Late on 14/12/06. just as the media were assimilating next day's three headline stories--PM Blair being quizzed by police over the sale of peerages, publication of the Stevens report into the death of Princess Diana and Dodi A Fayed, and the shelving of an inquiry into alleged bribery involving a Saudi arms contract a fourth juicy morsel surfaced that hadn't even featured on that day's Downing Stree News Agenda [1]. This was the revelation that MI5 Director-Genera Eliza Manningham-Buller (hereafter EMB) was to resign in April 2007, having been in post since October 2002. Her statement claimed this decision dated back to "early 2005" [2]--which seems unlikely. Now Dame Eliza has left the stage it is worth looking at ner overall record as Director-General D-G since NFB last reviewed it in 2003 with particular emphasis on Ulster and the 'War on Terror'. It will then be time to place her exit in perspective.

MINER'S STRIKE REVISITED

This is no place to reprise EMB's CV: that (including her appointment as D-G) is covered in NFB 5 [3]. This article is the place to report one encounter that annoyed Tory fixer David Hart so much he complained to the Cabinet Office, providing insights into her character as well as his own. Almost a forgotten figure today, Hart played an important part in defeating the NUM during the 1984-5 strike, by supporting strike-breaking miners and tying up the NUM in numerous legal battles, all coordinated from his Claridge's suite. One Hart letter to Thatcher, dating from 1985, referred to "various and complex steps" during the dispute "without which, frankly, the strike would have been lost" [4]. Had this not been so, Hart wouldn't dare use such words, especially as the overall tone was sycophantic. Seumas Milne expresses the standard Leftist view of Hart, that during the strike "both his legal and practical initiatives in the coal-fields were co-ordinated informally with Gower Street...he was an ideal and highly effective MI5 fellow traveller and unofficial agent" [5a]. The letter, dated 23/2/89, never before in the public domain [5b], potentially alters that picture somewhat:

1) If what Manningham-Buller said is correct, it seems to back a 1985 MI5 assessment that Hart's role in the conflict was "negligible" [6]. Yet not only does other evidence not back that, his referring to "comprehensive files on left-wingers that certain police forces find useful" is noteworthy.

2) It does illustrate that even by 1989 not all in MI5 had bought into the Thatcherite agenda, some probably loathed Hart and his then employee (British Briefing editor) former MI5 F branch Head Charles Elwell [7].

3) That despite helping beat the strike. Hart was not as operationally close to MI5 in 1984-5 as Milne (or indeed Tam Dalyell MP) thought.

4) A tantalising prospect arises that the Miner's strike was another setting for the same MI5 vs MI6 'turf war' as took place in Ireland. Each agency running its own operations, and no small measure of mutual antagonism. Milne reveals (but does not analyse) the fact Hart was in troduced to Thatcher by Ian Gow, an MP "with close ties to MI6" [8], and Hart had extensive CIA contacts, including ex-director Bill Casey [9]. It should be noted. alongside this, the claim by David Shayler that NUM Executive Roger Windsor, widely seen as an MI5 asset, worked not for them, but MI6 [10]. One of Windsor's most damaging actions, after all. was being photographed embracing Colonel Qadhafi just after WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan Embassy. A covert operation as much (if not more) within MI6's repertoire as MI5's. That Hart was frozen out in 1989 by the Foreign Office (allied to MI6) does not at all preclude an earlier and closer working relationship-just suggests he was now a liability.

Taken at face value, the letter shows EMB parroting the party (MI5) line--but also indicates hypocrisy, and a poor sense of security. You might think somebody rising up the MI5 ranks would find it prudent to know in advance who fellow-diners might be, and what (or whom) it would be unwise to talk about. Or at the very least not be so loose-lipped in the absence of such knowledge. So much for her vaunted reputation for 'tradecraft'. Regarding official secrecy, there is, as usual, one rule for EMB and her kind, another for everybody else, especially members of 'suspect communities'.

IRISH EYES AREN'T SMILING...EMB, MI5 & THE DIRTY WAR IN ULSTER

While EMB never served in Ulster, she had overall control of mainland MI5 anti-IRA operations in 1992-3 [11]. Because Sinn Fein and the DUP are in coalition, some might think MI5 dirty tricks should be forgotten. Not by us--nor the now displaced RUC Special Branch and their media assets [12]. In January 2007 Raymond White, ex-head of Belfast SB, publicly admitted what critics have long alleged--MI5 exercised a significant degree of operational control because they funded all SB informants, and expressly forbade information being released to civilian police (e.g. CID) or prosecutions to proceed without their permission—allowing murders and bombings suiting MI5 to go unchecked. To facilitate such, records were destroyed after operations. All in line with the 1981 Walker memorandum, written by the then deputy head of MI5's Belfast station [13]. White's admission came a few days after the Police Ombudsman's Report criticised Special Branch collusion with murderous informants [14]. RUC Special Branch and MI5 were at it, up to and including EMB's time in office.

