Monthly Archives: December 2016

You Thought It Was Just A Bad Dream, But Then You Woke Up……

The First Family.....

The First Family…..


You’ll Be Seeing A Lot Of This, Maybe Too Much, In 2017….


Could The IRA’s ‘Tet Offensive’ Have Worked?

This intriguing question arises from a fascinating analysis in yesterday’s Irish Times by John Bowman, of British political opinion in the wake of the Unionist campaign against the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, a compact which, as Peter Robinson put it, seemingly placed Northern Ireland on the window ledge of the union but which was regarded by many British leaders as a sensible way to defang the IRA.

Christening the effect Unionist protest and intransigence in the wake of the Agreement, also known as the Hillsborough deal, had on a British establishment weary of the Troubles and IRA violence and anxious for a way to end a seemingly interminable conflict a ‘churning’ effect, Bowman concludes that the consequence was to weaken British affection for, and fealty to the Union.

So much so, and so widespread was the aversion to post-Hillsborough Unionism, that Margaret Thatcher’s then deputy chief whip in the House of Commons opined to an Irish diplomat, according to Bowman’s reading of Irish government papers from 1986 and recently released under the 30 year rule, that if the IRA managed to assassinate a member of the British Royal family it ‘would put the prospect of British withdrawal from Northern Ireland on the political agenda here’.

Well, maybe not a Royal assassination, but the IRA in 1986 was in the midst of organising a military venture which, if successful, might have had as much a sickening effect on British public opinion.

By 1986 the IRA was well advanced in planning and organising a massive military offensive, nicknamed an IRA ‘Tet’ by some, using Libyan-supplied weapons and explosives as well as cash. Like the effect of the Vietcong’s ‘Tet offensive’ of January 1968 on American public opinion, the IRA’s campaign was intended to weaken British resolve to continue fighting in a war it no longer had belief in winning or ending.

By the end of 1986 several boatloads of Libyan weaponry had successfully evaded British and Irish government monitoring and their cargoes of AK47’s and tons of Semtex explosives had been hidden away in dumps as a reserve for action after the major offensive.

The largest cargo, bringing even more sophisticated weaponry, was due to come to Ireland in the Spring of 1987 and it was this shipment that would be deployed for the IRA’s ‘Tet’.

But just as the cargo, on board the Eksund, was due to sail from the Libyan capital Tripoli, IRA intelligence learned that the Irish Army had been put on alert, from Carlingford Lough to Cork, in expectation of an arms shipment arriving.

The Eksund’s voyage was quickly cancelled.

What happened next and what was subsequently learned about the background to the Libyan shipments, would fuel the bitterness, doubts and suspicions that would eventually erupt in the split between the Adams/McGuinness Northern leadership and the Southern IRA in the form of the Engineering Department, led by Frank McGuinness, and the Quarter Master’s Dep’t led by Micky McKevitt.

The details can be found in the second edition of my book ‘A Secret History of the IRA’, but suffice it to say that the suspicion surfaced internally that a) the Adams/McGuinness faction had so widely briefed the IRA’s upper echelons about the Libyan shipments before they had happened that a leak to British intelligence was considered by their opponents inevitable and b) a decision was made, backed by the Adams/McGuinness faction but opposed by Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy and Micky McKevitt, the principal actors in the Libyan shipments, to try a second time sending the cargo once again on the Eksund. Others on the Army Council had urged sending a smaller cargo to test whether there was indeed a leak but were overruled. So the Eksund sailed and was captured in the autumn of 1987. And so died the IRA’s ‘Tet’ offensive.

The suspicions thus engendered fatally poisoned relations at the top of the IRA.

The intriguing question raised by John Bowman is simple: if the Eksund had got through safely, its cargo unloaded without detection and distributed to active service units and if British intelligence had failed to detect the plans, would the resulting ‘Tet’ offensive have had the same effect as the Royal assassination contemplated in Margaret Thatcher’s whip’s office?

Who knows, but an awful lot of ‘if’s’ there, if you ask me?

Anyway, here is what John Bowman writes about the churning effect Unionist antics, post the Hillsborough deal, had on the British political establishment. File it under, ‘What Might Have Been’. If he is right, and the IRA forfeited an opportunity to win its war, then the implications for what came next, the peace process, are pretty obvious. Either that or by the mid-1980’s the IRA had been so infiltrated by British intelligence that the game was up no matter what happened:

The scale of that churn only becomes evident when the detailed notes of Department of Foreign Affairs mandarins are studied. Through the assiduous work of the Irish embassy in London, the Anglo-Irish desk at Iveagh House learned during the year that many of the best-informed players in Westminster believed the union was itself being weakened by the behaviour of unionist politicians.

