An incident in the sea off the northwest coast of the land bordering the western side of the Irish sea brought about a sea change in the manner in which the British operated in Northern Ireland. That was the assassination of one of the great grandson’s of Queen Victoria and second cousin of Queen Elizabeth. He was a man whose name was followed by the letters: KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS. He was known to the world as Lord Mountbatten and in the United Kingdom as a hero of World War II, the last British Viceroy of India, and Admiral of the Fleet.
His murder On August 27, 1979, at age 79 was done by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). One of its members planted a bomb aboard his unguarded yacht which was moored in the harbor at Mullaghmore, County Sligo. Killed alongside him were two of his grandsons, 14-year-old Nicholas and 15-year-old Paul. Another passenger on the boat died the next day. Also killed on the 27th were “eighteen British Army soldiers, sixteen of them from the Parachute Regiment at Warrenpoint, County Down, in what became known as the Warrenpoint ambush.”
These incidents, especially that of Lord Mountbatten, sent shock waves throughout the British Empire. Attacks on the royalty were a 19th century and early 20th century tactic of the anarchists, one of the last one having led to World War I. The British decided it was time to up its war against the IRA. in January 1980 prime minister Margaret Thatcher had persuaded the former head of MI6 (similar to the CIA), Maurice Oldfield, one of Britain’s top Cold War spies, to come out of retirement and coordinate security measures in the province.
According to Wikipedia, “From 1959, he spent four years as the SIS representative in Washington DC. This was a key post, important for the maintenance of good relations between the SIS and the Central Intelligence Agency.” He would have been in DC in 1961 when J. Edgar Hoover developed the Top Echelon Criminal Intelligence Program (TEI) which recruited top-level gangsters to provide it with information.
Among those enrolled in that program was Steve Flemmi’s brother, Jimmy Flemmi, known to have been involved in the Teddy Deegan murder. As the aforecited report noted: “Hoover himself was informed of Jimmy Flemmi’s status as an informant and the fact that he had likely committed seven murders .. . . [and] that he is going to continue to commit murder. . . .” It did not bother the FBI to use this type of person and to protect him in exchange for getting information.
Oldfield is believed to have interacted with the second in command of M15 (similar to the FBI) in Northern Ireland Patrick Walker. It is likely he suggested that a similar type program be established to fight the IRA. Within a month before Oldfield’s death, Walker issued a report setting up in Northern Ireland the equivalent of the FBI’s TEI program.
It would pretty much have the same result as the FBI’s program. The Guardian article noted: “After the implementation of the Walker report, a number of terrorists became known to CID officers as “protected species”. One such man was Gary Haggarty, who was jailed for six-and-a-half years last January after admitting to 505 crimes including five murders, five conspiracies to murder, arson, kidnap and dozens of assaults over a 16-year period. Haggarty had been a special branch informer inside the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force.” That pales in comparison to the FBI’s TEI Stephen Flemmi who admits to have murdered up to fifty people and was in its program for about twenty-five years.
Then there was the murder of Pat Finucane an Irish Civil Rights lawyer. The man who killed him was an agent in the pay of the British army. The detective in charge of the investigation Alan Simpson was told by one of his bosses, “Alan, if I were you I would not get too deeply involved in this one.” Another investigator being chased off a terrorist shooting investigation concluded: “If this were an isolated instance I might accept it as partly understandable but the same thread of special branch paramountcy runs through all the incidents.”
Like in Britain where the M15 was “prioritising intelligence-gathering over fighting crime” so did that happen in the United States. In Britain the results of it protecting of people committing terrorism against Catholics by the special forces are slowly becoming known because of subsequent inquiries into the activities of the M15, some of which have only been partially disclosed today.
In America there has been no investigation into the FBI’s TEI program. The little that has come to light shows it recruited murderers with the knowledge they would continue to murder people. i suggest the time if right for Congress to do a great service to America by conducting a discrete investigation into this program in a bipartisan manner. It has been stopped in Britain; it is about time it stops in America.