Not a good outing for the British state, it is confronted with an immediate difficulty. Panorama is a long established authentic British cultural institution with a reputation to match: the flagship of British television investigative journalism, its reporting cannot be easily dismissed nor explained away as the work of conspiracy theorists. A useful summary of what it brought to last evening's tuned-in audience was provided by The Irish Times. It dealt with:
killings such as that of the 1976 IRA Kingsmill Massacre of 10 Protestants, the 1982 UDA shooting of five Catholics in Sean Graham’s bookies on the Ormeau Road in Belfast, the 1989 UDA murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, the 2001 Loyalist Volunteer Force murder of Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan and the IRA murder of RUC constable Colleen McMurray in Newry, Co Down, in 1992. It also addressed some of the killings carried out by members of the so-called Glenanne Gang allegedly comprised of members of the UVF, RUC and British army. They included the killings of 34 people in the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings.
A large amount of killings, but so little an amount of accountability and disclosure. "Hundreds and hundreds" killed, in the view of Nuala O’Loan who is easily more knowledgeable than most on these type of matters.
Referring to O'Loan's claim that the security forces operated outside the rules, George Hamilton, the PSNI Chief Constable said: "I would challenge that, it's not actually accurate. There were no rules."
This is a damning if unintended indictment of British state security policy. The rule of law that prohibits murder and was meant to be enforced by the state was effectively ignored. "There were no rules" really means that there was no rule of law.
While Hamilton's reluctance to deal with the past is arguably more related to the hugely challenging drain on resources it causes present policing, than in covering up, the force he commands has been thoroughly dishonest in its claims about delivering justice.
Consider this PSNI lie which it used in defence of its sabotage and seize raid on the Boston College archive. "This is in line with PSNI’s statutory duty to investigate fully all matters of serious crime, including murder.” The PSNI was not remotely interested in murder committed by its own. in terms of performing its statutory duty it has been nothing short of an abomination. It failed willingly and completely. In authentic
Orwellian fashion the force sought to distort the past by trying to pursue only non-state actors, as if they alone were to blame for "terrorism".
One defining moment in the Panorama documentary was when Darragh MacIntyre confronted no lesser a British establishment figure than General Sir John Waters, a member of the House of Bath.
Sir John, a director of terrorism in the North from 1988-1990, suddenly found common cause with the people he tried to jail or otherwise sought to extirpate with a little help from his friends. He took a vow of silence and refused to answer questions. The sort of thing that secures the silent one a negative inference from the courts on the grounds that it is the type of stance a terrorist would adopt. Very apt Sir John of the House of Bath.
Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International has since commented that
The breadth and depth of collusion being alleged here is truly disturbing. Killing people targeted by the state, using intelligence provided by the state and shooting them with guns provided by the state – if all this is proven, we’re not talking about a security policy, we’re talking about a murder policy.
The British state murder policy is being unpicked like never before. If the Northern conflict is to be remembered as a terrorist campaign then it is blindingly obvious that a key component of British state security policy in the North was state terrorism. A peculiar irony is that whatever wrong doings the IRA was guilty of – and there were many - it now has the most persuasive of cases that it was fighting terrorism, British state terrorism.
And the British labelled Bobby Sands a criminal for breaking laws they refused to uphold themselves.