Index 28 & 29 Media Restrictions
Official version of events
The Government, unsurprisingly, has never openly admitted to censoring the reporting of the events of 7th July. It has, however, conceded that some information may have been withheld because of legal and security considerations.
Was there a high level “news clampdown” which has had the effect of concealing the true extent of the attacks on the 7th July 2005?
Exhibits (MR1-MR10) & (MR11-MR20)
MR5 contains reference to a “single control centre” to disseminate public service information.
MR8 has a report (second hand) of ITV staff being barricaded in with the army and talking to MI6!
MR9 this Israeli news agency feature refers to the emergency services taking over the TV networks.
MR18 outlines the extraordinary lengths to which the authorities went to, in order to try to keep the American sisters, Kate and Emily Benton, who were injured at Edgware Road, away from reporters.
MR19 is a cabinet office document that confirms that a News Co-ordination Centre was put in place.
MR20 is an extract from a meeting of the DPBAC (dnotice committee). It reveals the members view that there is a need to “ensure appropriate support for the media in future civil emergencies!”
It is apparent that extraordinary restrictions were placed on the media and that these went far beyond anything that could reasonably be required to ensure that the rescue services were able to go about their tasks unhindered.
UK silence over bombings deafens
The details emerging from sources abroad about the London bombings illustrate yet again the restrictive attitude adopted by the British police and legal authorities.
Source: BBC News
Hours after the attacks the media is still not providing extensive coverage. We would expect to see hundreds of eyewitness accounts and footage of the train stations. Independent London reporter Simon Aronowitz, who has a contact within the BBC, has reported that journalists are finding the coverage of the situation highly irregular. It seems that the information being released to the British public is being carefully stage managed.
Source: Prison Planet
That is one of the reasons the London emergency plan for dealing with this strike included the contingency of blaming everything on a "power surge" immediately after the bombs had exploded, specifically to buy time for counter media management and to quell any panic.
And how successful they have been: information was at first non-existent, then contradictory, and then dribbled out fragment by fragment, so that neither the press, nor the public, nor, presumably, any living perpetrators remaining really knew what was happening until long after the secret services had gained their headstart in the propaganda war.
The real battlefield in this case is managing the nation through the medium of the media. This single event has had devastating effects, not only in terms of the deaths of the poor Londoners and tourists killed in the blasts, but on what we are and are not allowed to know. This is not a new phenomenon: "In war, truth is the first casualty" as the playwright Aeschylus eloquently noted some 2,500 years ago.
It has been reported that in the early stages of the attack, information was only distributed to civilians within the center of London, and authoritories had a specific policy of not providing information to the global media, in case any information provided to the media could be used by additional terrorists to target vulnerable locations during an evacuation procedure. This was probably partly to blame for the early confusion amongst the media.
A major component of the emergency plan is the use of the single control centre and the broadcast media to disseminate news and public service announcements.
London activates emergency response
During the morning, little information was available from official online sources. The prime minister's and Directgov websites were not reporting the incidents. The Cabinet Office and UK Resilience and London Prepared web pages referred people to the BBC, and the Transport for London website was unavailable.
Source: Kable's Government Computing
Hmmm...interesting. Looking at TV coverage so far, it almost looks as though BBC Television Centre (Shepards Bush) and ITN House (Wells Road, W1) might have evacuated or something. So far, BBC1 has opted out to BBC News 24. More significantly, I havn't seen a studio shot of the presenter yet - just graphics, video footage, and shots from Millbank (BBC Parliamentary unit). Ditto ITN - the studio shots do NOT look like the usual ITN studios - nor do they appear to be using their usual house-style graphics.
TVC has its own independant power supply (twin turbine generators) - so a power cut shouldn't effect them.
Looking at a traceroute of www.bbc.co.uk, it does NOT appear to be the usual address at Canary Warf Television House.
So what else is going on.....?
Hmmm....always dangerous to try and read the runes, but this does seem somewhat odd.
Source: Ardvark Travel
To be added.
It was very difficult to get reports as to what was going on as emergency services took over the TV networks.
Source: Israel News Agency
Journalists at more than 60 weekly newspapers were banned from going out to report on the London bombings last Thursday amid fears for their safety – even though some were as far away as Kent and Buckinghamshire.
Staff at Trinity Mirror Southern titles – including the South London Press, The Wharf, the Croydon Advertiser, the Reading Chronicle and even the Whitstable & Herne Bay Times series – received an order to come back to the office or go straight home on Thursday afternoon.
