Mr Livingstone rejected calls from the Tories and Liberal Democrats for the Met's commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, to resign after yesterday's verdict, and described the media pressure on him to step down as "rubbish in the press". "I think this is disastrous, if an armed police officer believes they are in pursuit of a terrorist who might be a suicide bomber, and they start making calculations based on this, 'how's this going to be seen, am I going to be hauled off to court?'," Mr Livingstone told Radio 4's Today programme. "At the end of the day, mistakes are always going to happen in wars or situations like this. The best you can do is to try to make the potential risk the minimum possible."
Which is exactly what the jury were doing. Of course counterterrorism is hard. The point is that counterterrorism is irreducibly hard. If you make it “easier” by tolerating a permissive attitude towards killing innocent people, then that is what will happen. To reverse Livingstone’s thought experiment: what happens if an armed police officer in pursuit of someone who he believes might be a terrorist but isn’t quite sure starts making calculations along the lines of “I’m legally immune so I’ll shoot him anyway, just to make sure.”
When this happens, you’re not fighting terrorists, you’re joining them in the capacity of a force multiplier. It takes a fair amount of long term planning to create a terrorist atrocity. It must be reassuring for the terrorists if they know that the cops will handle the job of keeping people in fear until they get everything lined up.