Category Archives: NewsBurst

Random crap that’s ‘current’

The #SPYCOPS inquiry proper opens

Happy, smiling spycops at what is thought to be their first Christmas bash in 1968

It’s been a long time coming, but at last the Undercover Policing Inquiry has opened its evidentiary phase.

Given COVID measures, a stacked deck and the interests of the state taking precedence over truth or justice, this will not be a breeze.

But COPS, PSOOL and URG (amongst others) will be fighting the good fight within the inquiry and outwith it. Keep it locked.

Oh, and I have to say that seeing one of my working hypotheses from nigh on ten years ago being supported in the mass of documents dumped on the inquiry (drown ’em in paper) is rather satisfying.

Finding amusement in the entering into of and leaving from frames, matching scene transitions, jumping over fences and more: Edgar Wright’s visual comedy

A fun reminder of why Edgar Wright is such a strongly visual director – including a nice throwback to the days of Spaced, with a very young-looking Lee Ingleby partaking in a Peckinpah-esque slow-motion finger gun fight.

A shame Every Frame A Painting isn’t going any more, but it was good while it lasted 🙂

Operation Condor – transnational state terror

There’s a long read in the Graun today about Operation Condor, the formal (if clandestine) conspiracy which conjoined the police, intelligence and military apparatus of numerous right-wing governments across South America in the 1970s.

It is an interesting overview for the casual reader, and focuses on the positive aspects of surviving state terror, and of the importance of working to hold to account those who instigated and sustained it, no matter how many years tumble along the way.

There is, however, a curious determination to divorce Condor – founded in Chile under the approving eyes of Augusto Pinochet, bringing together the secret police of that country together with those of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, then later Brazil, Ecuador and Peru – from its sponsors up north.

Author Giles Tremlett goes so far as to claim that “Although many of the men who carried out Operation Condor were alumni of the US army’s School of the Americas – a training camp in Panama for military from allied regimes across the continent – this was not a US-led operation.”

Yet elsewhere he acknowledges that public awareness of Condor stemmed from journalistic and activist investigations following the leak of “an obscure FBI note quoted in a book [in which] an FBI officer wrote: ‘Operation Condor is the code name for the collection, exchange and storage of intelligence data concerning leftists, communists and Marxists which was recently established between the cooperating services in South America.’” *

He even refers to the recent revelation that Washington was fully aware of coordination between the Condor partners thanks to the transfer of proprietary secure communications equipment to them by Crypto AG, a CIA/BND front.

Simply saying ‘Condor was not led by the United States’ and leaving it there is not enough. In the same way the right-wing elements in the Chilean military would not have moved against Allende in the way they did without tacit approval from their patrocinadores norteamericanos, it beggars belief that with all the training programmes and intelligence-sharing and military advisor deployments throughout the Cone and – most of all – a shared world view between the US government and its counterparts in the downstairs hemisphere – the Condor conspirators were not confident (and with good reason) that they were pursuing an approved course of action.

Anyway, I’ve been trawling the drives and come up with a few juicy titbits, like this: **

…A close associate of [Dr Lothar] Bossle’s on the Board of the IfD was Prof. Dieter Blumenwitz, Professor of International and Constitutional Law at Würzburg University from 1976 on, who shared Bossle’s close links with Chile and would reportedly visit Colonia Dignidad with Bossle. In 1979, Blumenwitz was one of the co- authors with [Brian] Crozier of Pinochet’s Chilean Constitution; in 1980, Blumenwitz intervened on behalf of Colonia Dignidad in legal proceedings seeking to block Amnesty International’s German section from publishing allegations that the colony had served as a secret DINA torture centre (319).

