Democracy, Terrorism and the Secret State
“You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, unknown people far from any political game. The reason was quite simple – to force the people to turn to the state for greater security.” - Vincenzo Vinciguerra
The nature, necessity and scope of the miscellany of powers exercised by the state over the nation is in one sense arguably as contentious in the contemporary circumstances of the Western world as it was in the distant pre-democratic medieval past.
In his work Della Ragion di Stato (The Reason of State), which was completed in 1589, the Italian thinker Giovanni Botero argued against the underpinning philosophical amorality espoused by Niccolo Machiavelli in Il Principe (The Prince), a political treatise centred on the ways and methods of the manipulation of the levers of the power by a ruler in an organised state.
The thrust of Machiavelli’s seminal piece was that virtually any action taken by a ruler to preserve and promote the stability and the prosperity of his domain was inherently justifiable. Thus, the employment of violence, murder, deception and cruelty toward achieving these ends were not ignoble in so far as the ends justified the means.
With its implications of a required recourse to illegality and a subtext offering more than a whiff of authoritarianism, this is not a conceptualisation of the modus operandi by which modern Western democratic states are supposed to operate both in terms of their domestic and foreign policy-strategies.
Yet, while the modern state, guided as it is by an ethos encapsulating the rule of law and the respect for human rights, exercises powers which are checked and balanced by a mandated adherence to constitutionality, there are troubling questions and unresolved problems which have been raised by the workings of the intelligence agencies of the executive branch of government.
Those who work in the domestic and foreign branches of the security services are tasked with detecting threats under a necessary veil of secrecy. But questions abound as to the boundaries of their activities and about how truly accountable they are.
Astoundingly, the laws under of the United Kingdom did not even formally acknowledge the existence of MI5, the domestic security service, until near the closing of the 20th century.
The case of Harman and Hewitt versus the United Kingdom in 1991, which was brought under the European Convention of Human Rights, held that the failure of the United Kingdom to provide a statutory basis for the existence of this body which had powers of surveillance and file-keeping ran counter to the rights protecting privacy, and, by extension, was an abrogation of the rule of law.
As a consequence of the ruling in the case, the United Kingdom passed a statutory charter for MI5 under the Security Service Act of 1989, and later took a similar step for its counterpart with a foreign remit, the Secret Intelligence Service, via the Intelligence Services Act of 1994.
Quite extraordinarily, the United Kingdom’s intelligence services continue to maintain the fiction that they ‘don’t do dirty’, in other words, that they do not subvert foreign governments and plan assassinations.
This goes all the way back to the denials about the so-called Lockhart Plot, a scheme by MI-1C; MI6’s precursor, which was led by Robert Bruce Lockhart. Lockhart’s plan is believed to have had as its aim the assassination of Lenin and the overthrow of the newly installed Bolshevik government in Russia.
Such eventualities, it was hoped, would enable a succeeding government to tear up the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and have Russia rejoin the war being waged being against Germany.
The assertion some years ago by a top MI6 official that it did not organise assassinations correctly provoked howls of derision as well as a sense of utter incredulity. “What do they exist for?” went the typical response.
This was somewhat recanted by Sir Richard Dearlove, a former head who admitted that agents had the power to use “lethal force”.
Agents are allowed under the Intelligence Services Act to conduct illegal activities such as breaking and entering and planting listening devices in the interests of national security, and while there is no specific proviso giving MI6 agents a ‘license to kill’, section 7 of the Act, not only offers protection to agents who have bugged and bribed, but also where they have become enmeshed in enterprises involving murder, kidnap and torture, where such actions have been authorised in writing by a government minister.
Still, it must be reminded that while renegade British agents have alleged that plans had existed in the recent past to assassinate former heads of governments such as Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Libya’s Muarmar Gadaffi, the official policy of course remains to neither confirm nor deny any allegations related to its activities.
Despite the recent legislative reforms in Britain, the perception of an extremely powerful and at times sinister working secret state persists there as it does in the United States and other Western nations.
Congressional investigations in the United States after the fall of President Richard Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal explored and uncovered schemes by intelligence agencies, notably by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which involved the deliberate subversion of foreign governments and targeted assassinations regarding the former, and widespread infringements on individual liberties through spying and harassment, as well as targeting groups and associations for infiltration and disruption.
A disturbing allegation often made and documented about many agencies of the secret state and their subterranean machinations, is a tendency to corruption and even the perpetuation of criminal cultures which have involved the forming of unholy alliances with gangsters, political extremists and corrupt regimes.
For instance, the CIA was discovered to have conspired with elements within the American Mafia to assassinate Cuba’s Fidel Castro in the 1960s, and in the 1980s, in defiance of the law set by Congress, it disbursed funds to the Nicaraguan Contras who agents knew where also financed from drugs sources.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Aginter Press, the front for Yves Guérin-Sérac’s fascist guerrilla training camp, which was designed to undermine the chances of Western liberal democracies from falling under the sway of the Left, was partly financed by the CIA.
Most of these endeavours were carried out with the backing and direction of figures in democratically elected governments. While politicians maintain the veneer of being subject to a guiding framework of moral propriety and the operation of the rule of law, in the shadows and behind the curtains, they urge, they manage and facilitate the commission by immoral methods what they construe to be ultimately in the interests of their nations.
And a critical question: to what extent does the historical record unmask governments as the agents of ‘synthetic’ terror? In the ‘Game of Nations’, the use of secret services and military ‘black operations’ to manufacture incidents to justify wars and social crackdowns is almost an obligation. As the often used phrase goes, “The first casualty of war is truth.”
Read the full article at: globalresearch.ca
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