That these views came from figures as diverse as Conservative MP Ian Gow and Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock is testimony to the extent to which the unionist response to Hillsborough had been counterproductive.

Indeed John Cope, Thatcher’s deputy chief whip, had suggested at a lunch with Richard Ryan of the Irish embassy that the unionists were “shooting themselves in the feet, but with cannon!” He added that “the oft-cited man on the Clapham omnibus” was now “quite fed up with the whole Irish business and that something like a royal assassination would put the prospect of British withdrawal from Northern Ireland on the political agenda here”.

Dublin would have listened with particular attention to the opinions of Gow, whose advice on Northern Ireland Thatcher trusted, although not sufficiently to stay her hand before signing the agreement. Her very signature triggered his resignation that day from her government.

However, Gow remained deeply engaged on Northern Ireland, confiding to Ryan his belief that the unionists were “stretching Westminster’s patience dangerously” and it could have “real implications for the union”.

Kinnock, as Labour leader – and at the time a possible future prime minister – talked of “a growing view” in London that the union was “beginning to rock seriously”, with the shifting of opinion among Tory backbenchers “the most significant thing of all”. Moreover, given “the sort of bloody mood” that they were now in, it might not be “more than a further short step to seriously questioning the union.”

Northern Ireland minister Nicholas Scott was reported as characterising the Anglo-Irish Agreement as “an historical watershed” which was now recognised by the unionists who know “that things will never be the same again and that it is their fault”.

‘Big Bobby’ Storey ‘Thinks The World’ Of Gerry Adams: 1986 Irish Government Files

This piece of intelligence, which arrives courtesy of today’s RTE’s coverage of the release of Irish government files under the 30-year rule, will hardly come as a shock to regular readers of the elbow, but according to Gerry Adams’ solicitor in 1986, Paddy ‘PJ’ McGrory (father of our venerated Director of Public Prosecutions), Bobby Storey thought the world of Gerry Adams.

And still does, by the look of things.


Gerry and Bobby

Paddy told this to one of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ ‘travelers’ – diplomats who toured the North picking up juicy tidbits from various contacts – adding that two other supposed hard men in the IRA, Gerry Kelly and Brendan ‘Bik’ MacFarlane, along with ‘hardened’ Provos in the Maze prison, had considerable ‘affection and respect’ for the SF President.

Bobby Storey went on to become the IRA’s Director of Intelligence and is credited (if that is the right word) with some spectacular operations, not least the bombing of Thiepval barracks in 1996 (on the eve of an IRA Convention called to overthrow Adams) and the robbery of some £26 million from the Northern Bank in central Belfast in 2004.


Paddy ‘PJ’ McGrory

The Thiepval bombing arguably tempered the hostility to Adams’ peace strategy at the Convention, which he survived, whilst the final disposition of the stolen £26 million still remains something of a mystery and a source of speculation. Bobby Storey spent something like twenty years in jail for one reason or another but did manage once to escape, albeit only briefly.

IRA believe Anglo-Irish Agreement will fall apart

New files released by the Department of Foreign Affairs give an insight into views on the Provisional IRA’s strategy in 1986. David Barry, of the department’s Anglo-Irish division gives a detailed account of a meeting he had with solicitor PJ McGrory at his Belfast home in April 1986.

The files noted that McGrory was providing legal representation for well-known republicans Gerry Kelly and Bik McFarlane who were caught on the run in Amsterdam. McGrory “has never taken seriously the idea that Adams is Chief-of-Staff of the IRA…he is satisfied Adams has a remarkably strong influence on the Republican movement.”

The account continues, “McFarlane and Kelly, who are strong individuals in their own right, ‘think the world of him’ and even hardened Provos in the Maze who might normally be expected to view with a jaundiced eye someone outside who is promoting a political approach, attest to considerable affection and respect for Adams. This applies particularly to the Provo OC in the Maze, Robert Storey.”

The Belfast solicitor believed that under Adams’ influence the IRA had decided to “lie low” until the Anglo-Irish Agreement “falls apart of its own accord.”

