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Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

AP via Yahoo
Man Killed in London Not Linked to Blasts

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer Sat Jul 23, 7:16 PM ET

LONDON - Police identified the man who was chased down in a subway and shot to death by plainclothes officers as a Brazilian and expressed regret Saturday for his death, saying they no longer believed he was tied to the recent terror bombings.


The man shot at the Stockwell subway station was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him in the head and torso.


Police initially said the victim attracted police attention because he left a house that was under surveillance after Thursday's bungled bombings, in which devices planted on three subway trains and a double-decker bus failed to detonate properly. Stockwell is near Oval station, one of those targeted.

"He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behavior at the station added to their suspicions," police said Friday.

Adds new meaning to "false positive". He attracted attention, behaved in a way that added to their suspicions, and was pinned to the ground and shot in the head and torso. Police express regret. I don't know the details, but I sure hope the this isn't just swept under the rug. It reminds me of a particular line from Kofi Annan's speech in Madrid in March. "Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it."

And speaking of false positives, I read in an aviation magazine today that the US is proposing to force all flights that fly through US airspace to require clearing their passenger manifests with the notoriously noisy and full of false-positives US no-fly list even if the flights do not take off or land in the US. Obviously, some airlines are upset.

Note to self: Don't wear baggy clothes in London, don't associate with people who have names that might sound scary, and don't go to flight school.

via Boris


Or don't play co-pilot in a small jet on its way to Paris...

Given that even a dying man can detonate a bomb, nature of suspicions, and the level of tension the London police were under, I think they had to shoot to kill.

Also never jump the turnstile and run from the cops... bad move anywhere. Running from the cops is just giving them an excuse to mess you up.

A fight against terrorists cannot be won using policing techniques. Police are trained to look for specific behaviors , profiles of people and clues. So a police officer in London would be looking for a middle eastern looking man, carrying a bag of some kind, perhaps running and sweating. There are no doubt hundreds or thousands of incidents daily in London where someone exhibits all of the above. So a shot to kill order is totally unacceptable and stupid. Talk about paranoid.

Freedom is expensive and all of us pay the price for it. Trying to reduce risk of a terroist attack by stepping up police interference in our daily lives will do nothing but take away our liberty. Ask any young man of color in England now if they feel they can run down a street carrying a back pack. Ask any terrorist if they will use that same plan of attack again.

Am I the only person who thinks that the reason he ran from the police was because they were *plainclothes* police? I think a reasonable number of people would run if strangers on the road shouted at them and waved a gun. It doesn't matter if they shouted "we're the police" (and I don't know if they DID) isn't inclined to trust gun-toting strangers!

This sends a bad message from the state to the people. If the terrorists made the people feel unsafe, the state police are only furthering that end with this ridiculous "shoot to kill" policy.

What next? A dress code for anyone who wants to venture outdoors?

Two cops pinned the guy to the ground, waited for the car to be evacuated, and *then* a third cop shot him in the head 5 times.
At this point, going to London or the US, I'd fear the police much more than a few anonymous bombers.

I understand the thinking behind the shoot-to-kill policy, also refered to as "kill the brain", but it is fundamentally flawed.

It is based on the assumption that if the bomber is dead they can not trigger a bomb.

A "dead-man switch", which activates when released, can be used by a bomber to ensure detonation even if they are killed by the police.
Making the policy in-effective.


George, I would like know where you got that information from. That doesn't sound right.

The victim didn't just "jump the turnstile and ran away from unarmed policemen". He came out of an apartment building under surveillence wearing a thick coat in mid-summer. They didn't shoot him until he went into a trainstation, jumping over a turnstile, and then attempted to enter a train. I believe they shot him because they had to make a split second decision with the fear founded on two waves of terrorists attacks.

I am sure London police will review their orders and finetune them to reduce the risks but mistakes like these will still be unavoidable and, frankly, seems to be acceptable risk to me under the circumstances.

