THE CUCKOOS CHANGE NESTS--MACHON & SHAYLER TARGET BRITISH AND IRISH 9/11 CAMPAIGNERS
by Paul Stott and Heidi Svenson (copyright NFB 2006)
"Unlike some other former intelligence officers, he is not prone to confirming or encouraging wild conspiracy theories. And he understands the importance of not releasing genuine security and state secrets. He never disclosed, not even privately, names of MI5 agents or ongoing sensitive operations". Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding praise David Shayler in the preface to their 1999 book 'Defending the Realm-MI5 and the Shayler Affair" .
Previous issues of NFB have analysed the on-going trajectory of former MI5 officers David Shayler and Annie Machon. In particular, we raised concerns at the unquestioning welcome given to them by many on the fast dwindling British Left, and queried the repeated ducking and diving by both Shayler and Machon when anyone questions either their credentials or conduct .
Three significant events have occurred since NFB 6:
First--May 2005 saw the publication of 'Spies, Lies & Whistleblowers--MI5, MI6 and the Shayler Affair' by Annie Machon . This book is the most detailed statement to date by either Shayler or Machon.
Second--June 21st 2005 saw David Shayler belatedly accept the gauntlet thrown down by NFB editor Dr Larry O'Hara, and debate with him at London's Conway Hall .
Third--and our main focus in this article--Shayler and Machon have shifted away from the British left and anti-war movements, to instead become leading figures among the writers and activists who reject the American and British government view of exactly what happened in New York on September 11 2001.
Robin Ramsay outlined in Lobster magazine how a whole industry has rapidly developed out of the 9/11 ashes. Putting "9/11" and "conspiracy" into Google gets 6 million hits . Amongst the myriad books, DVDs, web-sites and conferences are a range of opinions too numerous to list here. As the American government continues to use what happened on 9/11 to justify an expansionist foreign policy, interest in 9/11 is unlikely to fade in the near future.
THE ORIGINAL SHAYLER/MACHON 9/11 LINE
At the time of the attack on the Twin Towers, David Shayler had been out of MI5 for five years, and was attempting to make a living as writer and communicator, usually on matters pertaining to the security services. As Hollingsworth and Fielding outlined in their 1999 book, Shayler's primary critique of MI5 was that it was too bureaucratic, old fashioned and inefficient for the task of defending the United Kingdom. This was a theme Shayler continued in late September 2001, when he warned Sunday Express readers that future 9/11s could only be avoided if the security services were updated. Shayler is quoted as saying "Our lives will continue to be put at risk by inefficient security services...it could be the difference between 5000 dead and people behind bars" . Showing he believed 9/11 was a case of secret state incompetence, not malevolence.
Mail on Sunday readers had earlier been treated, similarly, to Shayler's view that the security services inability to work together, plus elitist recruiting policies, ensured future terrorist attacks could not be prevented .
Despite a high media profile for David Shayler in both 2001 and 2002 (when he was briefly jailed for breaching the Official Secrets Act by passing stolen MI5 documents to the Mail on Sunday) and increasing interest in Annie Machon from the British media, they expressed no public concern or doubts about the official narrative of the September 11th attacks.
In 2003 long term Shayler collaborators Mark Hollingsworth and Nick Fielding rewrote their 1999 book, giving it the new title of 'Defending the Realm: Inside MI5 and the War on Terrorism' . This continued Shayler's theme of national security being undermined by by a security service that had failed to adapt to the post-cold war world. Somewhat shamelessly they criticise the fact that in the UK "Islamist radicals were able to organise and operate for years with impunity" , a failing neither they nor David Shayler appeared concerned about in the first edition.
Discussing security matters in 2003, Shayler maintained his standard line, consistent with his submission to the Cabinet Office review of the security services, arguing MI5 is "too wedded to the past and the bureaucracy is still too rigid and cumbersome" . In the books's pictures section, a shot of the twin towers had the following caption: "the devastating attack on the twin towers of the WTC is widely regarded as a failure of intelligence".
A new chapter in the 2003 book, looking at how MI5 failed to get to grips with Al Qaeda, is credited to Nick Fielding, and appears to have been written with little, if any, significant input from either Shayler or Machon.
In 2003, therefore, David Shayler appears to have consistently taken the view that the American and British security services needed to modernise to better fight Islamic terrorists, who wished to perpetrate devastating terrorist attacks against the West. This view is also compatible with that of David Shayler's old MI5 supervisor and girlfriend, Annie Machon, in a book he was quite happy to tell people in conversation on 21/6/05 he had written, 'Spies Lies & Whistleblowers'. This 2005 book praises FBI whistleblower, Coleen Rowley, saying after her actions the "US has reorganised its agencies to ensure that in future intelligence is properly shared and exploited" . The inference of this comment is clear--9/11 happened because intelligence wasn't properly shared or exploited, but this had now (by 2005) been resolved, with the US intelligence agencies constructively moving in the right direction. Again, no hint of malevolent pre-planning here. She further states that Al Qaeda taking over Libya in 1996 would have got them "the ability to launch many more attacks like 11 September"--clearly indicating Machon still blamed Al Qaeda for 9/11 in early 2005 .
