Intelligence: The Revival of Supergrass

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February7, 2007: Britain has revealed that it has its "Supergrass Squad" hard at work in Iraq. "Supergrass" is 1980s slang for a senior IRA (Irish Republican Army) or Unionist (Irish pro-British terrorist) operator who is secretly working for the British. In the 1980s, Britain put together an intelligence unit, whose sole job was to convince/coerce/whatever, IRA and Unionist members to become informers, or, in British slang. a "grasshopper." A particularly valuable informers was a, "supergrass." In Ulster, the most effective method to get someone to turn into a supergrass, was to give immunity from prosecution, and entry into what Americans call, a "witness protection program" (new identity in a new location and protection for life.) Bribery and blackmail also worked.

There have been rumors of "special informer programs" in Iraq, but this is definitely the sort of thing you'd want to keep quiet. Since this British JSG (Joint Support Group), as the supergrass squad is officially known, was revealed in a British newspaper, that tells us something. The British have some pretty strict (and strictly enforced) press censorship (for state secrets) laws, and an unauthorized article on JSG is, well, it's just not done. That is not to say that the reporter hasn't largely made it all up. That occurs in the British press quite a lot. In the United States you usually only see that sort of thing in the supermarket tabloids like the National Inquirer.

That said, it appears that British intelligence is eager to have an open discussion about the existence of Iraqi supergrass activity. Doing this sort of thing is a legitimate tactic, if you want to shake things up in the enemy camp, and see if any interesting bodies, or supergrass candidates, show up at your door.

Israel has been particularly effective in creating supergrass type informers inside Palestinian terrorist groups, and the United States is supposed to be developing novel uses for Green Cards (legal residency in the U.S.).

 


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