7 June 1999. Thanks to Anon.
Having failed to stop the list of MI6 names going round the Internet in May 1999, the British Government is now threatening a 67 year old journalist with two years imprisonment for contravening Britain's notorious Official Secrets Act.
In his 1998 book, The Irish War, Tony Geraghty reveals how new forms of surveillance technology which were developed for use in Northern Ireland are being adapted for general population surveillance.
Absurdly, the British Defence Ministry is attempting to jail Geraghty while his book remains openly on sale and can be purchased on the Internet http://st4.yahoo.net/britishbooks/2538.html
The book describes how the British government has responded to the IRA with increasingly sophisticated countermeasures. It describes how their battle methods have expanded to embrace 'forms of surveillance and counter-surveillance, interrogation, chemical analysis and electronic eavesdropping' that have dangerous implications for civil populations at large. He says that, whether or not peace now settles in the province, "the legacy of covert warfare engendered by this long and bloody struggle will affect British and Irish liberty for years to come".
Britain's military police claim that publication, or re-publication of the information on pages 158-162 of the book is in violation of the law.
According to the British Official Secrets Act, it is an offence for an individual to make a `damaging disclosure' containing `any information, document or other article' that the government has classified. It is an offence to retain or disclose or publish such information. `Disclosure' includes `parting with possession of it', that is passing it on to someone else. There is no defence for journalists or writers. Britain does not have a constitution, let alone a First Amendment.
Pages 158-162 of The Irish War follow. Please do not read these pages if you respect the British view of official secrecy. Especially, please do not retain it, disclose it or publish it to anyone else.
by Tony Geraghty
[...] the two intelligence agencies reached such a pitch that, at a social function police and Army handlers nearly came to blows.
A similar ambiguity surrounds the fate of the informer whose tip-off in 1987 gave the SAS its chance at Loughgall to kill eight Provisionals (see Chapter 8). The IRA ran a fanatical molehunt to find the source, who was being run by the RUC Special Branch. Suspicion fell upon a local woman, Colette O'Neill, from whose phone telephone confirmation had been given for the attack to proceed. She was briefly abducted and questioned. The RUC unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute her abductors. The IRA investigation exonerated her, even though she was saved by a tiny transmitter which sent an SOS to Special Branch when she was abducted. The IRA never forgives informers, particularly when the betrayal has caused the loss of eight fighting men. So why was Mrs O'Neill let off the hook? The truth, as relayed by one of the SAS ambush team, was stranger than fiction, but it was a truth recognised by the IRA.
'The fact of the matter is that the informer was one of the eight people attacking us that day,' an SAS Intelligence source explained. He should not have been "slotted". We were supposed to identify him quite easily because he would be wearing a red woolly hat or scarf. He was not wearing either.'
How did it come about that an informer set himself up for a lethal trap of this sort? It still puzzles the SAS, but there is an intelligent guess to be made in place of hard information: 'The Loughgall team leader, Jim Lynagh, was a sharp operator. When he called a Volunteer in, that man never knew whether it was to be court-martialled, congratulated or told, "Get the overalls on: You're going to war." The informer was probably caught on the hop. He wasn't carrying his little red marker.'
Second only to the informer is the computer or, rather, the army of computers
which act as the collating brains of this new style of warfare. In Northern
Ireland, for example, the arm uses two systems : 'Vengeful', dedicated to
vehicles, and 'Crucible', for people. Crucible, one source explained, 'will
hold a personal file containing a map/picture showing this is where a suspect
lives as well as details of family and past'. Vengeful is linked to the Northern
Ireland vehicle licensing office. The two systems provide total cover of a largely innocent population, the sea within which the terrorist fish still swim. Information management is handled by yet another Intelligence Corps team, the Joint Surveillance Group. Intelligence data are graded from a basic, 'Green Army' Level III, available to ordinary line battalions, to Level V (brigade headquarters and above) to a level of joint Intelligence which, in theory at least, holds the crown jewels of sensitive information provided by 14 Company, MI5 and Special Branch. The lowest level information would note that 'Sean Kelly and Seamus Maguire met in a certain pub and had three pints of Guinness'. At a higher level, Sean Kelly would be spotted in a Republican neighbourhood which is off his usual operational area. Top-level data, handled by the Joint Action Unit, Northern Ireland JACUNI), would cover such cases as the Loughgall operation before it happened. As a secret army Intelligence analysis pointed out, 'the Approach' phase of a terrorist attack 'is the terrorist's most vulnerable stage as he can be directly linked to incriminating evidence', though 'in the aftermath of any Security Forces or terrorist action - "the Escape" phase - valuable information can be gained by both overt and covert surveillance assets.'
