'The Green Book' from 'The IRA' by Tim Pat Coogan (1993)
[Key_Events] [Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
The following extracts have been contributed by the author Tim Pat Coogan, with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers. The views expressed in this book do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
These chapters are copyright Tim Pat Coogan (1993) and are included
on the CAIN site by permission of the author and publisher. You may not edit, adapt,
or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use
without the express written permission of the author and Harper Collins Publishers. Redistribution
for commercial purposes is not permitted.
THE GREEN BOOK: I
As we have seen (on pages 578-81) the I.R.A. prepared a structural plan based on the cell system which became public when Seamus Twomey was captured in 1977. The report found on him isolated the I.R.A.'s central problem as follows.
The three-day and seven-day detention orders are breaking volunteers and it is the Republican Army's fault for not indoctrinating volunteers with the psychological strength to resist interrogation.What did not become public was the Green Book, an important blueprint drawn up to give recruits the ability both to withstand outside pressures and to constantly keep political goals in mind. While it dealt with all aspects of training and the movement's aims, it clearly regarded the most important thing for a volunteer as being not so much what he carried in his hands, or what shape his organisation took - though such considerations are crucial - but what he carried around in his head and heart.
One of the first documents drawn to every recruit's attention, equal on a plane of importance with the 1916 Proclamation, is the Democratic Programme of the First Dail which met after the Sinn Féin landslide victory in the 'khaki election' of 1918 with a mandate for the whole of Ireland. In the first lecture of the Green Book the recruit is told:
Commitment to the Republican Movement is the firm belief that its struggle both military and political is morally justified, that war is morally justified and that the Army is the direct representative of the 1918 Dail Eireann Parliament, and that as such they are the legal and lawful government of the Irish Republic, which has the moral right to pass laws for, and to claim jurisdiction over the territory, air space, mineral resources, means of production, distribution and exchange and all of its people regardless of creed or loyalty.In the same lecture he is warned:
The most important thing is security, that means you:Being an Irish Revolution, drink of course has to be taken careful note of.
Another important thing volunteers must realise and understand is the danger involved in drinking alcohol and the very real danger, of over-drinking. Quite a large body of information has been gathered in the past by enemy forces and their touts from volunteers who drank.The recruit learns from Day One that:
The Irish Republican Army, as the legal representatives of the Irish people, are morally justified in carrying out a campaign of resistance against foreign occupation forces and domestic collaborators. All volunteers are and must feel morally justified in carrying out the dictates of the legal government, they as the Army are the legal and lawful Army of the Irish Republic which has been forced underground by overwhelming forces.The recruit is told that 'the British Army is an occupying force', and the R.U.C., Gardai, U.D.R. and Free State Army are 'illegal' armies and illegal forces whose main tasks are treasonable and as such morally wrong, politically unacceptable and ethically inexcusable. The volunteer is, as we have seen, told under 'Standing Order No.8' that 'the Southern forces are not to be regarded as targets'. This as we saw was an acknowledgement of the fact that times had changed in the Republic and that any other attitude would be unacceptable to the public. The recruit is also made aware of the importance of another tenet forced on the I.R.A. by harsh experience: motivation. Mindful of the splits and informers which grew out of both internment and more particularly the I.R.A.'s own blanket style of recruiting, he is warned.
The Army as an organisation claims and expects your total allegiance without reservation. It enters into every aspect of your life. It invades the privacy of your home life, it fragments your family and friends, in other words claims your total allegiance.This motivation is not merely expected to carry the volunteer through vicissitudes such as capture, interrogation and prison; it is expected to sustain him to the Movement's ultimate political goal - a socialist Republic. It is dinned into him that military action is an extension of political action, therefore the military campaign of the I.R.A. is in effect a political campaign. The recruit is told bluntly: 'people with no political concepts have no place in the Army.' Furthermore, those concepts must be of a particular type: 'All potential volunteers must be socialist in outlook.' The recruit is given a very clear eyed vision of the facts.
Before any potential volunteer decides to join the Irish Republican Army he should understand fully and clearly the issues involved. He should not join the Army because of emotionalism, sensationalism, or adventurism. He should examine fully his own motives, knowing the dangers involved and knowing that he will find no romance within the Movement. Again he should examine his political motives bearing in mind that the Army are intent on creating a Socialist Republic.Nowhere are the facts spelt out more specifically than in the briefing given on how political goals are to be arrived at by military action.
Volunteers are expected to wage a military war of liberation against a numerically superior force. This involves the use of arms and explosives. Firstly the use of arms. When volunteers are trained in the use of arms they must fully understand that guns are dangerous, and their main purpose is to take human life, in other words to kill people, and volunteers are trained to kill people. It is not an easy thing to take up a gun and go out to kill some person without strong convictions or justification. The Army, its motivating force, is based upon strong convictions which bonds the Army into one force and before any potential volunteer decides to join the Army he must have these strong convictions. Convictions which are strong enough give him confidence to kill someone without hesitation and without regret. The same can be said about a bombing campaign. Again all people wishing to join the Army must fully realise that when life is being taken, that very well could mean their own. If you go out to shoot soldiers or police you must fully realise that they too can shoot you.He should indeed.