“They expect the Taoiseach and Mrs Thatcher to make some concession on the Agreement which will appease unionists and alienate nationalists. They will stand in the wings ready to reap the benefits when the time comes.”

The IRA believed the “agreement will become a ghost” and this would result in “a massive electoral shift to Sinn Féin and increased recruitment to the Provos.”

McGrory said that “the Provos would allow the agreement disintegrate by itself but not try to hasten its demise to any significant extent.”

A Bizarre Donald Trump ‘Press Conference’….

This character will soon be leader of the most powerful nation on earth. Happy New Year!

The British Soldier Who Killed Jim Bryson Interviewed…..

By Ed Moloney and James Kinchin-White

Amongst the litany of heavy blows inflicted by the British Army on the Provisional IRA during the early 1970’s – when the war really was IRA vs British military – one of the most severe was the shooting dead of Ballymurphy IRA leader Jim Bryson and Patrick Mulvenna in August 1973.

Jim Bryson, pictured just before his death

Jim Bryson, pictured just before his death

Their loss to the IRA came at a critical time for the Provos. The IRA had just seen Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes arrested and interned in a swoop made possible, it is believed, by an informer, and Adams’ successor as Brigade commander, Ivor Bell, was attempting to install a number of cells to frustrate British penetration of the IRA in the city. Bryson and Mulvenna were key members of the new Ballymurphy cell when they were killed.

The full story of their death was told on this site by myself and James Kinchin-White, then labouring under the nom de plume ‘Bob Mitchell’, after James had acquired a copy of an internal Royal Green Jackets publication, ‘Chronicle of 1973′, which included a detailed account of the incident.

For some time the belief persisted that Bryson and Mulvenna, who was Gerry Adams’ brother-in-law, were either killed by members of the Official IRA or set up by them.

While there was indeed a plan by the Official IRA to ambush Bryson that day it seemed that the unfortunate gunman who had volunteered for the task developed cold feet at the last minute and the ambush was abandoned. The Officials played no other part in the day’s events and the death of the two Provisional IRA leaders was entirely the work of British forces.

Bryson and Mulvenna were shot dead, and a colleague, Jim ‘Bimbo’ O’Rawe seriously wounded, by a British Army sniper hidden in the roof space of a building in Ballymurphy’s Bullring. This account, followed by a correction, was published on in July 2015, nearly eighteen months after it had first appeared on the ‘Politico’ website in Dublin. You can read the article here, and the correction here.

What we did not know was that the sniper had been interviewed, with his face pixelated, by Peter Taylor on one of a series of TV programmes about the Troubles called ‘Families at War’. Someone, it seems, extracted the pieces dealing with the British military and put them together in a series entitled ‘The Royal Green Jackets in Northern Ireland’ and posted them on YouTube under the moniker redMARS1.

The interview with the Bryson sniper starts at 09:17 and ends at 12:17:



Donald Trump And Ayn Rand, A Marriage Made In Hell….

More and more commentators are concluding that Donald Trump’s real goal, now that he has ‘won’ the US presidency, is to create a society, and a capitalist economy, based on the extreme libertarian views of the Russian novelist Ayn Rand – an economy that will be red in tooth and claw that doubtless will be eagerly imitated in Europe.

The fact that he has filled his cabinet with multi-billionaires who could have stepped out of the pages of Rand’s homage to capitalist leader-heroes, ‘Atlas Shrugged’, is just one pointer in that direction. Others are the plans for corporate tax cuts, the scrapping or privatising of government health schemes like Medicare and Medicaid, and a shredding of government regulations that he promises.

In that context, it is worth revisiting a celebrated interview Rand gave to Mike Wallace of CBS back in 1959. Note how Wallace regards Rand’s views as so far out of kilter with American society even back then, that they would be rejected by most.

How far things have changed, and how much worse they are likely to get, a path blazed by Reagan, Thatcher, Clinton and Blair leading to, of all people, Donald Trump.

All down to this evil woman who personifies the selfish worst in humanity (in her old age however, her libertarianism didn’t stop her from seeking treatment under Medicare, a government run programme!)

The Selling Of The President: Donald Trumps Rents Himself Out To Millionaires

Breathtaking stuff here from the Center for Public Integrity:

Donald Trump’s sons behind nonprofit selling access to president-elect

New Texas-based group not legally required to disclose its donors

A new Texas nonprofit led by Donald Trump’s grown sons is offering access to the freshly-minted president during inauguration weekend — all in exchange for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation” charities, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

And the donors’ identities may never be known.

