In an article in today's Guardian newspaper, it was reported that the police body the 'National Domestic Extremism Unit' (NDEU), is currently monitoring by surveillance techniques, intercepts, some 9,000 people who they have deemed 'domestic extremists'. The police have confirmed that many of the people held in the NDEU database, have no criminal record. Moreover, the term 'domestic extremist' has no legal basis in English law and has been completely invented by the police authorities. The disclosures about the nature of spying in Britain, has come at a time when it has also been revealed by the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, that CCHQ have been monitoring global phone and internet traffic under 'Project Tempora'.
The government says that there is always a balance to be struck between protecting civil liberties and privacy as well as protecting the security of people in this country. One can perfectly understand this, if the people being monitored, were people who had fallen under suspicion, but this is not always the case. We know from past whistleblowers who have worked for the security services, such as MI5, that the organisation spies on British citizens. Former MI5 officer, Michael Bettaney, claimed that MI5 "cynically manipulated the definition of subversion". Cathy Massister, also an MI5 officer, revealed that the organisation spied on CND and trade union leaders and former MI5 officer, Miranda Ingram, claimed that "counter espionage is the acceptable face of MI5 and that working in 'F' branch, means spying on one's fellow citizens and engaging in activities of dubious legality."
The following piece which we are publishing, has been taken from Ian Bone's blog. It concerns recent revelations about the infiltration of political groups by police officers working within the 'Special Demonstration Squad' (SDS). It is an excerpt from 'Undercover' by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans.
WHAT ‘UNDERCOVER’ SAYS ABOUT ANARCHIST INFILTRATION:
Thanks to Chris Mitchell for this excerpt from ‘Undercover’ by Paul Lewis and Rob Evans:
"As Black prepared to start his covert mission, senior officers in the SDS were deciding on his future undercover role. They were constantly working out which political groups needed infiltrating and which officers would make suitable spies. Initially, Black was lined up to become an anarchist. At least three SDS officers had already been embedded in anarchist groups in the early 1990s. One was in a small anarchist group called the Direct Action Movement (DAM), which had existed since 1979. Its associates believed capitalism should be abolished by workers organising themselves at the grassroots level, a political philosophy known as anarcho-syndicalism dating back to the late 1890s. Oneconfidential Special Branch document states that a detective constable who worked as an SDS spy ‘successfully’ infiltrated DAM between 1990 and 1993.
Another group of interest to the SDS was the better-known Class War, which achieved some notoriety after it was set up in the 1980s. Anarchists linked with Class War produced a newspaper of the same name, styling it Britain’s most unruly tabloid. At its zenith, it was reputedly selling 15,000 copies per week. It provoked a lather of indignation from the right-wing tabloid press, which was enraged by the publication’s tongue-in-cheek promotion of violence against the wealthy. One front-page headline suggested that the newly married Duke and Duchess of York were ‘Better Dead Than Wed’, while the birth of Prince William was greeted with ‘Another Fucking Royal Parasite’. A third showed the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher with a hatchet buried in her head.
A regular feature was the ‘hospitalised copper’ page – a photograph of a police officer being assaulted. ‘We loved that. But it was done with humour, so even though it was violent, it didn’t come across as psychotic violence,’ says Ian Bone, Class War’s loudest advocate. There was an element of pantomime about the group – in their ‘Bash the Rich’ demonstrations, supporters were invited to march into affluent areas of London such as Kensington and Hampstead.
Bone, a wiry sociology graduate with small round glasses who was once dubbed ‘Britain’s most dangerous man’ by the press, said later that no rich people were actually ‘bashed’ – ‘but it felt good walking down there. We gave a lot of abuse and shouts and they did cower, a few of them, behind their curtains.’ The SDS viewed Bone and his friends as considerably more sinister. The unit posted at least two undercover police into the group.
One was in place in February 1992 when he had a meeting in a London safe house with David Shayler, the MI5 officer later jailed for breaking the Official Secrets Act after leaking details of alleged incompetence in the secret services. Shayler had at that time been assigned to investigate whether Class War posed a threat to British democracy. The SDS officer supplied intelligence to the Security Service, and had become an official MI5 informant, designated the code number M2589.
According to Shayler, the ‘peculiar arrangement’ in which the SDS officer lived the life of an anarchist for six days a week, returning only occasionally to his friends and family, had ‘affected the agent psychologically’. Shayler recounts: ‘After around four years of pretending to be an anarchist, he had clearly become one. To use the service jargon, he had gone native. He drank about six cans of Special Brew during the debrief, and regaled us with stories about beating up uniformed officers as part of his “cover”. Partly as a result, he was “terminated” after the 1992 general election. Without his organisational skills, Class War fell apart.’
According to Black, the true story was a little different. He says the SDS officer in question was a ‘top end’ operative who served the unit well. During the encounter with the MI5 officer, he acted the part of a coarse anarchist because he had little time for Shayler, who was perceived to be a ‘desk wanker’ – though Black concedes that ‘some MI5 desk officers who came out to talk to us were superb and we had a very, very good relationship with them’. A second SDS officer was later sent into Class War, but it became apparent the group was fading out. Rather ignominiously for the anarchists who wanted to tear down the state, the SDS concluded they could no longer justify spending money to infiltrate them.
Hence, in 1993, when Black was due to begin his life as an anarchist protester, the plan was suddenly changed. Black was disappointed; he had spent months perfecting his persona as an anarchist. ‘It was all based around the fact that I was a half-German anarchist with tenuous connections to the Baader-Meinhof group. It sounds ridiculous when you say it and it’s hard to imagine that it would stand up to scrutiny, but it would have,’ he says. ‘I used lots of elements of my own life to ensure it came across realistically.’
Instead, weeks before he was due to be deployed, he was called into the office by the head of the SDS. ‘The boss pulled me in and said: "This anarchist work you’ve been doing, absolutely spot on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody work so hard on their cover. First class. Now you can fucking forget all about it because you are not going into the anarchists. We’ve got something else in mind".’