I don't think shoot-to-kill policy will stop the terrorist attacks, but at least it will buy some time by forcing the would-be terrorists to change their plans. IMHO, the alternative is a bi-weekly reign of terror which I doubt even Londoners will be able to withstand too long without forcing the government to do things even more unreasonable at much larger scales. Capacity to do wholesale injustice is much nearer than most people realize IMHO.

Re "dead-man switch", none of the London suicide bombers used them so I doubt that was accounted for in the orders given to policemen.


'Re "dead-man switch",none of the London suicide bombers used them'

That is true. And the 'kill the brain' policy works while that is still the case.

However, now that this policy is well known, thanks to the mistake on Friday, do not expect the terrorists to continue to use the same methods of bomb making.

It is only an effective policy if the potential bomber or bombmaker is unaware of it.

The "dead-man switch" is a simple countermeasure that a bombmaker can employ once they are aware of this policy that renders it totally in-effective.

I feel that this policy is ill-advised, but I understand the reasoning.
However, the IPCC investigation should not be into the "shooting" per se, but the mis-identification of the poor victim of Fridays shooting.

Why was an innocent man considered a high-risk threat?
What mistakes were made in the identification?
What innocent behaviours made him seem so dangerous?
These are the kinds of questions the IPCC need to investigate.
I believe they will deem it a 'lawfull killing', appropriate force for a perceived threat, but that they must investigate why the perceived threat was so way off base.

As for running from the undercover police.
If I saw armed men shouting at me and coming in my direction I think I would run like hell.
Regardless of whatever they were shouting.



keitaro wrote @9:
If I saw armed men shouting at me and coming in my direction I think I would run like hell.
A pretty dangerous behavior, IMHO, possibly based on the mistaken (Japanese or Brazilian ?) belief that people with firearms will in principle never dare to actually use them, or that they'll necessarily miss you, or that you can outrun a bullet...

Most people with guns will miss you. 99% of people who carry a gun for a living can't hit a target 25m away without being really lucky before the target runs away. If you're caught and pinned to the ground, it's much more likely the shooter will hit you.

I surely wouldn't run away from police, but if I'd been recently mugged by a bunch of thugs, I'd probably think twice about hanging around and waiting to figure out what a bunch of people in plain clothes pointing guns at me wanted...

off to london tomorrow to see my family, i'll be wearing baggy cloths and carrying a backpack. i hope i'm not the next victim of the once proud british police, but it seems to me that this whole situation is a victory for the terrorists: they are fighting against western civilization and winning, british civilization, at least in its official manifestations, no longer seems to exsist. so any guesses as to how many more innocent people will be shot in the uk before a solution is found, and how many in iraq?

Hey, I'm certainly no marksman or gun nut, but on a 15m firing range, I don't remember ever having missed with a handgun a static human chest-sized target...

The probability of hitting a running, living target at a hypothetical 25m, I have no idea about — I've never fired at living beings ;-) — but given what I know lowly me can achieve in terms of firing accuracy at 15m, I'd be reluctant to take chances if the gun-carrying guys look even remotely competent...

Let me also point out the obvious:

In most muggings, if you hand over your wallet without causing trouble, the gun-toting thug lets you go

If you try to run away or ignore warnings, on the other hand, the guy(s) get pissed off, and it's generally a bad idea to piss off people with guns.


'pretty dangerous behavior, IMHO'

Well, yeah, but I still think that is how I would react to the threat of 'guys with guns shouting at me'.

There are three responses to such a threat;
1) Do what the guy with a gun says.
2) Attack the guy with a gun.
3) Run like hell.

I think I would instinctually go for the third option.
To try to get the hell away from the threat.
Not a rational choice, purely an instincual one.



Maybe he was in some other sort of personal trouble. Maybe he owed someone gambling money and thought they were thugs out to get him. Maybe he was having an affair with a married woman and her husband found out.

There could be a thousand different plausible explanations for why he might have run away.

There's something very wrong happening in this society. More violence, controls, restrictions of freedom will not stop terrorism. It's something you can wish very hard, but it will not stop it. The problem is not to stop 99% of terrorism, the problem is that there will always be a 1% which goes through the breach and succeed and does a lot of damages.

