I watched a movie on TV recently – ‘Wag the Dog - and I’ve moved from a position of being mildly sceptical of official statements to being heavily sceptical. The movie, in case you haven’t seen it, features a US president who looks set to fail in his attempt at a second term in office. Enter PR man, who promptly sets up a ‘war’ with an obscure East European state, and has TV footage shown of horrors being inflicted on sweet-looking innocent citizens. It works, president is home and dry.
Actually, when I think of it, Wag the Dog just confirmed rather than added to my level of scepticism. Anyone who’s been half-attentive over the past forty years will know that to officialdom, lying about murder comes as easy as breathing.
The latest example is reported in detail today, notably in The Irish Times. The Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has just published its report into an ambush of three republicans leaving a police station in Lurgan in 1990. Sam Marshall was killed, the remaining two, Tony McCaughey and Colin Duffy, survived. The fact that there was a red Maestro car nearby, which turned out to be a military intelligence vehicle, naturally led to suspicions of collusion. The HET now say there were six – you heard me – SIX military vehicles involving eight armed undercover soldiers at the scene. The loyalist killers launched their attack yards from these armed troops - and escaped. Two of the undercover soldiers were following the republicans on foot and were less than 100 metres from the attack. But did they see the killing in which 49 shots were fired? Um, no. The RUC found gloves near the killers’ burnt-out getaway car, but the gloves were then, um, ‘lost’. The RUC rejected all claims of a surveillance operation, even though Special Branch had briefed the undercover troops Collusion? Um, no evidence of same.
Of course, you may think it’s a terrific thing that the ‘security forces’ co-operated with loyalists in killing or trying to kill republicans. You may also think it’s a good idea they lied when accused of same, because to admit would make it more difficult for further such bloody work in the future. But if you think that state forces don’t have the right to be judge, jury and executioner, and if you think that state forces lying about killings they’ve been involved in is not a good idea – in fact makes the civic ground underneath your feet tremble – then like me you’ll wonder what lies are the lying bastards trying to tell us now. (Apologies to Jeremy Paxman.)