Monday, January 22, 2007

Special Branch corruption continues

A report by the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman has just been published and confirms what many already knew: the murky world of secret services and special branch police activity is deeply entwined with unlawful and criminal behaviour. Informers for Special Branch committed murders and other serious crimes whilst officers protected the killers and ensured that they would not be caught. Prosecutions of those responsible are unlikely to follow because documents needed to proescute were deliberately destroyed.

Commenting on the report which he said made for "very uncomfortable reading" the Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain assured us that "these things - murder, collusion, cover-up, obstruction of investigations - could not happen today, not least because of the accountability mechanisms that have been put in place over recent years". Rather than even attempting to deal with the serious implications of this report this government minister is putting a gloss on it and trying to explain it away as a thing of the past, when in fact the report covers a period no longer ago than the last decade of British politics under this very government.

Since then the government has given the police and Special Branch unprecedented new powers under various anti-terrorism laws, powers they are bound to use in order to protect their own interests. Power corrupts, and acting outside the law and secretively has become easier, not more difficult for the police under the current climate of fear-mongering and misinformation, where the British public are told that radioactive material found in BA planes after the killing of Alexander Litvinenko posed no danger, whereas people taking baby milk or toothpaste on board were a serious security risk.

It may be true that the likelihood of Special Branch illegality in Northern Ireland has somewhat reduced, but Special Branch have found a new playing field to home their skills. Interestingly, a lot of noise surrounds the various revelations emerging in the trial of the young men allegedly involved in the foiled July 21 London bomb attack, almost as if to cover up the fact that not a single shred of evidence has yet been presented for the culpability of the youths on whom the fatal July 7 bombings have been blamed. The fact that the train they were said to have taken from Luton to Kings Cross was actually cancelled on that day has never been satisfactorily explained any more than numerous other inconsistencies, and the government is refusing to even hold an enquiry, probably fearing that even an attempted whitewash would be too dangerous to their credibility. Pictures of of the July 21 suspects abound even showing them camping in the Lake District, whereas not a single image from the plentiful London CCTV cameras has yet been shown to prove that the alleged July 7 bombers ever boarded those underground trains.

What is known, however, is that the alleged mastermind of the July 7 bombings, Rashid Aswat, was a Special Branch informer whom they had protected from prosecution and helped escape before. In reality, therefore, nothing much has changed other than the replacement of Irish terrorism with Islamic terrorism as the threat served up to the British public in order to justify increases in police power and excessive controls and inconvenience for ordinary British citizens. If anything, the government has helped Special Branch to avoid detection for their illegal activities, and has made it easier for them to become a law unto themselves. Add the cancellation of the inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office into the corrupt arms deal practices of BAE Systems in the "national interest" and the cash-for-honours scandal, and it is plain to see that the New Labour government has greatly enhanced the international standing of the UK to be first amongst equals: a high-tech modern Banana republic.

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