What do we want to do as citizens? Zero risk? or more freedom with risks?

As a citizen, I prefer the second, I want to make that choice. I know there's a danger, but I prefer this danger to the first one of Zero risk.

*** Zero risk is the new utopia. ***

A complete control of everyone will never achieve zero risk.

Is armed robbery common in London? What about at the time the unfortunate shooting took place? And if it is, how many of victims actually run away from armed robbers? Also, shouldn't London trainstations have been crawling with policemen when this happened?

Shooting handguns like pistols or revolvers at anything other than point blank range is wildly inaccurate.

Shooting handguns in a crowded train station from a distance makes it quite likely that the bullet will fly someplace completely different, and hit someone else.

And unless the handgun is of a really heavy caliber (with high "stopping power" as it is called) quite likely that the perp will still be functional, and able to do what you want to stop him from doing.

So theoretically at least the cops were right on what to do - assuming they actually were stopping an armed criminal wired with bombs.

Getting jittery and seeing armed criminals with bombs everywhere on the other hand is plain stupid

(thick coat in midsummer? well, for starters brazil is a lot sunnier in autumn than england is in midsummer... I guess someone from saudi arabia would feel even colder there)

It is a tough call to make, and it is not a call I personally would want to make, ever.

The words "false positives", and what I was thinking about in this case, made me go off on a long tangent here, a predictable tangent given my background in antispam issues I guess, but here goes.

I deal with spam filters, and have seen enough of what I call "Wile E Coyote" spam filtering to have suffered from it. Which is why I deploy fairly conservative spam filters, and react fast to false positives [at least in my case, filters I deploy can be taken out very quickly indeed ..nothing can restore life to a head-shot false positive, so perhaps the analogy is wrong, but here goes]

Wile E Coyote spam filtering - think of a spam filter as a fused bundle of dynamite. You can be a trained demolitions expert, using it to blow a hole in a wall of rock, say. Or you can be Wile E Coyote, who ends up all black, with frizzed hair and a cloud of smoke around him within seconds of his lighting the fuse on that dynamite.

Only, Wile E is up and running after the roadrunner real fast .. bad spam filters tend to blow up legitimate users of the email system, and they dont recover too well from the effects of bad spam filtering.

I kind of have a bone to pick with people who deploy bad spam filters, and funnily enough, another bone to pick with the EFF and other privacy orgs who immediately latch onto what these people do, to try prove that spam filtering is censorship, and blocking spam source IPs is like Joe McCarthy's blacklist of suspected communists.

Long, long rant there - and a [fairly angry] summary of that rant is on politech at

I sometimes wonder whether the EFF is really right in its "privacy or nothing" beliefs, at least in this case.

"...don’t associate with people who have names that might sound scary..." wow...little help Joi...define "scary"...maybe you wanted to say...those with Muslim names? Or am I wrong to say that? Tell me Joi...what kind of "names" were you thinking off?

B0redsam: I was being ironic. The point is, this guy got shot because he happened to live in the wrong apartment building. Various people have been harassed by the no-fly list because their name sounded like a terrorist. It's possible that if you are hanging out with someone who happens to have a name that sounds like the name of a wanted terrorist, that you will get "unlucky".

I was being ironic. The point is, this guy got shot because he happened to live in the wrong apartment building. Various people have been harassed by the no-fly list because their name sounded like a terrorist. It's possible that if you are hanging out with someone who happens to have a name that sounds like the name of a wanted terrorist, that you will get "unlucky".

The guy got shot because a horrible mistake was made. That mistake was made because of a heightened state of alert that exists due to terrorism. Eliminate the terrorism as soon as possible and the UK will quickly elect to end the oppressive state of alert.

I lost a relative last week; I know the pain of loss. But Brazillian citizens that are protesting against the British government due to this issue are indulging in self-righteous gratification to assuage their own frustrations. Intellectual honesty tells us that the terrorists are at the root of all this.

