Berlin Magical Secrecy Tour

This week Trans​me​diale​.de organ­ised a Magical Secrecy Tour around Ber­lin to mark the anniversary of Edward Snowden’s world-changing disclosures.

And what bet­ter place to hold such a tour? Ber­lin has long been the play­ground for inter­na­tional spies, fight­ing the old Cold War in the dirty dark. It also still bears the scars of two total­it­arian regimes run out of con­trol — the brute force of the Nazis and the insi­di­ous sur­veil­lance of the Stasi dur­ing the years of the DDR in East Germany.

It is a city that is a liv­ing museum, and the tour took us around some key points, includ­ing the old Stasi HQ — now a museum — the new bil­lion euro BND mega-complex, the Spy Bridge, and the Spy Hill. It was a stark les­son from his­tory about what spies could do, should do, and are now doing in the mod­ern day.

Here’s an interview:

magicalsecrecy

Ber­lin Magical Secrecy Tour from Annie Machon on Vimeo.
With huge thanks to Kris­tof­fer and the rest of the Trans­me­diale team for an inter­est­ing day.

ZDF TV interview at EMAF

Here is an inter­view I did for Ger­man national TV, ZDF, while speak­ing at the European Media Art Fest­ival in Osnab­rueck in April:

zdfkulturzeit

ZDF Kul­turzeit inter­view about EMAF from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

European Media Art Festival (EMAF), Osnabrueck

The 27th European Media Art Fest­ival began this even­ing in Osnab­rueck, Ger­many. In the wake of all the global intel­li­gence whis­tleblow­ing that has gone on over the last few years, the theme for the artists of 2014 is “We, the Enemy”.

Do visit if you can — a lot of inter­est­ing and polit­ical art install­a­tions are on dis­play, as well as films, music, and talks.  I shall be doing a talk on speak­ing on Fri­day afternoon.

I had the pleas­ure of mak­ing a short speech at the open­ing cere­mony this even­ing, and did an inter­view for national Ger­man TV chan­nel ARD last night to pub­li­cise the festival.

ueberwachungskunst

Uber­wachungs kunst from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

The Lindmo Show, Norway

Fol­low­ing on from my talk at the Nor­we­gian SKUP invest­ig­at­ive journ­al­ism con­fer­ence in March, I was invited onto the Anne Lindmo Show in Nor­way on 4 May.

Anne is one of the most fam­ous and respec­ted journ­al­ists in Nor­way, and her chat show is extremely pop­u­lar on prime time NRK TV on Fri­day nights.  We had a lively ses­sion dis­cuss­ing the world of spy­ing, what it was like to blow the whistle and go on the run, and the per­sonal price that has to be paid.

Here’s the link to the whole show, and here’s my seg­ment:

Lindmo inter­view on Nor­we­gian TV from Annie Machon on Vimeo.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller Updated

First they came for the Irish in the 1980s,

But I was not Irish so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the Muslims after 9/11,

But I was not a Muslim, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the “domestic extremists”,

But I was not an act­iv­ist, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for me;

and there was nobody left to speak up for me.

 

And here’s the ori­ginal.

Publicity for the film, “The Bank Job” (2008)

I did a PR inter­view for the 2008 film “The Bank Job”, which was included in the extras on the DVD

In the inter­view I dis­cussed MI5 dirty tricks and spy influ­ence over the media.

Last Man Out

Amstie_poster In July 2008 an excel­lent film, Last Man Out, was screened at the New York Inde­pend­ent Film Fest­ival.

LMO is a film dir­ec­ted by Jonathan Kerr-Smith and is a doc­u­ment­ary fol­low­ing 9/11 sur­vivor, hero, and cam­paigner on behalf of the fam­il­ies and first respon­ders, Wil­liam Rodrig­uez, as he tours the UK and Europe.  I organ­ised the tours and fea­ture in the film.

Film Review of “Secrecy” on Cinepolitics, January 2009

Over the last few years I have been a reg­u­lar guest on polit­ical dis­cus­sion pro­grammes on the rap­idly grow­ing Press TV.  Occa­sion­ally I am invited onto the film review show, “Cinepol­it­ics”, by the host (and film maker) Rus­sell Michaels

The film under review is a doc­u­ment­ary called “Secrecy”, look­ing at the stifling effect cen­sor­ship and the creep­ing concept of national secur­ity have had on demo­cracy in the USA under the former pres­id­en­tial régime.  When this was filmed in Janu­ary, there was hope that the new pres­id­ency might roll this back.  How­ever, “Secrecy” is just as per­tin­ent now that the issue of tor­ture and Guantanamo Bay is being addressed more openly by the media.

