Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageOp-Ed: Beware the agent provocateur!

By Alexander Baron     Jun 7, 2011 in Crime
An article that exposes the dark motives of those who seek to protect us from terrorists, extremists and paedophiles including by using "agents provocateurs" to exaggerate or create an entirely phantom menace both on-line and in the real world.
Last night, the ITV News At Ten programme carried a report about the dangers of extremists who are using the Internet to radicalise Moslems, and in some cases of people who are radicalising themselves. The case of Roshonara Choudhry was given as an example. The young woman who stabbed the Labour MP Stephen Timms in his East London constituency surgery was given a life sentence for attempted murder, with a recommendation that she serve a minimum of fifteen years; her motive was to punish Timms for supporting the war against Iraq.
The news programme showed examples of some of the “hate” material available on-line with the self-evident message that “we” meaning all of us, must allow indeed encourage our governments to censor the Internet in order to protect society from the “radical” who will watch a sermon by a preacher of “hate”, work himself up into a frenzy, and then bomb the local shopping centre, or even worse, his MP.
While there are serious issues relating to some of the material that is freely available on-line, including child pornography, instructions in poison and bomb-making and so on, we should exercise extreme skepticism whenever people advocate stricter controls to protect society. They may use the word “protection”, but what they really mean in this instance is censorship, and if we look behind the curtain, it soon becomes apparent that the people we really need protecting from are not the preachers of “hate” but the people who are clamouring to protect us from the preachers of hate.
One of the aforementioned examples of hate material that appeared fleetingly on the screen contained a name that will be familiar to many conspiracy theorists; it was that of Adam Gadahn.
Gadahn’s real credentials and more importantly his real agenda – and those of his successor - are exposed in this short video. Other agents provocateurs have been exposed at various times in the United States and elsewhere from the 1940s to date. While the antics of Adam Gadahn and similar fake terrorists are laughable, those employed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are a different proposition altogether. They are employed for various reasons including to criminalise legitimate dissent, and they have one quality that regular police officers don’t; they are totally unaccountable all the time and to all intents and purposes above the law. Most police are above the law only some of the time. Because of this, they are exposed only very rarely, but last year the incredible case of Mark Kennedy made banner headlines throughout the UK.
The son of a police officer, Mark Kennedy grew up in Orpington, Kent, and joined the police at the age of nineteen. He was not destined to pound the beat for long, and was recruited by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit which pays special attention to the Green Movement. Someone decided he should work deep undercover, and a new identity was created for him, Mark Stone. As few if any British police officers have tattoos down both arms and rings in both ears, he was extremely plausible, and spent no less than seven years spying on environmentalists and other activists. Fake documents were created for his new identity, including a fake passport.
There can be bona fide reasons for people to be given new identities by the state, but spying on legal campaigning and protesting organisations is not one of them. In all the time Mark Kennedy/Stone lived his double life, feeding information – so-called intelligence – to this national police agency, he appears to have uncovered no serious crimes, certainly no murders or what ordinary people would regard as terrorism, not even any importation of controlled drugs, large scale fraud or theft.
He was eventually unmasked by chance, although some of his fellow activists appear to have been suspicious of him for some time, but he also had a genuine change of heart which led to the collapse of a trial against a group of eco-activists when he offered to testify for the defence.
Although there was a certain amount of bluster in the news media, including from civil liberties activists, no action against this sort of abuse of police powers and waste of public money has been forthcoming, and according to the Home Office, the authorities can create false passports (and by inference other false documents) at their whim with no accountability to Parliament, much less to the public, and no discussion or debate is to be allowed, in their own words: “We are unable to disclose information in respect of an individual case” and “we are not able to provide information reflecting on security or policing matters.”
After the exposure of Mark Kennedy, there was some suggestion in the British media that other agents – of both the police and private companies – had been engaged in the same sort of activities for some time, and still were. While it is admirable that he had a change of heart, others with darker motives are unlikely to follow in his footsteps. In August 2007, police agents provocateurs were caught red-handed attempting to incite a riot during an anti-G-20 protest in Toronto, Canada, and but for the intervention of one gutsy organiser, they might have succeeded. Unlike Mark Kennedy, they were so dumb as to wear police issue boots!
The police and other authorities also use agents provocateurs to incite people to commit crimes that have no political aspect to them, and in Britain they are candid enough to admit this, although not in so many words. Here, trading standards officers regularly employ under-age boys and girls to make “test purchases” of cigarettes and other products that are by law off-limits to the young. An unwitting shopkeeper who falls into such a trap can be fined, or worse. There is considerable evidence too that on occasion the police actively seek out and encourage people to incite or commit crimes including on occasion conspiracy to murder. As long ago as 1969, the Home Office issued a circular to Britain’s chief constables called Informants who take part in crime. This followed a case in which three men who were convicted of aggravated robbery had their convictions quashed when it came to light that the person they robbed had been informed beforehand by the police, and went along with it.
Following the exposure and public confessions of Mark Kennedy, there is no evidence that the 1969 guidelines have been or are being adhered to.
Finally, there have been occasions where the police have used honeytraps to adduce confessions from men suspected of serious crimes. The most notorious and thoroughly documented such case is that of Colin Stagg, who was charged with the 1992 murder of Rachel Nickell. This was an extremely high profile case which generated massive media coverage. Like Chris Jefferies in the recent and ongoing case of Joanna Yeates, Stagg always seemed a most unlikely suspect, but once the British police get an idea in their heads, they won’t let it go.
Having no credible evidence at all against him, they brought in a female detective known as Lizzie James to entice him into bed if only he would confess to the murder. Things never got that far, probably because Lizzie’s own (fake) confessions to taking part in a Satanic murder revolted Stagg rather than enthralled him as the police had hoped. On the basis of what was supposed to be some sort of meaningless implied confession, Stagg was charged with murder and languished in prison for over a year until at the trial the non-case against him was thrown out by the judge without a witness being called. Although he was cleared, rumour and innuendo continued for more than a decade until sexual psychopath Robert Napper was linked to the crime by forensic evidence. In December 2008, Napper was convicted of the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell and sentenced to be detained at Broadmoor, where he was already being held.
The “policing” of the Internet, ie censorship, may seem a long way from the hunt for a sex killer, but we should not allow the rhetoric of protecting us from extremists and terrorists to be used to give the police or any other arm of state security carte blanche to ride roughshod over our civil liberties by monitoring our Internet useage, our e-mails, our phone calls or telling us what we can read, write or believe. Or in some cases what we can laugh at.
The current “threat” comes from Islamists, before that it was Nazis and “racists”, at one time it was Communists, and now there is of course the perennial threat of Internet paedophiles, whose rights even the staunchest of Libertarians are often hesitant to defend.
We do not need to be treated like children, we do not need to suffer intrusive surveillance, and we should not tolerate attempts either by alarmist rhetoric or police agents provocateurs to frighten us into surrendering our rights in the fight against terror to the most powerful and determined terrorist in history: the state.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Colin Stagg, Rachel Nickell, Police, Roshonara Choudhry, Adam gadahn
Latest News
Top News