(319) For biographies of Bossle, Blumenwitz and Rohrmoser, see IGfM, pgs 59, 63 and 65. Bossle would die in 2000, Blumenwitz in 2005, Rohrmoser in September 2008 – see Rohrmoser’s obituary in Die Welt, 18/9/08. In 1981, Rohrmoser would work with the Federal Government on a publication covering the philosophical bases of terrorism; in 1987-88, he would work several times as speaker for the German section of CAUSA. As for Blumenwitz, the legal proceedings against Amnesty International’s German section would run for more than twenty years and would trigger a Chilean court inspection in 1988, leading to a Chilean government decision to close Colonia Dignidad in February 1991 – see Guardian, 24-25/8/91. Blumenwitz’ Chile – Rückfahrt zur Demokratie (Chile – Return to Democracy) would be published by the IfD in 1987. On Colonia Dignidad and its links to DINA, see Gero Gemballa’s Colonia Dignidad, Rowohlt rororo aktuell, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1990, pgs 148-151. On DINA’s Washington assassination of Orlando Letelier, see John Dinges and Saul Landau’s Assassination on Embassy Row (Pantheon, New York 1980; McGraw-Hill, New York 1981); Taylor Branch and Eugene Propper’s Labyrinth (Penguin, London 1983). On DINA’s international cooperation within Operation Condor, see John Dinges’s excellent The Condor Years (New Press, New York 2004). On DINA’s 1975 production of nerve-gas using precursor chemicals purchased from Britain, see Observer, 23/4/89.

There’s also a chapter touching on the topic of Condor in Portrait of a Black Terrorist, the monograph on Italian neofascist and strategy of tension provocateur Stefano Delle Chiaie by the recently departed Scots anarchist Stuart Christie. Certainly worth a read. ***

 

Notes:

[*] Since that original 1980 story emerged, there has been a steady drip of evidence of official US complicity, and even politically non-aligned, academic works have acknowledged that the US government was aware of Operation Condor at the time it was running, and attempted to influence its directing minds, e.g:

U.S. diplomatic documents released in October 2002 revealed that U.S. officials had been aware that Operation Condor was being directed at leftist dissidents of those countries in exile. Although U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had ordered U.S. diplomats on 23 August 1976 to convey official “deep concern” over Operation Condor to the governments involved, this order was rescinded on 20 September 1976 by a senior State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs for fear that the message would antagonize Chilean President Augusto José Ramón Pinochet and the other heads of state. The next day, former Chilean foreign minister Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, an American associate, were both killed by a bomb rigged into the ignition system of Letelier’s car.

Historical Dictionary of Terrorism by Sean K Anderson with Stephen Sloan, Scarecrow Press, 2009 (third edition), p153.

[**] Rogue Agents: Habsburg, Pinay and the Private Cold War 1951-1991 by David Teacher (third edition, 2011), p119.

[***] Christie may be dead, but he outlived Delle Chiaie, who fucked off this mortal coil fifty-one weeks ago.

Whistleblower Clive Ponting dies

I didn’t realise that Clive Ponting passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Ponting was the high-flying civil servant who leaked information which undermined ministerial claims about the circumstances of the sinking of the Argentinian warship General Belgrano in the prelude to the main act of the Falklands War.

After being unmasked, he was offered a deal in which he confessed and resigned – but was then arrested under the Official Secrets Act and prosecuted, leading to a memorable trial in which the jury disregarded the judge’s directions and acquitted Ponting as a matter of conscience.

I didn’t realise that he had been a Bristol boy, attending the (then directly-maintained but subsequently private) Grammar School in the 1960s (not that the websites of the school or the Old Bristolians acknowledge this.

Like the other prominent 80s leaker whom we studied in my days, Sarah Tisdall (who has her own Bristol connection), he was undone by unique markings on the physical documents he supplied. There’s a warning there for any would-be lamplighters. (Would-be leakers would be wise to discreetly look at the lie of the land with regards their options before doing anything that might be irreversible and personally damaging, whether they intend to go the boring route or take the sensational road.)

I found his writing to be lucid and transparent. His account of his OSA woes, The Right To Know: The Inside Story Of The Belgrano Affair, and its follow up, Whitehall – Tragedy And Farce, were both eminently readable.

Apparently a member of the SDP on the quiet – this I did not know, and a quick look through Crewe & King does not reveal any tasty morsels.

Anyone wishing to find out more about Ponting and the context in which his infamy emerged could do worse than watch through the very first edition of the open-ended, late night discussion programme After Dark. Hosted by Tony Wilson (and featuring among others Northern Ireland psyops whistleblower Colin Wallace), it is nearly three hours of serious-minded talk around heady topics of the day. It is available to watch and download in its entirety on The Dossier.

Umbrellas out

No particular reason, just love this GIF of Michael Ironside using his weaponised mind powers in David Cronenberg’s Scanners.