'Analysis' is a word which a recruit soon becomes aware of; it figures prominently in all I.R.A. teaching. For, having warned the would-be guerrilla of what he is up against and told him what he is striving for, it is then of course essential to explain how both the 'for' and against' arose.
The nationhood of all Ireland has been an accepted fact for more than 1,500 years and has been recognised internationally as a fact. Professor Edmund Curtis, writing of Ireland in 800 AD says that 'she was the first nation North of the Alps to produce a whole body of literature in her own speech', and he is told how the Danes were driven out or assimilated by a people 'whose civilisation was a shining light throughout Europe', prior to the Norman invasion of 1169 with which there 'commenced more than 8 centuries of RELENTLESS AND UNREMITTING WARFARE that has lasted down to this very day'.It can be imagined how potent this teaching was (and is) to an unemployed young man in Andersonstown, Ballymurphy or the Bogside with British soldiers patrolling the streets. But as the hunger strikers lay dying, moved by their ordeal and by his own circumstances, such a young man would even more readily accept the fact that:
The position of the Irish Republican Army since its foundation in 1916 has been one of sustained resistance and implacable hostility to the forces of imperialism, always keeping in the forefront of the most advanced revolutionary thinking and the latest guerrilla warfare techniques in the world.He would accept the legitimacy of linking 'the 1916 Rising, the Black-and-Tan War, the War against the Free State and the new Six-County State, the Bombing Campaign in England 1939-40, the Resistance Campaign 1956-62 and finally the present most heroic campaign of all dedicated to final victory...' He would also be moved and recognise grace notes struck in his own day by the description of those dates, albeit with hyperbole as:
The milestones, the battle honours won, the blood-stained trail of sacrifice, imprisonment, hunger strikes, executions, yet with telling blows delivered to the enemy, often in the heart of British imperialism itself, commanding the open admiration of freedom-loving peoples around the world.And finally, with hammer-blows of moralistic continuity, any remaining doubts he might have of himself setting out to follow those 'milestones' would be broken down with the following:
NOTE: The moral position of the Irish Republican Army, its right to engage in warfare, is based on: (a) the right to resist foreign aggression; (b) the right to revolt against tyranny and oppression and (c) the direct lineal succession with the Provisional Government of 1916, the first Dail of 1919 and the second Dail of 1921.Regarding point (c), the first Dail declared itself the successor to the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation when it met in January 1919. Later, in March 1921, it declared that if enemy action reduced its ranks to a minimum, the remaining Deputies should hand over executive powers of government to the Army of the Republic, which would constitute itself as a Provisional Government. In 1922, when the majority of the Dail approved the Treaty of Surrender, and were thus guilty of treachery, the I.R.A. withdrew its allegiance from the Dail. Later that year it recognised the minority of the 1921 Deputies as the 'final custodians to the Republic'.
In 1938 the seven surviving faithful Republican Deputies delegated executive powers to the Army Council of the I.R.A. per the 1921 resolution (see page 159]. In 1969 the sole surviving Deputy, Joseph Clarke, reaffirmed publicly that the then Provisional Army Council and its successors were the inheritors of the first and second Dail ass Provisional Government.From that point on the recruit would accept the I.R.A. premise that it was fighting 'a long war of liberation' on the three grounds outlined above. It is then explained that the type of society the recruit sees around him is a product of economic and cultural imperialism manifested in the 'living conditions, life style and political power of the minority in comparison with those of the majority'.
Economic imperialism is evident on every main road and city street of Ireland: in Banking, Insurance, Merchant Marine, the Motor Industry, Mining, Fisheries, Industry in General, I.C.I., Courtaulds, Pye, Phillips, Grundig, Shell-BP, Wimpey etc.; and cultural imperialism, epitomised in the Conor Cruise O'Briens of this Island, has been reinforced since the Treaty sell-out by successive Free State Governments via mass media, R.T.E., and the press and through education.He is taught that a Republican must fight these and all other forms of imperialism and Neo-Colonialism so as to overthrow the unjust systems prevailing in both Free State and Six Counties.
The injustice of being as an individual politically impotent, the injustice of unemployment, poverty, poor housing, inadequate social security, the injustice of the exploitation of our labour, our intelligence and our natural resources, the injustice of the bloody-minded destruction of our culture, our language, music, art, drama, customs, the inherent injustice of the state repression which is necessary to maintain the present system as a whole.So long as partition lasts a unified national concentration on correcting these injustices is not possible. 'We must therefore first of all break the British connection.' The I.R.A. promises a democratic and socialist state:
A Government system which will give every individual the opportunity to partake in the decisions which affect him or her: by decentralising political power to the smallest social unit practicable where we would all have the opportunity to wield political power both individually and collectively in the interests of ourselves and the nation as a whole. Socially and Economically we will enact a policy aimed at eradicating the Social Imperialism of today, by returning the ownership of the wealth of Ireland to the people of Ireland through a system of co-operativism, worker ownership, and control of industry, Agriculture and the Fisheries.In order to achieve the long-term goal of the Democratic Socialist State every member of the Movement is urged to concentrate on short-term objectives which might be accomplished en route to the long-term goal.
