Monday 27 September 2010

Why America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ Spooks Had Gareth Williams Assassinated

by Trowbridge H. Ford

Part I - Background

No American agency has been more protective of its very existence, much less what it does, than the National Security Agency (NSA). The direct descendant of the US Army's Black Chamber, its code-breaking outfit, that had secretly decoded 10,000 messages by foreign governments in the decade after WWI, William Frederick Friedman had revived it as the Signal Intelligence Service in the Munitions Building in Washington's center in June 1930. It remained almost paranoid about itself until its official existence was finally admitted during the depths of the Watergate scandal. As the war in Europe was coming to an end, TICOM, short for Target Intelligence Committee, was created by General Eisenhower to find and recover as many German codemakers, and as much code-making machinery as possible to strengthen now the Army Security Agency's ability to meet the growing Soviet challenge. While it was combined with the Navy and Air Force codebreaking outfits into the Armed Forces Security Agency a year before the Korean War, it failed to prepare US and South Korean forces for the surprise attack, leading President Truman to replace the cumbersome agency by the highly secret NSA after he left the voting booth on November 4, 1952 which resulted in Ike becoming President.

NSA's first major responsibility was continuing the Shamrock project, the illegal taking of all communications, especially highly-secret, official ones, which passed through America's telecommuications companies on a daily basis to anywhere in the world. It all recalled how the Black Chamber had been closed down by President Herbert Hoover in 1928, only to have it secretly revived behind Secretary of State Henry Stimson's back by Herbert Yardley, the Army's cryptanalytic head during WWI, two years later. Yardley got the telecommunication companies to go along with the project then by bribes, (2) this time Army Chief of Staff General Eisenhower supplied a letter of appreciation to the nervous Western Union, RCA and ITT, the basis of the code name, for services rendered "This was the preferred method of communicationas for most of the foreign establishments in Washington and New York,"(3) James Bamford explained. At its Vint Hill Farms Station in Warrenton, Virginia - what survived the closing down of the Army's Signal Security Agency's listening stations at the end of WWII - and others around the world, NSA eavesdropped on Soviet secret messages sent by high frequency radios which had been encrypted by its Fish machines

Britain's similar establishment, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), was the outgrowth of the famous Bletchley Park facility aka Government Code and Cypher School which was so successful in breaking codes, especially German ones, during WWII. It was much less concerned about continuing its existence or playing any catchup with anyone as its location in Buckinghamshire - only 47 miles from London, and equidistant from Oxford and Cambridge - guaranteed that it could recruit all the new mathematicians it needed. The lead that the Brits had over the Americans in this regard was well illustrated when GCHQ handed over all the STELLA POLARIS material aka BRIDE and then VENONA - what the Finns had collected from the Soviets, and had sold to the Swedes when they feared that it would fall back into the hands of Moscow - to ASA in 1946.(4) It was because of work on this material, first at Eastcote in West London and then from 1953 at headquarters in Cheltenham, that GCHQ was successful in finding out that Klaus Fuchs and others were indeed Soviet spies.

During the Eisenhower years, NSA had some significant successes. In fact, ones so signiticant that it lost part of its organization, the sigint part collecting aerial information over the USSR because of the Gary Power's U-2 fiasco. Its RB-47 soupped-up spy plane in Project Homerun gave the Soviets fits by the intrusions of its vast airspace around the Arctic Circle to collect electronic and imagery information. "Throughout the 1950s the ferrets," James Bamford wrote, "like mosquitoes hunting for an exposed patach of skin, buzzed the long Soviet border. They were searching for holes in Russia's vast fence of air defense radar sites." (5) In the lead-up to the Suez crisis, GCHQ, whose responsibility under an agreement with Washington was to keep it informed of possible developments in Western Europe and the Middle East, withheld information about the French-Israeli-British plot to regain control of the canal from the USA which led to devastating blowback..

The fiasco not only led to a complete humiliation of the plotters when Washington refused to go along with it, but also a complete reorganization of NSA along geographic rather than functional lines. One can only suspect that NSA withheld some of its own information from project Shamrock from the President to make the most of the debacle when it occurred, especially when it claimed that it was in the process of moving its headquarters to Fort Meade, and had little military information about what the plotters were up to when it really was a question of the diplomatic moves in the countries' capitals which were so important in anticipating moves, and was being monitored from Vint Hill. As a NSA analysis later lamely admitted, "1956 was a bad time for NSA to get involved in a crisis." (6) Instead of a single high-level cryptography department for its half of the world, NSA was given four deparments to handle cryptanalysis and traffic analysis for the communist world at various levels. In the reorganization, GCHQ was left out in the cold, especially since it was more concerned in determining who were Soviet spies, past and present, rather than what they were up to now.