And this should be our primary concern above all others because in a world where nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are on the table; there is a limit to how far terrorists can really up the ante before a simple fight for survival will begin. That's when things will really get ugly. And this incident will seem trivial.

This article says the guy may have been running from the cops because his visa was expired and he didn't want to get nabbed for an immigration violation.

So, don't run from the cops, no winter coats in July, don't jump turnstiles, and don't overstay your visa.

There are millions of people in London and so far only one innocent guy (who was acting about as suspiciously as possible) has been shot. If London's heightened vigilance also foils actual terror plots (admittedly still an "if"), then that's a false positive rate I think most people would accept.

I found this interesting article by Bruce Scheneier, security expert, explaining why shoot to kill doesn't work: «This policy is based on the extremely short-sighted assumption that a terrorist needs to push buttons to make a bomb explode. In fact, ever since World War I, the most common type of bomb carried by a person has been the hand grenade. It is entirely conceivable, especially when a shoot-to-kill policy is known to be in effect, that suicide bombers will use the same kind of dead-man's trigger on their bombs: a detonate that is activated when a button is released, rather than when it is pushed.»

for what it's worth, Brazilian cops massacred 30 people a few months ago ( ), so perhaps that might give you an idea why a Brazilian person would not want to encounter armed police...

Mike B. It's an *illusion* to believe that you will stop terrorism by more control, more police, more action of this type. The strategy of terrorism is not to make 100 attacks, but on 100 persons sent, one go through the security breach and makes damages.

Can we stop shotguns in schools?
Can we stop drunk or under medication drivers?

Or more would we accept to have control on your life to avoid such things. (I'm pretty sure there are more deaths because of drunk drivers than because of terrorism).

How much are you ready to give up on your freedom to achieve the security paradygm?


I am not saying that more police control is a good thing, but I insist on giving credit

where credit is due when we look to the root cause of oppresive states of alert. Terrorists

are to blame -- this is the logic which is currently at work in reality. And what, exactly,

is your argument? That anti-terror security in the UK should be eliminated?

British MI5 Security Services Thwart Attacks

on Heathrow and Canary Wharf Skyscrapers

Please go back and read my initial post, because you don't seem to be arguing squarely

against my point. Truly, I find loss of freedom odious to the heart and poisonous to the

spirit. But the British have not given up their freedom voluntarily. It was taken away from

them because they are now forced to engage in a fight to save innocent lives using

extraordinary measures.

I am not racist against Arabs or Muslims, but I find that more and more, I do not trust

them. The blame for that rests almost exclusively with them and I am far from the only person

in the World to feel this way.

Sorry to distract from the seriousness of the discussion about the shooting and get all Canadian on you...

but there has been a series of news reports here in Canada about the US of A policy of demanding flight manifests for any flight that enters their airspace. Seems that a series of flights, for the reason of directness and time, do fly over US of A airspace even of they are officially going between 2 Canadian destinations (i.e. a flight from Toronto or Montreal to say, Calgary or Vancouver).

So, the US is demanding that Canadian Aviation give over the names of all passengers even if they never set foot on US soil. Sure the argument can be made that if something was to occur OVER US soil, they want information, but as an equally prepared and secured nation to their North, I think it's going a wee bit far. I for one have no interest in the US government getting details on my flight pattens if i choose to fly WITHIN my own country.

We can screen our passengers just fine, thank you.


Not sure if you heard some of the latest, but he was held down by two cops, shot in the abdomen once, and then in the head seven times. Which means that the third cop emptied his entire clip into the guy.

I think this goes far beyond just the problem with maintaining human rights. This is what happens when you give so-called "authority" figures absolute authority over their domain, in this case, "shoot to kill." Some messed up cop or another (or three) are bound to take it to the extreme.


Are you suggesting that these cops set aside their primary duty of protecting the innocent and were instead brutally and unjustly taking out pent-up aggression on this man? If so, would you kindly prove that? My worry is that your argument (if I understand it correctly) is too speculative. We do, however, have plenty of evidence to suggest that the police had good cause to suspect the victim of being a terrorist.