A new recruit's immediate obstacle is the removal of his (her) ignorance about how to handle weapons, military tactics, security, interrogations etc. An O.C.'s might be how to put a unit on a military footing; an I.O.'s how to create an effective intelligence network; a Cumann Chairman's how best to mount a campaign on a given issue, e.g. H Blocks etc., and for all members of the movement regardless of which branch we be-long to, to enhance our commitment to and participation in the struggle through gaining as comprehensive an understanding as possible of our present society and the proposed Republican alternative through self and group education.The approach of the Green Book is a cunningly thought out mixture of philosophy and guide to action. Each lesson or lecture is in part repetitious, in part a thinking forward to the next stage, a constant preoccupation with the problem of how to win friends and influence people while at the same time killing others and setting off explosions. The basic formula chosen to deal with this lethal paradox is 'get your defensive before your offensive'. This is explained to the recruit thus:
Before we go on the offensive politically or militarily we take the greatest defensive precautions possible to ensure success, e.g. we do not advocate a United Ireland without being able to justify our right to such a state as opposed to partition; we do not employ revolutionary violence as our means without being able to illustrate that we have no recourse to any other means. Or in more everyday simple terms: we do not claim that we are going to escalate the war if we cannot do just that; we do no mount an operation without first having ensured that we have taken the necessary defensive precautions of accurate intelligence, security, that weapons are in proper working order with proper ammunition and that the volunteers involved know how to handle interrogations in the event of their capture etc, and of course that the operation itself enhances rather then alienates our supporters.The book does not hesitate to point out the I.R.A.'s own mistakes in order to highlight this point. It warns about how the enemy can exploit for publicity reasons bomb situations, there having been some horrific cases of bombs going off before buildings could be cleared:
Even the given situations of adequate bomb warnings are exploited which is again our mistake in not having sufficiently considered our defensive before going on the offensive: the so-called Bloody Friday [see page 480] being the prime example. Either we did not stop to consider that the enemy would 'Dirty Joe' us on the warnings or we overestimated the Brits' ability to handle so many operations. But regardless of which is the case we made the mistake and the enemy exploited it.But the recruit is also taught how to exploit the enemy's mistakes.
We exploit these mistakes by propagating the facts. So it was with their murderous mistakes of the Falls Road curfew, Bloody Sunday and internment, which were exploited to our advantage support-wise as was the murder of John Boyle in Dunloy.The grim flexibility of the I.R.A., which can 'legitimise' a target at the drop of an ideological hat, is contained in the directive on tactics.
Tactics are dictated by the existing conditions. Here again the logic is quite simple. Without support Volunteers, Dumps, Weapons, Finance, etc., we cannot mount an operation, much less a campaign. In September 1969 the existing conditions dictated that Brits were not to be shot, but after the Falls curfew all Brits were to the people acceptable targets. The existing conditions had been changed.In that concluding phase, the 'etc.' can be the most important - and deadly - word. The 'existing conditions' can indicate a chilling range of 'etceteras'. For instance, the businessman Jeffrey Agate was shot because at the time the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Roy Mason was touring the U.S. trying to attract investment to the Province. Sir Norman Stronge and his son were shot and their home burned because sectarian assassinations were claiming the lives of Catholics. The death of Sir Norman, a former Speaker of the parliament of Stormont and one of the Province's leading Orangemen, made the sectarian assassins give up their campaign-at least temporarily. Edgar Graham, the Unionist Assemblyman, was shot because it was discovered that he had been aiding the prisons administration with advice which was felt to be outside a politician's normal term of reference. The Carrolls, a husband and wife who had been 'turned' by the R.U.C., were executed both as informers and to respond to the tactic of 'turning'. Whole categories of people can be declared 'legitimate targets' for a period. During the H Block crisis, for instance, over a score of warden were shot; throughout 1985 and 1986 contractors who either did building work on R.U.C. barracks or even performed catering duties were targets.
So far as the I.R.A. were concerned, these people were helping to 'service the war-machine' of their enemies. And the Green Book itself says:
We do not exclude taking an action which does not completely fill the criteria of this analysis on how to conduct the struggle. Many instances have arisen and will arise again when we have had to step outside these general terms of reference to our immediate detriment propaganda-wise and support-wise. However even in such an eventuality, if we rationalise our action, get our defensive before our offensive, try to ensure that we have an alternative, relatively unaffected area of support from which to operate if the support in the area in which the detrimental but unavoidable action takes place, we are adhering as best as possible under the circumstances to a proper conduct of the war.The young recruit is left under no illusion as to the power and extent of the enemies ranged against the I.R.A. both from outside and within.
THE ENEMY: CATEGORISE-CURE: The enemy, generally speaking, are all those opposed to our short-term or long-term objectives. But having said that, we must realise that all our enemies are not the same and therefore there is no common cure for their enmity. The conclusion then is that we must categorise and then suggest cures for each category.If Dr O'Brien did in fact 'booze' to the extent the I.R.A. pun attempts to suggest, he would not have created the body of writing which makes him the object of their propaganda. But as has been said before it is an Irish Revolution, and no opportunity for humour, however slight, can be lost sight of even when summing up something as important as the Movement's strategy (as opposed to tactics).
