Investigating the Terror - Document Archive
The Document Archive is where individual or small
collections of documents are regularly posted. News stories about newly released
or obtained documents are also posted here, alongside articles explaining their
significance or interest.
The main archive is contained under these three headings. Updates to the archive sections and other documents not falling into these categories will be posted below in diary format.
16th September 2012
Anti-Mohammed filmmaker was government informant. Court documents obtained by The Smoking Gun show that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the 'anti Islamic' film Innocence of Muslims turned snitch in a 2009 bank fraud case. The controversy is in many respects a repeat of the 2005-6 Mohammed cartoons provocation dreamt up by Daniel Pipes and Flemming Rose. You can download the cuort documents regarding Nakoula Basseley Nakoula here.
10th September 2012
DSB calls for greater autonomy in DoD systems. Via the Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog, a recent report from the Defense Science Board says that the Dept of Defense needs greater 'autonomy' built into its systems. While stressing that 'autonomy' does not mean letting computers make decisions per se, it's another step towards a military/intelligence system where human judgment is sidelined in favour of the fascistic authority of das computer. After all, computers do not hesitate due to moral compunction or conscience. You can download the DSB report here.
14th August 2012
July 22 Commission Report. The July 22nd Commission examining the attacks by Anders Breivik last year have published their report. The full report is only available in Norwegian but an English abbreviation is available via the website of the Commission. The summary, an English translation of the full report's introduction and conclusions, take an extremely unusual approach. It actually accepts that the security services, particularly the police Delta force who were slow to get to Utoya island, were at fault. It makes a number of recommendations, most of which are perfectly sensible improvements to the way the Norwegian government agencies prepare for and respond to such emergencies. There is no sign of the draconian ramping up of the security state seen after 9/11 and 7/7, but instead a quite reasonable (if intellectually limited) examination of what happened, why, and what can be done about it. Within the confines of assuming Breivik's responsibility for the attacks, and assuming the existence of police and intelligence services, the Commission has actually done a very good job of finding faults and suggesting measures to fix them. You can download the English summary of the Commission's report here.
25th July 2012
George Orwell's Special Branch file. The Metropolitan Police Special Branch file on radical author and journalist George Orwell shows that he was the subject of repeated inquiries, but not of any punitive action. He is referred to variously as a 'Communist', an 'advanced Communist', a 'Socialist' and 'a bit of an anarchist', which I find highly amusing. Orwell described himself as a 'libertarian socialist', i.e. an anarchist in the Bakunin mould. The file also shows that all these movements both within the UK and beyond it were closely monitored, including when they got involved in the Spanish Civil War, and with opposition to the Second World War. The file also includes a newspaper review of Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier and reports on his activities, including his association with the Booklovers Corner bookshop, which is now a pizza restaurant and take-away. You can download the full Special Branch file on George Orwell here (PDF, 3.3MB).
23rd July 2012
Nazis plotted to kill Churchill with chocolate bomb. Continuing the farcical nature of the intelligence struggle in the second World War, a story doing the rounds in the last couple of days is that the Nazis apparently planned to assassinate British PM Winston Churchill with explosives hidden inside bars of chocolate. A letter from Lord Victor Rothschild, then a senior officer in MI5, to an artist asked for a mock-up image of these chocolate bombs, so that posters could be made warning those in Whitehall of the threat. You can download a copy of the letter here.
20th July 2012
History in Britain gets a little bit quicker. It was recently announced in the House of Commons that the long standing 30 year rule applying to most government files will be shorted to a 20 year rule. The law, which goes back to the time of the founding of what was the Public Records Office and is now the National Archives, is a step-change rather than a sea-change, and does not apply to the Security Services except in special cases. Despite the many fascinating MI5 files you can obain via the National Archives, the sad thing is none of this stuff would be in the public domain unless someone very senior had OKed it.