While America was essentially going it alone when it came to the collection of sigint intelligence, the disputes were essentially between the White House and NSA, especially about its U-2s. While almost everyone remembers the famous crash of Captain Gary Powers' U-2 on May Day 1960 in anticipation of the Paris Summit between Eisenhower and Khrushchev, few know that the President had ordered that no such provocation take place, and when it did, he took away its aerial reconnaissance capability, and gave it to a new, even more secret agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Even less is known about the crash, as NSA will not acknowledge the role of Soviet spies Bernon F.Mitchell and William H. Martin in the U-2's downing, acting at best as if it had nothing to do with the Powers' hoax (7) - the plane flaming out and crashing so that it and he essentially surivived at Ike's expense.

"The agency was then completing work on a super-fast, super-high-flying successor to the U-2, codenamed Oxcart," (8) Bamford explained yet elsewhere, so they both were expendable. Still, NSA was willing to see that Powers was exchanged in 1962 after he had only servied two of his ten-year sentence for leading Soviet spy Colonel Rudolf Abel, showing that his masters were really interested in his well-being for services rendered. For good measure, as the Missile Crisis in Cuba was heating up, NSA's Director Lawrence Frost was sacked because of the Mitchell-Martin defections, thought originally to be caused by ideology but later labelled homosexuality -and was replaced by Air Force Lieutenant General Gordon Blake who, according to Bamford, "...who knew what he was getting into: he had earlier run NSA's air arm, the Air Force Security Service," (9) About the blacklisting of homosexuals in the services, Ike had the FBI draw up a list of all those suspected of being gay. "According to documents obtained for Body of Secrets, " Bamford concluded, "the fear of homosexuals caused by the men's defections became pathological within the White House."(10)

Allegedly, the cryptologists soon tired of the USSR, and wanted to return home, though they both married, and settled down to comfortable lives in the USSR. To belie the facts, Christopher Andrew doctored Mitrokhin's basic information to claim that the KGB fabricated a claim that the gullible spies had been sentenced by the US Supreme Court to twenty years' hard labor in absentia if they returned - when the Rosenbergs had been executed for doing far less - and that Director Yuri Andropov directed that they never be allowed to return when the fabrication, it seems, still didn't deter them from wanting to.(11) Mitchell died in St. Peterburg in 2001, and Martin died in Tijuana, Mexico in 1987 while undergoing treatment for cancer, belying Andrew's fabrication as Andropov had long since died, and soon the Soviet Union itself collapsed. Mitchell was able to return if he wanted but he never did because of the terrible risks of doing so. For good measure, Andrew added the KGB fabricated a story by Izvestia's Yuri Semyonov that the Americans were trying to poison them - what Mitchell allegedly believed to be untrue - and the Mitchells, at least, were prevented from returning to America, though their applications for visas were turned down by Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States!

This was all damage control by NSA as the showdown with the Soviets in Cuba was heating up, attempting to prevent any more defectors from joining Martin and Mitchell. The GRU, Soviet military intelligence, already had another spy from NSA in place, Air Force Staff Sargeant Jack E. Dunlop, and he was followed by Victor Norris Hamilton after Dunlop allegedly committed suicide in 1963 (12), though there is no information from Mitrokhin to confirm the claim. More likely, Dunlop simply retired since he had no more to provide. Then, in 1965, another walk-in joined the American defectors in Moscow, US Army clerk at Fort Meade Robert Lipka, who was responisble for shredding its material, and handed over to the KGB whatever he thought it fancied. When Lipka stopped spying in 1967, Chief Warrant Officer John Walker and his gang took over, supplying Moscow for eighteen years with detailed information about US Navy ciphers. In short, US intelligence, especially NSA, was leaking like a sieve, making its increasingly paranoid about the process, and the only people who knew almost nothing about it was the American public.

The separation of NRO from NSA had just made leaking and defections worse, as JFK was discovering during his last days when the NRO's Air Force cowboys faked the downing of Captain Joe Hyde Jr's U-2 over Cuba on November 20, 1963 - a repeat of what had happened for real to one piloted by Major Rudolf Anderson, just thirteen months earlier during the Cuban Missile Crisis - in the hope of kicking off a resumption of the confrontation. When Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Maxwell Taylor heard of the loss of Anderson and his U-2, he recommended an immediate response to the SAM site responsible. SoD McNamara replied that 500 sorties would be flown in preparation of an invasion which, thanks to JFK prudent management, never came. This time there was no invasion either, thanks to the surprise wounding of Governor John Connally, and his stating that he would get the people who really did it. In the process, Joe Hyde disappeared from the radar screen forever, apparently getting a new identity as Horace Smith, and remarrying his widow in Houston.(13)

Britain then resumed its own witch hunt, thanks particularly to the assistance CIA's DDO Richard Helms supplied MI5 Assistant Director Peter Wright's Fluency project to help keep it occupied by looking for spies within the Establishment from VENONA rather than more current troubles. "...Inexplicably, GCHQ had suspended its work on VENONA in 1954, apparently with MI5's consent on the grounds that the work was unproductive." (14) Graham Mitchell, the Director of D Branch, was responsible for the suspension, making him the prime suspect of the chief Soviet mole within the Security Service rather than Wright himself, and the mole-hunting didn't die until the Cold War did. Since 300 alleged spies remained to be identified in Britain and America at the end - and those allegedly identified had been tainted with a broad brush - it all seemd a vast waste of resources since the damage had essentially been done, and even its identifications could not be used to punish those few, important ones, awaiting punishment. Since the Americans had long given up on the process, their assistance to GCHC just seems to have been to keep it out of the way.

