"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Brush it under the carpet

Dear Madam,

Martin Wall reports in the Irish Times today, in reference to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, that "the details in the papers, which include witness statements from people in the Tube station, differ significantly from the circumstances of the shooting as set out in the media and in some police briefings immediately after the event." However, one need not lay the blame upon the unaccountable (and usefully vague) entity 'the media', a more constructive criticism would be to analyse ones own culpability in this system of misinformation which has contributed to the legitimisation of the inhuman 'shoot-to-kill' policy.

On the 23th July Frank Millar detailed several eyewitness statements, few of which bear any resemblance to the actual event. References to a man of Asian origin wearing unseasonably warm clothing were rampant. On the 25th July Rosie Cowan used the word 'bolted' several times to describe the manner in which Mr. de Menezes allegedly boarded the train, still wearing his unseasonably warm clothing, in response to being approached by police officers. On the 26th of July the Times again reported that Mr. de Menezes ignored police orders. Not until the 28th July did the Irish Times relay word from Mr. de Menezes' family that he wouldn't have jumped the barrier due to the fact he possessed a travel card.

The question is not whether 'shoot-to-kill' is a reasonable response to a terrorist threat, this was neatly summed up in the Times on the 26th " It is one thing to base a shoot-to-kill policy on such extreme cases, quite another to trust the intelligence and policing authorities to implement it effectively," it is whether the present police chief is competent and whether the fourth estate can be relied upon to provide accurate reporting without succumbing to the rhetoric of those in power.

Are the Irish Times readership expected to consider every event in retrospect? If this is the case can you send me a copy of next months Irish Times as I wish to see whether Iran can avoid war in light of its continued association, in the media, with nuclear terrorism.

Yours sincerely,