17th July 2012
Court documents on Clayton Osbon (Flight 191). Having previously explored the strange case of Clayton Osbon I was interested to read that he had been found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Osbon was charged with attempting to interfere with the flight crew of Jet Blue Flight 191, shouting about bombs, Muslims, Al Qaeda, God and the like, and was restrained by the passengers. Osbon's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was accepted by the judge, and so he will avoid a lengthy jail sentence (potentially 20 years). I am still going through the court documents from the case but a short selection (download here) indicates that this judgment was the result of some kind of plea agreement. Suspicions have been rife that there is more to this case, and if indeed there was a plea agreement that would suggest the US authorities wanted to avoid a trial.
16th July 2012
FBI file on Graham Greene, former British spy and author. The full file is mostly concerned with Greene's trips to the US to meet his publisher, and whether he should be granted visas in light of his brief membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain while he was a student in 1923. Not mention at any point is his work for MI6, which does not appear to have been a consideration when deciding whether to let him into the US. Greene was recruited into MI6 by his sister, and spied for them for several years in the 1930s. His supervisor was notorious KGB-MI6 double agent Kim Philby, though there is no evidence that Greene was working for the Russians. There aren't many redactions in the released papers, though one report is entirely blanked out on the grounds of privacy. You can download that particular document here, but I have yet to find time to photograph the full file. If anyone is particularly interested in it and would like a copy of the full file then please get in touch.
6th July 2012
Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station Protest Inquiry. Sir Christopher Rose's inquiry into the use of undercover police officer Mark Kennedy (also known as Mark Stone) to infiltrate and possibly provocateur a group of anarchists into an attempted break-in at a power station in Ratcliffe-on-Soar. Rose's investigation met with the usual resistance, and ended up exonerating the poilce in the failure to disclose evidence to the defence when the anarchists were prosecuted. Instead, Rose blamed the CPS for not asking for all the relevant information when they realised there was a police spy involved in the case. The convictions will likely be appealed and overturned.
1st July 2012
After a lengthy break from the document diary due to working on the Breivik case and my new 7/7 videos I came across some documents released by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) under the Freedom of Information act. The files list the total expenditure of the MPS on 'obtaining information', i.e. running informants, in each year from 2001 to 2012. The summary up until 2011 is available here, and the summary up until 2012 is here.
There is something of a change in attitudes and precedents with regard to police records on informants. In 2005 the author Alex Butterworth requested the police informants ledgers from the period of the Victorian anarchists (who Butterworth was writing a book about). He faced all kinds of obstacles, including being told that the ledgers no longer existed, despite being referenced in the doctoral thesis of a retired Special Branch officer. Butterworth eventually obtained copies of the ledgers.
As this blog notes, two rulings from 2009 on the cost of informants to police services in Northumbria and Croydon led to successful FOIA requests. Though these only provide summaries from police accounts, and obviously not the names of living police informants, it is a chink in the armour. Or perhaps part of the slow security state striptease.
25th May 2012
CIA and DOD files on Bin Laden film. Filmmakers Katherine Bigelow and Mark Boal are making a film about the attempts to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, and Judicial Watch have recently obtained documents on their contact with the CIA and DOD. What is most obvious is the extent to which both the CIA and DOD were willing to accomodate the filmmakers. In the CIA documents this is best shown by the one email calling this project 'THE movie about UBL', others concerning access to the CIA's 'Vault', where the operation was supposedly planned, and one which explicitly refers to the degree of 'engagement' between the agency and the filmmakers.
In the DOD documents there is slightly more concern implied by emails warning against 'opening the floodgates' and complaining about recent leaks to the press. Most interesting is a transcript of a meeting between the filmmakers and DOD officials, who like the CIA were willing to give up virtually everything except the names of the officers involved in planning and carrying out the operation. They even suggested a specific Navy seal involved in the operation for the filmmakers to talk to, showing how keen they were to help with the production.
22nd May 2012
The Frank Corder dossier and the Operation Bojinka dossier have now been added to the e-book series. I am also reading FBI files on British spy and author Graham Greene, though they are in paper format and need to be photographed before I can upload them.