Prospective million-dollar donors to the “Opening Day 2017” event — slated for Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, at Washington, D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center — receive a “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,” a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team,” as well as tickets to other events and “autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer.”

Website first published a brochure hyping the happening. The brochure says that “all net proceeds from the Opening Day event will be donated to conservation charities,” but it does not name the charities or detail how net proceeds will be calculated.

Who’s behind the get-together?

Walter Kinzie, chief executive officer of Texas event management company Encore Live, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that a nonprofit group called the Opening Day Foundation hired his firm to manage Opening Day 2017.

A Center for Public Integrity review of Texas incorporation records found the Opening Day Foundation was created less than a week ago, on Dec. 14. Unlike political committees, such nonprofits aren’t required by law to reveal their donors, allowing sponsors to write seven-figure checks for access to the president while staying anonymous, if they choose.

The paperwork for the Opening Day Foundation listed four directors: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Dallas investor Gentry Beach and Tom Hicks Jr., the son of a Dallas billionaire.

Beach and Hicks are reportedly close friends with Donald Trump Jr., and both men helped raise millions of dollars for Trump’s campaign.

“The event is being put on by the Opening Day Foundation,” Kinzie confirmed, adding: “There are a number of different individuals who are part of the foundation.”

Kinzie also said the information in the brochure posted by was not entirely accurate — he did not specify what was incorrect — and he added that the participation of Trump family members is not confirmed.

The Trump Organization, a spokeswoman for President-elect Trump and the presidential transition team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hicks and Beach also did not immediately respond to phone messages requesting comment.

(Update, 4:18 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20:Trump’s transition team emailed a statement from spokeswoman Hope Hicks. It reads: “The Opening Day event and details that have been reported are merely initial concepts that have not been approved or pursued by the Trump family. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are avid outdoorsmen and supporters of conservation efforts, which align with the goals of this event, however they are not involved in any capacity.”

A Trump transition official told the Center for Public Integrity that the registration document for the Opening Day Foundation, the nonprofit behind the Opening Day 2017 event, “will be amended” and that the names of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump will be removed.

The statement and transition official did not address Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump serving as directors of the Opening Day Foundation. Nor did it explain how the Trump brothers came to be listed on the event’s brochure, which organizers circulated among conservative political donors in recent days.)

The brochure for “Opening Day 2017,” an event described as “honoring President Donald J. Trump,” offers sponsor packages ranging from $25,000 to $1 million. The event will “celebrate the great American tradition of outdoor sporting, shooting, fishing and conservation,” the brochure states.

Mike Ingram, an Arizona developer who is listed as one of the co-chairmen, said Beach approached him to help.

“I’m honored to do it,” he said. “It’s not going to be a black tie event. It’s going to be boots and jeans and camouflage and it’s going to raise a lot of money to go to sportsman’s charities” and conservation charities, he said.

Ingram said he could not confirm the Trump family’s participation.

Noble cautioned that the details of the event and its association with the new nonprofit listing the Trump brothers as directors are still unclear.

“It’s really hard to identify all the problems when they’re so vague,” he said.

The Trump family has recently endured criticism for appearing to sell access to Trump’s adult children, who serve on the executive committee of Trump’s presidential transition team and have functioned as key advisers since he began his campaign.

The family canceled an auction for coffee with Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump last week after ethics experts said it was ethically questionable, according to the New York Times. The proceeds of the auction would have gone to the Eric Trump Foundation, an existing nonprofit whose mission is to support a children’s hospital.

This article was co-published by TIMEthe Texas Tribune and the Huffington Post.

The CIA And Donald Trump: ‘A Haven For Yes Men’ Meets ‘Narcissus’

‘De-briefing The President – The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein’, by John Nixon (former senior CIA analyst)

If only a fraction of what former CIA officer John Nixon writes about his former employers in this extraordinary study of America’s premier spy agency is correct, then Donald Trump cannot be pilloried for refusing to take daily presidential briefings from the CIA. You or I, armed with that morning’s Irish Times, could do as well.

Nixon’s musings on the CIA should also give pause to those rushing to judgement about Russia’s alleged involvement in a plot to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign. Read the paragraph below and ask yourself this question: if the prime intel agency in America didn’t know who was really running Iraq in 2001 when the dogs of war were unleashed by Bush and Cheney, what the hell does it know about Vladimir Putin?

