20 July 2011

Resistance Is Farrell

Tony Farrell has given another interview in the alternative media, this time on Resistance Radio. I listened to the interview with a view to (i) finding out more details of his legal claim against South Yorkshire police with regard to his dismissal and, (ii) to try and understand the process of preparing a threat assessment matrix.

In the first part of the interview he comes across as a novice conspiraloon where he namechecks people who seem to have scant regard for the scholarly method, this is done with the help of the interviewer who intrudes in the interview in order, at times, to push his own agenda. Ignoring this aspect of the interview Farrell does make some interesting points.

Starting at ca 39.40 he begins to talk about how his dismissal unfolded. He explained that he had to prepare his threat assessment for the 8th July 2010. In the run up to the big day, he had been considering the alternative hypotheses of inside jobs etc based upon various truther websites and documentaries he'd seen. Although his threat assessment was essentially complete he had a crisis of conscience with regard to what he was going to present to his superiors with regard to terrorism. This troubled him with regard to his loyalties within the hierarchy and so he dropped his superior a briefing note. He explainied that, although the terror threat assessment was only a small part of the overall matrix he was preparing, this aspect was causing him huge problems.

The next day (7th July 2010) Farrell's boss, the director of intelligence, asked Farrell whether or not he could still deliver his presentation. Farrell explained that everything was in place such that he could deliver on the due date.

When the due date came, 8th July 2010, Farrell said he presented a ludicrous report where he focused on the terror aspect of the matrix. He then went on to describe the process that was used to remove him from his position.

Throughout this description he explained that he was one of 43 principal intelligence analysts. The analysts used police information systems in order to prepare these assessments which he described as crude and flawed from a statistical point of view. He said that the threat assessment process was a gimmick to deflect from wider issues and a massive distraction from allowing analysts to do their jobs. (A comparison with R J Heuers' Psychology of Intelligence Analysis may be of interest, particularly for those who haven't read it.)

Beyond that, Farrell doesn't provide much more details as to what is a matrix threat assessment. However, searching the internet gave me a link to Project Sleipnir
"This paper describes an analytical technique
developed to rank order organized groups of
criminals in terms of their relative capabilities,
limitations and vulnerabilities. The rank ordered lists
of groups are components of strategic intelligence
assessments used to recommend intelligence and
enforcement priorities for the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police. Two versions exist: one for
organized crime which is publicly available, and one
for terrorism which is under development.
This technique uses rank ordered sets of
attributes for comprehensive, structured and reliable
measurement and comparison of qualitative
information about organized criminal groups. The
organized crime and terrorism versions use separate
attribute sets which reflect the similarities and
differences between the two classes of groups. Each
attribute is defined, weighted, and has a set of
defined values. The definitions minimize the degree
of subjectivity in interpreting and assessing
information for these assessments. The results are
presented as a matrix showing the attribute values for
each group. The definitions and weights for each
attribute set reflect consensus of opinions of
individuals from the RCMP and other agencies with
expertise in the topic areas. Consensus was achieved
by using the Delphi Method."

It isn't clear from this particular reference but I think that the technique stems from 2007.

As to his legal woes. He begins to discuss these details at 50.55.

He got the push on the 2nd September 2010 since his beliefs were incompatible with his position as a senior intelligence officer and further, it wasn't possible to re-deploy him anywhere else in the service.

His legal advisors told him that there where two issues with his dismissal
  • reasonabless
  • beliefs protected under law
Reasonableness comes from Public law and is also called Wednesbury reasonableness; Farrell doesn't elaborate much on this aspect of his case.

As to his beliefs being protected he was quite clear about the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.

Farrell went on to explain that he had an employment hearing date for three days beginning the 7th September 2011 but he already has had a preliminary hearing (a pre-hearing review) on 24th May 2011 which determined whether or not he had a claim with regard to his beliefs. The judgment appeared four weeks later (will try and get a copy) and found against him; Farrell explained that the judge found that his beliefs were not deemed to be protected under the 2003 Regulations due to a lack of cogency and/or coherence.

Farrell has taken legal advice which says that he has grounds to appeal since, in the opinion of his barrister, the judge misdirected himself because he applied the legal test against the validity of Farrell's belief rather than the genuineness of his belief. Farrell has until the 28th July 2011 to lodge an appeal against this decision.

Further thoughts ... it isn't clear whether or not Farrell is being jerked around by spooks pulling strings. It's difficult to get a handle on the real Farrell especially through the process of internet interviews etc but I can see the construction of a hyperreal Farrell: perhaps in this particular interview unwittingly, in other interviews/articles not so. The hyperreal construction of Farrell is that of an embattled conspiraloon who must be suppressed.

In this regard I feel a bit sorry for Farrell.  Perhaps this will change as more details become known, perhaps not.

