“…in the UK government’s view, historical counter-terrorist techniques never become obsolete.”

Speaking of Rabbit Holes (media, academic or otherwise), on the matter of national security, this from Newton on Saturday

Perhaps the academics are unaware that, in the UK government’s view, historical counter-terrorist techniques never become obsolete. Two years ago, the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police refused to release 19th century files on Irish informants to a historian, arguing that to do so might imperil their descendants and compromise recruitment of future informants, who are promised anonymity forever. An appeal by the historian to the UK information tribunal was rejected.

Translation: Anyone who thinks that campaigning to get the British government to give up their control of their own files might need to think again?

,

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    Anyone who thinks that the British government will reveal what they really got up to during the conflict is being truly naive.

  • the rich get richer

    The British ain’t going to fess up….They may be using the same tactics in other places or in Northern Ireland now or in the future……….

  • Jag

    If the Brits won’t reveal informants from 150 years ago, out of concern for present-day descendants – “you’re nothing but the great-great-great-great-grandson of a tout, ya b*stard” – then what hope is there, even in the context of a truth and reconciliation commission of the Brits admitting their formal role in bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in the 1970s, or murdering 10s of citizens in Derry and Ballymurphy. Will never happen. People will make up their own minds and ultimately the Brits aren’t part of the long-term future for Ireland.

  • Brian Walker

    Mick. Your infatuation with Newton notwithstanding, is it really as pat as that? True, open access to documents is a long way off. Naming agents living or dead willy nilly won’t happen. Naming so far unidentified agents is a breach of Art 2 the right to life. But a refusal to disclose case details short of identification is also a breach. There is a big grey area in between. “Agents” i.e. informers/informants as victims, witnesses or defendants have been named in court usually involving collusion. Some have paid with their lives. Justice was deemed to be more important than the personal threat. Leaks have produced the Stakeknife inquiry. Close readings and followups of the de Silva and Stevens reports could probably come close to identifying some more names .

    You may have missed my post on the McEvoy proposals which would introduce judicial oversight into NI disclosure that already applies in a different form in GB – based subversion and anti-terrorism. It contains MI5’s policy on disclosure 2009.

    Historically agents were dealing with external subversion.. In NI and now in UK as as whole over jihadism, the rules are now applied to a threat which can be called domestic and therefore more integral to society than Russian spies and
    are amenable to the regular open justice system. That makes a big difference.

    It means more names will emerge by one means or another. Newton’s thrust doesn’t close the issue down. Nor would a statute of limitations, though it would help the cause of voluntary disclosure that Adams and co always say they would make and former RUC chiefs tell me they have nothing to hide, if only the other side reciprocated..

  • johnny lately

    Too true Conchur but let’s call a spade a spade, calling such actions counter terrorist techniques is another way of describing the controlling and directing of murder gangs like the Shankill butchers to terrorise the target community. The impasse over historical investigations and inquests by the British government and its puppets in the DUP is nothing more than attempting to brush under the carpet and protect those members of the security forces who controlled and directed murder gangs like the Shankill butchers and concealed the true number of their victims. What’s happening in Syria today was preplanned and attempted over fifty years ago by Britain and America. When the former Police Ombudsman publicly states that hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of murders were carried out by state agents we can be absolutely sure its going to take more than politics to uncover and bring into the public realm the truth.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    or perhaps cares about making future terrorist activity as difficult as possible to carry out

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Naming so far unidentified agents is a breach of Art 2 the right to life. But a refusal to disclose case details short of identification is also a breach. There is a big grey area in between.”
    But is there such a big grey area? If the paramilitary groups were as riddled with informants as we now believe, and the vast majority of those are currently “unidentified agents”, it seems highly likely that an awful lot of security force operations – possibly the vast majority? – are going to involve information from unidentified agents. Now if there’s a way of the salient facts being disclosed without inadvertently identifiying the agent, I’m all for it. But I can also see it’s going to be virtually impossible in many, many cases to tell the story without also revealing by implication how you know the story, e.g. either Alf, Bert or Jim in B Company must have informed, quick process of elimination, it was Jim.

    Perhaps I’m being naive here? I just know when I’m doing my research reports on my interviews and have to protect people’s anonymity when I quote them – say the senior doctors project I’ve just done – I have to be ultra careful about even revealing what hospital they work at as the client would effectively know which doctor I was talking to (given the particular subject matter). The MRS Code, for example, says you can’t reveal any fact that makes them personally identifiable – and it’s not enough just that you haven’t named them.

  • johnny lately

    Attempting to sanitise the murders of hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of innocent people by agents of those who were paid and employed to protect those same innocent hundreds, is nothing more than projection and let’s be honest, just exactly how many is hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds, could that figure be more than a thousand. Democracy is defined by the actions of the state that claims it is democratic and no normal democratic state could or would defend its state agents murdering its own citizens supposedly in order to stop others murdering them. Of course the Unionist state would as is now clear.

  • johnny lately

    Brian can you name any “agents, informers, informants, witnesses or defendants who after being exposed as such in court usually in cases of collusion that have been murdered later as a result of that exposure. If you can produce evidence of such happenings – Who murdered them ?

  • Brian Walker

    William Stobie,

  • johnny lately

    One swallow does not make a summer Brian and who murdered him and why. Dead men don’t talk and all that and wasn’t he the man who supplied the weapons used to murder Patrick Finucane and also used in the Ormeau Road bookies atrocitiy and also used in the murder and serious injury of a man and a young boy in the Devenish Arms by loyalists. Weapons that were in RUC custody but handed back to the terrorists the RUC had under their control. Is it not more logical that Stobie was murdered by state agents to bury the truth rather than the revenge motive by his former comrades your making it out to be ?

  • aquifer

    I con’t imagine you would hold Geroid Adams and his Provisional government in waiting to a very high standard of revelation on assuming power?

  • Brian Walker

    johnny..I’m not “making out” anything or making propaganda points out of killings. I’ve no interest in state concealment for its own sake..I’m simply questioning the sweeping assertion that the identity of agents never comes out

  • Brian Walker

    Thank you for the contribution MU

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    The Brits know all about terrorism but their preferred method is dropped from 10,000 ft from a Reaper drone.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “The Brits” – really, come on, it’s 2017. And you’re talking to one.

  • Gopher

    Its pretty straight forward and the passage in quotes explains it all. If you are promised anonimity forever it means what it says.

  • aquifer

    Thousands are a bigger number than hundreds or tens, and I understand that the first thing an IRA volunteer is taught is to say nothing about what they do. And that wrong is right.

  • aquifer

    And do the foreign states who sponsored subversion here reveal their agents? No.

  • johnny lately

    I get your point about thousands being bigger than hundreds the rest of your post is a petty attempt to deflect from the reality that state agents were responsible for hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of murders and therefore the British government is directly responsible for all those murders.