Oh, that and today was the day That Letter was hand-delivered to the European Council in Brussels, which has had a similar effect on much of Twitter as the above.

Judgement on Trumpton..?

blogjudgecalpresidenttrump

HT @pauljholden via Dan Whitehead

Wikipediaphile: Gadsden flag

Feminist ‘Gadsden snake’ t-shirts

Today whilst revving up the ol’ Tweetdeck for the first time in ages to see wagwan with the global agin-Trump stuff, I spotted an RT by always reliably interesting MD twitterer Jen Gunter:

What’s this ‘Gadsden snake’ thing? thought I. Well…

The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “DONT TREAD ON ME”. The flag is named after American general and politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.

Modern uses of the Gadsden flag include political movements such as Libertarianism and the American Tea Party as well as American soccer supporter groups, including Sam’s Army and the American Outlaws since the late 1980s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

Trump inauguration – all a bit Rexall ‘N’ Effect

Rexall 1996Rexall 2009Rexall 2012

‘Undercover’ book: lists revisited, and thoughts on a first flick through

Undercover - The True Story of Britain's Secret Police

So, I have been flicking through Undercover, the spy-cops book by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans. Some interesting stuff in there, much of it unfamiliar – notably the material on Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’. They certainly kept him under wraps for a long time.

But first – the numbering issue. The best I can make out is that the Dispatches methodology excludes ‘Rod Richardson’ and both ‘Officer 10’ (who reportedly had a child) and ‘Officer 11’ (who reportedly took on the identity of a child killed in a car crash). This may be on the grounds either that there was not enough corroborating evidence to confirm that they were a police spy (in the case of ‘Richardson’, who in the book is referred to only as a “suspected police officer”), or for other reasons, such as not wanting to implicate a source. ‘Wellings’ appears to be the unnamed tenth officer in silhouette. It may be that there were rights issues over using the existing pictures of him, all of which appear to have been taken by Globalise Resistance people. That takes our twelve down to nine; then we add Chitty/‘Blake’ to take us back up to ten.

Of course, it may be that Chitty/‘Blake’ (presumably the “South African resident” mentioned in the acknowledgements) is either ‘Officer 10’ or ‘Officer 11’ (though more likely the latter than the former given the lack of any reference to a child fathered by him whilst on deployment).

Undercover - The True Story of Britain's Secret PoliceSo, the book. Of interest to many will be exactly whom the SDS, NPOIU and other police units were targeting.

In terms of anarchist groups, the book claims (at least) three in the early 1990s – one in the Direct Action Movement (a key component of Anti-Fascist Action, it should be noted), and two in Class War. Peter Francis/‘Pete Black’/‘Peter Daley’/‘Officer A’ was also to have been deployed into the anarchist milieu, but was retasked to anti-fascist/anti-racist groups at the last minute:

As Black prepared to start his covert mission, senior officers in the SDS were deciding on his future undercover role. They were constantly working out which political groups needed infiltrating and which officers would make suitable spies. Initially, Black was lined up to become an anarchist. At least three SDS officers had already been embedded in anarchist groups in the early 1990s. One was in a small anarchist group called the Direct Action Movement (DAM), which had existed since 1979. Its associates believed capitalism should be abolished by workers organising themselves at the grassroots level, a political philosophy known as anarcho-syndicalism dating back to the late 1890s. Oneconfidential Special Branch document states that a detective constable who worked as an SDS spy ‘successfully’ infiltrated DAM between 1990 and 1993.

Another group of interest to the SDS was the better-known Class War, which achieved some notoriety after it was set up in the 1980s.

…The SDS viewed [Ian] Bone and his friends as considerably more sinister. The unit posted at least two undercover police into the group.

There then follows a chortle-worthy reference to former MI5 ‘whistleblower’ David Shayler, who ruffled feathers in the late 1990s with his various claims. Adopting the stance of a courageous campaigner for a more efficient, more effective spy service, Shayler – who along with his girlfriend Annie Machon had worked on the counter-subversion F Branch desk – had characterised Class War as being very much full of crustie-with-a-dog-on-a-string types (suggesting ineffectiveness or dilettantism), whilst at other times claimed it had been riddled with informers.

