22 January 2006

Ignorance is strength - disinformation about WMD

The world is full of contradictions and it seems most of us will fall into the trap of believing what we are told. A 1984 Orwellian nightmare unfolds when we believe what we are told by our elected leaders, and they take their information from the unelected troglodytes who inhabit the caverns of Vauxhall. It is the role of the Ministry of Fear to create fear in the minds of the population, then we (the people) will agree to anything to take away that fear.

The art of disinformation has been around for a long time - think back to all those stories we heard about a threat from this, that, or the other organisation or despot. How many times do we hear about threats to Britain, our citizens, our way of life - stories often invented by the intelligence community - and these threats later magically melt away?

It is true the public persona and aims of MI6 and MI5 appear to be to protect the country, but these organisations seem to have developed a nasty habit for making up stories as well - if not actually inventing them, then at least embellishing them in the manner of Norse story-tellers and Chinese whisperers. It would appear that MI6 got it totally wrong about weapons of mass destruction, and, considering MI6 is not a blinkered organisation, nor WMD an insignificant thing to hide, this might at first seem puzzling.

Three decades ago Philip Agee published his book Inside the Company: CIA Diary, and it revealed the amount of disinformation and dirty tricks that Agee saw in his time as a CIA officer. We have also witnessed the way MI5 officers David Shayler and Annie Machon exposed the lies and illegal acts of MI5 and MI6 in the book Spies Lies and Whistleblowers - crimes rather than intelligent espionage. Then there were the revelations of Richard Tomlinson in his book The Big Breach: From Top Secret to Maximum Security, which confirms how secrecy and cover-up prevent the public learning what is going on behind the scenes in their name.

It is significant that both Richard Tomlinson and David Shayler were convicted of breaking the OSA (Official Secrets Act), and served time in prison for their "crimes" of telling the truth. The convictions are less to do with the damage these MI5 and MI6 officers caused, and more to do with frightening anyone else who is tempted to reveal what goes on behind those closed doors. This really is a Ministry of Fear.

In The Big Breach, Richard Tomlinson has mentioned my own case, and I quote what he published:

… MI6 only had the budget to accept high-level defectors such as OVATION and NORTHSTAR, and even they had to work for several years en poste before being allowed into Britain. Even the likes of Viktor Oshchenko, a KGB officer specialising in science and technology who offered his services in July 1992, did not have an easy time persuading MI6 that he was worth a resettlement package. His revelation that, while serving in London in the mid-'80s, he had recruited a GEC-Marconi sales engineer was regarded as only mildly important and I saw an MI5 report which concluded that the engineer, Michael John Smith, did not pass damaging secrets. (This did not stop MI5 having Smith arrested in an entrapment operation, and this paper was not made available to Smith's defence at his trial. He was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment, the judge summing up with the outlandish claim that Smith had done incalculable damage to Britain's national security.)

All the books mentioned above are available from Amazon, and it would be worth reading them.

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