GUERRILLA STRATEGY: Many figures of speech have been used to describe Guerrilla Warfare, one of the most apt being 'The War of the Flea' which conjured up the image of a flea harrying a creature of by comparison elephantine size into fleeing (forgive the pun). Thus it is with a Guerrilla Army such as the I.R.A. which employs hit and run tactics against the Brits while at the same time striking at the soft economic underbelly of the enemy, not with the hope of physically driving them into the sea but nevertheless expecting to effect their withdrawal by an effective campaign of continuing harrassment contained in a fivefold guerrilla strategy.
The Strategy is:
1. A war of attrition against enemy personnel which is aimed at causing as many casualties and deaths as possible so as to create a demand from their people at home for their withdrawal.
2. A bombing campaign aimed at making the enemy's financial interest in our country unprofitable while at the same time curbing long term financial investment in our country.
3. To make the Six Counties as at present and for the past several years ungovernable except by colonial military rule.
4. To sustain the war and gain support for its ends by National and International propaganda and publicity campaigns.
5. By defending the war of liberation by punishing criminals, collaborators and informers.
The greatest threat posed to the I.R.A. is that of penetration either by enemy agents and informers or by the supergrass system. To guard against this threat, volunteers learn tactics such as anti-interrogation techniques, which the Green Book concentrates on in particular - an indication of how importantly this is viewed by the I.R.A., and which we will examine shortly. But even more important than the counter-interrogation techniques is the creation of a good self-image on the part of the volunteer, by dinning into him the justice of his cause and his personal superiority to the 'Brit' enemy, who has 'not only the sympathy of, but a degree of control over the elements which largely formulate people's opinions - TV, Radio, the large circulation press'.
While one of our chief considerations in deciding tactics is the concern for our friends, relatives, neighbours, our people is the midst of whom we operate, the enemy is simply dealing with an impersonal, inferior foreigner, a 'Paddy'. 'Musck-Savage' or 'Bog-Wog', and with the great added advantage of all the resources and back up of a conventional army, para-military police, etc., e.g. M.R.F., S.A.S., plain clothes units, covert surveillance teams etc.It is pointed out to the volunteer that 'the Brit, apart from the adventurist elements, has no motivation for being here'.
A member of the I.R.A. is such by his own choice, his convictions being the only factor which compels him to volunteer, his objectives the political freedom and social and economic justice for his people. Apart from the few minutes in the career of the average Brit that he comes under attack, the Brit has freedom or personal initiative. He is told when to sleep, where to sleep, when to get up, where to spend his free time etc.The threat of capture looms over all I.R.A. activity, even more omnipresent than death. It is a situation from which the I.R.A. can draw either defeat as in earlier confrontations in the Curragh for instance, or victory in death as in the H Block struggle. But capture and interrogation are circumstances for which all volunteers have to be prepared en route to the Movement's long-term objective of a Democratic Socialist Republic, before the actual prison, or rather interrogation programming commences. Immediately before the subject of interrogation is dealt with all that a volunteer has learned to date is summarised in chart form as shown on the following page.
The summary continues:
By now it is clear that our task is not only to kill as many enemy personnel as possible but of equal importance to create support which will carry us not only through a war of liberation which could last another decade but which will support us past the 'Brits Out' stage to the ultimate aim of a Democratic Socialist Republic.
THE GREEN BOOK: II
It is when studying what the volunteer is told will happen to him in the eventuality of capture that one fully realises the commitment of the rank-and-file I.R.A. man to the 'Cause'. The use of interrogation techniques has been documented in a variety of ways: reports by Amnesty, Lord Compton, Judge Bennett; the case brought by the Government of the Republic before the Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg over the treatment of men caught in the internment swoop of August, '97'; and the accounts given by individuals seeking damages for experiences which befell them while in custody. From my own research into prisoners' experiences, particularly for my book On The Blanket, I have found that, if anything, the Green Book lectures understate the horror of what lies in store for a captured I.R.A. man. Certainly whatever makes them face such risks, it is not the £10 a week (£20 for a married man) which was the standard pay in the mid 1980s.
In view of the important light it sheds on a volunteer's conditioning, I am reprinting this section of the Green Book at some length:
Most volunteers are arrested on or as the result of a military operation. This causes an initial shock resulting in tension and anxiety. All volunteers feel that they have failed, resulting in a deep sense of disappointment. The police are aware of this feeling of disappointment and act upon this weakness by insults such as 'you did not do very well: you are only an amateur: you are only second class or worse'. While being arrested the police use heavy handed 'shock' tactics in order to frighten the prisoner and break down his resistance. The prisoner is usually dragged along the road to the waiting police wagon, flung into it, followed by the arresting personnel, e.g., police or Army. On the journey to the detention centre the prisoner is kicked, punched and the insults start. On arrival he is dragged from the police wagon through a gauntlet of kicks, punches and insults and flung into a cell.
1. The most important thing to bear in mind when arrested is that you are a volunteer of a revolutionary Army, that you have been captured by an enemy force, that your cause is a just cm, that you are right and that the enemy is wrong and that as a soldier you have taken the chance expected of a soldier and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in being captured.