When those such as Larry O’Hara (and others) have called on him to back up his claims, or asked him to explain the issue of the proven attempts of sometime-fascist Tim Hepple AKA Tim Matthews to infiltrate the orbit of Green Anarchist, and the interconnected targeting of effective Class War organiser Tim Scargill through smears and other such activity, Shayler has never responded satisfactorily.

Anyway, let’s continue with the story:

One was in place in February 1992 when he had a meeting in a London safe house with David Shayler, the MI5 officer later jailed for breaking the Official Secrets Act after leaking details of alleged incompetence in the secret services. Shayler had at that time been assigned to investigate whether Class War posed a threat to British democracy. The SDS officer supplied intelligence to the Security Service, and had become an official MI5 informant, designated the code number M2589.

According to Shayler, the ‘peculiar arrangement’ in which the SDS officer lived the life of an anarchist for six days a week, returning only occasionally to his friends and family, had ‘affected the agent psychologically’. Shayler recounts: ‘After around four years of pretending to be an anarchist, he had clearly become one. To use the service jargon, he had gone native. He drank about six cans of Special Brew during the debrief, and regaled us with stories about beating up uniformed officers as part of his “cover”. Partly as a result, he was “terminated” after the 1992 general election. Without his organisational skills, Class War fell apart.’

According to Black, the true story was a little different. He says the SDS officer in question was a ‘top end’ operative who served the unit well. During the encounter with the MI5 officer, he acted the part of a coarse anarchist because he had little time for Shayler, who was perceived to be a ‘desk wanker’ – though Black concedes that ‘some MI5 desk officers who came out to talk to us were superb and we had a very, very good relationship with them’. A second SDS officer was later sent into Class War, but it became apparent the group was fading out. Rather ignominiously for the anarchists who wanted to tear down the state, the SDS concluded they could no longer justify spending money to infiltrate them.

Ultimately Francis found himself (via the ‘stepping stone’ method) in Militant’s Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) group. This was at a time when the SWP had resurrected the Anti-Nazi League, and even the Labour Party had its own front, the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) (notable for calling for a pointless Trafalgar Square demonstration on the same day that YRE and the ANL announced their ‘Unity’ demo would ‘shut down the BNP bookshop’ in Welling). And, of course, the aforementioned AFA – which was definitely of interest to the state for both its willingness to engage in physical conflict with fascists on the streets and its robust, resolutely working class politics.

There is very little mention of AFA in the book – which is strange, really, considering how effective its record was on the streets at this time, and how much more ‘of interest’ it became when members of Red Action (another constituent part of AFA) were convicted for involvement in Irish Republican bomb campaigns. But then the small mention that there is does seem to be rather illuminating:

The key group the SDS believed was involved in confronting the far right was called Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). Formed in the mid-1980s through a loose alliance of anarchists and left-wingers, the SDS said it was now subject to a political rift. In a trait painfully familiar to radical politics over the decades, there was an alphabet soup of competing organisations campaigning against racists. To make matters more complicated, each group was often just a front, controlled by another political faction.

Beating The Fascists - The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist ActionIt doesn’t betray a great deal of understanding of AFA or what was going on in the organisation at the time (for that see Beating The Fascists), but it does give an indication of why Francis was deployed where he was, and what the ultimate objective – in a best case scenario – was.

The book continues:

Black was told he should penetrate Youth Against Racism in Europe, better known by its acronym YRE. It was a front for the revolutionary left-wing group, Militant. The head of the SDS believed there was a new anti-fascist alliance forming ‘within the loose confederation’ of the YRE, a second Trotskyist group and ‘sundry ad-hoc student and Asian youth groups’. The SDS boss identified an obscure anti-fascist group at a further education college in Camden, north London, as a possible stepping stone into the YRE.

The SDS technique was to identify a key individual within a political group and get close to them. In Black’s case, the target was an anti-fascist campaigner at Kingsway College. Black was instructed to attend the college and befriend this particular individual, who had connections with the YRE. ‘This allows an entry into the YRE and possibly AFA,’ his boss wrote.

Again this lends itself to the interpretation that deployments were not defined by a single target organisation, but by political currents. London Greenpeace appears to have been infiltrated in order to build up legends for the spycops involved as much as it was a specific target of interest in itself. From that platform the infiltrators could then explore other groups and tendencies – such as those acting under the ALF banner.