9/11: THE RANGE OF VIEWS
The official government version is the USA was attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists. Such an attack could not have been envisaged or prevented. The original Shayler/Machon line, to the extent it deviates at all from the that, loosely corresponds to the first of the three main 9/11 alternative hypotheses.
1) Incompetence--that the US security services were poor at their job, allowing a group of better motivated, able terrorists to attack America. This could perhaps be seen as an articulation of the cock up, rather than conspiracy, theory of history.
2) LIHOP--Letting it happen on purpose. Put simply, the authorities were aware of an imminent attack on America, but 9/11 was allowed to happen as it would enable the US neo-Conservatives to better meet their political goals.
3) MIHOP--Making it happen on purpose. This view centres on the belief that the Americans either co-ordinated or to some degree directed the 9/11 attacks, to ensure that they happened. This would then pave the way for the same ourcome as above--a clear political field for the neo-Cons and the US military .
In both the US and UK, the political left has tended to shy away from openly embracing any of the three positions above, preferring instead to concentrate on politically exposing the consequences of 9/11--the American invasion of Afghanistan, and later, the US led invasion of Iraq. No doubt there will be further opposition to any future moves on Iran.
STOPPING THE STOP THE WAR COALITION?
In Britain both David Shayler and Annie Machon joined the 'Stop the War Coalition'. who eventually organised (to absolutely no effect) the biggest political demonstration in British history, when an estimated 1.5 million people marched in London on 15 February 2003 to oppose any invasion of Iraq. In their history of the Stop the War Coalition, Andrew Murray and Lindsay German make clear the organisation's view of 9/11 "Flying hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Centre was an atrocity. The Stop the War Coalition condemned it...There is no room for pointless conspiracy theories--9/11 was not carried out by the US government or by Israel's Mossad" .
Another writer involved with this book was none other than David Shayler, who commented on what he saw as "the disproportionate response to 9/11" leading to a war between two world leaders "motivated by religious hatred" (presumably he means Bush and Bin Laden). Use of the word 'disproportionate' is interesting here, implying, again, that the attacks were carried out by some force external to the US state, and certainly not under their control. Shayler was in no doubt that a political solution was available to those concerned about what was happening in the world. "The Stop the War Coalition is the only organisation that is dedicated to changing the destructive policies of the Bush-Blair axis. It is a broad-based non-aligned movement with mass support". Shayler warns us to defend human life and democracy "we can only do that by banding together against the 'forces of darkness' under the aegis of the Stop the War Coalition" . Given the times Shayler claims to have been misquoted by the press, NFB stresses these words have come from Shayler's own pen.
THE LINE CHANGES
During 2005 both David Shayler and Annie Machon switched emphasis away from anti-war activities per se towards far more of a concentration on 9/11. They dramatically abandoned their previous viewpoints on 9/11, and in a few short months became leading figures in the movement condemning official positions on the terror attacks. This culminated in Machon being appointed as Secretary of the 9/11 Truth Campaign (Britain and Ireland) on 18 February 2006. What happened, and why?
As can be seen above, at the time of the March 2005 publication of 'Stop the War' Shayler was almost misty-eyed in his devotion to the STWC. It was, indeed, "the only organisation defending human life and democracy". Annie Machon, in her May 2005 book comments that "Anyone with any knowledge of counter-terrorism knew the risks of invading Iraq. The Joint Intelligence Committee even warned Blair that it could lead to an increase in terrorist activity. David and I have been active in the Stop the War Coalition for precisely these reasons" . During the Conway Hall debate 21 June 2005, David Shayler mentioned the STWC, as victims of state surveillance. He claimed that "on one occasion I was on the phone to Stop the War, and I clicked the line shut, opened it again, and my conversation was being played back. This indicated to me MI5 were interested in Stop the War Coalition" . Interestingly, several questions from the floor speculated as to the honesty of the relationship between the Socialist Workers Party (one of the main groups in STWC) and British Muslim organisations. This to a backdrop of Muslim communities under intense surveillance from the security services. Annie Machon, as an MI5 officer formerly responsible for running agents in the SWP, is arguably uniquely placed to answer questions on this.
During Summer 2005, with the book containing their original views hot off the press, David Shayler and Annie Machon appear to have dramatically rethought their views on STWC, and campaigning generally. Come the October 25th Anarchist Bookfair, Shayler talked about the STWC in remarkable terms. Knowing that if he approached the Bookfair organisers wishing to speak at the event he would almost certainly be turned down (for some reason Anarchists tend to take a less tolerant view of unrepentant spooks than other leftists) Shayler and Machon instead spoke (unannounced) at a meeting under the auspices of the 911 Truth Campaign. Put under pressure by NFB collective members to name agents on the left, Shayler condemned agents provocateur on the left, saying they were clearly operating at big political events. This is what he had to say about the STWC--quoted in full to avoid any charge of misrepresentation
"about Stop the War, I really do wonder. I have worked with Stop the War but I find that sometimes their attitude seems to...the only way to explain it is they have somehow been penetrated. They had 2 million people on the streets in 2003 and whewre's that gone? The last demonstration I went on about a month ago was really quite a damp squib basically. They don't seem to want to take forward what they have and seem to have squandered an opportunity. And I don't think that is down to incompetence, I really don't" .