A member of staff who contacted Press Gazette said the decision "went down like a lead balloon" in newsrooms as even journalists who were on jobs unrelated to the bombing, miles from London, were recalled.
Source: Press Gazette
(The London Fire Brigade would not facilitate access to its frontline staff for this article, and firefighters said they feared disciplinary action if they were identified in the press.)
Source: The Guardian
Bus drivers gagged by Centcomm
The day after the London bombings Friday 8th July 2005 at 12.00pm London bus drivers received a message from Centecomm (I believe this term derives from the US military and its 'Central Command'). Centecomm coordinates information for buses throughout London. Messages are received day and night and usually concern diversion notices, underground station closures along with other general bus related issues. This message however was very different.
The woman's soft tones said that TV companies in the West End were trying to interview bus drivers. She gently went on to say that bus drivers should not give any interviews as what we 'might say may be misconstrued as company policy'. Urgh?" May be misconstrued as company policy?' What? Where do you start with such a statement? The vagueness of the phrase 'company policy' is really quite sinister. Bus services in London are operated by private operators (companies), under contract to London Buses and this is the link to London Buses 'company' information http://www.tfl.gov.uk/buses/cib_about.asp. Then of course there is that small matter of freedom of speech. If we wanna speak we'll speak. The whole thing is disgraceful.
Time for heroes.
Source: Declare Peace
p.35 7 July Review Committee transcript of hearing on 23 March 2006
With regard to that, I would like to mention at this time that I was not allowed to talk to the police or talk to anybody regarding my findings or experiences, as being an individual involved with or having experience of both the Russell Square/King’s Cross and also Tavistock Square, within the office. We were told as staff, that we were banned from talking to anyone – particularly the press, which was an immediate dismissal offence – police, or anything regarding the experience. I was, at that time, afraid for my job and my position to speak out or even come forward. My conscience, however, was pricking me and, of course, my partner was also doing exactly the same thing. At my partner’s insistence, I called the police line anonymously, and requested that there might be a connection between the bomb outside our offices and our involvement in the Olympic bid, as the upper level of the bus was at exactly the same level as our boardroom where the bomb went off. I did not leave my name and I did not comment any further. As far as that goes, I feel that perhaps I could have assisted a little bit further in mentioning more of my involvement but, because we were told not to speak, I was fearing for my job.
Source: 7 July Review Committee [PDF]
Immediately after the bus explosion, Sky News was told to pull its helicopter out of the skies and very little footage now exists in the public domain of the bus in the immediate aftermath of what happened.
Source: July 7th Truth Campaign
From the Piccadilly line and Tavistock Square attacks, the walking wounded and those suffering from shock were being accommodated at various locations around King's Cross and Bloomsbury: Camden Town Hall, Birkbeck College, a Holiday Inn at Marchmont Street, and for a while even the local branch of Burger King. The premises were sealed off to reporters by police and council officials with some reports that the Holiday Inn was also being used as an emergency mortuary.
Source: The Guardian
The Guardian report that : "Police also arranged a briefing for 230 relatives and friends of the killed and injured intended to update them on the investigation. Among them were some of the walking wounded - one man still had his right eye patched; another was on crutches.
'People have been upset but very emotional, but the briefing was worthwhile and we hope the families have got something out of it,' said Superintendent Annette Wightman, in charge of the police's Family Assistance Centre.
'Some people did have concerns about the investigation and other people were positive and supportive, so it was a mix of emotions.'
Police cordoned off the roads to keep the press and public away, and press were not allowed to talk to the participants.
Source: Going Underground's Blog
For the past two weeks al Qaeda websites have been disappearing and experts thing British intelligence is behind the disappearances. Unfortunately, even without the websites, technology favors the terrorists.
Source: Tinkerty Tonk
Detomo received the transfer request on Fri., July 8 at 2:30 p.m. from James Nunley, M.D., chief of the Duke Division of Orthopaedic Surgery. A surgeon in Knoxville had recommended Duke to the Benton sisters’ parents because of its expertise in micro-vascular free tissue transfer -- surgically transferring tissue from one part of the body to another -- and its proximity.
Emily suffered the most serious injuries from the bomb blast in a subway car during terrorist attacks that killed at least 56 people. She had bone and soft tissue injuries to a foot and a fractured hand. Katie suffered from soft tissue injuries to a foot and ankle, and to a hand. Both had facial injuries and eardrum damage.