28 comments:

  1. Your point about the unfortunate, 'hyperreal' Farrell is taken

    However, there are a few elements of the narrative he is promoting which suggest to me he is more calculating than you give him credit for...

    - His persistent reluctance to point to 7/7 researchers who do show regard for scholarly method

    - His questionable preferences when it comes to identifying evidence which supports scepticism of the Official 7/7 Narrative

    - His downplaying of the fact that he worked in the same county three of the four alleged bombers came from

    As is often the case in these matters, it's impossible to be sure if Farrell is a wrong 'un or not but he certainly hasn't done anything which merits any trust

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  2. Oh, and here's what I believe to be the important thing about the Farrell narrative

    At least some of us are looking at it critically, doing some research and trying to reach reasoned conclusions about what's going on here

    A fair few people clearly aren't

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  3. ^ there isn't enough information to draw any sensible conclusion, as Farrell might say we're at MaxEnt.

    One thing that is of interest though is that he's drawing attention to their methods of working. Is the 'matrix threat assessment' technique suitable for what it's being used for? As part of the technique's parameters does it include consideration of Operation Gladio threats? If not, why not? etc etc

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  4. I have yet to reach a conclusion on Farrell, but I suspect this point made by the employment appeal judge on Farrell's 'beliefs' may be of significant:

    ‘the conspiracy theory he (TF) advances remains, in the light of subsequent events and the weight of evidence, wildly improbable. There is no body of respectable academic commentary in peer reviewed academic journals that supports the theory, or at least none that I have had drawn to my attention.‘

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  5. @Bridget ^ and ^ and ^ very useful links, thanks.

    What appears to have swung for Farrell is that he is presenting alternative competing hypotheses rather than simply stating that the official narrative doesn't stack up.

    (As has been pointed out many times this is a massive strength of your group).

    When you said, "may be of significant" is this from a legal perspective or as part an analysis of the credibility of Farrell?

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  6. My thoughts so far: Farrell may well have had a paradigm shift over the weekend that he did his research but on the other hand I expect an area like Yorkshire contains many Muslims and others that don't support the official narrative and the police would be more than aware of 'conspiracy theories' in relation to 9/11 & 7/7, theories that undermine the role of many institutions including the police and the State - any police intelligence analyst worth their salt surely knows this. Wouldn't CTs actually make it into a risk assessment?

    The significance of the discrimination appeal is that now, in law, a person could be sacked from their job for holding such 'incoherent and absurd' beliefs -

    'Taking all of the above into account, the tribunal held that Mr Farrell’s beliefs failed to meet "any minimum standard of cogency or coherence", and were not capable of protection under discrimination law. It stated that, applying an objective test, they are "absurd beliefs, albeit sincerely held". The tribunal struck out all of the claims that relied on Mr Farrell’s beliefs being protected under discrimination law, and allowed only his unfair dismissal claim to proceed.

    The unfair dismissal can only be challenged on the basis of these 'sincerely held beliefs' so is doomed to fail. Therefore anyone who is dismissed on the same basis will find that the precedent has been set in law - say a university lecturer or science teacher. Is this why Farrell claims that his boss said 'you might be able to help us here'?

    Has Farrell v South Yorkshire Police actually strengthened the State by this ruling? Could people now be sacked for being conspiracy theorists with no protection in law?

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  7. ^ "the police would be more than aware of 'conspiracy theories' in relation to 9/11 & 7/7"

    There's being aware of them as a focus of contempt/derision/ridicule etc and there's being aware of them as an open minded individual. I can see that Farrell may have been closed minded, especially within the environment which he worked, and went on to have some sort of epiphany. Of course, that isn't to defend him but to sketch what may be a viable scenario that explains his behaviour.

    As to your legal point; what you write is extremely worrying. Not only for 'conspiracy theorists' but, for example, going back to Grainger v Nicholson, what if this case was the other way around? That is, what if Grainger hadn't believed in anthropomorphic global warming but the opposite? I can imagine that someone who sincerely holds these beliefs yet may not be able to express them cogently or coherently may be sacked under this ruling.

    As you rightly point out, this case is very worrying. I hope that it is over turned by the appeal.

    As for Farrell's prediction that the case will get lots of media attention: I think it will. But not for reasons of conspiraloonery (although I can imagine it will be played that way) but for the legal reasons that you've pinpointed.