3rd May 2012
Letters from Bin Laden's 'compound' in Abbottabad. Documents released to the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point supposedly found during the Abbottabad raid this time last year. While many will dismiss these as forgeries, they do portray the scenario of an increasingly isolated and fragmented Al Qaeda organisation. The letters tell the story that Al Qaeda 'franchises' like AQAP and AQI were not part of a centralised command structure as the original official descriptions of the organisation would have it. Instead, they show a fractured amalgamation of different groups, much more in keeping with the descriptions offered by the likes of Adam Curtis and Jason Burke, and the predictions made by Rohan Gunaratna. Download the documents here.
2nd May 2012
Documents on the reform of the Official Secrets Act. Following World War 1 the British government decided there was a pressing need to reform the 1911 Official Secrets Act, which did not anticipate the problems that would be encountered in fighting the first global war. Over a period of two years they worked on a 'National Security Bill', which culminated in the 1920 Official Secrets Act, which you can download here.
Among the memos available on this period of reform is one by Lord Milner, the former Secretary of War and one of the principal authors of the Balfour declaration. Lord Milner's memo discusses the need for the new legislation to allow for the exclusion of the public from trials held under the Official Secrets Act, so as to keep secret evidence secret. He noted that 'The effect of the publication of the evidence might sometimes be more harmful than the failure to prosecute the offender.' You can download the Lord Milner memo here. Bear in mind this principal, of security institutions trumping justice institutions, when considering the case of 'spy in a bag' Gareth Williams.
27th April 2012
Documents on 'shoe bombers' Richard Reid and Saajid Badat. Reid pleaded guilty to several charges as a result of his actions in December 2001, when he apparently tried to down a transatlantic airliner using a crude bomb in his shoes. Badat was slated to be a second, near simultaneous 'shoe bomber' on a similar flight, but pulled out of the plot. He remained under the radar until 2003, when he was arrested. Badat is currently testifying in a terror trial in New York based around an alleged plot to carry out suicide bombings on the NY subway. It has recently emerged that having originally been sentenced to 13 years he actually only served around half that time due to an agreement struck under SOCPA (the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005).
Most amusing in the documents is the transcript of the opening speeches at Badat's hearing in April 2005, when one of the prosecutors referred to the attempts on planes as 'no doubt simulated attacks'. Also worth reading is the transcript of Badat SOCPA application for a reduced sentence, and the State Department designation of Badat as a foreign terrorist who threatens the US. That was in 2005, but now they are welcoming him as a star prosecution witness. Shades of Junaid Babar?
12th April 2012
Anders Breivik indictment. This is the fundamental case against Anders Breivik for his killing of 77 people in attacks in Oslo and on Utoya Island in Norway on 22/7/11. It lists his victims and the nature of their deaths in quite graphic and clinical detail. It doesn't clarify that much but it will be of use to those looking into the possibility of a wider consiracy in the 22/7 massacre. A lot of people have focused on the possibility of a second shooter on the island and have overlooked the bombing aspect of the attack. There are some questions about how a single bomb managed to cause such widespread damage and how it seriously injured people who were so widely dispersed, and the indictment provides a useful summary of this information.
8th April 2012
Home Office publication on 2005 Atlantic Blue exercise that predicted 7/7. In researching for my 7/7 book I came across the apocalyptically-titled CBRN News, which was published by the Home Office (it no longer appears to exist). Issue 3 of this newsletter, here, covers the April 2005 Atlantic Blue training exercise - a huge international exercise involving the UK, US and Canada. The scenario in the UK part of the exercise involved bombings on tube trains and buses, coinciding with a major international summit. The newsletter goes into some detail about the virtual news/fake news that was produced for the exercise and fed to participants, including an interview with a 'pseudo journalist'.
29th March 2012
Clayton Osbon (JetBlue pilot) affidavit. The pilot who 'flipped out' on a plane two days ago has been charged with attempting to interfere with the flight crew on JetBlue flight 191. An affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent John Whitworth based on interviews with people on the flight details bizarre comments made during Osbon's 'sermon'. After initially saying that he needed to focus because he was 'being evaluated', Osbon apparently said that 'things just don't matter' and 'we need to take a leap of faith'. He then left the cockpit and tried to use the forward lavatory on the plane, banging on the door and demanding a female passenger using it at the time let him in.
