strategy” to allow Mr de Menezes to board the number 2 bus at Tulse Hill towards central London, including an “inexplicable” failure to stop him reboarding the vehicle

• Ms Dick should have said that the Met’s shoot-to-kill policy, Operation Kratos, had not been engaged and there was confusion over what the order to “stop” Mr de Menezes meant

The report concluded: “The IPCC investigation into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes has, however, raised grave concerns about the effectiveness of the police response on July 22, 2005.

“Our concerns are not only, as in this case, the risk of an entirely innocent member of the public being killed in error, but also whether the police response would stop a terrorist who was intent on causing harm.”

It recommended that the Home Office take urgent action to review how police respond to terrorist incidents.

IPCC chair Nick Hardwick said Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Ian Blair, was responsible for “much of the avoidable difficulty” caused after the Stockwell tragedy.

In a statement, Mr Hardwick said calls for changes to health and safety laws to exclude some police operations were “the wrong road”.

He said: “The defining feature of the police in this country is that the law applies to them individually and as a service, just as it does to every other citizen and organisation.

“This case is not about creating a more risk-averse police service but a more coherent and effective police response to real threats.”

He said Sir Ian Blair attempted to block IPCC investigators from the Stockwell scene, police officers and witnesses.

He said: “The Commissioner attempted to prevent us carrying out an investigation.

“In my view, much of the avoidable difficulty the Stockwell incident has caused the Metropolitan Police arose from the delay in referral.

“In June 2006 the regulations were changed to put beyond doubt the IPCC’s powers to investigate an incident of this kind.”

He said police forces across the UK had already made changes as a result of the report and these were apparent during the response to the London-Glasgow bombings.

He said: “I am satisfied that the death of Jean Charles de Menezes has been a catalyst for significant improvements in the way in which police deal with the threat of suicide terrorism.

“Those improvements make it less likely that there will be other innocent victims of police shootings, but, as the Inspectors’ review makes very clear, much more likely that the police will be able to respond effectively to an actual terrorist threat.

“London and Londoners should be safer as a result. It should not have taken the death of an innocent man to achieve that.”

Kremlin-funded blockbuster casts Putin in a tsar role


Echoing Soviet-style propaganda, nationalist film-maker retells the origins of the motherland

Sunday Herald | Nov 9, 2007 

by John Follet

THE KREMLIN has turned to a tumultuous period in Russian history to foster a subliminal loyalty to President Vladimir Putin and erase the memory of a Communist national holiday.

The event, an uprising in 1612 that drove a Polish-Lithuanian army out of Moscow, is romanticised in a new blockbuster film that detractors have compared to Soviet-era propaganda.

It showcases key ideas being pushed by the Kremlin at a time when it faces parliamentary and presidential elections: the necessity of strong leadership; treacherous foreigners; and the importance of patriotism.

The film, 1612, was released to coincide with a relatively new November 4 national holiday created by Putin to celebrate National Unity Day.

The bank holiday was introduced in 2005 to replace the traditional Soviet November 7 national holiday that marked the Bolshevik revolution.

Aimed at teenage cinemagoers, the film was commissioned by the Kremlin and retells the uprising of 1612 in a style reminiscent of Lord Of The Rings complete with a unicorn, a love story, and a decisive battle of good versus evil.

The events it is based upon marked a turning point in Russian history. During the so-called “time of troubles” in the early 17th century, Moscow slipped into lawlessness, foreign armies vied for control, famine stalked the land, and the tsardom lacked any leadership.

The chaos in Moscow ended after an uprising drove the foreign invaders out, setting the stage for the Romanov dynasty to rule Russia for the next 300 years. Mikhail Romanov was crowned tsar in 1613, heralding the arrival of a period of Russian expansion.

Putin’s aides are keen to promote the idea that the events of 1612 have been replayed almost 400 years later.

Post-Soviet Russia’s “time of troubles” was, they say, the anarchic 1990s when Boris Yeltsin presided over a weak criminalised state heavily influenced by Washington. And of course it is Putin, they say, who is the country’s latter-day tsar who has restored order and banished treacherous foreign influence.

The film was in part bankrolled by oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, the man who in 2004 bought nine Fabergé eggs in the US so they could be repatriated.

“It’s important for me that the audience feel pride,” said director Vladimir Khotinenko. “That they didn’t regard it as something that happened in ancient history but as a recent event. That they felt the link between what happened 400 years ago and today.”

But liberals claim it is part of an attempt to mythologise parts of the country’s history to build an aggressive new national identity that takes the “good bits” from the tsarist and Communist eras. They also argue it is a subliminal party political broadcast.

“The picture ends with the election of Mikhail Romanov and the appearance of a glorious new tsarist dynasty,” wrote Russian Newsweek.

“We also have elections. We also have a glorious new dynasty. So the film is also hinting who and why we should choose for the good of Russia.”