Similarly whilst not doubting the sincerity of YRE activists, and notably their stewards’ group, clearly AFA was an even more prime target – as also suggested by the targeting of DAM. Trying to reach AFA both through having a pedigree within the physical anti-fascist left, and through DAM, seems entirely plausible given the evidence here and elseewhere.

Another intriguing titbit comes directly after this:

If this failed, there was a plan B: Black could penetrate ‘an autonomous group of anarchists’ based in Hackney, east London who had been previously infiltrated by the SDS.

As we have seen, Hackney – and Stoke Newington, and then also Haringey – was a prime hunting ground for the spycops. I feel certain we shall be returning to this issue.

Spycops roundup

Following up on the previous spycops post, Paul Lewis has tweeted something approaching an explanation over the numbering issue:

Will try to clarify later but nothing more than C4 has slightly different rules / counting method to the G.

That’s not to say everything is now clear – no explicit clarification over whether Chitty/‘Blake’ is either ‘Officer 10’, ‘Officer 11’, or someone else; or whether the silhouette represents ‘Wellings’, ‘Richardson’, or someone else – but at least we seem to be still on track.

Meanwhile, some interesting links related to the theme of spycops and to the Dispatches programme…

Emily Apple from FITwatch has written an intensely personal post on the effect of infiltrators forming close relationships with and then betraying targets like her:

I also can’t express how important it is these revelations are coming out, and the depth of the operation against so many people is being exposed. We need to know who these bastards were, and we need to get their names and faces into the public domain. But it isn’t easy, and the psychological impact is massive.

Radical History of Hackney blog has a brief article pulling together the threads linking the spycops to the borough:

The radical history of Hackney has lead to police spies being active in the Borough.

This is a theme that it will hopefully return to in more detail at some point.

Newham Monitoring Project has released a statement in relation to the vague ‘cops spied on groups that held cops to account’ story it closed the evening with yesterday:

…Whilst the limited information in the Guardian report suggests NMP was never infiltrated directly, it nevertheless raises severe concerns that we do not have the full facts and the confidential nature of our casework might have been compromised. We demand, for the sake of transparency, that the name of the second SDS officer who was responsible for spying on NMP is made public immediately…

The Met’s current muscular Chief Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has put out a statement of his own on the Lawrence family smears, distancing himself and officers now serving under him from any of the beastly business we’re hearing about, which obviously happened a long, long time ago, if it did happen, and if it did happen then it was only ever the work of a few bad apples, etc:

…Finding out the truth about what happened 20 years ago is not a straightforward task. There are many, many documents and a large number of witnesses which is complicating the review. It has proved difficult to recapture the way in which police officers in this specialist area have operated since the Special Demonstration Squad was formed in the 1960’s…

Of course, the Stephen Lawrence murder was a long time ago, twenty years back, and many lessons were learned, it couldn’t happen again. Oh wait – here’s the Yorkshire Post reporting how police tried to smear the family of Christopher Alder, a former serviceman – and would you believe it, a Black Briton – who died in police custody in 1998:

…As part of their investigation into Mr Alder’s death, Humberside Police obtained social service records dating back to the births of all the Alder children – Christopher, Richard, Emmanuel, Stephen, and Janet, who were brought up in care…

Finally the Guardian is again plugging the imminent release of the Undercover book with another titbit story, this time with the revelation that the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) tracks nearly 9,000 ‘domestic extremists’ (as those previously deemed worthy of the equally ill-defined label ‘subversive’ are now officially described):

…A total of 8,931 individuals “have their own record” on a database kept by the unit, for which the Metropolitan police is the lead force. It currently uses surveillance techniques, including undercover police, paid informants, and intercepts against political campaigners from across the spectrum.

Senior officers familiar with the workings of the unit have indicated to the Guardian that many of the campaigners listed on the database have no criminal record…

One slightly odd bit: “Francis’s unit, the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), was disbanded in 2008, but later replaced with the National Domestic Extremism Unit.”

Yet the NDEU was more a successor unit to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) which employed Kennedy/‘Stone’. It was one of three units run through the aegis of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) by the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism, until the #phnat fuck-ups bled into the spycops shitstorm first flaring up in 2010. Then, along with the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) and the National Domestic Extremism Team (NDET), NPOIU was transferred over to the Metropolitan Police in 2011, where the three were jointly rebranded NDEU. Exciting stuff I think you will agree.