Throughout the IRA ceasefires of 1995 and 1997-98, the British army energetically
modernized its armoury of computers. The scale and cost of this programme
reflected the army's belief that it would continue to fight an Intelligence
war in Northern Ireland for many years ahead and that the surveillance war
would increasingly become part of normal life in England. The object was
to unify vehicle data in Vengeful with cameras able to read vehicle number
plates at many locations and link those to the personal computer data held
on terrorist suspects: the open, invisible, electronic prison concept. The
automatic number plate registration cameras were code-named 'Glutton'. During
1997, eighty overt Glutton cameras were to be switched on at unidentified
but public sites in Northern Ireland. Another twenty would be covert. As
a secret military paper noted: ' "Vengeful" data is collected overtly. Suspect
terrorists use routes that are unlikely to attract the deployment of vehicle
checkpoints. Therefore it is difficult to detect vehicle movements of interest.'
The sites where Glutton would operate in England included many ports on the east and west coasts. The resulting Intelligence was to be categorized as 'coarse-grain', defined as 'overt framework operations which record terrorist movements through associates and any suspicious activity'; and 'fine-grain', that is, 'covert, point-targeted, as tasked by the RUC'.
Another new Intelligence computer was 'Caister', a knowledge-based system (KBS) to replace the earlier Crucible in sifting personal information about terrorists and their associates. Caister or its later variant 'Calshot', it was hoped, would be part of a process of analysis where the computer, rather than the human mind, identified significant links between one suspect and another. The generic name given to this technique is Artificial Intelligence. Laden with personal files Caister, according to one document, would 'Provide dual central processing suites at Thiepval [military HQ] and Knock [RUC HQ] interconnected by megastream support up to 350 terminals over secure communications bearers. Data up to "Secret". Average response time of ten seconds for a single enquiry with 192 concurrent references.'
Artificial Intelligence was trialled and failed at an earlier stage under the code-name 'Effigy', but by 1997, under the code-name 'Mannequin', plans were virtually complete to have a second shot at this project, regarded as vital to a successful counter-terrorist campaign in the future. The key was integration, and an electronic spring-clean of the Military Intelligence cupboard in which, in 1994, there were no fewer than thirty-seven separate computer programs, virtually none of which was compatible with any other. As one document put it:
Vengeful and Mannequin need to be integrated to ensure we derive maximum
operational benefit from the information they hold. A single intelligence
data base with KBS (knowledge-based system) is considered the key to successful
intelligence analysis in support of Army and RUC counter-terrorist operations.
The system will provide ... support for up to six hundred terminals over
secure bearers [ie, communication links] ... up to [category] Secret with
real-time response to users. Estimated In-Service Date: 1998.
As the new systems were being trialled, the army suffered a propaganda blow on the computer front. A Welsh Guards sergeant, his battalion's Intelligence officer, or someone acting on his behalf, dumped his unwanted secret papers in an unclassified dustbin instead of the shredder at the end of his tour of duty in South Armagh in September 1997. The documents, together with computer disks, were taken to a civilian garbage-disposal dump where someone spotted them and handed them over to the IRA. In January 1998 the Provisionals' newspaper, Republican News, exposed the material including aerial photographs and maps showing the homes of twenty-one alleged IRA suspects and details of Vengeful. One of the suspects was Pat McNamee, a Sinn Fein councillor in Crossmaglen. He said the documents showed that the army had never called a ceasefire and had exploited the IRA's truce to infiltrate nationalist areas. He added:
This calls into question the commitment of the British Government to the peace process. The really scary thing from a personal point of view is that these documents could have fallen into the hands of Loyalist assassins. Given the history of collusion between British forces and Loyalist killers, there is obvious concern that this material could have fallen into the hands of loyalist killers ... A ready-made kit to bring killers to people's doors.
