Ian Martin with the then UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. (Photo: Prakash Mathema / AFP via Getty)

Nato bombing of Libya ‘exceeded UN mandate’

A common criticism of Sir John Chilcot’s marathon inquiry into the Iraq war is that by the time it made recommendations to Whitehall, another intervention had already taken place in Libya.  But at least Britain’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 was seen as sufficiently disastrous to warrant a high-level probe. David Cameron’s adventure in Libya, […]

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An Ulster Defence Regiment checkpoint in Northern Ireland, 1984. (Photo: Terry Disney via Getty)

Britain’s sectarian army

Say ‘UDR’ to the vast majority of Britons and, despite the increasingly totemic status of ‘our boys’ in the military, eyebrows will universally raise.   Yet the Ulster Defence Regiment was active throughout most of the recent conflict in Ireland – the longest period of continuous duty of any British military unit. Successive UK governments lavishly […]

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GCHQ’s site at Little Sai Wan appears in the distance (Photo: H. Grobe / CC 3.0)

‘Riddled with corruption’: GCHQ’s banned book

Thatcher’s government took frantic steps to ban a book alleging that GCHQ’s inefficiency and security negligence had cost British lives.

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Congo’s prime minister Patrice Lumumba with UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1960. (Photo: Ben Martin / Getty)

Did Britain help murder an African leader and U.N. secretary general?

Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6, overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh, Iran’s first democratically elected prime minister, in 1953 with the help of the CIA. They replaced him with the Shah, an autocrat protected by his infamous secret police, Savak. A few years later, MI6 conspired with the CIA to overthrow, even assassinate, Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically […]

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Britain in Afghanistan: Unprepared then, unprepared now

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” uttered Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, as he tried to excuse himself for being on holiday as the Taliban were taking over Afghanistan. General Nick Carter echoed him, saying “hindsight is an extraordinary thing”. Foresight would have been helpful. It should not have been too difficult. Kabul had become MI6’s biggest foreign station during […]

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Will UK security agencies learn lessons from their collusion in crimes in Northern Ireland?

On the centenary of Ireland’s partition, Northern Ireland is changing. But the lessons from its recent violent ‘dirty war’, in which British agents colluded in killings, risk being ignored by the current British government.

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The UK military’s secrecy problem

A new book, revealing abuses by the British army in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, illustrates how the Ministry of Defence and the military establishment try to censor, bully and threaten publishers and journalists, often successfully.

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Whitewashing Britain’s largest intelligence agency

The new ‘authorised history’ of GCHQ, Britain’s largest intelligence agency, ignores or simply dismisses its most controversial activities as supposed scandals, giving a thoroughly one-sided account of the spy agency.

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