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  8. "What appears to have swung for Farrell is that he is presenting alternative competing hypotheses rather than simply stating that the official narrative doesn't stack up."

    yup

    Farrell helps smooth the way for scepticism of the Official Narratives of 7/7 and 9/11 to be presented as being no different to a religious belief, and an incoherent one at that

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  9. I was making the point that the police would be aware of conspiracy theories around 9/11 & 7/7 as having an undermining effect in their policing of the local areas/populations, even if this is only on an anecdotal basis. A Demos report written on this subject and published shortly after Farrell's apparent epiphany:

    The Power of Unreason

    More broadly, conspiracy theories drive a wedge of distrust between governments and particular communities. Conspiracy theories - such as those that claim 7/7 or 9/11 were ‘inside jobs’ - demolish the mutuality and trust that people have in institutions of government, with social and political ramifications that we still don't fully understand. This can especially hinder community-level efforts to fight violent extremism.

    and reading through the many recommendations:

    Recommendation:

    Civil Society must play a more proactive role in confronting the lies and myths of conspiracy theories when they find them. There are a number of independent civil society groups that currently work to fight various forms of extremist and terrorist
    ideology. It is important that they also confront conspiracy theories that are part of the ideology. Such groups have more credibility than the government to factually rebut them. This applies not just to active civil society groups, but society as a whole: community leaders and individuals for example should be ready and willing to rebut conspiracy theories head-on where they find them.

    Opportunities for direct government confrontation

    For obvious reasons it is extremely difficult for the government to infiltrate effectively closed networks of disinformation. However, open infiltration is possible in some limited instances.

    Recommendation:

    Introduce some limited, open infiltration of Internet and physical sites by government to introduce alternative information. Government agents or their allies should openly infiltrate the Internet sites or spaces to plant doubts about conspiracy theories, introducing alternative information.


    Presumably an employment tribunal overseen by a judge is one way of dismissing theories as incoherent and absurd. Of course many of us would support this analysis of 7/7 Ripple Effect and theories of satanic world orders which is why Farrell's case is hard to support and is perhaps why J7 have been kept out of the loop on this.

    All is process, and as yet I haven't reached any firm conclusions although I realise that there are many levels to this. What is clear is that 7/7 RE strikes again!

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  10. @Stef @Bridget thanks for the comments. I see a number of threads running through the discussion: political, legal, semiotics/semiosis; it's difficult to keep track of them all.

    "Farrell helps smooth the way for scepticism of the Official Narratives of 7/7 and 9/11 to be presented as being no different to a religious belief, and an incoherent one at that"

    But not with everyone. Yes, I can certainly see it being spun like that, the story about him in the Sun was certainly of that nature. As to whether Farrell (or Farrell et al) has this intention; I don't know. I'm still sat on the fence but your comments and Bridget's have been invaluable in forcing me to test my thoughts on the matter.

    @Bridget thanks for the Demos link: downloaded but not yet read.

    "Presumably an employment tribunal overseen by a judge is one way of dismissing theories as incoherent and absurd."

    I think that this would be a high risk strategy due to the doctrine of separation of powers. I'm not averse to the idea of the State manipulating the law (eg) but not through the route described. As well as the separation of powers idea, when something gets into the courts it raises the attention of people who have no interest whatsoever in conspiraloonery but who are very much interested in the law. The result of this is that the ideas presented by Farrell will get the attention of people other than Sun readers and 'truthers' - surely this is the last thing a gang of spooks would want?

    Another point with regard to the demos report: I'd wager that your expertise on the subject, based upon your involvement with J7/7, is a lot greater than anyone's in South Yorkshire police. I don't say that to flatter you or to make some clever point of argument; simply, I don't believe that local police forces work at the level of sophistication of this discussion or your expertise. Nor do I say this in order to denigrate the police; they'd pride themselves on being thief-takers, capturers of murderers etc but not necessarily of sowers cognitive dissent.

    I'm still running with the idea that Farrell is being driven by some sort of epiphany; of course, the dogs are barely out of their traps, so that's just a working hypothesis.

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  11. @gyges I think that this would be a high risk strategy due to the doctrine of separation of powers. I'm not averse to the idea of the State manipulating the law (eg) but not through the route described. As well as the separation of powers idea, when something gets into the courts it raises the attention of people who have no interest whatsoever in conspiraloonery but who are very much interested in the law. The result of this is that the ideas presented by Farrell will get the attention of people other than Sun readers and 'truthers' - surely this is the last thing a gang of spooks would want?

    The problem with the ideas presented by Farrell is that they are limited to and constrained by 7/7 RE and this has previously served a useful purpose for the media arm of the State, the BBC, who were more that content to present this deeply flawed alternative narrative to a wider audience. It is arguable that the appearance of 7/7 RE was to serve this very purpose.

    If Farrell had chosen a different approach he could presumably have counted on expert witnesses such as Nafeez Ahmed or Daniel Ganser who could present a sceptical view of official narratives rather than supporters of the Muad'dibian construct.

    Thanks gyges for the opportunity to discuss these issues on here, as I said this is a process and I am loathe to jump to conclusions or assumptions at this stage, but rather am content to examine what unfolds.