Nixon was given the task of interrogating Saddam Hussein after the Iraqi dictator was captured by US troops in a spider hole near his home town of Tikrit and discovered that the man depicted by the Bush White House as a monster bent on the destruction of America had all but retired from government and spent most of his time writing a novel.

Nixon reported this – and much more – back to Langley but no-one was interested. The CIA was too busy brown-nosing the White House resident neocons, providing them with the ammunition for their eternal war against a bunch of jihadists who in no small measure they had helped create (perhaps the real reason for/consequence of torture?).

A review of John Nixon’s disturbing and devastating account of his life in the CIA, which appeared in today’s New York Times, can read in full below. It  was written by James Risen, the paper’s respected correspondent on all things dark and clandestine.

It is a must read, if only because of the realisation that the same agency will be at the beck and call of Donald Trump. God help us all.

Credit Patricia Wall/The New York Times

Most C.I.A. memoirs are terrible — defensive, jingoistic and worst of all, tedious. Others are doomed by the C.I.A.’s heavy-handed and mandatory censorship.

There are exceptions, and that list includes the refreshingly candid “Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein” by John Nixon.

Mr. Nixon, the first C.I.A. officer to interrogate Hussein after his capture in December 2003, reveals gobsmacking facts about that deposed Iraqi leader that raise new questions about why the United States bothered to invade Iraq to oust him from power. These details will likely appall Americans who have watched their nation’s blood and treasure wasted in Iraq ever since.

More broadly, Mr. Nixon offers a stinging indictment of the C.I.A. and what he sees as the agency’s dysfunctional process for providing intelligence to the president and other policy makers. The agency, he writes, is so eager to please the president — any president — that it will almost always give him the answers he wants to hear.

Mr. Nixon’s book comes at an extraordinary moment, when President-elect Donald J. Trump is already at war with the C.I.A. He has attacked the C.I.A.’s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help his candidacy, and he has cited the agency’s failures on prewar intelligence on Iraq as an example of how the C.I.A. is often wrong.

“Debriefing the President” will add fuel to the fire of the Trump-led criticism. It will also send a chilling warning to anyone counting on the C.I.A. to stand up to Mr. Trump once he is in office.

Mr. Nixon had been preparing for his interrogation of Hussein for years before he ever met him. Mr. Nixon, 55, did graduate work at New York University and Georgetown University, where he wrote about Hussein in his master’s thesis. He joined the C.I.A. in 1998, and was immediately assigned to be a “leadership analyst” on Iraq, which meant that his job was the full-time study of Hussein.

John Nixon (the CIA officer who interrogated Saddam Hussein)

Mr. Nixon was an analyst in Iraq when the United States military captured Hussein, and he was asked to identify him so the Americans could be certain they had the right man. Mr. Nixon confirmed Hussein’s identity by checking for a tribal tattoo on the back of his right hand and a scar from a 1959 bullet wound.

Once he began debriefing Hussein, though, Mr. Nixon realized that much of what he thought he knew about him was wrong.

His most astonishing discovery was that by the time of the United States-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hussein had turned over the day-to-day running of the Iraqi government to his aides and was spending most of his time writing a novel. Hussein described himself to Mr. Nixon as both president of Iraq and a writer, and complained to Mr. Nixon that the United States military had taken away his writing materials, preventing him from finishing his book. Hussein was certainly a brutal dictator, but the man described by Mr. Nixon was not on a mission to blow up the world, as George W. Bush’s administration had claimed to justify the invasion.

“Was Saddam worth removing from power?” Mr. Nixon asks. “I can speak only for myself when I say that the answer must be no. Saddam was busy writing novels in 2003. He was no longer running the government.” Strikingly, Mr. Nixon says that the C.I.A. had some evidence that this was the case before the invasion, but that “it was never relayed to policy makers and emerged only after the war.” By 2003, Mr. Nixon writes, Hussein’s disengagement meant that he “appeared to be as clueless about what was happening inside Iraq as his British and American enemies were.”

With Hussein increasingly detached, Mr. Nixon says that by 2003 Iraqi foreign policy decision-making had fallen to his lieutenants, led by the “unimaginative and combative” Iraqi vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, who “repeatedly missed opportunities to break Iraq’s international isolation.”