FINUCANE MURDER: THE AFTERMATH

No blame can be attached to EMB for Loyalists killing solicitor Patrick Finucane on 12/2/89. The two part Panorama programme on the Finucane case 'License to Murder', transmitted 19/6/02 & 23/06/02, fronted by John Ware, is another matter. RUC Special Branch were fingered, but MI5 were not, except for having access after the fact to "reports filed by handlers after meetings with agents" [15]-far more passive than the role depicted by White. The ludicrous scene in the car whereby Ken Barrett was covertly filmed confessing was patently contrived. Barrett's May 2003 arrest, his September 2004 conviction (22 years jail) and 23/5/06 release from prison was a charade, designed to provide the semblance of justice only--if Barrett was a scapegoat, he was ritually slaughtered with a retractable plastic knife [16]. The Panorama programmes aired just after EMB was appointed, and the decision about no further prosecutions over Finucane [17] also took place on EMB's watch, albeit announced in June 2007, enabling successor Jonathan Evans (who has Ulster experience) to duck hard questions early on. In line with the Walker memorandum, relevant records "are now unavailable". Not by accident, but MI5/SB design [18].

CASTLEREAGH RAID

On 17/3/02 three unidentified persons waltzed into the Castlereagh police complex, Belfast, overpowered an officer, and made away with extensive files on SB informants and officers: 1,200 people were moved at £30 million cost [19]. On 4/10/02, just as EMB's Wellingtons were placed under the table, raids code-named 'Operation Torsion' were carried out on Sinn Fein & suspected IRA members in connection with this, leading to a crisis in the peace process (Direct Rule re-imposed 15/10/02). Nobody was convicted, despite attempts to implicate Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Storey (supposed head of IRA intelligence) [20].

There has been much speculation about who was behind this raid, but four facts stand out, none to MI5's credit.
First, whatever information ended up in IRA hands, right from the start elements of the RUC, and MI5, knew exactly what they were [21],
Second, one of those initially charged with the raid was Denis Donaldson (Sinn Fein Head of Admin). He later confessed to having been an SB/MI5 spy for nearly twenty years in December 2005, shortly after charges were dropped against him and two others. Crucially, according to journalist Brian Rowan, many relevant documents were in Donaldson's house, even if for a short time only [22].
Third, another person put in the frame for the raid (though never extradited) American chef Larry Zaitschek, was a friend of Donaldson's, who brought him to Ulster in the first place [23].
Fourth. Donaldson was shot dead in April 2006, by 'persons unknown'.
Finally, as of August 2007, and as recommended by the (still unpublished) Chilcott Report into the break-in, MI5 now has primacy over all intelligence-gathering in Northern Ireland, displacing Special Branch.

A complex tale, from which two things leap out. It is utterly implausible to believe long-term asset Denis Donaldson wouldn't tell any handlers about the seized files, even if not privy to the seizure. It is plausible, and might explain his subsequent difficulties, that one set of handlers knew, and the other didn't. Special Branch were surprised and discomfited by the raid, MI5 not so. SB annoyance might explain that not only he was the only one arrested named (p.22) in Rowan's book, compiled with extensive help from Special Branch. Belfast SB head Bill Lowry was forced out just after 'Operation Torsion' concluded. He stated this (for leaking sensitive information to Rowan) was at the behest of MI5 [24], Though the Police Ombudsman later exonerated Chief Constable Hugh Orde of axing Lowry after MI5 pressure, this seems to have been without any attempt to verify whether Orde phoned MI5 first or vice versa, as Lowry states-in other words, a whitewash [25]. MI5 annoyance at Lowry/Special Branch is understandable-somebody had let on that Donaldson was an asset. This fact being known in journalistic (SPIJ) circles explains Donaldson outing himself before he was 'outed' in a Sunday newspaper. Which leaves one matter unresolved-who killed him? While Republicans had motive, his family blames the intelligence services. An impression hardly dispelled by a piss-poor defence from three journalistic 'usual suspects', claiming SB were led to the stolen documents by another informer, and Donaldson "had not told his handlers" about them [26]. SB being tipped off by someone else doesn't exclude Donaldson's involvement. The claim he had not told his handlers cannot be refuted--because Donaldson is dead. How convenient for MI5, and EMB. Freddie Scappaticci, aka 'Stakeknife' (outed publicly 11/5/03) has not, as yet, shuffled (or been pushed) off this mortal coil, nor have many burning questions about his antics been satisfactorily answered. From a spook perspective, EMB deserves credit for overseeing such obfuscation-not that Scap's victims would see it like that.