The precarious position of NSA, " agency unrestrained by laws or legislative charter and led by a man obsessed with secrecy and power," (15) allegedly
collapsed after its Deputy Director Louis Tordella agreed to an Army request that it spy on domestic protesters of the Vietnam War aka MINARET in the fall of 1967 -which was granted its own charter soon after Nixon took office. When Nixon's White House tried to put the collection of watch lists on a national basis, thanks to the Houston Plan, Hoover's FBI refused to go along, and it was withdrawn a few days later. When Watergate got out of hand three years later, though, pr4esidential counsel John Dean used his knowledge of the Houston Plan as a bargaining chip to escape prosecution for what the Plumbers had done, especially the assassination of former Alabama Governor Geroge Wallace. Then it turned out that Tordella had been using the Bureau for break-ins at embassies to steal codes and ciphering machines in order to save NSA the trouble of breaking them themselves. Finally, the Senate's Church Committee learned of project Shamrock - the illegal copying of the tapes the telecommunication companies had of telegrams they had transmitted.

One consequence of the Church Committee's unprecedented report was the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which outlawed any repeat of project Shamrock, and the MINARET watch lists of Americans. In order for NSA to target an American citizen or a permanent, resident alien - a "green card holder" within the United States - it must obtain a secret warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), showing that the person is either an agent for a foreign government or involved in spying or terrorism. The act placed the same requirement on the FBI - the agency much more involved in such activity because of its national jurisdiction in law-enforcement. The investigator, it seems, largely responsible for the reforms, Britt Snider who later became the CIA's Inspector General, was quite satisfied with their results when he retired twenty-three years later in 2000.(15)

In understanding the apparent results, one must appreciate the stopping of the Vietnam War, and détente with the Soviet Union - what made watch lists of Americans much less important except when the Reagan White House was helping the Contras in their fight with the Sandinistas, and stopping Moscow spies rather than domestic dissidents when it came to finishing off the USSR. Also, it required getting Britain's GCHQ finally involved in the eavesdropping process. The Conservative government, headed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had been struck by a series of work stoppages just when the Cold War was heating up in Afghanistan with the Soviet invasion, and the depature of the Shah from Iran. While CIA was being increasingly shut out of the intelligence loop by an independence-seeking NSA, the Thatcher Ministry was being prevented from getting vital information about these two, adjoining hot spots, leaving Washington and London in a rather paranoid, angry condition. DCI Admiral Stansfield Turner complained that the sigint agency was withholding intelligence "to make itself look good rather than to protect secrets." (16) London was in a choatic condition where quite often the whole government was getting no intelligence at all. The worry was that NSA would go its own way while London tried, apparently hopelessly, to ban unions at its intelligence facilities.

In the wake of regaining control of the Falklands, thanks to NSA's assistance in breaking Argentine codes, Britain made a serious effort to create its own eavesdropping system until 1987, project Zircon, but the costs and domestic opposition finally proved too much. The project was also hurt by the revelations about it by Duncan Campbell in the New Statesman, and Peter Wright putting his complaints about British intelligence in writing in Spycatcher. They showed Britain to be an incompetent, leaky partner in the Atlantic alliance, one which should let Washington lead the way. The value of the close link between NSA and GCHQ was demonstrated by General Odom's agency being able to produce a sigint intercept, linking Iranian hard-liner Ayatollah Montazeri to the bombing of the Pam Am flight over Lockerbie while GCHQ was unable to come up with any 'smoking gun' about who caused the tragedy.(17) The cost of this unequal partnership was that NSA could hide from GCHQ what it wanted to keep secret, and dispose of as it saw fit.

This was clearly demonstrated when the Reagan administration decided to end the Cold War by a pre-emptive non-nuclear strike against the USSR after it had been triggered by the assassination of Swedish troublemaker Olof Palme because of his interference with the whole Iran-Contra affair. Washington was confident that its operations were finally leak-proof because not only the spying by the John A. Walker, Jr. ring but also that of Jonathan Pollard and Ronald Pelton had been exposed and disposed of. The Walker group had been put out of business by his former wife who reported his spying to the Bureau.(18) Pollard was finally caught by Naval Intelligence after coworkers reported his suspicious handling of classified material. Pelton was caught after defector Vitali Yurchenko mentioned a spy who had made a call to the Embassy in Washington back in January 1980, but whose name and mission he never learned. "The FBI began going through old recordings of Yurchenko's conversations that had been captured by wiretaps. Investigators found the call and played it back to some NSA employees. They recognized the voice." (19)