The Elephant in the Room

In Septem­ber an award-winning inde­pend­ent doc­u­ment­ary, “The Ele­phant in the Room” was screened at the Por­to­bello Film Fest­ival in London.

The film, made by Brit­ish dir­ector Dean Puck­ett, had already won “Best Doc­u­ment­ary” at the Lon­don Inde­pend­ent Film Fest­ival earlier this year.  At Por­to­bello, Dean won the “Best Dir­ector” award.

The film doc­u­ments Dean’s per­sonal jour­ney and response to the tra­gic events of 9/11.  In Octo­ber 2001 he vis­ited New York with his father, who was run­ning in the mara­thon.  As a bud­ding 19 year old film maker, Dean recor­ded images of the trau­mat­ised city and his per­sonal response to the events, and includes this early foot­age in the film.

He then goes on to meet act­iv­ists in the UK and Europe who ques­tion the offi­cial account, and inter­view 9/11 hero Wil­liam Rodrig­uez and US Pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Cyn­thia McKin­ney, amongst oth­ers.  He also deals sens­it­ively with the first respon­ders who are ill and dying because the US gov­ern­ment lied about the safety of the air in NYC after the attacks.  These people are gen­er­ally ignored and given little help or support.

I helped Dean in some sec­tions of the film, and he accom­pan­ied Wil­liam Rodrig­uez on the European leg of the speak­ing tour I organ­ised for him last year — I’m chuffed to have an “Assist­ant Pro­du­cer” credit!

The film can be down­loaded and watched here.

RSC Play about the Shayler Case

In Lon­don in 2001 the Royal Shakespeare Com­pany per­formed a play called “Epi­taph for the Offi­cial Secrets Act” by Paul Green­grass (who co-wrote the notori­ous book “Spycatcher”).  The play focused on the polit­ical issues around whis­tleblow­ing and the Shayler case.

It was an excel­lent play, with an intel­li­gent ana­lysis of the cur­rent mess that is secrecy legis­la­tion in the UK, but it was rather strange to see act­ors using words your own words on stage.

The fol­low­ing report appeared in “The Observer”:

Shayler is a model spy for MI5 play

by Vanessa Thorpe, Arts Cor­res­pond­ent, 2001

Henry V, Macbeth and Ham­let, the great
Shakespearean prot­ag­on­ists who strut before audi­ences at
Stratford-upon-Avon, are to be joined tomor­row by a new name, the
former MI5 reneg­ade, David Shayler.

A new play by Paul Green­grass, the screen­writer respons­ible for ITV’s
upcom­ing film about Bloody Sunday and for the award-winning tele­vi­sion
dram­at­isa­tion of The Murder of Stephen Lawrence , is to be premiered
tomor­row night by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Epi­taph
for the Offi­cial Secrets Act will also fea­ture Shayler’s girl­friend,
Annie Machon, and the MI5’s first woman dir­ector, Stella Rim­ing­ton. ‘It
is a play about the year that MI5 first decided to recruit a new sort
of agent,’ explained Simon Reade, the RSC’s dram­at­urge, refer­ring to
1991, when the secret ser­vice briefly turned away from their
estab­lished Oxbridge source of gradu­ates and advert­ised for applic­ants
from the wider population.

The play starts with a
read­ing of the advert­ise­ment that news­pa­pers ran at the time,’ said
Reade, who developed the piece with Green­grass for its six-night run.
’The ad showed an empty chair under the words “Godot isn’t com­ing”.‘
The play then deals with some of the changes that fol­lowed as Rim­ing­ton
took con­trol of an organ­isa­tion that was fight­ing to redefine itself.

Machon and Shayler, both from the gradu­ate intake that was then new, are iden­ti­fied only by their first names.

News of their the­at­rical debut came as a shock to Shayler and Machon,
who are in Lon­don await­ing Shayler’s trial on charges of breach­ing the
Offi­cial Secrets Act. Machon said: ‘It is rather alarm­ing to find that
we are both going to played by actors.’


BBC Radio Bristol Interview

A recent inter­view on BBC Radio Bris­tol to pub­li­cise the screen­ing of an award-winning new doc­u­ment­ary called “The Ele­phant in the Room”, made by tal­en­ted dir­ector Dean Puck­ett.

I had the chance to explore the mech­an­isms by which the UK media is con­trolled by the spies and the gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the sec­tion in MI6 called I/Ops, which plants false stor­ies in the media to the bene­fit of MI5 and MI6.