ACCOUNTABILITY-NOT LIKELY

Suspicion that 'Operation Torsion' was not just aimed at disrupting the peace process is fuelled by four excellent articles in the Andersonstown News revealing the creation 11/10/02 of 'REMIT' (Regional Major Investigation Team) designed to ensure SB, in collaboration with MI5, avoided accountability to anybody but themselves [27]. This was only an interim measure--perhaps EMB (and MI5's) finest hour in recent times has been the acceptance by Sinn Fein's leadership, and members (in January 2007), of MI5 primacy over intelligence-gathering in Northern Ireland [28]. This against the wishes of both the SDLP and police oversight bodies [29]. A final question--did Sinn Fein's leadership acquiesce to MI5 primacy due to reformism, naivety, or MI5 having something on them? EMB certainly knows the answer to that one.

THE 'WAR ON TERROR'-A DEADLY PANTOMINE FOR THE DAME

Like MI6 contemporary Sir Richard Dearlove (but not John Scarlett), then MI5 Director-General David Lander contrived to be absent from the meeting after which MI5 signed off the Joint Intelligence Committee's 'dodgy dossier'. This falsely claimed Iraq was stockpiling 'Weapons of Mass Destruction', and was used to justify the US-led invasion of 2003. EMB, then Lander's deputy, has never publicly distanced herself from that decision, taken a month before she became D-G in October 2002. In the controversy that greeted Lord Butler's July 2004 Report whitewashing the dossier, EMB was put forward to 'reassure' the public spooks (other than John Scarlett of MI6) can be trusted [30].

The bogus January 2003 'Ricin plot' can also be laid at EMB's door [31], as too continuing persecution of acquitted defendant Mouloud Sihali [32], In September 2005 her statement to the Law Lords on this case showed no remorse about the charade, while admitting the tip-off came from a man probably tortured in Algeria, which MI5 hadn't asked about because that would have "damaged the relationship" between Algerian spooks and MI5 [33]. Also germane is the fictitious April 2004 Old Trafford bomb plot [34].

GUANTANAMO BAY

MI5 involvement in the detention of UK citizens at the extra-legal US concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay Cuba is a sensitive matter for which the Director General cannot escape responsibility. To some degree, we are talking about indifference and license, as in the case of the so-called 'Tipton Taliban', two of whom (Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul) arrived there 14/1/02 [35], Not until September 2003, a year into EMB's tenure, did MI5 officially communicate to US authorities that none of the Tipton three (the last being Ruhul Ahmed) could possibly have attended an Afghanistan meeting in 2000 with Osama Bin Laden and Mohammed Atta as alleged by their US captors. This disclosure, significantly, came after all three made (bogus) confessions, and smacks of MI5 (who attended interrogation sessions) waiting for them to 'crack' before intervening [36].

Another case on EMB's watch involving two British residents imprisoned in Guantanamo raises disturbing questions, not just about civil liberties, but overall MI5 strategy. In March 2006 it was revealed in the High Court that Bisher al-Rawi and Jami al-Banna were arrested by the CIA in Gambia (November 2002) and subsequently transported to Guantanamo because of MI5. The Security Service not only falsely accused the men of carrying bomb parts, but obligingly supplied their travel plans to our Atlantic cousins [37]. Furthermore, they made it obligingly clear to all and sundry that in the event of arrest the "UK would not seek to extend consular protection to non-British nationals" [38]. These men were only released in March 2007, as EMB was packing her bags [39]. Appalling enough that these men were framed by MI5, captured by the CIA, then illegally imprisoned and tortured, MI5's possible motives for precipitating this train of events deserve scrutiny.

MI5 AND ABU QATADA: SOMETHING TO DECLARE?