After getting the call from Dr. Nunley, Detomo began gathering information about the sisters’ medical condition from their mother and from doctors in London to determine if they were stable enough to transport. That turned out to be just the first hurdle.
Scotland Yard had to interview the sisters before they left because they were victims of a terrorist attack, and all of their passports and travels papers had been lost in the blast. Duke quickly formed a task force and made numerous phone calls to work out complex details with government agencies in the U.S. and London. Securing an air transport service willing to fly two patients instead of one and the mother on the same plane also posed a challenge. Through the help of the U.S. Embassy in London, Duke contracted with a service in France with Duke leaders guaranteeing the $155,000 transport cost.
The plane, which left London on Sun., July 10, was required to land in Montreal. The three were transferred to another plane with a different crew due to security concerns before flying on to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Duke Life Flight sent two ground transport crews to transport them, and the rest of their family who met them at the airport, to Duke.
“This was one of the most complex transports I’ve seen in the 15 years I’ve been involved in this type of work,” said Jeff Doucette, associate operating officer for Emergency Services at Duke University Hospital (DUH). “It was extremely rewarding to see the team at work in the Transfer Center and Life Flight Communications. Nobody relaxed until the job was done. A solid 36 hours was spent on working out the details.”
Mangum also created aliases for them to maintain patient confidentiality and provide privacy from the media.
Source: Duke University Medical Centre
I've spoken a little about the role of communication in the government's counter-terrorism strategy.
Let me turn now to its tactical role in responding to a real terrorist attack – in this case 7/7, and the attempted follow-up two weeks later.
Ironically, one of the tests of good communications in situations such as these is that no-one should notice them. On the whole, communications only become the story when they go wrong.
It's a tribute to the smoothness of the communications on 7/7 and 21/7 that the communications made no headlines, neither on the day, nor in the analysis and commentary afterwards.
When horrific events like 7/7 happen, the demand for information from the public and from the media is almost instant and potentially overwhelming in its scale and intensity. To survive, you have to have a system already in place capable of responding speedily and robustly.
Within minutes of the blasts that day communications professionals from Government, the emergency services and the transport services had been alerted by text message under the London Significant Incident Protocol and brought together on a conference call.
A multi-agency press conference, led by the Met, was set in motion and the government's News Co-ordination Centre was put in place to coordinate media enquiries and public information across all government departments. It ran as a central press office 24/7 for eight days, with more than one hundred personnel coordinating Government's response.
That ability to co-ordinate across agencies was vital.
Getting these messages across effectively leads us to the third big lesson: maintaining public confidence. You can't do this without effective communication.
Records of a Meeting Held 7 November 2005
Agenda Item 3 – Secretary’s Report
7. Day-to-Day Business. At the invitation of the Chairman, the Secretary reported a major increase in the rate of day-to-day business during the period July to November 2005. Media interest was focussed predominantly on 6 areas of defence and security: Special Forces (SF), the London bombings and their aftermath, operational developments in Iraq, media reporting of disciplinary issues in the armed forces, preparations for greater UK armed forces involvement in Afghanistan and internet publication of the identities of SIS/MI6 officers.
a. SF. Media interest in SF continued at a high level and was enlivened by the formation of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) and the widespread participation of SF in current operations. No issues arose of special concern to the DPBAC.
b. The London Bombings. The London bombings and the respective roles played in their aftermath by the SF, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Security Service had generated much media interest. Events had made clear the need for improved mechanisms to provide the media with authoritative national security advice in emergencies of this type. Developing formal links between the Secretary and COBRA, the News Coordination Centre (NCC) and the MEF (Media Emergency Forum) had been considered. However, only that with the MEF seemed to offer an improvement without risking the compromise of DPBAC independence. Several members of the DPBAC had already participated in MEFs. Cabinet Office officials had agreed that Sec/DPBAC and his deputy should participate in the next MEF and perhaps give a briefing on the DA Notice system. During the subsequent discussion, Committee members agreed that participation in MEFs would be useful, and they supported the suggestion that the Secretary should offer to give a briefing on the DA-Notice system. Nevertheless, they considered further measures were needed to ensure appropriate support to the media in future civil emergencies concerned with national defence and security. It was important to develop and sustain effective information conduits with key officials and the Secretary was asked to continue his work in this area and to determine what form DPBAC media support might take in what inevitably would be difficult conditions.
Source (archived copy) : DA Notice Committee