Art; Signs of the Times

’Signs of the Times, A coded his­tory of alpha­bets and com­mu­nic­a­tion’ is a series of works by artist Paul Flack who col­lab­or­ated with me on hid­den mes­sages and codes in art:

Inspired by the com­plex evol­u­tion of alpha­bets, words and sym­bols sculptor Paul Flack has been inter­ested in lan­guage and its mean­ing for many years. Cryptic mean­ing suf­fuses his work, which is a blend of words and sym­bols from many dif­fer­ent cul­tures. Hiero­glyphs and runes jostle for space with mod­ern alpha­bets and bin­ary code on painted can­vasses, stone carvings and sculp­tures. The out­come is a fluid mix­ture of man-made mean­ing and uni­ver­sal, geo­met­ric shapes.

Paul’s col­lab­or­a­tion with Annie Machon — a lead­ing civil liber­ties act­iv­ist and former MI5 intel­li­gence officer — has enabled him to take his under­stand­ing of codes, cen­sor­ship and the secret­ive side of lan­guage to a new level.

“We live in an age of spoon-fed inform­a­tion and extreme cen­sor­ship. I want people to think about the ori­gins of lan­guage and how it binds cul­tures together, as opposed to sep­ar­at­ing them” — Paul Flack

“It’s a cliché, but you really shouldn’t believe everything you read. His­tory is writ­ten by the vic­tori­ous and today’s rul­ing élite is cer­tainly no less ruth­less in its approach to secrecy and cen­sor­ship.” — Annie Machon

“If this sounds a bit con­tro­ver­sial, all the bet­ter. Some altern­at­ive views of recent events are encoded into the work, and if you look hard enough you will find them.

“Of course, what you do with the inform­a­tion is up to you,” — Paul Flack

Coda: Sadly, Paul died unex­pec­tedly in 2008.  His was a rare and beau­ti­ful spirit, and he is much missed by his many friends.

Spies,Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5 and the David Shayler Affair

My book about the Shayler affair (includ­ing the MI6 plot to assas­in­ate Col. Gad­dafi) and my exper­i­ences as an Intel­li­gence Officer in MI5.

I was invited on to “The Richard and Judy Show” in 2005 to talk about my book, and it is fea­tured on the show’s web­site.

Wil­liam Pod­more was kind enough to review my work:

In this remark­able book, Annie Machon makes ser­i­ous alleg­a­tions against the Brit­ish state’s intel­li­gence ser­vices, MI5 and MI6. Ms Machon and her part­ner David Shayler are former high-ranking MI5 officers, both now retired from the ser­vice. The book’s alleg­a­tions derive from their exper­i­ences and deserve at least to be the sub­ject of inquiry.

She asserts that MI5 has illeg­ally invest­ig­ated thou­sands of Brit­ish cit­izens for their polit­ical views; that there was col­lu­sion between the Army Forces Research Unit and loy­al­ist ter­ror­ists; that MI5 failed to stop four major ter­ror­ist attacks in Bri­tain, even though it had reli­able evid­ence; and that MI5 and MI6 let a known Libyan ter­ror­ist into Bri­tain and let him set up a ter­ror­ist net­work here.

She alleges that MI6’s counter-Iranian sec­tion used the Sunday Tele­graph (and the journ­al­ists Con Cough­lin, John Simpson and Dominic Lawson) to try to blame Iran for the 1988 Lock­er­bie bomb­ing, the destruc­tion of flight PA103. MI6 was try­ing to deflect atten­tion from the fact that it was actu­ally a Libyan retali­ation for the US bomb­ing of Tripoli (backed by Thatcher) in 1986.

The book’s most sig­ni­fic­ant alleg­a­tion is that MI6 illeg­ally paid tens of thou­sands of pounds to Al-Qa’ida in 1995–96 to assas­sin­ate Col­onel Gad­dafi and seize power in Libya. In the attemp­ted coup, sev­eral inno­cent civil­ians and secur­ity police were killed. If this is true, MI6, a Brit­ish state agency, sponsored our ter­ror­ist enemies in a con­spir­acy to murder, which res­ul­ted in the killing of inno­cent civilians.

But Blair refuses to hear any evid­ence against the intel­li­gence ser­vices, and pro­sec­utes and har­asses crit­ics and whis­tleblowers. The Intel­li­gence and Secur­ity Com­mit­tee, set up under the 1994 Intel­li­gence Ser­vices Act to over­see the ser­vices, is no use, because it is appoin­ted by and reports only to the Prime Minister.

The intel­li­gence ser­vices should work under the rule of law and respect demo­cratic rights. Ter­ror­ist sus­pects should be arres­ted and brought to trial under crim­inal law, not detained, or executed, without trial, as has happened in North­ern Ire­land and elsewhere.

The intel­li­gence ser­vices are sup­posed to pro­tect us, but it would appear that they have instead con­nived in ter­ror­ism, put­ting us at greater risk of ter­ror­ist attack.

The Cam­paign for Press and Broad­cast­ing Free­dom (CPBF) also high­lighted it.

The book can be ordered through Amazon.