The quite astounding revelation that Britain’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, has enjoyed this very freedom for decades has only just been made public at a special tribunal in London, set up to investigate the country’s intelligence services at the behest of a coalition of human rights groups, alleging a pattern of illegality up to and including collusion in murder.
The hitherto MI5 covert policy sanctioning its agents to commit and/or solicit serious crimes, as and when adjudged provident, is known as the Third Direction. This codename has been crafted, it would appear, by someone with a penchant for all things James Bond within an agency whose average operative is more likely to be 5’6” and balding with a paunch and bad teeth than any kind of lantern-jawed 007.
The Pat Finucane Centre, one of the aforementioned human rights groups involved in bringing about this tribunal investigation (Investigatory Powers Tribunal, to give it its Sunday name) into the nefarious activities of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, issued a damning statement in response to the further revelation that former Prime Minister David Cameron introduced oversight guidelines with regard to the MI5 covert third direction policy back in 2012.
Cameron’s decision to do so, the group claims, was far from nobly taken:
“It can be no coincidence that Prime Minister David Cameron issued new guidelines, however flawed, on oversight of MI5 just two weeks before publication of the De Silva report into the murder of Pat Finucane. The PM was clearly alive to the alarming evidence which was about to emerge of the involvement of the Security Service in the murder. To date no-one within a state agency has been held accountable. The latest revelations make the case for an independent inquiry all the more compelling.”
Pat Finucane, a Belfast Catholic, plied his trade as a human rights lawyer at a time when the right to be fully human was denied the minority Catholic community of the small and enduring outpost of British colonialism in the north east corner of Ireland, otherwise known as Northern Ireland. He was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989, back when the decades-long conflict euphemistically referred to as the Troubles still raged, claiming victims both innocent and not on all sides.
Unlike the vast majority of those killed and murdered in the course of this brutal conflict, Finucane’s murder sparked a long and hard fought struggle for justice by surviving family members, friends and campaigners. They allege – rather convincingly, it should be said – that it was carried out with the active collusion of MI5.
Stepping back and casting a wider view over this terrain, the criminal activities of Britain’s intelligence services constitute more than enough material for a book of considerable heft. How fortunate then that just such a book has already been written.
In his ‘Dead Men Talking: Collusion, Cover Up and Murder in Northern Ireland’s Dirty War’, author Nicholas Davies “provides information on a number of the killings [during the Troubles], which were authorized at the highest level of MI5 and the British government.”
But over and above the crimes of MI5 in Ireland, what else have those doughty defenders of the realm been up to over the years? After all, what is the use of having a license to engage in serious criminal activity, including murder and, presumably, torture, if you’re not prepared to use (abuse) it? It begs the question of how many high profile deaths attributed to suicide, natural causes, and accident down through the years have been the fruits of MI5 at work?
And what about the possibility of MI5’s involvement in, dare we use the term, false flag operations?
As someone who abhors the premise of conspiracy theory on principle, the fact that more and more are turning to its warm embrace as an intellectual reflex against what is politely described as the ‘official narrative’ of events, well this is no surprise when we learn of the egregious machinations of Western intelligence agencies such as Britain’s MI5.
What we are bound to state, doing so without fear of contradiction, is this particular revelation opens up a veritable Pandora’s Box of grim possibilities when it comes to the potential crimes committed by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, ensuring that a full and vigorous investigation and public inquiry is now both necessary and urgent.
If any such investigation is to be taken seriously, however, it must include in its remit the power to investigate all possible links between Britain’s intelligence community and organisations such as, let’s see, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?
The deafening UK mainstream media and political class silence over the trail connecting 2017 Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi and MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, leaves a lingering stench of intrigue that will not out. The work of investigative journalist Mark Curtis on this sordid relationship is unsurpassed.
As Curtis writes, “The evidence suggests that the barbaric Manchester bombing, which killed 22 innocent people on May 22nd, is a case of blowback on British citizens arising at least partly from the overt and covert actions of British governments.”
In the same report he arrives at a conclusion both damning and chilling: “The evidence points to the LIFG being seen by the UK as a proxy militia to promote its foreign policy objectives. Whitehall also saw Qatar as a proxy to provide boots on the ground in Libya in 2011, even as it empowered hardline Islamist groups.”
Finally: “Both David Cameron, then Prime Minister, and Theresa May – who was Home Secretary in 2011 when Libyan radicals were encouraged to fight Qadafi [Muammar Gaddafi] – clearly have serious questions to answer. We believe an independent public enquiry is urgently needed.”
In words that echo down to us from ancient Rome, the poet Juvenal taunts our complacency with a question most simple and pertinent: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Who will guard the guards themselves?
Edward R Murrow puts it rather more bluntly: “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.”
Sooner or later, people in Britain are going to have to wake up to who the real enemy is.