Wednesday 26 March 2008

Possible Counterterrorist Suspects in Mike Todd Killing

by Trowbridge H. Ford

For viewers who have trouble grasping what I mean by covert operations by hodge-podge governments, especially the United Kingdom and the United States, I shall offer a general explanation of what goes on, and examples to illustrate my claims from the great powers on both side of the Atlantic Ocean.

By hodge-podge government, I mean states which have an informal, covert network of institutions, agencies, social and economic connections, strategically located individuals, agents in the media, etc., which allow them to carry on much more coherent actions than their legal framework, institutional arrangements, and accepted practices would seem to allow. Of course, the basis of this covert network is still the state - i. e., in Britain the Crown, and in the USA the Presidency - but as it has grown in size, and been democratized and decentralized to a degree - what has made coherently running it more complicated - the respective executives have developed connections behind the scenes to keep informed of what is developing, taking action by indirect and informal means when conditions apparently call for it, and pumping out stories in the media to justify or explain away what has been done.

In this context, traditional ways of describing what official institutions there are, and how they work has been seriously superceded by what goes on behind the public view. Instead of talking about republics and monarchies, federations and unitary states, parliamentary versus presidential government, written versus unwritten constitutions, professional versus more politicized bureaucracies, the established media, and the like, we should look at much more relevant arrangements - the institutionalized military-industrial complex, the intelligence community, policing, national security, the internet, NATO, the wars on terror, drugs and HIV, the G8, etc. - to understand what is being done in our name. We have moved too away from the precepts of democratic, representative government to think that it still has much relevance in what our governments actually do, say, and why.

To give just a most obvious example of the vast gap between our societies and our states, just reflect upon the ludicrous solution that the former British Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, suggested for bridging it in the UK. Blair Cabinet Minister Goldsmith was the legal authority for Britain joining America in the pre-emptive ouster of Iraq's Saddam Hussein for allegedly having WMD - perhaps the most politicized ruling in history - and he is trying to limit the fallout from the disastrous decision by calling for the adoption of a pledge of allegiance by Britain's increasingly alienated citizenry. As usual, Goldsmith has been influenced by America's neocons where they have bamboozled their subjects to go along with whatever they dream up, thanks to Americans' reverence for the flag, and its trappings, especially its oath of allegiance:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
One Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all."

While I have not seen what Goldsmith actually proposed for Britons to pledge, I suggest this doggerel, though I am sure more enlightened minds can come up with something more fitting:

"I pledge allegiance to the Union Jack of our old Mom,
and to the treasure-trove She has amassed,
One Kingdom under God, indivisible,
With Bits and Pieces for all."

But it will still be difficult to avoid some raillery as the proposal is riddled with absurdity unless Britain is going directly into some form of fascism, with its charismatic fuhrer. We no longer live in an age where one can expect oaths of fealty to do as if we still live in a monarchical age. Some states still have monarchs as their heads of state, but no one can seriously entertain pledges of allegiances now to such lineages. PM Gordon Brown has now attempted to stop the hemorrhaging over the matter by having a serious article in The Daily Telegraph about the need of saving the Union - an effort to bolster the substance of his claims to revitalize the constitution when he first took office - but Justice Minister Jack Straw has shown it to be merely symbolic by what he actually proposed yesterday in the Commons, starting with not changing the political role of any Attorney General.

On a more serious level, the dichotomy between what Britain is essentially trying to achieve in the international arena, especially as a covert, junior partner of the USA, and what it is costing at home is demonstrated almost daily. The Labour government is seeing its hold on the kingdom eroded
constantly. Using Scotland as a staging base, whether on land or at sea, for the wars Washington has planned for the past 30 years has been devastating. Scots are no longer streaming to the colors; they increasingly just want to throw the English out, though they seem most unlikely of getting rid of their covert bits, especially their listening stations, and the stationing of their nuclear submarines. London did too much of this too in securing Northern Ireland during The Troubles. In sum, London is fighting above its weight, relying too much on surreptitious means to maintain some kind of order.

The best current example of this is the killing of Manchester's Chief Constable Michael Todd - what the relevant police immediately dismissed as a tragic act of suicide, and the established media have chimed in with all kinds of crazy stories to justify - e. g., he jumped off the 300-foot Bwlch Glas in Snowdonia, drank himself so silly that he ultimately collapsed unconscious on the snow, stripped off enough clothes to die of hypothermia - the most telling rumour coming from celebrity columnist Max Clifford, claiming that someone with a northern accent that told him over the phone that some credible newspaper was about "to bring down a top copper", what was immediately assumed to be a reference to Todd's affair with Angie Robinson, CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and another one with Anne Neild, Todd's personal assistant. The thrust of all these stories was that the stress of police work made him do it all, ultimately taking his own life.