Osbon then tried to re-enter the cockpit and had to be restrained by passengers and flight attendants. Apparently he said during the struggle 'pray fucking now for Jesus Christ' and 'yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, September 11th, Iraq, Iran and terrorists'. He also yelled 'Guys, push it to full throttle'. Is this one man going crazy or something more sinister? Hopefully time will tell.
25th March 2012
The Scottish Sunday Herald have just published the full report of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission on the conviction of supposed Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi. The Herald's article is here, and the full report (10.5MB) can be downloaded here. A fuller analysis of this document, which researchers and campaigners have been waiting for for a long time, is in the works.
23rd March 2012
Files from the WW2-era Committee on Issue of Warnings against Discussion of Confidential Matters in Public Places. This was an early wartime Committee set up to find ways to encourage people not to talk about what they knew of military actions, plans, troops movements and so on. The Committee came up with a variety of propaganda campaigns including posters, 'rhyming admonitions' such as Loose Lips Sink Ships, and BBC broadcasts warning people not to talk. One detail that amuses me is that they even got well-known authors, including W Somerset Maugham, to write speeches and articles on the importance of secrecy. Somerset Maugham was, of course, an MI6 spy a couple of decades earlier and had fictionalised his experiences in the Ashenden series of stories. You can download the Committee's report here. Related to this, in a report from the War Cabinet on Propangada I found a list of propaganda broadcasts for March 1940 that includes an adaptation of Miss King, one of Maugham's Ashenden spy stories. That this was being used as pro-war propaganda as early as 1940 has some interesting implications for the likes of Spooks and the BBC's replacement spy drama called Nemesis.
20th March 2012
Two stories about fabled enemies caught my eye. The first is that documents supposedly found in Osama Bin Laden's compound lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan after his supposed assassination last year. The full range of files will apparently soon be made available in both Arabic and English and contains numerous references to ridiculous terrorist plots - like shooting down Air Force One and assassinating President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus. The documents themselves may be a load of hogwash, but the parallel story is that a FOIA request for files about the supposed assassination of Bin Laden are still being withheld. The Pentagon is claiming it has no relevant records. The FBI's most wanted page still lists Bin Laden as among the top ten, though it does acknowledge that he is deceased. Along similar lines, a new book by a former CIA man apparently proves that Fidel Castro had foreknowledge of the JFK assassination. Coming up to the 50 year anniversary of the assassination, this is a flagrant attempt to try to throw a Castro spanner in the conspiracy theory machine.
9th March 2012
UK National Security Strategy Review. Published yesterday by the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, this paper makes numerous criticisms of the process by which the original 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS) was developed. It points out that they were prevented by the government from viewing important files detailing how assessments were made. It shows that there is no consideration in the 2010 NSS of two important issues - the possible collapse of the Euro and the independence of Scotland. Fundamentally, it shows that the original NSS was half-baked, media-oriented and does not in any way make us more secure. The newly-published Review can be downloaded here. The evidence heard by the Committee can be downloaded here, and the original 2010 National Security Strategy that was being reviewed is here.
7th March 2012
Stratfor emails cast doubt on official Bin Laden death story. According to the Stratfor emails stolen by hacking collective Anonymous and published by Wikileaks, Stratfor's vice-president for intelligence had a very different version of what happened to the body of 'Bin Laden' after the raid in early May last year. Rather than being buried at sea, according to Burton the body was taken to the US.
Email 1, 5:12 a.m. Burton reported that Bin Laden had been killed by 'ground branch', i.e. the CIA. Email 2, 5:26 a.m. Burton said that 'Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.' Email 3 at 5:33, Burton wrote, 'We told the Pakis after we killed him. But, will praise GOP publicly. All spin and bullshit.' Email 4 at 5:41 says that the body is 'Airborne to CONUS' (the Continental US). Email 6 at 5:51 says 'Than onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.' He then wrote that, 'If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi's ashes. We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc. His body is a crime scene and I don't see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.' This was cited in a later email (7) at 1:36 p.m. saying that, 'Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.' Another email from a Chris Farnham comments that, 'Bogus pics and bogus news stories of burials at sea. Makes the US look dodgy and encourages distrust that the whole thing is real...., conspiracy, CIA, Illuminati, etc. Wonder if it's just a confluence of events or just a consequence of the internet and the loonies it brings out.'
