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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

MI5 and the Stasi Syndrome

A worrying eye is cast over the decision to make MI5 the lead intelligence gathering organisation in the North and fears Ulster could soon resemble the old communist East Germany

Dr John Coulter • 2 March 2006

The end result of MI5 taking the lead role in intelligence gathering in the North will be to turn the state into a new millennium version of the old communist East Germany where one person in every 50 colluded with the secret police.

MI5 looks set to become the Northern Stasi, Red Germany's secret police based in East Berlin before the fall of the notorious wall.

'Outing' alleged informers and spies within the ranks of militant loyalism and republicanism has become almost as popular a past time as 'outing' gay and lesbian celebrities.

At least when the RUC Special Branch and British military intelligence ran their agents, the vast majority of the informers came from the paramilitaries.

Now that MI5 has taken over the role of running super spooks, we will see a whole army of state-paid informers recruited across many aspects of civilian life – in schools, the Civil Service, health service, trade unions, churches, and even the media.

Spying will not be limited to politics, criminal gangs, or terror groups if MI5 now models its strategy and tactics on the Stasi, whose motto was Shield and Sword of the Party.

The Stasi became widely recognised as one of the most effective spying agencies in the globe with a fearsome reputation rivalling that of the American CIA or the Russian KGB.

During its 40-year life span from its formation in 1950 until the old commie East Germany was finally dissolved in 1989, the Stasi had amassed 91,000 full-time employees, handling around 300,000 informers. It especially prided itself in its impressive network of civilian spooks.

A friend once told me how during a visit to a united Germany, minutes of teachers meetings at a local west German technical college were found amongst Stasi documents.

If MI5 becomes smitten with Stasi Syndrome, and recruits hundreds of touts from everyday clubs and societies, what would the Northern intelligence community want all this information for?

Are we also to see the emergence of Russian-style political officers in various organisations to ensure loyalty to the government of the state?

Will Celebrity Big Brother type cameras be located in every housing development in the North? Are we sure the primary aim of police cameras is to catch speeding motorists or urban hoods?

How many members of school boards of governors will become MI5 informants? Not even sporting organisations and clubs will be immune from MI5's grip. Will people eventually require an MI5 stamp of approval before taking up a job as a community worker, teacher, fireman ... or even a web columnist?

Then there's the really worrying question – who keeps an eye on rogue elements within MI5? In fact, who controls the activities of MI5? Will we see the emergence of yet another level of informant who informs on the MI5 spooks themselves? And if this is the case, who do the spook spies report to?

If the Stasi statistics of one in 50 East Germans working as spies are applied to the North, then we can expect around 34,000 of our neighbours to be MI5 plants, given there are about 1.7 million people in the North.

Here's another teaser – who will be responsible for recruiting these informants? Why would people want to become MI5 spooks in their local schools or places of worship? Will there be tasty cash packages for touting with handsome handshakes or additional pensions at the end of their service or retirement?

There's an old saying – information is power. Does this mean MI5 will really become the state government rather than democratically elected politicians? Would MI5 go as far as to put spy cameras in polling booths to get conclusive proof as to which party individuals are voting for?

Indeed, how many community associations, tenants groups and residents committees will now be effectively run by MI5? Makes you wonder who the real enemy of the state will be?

However, the really, really worrying concern is whether this vast arsenal of information will be used to stamp out common crime? Looking back at the Troubles, many relatives must be asking how many of their loved ones could have been saved if these alleged 'super touts' within the terror gangs had acted sooner?

Surely these paramilitary informants could have been trained by their handers to stop acts of terror? If not, why not? Did the North merely become one huge training ground for the long-term war against Islamic militants?

Hopefully, MI5 can use all this information on people to stamp out the burglars and car thieves. If it can't, there's a real danger communities could turn to forming vigilante mobs to sort out the petty criminals.

Then again, would MI5 be more interested in infiltrating the community vigilante groups than actually stalking the hoods causing the trouble and upset in the first place?










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Index: Current Articles

5 March 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

MI5 and Omagh — The Bomb to End All Bombs?
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MANIFESTO: Together Facing the New Totalitarianism

Freedom of Speech
Anthony McIntyre

The Parameters of Free Speech
David Adams

MI5 and the Stasi Syndrome
Dr John Coulter

Misrepresentation of the Republican Position Must Be Addressed
Francis Mackey

The Progressive Road
Mick Hall

Imperialism and National Revolution
How the Trotskyists got it wrong

Robert Clough

Nick Laird's Utterly Monkey
Seaghán Ó Murchú

No Dangerous Liaisons
Anthony McIntyre

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Remembering the Hunger Strikes

Sunday Times Responds

Rights and Responsibilities

The Whys

Images of the Dublin Riots
Carol Russell

28 February 2006

Gratefully Remembering
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain

Another Unjust Execution?
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Sinn Fein Be Warned - The Truth Will Out
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Who Will Be Left?
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Irish Republican Socialists Show Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
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Queens, New York City, Republicans decry Irish parliamentarian's inappropriate intervention on U.S. immigration bill
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Bush's Double Standard
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"Democratic Unionist Pharisees"
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A Society That Failed to Protect Its Children
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Unreal Paradigms
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The Letters page has been updated:

Dublin Riots


Moon Man?

Independent Workers Union rejects Sunday Times allegation of involvement in Dublin riot
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