From the late 1960s to the late 1990s, Northern Ireland went into a violent period called the Troubles. On one side of the conflict were Roman Catholic (the Republicans) who wanted Northern Ireland to separate from the United Kingdom and become part of the Republic of Ireland, and on the other, Protestants (the Loyalists) who wanted to remain as part of the United Kingdom.
It was a chaotic time wherein many died or were injured, with the UK government trying to keep tensions from boiling over - but at the same time authorized numerous undercover operations to undermine the efforts of the Republicans.
In 1968, a fresh-faced 25-year-old Northern Irelander named Colin Wallace joined the Ministry of Defence and became an assistant information officer for the British Army. He eventually moved quickly up the corporate ladder and was soon deeply involved in the UK's undercover operations, particularly psychological operations or psyops.
He became a master of what we would call the "fake news" today. Wallace would plant stories, some bizarre, some barely credible and some a hair's width away from the truth to the press, designed to question the credibility of the IRA's as well as the nationalist narrative and agenda.
These stories included that satanism and terrorism were funded - and spearheaded - by the Vatican and the Soviet Union. He was an expert at spreading misinformation, sowing confusion and muddying the water on purpose, enough to redirect the conversation and undermine the opposition's efforts.
However, two things occurred that would have troubling effects on Wallace and his future. The Northern Ireland authorities discovered a group of pedophiles abusing the children in the Kincora Boys Home. It was run by a Protestant/Loyalist organization named Tara, and the authorities hushed it up because it would be a huge propaganda win for the Republicans. Another was Operation Clockwork Orange, where Wallace was asked to implement numerous smear campaigns, targeting democratically elected politicians - including the Prime Minister.
Wallace could not consciously and patriotically agree to protect pedophiles or sabotage the democratic process and promptly blew the whistle. He let many know what the government had asked him - and were asking him to do. He was naturally fired but was also accused of killing his lover's husband, convicted and thrown in jail, where he served six years for manslaughter. Eventually, other investigators uncovered evidence that all the charges against him were trumped up, and his conviction was ultimately overturned.
Today, Wallace is almost 80 years old, and the government is still trying to keep him quiet. What is extremely interesting about his story is that the psyops strategies he implemented 40-50 years ago are still relevant today. This is especially noteworthy in the light of fake news, conspiracy theories and social media making it even that much easier to confuse, redirect and misinform people on purpose to hide a bigger, more sinister agenda.
Directed by: Michael Oswald