"By their very nature the world's top intelligence agencies are a law unto themselves. MI6, the CIA, the FSB and Mossad are authorised to lie, bribe, steal and bug foreign governments and organisations, all in the name of national security. In the case of the Americans, the Russians and the Israelis, they also assassinate enemies of the state."
Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor, The Times, 12 May 2012.
Beeston's quote perhaps shows the limitations of UK media coverage of 'our' security services. Certain possibilities (some might even say certain realities) simply cannot be counteanced. That is why a free, radical press is so important, and why I am excited by the return, after a lengthy hiatus, of Notes From the Borderland magazine.
The centrepiece of NFB 10 is an examination of the death - probably murder - of GCHQ employee Gareth Williams, whilst on secondment to MI6. His bizarre death - the body was found in a locked suitcase in the bath of his MI6 rented flat - soon became engulfed in fog. A series of conflicting media reports, along with lurid if vague sexual innuendos, served to undermine any image we may of had of Gareth Williams the man, or even Gareth Williams the employee. Larry O'Hara attempts to rectify both these failings, and along the way uncovers new evidence about the police investigation in particular, that is startling.
The second core article covers the split between anti-fascist magazine Searchlight and its former subsidiary, Hope Not Hate. As Heidi Svenson and O'Hara sketch, this is a split that has turned very nasty indeed, with Hope Note Hate in particular reliant, not on the weight of their moral or political arguments, but the weight of m'learned friends. In the background to this is both the long term working relationship between Searchlight and elements of the UK police and security apparatus, but also Hope Not Hate's dominance by what may be best described as the far-right of the Labour Party. Where exactly are they going, and with whom?
This is a cast list to make your eyes water - but for all the wrong reasons. If you ever wanted to know what those active in the right wing Progress faction of the Labour Party get up to when not harking back to the glory days of Tony Blair - this article is essential. Interesting sub-stories also emerge - the use of a much broader 'anti-extremism' discourse is something that should worry political activists from backgrounds as diverse as UKIP to the anti-cuts movement, whilst the prominance of Labour's 'Israel Right or Wrong' wing is also noted. Oh - and if you felt that the only way was up after being a leading banker and an advisor to Gordon Brown - you were probably right......
This issue of NFB is 86 pages, so as well as the 'big two' articles above, you get my good self on new players and old in the world of 9/11 'truth' and the usual round up of developments concerning past NFB stories. This may sound minor, but returning to past subject matter it is a sign of intellectual consistency and honesty. Oh that every publication did it! Other articles see Robin Whittaker looking through his telescope at MI6 on the Moon, and Jon D White on the possibilities opened up by Crypto-Anarchism. To round things up O'Hara summarises the BNP's poor electoral performance in 2012, although adopting a final position that is very similar to my own - as pleasant as it may be to write off the British National Party, we may be a tad quick in doing so.
So - 86 action packed pages for £4.50 - what are you waiting for? Notes From the Borderland is available from all good political bookshops, in person from its writers and on-line from the NFB Magazine website, via pay-pal. There is a big world out there - lets go into armed with a slightly broader outlook than that provided to The Times readers by Richard Beeston!