2. You must bear in mind that the treatment meted out to you is designed to break you and so bleed you of all the information you may have with regard to the organisation to which you belong.
3. They will attempt to intimidate you by sheer numbers and by brutality. Volunteers who may feel disappointed are entering the first dangerous threshold because the police will act upon this disappointment to the detriment of the volunteer and to the furtherment of their own ends. Volunteers must condition themselves to the obvious fact that they can be arrested and if and when arrested they should expect the worst and be prepared for it.
After the prisoner has been placed in a cell, he may be left for some time alone. During this lull, police officers, 'The Interrogators', will crowd around the outside of the cell door from time to time, shouting threats and insults, telling the prisoner what they will do to him when they go into the cell.
After some time the interrogators will enter the cell and ask the prisoner to make a confession. During this period he may be subjected to assaults and abusive language, depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge. At this stage he will be fingerprinted and other questions will be put to him, related to the specific charge or other charges. Usually his name and address will be taken, place of employment, occupation, educational standard and so forth. After this he will be again isolated in his cell while his 'interrogators' check his identity, usually with local police, his home and place of employment. In this period of time the police will try to establish his political beliefs, if any, his associates, his police record, if any, and in this way build up a file on him. Most probably 'his-associates' general pattern of movement will give a pretty good idea to the police, if the person is involved in or is sympathetic to a political organisation. Armed with this body of information the police will re-enter the cell and accuse the prisoner of all sorts of activity. If the evidence does not indicate a degree of guilt on the specific charge, he will be accused of all kinds of vague activity.
The purpose of these vague accusations is to implant a feeling of guilt in the prisoner. If, however, the police have some evidence or strong beliefs, linking him with a specific charge, pressure will be applied immediately. This pressure will take the form of physical and psychological torture, most probably he will be punched and kicked around the cell while they scream at him to make a confession, indicating to him that they know all. One or more of the interrogating officers will act in a particular and brutal manner, if they fail to get a confession or an admission of guilt they will leave the cell, telling the prisoner they will be back and threatening him with the most barbaric forms of torture, implying that they extracted confessions from better men than he.
Another set of interrogators will enter the cell, possibly carrying a file with the prisoner's name written on it. They will act quite friendly and sympathetic towards him, telling him that they do not condone the activity of the previous interrogators, that they were mad, crazy and possibly they may kill him when they come in later, they will go to extremes to impress the prisoner of their own sympathy towards him, and ask him to make a confession to them indicating that they do not want the previous interrogators 'to get at him again'.
They will probably guarantee him that if he makes the confession they will not allow the former interrogators to re-enter the cell, this will be coupled with a warning that otherwise they can not guarantee him safety. When the prisoner refuses to confess they will pretend to become very annoyed and disappointed at his lack of co-operation. They may strike him across the face or in the stomach while telling him that he ought to be thankful to them, that they saved him from the previous interrogators and indicating that his behaviour and attitude is a thankless way to repay their kindness.
The interrogators will then open up the file and pretend to read extracts from it, related to the prisoner's past life and activities, even the most intimate and private aspects of his life will be read to him, and possibly a general account of his movements and associates. Most of this information may have been supplied by his friends, employer, school, family, or girlfriend, it may also be 'Pub Talk', local gossip, information supplied by touts or information extracted from other prisoners. This detailed information is designed to frighten the prisoner and to shatter his confidence in his associates and his organisation. If, however, they get no confession, they will leave the cell, but before doing so they will give the prisoner their names and tell him to ask for them at any time he wishes to, again indicating that the next set of interrogators are crazy, drunk, and will do him severe damage, they then leave the cell.
After a period of time another set of interrogators will enter the cell, again these interrogators will be particularly brutal and nasty towards him. They will attack him immediately in a most hostile and vicious manner, suggesting to him that if he did not confess to the former interrogators he will confess to them, they will let him know that they have a reputation of getting confessions from people like him, implying that everyone they met confessed before they were finished with them. The torture used will now take on a three-fold purpose:
The physical torture will be in the form of beatings, kicking,
punching and twisting of limbs, it may even be burning from cigarette
2. Psychological Torture
This will be in the form of threats to his family, his friends
and himself, e.g. threats of assassination and threats to castrate
This takes the form of stripping the prisoner of his clothes and remarks passed about his sexual organs. This period of interrogation may last for as long as two hours or more and at the end of that period they may produce a factual or faked confession from an associate. Failing to get their confession they leave the cell, telling him they will be back and when they do come back they will break every bone in his body.
This process can continue for seven days without a break, the minimum of sleep is allowed and if they deem it necessary, no sleep will be allowed. Lack of sleep causes the prisoner to become confused.
Because of the existing laws which authorise the police to detain a person for seven days, it means in effect that the process of interrogation can continue to disorientate their victim, due in the main to lack of sleep.