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  12. I admire you listening to the whole interview, it certainly defeated me.
    I don't see its worthwhile even climbing onto a fence.
    Witting or unwitting, he has merely succeeded in promoting the central casting conspiranoid stereotype, without one shred of new information.
    I'm fairly sure the exotic sounding 'strategic threat assessment matrix' is just a collection of boxes, with some text in them, joined up with arrows and lovingly placed in a powerpoint slide.
    Like Mr Farrell, it won't make much sense, but then it doesn't have to.

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  13. @Bridget "this is a process and I am loathe to jump to conclusions or assumptions at this stage"

    ... but your argument is quite compelling!

    @paul "listening to the whole interview,"

    I listened to the radio interview. At the very end the yoof interviewer said that there was more on a youtube channel. My heart sank, I could not face listening to any more it.

    "I'm fairly sure the exotic sounding 'strategic threat assessment matrix' is just "

    It still shocks me that fingerprints are considered to be scientific; as to the threat assessment, I cannot disagree with you.

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  14. Just in case anyone doesn't know how risk assessment matrices work here's how I used to do them in a previous life -

    First you list the objectives of your organisation

    Then for each objective you brainstorm a list of all the bad things that could happen which could stop your organisation achieving its objectives

    Then for each bad thing you estimate the chances of that bad thing happening over the coming year and you also assign a value to its impact if it were to happen

    The final 'score' for each bad thing is the product of the size of its potential impact scaled by the chances of it actually happening

    Presumably, Farrell's matrices included lots of near 0% probabilities of certain bad things happening

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  15. Of course, if a belief system has to be internally consistent to be a valid belief system that consigns pretty much most organised religion, political and economic theory into the dustbin of history

    An interesting development indeed

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  16. btw speaking as someone who used to knock up corporate risk assessments for a living I can assure you that your scepticism is valid

    They are tremendously subjective - in terms of the threat identification and threat weighting

    Their primary uses are...

    - Corporate CYA
    - Makework

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  17. @Bridget, I've just began reading 'The Power of Unreason' only to find in the executive summary the following definition ...

    "conspiracy theories, defined as accounts of events as the deliberate yet concealed product of a powerful few, regardless of the evidence,"

    ... which, logically, reduces the gov narrative of 7/7 to a conspiracy theory.

    The 'powerful few' in this conspiracy theory are al qaeda and there are many examples of disregard for evidence ('regardless of evidence'). Eg, they can't even tell us what explosives were used; how did they fit into the car with all the kit, etc etc.

    Funny how your group is following the Demos recommendations, eg

    "Civil Society must play a more proactive role in confronting the lies and myths of conspiracy theories when they find them."

    Tick

    It looks as though all of the paragraph applies to your group; particularly the line about having more credibility than the government.

    Do you think that Demos had your group in mind when they wrote their missive.

    (Still reading the document, if anything else comes up, will revert).

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  18. Funny you should say that as we did have an email from them after the report was published, I think I posted it on the J7 forum but there were no responses - I think the Inquests had started and we were extremely busy at that time!

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am from the British think-tank, 'Demos', and work on their violence and extremism research project. We recently published a report on the role of conspiracy theories in extremist violence that may be of real interest to you, entitled "The Power of Unreason: Conspiracy Theories, Extremism and Counter-Terrorism". You can download it for free from our website here: http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/thepowerofunreason. Please feel free to get in touch with any thoughts or comments you may have, the authors are more than happy to discuss this report with any interested parties.

    Kindest regards,

    Ellen McLagan.


    If you feel like penning a few lines I'd be more than happy to send it or to send you their email to respond to yourself.

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  19. @Bridget ^ initial thoughts are ... what happens when a gov starts peddling conspiracy theories?

    However, I'll read the full document and get back to you, assuming I have something sensible to say.

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  21. .... what happens when a gov starts peddling conspiracy theories?

    Exactly what you see now, what happens when they stop?

    <scratches head>
    the enemy within,
    al queda is usually behind everything bad,
    greek hairdressers are are both lazy and greedy,and are out of control,
    International institutions are not sinister,
    unions are sinister,
    iraq can strike within 45 minutes,
    Scientists are unworldy folk whose press releases have purely altruistic motives,
    Carbon capture exists,
    The earth is about to turn into a fireball,
    we can do something about this,
    Markets are self correcting,
    Private enterprise enhances universal outcomes,
    Our allies did play golf on the moon,
    libya is uniquely awful and deserves to be bombed
    >gives up scratching head as blood is appearing/<

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  22. <muses on yet another alliance sidebar/>

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  24. I forgot:
    real unemployment controls the abstract of inflation
    quantitaive easing makes everything better

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  26. The transcript of the Farrell case can be found here.

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