Twelve become ten? More spycop number confusion…

Dispatches: Ten spy cops...

Tonight’s Dispatches documentary, ‘The Police’s Dirty Secret’ – with The Guardian‘s Paul Lewis fronting it based on the reports filed by him and Rob Evans (and others) over the past couple of years on undercover police infiltrating protest groups – was an interesting watch.

Whilst much of it felt like an extended trailer for the forthcoming book, plus a stage-managed opportunity for star witness ‘Officer A’ AKA ‘Peter Daley’ AKA ‘Pete Black’ to come out from the shadows to call for an independent inquiry under his own name of Peter Francis, it was a powerful film.

Whilst much of it was built around the whistleblower testimony of Francis, it did not dwell on the personalities of the professional liars of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) or the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), but on their actions and the effects of these on their victims.

Three women – Jacqui (AKA ‘Charlotte’), Belinda Harvey (AKA ‘Sarah’), and Helen Steel (AKA ‘Claire’) – bore powerful witness to the lengths Special Branch was prepared to go to in order to maintain a political status quo.

As Belinda put it:

You hear about people having their phones hacked – well that’s nothing compared to what happened to me, and what happened to us, absolutely nothing. It’s like our bodies were hacked. It’s… It’s just unforgivable.

This was echoed just as potently by Jacqui:

For my body to be used to gain intelligence on a protest group, yeah… Well, I feel like I was raped. Multiple times, wasn’t I? It’s like being raped by the state. And I just want it all to go away, and it doesn’t. It doesn’t go away. And the thing is I’m going to have Lambert in my life for a long time because he’s the father of my son.

Both Belinda and Jacqui had been seduced by Bob Lambert, a veteran detective who went undercover in pursuit of the ALF. Animal rights activist Jacqui bore him a son. Belinda was not even involved in politics, and was seemingly a (and I know this sounds distasteful) tactical conquest for Lambert. But she still had her doors kicked in by police on a cover-bolstering search for ‘Bob Robinson’ in the aftermath of the Debenham’s bombings.

All that, plus the spying-on-the-Lawrence-family bombshell dropped earlier in the day, made it a packed three-quarters-of-an-hour programme.

Yet in places it posed more questions than it answered.

Take this curious section from Paul Lewis:

In 2008 the SDS closed its doors. But its work continues in the form of the NPOIU.

Accusations of undercover officers engaging in sexual relations have persisted.

Mark Jenner, who infiltrated left wing groups posing as ‘Mark Cassidy’, reportedly lived with an activist girlfriend for four years.

Jim Boyling is said to have had two serious relationships in his time undercover.

Marco Jacobs, who posed as an anarchist, allegedly also had two unsuspecting girlfriends before he disappeared in 2009.

And Mark Kennedy – outed as a police spy in 2010 – had several relationships with women, all over Europe, the longest lasting six years.

In total, ten undercover officers have been identified; of those, it’s alleged that nine had sexual relationships with people they were spying on.

The graphic above is then shown – from left to right, top row then bottom, we have:

  • Peter Francis / ‘Officer A’ / ‘Peter Daley’ / ‘Pete Black’
  • Bob Lambert / ‘Bob Robinson’ / Dr Robert Lambert MBE
  • Mark Kennedy / ‘Mark Stone’ / ‘Flash’
  • Andrew James Boyling / ‘Jim Sutton’
  • John Dines / ‘John Barker’
  • Mike Chitty / ‘Mike Blake’
  • ‘Lynn Watson’
  • ‘Mark Jacobs’ / ‘Marco’
  • Mark Jenner / ‘Mark Cassidy’
  • Unknown

But previously we have established that the Lewis/Evans team has been working with a list of (probably) twelve known – if not publicly identified – undercover officers.

The Dispatches list of ten broadly matches that list, except for the new face on the block, Mike Chitty AKA ‘Mike Blake’, mentioned nowhere else except in the brief photo gallery released a couple of days ago, in which we are told he “infiltrated animal rights campaigners in the 1980s”. This makes him a possible fit for ‘Officer 10’ or ‘Officer 11’.

 

Yet where is ‘Rod Richardson’ or ‘Simon Wellings’ on the list? Both were noted for not having had sexual relationships whilst undercover – which means either would chime with the 1/10 on the Dispatches graphic having been abstinent, if Mike Chitty (in keeping with the SDS tradecraft of the 1980s) was not.