Bisher al-Rawi, an ex-Millfield schoolboy now aged 38, had lived in Britain for 20 years, despite Iraqi citizenship. More pertinently, like his friend al-Banna, he knew radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada well. Qatada has long been significant in European Muslim Jihadist circles, described by powerful Spanish judge Balthazar Garzon as 'Al-Qaeda's Spiritual Ambassador in Europe', not least because of contact with those who planned the March 2004 Madrid train bombs (191 fatalities) [40]. Qatada has long been wanted by his native Jordan in connection with planning supposed terrorist attacks in 1998. At around precisely this time (1998), an MI5 asset infiltrating Al Qaeda, Omar Nasiri, attempted to interest his MI5 handlers in Abu Qatada, who he was exchanging messages for with Abu Zubayda, then no. 3 on the USA's Al Qaeda 'wanted list'. Yet, "they wouldn't listen to me, and they wouldn't back down...I was mystified and I was angry" [41]. Clearly, there was far more to MI5's relationship with Abu Qatada than met the eye.

Just before Home Secretary David Blunkett got powers in December 2001 (i.e. post-9/11) to detain foreign terror suspects without charge, Qatada ostensibly disappeared until arrested in October 2002-around the time al-Rawi and al-Banna were removed from circulation. Al-Rawi, from within Guantanamo, has revealed he provided Qatada with a safe house [42], and acted as a go-between: "MI5 would give me messages to take to Abu Qatada and Abu Qatada would give me messages to take back to them" [43].

It is reasonable to surmise that Abu Qatada's association with MI5 was even closer than this implies. French security services (and not only them) believed he was an MI5 informant, not least because his flat was supposedly under police surveillance when he 'disappeared', and Qatada didn't realiy disappear--"his wife and children regularly visited him at his bolt-hole in South London, as did supporters from abroad" [44]. In March 2004 Abu Qatada was outed as an MI5 "double agent" who despite promising MI5 he would not "bite the hand that fed him" was "instead recruiting for al-Qaeda training camps" [45].

ABU QATADA: MI5 TARGET, ASSET OR BOTH?

What did Qatada do for MI5? He certainly possessed large amounts of cash-in February 2001 this benefit claimant had £150,000 on him, £805 in an envelope marked 'For the Mujahedeen in Chechnya' [46]. In March 2001, according to journalist Jason Burke, Qatada wired money and instructions [47] to three Hamas militants who soon met up with Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, to request funds and training [48]. Especially interesting because Hamas and Al Qaeda are not normally close. All of which makes piquant, and relevant, the wry contemporary piece (July 2002) in Time magazine, 'Sheltering a Puppet Master?' [49]. It reported that "senior European intelligence officials tell Time that Abu Qatada is tucked away in a safe house in the north of England, where he and his family are being lodged, fed and clothed by British intelligence services", claims "corroborated by French authorities". A sting in the tale is Al Rawi's assertion that when arrested in Gambia he and al-Banna were infiltrating Al Qaeda for MI5--or at least thought they were [50]. Returning to Abu Qatada, still imprisoned and fighting extradition, the words of MI5's QC Ian Burnett to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in May 2006 are telling. He stated that "since at least 1995, the appellant has given encouragement to the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorism overseas by providing spiritual and religious advice. The Security Service assesses that the appellant constructed a support base within the United Kingdom for terrorism-related activities abroad and in the UK" and so on [51]. If this is indeed true, MI5 during EMB's tenure (and earlier) unquestionably facilitated that which they now affect to condemn. So either MI5 were duped by Qatada, or for their own reasons worked hand-in-glove with him. Charming. Do they want him deported not so much for what he has done, but what Abu Qatada might reveal MI5 has done or indeed is doing? If Abu Qatada was funding Al Qaeda, or a section of it, were MI5 consciously assisting such, or attempting to create a tangible money trail so as to monitor those at the other end? There is also (yet again) the involvement of Abu Hamza.

Reaching the truth in this tangled web is difficult, but MI5 and EMB personally have serious questions to answer (which they won't) and treated al-Rawi disgracefully, which is why then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw took up al-Rawi's case in March 2006. Given the latter is not a British citizen, it is likely past MI5 work, not humanitarian concerns, motivated Straw here.

7/7 AND AFTER

The London bombings are a complex subject, too large to analyse deeply in a political obituary such as this. Nonetheless, it is worth commenting on the report that EMB herself told Labour whips at a private Commons meeting 6/7/05 that there was "no imminent threat to London or the country" from a terrorist attack [52]. However contemptible its politics, there is little doubt the Guardian newspaper, which printed the claim, is ideally placed to glean information from Labour sources. Inasmuch as EMB did not normally give such briefings, it would have been extraordinary for her to make such assurances had she concrete reasons to believe otherwise. Which would make a piece of spin worthy of Shane Warne her 2006 comment that "on July 8 last year I spoke to all my staff. I said that what we feared would happen had finally happened" [53]. 7/7 made her look stupid, at best, in the eyes of select MPs--it would be interesting to know who in MI5 normally gave such briefings, but did not on 6/7/05. As information has emerged that two 7/7 bombers--Mohammed Siddique Khan & Shehzad Tanweer--were known to MI5 before 7/7, EMB's assurances that day look less and less credible.