Regarding Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, the justification for the 2003 invasion, Hussein admits to Mr. Nixon that it was a mistake for him not to make clear before the war that he had long since gotten rid of them. “Saddam turned philosophical when asked how America got it so wrong about weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Nixon writes. He quotes him as saying that “the spirit of listening and understanding was not there … I don’t exclude myself from this blame.”

Hussein never understood the United States, and Mr. Nixon describes him as repeatedly mystified by American intentions in the Middle East. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Hussein fatally misread how America would react. He thought the attacks would bring the United States and Iraq closer together to jointly combat Islamic extremists.

“In Saddam’s mind, the two countries were natural allies in the fight against extremism,” Mr. Nixon writes, “and, as he said many times during his interrogation, he couldn’t understand why the United States did not see eye to eye with him.”


Saddam Hussein in 1980. Credit Associated Press

The findings from Mr. Nixon’s interrogations of Hussein that cast doubt on the Bush administration’s original justifications for the war, Mr. Nixon says, were ignored by senior officials at the C.I.A. and the White House. “The policy makers at the White House and the leadership on the seventh floor at the C.I.A. didn’t want to hear that many of the reasons for going after Saddam were based on false premises,” he writes.

Mr. Nixon’s most scathing criticism is reserved for the C.I.A, which he describes as a haven for yes-men excessively eager to please the White House. When he joined the C.I.A., Mr. Nixon says, he was told that analysts should “dare to be wrong” — in other words, be willing to take chances when the evidence called for counterintuitive reasoning. But he says experience taught him that the C.I.A. didn’t really reward out-of-the-box thinking. “As I found out in the Clinton, Bush and Obama years, the agency’s real operating principle was ‘dare to be right.’”

Mr. Nixon, who left the C.I.A. in 2011 when, he says, the work no longer excited him, depicts a sclerotic agency not much different from the Agriculture Department or any other large bureaucracy, complaining that the agency “was governed by lines of authority that were often clogged by people who got ahead by playing it safe and who regarded fresh thinking as a danger to their careers.” Since he had to submit the book to the C.I.A.’s censors, he doesn’t identify the stultifying bureaucrats and timeservers, although he does reserve special wrath for one boss he names only as “Phil,” who, he says, “as a schmoozer, had few equals.”

Mr. Nixon thoughtfully argues that the C.I.A.’s overeagerness to please the White House has led to a serious degradation in the quality of its intelligence. Virtually the entire analytical arm of the C.I.A. is focused on quickly pumping out short memos on the issues of the day that are immediately read at the White House. But the agency has largely abandoned its tradition of freeing up analysts to engage in deeper, long-term research. As a result, Mr. Nixon writes, few analysts at the agency now know very much about anything. “Expertise is not valued, indeed not trusted.”

The C.I.A.’s brief memos have become like “crack cocaine for consumers of classified information,” Mr. Nixon says. It’s as if the C.I.A.’s analytical branch has been transformed from a college faculty into a cable news network.

The trend toward quick-hitting but shallow intelligence reports — which other former C.I.A. analysts have also criticized in recent years, particularly since 9/11 — makes the agency much more susceptible to manipulation and politicization, and to repeating the kinds of mistakes it made when it inaccurately concluded that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

When it came to Iraq, Mr. Nixon writes, the “agency slavishly sought to do the president’s bidding — as it usually does — in an effort to get a seat near the center of power and justify its budget. That was the institutional imperative.”

Mr. Trump may soon test whether the C.I.A. has learned any lessons.

British Knew Joe McCann Had Been Murdered At The Time….

In the light of the decision, announced today, by British prosecutors to charge two soldiers with the murder of Official IRA leader, Joe McCann, it is worth re-visiting a post myself and James Kinchin-White (then using the pseudonym ‘Bob Mitchell’) wrote for back in June 2014.

James had discovered in the Irish National archives a copy of a letter written by the then Irish ambassador to London, Donal O’Sullivan to the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Hugh McCann, describing a meeting he had a week or so after Joe McCann’s death with William Whitelaw, the new Northern Ireland Secretary.

In that letter O’Sullivan describes Whitelaw as expressing regret over the shooting of Joe McCann, saying he ‘should have been shot in the legs’, and that killing him had made him into a martyr.

The import of Whitelaw’s admission is that Joe McCann was unnecessarily killed, i.e. that he was murdered. Forty-four years later, someone has decided to do something about it.

You can read the full letter on this link: