‘Undercover lays bare the deceit, betrayal and cold-blooded violation practised again and again by undercover police officers – troubling, timely and brilliantly executed.’ Henry Porter . . .
The testimony of person after person who was taken in, deceived, gulled, who knew the officers for years – who thought of them as best friends, or lovers, or life partners, or the father of their children, who had no inkling that they were part of an elaborate state-sponsored spy-ring that intruded on the most intimate parts of their lives.’ (Carole Cadwalladr, Observer)
What set the SDS apart was their core tactic: living the life of a protester. SDS operatives gave up their warrant cards (their police identity), changed their names, grew their hair, changed their appearances and sought to establish personal relationships with their targets. While many of us might accept that some level of subterfuge is necessary where the policing of very serious criminal activity is concerned, there is little in the Guardian journalists’ account of their activities to strike readers as even close to acceptable.
The nature and consequences of the deceptions perpetrated are truly frightening. Indeed, theSDS’s informal motto –- “By Any Means Necessary” -– seems all too close to the truth. Staggeringly, it seems to have been tacitly understood that undercover officers (usually male) should target female protesters and form close personal relationships with them. These relationships were by no means casual, in many cases becoming sufficiently serious and long-standing for the officer effectively to become the partner of the person concerned. As such, these were no ordinary betrayals; they were, as one of the women pithily put it, “about a fictional character who was created by the state and funded by taxpayers’ money”. Worse still, and at their most extreme, these relationships led to children being born.
The officers not only deceived the women they formed relationships with, but also went as far as to father children that they knew they would have to abandon when, eventually, they were required to return to other duties. In many cases there were two sets of women (and their children) being deceived at the same time: the activist and the agent’s existing wife or partner. Can anyone in the police service seriously have thought this was justifiable? . . .
The human cost, too, was enormous, primarily falling on the women and children who found themselves caught up in these deceptions. But many officers paid a significant price too. Quite a number appear to have experienced significant mental health problems as a result of attempting to live two separate, but very different lives over many years.
Where were the civilian authorities? Where were the politician bosses? This is rape but beyond rape, mind rape but beyond mind rape, it’s life rape. The women thought they had found partners, husbands, children — they thought they had found a life. This kind of betrayal, deceit is acceptable in a democracy, in a country of laws?
Of course, the non-psychopathic officers destroyed themselves psychologically. There is no way they could handle that kind of guilt. But why obey?
When it is said that psychopaths are conscienceless and guiltless I hope this isn’t taken as hyperbole. On this level, it is absolute. The psychopathic officers described above should not be considered human and should be warehoused in mental hospitals for the remainder of their lives.