Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Guardian (UK) : Report : British Government Supported Northern Irish Death Squads

An Update on the so-called "War on Terror"TM

Here's another story about one of our "allies" in the (so-called) "war on terror." In the past, I have pointed out (here and here) that even the British -- not known for their squeamishness when it comes to abuse of prisoners -- have been raising a bloody fuss about human rights abuses perpetrated by their government in the name of this (so-called) "war on terror."

Now comes further evidence that the British government may have been -- at the very least, in the past -- the cause rather than the target of terror. A new report by the Northern Ireland (UK) Ombudsman for Police, Nuala O'Loan, says that the Royal Irish Constabulary (RUC) Special Branch, British Intelligence, and a succession of British governments conspired to collude with Loyalist death squads in the 1980s and 1990s.

The (Loyalist) Mount Vernon boys were state-sponsored assassins. Special branch ran their local leadership. We now know that British security services had penetrated all the paramilitary organisations.

Collusion tells us about our institutions and their purpose. After 1987 - when the loyalist paramilitary organisations were beginning to contemplate peace - Britain re-armed, reinvigorated and refocused them, taking control through its proxies among the warlords, and prolonged the war. Their reputations as ruffians, religious maniacs and pumped-up thugs merely gilded the reputation reserved by the British as law-abiding peacemakers.

Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin's chief negotiator, said:
The RUC Special Branch, British intelligence and their agents were doing exactly what they were paid to do. It was a political policy decided in Downing Street. The political figures involved, including British prime ministers, now must also be held to account.

Howie will not be moved by this. He is moved by very little, and still believes that George W. Bush is the "savior" of America. It doesn't matter if American values are trampled and spat upon, as long as "America" succeeds. The very possibility that, in turning our backs on such principles as presumption of innocence, due process of law, habeus corpus, and protection from illegal search and seizure (to say nothing of the illegality and immorality of torture), there IS NO AMERICA and therefore no American "success" falls upon deaf ears. It just doesn't make sense to him.

So, America is, ipso facto, one of the "good guys," along with Britain. But we ought to be careful of the company we keep. "Ye shall know them by their fruit..."
All these pressures are bearing down on Britain. It has been exposed not as peacemaker but as perpetrator, spreading terror and spilling blood; as the most powerful presence among the warlords. That is the national narrative we need to contemplate before we can consign collusion to the past.

1 comment:

a very public sociologist said...

On the subject of death squads, there was a very impressive Dispatches on Channel 4 (UK) this evening on the *current* Iraqi government's complicity with death squads. I imagine they'll have it on their website somewhere. Well worth a look.