Because of the Brazilian man's highly suspect actions, the police took a risky but educated guess that he was about to act in taking innocent lives. If that was the case, they would have to make sure that every drop of life was squeezed out of him right-quick because even a dying man can muster the strength to press a detonator button.

We should appreciate the fact that London authorities are having to play defense in a street war they did not start. It's horrible, I know. But we have religious nuts to thank for it. Frankly, I'm no fan of the cops, but there is a danger in becoming too analytical about their motives unless we use the evidence.

GaijinBiker wrote

There are millions of people in London and so far only one innocent guy (who was acting about as suspiciously as possible) has been shot. If London's heightened vigilance also foils actual terror plots (admittedly still an "if"), then that's a false positive rate I think most people would accept.

You don't do very well in statistics, do you?

Here we are testing the soundness/safety of a policy. You cannot use episodes when the policy has *not* been used as test cases.

In other words you are saying: the policy has been fatally wrong in one occasion, and useless in several others.

So repeat after me: 100% failure rate so far, one fuck-up out of one.

You don't do very well in statistics, do you?

So repeat after me: 100% failure rate so far, one fuck-up out of one.

Okay, well. Heh... Your spurious accusations and vague insults aren't doing you much good. In terms of proving a point, I'd say they have about a 100% failure rate.

If London's "heightened vigilance" is the policy you're referring to, note that it has been quite successful. Check the news. Arrests have been made, plots have been foiled. If you're referring to the shoot to kill incident why not take on the logic of my previous posts in this thread.

So repeat after me: Do not use statistics the way a drunkard uses lampposts - for support, not illumination.

1. All dogs are animals
2. All cats are animals
3. Therefore, all dogs are cats

You agree, right?

"Heightened vigilance" is a state, not a policy.
I thought we were all debating the shoot-to-kill policy and its necessity/effectiveness.
How many times has the shoot-to-kill policy been applied?
How many times has it worked?

Mike B. said:
So repeat after me: Do not use statistics the way a drunkard uses lampposts - for support, not illumination.

Hilarious, but don't give up your day job just yet ok?

Hilarious, but don't give up your day job just yet ok?

;) Good advice. My apologies for getting cute. You're right -- one attempt, one failure. I'm tired of arguing for the cops anyway. There's a limit to how long I can stick up for a shoot-to-kill policy before my stomach turns sour. I just think that our frustrations towards the police are misguided. It seems like it is becoming politically incorrect to point our fingers fiercely at the real bad guys. Thanks for your response, and yes I will definitely keep the day job!

Wait, let me get this straight. The US wants to know who is flying over its airspace? Quel Horror.

Wasn't that in place after 9/11/2001? A little old to be shocked by now, don't you think.

Oh, right, I forgot. Terrorism is a figment of my capitalist imagination. There is nothing to fear. Everything is fine. Just stick ass in air and place head in sand. Everything is fine. There is nothing to fear.


Warren's comment was off the subject, but I believe he was mainly upset about the US "demanding" flight manifests for flights whose departure and destination points were in Canada, but where US airspace was entered along the way. That doesn't sound entirely unreasoanable to me, but okay, I'll bite. Next, I looked for this story on the Web and couldn't find anything.

Oh, right, I forgot. Terrorism is a figment of my capitalist imagination. There is nothing to fear. Everything is fine. Just stick ass in air and place head in sand. Everything is fine. There is nothing to fear.

Yeah, it's pretty pathetic, huh? I'm surprised to find that most people aren't capable of realizing that the Bush administration, Republicans, motives behind the Iraq war, terrorists, and radical Islam are all cut from the same wicked cloth.

It seems that many of our international friends aren't as well versed in international relations and history as they prententiously like to seem. I am dissapointed that many of my Asian and European friends have thrown in with mob rule and become single-track minded; trading in a kind of anti-American jingoism for their previous intellectual honesty.

You guys were right all along.

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I'm very happy to see that I am NOT the only one who thought there was no need for the police to shoot the 'suspect' bomber in London. People have been surprised on how I have reacted to this as I have said I support the death sentence for people ca... Read More