The BBC have a useful timeline about the terrorist bombs in London on Thursdsay 7th July 2005.
The first impression is that it could have been a lot worse:
4 confirmed explosions, rumours of a couple of unexploded devices, but still only 38 people dead so far.
Given the crowded confines of a packed rush hour Tube train in the tunnels between stations, one would have expected more casualties, if the attacks had used similar amounts of high explosive as were available to the Madrid bombers.
Perhaps the devices were relatively small, or were improvised with low grade explosives.
The timing and targetting of the attacks could also have been more precise, which would have caused more casualties.
Perhaps the bomb on the Bus was an "own goal" like the 1996 IRA bomb which blew up the bomber and a Bus in the Aldwych between the Waldorf Hotel and the London School of Economics.
Given the scale and timing of the attacks, it is too early to rule out the possability of a lone madman, rather than a huge international terrorist group conspiracy.
The question has to be asked, why did the mass surveillance of travellers on the London Underground and London Buses, with thousands of CCTV survellance cameras, on the stations, in some of the trains, in at least half of the 5,000 Buses, all fail to deter the bombers ?
We are reminded of the creepy
"Secure Beneath the Watchful Eyes" poster published in 2002.
Perhaps there will be some clues provided by CCTV to the investigators after the incidents, but these systems cannot be said to have made us any more secure from attack.
The Disinformation put out by the British Transport Police in the first hours after the first bomb incident, about firstly a possible electrical failure or a train collision, and then just an electrical failure, did more harm than good. Was it a deliberate attempt to prevent panic or was it just incompetence ?
After the first explosion, why could they not immediatley inform all the train drivers and guards and all the passengers on the trains to be vigilant for suspicious packages ?
The customer information system on the London Underground is rubbish: they can hardly seem to tell you when the next train is due, let alone use it for any coordinated emergency evacuations.
More money should be spent on this sort of information system rather than ineffective CCTV cameras.
The "we know best", let's not "panic the public by telling them anything useful at all" attitude, whilst the ponderous bureaucracies of Whitehall get their Emergency Planning hats on, is simply not good enough, given the rapid communications technology which exists today. By the time the Home Secretary Charles Clarke was going through the motions with the CORBA committiee (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A), the attack had been over for two hours, and all the Emergency Services had already responded.
Why are there no Civil Defence/ Civil Contingency exercises, which involve real evacuations of the real general public, in real time, instead of the leisurely simulations on a Sunday afternoon, when everything is quiet only every couiiple of years or so ?
Why are newspapers like The Guardian reporting the attacks with headlines like "Four bombs in 50 minutes - Britain suffers its worst-ever terror attack" which are so obviously untrue ? There is a "living museum" in St, James's Park currently trying to remind people about World War 2, perhaps the Guardian sub-editors need to visit it. How about the bomb on the Pan Am flight 103 Boeing 747 which crashed on Lockerbie with 270 dead - does that no longer count as a terror attack ?
The BBC and other media were yakking on all day about "chaos". There was no "chaos" - the London Underground Tube and Bus services were stopped, and various small areas of London streets were cordoned off.
There were traffic jams and people having to walk. Yhe mobile phone amd landline telecomms networks were put under strain, but they did not fail. That is not chaos, it was all very ordely, with no panic, or looting !
We condemn these futile attacks - the terrorists cannot kill us all.
We will not let the terrorists win by proxy, by provoking our weak politicians into achieving their blasphemous aims, by further restricting our freedoms and liberties, in the name of "security".