Operationally, the fact EMB was wrong-footed by the 7/7/05 bombings will not have encouraged caution when faced with future plots, or rumours of plots. And, as those incarcerated in Guantanamo know, EMB has never been overly (or even slightly) concerned with maintaining civil liberties. Concerning which, in September 2005 she called for a "debate on whether some erosion of what we all value may be necessary to improve the chances of our citizens not being blown apart as they go about their daily lives" [54]. A debate EMB has never participated in. Indeed the very idea of debating with spooks in this way is ludicrous, inasmuch as they always refer to to unknown threats that those outside their orbit cannot realistically assess.

Lack of MI5 caution would explain the bungled raid on a supposed Forest Gate (East London) 'bomb factory' in June 2006, during which no bombs were found, though police shot one of the occupants. Police subsequently (and apparently before the event) vented their displeasure at the calibre of MI5 'intelligence' triggering the raid [55]. This didn't, however, stop a subsequent police smear campaign against their victims that day [56].

RUMOURS OF PLOTS

It is hard to verify MI5's reported successes--in terms of plots thwarted for example. Previously, in relation to IRA activities, court proceedings provided some definition, however imperfect, and they do still at times, as in the 'Operation Crevice' trials. On other occasions, use of 'control orders' in particular is an admission by the state that the quality of proof against suspects is so poor as to lack credibility even in legal circles. The most recently compiled Home Office statistics on arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000 (up to December 2006) are hardly impressive-of 1126 arrested only 221 had been charged with terrorism offences and of these only 40 convicted: strange to say (or not) acquittal figures do not seem to be available [57].

The public often learn of MI5's actions via a largely supine network of media assets, repeating MI5's every twist and turn without a semblance of historical analysis or critical perspective. Illuminating here is the 2002 admission by journalist Martin Bright (now with the New Statesman) that I have drawn attention to previously [58]. In an affidavit he stated "most [media] organisations designate a journalist who will deal with each service...In the case of the Observer I deal with MI5", something he declined to elaborate on so as not to jeopardise the "Observer's lines of communication with the intelligence services" [59]. Spook influence in the media is a topic worth extended investigation--perhaps a Peter Taylor or Simon Ford documentary-then again, perhaps not...Saliently, the existence of such 'lines of communication' accounts for the dearth of critical journalism deconstructing the following MI5 tales. This does not mean such information is necessarily useless—just that appreciation would be enhanced by knowing explicitly just how close journalists communicating it are to MI5 MI6 or Special Branch.

In May 2006 it was claimed there were as "many as 1.200 potential terror suspects...,now in the UK" [60]. At the start of July 8.000 al-Qaeda "sympathisers" were under MI5 investigation in an operation code-named 'Project Rich Picture' [61]. Intriguing then, that near the end of August 2006 there were now a mere "400 potential terrorists in Britain, including a hard-core of around 50 people", though these were supplemented by "as many as 800 more extreme Islamist 'peripherals' who could become active terrorists at any point" [62], While this latter total of 1,200 is consistent with the first, the way it is broken down doesn't match the account by Jason Bennetto that "MI5 knows of more than 1,200 'primary investigative targets'--individuals it believes are intent on carrying out an attack" [63]. There is surely a difference between those who "could become terrorists at any point", and militants "intent on carrying out an attack". By November 2006, in EMB's last speech, both suspect numbers, and their intentions, had firmed up. There were now "over 1600 identified individuals...who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas" [64]. In a rare example of statistical continuity, BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner reported in May 2007 that the number of terror suspects had grown by a quarter in six months, and was now 2000 [65]. Although Lord Stevens (now in the Brown loop as International Security Adviser) disagreed--four days later he estimated "the true number of Islamic terrorism suspects and their backers in the UK is probably now nearer 4000" [66]. Really? Suspicion MI5 make things up as they go along is fuelled not just by imprecision about the exact numbers of potential suspects, and their practical intentions, but also accounts of the numbers of plots allegedly foiled since July 2005. In May 2006 Home Secretary John Reid announced 20 "major conspiracies" by Islamists were being investigated [67]. This includes plots in progress and ones allegedly foiled--a vital distinction. It may well include successful plots, such as 7/7/05, inasmuch as 'investigations' are undertaken for various reasons. In July 2006 Jason Bennetto (whose figures as we have seen are very close to MI5's) stated that since July 2005 "four alleged plots have been foiled or disrupted" [68]. This indicates that when EMB spoke in November 2006 of MI5/the police/MI6 having "thwarted a further five major conspiracies in the UK" since then [69] she included the August 2006 'liquid bomb' plot in the total. A fantastic story postulating Transatlantic airliners were under threat from legions of terrorists carrying Lucozade and baby-milk bottles. Two things about this episode. First, there was nowhere near the imminent threat claimed at the time, as revealed in a New York Times piece not available to UK internet users due to British government action [70]. Second, as persuasively outlined by Nafeez Ahmed in September 2006, drawing on sources including former British Army Intelligence officer and explosives expert Nigel Wylde, the bomb as described is highly implausible and hardly likely to be something Al Qaeda would contemplate [71]. In which case, EMB including the liquid plot in her list underlines the frailty of such statistics. Especially as MI5 made no effort to extradite alleged 'mastermind' Rashid Rauf from Pakistan, after a court there found no evidence of 'terrorism' against him [72].

