Friday, December 14, 2012

Finucane's murder reveals the state within the state

A state within a state signifies the fact that sections of the armed forces, police or intelligence services are running their own agenda, often with deadly consequences.
They take it upon themselves to defeat perceived enemies of the state.

Britain is home to such a state, as is clear from the de Silva report into the murder of the lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989. Although the report is only a review of documents and not the public inquiry the family wanted, it is devastating enough.

The report uses the term “collusion” to describe the role of the RUC Special Branch, the British army’s agent-running section (FRU) and the intelligence service MI5. But it amounts to a state conspiracy to kill Finucane, who acted for Republicans in Northern Ireland. The report shows that:

  • the three agencies running agents “operated under their own separate regimes”.
  • there was a “wilful and abject failure” by successive governments to provide a legal framework necessary for agent-handling operations.  
  • Army agent Brian Nelson played some part in at least four murders and ten attempted murders.
  • Nelson extensively updated and disseminated targeting material to other loyalist paramilitaries which they subsequently used in their efforts to carry out terrorist attacks.
  • Nelson’s FRU handlers provided him with information that was subsequently used for targeting purposes.  
  • the Army and the RUC SB had prior notice of a series of planned UDA assassinations, yet nothing was done by the RUC to seek to prevent these attacks.
  • there were extensive leaks of security force information to the UDA and other loyalist paramilitary groups.
  • two agents who were at the time in the pay of agencies of the state were involved in Finucane’s murder.
  •  no political clearance was sought or obtained for the MI5’s involvement in black propaganda, including against Finucane which helped set him for attack.
  • MI5 knew in December 1988 of UDA plans to kill three solicitors. They chose not to raise it with the RUC SB.
  • an RUC officer or officers did propose Finucane (along with at least one other man) as a UDA target when speaking to a loyalist paramilitary
  • Kenneth Barrett became a paid agent of the state after indicating to the RUC SB that he had played a part in killing Finucane.
  • senior army officers deliberately lied to criminal investigators by informing them that they did not run agents in Northern Ireland.

The report concludes: “The real importance, in my view, is that a series of positive actions by employees of the state actively furthered and facilitated his [Finucane’s] murder and that, in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice.”

So is all this in the past? Is the state now more transparent in the way it conducts its operations? Are the politicians in the know? Is the state within a state a thing no more? To think that would be a grave mistake.

Only yesterday, the actions of the secret state led to a £2 million pay out to a man who was subject to rendition – aka kidnapping – and despatched to Libya, where he was tortured and jailed. British agents have been directly involved in torturing terror suspects and helping the US in rendition operations.

Agents provocateurs have more recently infiltrated environmental activists, encouraging them to break the law, and disrupting their campaigns. They infiltrate political movements and encourage internal dissension. If a demonstration gets out of hand, you can be sure that Special Branch had a hand in winding up the action.

The state within a state is there to defend and serve the interests of the status quo of capitalism, whether or not the political will exists. Their loyalty is to the state itself, not to governments. Without a democratic transformation, the state will remain a clear and present danger to the rest of us as well as a barrier to a future without capitalism.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

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