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Thread: Blair Rejects Inquiry Calls But Hints At New Terror Laws

  1. #1
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    Blair Rejects Inquiry Calls But Hints At New Terror Laws

    Blair rejects inquiry calls but hints at new terror laws

    http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=790322005

    FRASER NELSON
    POLITICAL EDITOR

    Key points
    • New terror laws may soon be in place
    • Police and intelligence services could require more powers
    • PM rejects calls for inquiry

    Key quote
    "If it becomes clear that there are powers which the police and intelligence agencies need immediately to combat terrorism, it is plainly sensible to reserve the right to return to Parliament with an accelerated timetable." - Tony Blair

    Story in full
    TONY Blair yesterday braced Britain for new anti-terrorism laws, if it is found that extra powers for ministers or police might have prevented last Thursday's attacks in London.

    The Prime Minister flatly rejected calls for a public inquiry into possible intelligence failures - but said an internal procedure was under way and lessons may well be drawn from its findings.

    Civil rights groups and opposition MPs raised no criticism yesterday, setting a rare degree of consensus which could allow the government to acquire extra powers denied it in the months before the election.

    Speaking to MPs for the first time since the attack which has now killed 52, Mr Blair called it a "murderous carnage of the innocent" and stressed that Britain was not singled out because of the war on terror.

    London, he said, had joined a long list of targets for Islamic extremists, which included Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Yemen. Terrorists, he said, do "not greatly discriminate in terms of individual items of policy".

    In comments that assuaged Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, he said there was no need to bring forward his proposed anti-terror legislation planned for spring next year. However, he added: "If it becomes clear that there are powers which the police and intelligence agencies need immediately to combat terrorism, it is plainly sensible to reserve the right to return to Parliament with an accelerated timetable."

    This caveat was happily accepted by Liberty, the civil liberties pressure group, which vehemently opposed Labour's plans for house arrest in March.

    "I must admit, we were heartened by the Prime Minister's statement," said Doug Jewel, Liberty's campaigns co- ordinator. "He has not accelerated the timetable - this is a measured response."

    The new legislation, which is being introduced after the summer recess, is expected to outlaw the condoning or glorifying of terrorism. It would give police extra powers to act on rogue imams who are accused of preaching jihad in London mosques.

    But No10 said it has not changed its mind on creating a Homeland Security department, which would combine all anti-terrorism agencies under one dedicated minister. At present, it is one of the five portfolios handled by Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister.

    David Davis, the shadow home secretary, had called for an inquiry last Friday. This was repeated without enthusiasm yesterday by Michael Howard, the outgoing leader of the Conservative Party.

    "A limited inquiry could, in due course, provide a calm and dispassionate forum for learning appropriate lessons, helping to quell unhelpful speculation," he said.

    But Downing Street had rejected this before the debate - saying it would impede both the investigation and the identification of the bodies by taking up time and resources.

    In the Commons, Mr Blair moved to defend intelligence services, saying: "I know of no intelligence specific enough to have allowed them to prevent last Thursday's attacks." His wording aroused great interest among Conservatives as it leaves open the prospect that, just as with the 11 September attacks in the United States in 2001, intelligence had been received but had not been properly processed.

    The ensuing debate was consensual and subdued, as MPs lined up to praise the Prime Minister for what Mr Howard called his "calm, resolute and statesmanlike" response to the attack.

    Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist Party leader, told Mr Blair that "the whole country can salute you". The firebrand Ulsterman then praised Londoners for responding to the attack with "silence, not shouts".

    Only Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, suggested to Mr Blair that the terrorist attack may have been a result of his decision to go to war. Mr Blair responded that the list of target countries disproved the idea.

    Afterwards, MPs said the political fallout was inevitable - but is not likely until after the summer recess, which starts at the end of next week.

    "No-one will attack the government while the dead are still being counted," said a senior Tory. "But there will soon come a time to ask if Britain was as protected as it could have been, and it is fast emerging that the answer is no."

    Although Mr Blair promised an investigation "among the most vigorous and intensive this country has ever seen", the police are understood to have no leads - and admitted as much in an emergency meeting in London last Saturday with US and European officials.

    But, nonetheless, Charles Clarke, the XXXXXX Home Secretary, has declared himself "very optimistic indeed" about catching the bombers, whom police believe are still in London.

    No10 denied reports that the national terrorism alert level has been raised to the second-highest level of a specific threat. "We will still inform the public if there is a specific threat," a spokesman said.

    The US president, George Bush, paid tribute to Londoners yesterday in a speech to an FBI training academy, and joined Mr Blair in listing the countries to have suffered terrorist attacks who sat out the Iraq war.

    "The aim of the terrorists is to remake the Middle East in their own, grim image of tyranny and oppression by toppling governments, by exporting terror, by forcing free nations to retreat and withdraw," he said.

    Muslim leaders call for calm after attacks on mosques
    BRITAIN'S Muslim leaders have appealed for calm as a wave of attacks on mosques in the United Kingdom and New Zealand intensified fears of a backlash after the London bombings.

    Concerns about Islamaphobic-led assaults on the community grew after mosques in London, Telford, Leeds, Bristol and Birkenhead were attacked, and Pakistan's consulate in Bradford was vandalised.

    Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, warned that unscrupulous elements would exploit the bombing to foster anti-Islamic feeling. In a letter to imams, Muslim scholars and faith organisations, he stressed that the entire country was united in its sorrow for the innocent victims.

    Sir Iqbal pointed out that people from all faiths were caught up in the blasts. "We know that there may be some unscrupulous elements in our society who may look upon Thursday's carnage as a morbid opportunity to attack and undermine British Muslims, their institutions and mosques."

    He added: "It is the duty of all of us to help bring the perpetrators of this tragedy to justice speedily."

    Police have stepped up security and communication with Muslim organisations in response to the attacks on mosques, he said.

    Over the weekend, mosque windows across Britain were smashed and the door of Pakistan's consulate in Bradford was set alight. The worst incident was at the Mazharul Uloom Mosque in Tower Hamlets, east London, where 19 windows were smashed.

    Abdullah Faliq, of the East London Mosque Trust, said the organisation also received hate mail and abusive phone calls. But he added that there had also been many messages of support from non-Muslims.

    In New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, four mosques were vandalised with the words "RIP London". Helen Clark, the prime minister, hit out at the apparently co-ordinated attacks. It is thought that a young New Zealand woman may have died in the bombing.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
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    "I know of no intelligence specific enough to have allowed them to prevent last Thursday's attacks."

    Tony Blair

    "I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America – at a time and a place, an attack."

    George W. Bush
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #3
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    "Civil rights groups and opposition MPs raised no criticism yesterday, setting a rare degree of consensus which could allow the government to acquire extra powers denied it in the months before the election."

    Anyone remember how easily the Patriot Act was passed?
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #4
    princesskittypoo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Gold9472
    "I know of no intelligence specific enough to have allowed them to prevent last Thursday's attacks."

    Tony Blair

    "I am satisfied that I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America ? at a time and a place, an attack."

    George W. Bush
    could this be the blind leading the blind

  5. #5
    jetsetlemming Guest
    I saw evidence (on fox news, no less) that al queda published a document saying they were going to attack spain when they did last year, and it was published in 2003.

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