In practice, the documents did little more than confirm that the army used computer systems as an aid to Intelligence analysis. The upgraded program points to a different order of commitment, in which the computer takes over the functions of the human analyst.
As an extensive, five-part paper aimed at co-ordinating Northern Ireland surveillance strategy (the G3 Military Surveillance Strategy Northern Ireland), prepared for the GoC, noted in November 1997:
The use of ever-increasing emerging technologies requires us to disguise the true nature of the devices. This should be done using decoys, camouflage, deception and by constantly reviewing the signature of our active systems ... Operational
security - opsec - is of paramount importance particularly for covert operations but programme cost realities dictate there will be increasing reliance on shared systems ... Integral to surveillance is monitoring and manipulating all terrorist communication and information systems. In Northern Ireland this is conducted by special troops and controlled at strategic level.
Equally revealing of the army's pessimism about an end to hostilities, regardless of ceasefires, was the strategy document's perception of the legal framework for running future covert operations. It suggested: 'Working within the law is an essential element ... We are entitled to use a variety of means and devices and under certain circumstances to enter private property.' Additional contributors to this secret analysis disagreed. One noted that working within the law was a constraint on rather than an element of surveillance, while the Ministry of Defence's expert in MO (Military Operations) 2 demonstrated a chilling knowledge of legislation as yet not tabled in the House of Commons. He, or she, wrote: 'While current military surveillance is protected within current law it is worth noting that particular care must be taken to ensure that the proposed legislation which will eventually replace EPA [Emergency Powers Act] and PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] should safe guard military surveillance rights.'
The view implied by this - that the long war was set to continue, even as
three governments placed their faith in peace talks - was confirmed by a
GoC Directive reminding senior officers serving in Northern Ireland in 1997
that the army's objectives for the next four years assumed that military
strength in the Province would be maintained at six resident battalions,
with one garrison on the mainland; six Royal Irish Rangers battalions; a
constant level of force troops; six roulement infantry battalions (serving
on rotation for short periods); one roulement engineer squadron and one roulement
transport battalion. In effect, according to one source, the plans indicated
a standing army in Northern Ireland comprising three brigades and a headquarters;
that is, a complete division of 10,000 troops or more, for the foreseeable
future. In December
1997 the total army garrison in the Province was 15,097; the RAF, 1,164 and the Royal Navy, 321.
In Britain, the growth of computerized Intelligence was also exponential, thanks to Irish terrorism. In the early 1990s it was limited by lack of funding and incompatibility between police systems. While Kent spent £4,005 on information technology for every officer, Durham spent £641. But £20 million was invested in the Metropolitan Police Crime Report Information System, CRIS, while HOLMES (Home Office Large Major Enquiry System) was in use in both London and Manchester, major target areas for the IRA. Surveillance cameras around sensitive areas such as the City of London, linked to computers which will automatically identify suspect vehicles within four seconds, evolved into computerized, digital maps of human faces. These have the potential to alert supermarkets to the presence of known shoplifters as well as MI5's watchers to the movement of terrorists. Among the first terrorists to be detected as a result of such techniques were the Harrods bombers, Jan Taylor, aged fifty-one, former army corporal, and Patrick Hayes, aged forty-one, a computer programer with a degree in business studies. Neither man was Irish. Hayes told the Court. 'I am proud of everything I have done.' Police discovered that both progressed from 'weekend Socialist Workers' in the 1970s to IRA terrorists in the 1990s.
Hayes and Taylor were sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment in May 1994. The damage their war did to freedom of movement in Britain without close, intrusive state surveillance was permanent.
Their secrets compromised by electronic eavesdrop and Watchers, their bombs
intercepted, the IRA made plans in 1997 to attack their favourite prestige
target, the City. This time they would fight fire with fire. In a world where
weapons and battlefield control depend on computers, soldiers took a close
interest in paralysing an opponent's system and protecting their own. One
method was to hack into the opposition's computer and fill it with viruses.
Another was to disrupt the enemy computer from a distance by hitting it with
high-energy radio frequency ('Herf') guns to project a pulse of electromagnetic
radiation similar to that given off in a nuclear explosion.
Dr Matt Warren, an expert in the field at Plymouth Business School, learned of the IRA's interest, which is assisted by Irish America. He explained that much of the extraordinarily high £1.8 billion cost of the Baltic Exchange bomb in 1992 was due to lost economic activity. Herf attacks could achieve the same result with out the physical damage or odium attached to killing civilians. The implications for public safety were even more sombre, given the vulnerability of air traffic control and flood control systems (to take to just two examples) to computer failure. This would be exotic, but not fantasy, warfare. Major Nick Chantler, an Intelligence officer in Australia's military reserve a well as assistant professor at the University of Technology, Queensland, noted: 'There is nothing to stop anyone generating radio frequencies and firing them at computers. This technology is available to the person in the street. You can just buy it off the shelf. There is surplus ex-military stuff around that the resourceful person can dig up.
Whatever else, the IRA had proved resourceful.
The Irish Times Online
Thursday, May 13, 1999
Author faces secrets charges
5.45 p.m. The author of a book on security and intelligence operations in Northern Ireland has been charged with offences under the British Official Secrets Act.
The British Ministry of Defence Police said Mr Tony Geraghty had been charged with offences under Section Five of the 1989 Act after answering bail at Hereford police station.
A ministry spokesman said Geraghty, 61, whose book The Irish War was published last year, would appear before London's Bow Street Magistrates Court on June 22nd. - PA
Review of The Irish War, in The Irish Times, November 14, 1998
JYA excerpted from: http://st4.yahoo.net/britishbooks/2538.html
The Irish War
The Military History of a Domestic Conflict
By Tony Geraghty
404 Pages (Hardcover)
Shows how the current battle has expanded to embrace 'forms of surveillance and counter-surveillance, interrogation, chemical analysis and electronic eavesdropping,' that have dangerous implications for the population at large
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As the IRA turned agitation and street violence into practised urban warfare, the British government responded with increasingly sophisticated countermeasures, including military force. Both sides played down their intentions: the IRA took cover in democratic protests and the British claimed to be successfully containing civil unrest. Yet behind the scenes both were developing the strategy and technology of full-fledged war.
With access to top-level experts, military veteran and historian Tony Geraghty reveals the sinister patterns of action and reaction in this domestic conflict. Drawing on public and covert sources, as well as interviews with members of the SAS and M15, elite Special Branch officers and many in the security forces and IRA, he brings to light the disturbing inner workings of an organized terrorist group and its military opposition. Tracing the roots of the Troubles from the greatly mythologized Battle of the Boyne, The Irish War shows how the current battle has expanded to embrace 'forms of surveillance and counter-surveillance, interrogation, chemical analysis and electronic eavesdropping,' that have dangerous implications for the population at large.
Whether or not the politics of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement finally break the grip of 'the physical force tradition' in Ireland, the legacy of covert warfare engendered by this long and bloody struggle will affect British and Irish liberty for years to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tony Geraghty is a British subject and an Irish citizen. He is a veteran of the British Paras and served as a military liaison officer with US forces during the Gulf War. In January 1969, as Chief Reporter for the Sunday Times, he went to Belfast to cover the emerging civil rights campaign. He was later arrested at gunpoint during the Falls Road Curfew of 1970. He is the author of Who Dares Wins, a best-selling history of the SAS, March or Die, a history of the French Foreign Legion, and Brixmis, an account of a spy mission run by Western intelligence behind the Iron Curtain. His novel, Freetall Factor, was the fruit of a long affair with skydiving.