The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
'Expose the Awful Truth'

 

 

Carrie Twomey • 18 March 2004

Currently, Cryptome is carrying a report made by "a technical surveillance countermeasure (TSCM) professional, who analyzed the alleged Freddie Scappaticci (Stakeknife) secret recording."

The Technical Analyst (T.A.) merely confirms what was already known about the tape; the speculation tagged onto the end of his analysis doesn't bear up with what is known or has been in the public domain.

For example, s/he notes the "hissing" noise added onto the tape afterwards, presumably to obscure details.

John Ware, writing in the Sunday Times on the eve of his Panorama special regarding the existence of the tapes, said:

"when the then RUC Special Branch discovered whom the researchers had met, officers asked them to remove any wording from the transcripts that might betray his identity as his position was sensitive."

Sylvia Jones, who was one of the Cook Report team at the time of interviews with Scappaticci, writes in the People:

"The officer asked for a further meeting after we had transcribed the tape and shorthand notes and urged us not to discuss this with anyone until we had talked again. By the next day, the officer had taken advice and told us that Scappaticci was a 'very, very important' informant and that it was vital for his safety and the continuation of his work as a top agent that we protect his identity at all costs. The security services knew they could not stop us using the material, so they took a calculated gamble to trust us. But they warned: "One slip could cost him his life." We were urged not only to use an actor to speak his words, but that it was even necessary to change Stakeknife's distinctive phraseology to prevent him being identified by the fellow IRA comrades he was betraying. We gave our word."

It is not an illogical leap to connect the "hissing" sounds with the need to obscure the interviewee as described by Jones and Ware.

The T.A. finds it hard to believe that the tape was made by the British Government or a "professional spy" and s/he is correct. It was not. The original listing on the Cryptome website wrongly identified the recording as one made by British Intelligence rather than what it is, the recording made by Clive Entwhistle and his team.

Further, when existence of the Cook Report recordings came to public light, it was suggested that Scappaticci approached the Cook Report after their special on Martin McGuinness at the behest of his handlers, who wanted to sink McGuinness further at the time. Scappaticci's own hostility towards Martin McGuinness, documented in the book Stakeknife, would have made him more than willing for the task; combined with his risk-taking nature it would have appealed to him and accounts for what the T.A. notes as Scappaticci's cadence of "recalling details told to him".

However, there is no doubt, as T.A.'s report suggests, about Scappaticci's role in the IRA. No doubt he was indeed recalling details told to him, those details his handlers wanted to be sure made it to the Cook Report. Making a few mistakes - such as his details of the A/C - would give him cover, and perhaps he did not want the Entwhistle team to know how high up in the IRA he actually was. It is a strong possibilty he did not think they would know who he really was, both as an IRA member and as an informer, and his performance during the interview was his veil of shadows.

This is more likely than T.A.'s speculation of "something fishy" i.e. Scappaticci not being Stake Knife or an informer, and/or not being at the level in the IRA that he was.

The value of T.A.'s report is that it confirms the tape to be what it is reported as being - a tape made by a reporter in a car parking lot without the knowledge of the interviewee.

For more detail on the tape see pages 67-82 (previously referenced on Cryptome) of Harkin and Ingram's book "StakeKnife".

Scappaticci claims to have left the IRA around 1990; Harkin and Ingram in their book have him being "stood down" in 1996 or thereabouts (Harkin and Ingram, pg. 249), however reports are surfacing that he had an active role in the IRA up to as recently as 2000. It is clear that, having not been openly discovered until last year, Scappaticci's ties to the Republican Movement remained active well after he claims they ceased. In addition, the Republican Movement's curious behaviour towards Scappaticci and the Stake Knife story indicate that their cover-up also has roots that go back further from when Scappaticci was publicly exposed.

As far back as 2001, the Andersonstown News had public ties to Martin Ingram, one of the authors of "StakeKnife" now often referred to by senior republicans in the Sinn Fein camp as a "nameless and faceless source" when they want to discredit him. The paper endorsed him - a "trump card" - by running not just an article he submitted to the paper but with a personal introduction by the editor, Mairtin O'Muilleoir:

"For the Finucane family and the other victims of FRU agent Brian Nelson, Ingram is their trump card: an insider who saw his Army colleagues use loyalist paramilitaries to murder those deemed enemies of the state. Ingram's detailed account of Army collusion with loyalist gun-gangs is truly shocking to anyone who believed the British were here to uphold the rule of law. [...] The determination of former FRU officer Martin Ingram to blow the whistle may yet expose the awful truth about Britain's dirty war."