Either way, the pond is getting muddy once more – and not helped by the post-show release of another (peculiarly vague and limp) story telling us one unnamed officer didn’t infiltrate Newham Monitoring Project

PS Another related story released after the show:

 

McLibel fact sheet authorship clusterfuck blows up at last: spycop chickens most definitely start coming home to roost

So the spycop story – bubbling away on a low simmer for many months, publicly at least – has boiled over once more.

With Friday’s ‘revelation’ that police infiltrator Detective Inspector Bob Lambert co-wrote the contentious ‘What’s Wrong With McDonald’s’ fact sheet which precipitated the libel action against London Greenpeace finally coming out into the open, The Guardian‘s Rob Evans and Paul Lewis (Lewvans? Evis?) have brought the whole sorry saga back into the public eye.

Whilst not strictly news (after all, the core London Greenpeace activists knew all along who contributed to their leaflet, and Lambert was publicly unmasked in October 2011), the story that a cop effectively set loose the whole McLibel chain of events has had a strong impact. Of course, that impact will be compounded by the Evans/Lewis book Undercover: The True Story Of Britain’s Secret Police due out in early July, and the joint investigation with Channel 4’s Dispatches that will air on Monday night.

However, for me more interesting was the more in-depth article published on Saturday, which didn’t even merit a link at the top of the front page of the Grauniad‘s website: Undercover policemen, undercover lovers.

Tucked away in the Family section, it was an extended excerpt from the book which more effectively ties together the different threads, and shows the patterns in the behaviour of the supposed cops-gone-rogue/few rotten apples/whatever label NSY senior management damage control is running this week.

By way of a flavour, committed but non-violent activist Helen Steel was:

…spied on by three undercover officers – [Boyling], Lambert and John Dines.

First by Lambert, the sexual and emotional predator, a consummate liar and a proven Janus, seasoned Special Branch provocateur turned trainer, teacher of tradecraft, mentor…

Second by Dines, committed political cop, stealing into the feelings of a committed campaigner, conniving to be privy to privileged legal information…

Third by Boyling, Lambert’s protégé, the controlling sociopath sent in to undermine links and interconnections between environmental, labour and social movements.

The cynical abuse of people – just collateral damage in some secretive, ill-defined dirty war on dissent – that is something that leaps out from the relatively brief overview that the article gives, whether we are talking about the SDS, ARNI or NPOIU.

And you know what? It’s simply not cricket. These pricks don’t fight fair. And I think that’s why the McLibel article has had such resonance – this goes beyond cracking hippy heads, or somesuch similar rationalisation. This is as bent as is possible to be.

We know – we know – this is not about ‘isolated instances’ or ‘exceptional circumstances’ or ‘the actions of an inexperienced new recruit’. This was planned, strategised, calculated. This involved malice aforethought, stepped approval processes, the involvement of lawyers both internal and external. Paper trails. Inter-service rivalries. Personality conflicts. All the petty bullshit that these muppets can never keep a lid on indefinitely. And no matter how many internal reviews they instigate, with tightly defined scopes and pre-limited evidence, the truth will out.

Because already we know what it will look like. All that’s really left is to match the shade of shit all over the walls to a colour chart.

PS After reading Friday’s article but before Saturday’s, I started to put together a brief timeline of what was going on with the few infiltrations we do know about in the 1980s and 1990s around London Greenpeace, and to put them into some kind of context. The Saturday article rather took away the need to do that, but I’ll stick it up anyway, as incomplete as it is.

The Bristolian is back! (slight return)

The Bristolian returns (again)

So, it seems that Bristol’s “favourite muck-raking scandal sheet”, The Bristolian, has returned (again).

Now in its third iteration (lovingly retconned to v4.0 through a quick history lesson that drags in James Acland’s 19th century anti-establishment rag serendipitously of the same name), there’s also a website to back it up, plus Twitter account and Facebook page. How terribly modern!

One gripe: first issue seems to be rather council-focused (I know, it does say ‘CRAP COUNCIL SPECIAL’ in big letters on the cover) – hopefully they shall be casting their net a little wider with future issues.

