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Lobster 53 Reviews Someone Would Have Talked

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The latest edition of Lobster has just been published. It includes a long review of Larry Hancock’s Someone Would Have Talked. Members will also be interested in a review of Ismael Hossein-Zadeh’s The Political Economy of US Militarism.

Other articles include:

Mike Peters: The Secret of the Balfour Declaration

William Clark: Philanthropic Imperialism

Terry Hanstock: Dr. David Kelly

Tim Pendry: The Brittle Society

Scott Newton: Henry Brandon

John Allman: Mind Control

Corinne de Souza: Lobbying

Andrew Rosthorn: Ribbontrop Blair

Mike Small: Blairusconi

Jonathan Bloch: Freedom of Information Act


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Thanks for that John.

I browsed the Lobster site and found this fascinating speech by Robin Ramsay on 8th November 2000: Getting it right: the security agencies in modern society

It concludes:

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, secrecy is the first refuge of the incompetent - or the illegal. Because this is the issue. The suspicion of people like me is that the security agencies want secrecy to cover their incompetence and their feather-bedding; and also to conceal activities they would rather we didn't know - activities they shouldn't be engaged in. MI6 is not supposed to be in the business of assassinating foreign leaders, even if that leader is on the Americans' xxxx list like Milosevic. MI5 is not supposed to be in the business of collecting and distributing the dirt on British MPs - which is what they were doing in the 1970s. What else have they been doing, free from the gaze of politicians and journalists? At root I suspect what they are most keen to conceal is the extent to which they have been working in, manipulating, civil society. The Wilson plots story was an example of these activities erupting into the public gaze.

At each step as the police increase their powers, we hear 'If you are innocent you have nothing to fear'. Anybody who has been half awake in the last 20 years knows that this is simply nonsense; that many - dozens, maybe hundreds - of the innocent have been routinely framed and incarcerated by our legal system. But this statement can be levelled at the security agencies: if what you have been doing is above board, show us the files. Take out the agents' names - fine. Nobody expects to see them. But for the rest.... of course it won't happen, not here; not with politicians as docile and cowed as the ones we currently have.

It is absolutely typical of this society that the recent legislation passed which - allegedly - will protect whistle-blowers, does not encompass the heart of the state: police, military, intelligence. It is absolutely typical that the security agencies have been given blanket immunity from the provision of the Data Protection Act. It is also absolutely typical of our security agencies that rather than be less secretive, less authoritarian, less vindictive, less illegal and less bloody incompetent, they are going to introduce psychometric testing of their employees to try and weed out any future Shaylers and Tomlinsons.

Finally, to return to the title of this talk, the security agencies: getting it right in modern society. In one sense MI6 and MI5 have got it right, are, in fact, a brilliant success. Faced with their biggest crisis of the post-war period, the end of the Red Menace which justified the budgets, the careers and the gongs, they have emerged with budgets renewed, new agendas approved; untouched by the politicians, unsupervised by anyone, still - we are not supposed to laugh - still accountable to the Crown not Parliament ( i.e. to no-one). Both MI6 and MI5 have reacted to the new conditions post Cold War in thoroughly competent, even creative ways. Needing something something to justify the budget, MI6 picked the international drug trade. Far as I know, since MI6 joined the 'war against drugs' the price of cocaine and heroin in the UK at street level has halved: it is now cheaper to get off your face, as they say in Hull, on smack than it is on alcohol. And didn't I read a few months ago that MI6 had persuaded Clare Short to task them to provide her with early warning of coups in the developing world? An honest-to-goodness license to do anything, anywhere. Only a Labour government, timid and ignorant, would fall for a proposal as preposterous as that one.

MI5 hardly paused for breath after losing the KGB 'threat' contained in the Soviet Embassy and its Trade Mission, before acquiring the domestic terrorism franchise from the Met Special Branch and beginning the process of hyping up the animal rights and green activists as a new terrorist threat. (And they are getting a new definition of terrorism run through the Houses of Parliament to support it.)

Of course, only the politicians and some of the media - the handful who are paying any attention at all - take the talk of the war on drugs seriously. MI6 don't, I am sure; any more than they seriously intend to provide Clare Short with an early warning of coups in the Third World. At the higher levels of MI6, MI5 and all the rest they must be chortling in the senior dining rooms at the incredible gullibility of the British political class - and this present lot in particular.

Within a year, MI5 and MI6 had found much 'cleaner' ways to justify upsizing... a brand new 'War on Terror', bravely combating 'radical Islam' here, there and everywhere, purportedly on behalf of the terrified and befuddled masses.

Edited by Sid Walker
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