The trouble with these discoveries was that it encouraged the risk-takers to go for broke - what only caused other agents, especially the Agency's Aldrich 'Rick' Ames and the Bureau's Robert Hanssen, to take their place. NSA was at the core of the operation as it was the agency to coordinate what the Anglo-American-NATO forces were doing while it kept track of the Soviet response. Of course, the spying permitted Moscow to take the necessary countermeasures to contain the confrontation. Knowing that the Stockholm shooting would trigger it, and the set-up of apparent assassin Stig Bergling - what Moscow closed down by refusing to have anything to do with him - the Soviets prevented NSA from learning what Moscow was doing by shutting down its bug of the leadership's reactions, and operation EASTBOUND whose sensors were to determine if the Soviets were preparing their ICBMs for a nuclear response - what Alexander Litvinenko managed to discover with his railway inspection squad. In sum, the operation was a complete, though most dangerous, fiasco.(20)

The Agency and the Bureau were understandably most reluctant to determine its cause, though NSA was furious about the result, leading it to adopt more forceful solutions to apparent problems. As Independent Counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation Lawrence E. Walsh detailed in Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up, NSA went to the most absurd lengths to prevent even the most perfunctory inquiry into the massive fiasco.

"The general counsel to the National Security Agency, Elizabeth Rindskopf, was tough. An attorney trained as an advocate for plaintiff's class actions, she seemed to us not easily deterred by facts, reason, or appeals to fairness. Her concern was not only the preservation of intelligence sources, but also the protection of her agency from embarrassment. She exaggerated claims of national security risk so grossly that I wondered whether she was bucking for a White House appointment. (After George Bush became president, Rindskopf was promoted to succeed Russell Bruemmer as general counsel of the CIA.)"

She even tried to get Attonrey General Richard Thornburgh not to comply with Judge Gerhard Gesell's order, permitting Oliver North to introduce Robert McFarlane PROF note, wanting to purge all NSA's traffic files.

As the problems of the government, particularly NSA's, continued, it apparently started really purging troublemakers through its group 1-3 aka Pegasus, patterned after Britain's Group 13. There were just too many surprising deaths or unexplained murders for it not to have been behind some of these. For example, the murder of prime suspect in the Palme case - where things had started to go badly wrong - Viktor Gunnarsson after he emigrated to North Carolina, and a policeman, who had long pursued him, Börje Vingren, had published a book, claiming Gunnarsson had done it. When the killing was so well hidden that it was unlikely that Gunnarsson's naked body would ever be found, the mother of his alleged girl friend, Catherine Miller, was gunned down to keep the set-up of former policeman L. C. Underwood alive - what ultimately resulted in his being convicted of both murders. It took over a decade in prison, and over $100.000 in fees for Underwood to get the convictions thrown out, and a new trial or his release after 180 days ordered this past January.

Then, after Luther 'Jerry' Parks, the former head of Governor Clinton's security, so pursued Vince Foster of crimes relating to Mena's International Airport that he committed suicide, unknown parties made the site where his body was found look like a murder scene, and the following March Parks was gunned down by unknown assailants. The last thing the Clintons wanted was for people to think that Foster killed himself, and covert operators made it look like he might not have. Just the month before, Ames was finally exposed as a Soviet spy, and NSA made sure that he was imprisoned for life for the inconveniences caused.

There were others too, enough for posters to start sites, attributing it all and much more to President Clinton, and labelling it his Body Count. It was all reminiscent of the body count that Mark Lane put together in Rush to Judgment after the Dallas assassination to improve claims of it being a plot, just making it look most dubious.

The biggest unexplained assassination, apparently by NSA group 1-3, was the killing of former DCI William Colby in April 1996. Interesting that Bamford makes no mention of him in his books because he proved the biggest problem for the eavesdropping agency, as he was the one who exposed not only its illegal spying on Americans, especially MH-Chaos, but also the plots to get rid of Castro to the Church Committee - what led President Ford to fire him.(22) The Colby murder was not a simple act of vengeance, but the removal of a most influential critic if and when NSA decided again to eavesdrop on America whatever the legal situation. Bamford got around the problems by making out that NSA was responsible to the Defense Department when it really was officially under the control of CIA. Colby's death triggered as many false claims as that of the recent killing of GCHQ/MI6 agent Gareth Williams, and apparently for the same purpose - shutting up and getting back at

For good measure, NSA saw to the prosecution of Robert Lipka as a KGB spy after all those years of inactivity, thanks apparently to a tipoff from Mitrokhin. In May 1993, an FBI agent, posing as a GRU one, contacted Lipka, and tried to get him to renew his spying by a threat of exposure and a dangle of $10,000 which he accepted because he claimed it owed him much more because of his original spying. Once the trial of Ames had established that a spy could at least spend the rest of their lives in prison, Lipka was arrested in February 1996, and tried in May 1997, avoiding the same sentence only by agreeing to a plea bargain which resulted in him having to serve eighteen years in a federal prison, and pay back twice as much money than he had gotten from the Bureau. "I thought I had put this to bed many years ago and I never dreamed it would turn out like this," (24) Lipka complained bitterly

Anglo-American eavesdropping operations improved considerably after martinet NSA Director Kenneth Minihan ended his term in 1999, especially when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Minihan's first assignment, it seems, was to get rid of Colby. For the previous decade, NSA had seen its budgets cut steadily each year, resulting in fewer personnel doing more tasks for less, causing a quite demoralized work force, fighting over perquisites and promotions in a environment plagued by racial and sexual preferences. Minihan, while hoping to revive Shamrock, had gotten rid of a third of the employees, and his deputy director William Crowell who wanted to improve the way NSA attacked code problems and disseminated the results, fearing that it would just empower America's enemies. "Nor did Minihan get along with the various senior directors in the agency - the deputy directors for operations, information security, and so on".(25) And all over the world, listening posts were being closed down or replaced by automatic equipment. NSA was clearly on the short end when it came to getting funding.

