Monday, September 03, 2007

Do we really need a 7/7 inquiry?

I am desperately sorry for the acts of 7/7 and for the survivors and for the bereaved. I can entirely understand the 7/7 survivors groups need for answers. For the need for the government to provide those answers. I understand the need for details, to work out what was known and by whom and what can be learnt. What I don’t understand is what good collectively an Inquiry will do and who it will benefit?

The group says that they want the “Government to tell us the real truth about 7/7 and the events leading up to it”… that “this is not about compensation, or money, or blame, or stupid conspiracy theories - but simply about trying to save other people's lives by making sure the mistakes that led to the 7/7 bombers striking so devastatingly, killing 52, wounding over 700, impacting on thousands of lives - don't happen again”.

I can understand the need to want to save other people’s lives; for not wanting anyone to go through the hell which they have suffered. But what I don’t understand is how they think that the ‘cost’ (time, money, resources) of an inquiry will put the public in a better position.

Who will pay for the Inquiry? And who will conduct such an inquiry? Surely the resources being used in Counter-Intelligence should be used for current investigations, for protecting the general public right now, not poring over decisions made over 2 years ago.

What will it tell us? That they should have made different decisions? That there were clues and strands of intelligence which, given what we know now, with hindsight, indicate a more serious threat than thought at the time? I cannot see how it will give a definitive answer to which leads should be followed up, which people are more likely to be a terrorist threat than others. The Intelligence Services are, I suspect, making these decisions on a daily basis. I cannot see how the time and expense of an Inquiry into the decisions leading up to 7/7 is going to make them make ‘better’ decisions.

The Guardian says that “there were clues that, with hindsight, would have led to Khan, who led the July 7 attack, being identified as a threat. He was not, and the evidence of the errors points to a haunting conclusion: the bombings could have been prevented. It is the most serious missed opportunity we are aware of that counter-terrorism officials have been responsible for since the war on terror began. But there have been other mistakes in operations and in strategy”

For me, the essential words there are ‘with hindsight’. Lots of things are extremely obvious with hindsight. I can only imagine that there are millions of similar leads which could and have been followed up and which have not turned out to have lead to anything more sinister.

I agree that there are things that should be done differently. Ensuring the Home Secretary doesn’t make announcements before knowing whether they are correct or not might help. I just cannot see though how pursing a Judicial Review to force the government to carry out an Inquiry is going to make a difference to anyone other than the survivors group. And for that reason, I do not think that the expense justifies an inquiry.

1 comment:

James said...

I totally agree with what you have said here. To be honest when I started reading I thought it was going to be an argument for a judicial inquiry, probably because I knew you had recently read Rachel Norths book.

It's difficult to critique the secret services, due to their..erm.. secrecy, but I do think they have an incredibly hard job and we rarely get to hear about the times when they get it right. I like to believe that they do a pretty good job.