» Tuesday, July 12, 2005

London Bombings

Asked if there was anything he could say about the ongoing police operation, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Prime Minister, along with other Ministers, was being kept fully informed. We would allow the police the time and space to carry out that investigation and they had our full support to go wherever that investigation led them. Like everyone else we had to wait for the police to carry out their investigation and then they would report to us the results of it. In response to the suggestion that ii was all looking very encouraging, the PMOS said it would be best for everyone to wait for the police to give us their report and then make an assessment. What it showed was that this was a professional police operation being carried out in a professional police way. We expected that to happen but equally should support the police as it does happen.

Asked if there was any reaction on the decision to movements of US servicemen and whether it was an unfortunate incident that should have been avoided, the PMOS said, as he had this morning, that his understanding was that these orders were temporary measures that were introduced last Thursday. The Naval order had lapsed and the Air Force order had now been lapsed as well. The important thing all along was that the advice coming from the US embassy in London was consistently that US citizens should travel as normal, whilst taking the appropriate precautions. It was a matter for the US authorities. What mattered for us was that the advice from the US embassy was consistent with our own.

Asked if there was a reaction from Downing Street to Charles Kennedy’s foreign policy speech at lunchtime where he said there was no "causal link" between Iraq and the London attacks but then said "Those, like President Bush and Tony Blair, who have sought to link Iraq with the so-called ‘war on terror’ can hardly be surprised when members of the public draw the same link when acts of terrorism occur here in the United Kingdom", the PMOS said that he had not yet seen the speech and he would as always not get drawn into commmenting on what other political leaders had said. He would simply point out that, as the Foreign Secretary had said in his Newsnight interview on Friday and as the Prime Minister had said in the House yesterday, people needed to bear in mind that this kind of terrorism was active long before the Iraq war. 9/11 was in September 2001 not 2003. In terms of other attacks on various interests, including the US, they were also before the Iraq war. It was not right in any way to suggest that this kind of terrorism was spawned by the Iraq war. It was something that was active before then. Nobody should do anything that suggested that there was any responsibility for the London atrocities other than by those that carried them out.

Asked if it was the case that the Foreign Affiars Select Committee on two occasions, 2003/2004, and the Joint Intelligence Committee had warned that action on Iraq was more likely to increase the threat of terrorism and on that basis was it just an invitable consequence of a war on terror, the PMOS said the question that you had to address was would it have been right to have simply left the situation in Afghanistan without tackling it post 9/11, equally would it have been right just to leave Saddam Hussein in power carrying out the atrocities that he had against his own people. As such the reasons for going to war in Iraq and the reasons for going to war in Afghanistan were set out. People may agree or diagree with them but it was a fact that terrorism of the kind that we had seen in London, Madrid, New York, Bali, Indonesia, Kenya and elsewhere in the world was a factor before the Iraq war. Therefore it was naive frankly to believe that you could say that this kind of terrorism was due to the Iraq war. It existed before Iraq. The organisation and the mindset that supported that kind of terrorism existed before the Iraq war. Therfore to put it down to the Iraq was misplaced.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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