To the dismay of the government here, a former British colonel has just published a book urging "Gulag-Gestapo" methods to surpress the Irish Republican Army.
Robert Evelegh, a military intellectual, proposes giving the army power to question, photograph and fingerprint Ulster's 1.5 million citizens to separate potential informers from the rest. He also calls for creating a band of informers inside terrorist groups through cash rewards and blackmail pressure.
The Ministry of Defense acknowledges that it tried to persuade Evelegh not to publish his "Peace-Keeping in a Democratic Society." The Northern Ireland Office, Ulster's civil administration, is also reliably reported to have been upset by the colonel's work, fearing the IRA would use it for propaganda.
Evelegh, who retired last year and now runs a company specializing in the shipment of hazardous substances, says he consulted fellow officers who urged him to publish.
He wrote his work on Defense Fellowship at Oxford where he had been sent by the army. On active duty, Evelegh twice commanded an infantry battalion in the Upper Falls area of Belfast, a militant Catholic stronghold.
His solutions are unlikely to be adopted in any large-scale fashion by the government here, although some of his techniques are now standard practice in the Catholic ghettoes. His book, however, will strengthen the fears of civil libertarians, concerned that the army and its political role in Ulster poses a potential threat to traditional freedoms in Britain.
The backstage furor over Evelegh's work recalls the stir here six years ago when another army star, Frank Kitson, published his "Low Intensity Operations." Drawing on his experience in Ulster and other guerrilla wars, Kitson, in carefully muted language, proposed that the army of the future train itself to break national emergency strikes.
In this past year, the Labor government has twice used soldiers and sailors to defeat a strike of firemen and release a Polaris submarine held up by civilian workers. Kitson was careful to clear his work with the highest military authorities and has continued a brilliant career.
He is currently a major general, running the army staff college at Camberley. Evelegh, in contrast, offered to meet specific complaints about his work, but was told that the entire thrust was wrong. He was ordered to hand over every copy of his Oxford thesis and recover all papers connected with it. His publishers printed from a photo copy sent to a civilian.
One section asserts that democracies must use the methods of tyranny "to defeat terrorism and suppress insurrection.
"The methods that defeated the communist terrorists in Malaya are those that sustained the Gulag Archipelago. The methods of the Gestapo and the Swedish Special Branch, which was reported in 1973 to have operated a secret intelligence group that kept close tabs on left-wing members of the ruling Social Democratic Party and the trade unions, are of the same nature.
"Indeed, all the practices of these different internal security services, while of very different intensities and with very different limits, are basically the same because they are the only methods by which a society can protect itself against organized citizens within itself who wish to destroy their own polity."
Evelegh pointedly rules out torture or beating of suspects, however. He blames the frequent use of such methods in Ulster on frustration.
He calls for the military to interview everyone in Ulster for up to two hours and twice a year. These interviews, conducted in private, would separate progovernment persons, described as potential informers, from neutral and hostile citizens.
All would be compelled to carry identification cards with photographs, fingerprints and signature to collect health and social security benefits. An army-run computer would tie this date to all other government and some private records, like bank accounts, to provide total surveilance of the population.
The key to destroying terrorist groups, Evelegh asserts, is the informer within their ranks. He proposes to recruit them with large cash rewards, "conditional" pardons for the past and future crimes committed working with terrorists and outright blackmail. He cites approvingly an instance Malaya whose continued "loyalty" to the army was assured by photographing her between two smiling policemen and threatening to scatter copies of the picture over her village.
Evelegh would suppress the frequent street disorders in Ulster by reviving the 1714 Riot Act, which enabled troops to fire at random after a one hour's warning to disperse. He regards the present requirement, ordering troops to use "reasonable force," as an inhibition. In his view, British paratroopers failed to act with sufficient force on "Bloody Sunday" in 1972 when 13 unarmed civilians were killed during an outlawed demonstration.
Evelegh's views are not uncommon among officers serving in Ulster but they rarely appear in print. He reports that the military has already photographed much of the Catholic population in Belfast. The government relies heavily on informers and has anticipated another of his recommendations - to employ more soldiers in plain clothes - with the commando squads of the Special Air Services.
The retired colonel also proposes that his techniques be used to put down possible civilian disorder on the British mainland. As an example, he suggests the army should have been used to break up the mass picketing at a Birmingham coal depot in 1972 that was then a turning point for striking miners.
Evelegh says that the Army and not civilian officials are carrying on what exists of day-to-day government in many Catholic sectors of Ulster. His book points up what he believes to be the frustration and th dilemma of a situation where the Army must obey the orders of the politicians, when the Army has a political role of its own in Northern Ireland.