Four Faces


London's police "believe they have caught four men suspected of trying to explode bombs on London's transport system last week." Assuming they have the right guys (and their associates), that's great work; the London (and Italian) police involved in the hunt deserve praise. (The circumstances surrounding the shooting death of an innocent Brazilian man by London police are still to be clarified.)

Here's a question: The suspects are still to be charged and tried, but have these quick arrests helped normalize London-style surveillance among likely target groups elsewhere? In the last few days, I've had a number of conversations with Washingtonians who previously had been skeptical of such surveillance (it didn't stop the bombers), but who seemed to be revising their privacy/safety calculations (it enabled the quick identification and arrest of the suspects and helped lead police to alleged associates as well).

Just for context, London's police force had to go through a period of normalization, too. When a police force as such was first established in the early 19th century, nearly all of London rejected the very concept as an intolerable intrusion. Policemen then enjoyed less status than did grave robbers, and were jeered in the streets. A common epithet thrown at them, by the way, was "Spy!"