Review of the film – The Man Who Knew Too Much is a documentary film by Michael Oswald about Colin Wallace, a former Senior Information Officer at the Ministry of Defence, UK.
The film echoes the grief stricken testimony told to me by the wife of a serving officer in Northern Ireland, who died there in the early ‘80’s, about the policy of setting up assassinations of IRA members by loyalist groups and vice versa by leaking location details to each side via informers paid by the British military, and also techniques by which explosive devices in the hands of paramilitaries could be prematurely detonated.
Colin Wallace’s chilling testimony makes for compulsive viewing, adding insights into the parallel psyops war in which the IRA issued mendacious stories designed to gain international attention and material support for their campaign, while on the other hand the Army distributed government propaganda. One such story was that the nitro benzine and petrol in home-made bombs caused leukaemia in children and another was that the IRA was supported by Russian agents dropped off by submarine, which made ‘News of the World’ headlines. Journalists were said to have been rewarded for “friendly reporting” by the promise of repeat off the record briefings by the Army.
To destroy paramilitary morale and turn international opinion against them, Wallace alleges that Army Information would brief the press on the weapons used in violent incidents, adding that the same make of weapon was known to be used by the IRA or Protestant paramilitaries. The Army would avoid directly attributing the killings, but allow the press to draw their own conclusions and report that either the IRA or UVF etc. were the likely sources. Other briefings attributed bizarre stories of witchcraft involving the satanic slaughter of sheep to a general moral decline in the population, in order to galvanise the protestant clergy into denouncing paramilitary activity
Wallace describes the secrecy and unaccountability of M15 M!6 as “the British disease” and that many journalists of the time considered investigative work concerning the activities of these agencies as risky to future careers and even mental wellbeing. A culture existed in which nobody was accountable, there was no admission of wrongdoing, evidence routinely lost and the press found itself reinforcing and legitimising secret power instead of challenging it.
The most chilling testimony concerns a situation in which senior politicians were not only kept in ignorance of the details of psyops activities but were also categorised as to their own vulnerability in matters of personal finance, moral values and political views; a page in a notebook shows that these were said to include Harold Wilson, Ted Heath and James Callaghan; if true, this revelation alone makes this film essential viewing and gives profound cause for concern over what happens when external scrutiny and accountability of military intelligence is neglected or ineffective, allowing operations to spiral out of control. A leader, whether political or military should never be able to say “I was not told”, when on their watch, the country’s security forces run amok in breach of national and international law and common humanity.
Veterans for Peace
18th January 2021
Link to information about the film: https://colinwallacefilm.com/about/