However, he failed to explain how either his or Machon's experience could be used to deal with this alleged penetration, instead calling upon people to use their own intelligence to root out infiltrators. Yet in a hierarchical organisation such as STWC it is highly likely that such infiltrators are in senior positions. Otherwise they would have no input into the policies that contributed to the alleged "squandered opportunities" Shayler speaks of.
When pressed as to who such assets might be, Shayler completely changed the subject to a spurious call for unity between activists against Tony Blair . Does this mean he wants us to unite with the very infiltrators he condemns? STWC activists might well think Shayler and Machon's support is something they could do without--unless it be to enlighten all of us as to who these state infiltrators are, other than the dynamic duo themselves.
Curiously Annie Machon has continued to circulate STWC newsletters on the British 9/11 Truth campaign web-site www.nineeleven.co.uk. Does she too believe STWC is penetrated? In which case, she is inviting people to join a thoroughly compromised organisation. Have Machon or Shayler done anything to save STWC from such damaging penetration: or to root out and expose infiltrators, especially given only a year ago Shayler described STWC as the only option for protecting democracy and human life? No they have not.
Given there is no evidence Shayler/Machon have done anything to help the security of the STWC here, we are left with two possibilities--either Shayler doesn't believe his own comments on STWC and infiltration, or he does, but can't be bothered to do anything about it. Either way, STWC members should have plenty of questions for him next time he speaks in public. As too, Annie Machon. If STWC is infiltrated at a leadership level, there is a high probability at least one 'infiltrator' might well be a long-term MI5 asset inside the politically dominant SWP--something (and probably somebody) her previous MI5 job puts her in a position to know all about.
THE 9/11 COWBOY & COWGIRL SWITCH HORSES
On 4/6/05 Shayler spoke at a high profile 9/11 Conference at Manchester Town Hall, billed merely as an "ex-MI5 officer". In the months since he and Machon have been intimately involved with the 9/11 'Truth' movement, and Shayler has vigorously pushed their new line--that the 9/11 attacks happened because the Americans made them happen.
On 20/6/05 Shayler was interviewed by Alex Jones of the American web-site prisonplanet.com. Shayler had no hesitation when discussing 9/11 in stating that the attacks occurred not because of incompetence, but because "they made it happen". As he put it "when I first started to follow 9/11 in the papers, I was very worried by certain reports emerging". Note carefully the phrase "first started"--indicating quite clearly these worries were early and contemporary. Specifically, these worries included the fact that "all the metal from the buildings is shipped out to China, there are no forensications done on that metal. They never wanted anybody to look at that metal, because they were not going to provide the evidence they wanted to show it was Al Qaeda". He added that "you almost have a coup d'etat" . Given that the same people remained in power after 9/11 as before, this is an extremely curious supposition. Not quite as bizarre however as Shayler's suggestion in the same interview that a subsequent plane crash in the Queens area of New York--a month after 9/11--was instigated to silence firemen who were beginning to doubt the official version of events that day.
Having got his gander up, there was now little stopping Shayler. Next stop was an interview with Revelation Tapes, run by Dave Starbuck of Walsall . Here Shayler is in interesting company. Mr Starbuck's catalogue (which is advertised amongst other places, in England First's---formerly the International Third Position--Final Conflict magazine) contains titles questioning the guilt of Ian Huntley with regards to the murder of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, and a tape by National
Front founder, the late AK Chesterton, on "international finance". Clearly Shayler is taking the 9/11 'truth' message into into some pretty dark corners. In the interview Shayler not only repeats his supposition 9/11 was an "inside job" but sets a hare running about the 7/7 London bombings, where he again doubts the official version. When Dave Starbuck asserts that the bombing "stinks" and that proof of this is the fact that only one bus was diverted in London that day, which he claims then blew up at the site of the Balfour declaration, Shayler joins in Starbuck's incredulous laughter. Given the tendency of some anti-semites to blame any Islamic bombing on Mossad, and some of the more lurid anti-semitic claims about 9/11, at NFB we choose not to join in messrs Shayler and Starbuck's frivolity. Even if the latter sounds like John Shuttleworth on acid (or meths).
Come 2005's October Anarchist Bookfair, Shayler and Machon appeared to have reached such a position of authority within the 9/11 'Truth movement' that a coterie of supporters hung unquestioningly on their every word. Earlier conflicting views from the pair (indeed views expressed only a few months earlier) were erased from history.
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