At Cheltenham, a similar downsizing was occurring, the staff down to 5,100, a loss of 900 from 1995. Its listening posts around the world were disappearing too. "Some at GCHQ feared that if its staff number dropped below 4,500, the agency would begin to seem minor in the eyes of NSA." (26) It began to look as if the new headquarters in Cheltenham, completed in 2003, would just be a collection center where code breakers, data gathers, and cryptologists skilled in various languages would put together reports, based upon the calls and messages intercepted, and send them on to Fort Meade and other countries in the Five Eyes pact - Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

To counteract this centralizing process of eavesdropping in America, Britain continued to go out of its way to train people better suited to satisfy the needs it required, especially in mathematics and languages, and develop gizmos in the private sector which NSA would find attractive. Its need of highly qualified people in these fields is well illustrated by Appendix C of Body of Secrets, cryptologic occupations needed at NSA - linguistic and mathematical experts - what America is noted for being poor at providing. Bamford's listing looks like an employment brochure for NSA's mammoth Crypto City which always seens to be wanting qualitative literacy by its employees in these fields - like professionals who can solve cryptographic problems though the use of math, especially since there is such a demand for those who can in the private sector.


1. James Bamford, Body of Secrets: How America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World, p.133.
2. James Bamford, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to Eavesdropping on America, p.164.
3. Op. cit., p. 133.
4. Nigel West, VENONA: The Greatest Secret of the Cold War, p.10.
5. Bamford, Body..., p. 37.
6. Quoted from ibid., but not in the sardonic way it should be.
7. See, e. g., where Bamford puts their spying, p. 92ff., as far away from the Powers' problem as possible, p.45ff. until the note on p. 62.
8. Ibid., p. 149.
9. Ibid., p. 96
10. Ibid., p. 543
11. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and The Shield, p. 179. Note Andrew's claims about their trying to leave is not based upon any sources except a most questionable story in The New York Times on June 24, 1962 (Notes, Chapter Eleven, note 28, p. 607), when the missile crisis was building, and NSA was most interested in persuading anymore deviants among its ranks for defecting too. For more on Andrew's doctoring of Mitrokhin's Archive, and its effects upon him, see there links:
12. Ibid., p. 344.
13. For more, see this link:
14. West. op. cit., p. 138.
15. Bamford, Body..., p. 440.
16. Quoted from ibid., p. 384.
17. Mark Urban, UK Eyes Alpha: The Inside Story of British Intelligence, pp. 97-8.
18. Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, pp.350-1.
19. Ibid., p. 354.
20. For more, see this link:
21. p. 176.
22. For more, see this link:
23. For more, see:
24. Quoted from Andrew, p. 18.
25. Bamford, Body...p. 563.
26. Ibid., p. 547.

Monday 6 September 2010

Why Damaged Covert Operator Derek Bird Finally Went On The Rampage in Cumbria

by Trowbridge H. Ford

No part of Britain has experienced more change since World War II than Cumbria, that wild, isolated northwestern corner of the kingdom which has surprisingly improved considerably because of government help, especially in the military and energy sectors. Long known for the ports of Cumberland and wilds of Westmorland, it engaged more often in illegal trade, especially with the Isle of Man, than any legimitate enterprise like mining, farming, forestry or fishing. Of course, it had long been a tourist attraction with its famous Lake District, but that did little to help its domestic residents: It was only during the postwar that the area began to radically change with the permanent establishment of the British military in the new county, Britain's nuclear energy being centered at the generating plant at Sellafield, and the growing fields of winds gnerators in the Solway Firth.

While this growing investment of government money in Cumbria was to make a world of difference to the area, it was slow in making any serious impact upon its inhabitants until the 1970s. The biggest change was caused by Britain's increasing involvement in colonial wars, and shoring up NATO's naval activity in the Northeast Atlantic - what caused the build-up of Cumbria's military establishments. The most important long-term development was the vast build-up of the British Army's training establishment at Warcop. Started during WWII to provide the Canadian tank forces with training for the Normandy invasion, it became a permanent facility after war's end, growing to around 12,000 hectares now, most of it north of the Eden River, and all of it on the east side of the Lake District National Park. In the process, so many soliders, recruited domestically and from the colonies, found the area so inviting after they completed a very short career with a very generous retirement. Carlisle is particularly noted to its retired military personnel, especially Nepal's famous Gurkas.

