Missiles over London: a new Olympic event

MOD information: you have missiles!
MOD information: you have missiles! (Image of leaflet via Brian Whelan)

Today Brian Whelan woke up to find information from the Ministry of Defence waiting by his letter box.

https://twitter.com/#!/brianwhelanhack/status/196248153358467073

The leaflet informed him that during the London 2012 Olympic games the army will be putting missiles on the roof of his building and there will be soldiers on duty there 24 hours a day. He was not asked about this in advance, or given a choice, simply informed that his building was the best place to site these missiles. From what Brian said it might not be the safest place for these missiles.

https://twitter.com/#!/brianwhelanhack/status/196252056787496960

https://twitter.com/#!/brianwhelanhack/status/196252151192883200

https://twitter.com/#!/brianwhelanhack/status/196255102305181696

Even worse, it seems that there may already be military equipment in the building.

https://twitter.com/#!/brianwhelanhack/status/196253355968970752

The missiles to be used are Ground Based Air Defence, High Velocity Missile (HVM) of the type shown in the picture below.

https://twitter.com/#!/brianwhelanhack/status/196251846749323266

Ground Based Air Defence, High Velocity Missile
GBAD HVM missiles of the type to be installed on Brian's roof. (Image of leaflet via Brian Whelan)

Leaving aside the lack of consultation about this and the failure to ask the residents, we get to the question of what good these missiles could actually do. Presumably these missiles are to guard against aircraft piloted or hijacked by terrorists which might be flown into Olympic venues 9/11 style. In the event that such an aircraft was identified, unless it was shot down over open ground the wreckage will fall directly onto London streets and buildings. These hardly look like long range missiles; they look like the target must be in visual range. (Correct me if I am wrong here.) We knew from previous announcements that there would be missiles on board ships in the Thames, but I certainly didn’t realise that there would be more dotted around London. I expected the missiles that had been mentioned to be of the sort that could be fired at a plane a bit further away where plummeting debris might not have such an awful effect. Use of these missiles to bring down a hijacked jet would simply move the devastation from the intended target to somewhere else in London. Then we must ask how the army will identify a target. What is the criteria? A plane that has wandered off course? A passenger jet that doesn’t answer a challenge by radio in time? A microlight with no radio? A news helicopter? The scope for mistakes here is huge and the resulting carnage would be awful. In my opinion, if the MOD intend these missiles to be used at all then they are incredibly stupid and thoughtless. If they are not intended to be use then they are highly dangerous security theatre with a massive scope to go wrong.

I have been alerted by Games Monitor to information from the Blackheath Society last month. They write:

Blackheath has been awash with rumours that air defence missiles will be placed on the Heath to protect the capital during the Olympics.
To the credit of our Lewisham Councillors, security services personnel were brought in to give a briefing to the Blackheath Assembly on 13 March.

Blackheath is one of six sites being evaluated for a possible missile defence system for the duration of the Olympics and some radar equipment was tested on the Heath last week.

We understand that either all six will be chosen, or none. The Blackheath site is opposite Holly Hedge House, the police base for the Olympics. Oxleas Wood is another possible site.

There is already opposition to the missile deployment at Oxleas Wood, and their Facebook group has more information: No Missiles in Oxleas Woods!

Katie Draper is another person who has been informed today that there will be missiles sited on top of her home.

https://twitter.com/#!/Drapesmonkey/status/196162635249627136

https://twitter.com/#!/Drapesmonkey/status/196163724296470528

Soldiers on the streets of London

In reaction to the news that there would be 14,000 troops deployed in London during the Olympics as security personnel, I filed a Freedom Of Information request to find out whether these troops would be armed and what powers they would have. I recieved a reply from the Home Office so here it is.

Firearms use by military personnel at the 2012 Olympics

Freedom of Information (FOI) Request: Olympic safety and security

Military personnel deployed as security staff to assist the Police or for logistical support will not routinely carry firearms and firearms will not be available to military personnel deployed as Security staff to assist the Police or to provide logistical support. Because of this, the question about ammunition is not applicable.

Military personnel do not have any powers of arrest above and beyond those of an ordinary citizen under common law. The MOD has tried and tested arrangements in place for providing military support to the Police and other civil authorities, which means it is possible that military personnel providing assistance to the Police may be deployed outside of areas where Olympic events take place.

It is interesting to note that the soldiers will not be armed and will not even have powers of arrest beyond those of the ordinary citizen. I am also alarmed to see that soldiers may be used outside of areas of London where the Olympic games are being held.

Related articles

A Latent Existence | Olympic threat to freedom and liberty

A Latent Existence | Olympic Opulence: Bread and circuses without the bread

Telegraph: Missiles stationed on residential roof for Olympics

BBC: London 2012: Missiles may be placed at residential flats

 

Olympic Opulence: Bread and circuses without the bread

David Cameron in Trafalgar Square
A clown at the circus

I am getting increasingly unhappy about the Olympic games. I have no problem with the concept of international sporting events, but the obscene amount of money that has been spent on the 2012 Olympics disgusts me. The budget has constantly increased and rather than the £2.4 billion that was expected in 2005 we will actually spend £9.3 billion on the games. That is even more than the horrific £9 billion that has been cut from welfare. The budgets for the opening ceremony and the security around the event have both recently been doubled. Jeremy Hunt said this week that we will not have an austerity Olympics because we must harness the opportunity. He said that hosting the Olympics would have a “massively positive impact” on economic confidence. David Cameron talked about “the global drama of the Olympics and the glory of the diamond jubilee”, and insisted that we should “look our best” and “feel pride in who we are and what we can achieve.”

Both of these statements seem to show that they care more about how the UK looks to the rest of the world than about how we develop our country or distribute our resources. There is an argument that looking good to the rest of the world might bring foreign investment to the UK but but quite honestly I think that’s irrelevant. It is unlikely to create any jobs where they matter and all the profits simply leave the country and return to the investors. And to be honest, they’re not very clever investors if they are fooled by some fancy games and by seeing idiots waving flags for a redundant queen.

Much was made of the benefits that the 2004 Olympics would bring to Athens and Greece but after that event the new infrastructure languished unused and bringing no economic benefit. There might be some benefit from the new infrastructure after the 2012 games are finished – thousands of homes have been built for the Olympic Village and housing association Triathlon Homes will purchase 1,379 of those homes. Another 1,439 homes will be bought by investors Qatari Diar and developers Delancey at a loss of £157 million. Personally I think that if these homes are being sold at a loss then they should ALL be social housing, not privately-rented homes. After all, our government is slashing housing benefit to save money and yet is not finding any alternative homes that people can afford to live in. And we still don’t even know what we will do with the Olympic Stadium after the games.

It has been reported that four thousand BMW cars have been purchased so that VIPs can be chauffeur-driven through London for the Olympics in reserved lanes and automatically given green lights that will cause chaos for all the other traffic in London. (Also in The Telegraph and The Daily Mail for those that way inclined.) Presumably this has been done to impress rich and important people and damn the consequences for the peasants. Overall the Olympics look to bring travel chaos and huge disruption for most ordinary people in London.

This is, quite literally, a case of Bread and Circuses. Keep the population happy with trivial entertainment and give them food and the politicians can screw the country over for the benefit of themselves and their banker friends without interference. Except the Tories seem to have messed even this simple thing up – there’s no bread. Bread has been cut.