Interrogation can have many different phases, depending on the evidence or information which the police have gathered. It is obvious that a volunteer captured carrying out an operation is already seen to be guilty, especially if captured with a weapon bomb, etc., in this case the police have all the evidence needed to obtain a conviction and interrogation becomes unnecessary. Most likely the volunteer will be beaten up in the police stations for what he has done, not for what he knows, if interrogated under these circumstances it will be to get information on the organisation to which he belongs and on his comrades. Another shady aspect directly related to interrogation is blackmail and bribe. When the police cannot obtain a confession they may attempt to blackmail the volunteer, this may be in the form of threats to spread scandalous stories about the volunteer, stories or threats may be designed to hit at the character of the volunteer such as a threat to tell his comrades or his organisation that he told everything or that he had been working for them for years. The other phase of this shady interrogation is bribe. A volunteer may be promised money, a passport and a safe passage to any country he so desires if he co-operates.
The best defence in anti-interrogation techniques is to understand the techniques as practised by police forces. The purpose of interrogation is to get a confession. If the interrogators knew what they were searching for then there would be no need for interrogation, therefore interrogation is necessary only when the police are unaware of information, which would lead to a conviction. The best anti-interrogation is to SAY NOTHING... All police forces work from a story suspicion or a clue, therefore when a volunteer is arrested they strive to build that clue on that suspicion and the only way that can be done is to obtain information from their victim. They usually start by questioning their victim, writing down a recording of what he says, comparing this information with information already in their possession, looking for differences which contradict the information previously gained, going back to their victim, pointing out these differences, resulting in the victim changing his alibi in order to suit this difference. The police will again check this new story with other information and again look for a difference or mistake narrowing the prisoner's alibi down until finally it breaks. All of these changes in his statements will be recorded and used as evidence against him, evidence which will without doubt be accepted by the court and so lead to his conviction. This cannot be over stressed: when arrested SAY NOTHING. Ask to see your solicitor and doctor immediately and keep on doing so.
DO NOT INDULGE IN CONVERSATION WITH THE POLICE.
We have seen earlier in the lecture how the first batch of interrogators will enter the cell usually insulting, shouting and beating the prisoner. Volunteers should understand that this first batch of interrogators usually fingerprint, ask name, address etc. At this stage a little is known about the prisoner and therefore the task of the interrogator is to identify him positively. Again the prisoner must bear in mind that everything he says will be recorded and compared with existing information in the possession of the police. The purpose of abusing the prisoner at this stage is called the 'softening up period', usually one or more will act in a particularly nasty manner. This interrogation period may last not more than one hour and is only a preliminary investigation. The purpose of using heavy handed techniques and sheer hostility is an opening for the following batch of interrogators, whom we have seen act in a particularly sympathetic manner.
This set of interrogators, we have seen, acted in a friendly and sympathetic manner towards the prisoner, offering him cigarettes and friendship. Volunteers should be well aware and on guard against this feigned friendship. These interrogators pretend to be sympathetic towards the aims and objects of the movement, going to lengths to impress the volunteer, pretending that they too believe in a united Ireland. They will, no doubt, tell the volunteer that their father or grandfather was in the same organisation and that they were forced by economic circumstances to join the police force and that they are now merely passing the time until they are pensioned off. They will try to convince the volunteer that it is in his interest to make a confession, that they advise him to make a confession to them in order to escape from the previous interrogators who, they claim, are anti-Republican and are not interested in getting a confession but are only interested in beating the prisoner up. The volunteer should understand that these seemingly kind police officers may be acting the tough cop with his comrades who had been or are arrested. Finally we have seen how these interrogators, pretending to become upset, had stretched forward and beat the volunteer about the face and body, declaring that their advice and friendship was being returned or repayed with a stubborn attitude and a refusal to make EVEN PART OF A CONFESSION. This technique is as old as police forces, they attempt to win over the friendship and trust of the prisoner, hoping that if their prisoner fails into that trap he will become upset, not so much at the punching about the face which he received from them but at his own refusal to cooperate: this perhaps is the most dangerous type of interrogation and one which leaves the prisoner in a psychological vulnerable position.
Another technique is called TOP SECRET FILE TECHNIQUE, this involves the interrogators bringing into the cell a file with the prisoner's name printed on it. The police will open this file in the presence of the prisoner as we have seen earlier in the lecture. They proceed to read from this file parts of the prisoner's past life, even to the most intimate details and a general account of his movements and friends, especially those associated with or known to have contacts or sympathies with a political organisation, e.g., Sinn Fein. They also have information gathered from various sources such as employer, neighbours, PUB TALK OR LOCAL GOSSIP. Very often the PUB TALK and gossip is factual, this arises from the volunteer or volunteers in general speaking in pubs under the influence of alcohol, telling close friends and girl friends and boasting in a bravado manner about their exploits and the exploits of others. This type of bravado is POSITIVELY DANGEROUS, not only to the volunteer and his associates but to the Movement in general. Another dangerous aspect of interrogation is 'an associate's confession', this involves an interrogator approaching the volunteeer with a signed or unsigned, factual or unfactual confession of an assoicate. Volunteers must understand, (in the first place) 'this confession may be a hoax and in the second, even it is a factual confession of his associate, this confession is not an indication of guilt and will not be accepted in court unless his associate who made the confession is prepared to turn State or Crown witness and is prepared to swear its truth in the witness box. Very often a volunteer may break under severe physical and psychological torture and make a confession, but rarely is prepared to turn Crown or State witness and swear against his comrades. If this technique is employed by the police DON'T FALL FOR IT, it is a trick to weaken the volunteer and so get him to make and sign a statement.