Little wonder when Britain became deeply involved in the growing civil war in Ireland, and the increasing civil unrest at home during the 1970s that British Army recruiters looked to local boys to fill the ranks, and it was hardly surprising that Derek Bird, the youngest of Joe Bird's three sons, joined the ranks. Joe Bird lived in a house in the most remote Ennerby Bridge which he had inherited from his grandfather, apparently Thomas Bird, after he failed to gain ownership of Brougham Hall from former Lord Chancellor Brougham, first by telling its tenants not to pay his Lordship their rents, and then by occupacy - what ultimately resulted in a successful tresspass action against Bird in 1843. When it was proved that Brougham Hall was not the same property as the "Bird's Nest", Thomas Bird settled for living nearby as a country gentleman. Joe Bird was much like his grandfather, doing little besides talking to everyone who would listen, and hunting for rabbits.

Derek's chosing the Army was pretty much directed by the family's and the area's limited opportunities. Being the youngest of three children, born quite close together, and having a fraternal twin brother David who performed much better in the same class at Ehenside Community School - establising them as a "chalk and cheese" couple - and went on to a successful career in the community as a mechanic and land developer, Derek, 19 years old, answered the call when Major General Dick Trant, Commander of Land Forces (CLF) in Northern Ireland, wanted to expand the forces there to meet the growing IRA threats. In 1977, he wanted to complement the 14 Intelligence Company with the formation of Close Observation Platoons (COPs) for each of the thirty battalions serving two-year 'residential' tours there, and one for the four-month-tour battalion stationed in South Armagh, having found the loosely-ogranized Northern Ireland Patrol Group (NIPG) formed the year before to provide intelligence inadequately trained, and not permanently stationed in the province.

About the COPs, Mark Urban wrote in Big Boys' Rules, they "...would take the best soldiers from the battalion and give them expert training in observation techniques. The CLF and the brigade commanders would be able to use the new platoons anywhere in Ulster, not just inside the area of the particular battalion to which they belonged. COPs were to become important in establishing the regular patterns of activity among ASUs (IRA Active Service Units) and movements of key republicans." (p. 45) The trouble with the plan was that the Army was unable to find enough soldiers from the battalions that it wanted, so it had to recruit volunteers for the new 'SAS-type units'. In June 1977, The Times reported the drive, stating that the Army was looking for 300 volunteers for the new undercover force, but, according to Urban, it had to settle for about 200, indicating that it was accepting just about anyone who wanted to join, and Derek certainly wanted to.

The biggest cause of Trant creating the SOPs was the failure of the NIPG to have any idea of what Provo terrorist Francis Hughes was up to, especially when he and colleagues Dominc McGlinchey and Ian Milne shot dead two officers of a RUC Special Patrol Group when it tried to capture them in a car chase on April 8, 1977 - what turned out so badly that the authorities later claimed that it was at a checkpoint when they tried to inspect their Volkswagen. The 14 Intelligence Company aka 'the
Det' and the RUC's Special Branch had been vigorously trying to capture the Provos' South Derry commander since he had apparently killed an elderly Protestant woman, Hester McMullan, for no reason when they killed the two rather clueless RUC members and wounded another. The capture of the trio seemed almost assured when they lost control of their car after being flagged down, and ended up stuck in a ditch while attempting a U-turn. But they came ouf of the vehicle with all guns firing, the kind of thing, another PIRA commander opined, that Hughes would do while he was on his way to plan a similar murder. "Shortly afterwards," Peter Taylor
concluded in The Brits, "police posters went up all over the province featuring Francis Hughes, the most wanted man in the North." (p. 210) Little wonder that the British Army had no reservations about accepting a most dubiouis volunteer for the SOPs under the circumstances.

Even the Army, though, was persuaded that conditions were not bad enough to take Bird into the COPs during his 24-week long basic training, as he just barely got through it, hardly justifying his going on in its special COP course. Instead, Bird joined the regular ranks, and started serving soon with the Gloucester Battalion, though, not very well, as he was used as an errand boy for the ranks rather than preparing to take on combat action himself.

It was while it was involved in the stakeout of a Maghera farmhouse near South Derry's Glenshane Pass, hoping to catch Hughes unawares when he surfaced there, that Bird pulled off its greatest success. On March 16, 1978, two COPS soldiers, Lance Corporal David Jones, who was on secondment from the 3rd Parachute Battalion, and Lance Corporal Kevin Smyth, were manning the observation post when they spotted two arned men in camouflage clothing, heading for the farmhouse. Jones, thinking they might be members of the British Army's Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) because of the insigna on their jackets, stood up, and challenged them to identify themselves. The two Provos returned the challenge with bullets, resulting in a firefight which wounded Jones, who later died, and Smyth. The two Provos apparently escaped unharmed.

In the aftermath of the firefight, soldiers from 'the Dets' back-up team, and the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) looked high and low for the Provisional gunmen the whole morning but without success. Taylor claimed that Hughes was found by a corporal called Geoffrey from the QRF, following a trail of blood that he had left as he tried to make his escape. (p. 211) Actually, this was a cover story to protect the identity of the soldier who had, Private Walnut apparently aka Private Bird. His career in the Army had only gotten worse the day before as he had been put in a cell for appearing dirty on parade day, and had only been released because of the emergency Hughes had caused. During the morning, Bird, the battalion tea boy, had been sent back to headquarters to get refreshments for the search parties, and had just returned.

