Friday, August 19, 2005

The ends justify the means...

...but only when something else justifies the ends. In the aftermath of the 7/7 and 7/21 attacks in the UK subway or underground, the news came that the police there had shot to death a man who made all the wrong moves. He ran from police. He jumped a turnstile. He was wearing a heavy padded coat in July. And he ignored the repeated orders of police to stop and surrender. Faced with a seconds-to-live choice, the bobbies made the call and opened fire. Tragically, the man wasn't a bomber but an immigrant who was on his way to work. A very sad story, but unavoidable given the facts as stated by the police.

Only, it now appears they were lying. Have a look at the UK Telegraph story I've linked and look closely at the picture of the body of Jean Charles de Meneze. (Work-safe, so go ahead.) Even in the tiny, little thumbnail photo on that page does that even remotely resemble a "heavy padded coat?" My eyes are about 75% as good as they were 15 years ago and I can still clearly see that it's a denim jacket - hardly the kind of clothing that would be out of place for a man who grew up in a hot, humid climate now living in a place like London, England. The bobbies couldn't have known that, of course, but it's far more likely than a parka in Washington, DC.

If that were all, I'd still side with the bobbies. Hell, if the guy'd been wearing a sleeveless T-shirt and running shorts and acted the way he did, I'd side with the bobbies. Only, he didn't act like they say he did.

:::::::: Documents and photographs leaked to ITV News also confirmed that Mr de Menezes did not run from the police, as had been reported, had used his Tube pass to enter the station, rather than vault the barrier, and had taken a seat on the train before being grabbed by an officer.

He was wearing a light denim jacket and not as previously reported a padded coat which could have concealed explosives.

Now wait a minute. He did not "jump the gate", he walked through after using his pass? He then did not run toward the platform, ignoring the orders of police to stop? No, he walked to the train and took a seat before being physically grabbed by an officer. The bobbies actually had grappled with this guy and then shot him 7 times in the head? They shot him even though he was considered sufficiently controllable to approach and physically detain. This is nowhere near how this incident was reported and it occurred 3 weeks ago. I know an investigation is in progress, but they sure had no trouble dumping the originally reported details to the press in less than 3 weeks, what's the problem here?

Whether it's actually a cover-up or not is immaterial. It looks like one and that's the impression that's going to be left with everyone. The actions of these officers and the subsequent acts of their superiors will do nothing but damage the war effort. Through sloppy police work and poor management they've handed a major political and propaganda coup to the terrorists, they've weakened or destroyed the public's confidence in homeland security, and - oh, yes - they've killed a man. An innocent man who was just trying to get to work that day.

The ends may, in fact, justify the means. Using this as policy however, demands a zero-fault performance in the process used. That's not what we're seeing here and these mistakes are going to cost dearly in the months to come.