5th March 2012
MI5 file on Charlie Chaplin. Recently released by the National Archives, the file shows how the suspicion and allegations that Chaplin was a Communist came from the US. The FBI effectively asked for MI5's help in digging up dirt against Chaplin. This cable from the US shows how they saw the issue. The security services investigated Chaplin, including the strange suggestion that his real name was Israel Thornstein. They found nothing that they considered a security risk, but they did devote considerable time to trying to find out exactly where and when Chaplin was born - to no avail. Ultimately, it was concluded that Chaplin was 'a progressive or radical', rather than a Communist. Also amusing is this excerpt from a cable from Italy about a visit Chaplin made there in 1953. The extract notes that, 'The "Director General of Entertainment", among whose achievements in bygone days was the banning of "The Great Dictator", never let Mr Chaplin out of his sight.'
3rd March 2012
Charities Commission Report on 7/7-linked Iqra Bookshop. This report was published a year ago but had disappeared from the Charities Commission website. I asked for a copy, which they treated as a Freedom of Information request for reasons I don't understand. Still, they have now provided me with a copy, available here. As shown by files made available by the July 7 inquests, both Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shezad Tanweer were trustees of the Iqra charity and bookshop at the time of inquiries by MI5 and West Yorkshire Police. You can download a declaration by trustees of Iqra here, and an MI5/WYP gist of the operations here.
2nd March 2012
Returning from a break in Scotland, some of the files I reviewed while doing research for my forthcoming 7/7 book is an exchange between MI5 and West Yorkshire Police (WYP) Special Branch. On 2nd February 2004, while the MI5 unit A4 were carrying out surveillance on Omar Khyam and other Operation Crevice suspects, they came across Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shezad Tanweer, two of the alleged 7/7 bombers. You can download and read an MI5 Operations Summary here.
They followed Khan over 200 miles all the way up the country to Leeds, saw him drop off two people (Tanweer and Shipon Ullah a.k.a. Waheed Ali) and then park up at a house in Thornhill Park Avenue, Dewsbury. Checks on both the car and the address led MI5 to Hasina Patel - Sidique Khan's wife. Two weeks later, MI5 made a request to West Yorkshire Police (wYP) for information on Hasina Patel and the address in Dewsbury. According to what MI5 told the Intelligence and Security Committee, 'There is no record of a written response to this request.' The ISC's timeline can be read here.
I beg to differ, as this document shows, WYP did respond the following day. Their email was clearly labelled 'Operation Crevice' so MI5 had no excuse for not being able to find it when the ISC came asking questions in 2007-8. You can read the exchange between them here. You can download these documents via the July 7 inquests website but I got them via the July 7th Truth Campaign's very helpful archive of the inquest transcripts and exhibits.
7th February 2012
MI5 and MI6 have been ordered to declassify documents relating to Alexander Litvinenko as part of the inquest into his assassination. In the meantime it is worth reading Litvenenko's book Blowing Up Russia, where he accuses Putin and the FSB of carrying out the 1999 apartment bombings. Perhaps the most important chapter, on the Ryazan incident where an attempted bombing was covered up as a training exercise, can be downloaded here.
26th January 2012
The Spy Pigeons dossier has been added to the e-book series. This dossier contains extracts from the Security Service (MI5) files on the use of pigeons in the World War Two period. Contains papers on MI5's suspicions about the Nazi use of pigeons to communicate with infiltrators and spies in Britain, and the falcon squadron set up to intercept incoming Nazi pigeons.
Also contains papers from the ad hoc committee on postwar pigeon policy, set up to examine future possible uses of pigeons for covert warfare. Among the policies considered were the use of pigeons as suicide bombers, and as a means of delivering biological weapons.