When Scappaticci was exposed, according to StakeKnife, he went to Alex Maskey, former Mayor of Belfast and currently a City Councillor for Sinn Fein, who advised Scappaticci to get a solicitor. He is represented by Michael Flanigan, the legal counsel for the West Belfast based newspaper, the Andersonstown News, a paper that is heavily sympathetic to Sinn Fein and is commonly regarded as the party's mouthpiece.

At a time when Scappaticci's handlers wanted as much confusion as possible - "the FRU strategy - to create tension and confusion amongst republicans, and to keep Scappaticci alive in the process" (Harkin and Ingram, pg. 247) - the Andersonstown News was all too willing to help, coincidently enough given the shared solicitor.

The Andersonstown News ran an exclusive interview with Scappaticci conducted by Robin Livingstone. It was a whitewash.

Later, when John Ware's Panorama special was broadcast, the paper was forced to admit its readers would "come to their own sad conclusion" about Scappaticci and the Stake Knife affair.

Mairitin O'Muilleoir - Managing Editor of the Andersonstown News - wrote at the time:

"Time will tell (and perhaps a very short time at that) whether Freddie Scap was or wasn't a Branch agent, though there's no getting away from the fact that the majority of our readers, who have been given the full story, are starting to reach their own sad conclusion."

With the availability of the tape made possible by Cryptome and UTV's Insight public broadcast of them, the Andersonstown News itself came to its own sad conclusion:

"Former republican Freddie Scappaticci's statement to Insight this week on his role in `briefing' journalists about the IRA exposed him as a pathetic individual."

Finally, recall this excerpt from an article written by Robin Livingstone of the Andersonstown News at the time of his exclusive interview with Scappaticci:

"The Andersonstown News scoop was the first authoritative piece of journalism to have appeared in print since the Stakeknife madness first erupted. And because of that simple, inescapable fact, even the most cynical journalist has been effectively barred from churning out baseless nonsense because now, finally, one of the protagonists has put his cards on the table.

The Freddie Scappaticci interview ran for 2,500 words and the hard questions were put. He said:

  • He never worked for British intelligence
  • He never got a penny from British intelligence
  • He never left the country with British intelligence
  • He’ll meet the families of the people the media said he killed and tell them he didn’t do it
  • He left the republican movement in 1990

You don’t have to accept or reject the veracity of any of the above, all you have to do is to acknowledge that the man came out and said them. Freddie Scappaticci’s source is Freddie Scappaticci – that is the only source in all of this that we have seen or heard.

It is to be hoped that when this affair is over that a reckoning of sorts will take place among newspaper readers, because there will be none among newspaper writers. Wouldn’t it be nice if readers, when they came to the dread words ‘security sources’ or ‘republican sources’, instead of blithely reading on, stopped for a moment and thought a bit. Thought about how certain journalists and their ‘sources’ have performed in this particular matter and whether anything we hear from them from here on in is worthy of any other than the deepest scepticism."

Indeed, some newspaper readers are stopping and thinking about certain journalists and their 'sources', specifically their performance in this particular matter; yes, some readers are most certainly questioning whether anything they read or hear from them is worthy of anything other than the deepest scepticism.


 

 

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Index: Current Articles



19 March 2004

 

Other Articles From This Issue:

 

Terrorism Defined and Exemplified
Don Mullan and James Mullin

 

Can Catholics Now Trust the Police?
Sean Mc Manus

 

Sinn Fein & The Hate: Interview with Martin Cunningham

Anthony McIntyre

 

Splits and Distortions?
George Young

 

Cellar Dwellers
Brian Mór

 

The Blanket, Eamonn McCann and the use of language
Gerry Ruddy

 

From Paras to the FRU
Kathleen O Halloran

 

"Expose the Awful Truth"
Carrie Twomey

 

The Maze
Belfast Exposed

 

Dublin Public Meeting on Referendum
Residents Against Racism

 

12 March 2004

 

Try Not to Forget It
Brian Mór

 

Time to End the Silence on Stakeknife
Martin Ingram

 

Confident No More
Mick Hall

 

Sinn Fein & Democracy Be Damned: Interview with Martin Cunningham

Anthony McIntyre

 

Bobby Tohill: Pub Brawls and Death Threats
Liam O Ruairc

 

Ardoyne Suicides
Eamonn McCann


Independence Day
David Vance

 

The Half Loaf of Good Friday Will Never Satisfy
Liam O Comain

 

Special Exclusive on Special Relationship
Matthew Kavanah

 

The Proposed UK-US Extradition Treaty: Concerns
Francis Boyle

 

The Decolonization of Northern Ireland
Francis Boyle

 

 

 

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