CLARIFICATION

Given these fevered times, it is worth spelling out that not all bomb plots and conspiracies are imagined or directly engineered by MI5/the police (or MI6). In specific cases, such as the Ricin and Old Trafford plots that has happened and no doubt will again. Nonetheless, a significant swathe of British society, mostly Wahabbi-Muslim, some from abroad, albeit statistically small and unrepresentative, harbour murderous intentions and may seek to carry them out, most recently in the London/Glasgow car-bomb fiascos. Be that as it may, MI5, both before and during EMB's tenure, have a record of collusion, evidence fabrication and invention that makes it difficult to take their shifting positions at face value. Furthermore, MI5 disregard both for the law and civil liberties makes the idea of granting their pronouncements much credence a non-runner. In addition, and of particular relevance in relation to 'terrorist actions' post-9/11, EMB can be accused of cowardice, albeit on an issue where her stance is widely shared. Her valedictory speech stated plots uncovered by MI5 "often have links back to Al-Qaida in Pakistan, and through those links Al-Qaida gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers" [73]. While the role played by Pakistani elements, including intelligence service the ISI, is undoubted, it is craven that Pakistan is the only state named. Like the 9/11 Commission Report, Saudi Arabian financing and sustaining Al Qaeda and its ideological periphery (through the spread of Wahabbist ideology) is the 'Elephant in the living-room' EMB does not mention. Saudi Arabian power was graphically shown by the UK government's 14/12/06 shelving of an inquiry into alleged bribes paid by BAE Systems to Saudi officials, to secure an 1988 arms contract. Ironically, a Saudi threat to stop sharing intelligence on Al Qaeda with the UK is supposed to have influenced this [74]. Like a gilded rat leaving a sinking (Blair) ship, pre-positioning himself for the Gordon Brown premiership, MI6 head Sir John Scarlett denied such a threat [75].

Partly, the problem is MI5 are largely self-tasking: both defining key problems and success in dealing with them. This self-measurement encourages both complacency and dissimulation. As on 7/7/05 however, major bombings leading to loss of life are a crystal clear indication of security service failure, and rather difficult to cover up. In that sense, they function as a reality-check. As if to anticipate that, EMB has three counter-narratives.
One, incessant pleading for more resources due to overwhelming pressure of work-and by 2008 MI5 will have 3,500 officers, almost doubling since 2001.
Two, a counsel that more will never be enough, because "we will not always make the right choices" [76]. The subtext is if anybody does slip through the net MI5 is not to blame anyway.
Three, if all else fails, blame politicians--an argument eloquently put not by her, but a journalist seemingly very close indeed to MI5 on this topic [77], Does all this add up to a win-win situation for spooks? Ain't necessarily so, in the real world...

THE DAME DEPARTS: A QUESTION OF TIMING?

Mostly, but not exclusively, from the foregoing we can outline three possible reasons to explain EMB's hurried departure.

1) Continuing fall-out from the London bombings 7/7/05 has to be the front-runner in explanatory terms. Nothing that has been revealed since then has cast EMB and MI5 in a good light, and initial claims by MI5 to know nothing of those involved before the event was unimpressive at the time, and has become even more so as additional information has emerged.

2) Fear that now Bisher al-Rawi and Jami al-Banna have been released from Guantanamo Bay, harsh questions will eventually be asked about EMB's role in their capture and MI5 links to Abu Qatada.

3) Finally. Notes From the Borderland issue 5 outlined in extensive detail EMB's Royal connections, and possibly the key reason for her appointment: covering up Royal scandals. Was her resignation being announced the same day as Lord Stevens Report into Princess Diana's death came out a mere coincidence, or something more? We shall see....