Thirty years later former UDR officer Wallace Clarke described what happened to Hughes, thanks to the initiative of Private Bird: "Now he wondered off with a dog handler and it was he who spotted a figure propped up against a tree trunk in a deep wooded guilly..." who turned out to be the most wanted Hughes. Thanks to his capture, the charges against Bird were dismissed, and he gained the code-name "Private Walnut" for having spotted Hughes leaning up against a walnut tree. They are becoming more common in Ireland for their nuts, but until recently, they were not seriously cultivated because of the difficulties of getting them started, and keeping them from rotting. For more about Hughes' capture, see this link:

As a result, eagle-eye Bird got the sobriquet "Birdy", and he and the doghandler Geoffrey, according to the Sergeant Major, would never have to pay for a drink in the Company bar.(Taylor, p. 211)

It was then that Bird, it seems, was given his COP training, and returned to Northern Ireland to help in the efforts of its seven COPs to prevent ASUs from ambushing British soldiers, as the number of casualities began to show. "In 1983 five regular British Army soliders were killed, compared to 10 UDR members and eighteen RUC members, and in 1984 nine regular Army soldiers were killed compared to ten UDR members and eight police officers. Most of the UDR murders and many of those of RUC members took place when they were off duty." (Urban, p. 188) Little more is known of Bird's actions during this time than that he started living with LInda Mills, most likely from Northern Ireland since hardly anything is known about her, and established a home back in Cumbria for her. They never married.

Little wonder that the security chiefs then got the COPs to increasingly protect these soft targets not only to save lives but also to insure that local security forces were not depleted to the Provos' advantage."The COPs were given their duties," Urban expained; "by the TCG (Tasking and Co-ordination Groups of the RUC) operation centres. Some of their missions were based on informer intelligence identifying a specific threat to an individual, but high-grade information of that kind was normally given to the Int and Sy Group, leaving the COPs with little better to operate on than local hearsay and the guesswork of intelligence officers." (p. 188)

It was doing operations like this that Bird became better known, ultimately leading Wallace Clarke to write his glowing account of Private Walnut's capture of Hughes on its thirthieth anniversary. Wallace had apparently been moved to join the UDR because of what had happened to another Clarke - William, quite possibly a relative, but at least one whose fate had most stuck in Wallace's mind. William Clarke was also in the UDR, and was killed while off duty by the IRA after he had visited some relatives in the Republic, and was making his way home when he was shot dead by the Provos as he motored along a lane, Gortnessy, in Pettigoe, County Donegal. Bird, it seems, was so good in stopping the murders of off duty policemen and local soldiers while preparing regular soldiers for more elite duty that he was asked to join the 14 Intelligence Company around 1985. (For his apparent photograph, and the fact that he was sent to 'the Det' while another went to the SAS, see the photographs in Urban's book of four COP operators with their faces blacked out, and the inside evidence he has about two of them. though note that he made no mention of how Hughes was captured, and Private Walnut's crucial role in it.)

Hardly surprising that Birdy became involved when the Thatcher government decided to get rid of Sweden's statsminister Olof Palme, and make it look like Moscow did it so the Cold War could be settled by a conventional, preemptivie war which would avoid the use of nuclear weapons. At the time, the RUC was pursuing young Francis Bradley of Magherafelt, County Londonderry, on suspicion that he had been involved in the May 1985 killing of RUC reservist, R. J. Evans. Bradley had gotten on the RUC's radar screen of suspects in killings because of his attending the funeral of Antoin MacGiolla Bride who was shot dead by the SAS on December 2, 1984 during which he hit on the head by an RUC baton which required stitches. The RUC put mounting pressure on him to admit to the Evans murder and/or to become an informant, neither of which Bradley agreed to.

Conditions only became worse for him after covert operators, it seems, ratched up matters by shooting up the unnamed Castledawson Police Station on December 9, 1985 - apparently the opening shots of the campaign to sink the Soviets and their allies, especially the IRA and its arms supplier, Gaddafi's Libya. The RUC was joined by the 14 Intelligence Company, particulary its South Detachment's CO, Captain Simon Hayward, in hounding Bradley for the crime, making it clear that he would never get married nor live to see Easter. By this time, the CLF was Major General Tony Jeappes - the only former commanding officer of the 22 SAS Regiment to hold the post - who was willing to conduct the most aggressive actions for the Crown. About Hayward's role in the campaign, note how Bradley's close friend Seamus O'Connor described their leading antagonist: "He was 5'10'' tall, well built, 30-35 of age." (Quoted from Raymond Murray, The SAS in Ireland, p. 351) For what Hayward looks like in battle gear, see the back of the dustcover to Tony Geraghty´s The Irish War.