21st January 2012
The Samuel Byck dossier has been added to the e-book series. The dossier includes an FBI summary of the event, a laboratory report on the dummy bomb he carried with him, letters that Byck sent to various celebrities and media outlets just before his hijacking attempt, a letter he sent to the Small Business Administration after they turned him down for a loan, and 302s detailing interviews with Byck's mother, a friend, patrolman Troyer and pilot Doug Loftin, who was seriously wounded during the attack. Also contains a list of what was found in Byck's house during a search. Read article on Byck here.
20th January 2012
The application by Pat Finucane's family for a Judicial Review of the decision not to hold a public inquiry into his (state-sponsored) assassination is now available online, courtesy of the Pat Finucane Centre, here. The document reveals that, 'The stated reasons for refusing to establish a public inquiry are not the true reasons. In the course of the meeting at 10 Downing Street on 11 October 2011 the Prime Minister stated "It is true that the previous administration could not deliver a public inquiry and neither can we. There are people in buildings all around here who won't let it happen."' (my emphasis)
19th January 2012
FBI documents on Charles J Bishop, obtained via a Freedom of Information request. Bishop was a troubled 15 year old boy who stole a Cessna and flew it into the Bank of America building in Tampa, Florida. This was in January 2002, only a few months after 9/11.
Further analysis is coming but for now you can read Bishop's suicide letter, in which he claims to have met with Al Qaeda, an FBI summary of the incident, which includes a typed-text version of the suicide note, and a 302 detailing an interview with officials at his school. The running theme throughout the full version of the documents released so far, which run to hundreds of pages, is that no one saw it coming and no one had any idea why Bishop killed himself.
15th January 2012
The Mutt and Jeff and the Johnny Roselli dossiers have been added to the e-book series. The dossiers are shorter than the e-books but still contain a fascinating selection of intelligence agency documents on these highly interesting and historically important cases.
14th January 2012
The FBI responded to a FOIA request I filed concerning Samuel Byck. He was an unemployed possible manic depressive who in 1974 attempted to hijack a plane with the intention of crashing it into the White House and killing Richard Nixon.
A longer piece and a dossier on Byck is in the works but for now you can look at this FBI report summarising his hijacking attempt, which was a bloody and horrible failure. Confirming his intention to carry out a suicide hijacking directed at the White House is a tape recording he sent to composer Leonard Bernstein, detailed in this memo. For those interested in his motives, here is a letter that Byck sent to various media outlets including the Atlanta Journal.
13th January 2012
The family of murdered lawyer Pat Finucane have been granted a judicial review of the decision not to hold a public inquiry into his death. Finucane was assassinated by Irish loyalists in 1989 and several inquiries have concluded that there was British state collusion in his murder.
According to papers filed at the High Court in Belfast, PM David Cameron told Finucane's wife Geraldine that 'a mystery intervention led to an apparent change of mind by Mr Cameron over the holding of a full independent inquiry'. Story here. Perhaps of significance is a 2005 embassy cable showing that MI5 were happy to turn over their evidence to an inquiry, as long as the inquiry was held under the 2005 Inquiries Act.
6th January 2012
Files from the office of the Prime Minister (then Margaret Thatcher) from 1981, on a variety of topics, just released by the National Archives. Highlights include the much-publicised advice to Thatcher in the wake of the Toxteth riots that renewal projects were wasted money and that 'managed decline' might be a better option.
You can read this advice, in a letter from chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe, here. Also worthy of consideration is a secret report from April 1981 that predicted that summer's rioting in some detail, available here. Policies implemented in the wake of the riots included arming police with baton rounds and the use of military camps as overflows for the prison system.
2nd January 2012
FBI records on actor, director and producer Orson Welles. Recently released files on Welles show how he was investigated for a long time by the FBI as a suspected Communist. The information in the reports and memos largely comes from informants, suggesting that the Bureau had a lot of people within Hollywood and the social scene around film and theatre throughout the early Cold War period.
The informant evidence against Welles was that he was involved in various anti-Fascist, pro-peace and black civil rights causes and groups. In particular, his support for 'the negro' caused the FBI great concern. This report is an effective summary of the full 200 page version, and though it admits that there's no real evidence of Welles being a Communist, this memo recommended that a Security Index Card be prepared that listed him as a Communist. Paranoia of the Present Danger?