CONCLUSION

Enoch Powell said all political careers end in failure: does the same apply to spooks like EMB? In one sense, a difficult question to answer. Much of what might constitute evidence necessary for an assessment is intentionally kept secret, and public domain material of mixed use, tinged by either sycophancy or score-settling. Judging by the indecent haste with which EMB's departure was announced, the ultimate stain on her record is the 7/7 bombings, and no amount of spin can get round that. It is not done to publicly criticise predecessors, yet at the conclusion of the Operation Crevice trial in April 2007 Jonathan Evans made a public statement that "disappointment" at not preventing 7/7 "will always be with us" [78]. Unlike his former boss...

Internally, Eliza Manningham-Buller had some notable achievements--consolidating MI5's web presence, setting in train massive staff and budget increases, overseeing the creation of regional offices, bringing Special Branch to heel in some areas, eliminating it in others. MI5 victory in Northern Ireland must have been especially satisfying.

From an external perspective, sanctioning dirty tricks, maligning innocent people, up to and including setting up their arrest and jailing, trampling on civil liberties, condoning rampant illegality up to and including paramilitary and executive-sanctioned murder. That's just business as usual--La Lotta Continua.

FOOTNOTES

1) Downing Street Media Grid 14/12/06
2) www.mi5.gov.uk web-site 'D-G To Retire' 15/12/06. accessed 17/1/07
3) NFB issue 5 2003 p.4-8
4) Hart letter to Thatcher 7/10/85, quoted in The Observer 23/7/95 (David Rose)
5a) Seumas Milne The Enemy Within' (3rd Edition Verso 2004) p.331
5b) The letter is reproduced (minus identifying personal details of where she dined) in NFB 8
6) quoted in The Observer 23/7/95
7) on Hart/Elwell & British Briefing see Mike Hughes 'Spies at Work' (1 in 12/Bradford 1994) Chapter 9. David Hart deserves detailed study-another time.
8) Milne op. cit. p.324
9) Milne op. cit. p.331
10) Shayler Debate DVD 21/6/05
11) NFB 5 p.7
12) The Phoenix (Dublin) 23/2/07 p.8
13) 'MI5 Pays for Murder in Northern Ireland' Sunday Times, 28/1/07 (Liam Clarke)
14) see Nuala O'Loan Statement on the death of Raymond McCord Junior, 22/1/07 p. 131 -36 for example
15) Guardian 12/5/03 Nick Hopkins
16) on Barrett see 'Finucane killer freed from jail' BBC on-line 23/5/06 & An Phoblacht 25/5/06
17) Public Prosecution Service (Northern Ireland) 'Statement on Stevens III' 25/6/07
18) ibid, point 20
19) The Observer 18/12/05 Henry McDonald, see also Brian Rowan 'The Armed Peace' (Mainstream 2003) p.15-27
20) David Burnside MP (UUP) reported in 'Murphy denies cover-up claim' BBC News on-line 12/3/03
21) Rowan op. cit. p.21, p.23
22) Rowan, cited in The Times 30/8/06 (David Sharrock)
23) Sunday Business Post 18/12/05 (Colm Heatley/Paul T Colgan)
24) 'Officer forced out by MI5' BBC News on-line 13/1/03. For more on Lowry see his interview in The Blanket 11/7/04 (Anthony Macintyre) http://lark.phoblacht.net/lowry3.html
25) 'MI5 Did Not Influence Orde' Police Ombudsman Report 9/7/03—see chronology for 14/11 & 17/11/02
26) David Sharrock, Daniel McGrory and Sean O'Neill The Times 30/5/06
27) Andersonstown News 6/10/03, 17/7/04, 21/8/04,25/9/04 (all Jarleth Kearney)
28) see An Phoblacht articles for 30/11/06, 11/1/07, 1/2/07. Evidently, I disagree with the upbeat optimistic tone taken in them. Paul Maguire's 'Old vinegar in a new bottle' (Irish Republican Information Bureau 11/1/07) is closer to my take on it.
29) 'MI5 transfer cause for concern' BBC News on-line 6/6/06, 'Ombudsman concerned by MI5 move' BBC News online 19/7/06. SDLP views expressed in 'Intelligence Gathering in the North--Response to Chilcot Report' (September 2003), Eddie McGrady contribution to House of Commons debate 13/3/06 (Hansard)—both impressive, and prescient.