Another dangerous technique employed, is bringing the prisoner who made a statement into the same room as the volunteer who refuses to co-operate, usually they are left on their own and the prisoner who made a statement may try to entice his comrade to do likewise. If this happens to you always bear in mind that you are not alone because the room is always bugged and any talk is recorded. Another important point to bear in mind is when the prisoner who confessed and perhaps implicated you approaches, don't launch a verbal attack on him because this verbal attack on him would be an implication of your guilt, always speak friendly to him and suggest he must be mistaken, that he is ill and advise him to seek medical attention.
Another important point to be remembered and one which is extremely important, DON'T GET INVOLVED IN A POLITICAL CONVERSATION, this technique is a universal tactic and one which recurs repeatedly. When volunteers refuse to make a confession and when all other tactics of interrogation have failed, the police usually, if not always, attempt to get the volunteer to speak on political matters. This is a technique which many volunteers fail to recognise, its purpose is to fling the volunteer off balance, to sound out his political thinking, to break his silence and so make it easier for him to speak freely. This tactic has been used against volunteers and very often to their own detriment. When a volunteer has been arrested and the usual terror tactics used against him, this display of friendship has a weakening effect upon him and can be explained in psychological terms.
As we have seen earlier in this lecture, these seemingly friendly interrogators will give their names to the prisoner before they leave the cell, telling him that the next set of interrogators are crazy, anti-Republicans who are out to do him harm, they will tell him to call upon them at any time he so wishes and they will do their best to save him from brutal treatment. All volunteers must understand and understand in the clearest possible way that no interrogator is his friend, that they are the enemy, the instruments of coercion, the tools of suppression and a more dangerous enemy than the interrogators who will beat him up. These people act a part in a well-rehearsed play, and are using subtle psychological techniques in order to undermine the morale of the volunteer. All volunteers are well versed in brutal treatment as practised by the police and Army. They understand what physical torture means, but now you will have to understand the meaning and application of psychological torture, perhaps the term is sit uncommon one, but its effects are far reaching.
We have seen earlier in this lecture how the 'heavy squad' now enters the scene and proceeds to attack the volunteer in a most vicious and brutal manner.
This shock treatment is well rehearsed and is meant to push the volunteer into a physical and mental corner, in other words they hope that their shock treatment will knock the volunteer off balance, and off guard in the hope that he will confess. They will shout statements to the effect that they have a reputation for extracting confessions, that they have never yet failed and that he will not fool them. Now we must analyse this approach, the first thing we note of importance is, the shouting in conjunction with the physical torture, the shouting as we shall see is a more important interrogation technique than the physical torture. Again, why shout? Why boast? Why tell the volunteer that they are experts at extracting information? This shouting and boasting is merely an assurance to the police that they can get a confession, it is the first obvious sign of their own weakness, a compensation for their own shortcomings and all volunteers should and ought to look upon this display as a modern war dance. Just as primitive peoples held war dances, and built totem poles in order to compensate themselves for their own known weakness, so two frustrated interrogators will shout and boast in front of the prisoner to compensate themselves for their own weakness. The best anti-interrogation technique when a volunteer finds himself in this situation, is to look upon the police interrogators as he would look upon primitive people, wearing the head of a dead animal, hoping that by doing this they gain the strength or cunning of the animal whose head they wear. All volunteers should look upon shouting, boasting policemen as they would look upon primitive people doing a war dance.
While the sole object of this frightening lecture is to defeat the British and all British influences, reading the following passage one could be forgiven for thinking that the I.R.A., for all their Irishness, had acquired, the peculiarly British characteristic of understatement.
We have seen that this type of torture is widespread and usually in the form of threats so the volunteer in question, to his friends and family, threats to assassinate him, to blacken his character, to castrate him; loss of sleep, poor quality food and continuous noise. This in conjunction with physical torture and the fear of physical torture builds up anxiety and borders on hysteria. All of this is designed to smash down the volunteer's natural defence mechanism, usually a person held for a period of time, perhaps seven days, living in an environment of fear and indecision, constantly being threatened, cut off from all natural contacts, deprived of his usual social surroundings, lack of sleep etc. This can and does, form disorientation and disillusionment: during this period the volunteer will get no sleep or very little sleep, living this type of vague existence for a number of days can leave its mark and deserves an independent lecture.
The sexual overtones of some interrogation techniques are graphically described in a section devoted to humiliation.
We have seen that this type of interrogation technique invariably is stripping the prisoner of all his clothes and remarks passed about his sexual organs. Volunteers should be aware of the proven fact that clothes are an important aspect of the individual's character or make up. By removing his clothes the interrogators hope to remove the volunteer's character and make up, psychologically this is symbolic and by doing this the police like to humiliate the volunteer and so lift away the barriers, just as they find barriers preventing them from getting a confession. A person's clothes become symbolic of this barrier and by removing them they hope to remove the natural defence mechanism of the volunteer.
