An obvious question, this, but one that’s been confusing me.
Shortly after the 7th July bombs the government admitted that ID cards would not have enabled them to stop the attacks. But there was a caveat – were everyone in the country to have ID cards, we were told, it would make it easier to sort things out in the aftermath.
This was interpreted as meaning it would be easier to help identify bodies (assuming, of course, that the cards which we would all be forced to carry hadn’t been destroyed in any explosions along with our bodies), but it was also hinted that it would make tracking down the terrorists easier. (Assuming, of course, they hadn’t blown themselves up at the same time. And that they had followed their civic duty and actually applied for the things.)
Our chaps last week seemingly deliberately left ID in the bags that contained their bombs, as did the lot from a fortnight before. One might suggest that even though last week’s terrorists were evidently fucking stupid, they were unlikely to be stupid enough to return to an address which they would have been aware the police would have had in their posession.
So all that has resulted from this supposedly massively beneficial source of information that is ID has been police surveillance of an address left with one of the bombs, to which the terrorist in question was highly unlikly to risk returning, and the subsequent death of an innocent man who happened to live in the same building.
Meanwhile, even though our failed terrorists left ID at the scenes of their attempted crimes and then fled through areas more than amply covered by CCTV, and even though their pictures and names have been released to the public, the police have yet to arrest any of them.
Can anyone therefore explain to me how the proposed ID cards would help? I’m genuinely intrigued to know. After the events of the last couple of weeks, the only way in which I can see they might have been useful would have been to rather more rapidly dismiss the somewhat distasteful rumours, the origins of which are unclear, that Jean Charles de Menezes was in the country illegally (as if this somehow made his death OK).
Either way, this pledge may be worth considering – assuming, of course, that our dear government still has the balls to press ahead with this pointless and costly legislation. Which, considering they still have the press release on the Home Office website claiiming that ID cards “will help tackle the activities of organised criminals and terrorists” and that they have just released the attempted rebuttal of the LSE report (.pdf download), it would tend to suggest they do. (Meanwhile, in Australia they are still pushing for ID and more CCTV as well, even though in London we’ve just fairly conclusively demonstrated that these aren’t really that much help.)
This may not be the most comforting thing to state at this particular moment in time, but it doesn’t make it any less true: if terrorists want to strike, they will eventually succeed – no matter what precautions we put in place, there will always be a way around them. That’s obviously not to suggest we shouldn’t try to stop them, but surely we should concentrate our resources on areas in which they may actually have some impact. And little pieces of plastic filled with intrusive information will achieve precisely tit all.