Going into parliamentary elections on December 4, Putin has put himself at the top of the Kremlin-allied party United Russia’s list, turning the vote into a referendum on his almost eight years of power. The party is expected to win almost 70% of the vote on the back of his phenomenal popularity.

But Putin has a problem. The constitution prevents him from running for a third consecutive term. That prospect has Russia’s elite in panic. Leading political figures have called on him to change the constitution and stay on, and in recent weeks the country has been gripped by rallies begging him to remain president.

One of the most famous members of the film’s production team has made it clear which way he wants things to go.

Nikita Mikhalkov, whose 2004 film Burnt By The Son won an Oscar for best foreign film, has penned a public letter with other cultural figures to Putin urging him to stay on. “Russia needs your talents and wisdom,” the letter said.

So far, 1612 has received mixed reviews, with one critic calling it “Russian trash”. But its ideological genus and message have drawn the most scorn.

“With the help of culture you can create simplified versions of reality that are hugely beneficial to government,” wrote historian Igor Dolutskii. Film directors had become, he added, representatives “of the oldest profession in the world”.

De menezes murder – accident or design?

A “Strategy of Tension”?

Aangirfan | Nov 2, 2007

Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead on a London underground train.

Was this an accident,

or,

did elements of the security services want to have an innocent man killed on the train as part of ‘strategy of tension’?

In the recent trial of the Metropolitan Police, the court heard how a “catastrophic” series of key failures in police procedure led to Mr de Menezes, 27, being shot seven times by armed police officers at Stockwell Underground station:

1. The police failed to stop and question de Menezes as he emerged from the Scotia Road premises where he lived. (Brown backs police chief despite Old Bailey ruling)

2. The police failed to have a firearms team at the block of flats when Mr de Menezes emerged from the communal doorway.

3. The police failed to identify a “safe and appropriate” area where those leaving the Scotia Road premises could be stopped and questioned.

4. The police failed to deploy firearms officers at relevant locations in time to stop Mr de Menezes getting on to the bus and into the Tube station.

5. There was a failure to take effective steps to stop Tube trains or buses or take other “travel management steps” to minimise the risk to the travelling public.

6. De Menezes was allowed twice to get on to a bus and to go into the Tube station.

7. Reportedly, there was a failure to give accurate information to Commander Dick about where specialist SO19 officers were when she was deciding whether they or Special Branch (SO12) officers should stop de menezes.

8. There was a failure to minimise the risk in arresting Mr de Menezes by armed officers “whether in relation to the location, timing or manner of his arrest”.

Reportedly, among the surveillance team in Scotia Road was a soldier from a new “special forces” regiment -the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR).

James Cusick, in the Sunday Herald  AN INNOCENT MAN SHOT DEAD ON THE LONDON TUBE BY POLICE . . .SINCE …, wrote:

“According to security sources, SRR personnel were involved in the tailing operation that saw de Menezes leave the block of flats, board a bus, and then enter the tube station at Stockwell. SRR personnel are also believed to have been on the tube train when he was shot.

“The SRR soldier at Scotia Road (given the codename Tango 10) used equipment which sent realtime pictures of all who came and went from the flats. Those receiving the pictures could check them against footage of who they were looking for. One security source said: ‘In this kind of operation you never leave. You need to pee: you use a bottle; if there’s no bottle, tough. You never leave.’

“The police account says there is no footage of de Menezes leaving because the SRR soldier had to relieve himself. The police account says he sent out a message calling the man who left [de Menezes] an ‘ICI’ – a white northern European…”

According to The telegraph, while de Menezes was being followed by surveillance officers, Commander Cressida Dick was aware that de Menezes was NOT a terrorist. (London Telegraph)

Commander Dick gave the final command: “Do not let surveillance intervene.” (CCTV proves police lied: de Menezes behaved normally before being …)

Surveillance officers had been following the bus on which de Menezes was travelling. These officers were preparing to stop the bus and apprehend de Menezes in order to interview him. Then Commander Dick gave the order that the surveillance officers were to stand down and not intervene.

De Menezes was allowed to enter the London Underground and board a crowded tube train. At this point, a shadowy government force shot and killed de Menezes.The police then claimed to have shot a dangerous terrorist and they began to tell what looked like a series of lies.

. . .

Related

Strategy of tension
A strategy of tension (Italian: strategia della tensione) is a way to control and manipulate public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, as well as false flag terrorist actions (including bombings). According to historian Daniele Ganser, “It is a tactic which consists in committing bombings and attributing them to others. By the term ‘tension’ one refers to emotional tension, to what creates a sentiment of fear. By the term ‘strategy’ one refers to what feeds the fear of the people towards one particular group”

CCTV proves police lied: de Menezes behaved normally before being murdered

London police getting away with murder