Anyway, there’s stuff on outgoing council capo Graham Sims getting a sweetheart deal from new Mayor George Ferguson, a new crap legal supremo replaces old crap legal supremo, and some righteous anger at adventure playgrounds & youth centres being dumped as large swathes of our public play facilities and services are privatised…

There’s a growing list of places to pick up paper copies (I suspect it will take a while to get it out though, so might be best to contact the Bristolian people first before trekking out).

Fourth spy-cop ‘John Barker’ named as PS John Dines; five more to go (and then the rest)

Undercover spycop Sergeant John Dines posing as activist 'John Barker'

The Guardian today published a number of disturbing stories [1, 2, 3] related to the massive Metropolitan Police operation to infiltrate spy-cops into protest movements over a period of decades, and named the ‘fourth man’ as Police Sergeant John Dines from Special Branch. They also published pictures of him.

Dines, previously known only by his assumed identity of ‘John Barker’, is one of five police officers who entered into long-term, intimate relationships with eight women on whom they spied who are now bringing legal action against the police and individuals concerned. A further three complainants are represented in a similar action.

The other officers are former Police Constable Mark Kennedy, AKA ‘Mark Stone’; former Police Constable Andrew James ‘Jim’ Boyling, AKA ‘Jim Sutton’; former Detective Inspector Dr Robert Lambert MBE, AKA ‘Bob Robinson’; and an undercover police officer known only as ‘Mark Cassidy‘.

A number of other police officers who infiltrated protest groups, social justice groups and political organisations over the years have also been unmasked in recent times, including ‘Lynn Watson‘, who targeted the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army; ‘Mark/Marco Jacobs‘, who disrupted the Cardiff Anarchist Network; and ‘Simon Wellings‘, who reported on Globalise Resistance.

Another ex-infiltrator, ‘Pete Black’, came out in 2010 to spill the beans on the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad, which later morphed into the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). He backs up the claims in today’s Guardian stories that undercover officers are trained to adopt the identities of dead children.

Police spy Sergeant John Dines AKA activist 'John Barker'

Edited 2:38 for clarity with regards the legal action.

Malians in the middle as al-Qaeda steps up a gear

Picture by May Ying Welsh

“Ansar al Din is a Malian armed group that hosts Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) much as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.”

A rather interesting article on the Al Jazeera website by May Ying Welsh about al-Qaeda in Mali, as flagged up by Andy Morgan.

…Al-Qaeda has based itself in northern Mali for 10 years, as part of an alleged secret agreement with Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), the president of Mali who was deposed in a military coup in March 2012 as northern cities were falling to Tuareg rebels.

During ATT’s presidency, AQIM amassed an outrageous fortune in Mali – collecting up to $250m in hostage ransoms from Western governments for more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighbouring Niger.

At this moment there are still European hostages being held by al-Qaeda in northern Mali pending delivery of a $132m ransom.

The ransom negotiations, which were carried out under the auspices of the presidency, were confirmed by the Wikileaks cables to be a goldmine for the Malian VIPs involved – with each receiving his cut of the jackpot including, according to a former Malian official with knowledge of the deals, the president himself…

…According to numerous northern residents, AQIM fighters have been circulating openly in Tuareg towns, not for the past year, but for the past 10 years; shopping, attending weddings, and parading fully armed in the streets, in front of police stations and military barracks.

Colonel Habi ag Al Salat, a Malian army commander who defected in 2011 to join the [secular Tuareg rebel movement] MNLA, was one of the first to notice the Algerian fighters from the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) entering Tuareg towns of the far north such as Aguelhoc, which was under his command.

But when Habi warned his army superiors they told him to stand down and leave the men alone because they were “not enemies” of Mali. When the GSPC changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, following a pact announced by Ayman Al Zawahiri, that policy did not change.

“Mali opened the field to al-Qaeda – to roam among the camps and villages, to build relationships with the people,” says Habi.

“Local people benefitted up to a point from the trickle down of money flowing to al-Qaeda by way of Mali. And this ensnared many of our youths who are unemployed. Mali facilitated al-Qaeda, providing them complete freedom of movement among our families because they believed the presence of this group would impact the Tuareg struggle against the governing regime which has been going on for 50 years”…

…Meanwhile the Tuaregs have a sinking feeling: The fear that they are the ones who will be killed in any coming war, in the name of fighting al-Qaeda.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/2012review/2012/12/20121228102157169557.html