The second part of humiliation is to pass derogatory remarks about
the volunteer's sexual organs. This is quite common in all police
stations, North, South and in England. Volunteers should attempt
to understand the mentality which underlies this act and so be
better prepared to meet this angle if and when it happens to them.
Just as they removed the volunteer's clothes which symbolised
a defence mechanism or natural barrier so too by passing derogatory
remarks about the volunteer's sexual organs they attempt to humiliate
the volunteer and by so doing to weaken his will to resist. The
mere act of doing this has deeper undertones than one would guess.
Volunteers should understand that from a psychological point of
view this act is called a penis complex. This complex is inherent
in the homosexual and although the interrogators themselves may
be married men with a family it indicates suppressed homosexual
tendencies. When the volunteer realises and understands this proven
fact he should not have great difficulty in triumphing over his
interrogators. He should look upon them as homosexuals with the
immunity of the establishment, as people who become sadistic from
the homosexual tendencies which underlie them.
BRIBERY and BLACKMAIL are also discussed with a grim warning for those who succumb to such techniques.
The police sometimes attempt to use blackmail and bribe in the
last vain attempt to obtain a confession. All volunteers should
ignore this type of carrot-dangling. Blackmail rarely works effectively
and can backfire against the police in libellous action and so
bad publicity. Bribe never works, despite the fact that a volunteer
may be offered money and protection in exchange for information.
He should bear in mind that when he is of no further use to the
police they drop him and the protection means nothing, for example,
To avoid fetching up like the unfortunate Lennon, volunteers are finally given some advice on how to make MIND triumph over MATTER.
While being tortured in a brutal, physical manner it is important that the volunteer should consolidate his position, he should realise that it's seven days if he keeps silent, perhaps seventeen years if he speaks. It's no easy thing to dismiss physical torture as a small meaningless thing. It is by no means small and by no means meaningless to the receiver. From time immemorial, from histories recorded as far back as the Babylonian Empire up through the days of Imperial Rome, from the Spanish Inquisition to Nazi Concentration Camps, Free State and British police stations, come stories of how people coped and defeated the attempts of police to beat information from prisoners.
One notable technique was the prisoners' ability to form images in their minds or on the surrounding walls. People who were brutalised found that by directing their powers of concentration away from their interrogators and diverting it to images formed in their own mind they could in effect overcome the physical pain. Some people pictured images in their own mind or in the mind's eye, this picture may have been a flickering candlelight, a leaf or a flower, but by concentrating upon it, by building it and by stabilising it, it seemed to attract their concentration so strongly in fact, that physical abuse became meaningless. This mental exercise is called by some psychologists mind over matter and is said to be a highly successful and invincible anti-interrogation technique.
Little is known of the laws surrounding this technique but all authorities associated with its research maintain that people under severe physical and mental pressure seem to adapt themselves to this state. People without previous experience or knowledge of the subject, but who under interrogation stumble across this technique maintained that it worked but they did not know why.
Again, some people found that by staring at a certain spot on a cell wall they experienced a similar sensation. It may be that the ancient Indian practise of Yoga has close or similar sensations, but one thing is certain that when a person's concentration is directed away from his interrogators he seems to triumph and perhaps torture is a method employed by the police to hold the prisoner's attention on them. This advice should be at least considered by volunteers.
In conclusion, if and when arrested:
But to illustrate just what one has to train the mind to deal with, the most shocking warning on psychological torture is kept until the end.
A technique at present being practiced by the Brits and Police is one of shock aimed psychologically. This involves exposing blown up photographs, usually of dead bomb victims, dead soldiers and policemen and more often than not the corpses of the suspect's comrades. The technique behind this tactic is to arouse emotions of hysteria in the suspect and by so doing to disorientate him temporarily. All volunteers must understand and be fully aware of the anxiety, the shock and the hysteria it can arouse in the unprotected suspect.
By understanding this technique and by looking at it logically and the tactic behind it, volunteers should be ready to meet the situation of that nature, with confidence in the knowledge that its purpose is to shock the volunteer into confession. Another tactic of this nature is throwing the limb or limbs of a corpse into the cell of the suspect. To the best of our knowledge this tactic has been used only once, but successfully, again in the Miami Showband case.*
The best protection while being interrogated is LOYALTY to the Movement. This implies LOYALTY to all YOUR COMRADES and PROTECTION of all members of the Movement. Again commitment to the aims and objectives of the Movement, a deep and unmoving POLITICAL COMMITMENT to the ideas of the Socialist Republic, CONSTANT AWARENESS that you are a REVOLUTIONARY with a sound POLITICAL base, NOBLE and JUSTIFIABLE CAUSE, and a deep and firm belief that those holding you and interrogating you are MORALLY WRONG, that you are SUPERIOR in all respects, because your cause is RIGHT and JUSTIFIED.
[*Members of the Miami Showband, a popular group from the Republic,
were ambushed and murdered during the wave of sectarian assassinations
(see page 550 et. seq) in Armagh. An attempt was
made to destroy their bus and bodies with bombs.]
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
Last modified :