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Our Crack Snapper
Whenever I feel the need to write about this country's security service I immediately become paranoid. Quite rightly too. Partly because I’ve watched Edge of Darkness (BBC version) too many times. Partly because I wonder just how much they’re paying attention to anything I do (like writing this column). They're also a bunch unaccustomed to revealing the unvarnished truth about any of their investigations/ventures due to their innate aversion to the truth. Because the truth often reveals how badly and undemocratically we are governed and occasionally, shock horror, leads the ordinary citizen to ask the kind of questions that would be better off not asked never mind answered. Of course, when the ordinary citizen is employed by the media, for instance, and continues to demand answers to awkward questions the government and MI5 can always fall back on the Official Secrets Act which allows them to keep silent on the grounds of 'national security'. I'm sure in many cases we are better off not knowing as their job is to protect us from acts of domestic terrorism and keep the country safe. Where things end up becoming murky is during domestic troubles with a broader reach than religious or political bomb throwers. What was their agenda (as assigned to them by various governments of the day) during The Troubles or the Miners’ Strike, or Grunwick or the 2010 Student Protests? Why were ordinary citizens castigated and criminalised as The Enemy Within when they were only asking for a greater stake in how things were managed which inconveniently ran counter to what the political establishment felt were its best interests? The answer to questions like this are best not asked because the answers quite often lay bare what the limits of parliamentary democracy are. Then there is the Salisbury poisoning Part 1, which seems to have caught everyone by surprise. And so far, the explanation (it was Russia) lacks credibility. We have no proper time lines. We have no motive other than one of the Skripals is in exile. We have no information about how the nerve agents were made, transported into the country or who delivered them to the intended targets. Close by we have Porton Down where nerve agents are made and monitored. There is no suggestion that any of these domestically made nerve agents have been stolen or are missing and yet Porton Down’s presence and what scientists do there adds to the sense that nothing is quite as it seems. Then there is the Salisbury poisoning Part 2, which, based on what the media have told us, or been allowed to tell us, is even more incredible than the first. And when the government finally lets us know the version of the truth they are happy with we will quite rightly wonder whose truth we are being told. The government’s truth? MI5’s truth? Or the ‘real’ truth? It’s enough to make anyone feel paranoid.