When it came time to start the showdown with the Soviets, the trial assassination of Bradley on February 18, 1986 in preparation for the one in Stockholm ten days later, Hayward led the ambush squad, and Bird apparently did the actual killing. The squad had veiled its mission as best it could by mounting a stakeout for about two weeks of the house yard where it would take place. (Urban, p. 216) Then it was just a question of getting Bradley there - what was accomplished by a local IRA man asking him to move a cache of weapons from Kevin Walls' house. When Bradley started doing so, he was gunned down by a barrage of gunfire, the first one apparently from Hayward, aka Soldier 'A' wihch hit Bradley's in the buttocks, and the last ones by Soldier 'C' apparently aka Derek Bird, a burst of fire..."into the young man's stomach which proved fatal." (Murray, p 356)

While there were a multitude of questions about the killing, almost none of which were adequately answered, the most disturbing ones were supplied by Soldier 'C' in a written statement at the inquest, held at the Magherafelt in March 1987. In it, he described in most alarming terms the killing which seems nothing more than shooting an unarmed man, as the squad had had about a fortnight to make sure that the weapons were not armed, in the back until he collasped to the ground on his back where he was finished off at close range. "I did so fearing for my safety", Soldier 'C' explained, and he finished off Bradley when he "...realised that he was moving into a position to engage me, I just opened fired instinctively and ran through the gap into the farmyard where I took cover by the farm building..." (Quoted from Murray, pp. 355-6.) Neither he nor Soldier 'A' attended the inquest, preventing them from being cross-examined about anything.

By the time the inquest occurred, political affairs had changed radically. While Palme had been assassinated, there was no chance of blaming the Soviets because they were prepared for it, thanks to the spying by Ames, Hansson and others, and London was still burdened with Gaddafi, especially the weapons he was sending on the Eksund for a Provisional 'tet' offensive - what had to be stopped at any cost. This required satisfying London's major spy involved in the capture, "Steak knife" in the IRA leadership, and he demanded that Hayward be set up for punishment in Sweden for another crime to make up for his assassination of Palme - what was agreed to.
Moreover, Hayward's role in shoot-to-kill murders was being increasingly debated, thanks to the removal of John Stalker from investigating them. This led to Hayward's appeal for alleged drug smuggling to stand in October 1987, forcing his retirement from the British Army in 1988 when he was serving his five-year sentence in Malmö prison.

It seems that Bird suffered a similar fate - since he might well have been one of the assassins stalking Palme too, given his role in the Bradley trial run - forced out of the Army, and given essentially a new identity by becoming Derrick Bird, what he was known as when he was given a joiner's job at Sellafield's nuclear site around this time. Bird, unfortunately, returned to his earlier 'dirty' ways, stealing wood from the plant for which he lost the cushy job. Then his relationship with Linda Mills went down the drain when he fathered a second child - who he wanted aborted - and she persisted in having, leaving him permanently, and without a word more to him. Then his father Joe provided his twin brother David with £25,000 from his savings without telling Derrick, and which David had not paid back by the time Joe died. Derrick's cab-driving became increasingly tense because of the fighting over customers, and the banter among the cabbies while waiting for more.

It seems, given the fact that several of them were also veterans, that it often turned on Bird's service, especially after Wallace Clarke published the most favorable article about Private Wlnut's feat. It was after that that Bird was often heard that he would " to kill them all", meaning family, fellow cabbies, and former soldiers. The crisis peaked when John Larkin, a long-time critic of the Bradley assassination, became Northern Ireland's first Attorney General since Britain took direct rule, and announced at the end of May that there would be a new inquest into the Bradley killing where his killers, Soldiers 'A' and 'C', would not only be obliged to attend, but they would be cross-exmained about their testimony. It was this, not alleged tax owed the Internal Revenue, which had Bird complaining to his colleagues that he faced possibly six to ten years in prison for his crimes.

On the moring of June 2nd, Bird went on the rampage, taking vengeance not only on family and cabbies who had allegedly cheated him out of money but also veterans who had on occasion humiliated him over his fall from the COPs and 'the Det'. Brid killed Ken Fishburn, a "lifetime Army man" who served 25 years in the Durham Light Infantry before he retired, with a blast from his shotgun, fifty meters from his house. Donald Reed, a former cook with the Royal Irish Regiment, would have suffered the same fate earlier if he had not reacted with his counter terrorism training from the Army immediately when Bird started shooting at him, knowing that he was quite skilled with weapons because of his Army service. And it was also another cabbie and apparently former Army veteran Richard Webster who made sure that Bird didn't kill him by calling him off. These three, it seems, knew about Bird's secret Army career, and had driven him over the edge when it came to dealing with his real problems, not taxes, guns, wills, loans, fares, etc.

The MoD, it seems, put a veil of secrecy over the carnage, limiting coverage of the killing to a bare minimum, with the media often just repeating what little bits others had reported, making sure that Bird's secret years from about 1977 to 1989 were never reported. And it seems that it will stay that way even now as there has been no movement by Chief Coroner John Lecky in the Bradley killing in three months, and it is unlikely there will be with HMG apparently closing down the ordered inquest in the name of national security.