While the stories were being dismissed as essentially untrue, except for Todd's current relationship with Neild, and his apparent plans to divorce his wife, and marry her, the rumours had their desired effect upon almost all authorities, implying that he had killed himself. The icing on the cover up, it seems, was completed when Duncan Campbell, The Guardian's long-time expert on policing, and apparently the intelligence services' deepest agent in the media, wrote "Nowadays there is nowhere to hide" for the March 13th issue of the London daily. Instead of talking about real facts relating to the killing, though, Campbell used the Clifford rumour, and an analysis of the stresses of police work on various types of chief constables, concluding that Todd would not be the last senior police officer to take his or her own life because of the problems it created with their private life.

Outside of Todd's killing, there was little substance to support Campbell's dire conclusion. There was the Chief Constable of Warwickshire Andrew Timpson who retired in 2000 because of a severe depressive disorder, and Maria Wallis gave up being Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall in 2006 because of the pressure of the position. A predecessor of Todd's at the GMP was Sir John Anderton aka 'God's copper' who served until 1991 despite his strong religious views, and his belief that Aids was caused by people inhabiting a cesspoll. "Anderton survived," Campbell explained, "in what was perhaps a gentler climate."

Then Campbell acted as if Hugh Orde's bastarding a child while previously off-duty as the chief of Police Service of Northern Ireland had somehow been caused by, and had hurt his professional career. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Ian Blair had had to deal with all the blowback after his forces killed that unarmed Brazilian John Charles de Menezes in the wake of the July bombs in July 2005. Campbell threw in the blowback that gay Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat running to replace Red Ken Livingstone as London's Mayor, had received while he was a former top police officer.

All this seemed to be expected, given the character of modern life, and would only become worrying if Campbell had added what had happened to two police officers just when Todd was killed. The day before, the Duchess of Cornwall's chief of security at her country estate Ray Mill near Lacock in Wiltshire, Sergeant Richard Fuller, apparently committed suicide. Two years ago, Camilla had built a new guard house for her team protecting the 27-acre property worth well over £1,000,000 in value, and Fuller had recently added an extention to his cottage near Calne. Could Fuller have been Clifford's top copper about to be brought down?

Then the day after Todd died, police inspector Neil Munro just down the road in Dorset on the South Coast disappeared after he took the ferry from Poole to Cherbourg, his body being discovered a few days after it washed up on the Sandbanks near Portmouth Football Club manager Harry Redknapp's mansion. Almost everyone assumed that Munro too had committed suicide but his death could just as easily been caused from a mishap, or murder.

As if these assumptions by Campbell about the three deaths weren't unjustified enough, he then went on to discuss Todd's career as a police officer in a most predictable, prosaic way - leaving out all its most controversial aspects, what could easily have created disgruntled officers seeking revenge against him, or others seeking to change Todd's agenda. Despite all the public accolades after he was killed, there are plenty of people, most happy to see him dead.

The most obvious ones are those eleven police officers who were forced to resign when Todd started cleaning up the corruption and racism plaguing the GMP after he took over as Chief Constable.

Then there are the officers - especially Bernard Postles, its former detective chief superintendant - who so mishandled a raid for an asylum seeker on the run in the Crumpsall area of North Manchester on January 14, 2003, resulting in the murder of Manchester Special Branch officer Stephen Oake, and wounding of three others. The Manchester SB people were working with SO19 anti-terrorist people from Scotland Yard, and MI5 agents, all hoping to find more evidence of a ricin plot threatening the whole kingdom - what had started with an earlier, successful raid of a flat above a chemist's shop in North London's Wood Green. About the only thing that the raiding party had relevant to the operation was an arrest warrant for the suspect.

When he was not apparently found, though three others of also North African origin were, the scene became one of utter confusion, resulting 30 minutes later in the frenzied knife attack by psychopath Kamel Bourgass. The SB detective chief inspector in charge of the utter fiasco (Operation Salt), "Simon", pled guilty to all the failures before a disciplinary panel the Chief Constable had ordered

Todd, having relied upon what the security forces had told Postles about the low risks of the operation, and what little, consequently, he had planned for it, dumbfounded the press when he so explained, and forced Postles's retirement and the sanctioning of others when he learned otherwise. In sending Postles to the sidelines, though, Todd gained a most bitter opponent because he too had been a high-flying officer up until then. Postles had been the leading officer in the capture of serial killer Dr. Harold Shipman. Todd had gotten the Queen's Police Medal in June 2001 for his "media grabbing" police work, according to some of his fellow Chief Constables, while Postles had gotten his for finally stopping the growing national menace.

