A word of warning.

Always expect things to be added slowly to this blog.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bloody Sunday Coroners Inquest from The Times, 22nd August 1973 (click to enlarge)

Post-Saville Agendas

I hate to break the news on this – but I reckon many people (many nationalists anyway) view the whole emphasis on Martin McGuinness on Bloody Sunday as a deliberate distraction introduced for the very purpose it is currently being put to – to allow some unionists and commentators to discuss the implications of Saville without ever having to engage with 99%+ of the report. Reading some of the newspaper coverage and taking the blogs and broadcast media, there are some comical attempts to almost read Saville as an inquiry into McGuinness with little or no reference to the British Army.

There is even a paradox here over McGuinness being subject to evidence from an anonymous spook (i.e. where no rules of evidence of any kind can be applied) whilst the Paras who definitely had guns, and not only that, shot and killed people without justification, have their identities protected.
It is clear, that for some, this is the sole area in which there may be political capital to get at SF (or just McGuinness). As a tactic to avoid engaging with Saville’s conclusions – this has been obvious since the issue was first raised. The comic caricature first depicted by the intelligence asset known only as ‘Infliction’ of a tormented McGuinness confessing to firing shots that were returned by the Paras (thus precipitating all 14 deaths) comes straight from the standard Forces Research Unit (or whatever Intel group) v1.0 toolkit for black propaganda. This was in public circulation by 2001. That this story had some rough edges shaved off through the course of Saville has the hallmarks of one of two possibilities: (a) that ‘Infliction’ is various bits of aggregated intelligence jigsawed into a persona for the purposes of black propaganda (hence the story changed over time to fit its required function); or, (b) if ‘Infliction’ is genuine, s/he is/was progressing the route of the ‘I Shot JR’ informant formula (a la Sean O’Callaghan) although in reverse, since O’Callaghan’s claims summitted rather than downclimbed.
Despite Saville, we are still being asked to take testimony from intelligence spooks at face value (oddly, at an inquiry which was necessary due to misleading evidence previously given by the military). And remember the previous history of celebrity informers? Sean O’Callaghan? Not exactly edifying stuff.

All this is providing meat and drink to those who want some (any) anti-SF story out of Saville, but little else. The fact that McGuinness is singled out for such emphasis against the backdrop of an event in which he didn’t really have a role provides a historical paradox – otherwise would any history of the events on Bloody Sunday itself really give much space to what he did or where he was?

The early post-Saville debate hasn't clearly crystallized, although there is some emerging calls for prosecution of the soldiers - all probably unlikely, given the complex legal history of investigations and time lapse (although perjury is perhaps a more likely charge). In some respects, this may be even barking at the wrong door - taking the CoIntelPro experience post-Watergate, the US government were not in much of a position to resist investigation of illegal state intelligence operations. One legacy of Saville (or more strictly, Widgery and the coroner's inquest) should be a demand for transparency in the deployment of 'anonymous' sources during previous inquiries and prosecutions. Widgery accepted false testimony unquestioningly. Are we to believe this is the sole instance?