30) see The Observer 18/7/04 (Gaby Hinsliff & Martin Bright).
31) see NFB 5 p.7
32) New Statesman 15/1/07 (Fiona Bawdon)
33) 1st Statement, dated 20/9/05 Exhibit EMI point 9 p.6
34) well-covered in Peter Oborne 'The Use & Abuse of Terror' (CPS 2006) p.21-28
35) David Rose 'Guantanamo' (Faber & Faber 2004) p.l
36) Rose op. cit. p.l 19. Not that Rose puts it thus—heaven forbid...
37) The Guardian 28/3/06 (Richard Norton-Taylor/Stephen Grey/Vikram Dodd)
38) quoted in Stephen Grey 'Ghost Plane' (Hurst & Co. 2006) p.210-11
39) see The Independent 30/3/07 (Robert Verkaik), also Sunday Times 7/1/07 (Dipesh Gadher)
40) Sean O'Neill/Daniel McGrory 'The Suicide Factory' (Harper Collins 2006) p.107-8, The Times 25/3/04 (Daniel McGrory/Richard Ford)
41) Omar Nasiri 'Inside the Global Jihad' (Hurst & Co. 2006) p.282
42) Independent on Sunday 16/1/05
43) quoted in Sunday Times 7/1/07 (Dipesh Gadher)
44) 'The Suicide Factory' op. cit. p.108.
45) The Times 25/3/04 (Daniel McGrory/Richard Ford)
46) cited in Michael Gove 'Celsius 7/7' (Weidenfeld & Nicholson 2006) p.88.
47) or maybe got al-Rawi to?
48) 'Al Qaeda' Jason Burke (Penguin 2004) p.226
49) 7/7/02 (Bruce Crumley/Helen Gibson)
50) The Times 23/3/06 (Daniel McGrory)
51) 'Islamic cleric risk to security' BBC News on-line 9/5/06
52) The Guardian 9/1/07 (Ian Cobain/David Hencke/Richard Norton-Taylor)
53) 'The International Terrorist Threat to the UK' EMB Speech 9/11/06, on MI5 web-site.
54) EMB Speech at the Hague, Netherlands 1/9/05, on MI5 web-site
55) Daily Mail 6/6/06 (Phillip Knightley), The Times 12/6/06 (Dominic Kennedy).
56) The Sun 15/6/06 found it sinister that £38,000 cash was in the house, ignoring Islamic attitudes to banks (Mike Sullivan), The Independent 4/8/06 alleged child porn was found on a computer (Jason Bennetto).
57) Home Office web-site accessed 4/7/07
58) NFB 5 Editorial
59) Observer web-site Libertywatch campaign dated 21/7/02.
60) Sunday Times 28/5/06 (Daniel Foggo/David Leppard).
61) The Independent 3/7/06 (Jason Bennetto)
62) The Independent 20/8/06 (Raymond Whitaker/Paul Lashmar/Sophie Goodchild/Severin Carrell/Justin Huggler/Lauren Veevers)
63) The Independent 7/7/06
64) 'The International Terrorist Threat to the UK' op. cit.
65) 'MI5 watch 2000 terror suspects' BBC News on-line 2/5/07
66) News of the World 6/5/07
67) cited Sunday Times 28/5/06
68) The Independent 7/7/06
69) EMB 9/11/06 Speech op. cit.
70) New York Times 28/8/06 (Don Van Natta Jr/Elaine Sciolino/Stephen Grey)
71) 'August terror plot is a 'fiction' underscoring police failures' Nafeez Ahmed 18/9/06 http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Sources_AugustTerror_Plot_Fiction_0918.html
72) see 'The War on Shampoo' by Craig Murray (15/12/06) on his informative website www.craigmurray.co.uk
73) EMB 9/11/06 Speech op. cit.
74) The Observer 17/12/06 (Gaby Hinsliff/Antony Barnett)
75) The Guardian 16/1/07 (David Leigh/Richard Norton-Taylor/ Rob Evans), Daily Telegraph 17/1/07 (Christopher Hope/George Jones/ Andrew Pierce)
76) EMB Speech 9/11/06
77) 'Fiasco Royale' The Spectator 18/11/06 (Fraser Nelson)
78) 'Conviction of fertiliser plotters' 30/4/07 on www.mi5.gov.uk site

IN-DEPTH COVERAGE OF THE SUBJECT OF THIS ARTICLE IS IN "NOTES FROM THE BORDERLAND ISSUE 8" - CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE SHOP

 

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Welcome to Britain's premier parapolitical investigative magazine Notes from the Borderland (NFB). We have been producing the magazine since 1997 but some published material before then.

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