Campbell also did not mention the fallout from Todd's unsuccessful inquiry into British assistance of the CIA's rendition program, and what its possible blowback might be. Todd had been the hatchet-man in the resignation of Postles - what was caused by the incompetence of SO19 and MI5 - and he was most apt to behave similarly in light of the security services' failures to learn anything about the risks involved in allowing Washington to use Britain airspace and airports for illegal purposes.

The new director of MI5, Jonathan 'Bob' Evans aka William Perkins, and the Mets' SO19, led by Assistant Deputy Commissioner Peter Clarke - the same people really responsible for the Manchester cock-up - could have at least limited the fallout from the exposure of the Agency's use of UK airports by discovering a few fellows being rendered by inspecting a few parked airliners on the tarmac in the name of counterterrorism, but they did nothing.

As did Sir John Scarlett's MI6 whose agents, especially Robert Andrew Fulton, had done so much to help cover up CIA fiascoes, particularly the Olof Palme assassination, and the Lockerbie tragedy. Instead of getting the Agency's disclosure of its use of Diego Garcia in rendering two suspected terrorists, and passing it on to Todd for his admission of the minor, unsuspected infraction so as to limit his embarrassment, Scarlett let DCI General Michael Hayden do the damage by informing the FO of the matter - what Foreign Secretary David Miliband made a meal of at the Chief Constable's expense.

In sum, there were all kinds of people in policing who wanted to destroy Todd, and it seems that one or more of them did when he went on his hurried mission to Snowden two weeks ago, apparently to meet someone who was to inform him of the growning dangers, only to learn when he got there that the alleged whistleblower was his nemesis. Little wonder that the police almost universally assumed the killing a suicide, and Chief Inspector of HM's Constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan has ordered Sir Paul Scott-Lee to investigate the possible personal causes of his suicide for good measure, not who might have killed him. At least in the murder of Dr. David Kelly, the Thames Valley Police went through the motions of something more being involved than just another suicide.

Finally, a footnote should be added about Duncan Campbell's dedicated service to the security services, especially in light of the most undeserved reputation he has. Campbell has been covering up for their activities ever since Sweden's statsminister was assassinated in Stockholm on February 28, 1986.

When the false trail of set-up fallguys finally started to unravel, and the apparent real assassin, Captain Simon Hayward, had been locked up there on a false charge of drug-trafficking for insurance, Campbell used the June 17, 1988 issue of the New Statesman & Society to make sure that nothing positive occurred on any front. While siding with the permanently removed John Stalker from the inquiry into the Shoot-to-Kill murders in Northern Ireland in light of the SAS cull of the three unarmed volunteers on The Rock on March 6, 1988 (p. 1), he gave MI6, the Met's Special Branch officers Detective Chief Inspector David Palmer-Hall and SB commander Rollo Watts, and Major David Walker's security firms, especially KMS Ltd.- all key players in the conspiracy - not only clean bills of health but also directed any new inquiry towards South African security service BOSS' involvement.
("MI6, Whistleblowers in Baltic Battle," p. 7)

And if anyone thinks that Campbell has charged his tune since then, just think about what he just said about Todd's predecessor Sir John Anderton at the GMP, what he did to get Scarlett out of trouble for going after Tony Geraghty, and how he defused the ricin cock-up when Bourgass was given 17 more, concurrent years in prison for the alleged manufacture of deadly poisons and explosives. Anderton did not resign because of his religious and homophobic views but because of his helping make Kevin Taylor a criminal during the Stalker affair - what cost the GMP a $1,000,000 in damages after a civil action in 1991. Geraghty was suspected by MI6 security that he was in the process of telling tales about Hayward. It turned out that he wasn't, and what Campbell finally defused in court by explaining that Geraghty had really disclosed nothing secret.

Also, those viewers who think I have lost sight of America's transgressions in this regard - engaging in an invidious comparison at the UK's expense - should be assured that I haven't. This article has just gone on longer than I anticipated, and I shall have to save its own hodge-podge practices in the name of constitutional government for another piece.