Friday, July 29, 2005

Leaks overshadow polices ops

Police successes in the investigations following the terror attacks of the 7th and 21st July have been somewhat overshadowed by information leaks and ineptness. Several arrests have been made since the attacks including one of the would-be bombers. One of those arrested in Stockwell, on the same day Jean Charles de Menezes was shot, has been released without charge. But there is nonetheless a feeling of progress in the investigations. Commissioner Ian Blair has expressed concern after pictures of the tube blasts were leaked to the US television network ABC. Besides a request by authorities to ABC not to run the pictures, they were aired in the US on Wednesday and widely used in the UK media on Thursday and Friday. British police have said the leaked pictures could “prejudice the current investigation and any future prosecutions”. It is not clear how ABC acquired the photographs but it is thought shared information between authorities around the world, following 9/11, is to blame. In the US, one House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee member has expressed his concern. “We can’t be looking over each other’s shoulder wondering who is leaking whose information” Pete Hoekstra said Thursday. It is not the first leak to come from the US. Shortly after the 7/7 attacks a leaked document published in the New York Times [see 20/07/05] showed that British authorities had reduced the terror threat level from “severe defined” to “substantial”. And it is not just leaks that are concerning authorities. Following the mistaken shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes on Friday 22nd July, police in West Yorkshire used a Tazer stun gun to subdue suspected would-be suicide bomber Yasin Hassan Omar this week. But Ian Blair has expressed his concern, saying the stun gun could have set off any explosives he may have been carrying. The Daily Mirror reported on Thursday that Omar had yelled, “Stay back or I’ll take you with me” before being hit with 50,000 volts. He was apparently wearing a rucksack at the time, which was thrown out the window according to TV reports on the day. Ian Blair said the use of stun guns was, “not policy”.
[12:51 GMT 29/07/2005]

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