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  • Ignore the conspiracies. Spies never forgive a traitor
    could reach When it was considered politically important that a death should remain unsolved defenestration was the method favoured The victim plunged to his death from a high window leaving the possibility that he fell jumped or was pushed accident suicide or murder Poisoning has similar ambivalence In 1978 Georgi Markov a Bulgarian defector died after a Bulgarian security service officer fired a ricin tipped dart into his leg from an umbrella gun as on Waterloo Bridge The KGB provided the equipment Other techniques remain a mystery Russian defector Walter Krivitsky who had been a Soviet military intelligence illegal in western Europe until his defection to the US in 1937 was found shot dead in his Washington hotel room in 1941 The door was locked from inside and three suicide notes were found But Krivitsky had told friends the KGB was after him and that if he were to be found dead then he had been murdered But the Russian services are not alone Frank Olson was a civilian biochemist working on biological warfare for the US Army He also had links with the CIA which felt he was talking too freely In November 1953 he plunged to death from the 13th floor of a hotel in New York In 1975 a congressional inquiry was told the CIA had been experimenting with mind bending drugs and unknown to Olson he was a guineapig The CIA said he had jumped while on the drugs Olson s son Eric is convinced his father was murdered to silence him In Britain the MI5 officer David Shayler served seven weeks in jail for breaking the Official Secrets Act by criticising MI5 and MI6 operations The government has pursued the former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson with legal actions after he criticised his service and revealed

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2006/11/ignore-the-conspiracies-spies-never-forgive-a-traitor/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Intelligence = imagination
    remained intact and the pilot managed to land safely at Okinawa with the Japanese the only casualty But Yousef s success in getting a bomb through security and on to a plane highlighted serious security weaknesses While all luggage that will go into a plane s cargo hold is screened for explosives few pieces of hand baggage are They go through X ray machines which can pick up the wires of a bomb s detonator but X rays and metal detectors cannot show whether a bag contains explosives or the ingredients for explosives The technology is there puffer machines blow air over passengers and hand baggage to detect whether either have come into contact with explosives But Peter DeFazio a member of the US Congress Aviation Subcommittee says We have done nothing at checkpoints to detect the kind of bomb that Yousef designed and which is available to be copied on the internet That is just unconscionable The unanswered question is whether it is possible to make a chemical bomb of the kind Yousef used that would be big enough to bring down a modern airliner Experts say that it would depend on the location of the device If it were to destroy structural elements of the plane or its fuel lines then it would crash But most planes could survive if the bomb blew out only the aluminium sheeting of the fuselage How much of all this did our anti terrorism forces know They must have studied the Yousef case But then why did they leave it until last Thursday to implement measures to prevent bomb ingredients being carried on to aircraft in passengers hand baggage And then announce it in such a dramatic manner The most obvious reason is that they received last minute intelligence that the plot was reaching a climax And without knowing much more about the plotters background they were unable to assess how technically competent at bomb making they might be For although the ingredients for a chemical bomb are reasonably easy to obtain it turns out that successfully mixing them is much harder and more dangerous than it at first appeared Some of the ingredients may be commercially available but they are too diluted to be of any use in a bomb Others require chemical refining to purify them The terrorist could end up blowing his fingers off or setting fire to himself but leaving the aircraft toilet intact The authorities had to assume however that they were dealing with skilled bomb makers As for the dramatic way the news was announced there is more than just a sneaking suspicion that it suits governments to ramp up the terrorist threat because a sliver of fear makes its citizens easier to lead and control They can always argue as the Prime Minister has that it would be irresponsible not to act on warnings or unverified information even if these turn out to be wrong because what if they turn out to be right In

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2006/08/intelligence-imagination/ (2016-02-13)
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  • So what made them swoop?
    and the way along with the police it was running the operation We can rule out any suggestion that MI5 stumbled on the group by accident Modern terrorists are sophisticated and skilled at avoiding silly mistakes like using mobile phones to contact each other They meet clandestinely and face to face and they are trained at avoiding even professional shadowers So it is most likely that the group came to MI5 s attention through an informer possibly the same one whose information led to the Forest Gate raid MI5 then put the key members of the group or possibly the whole group under electronic and visual surveillance John Reid hinted at this when he said that the authorities had to weigh the fact that closing down the group risked exposing sources against the need to protect public safety There has been a suggestion that the operation was brought forward because U S intelligence agencies which had been tipped off did not have to patience to sit on the information Alternatively on Wednesday night something the group said or did made MI5 realise that if the police did not move immediately there would be the risk of terrible consequences One thing could be that surveillance revealed the group had the devices it needed for its attacks on the planes To assess the risk we still face we must know whether the authorities seized these devices in their raids If they are still out there then they are still a threat John Reid says that the main players are in custody But what about any minor players And what were the devices If they were explosives what sort were they and how come none of the detection devices at airports were capable of picking them up The authorities say that the group had devised an explosive made from a series of apparently innocuous ingredients The plan was to carry them on board the aircraft disguised as shampoo hair gel and cosmetics By themselves such items would not attract the attention of the airport security guards Once on board the plane the bomb ingredients could have been mixed in the toilet ready to be detonated There is a sinister link here with the chemical weapon which the police searched for unsuccessfully during the Forest Gate raid There the MI5 informer told of a chemical bomb made from ingredients that appeared harmless by themselves but which when mixed with osmium tetroxide turned into a weapon the release of which could cause death by choking It seems likely that the idea of beating security checks by taking the ingredients on to a plane separately may have spread from one group to another We probably will not know until any case against the players comes to court or is dropped whether the authorities were right to act when they did But what is certain is that we can expect more warnings not fewer In response the public must strike the right balance be calm yet vigilant

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2006/08/so-what-made-them-swoop/ (2016-02-13)
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  • MI5, the police and the inside story of a raid that went wrong
    longer period to have gone back to him with a series of questions from the Porton Down experts to wait to see what else he may report The stakes were high If the agent s information was correct then MI5 had a man at the heart of a terrorist group in London It would have advance warning not only of possible attacks by this group but by others as well This could be a breakthrough in the war against terrorism in Britain for years to come But its agent had been unable to give even an estimate of when the device might be used There are indications that MI5 tried to find out more from other sources Someone put the Lansdown Road house under surveillance Locals recall suspicious cars parked at either end of the road with bored men behind the wheel and a litter of empty coffee cups on the dashboard But surveillance produced nothing conclusive Nor did a telephone tap Time was ticking away What if the terrorists exploded the chemical bomb in a Tube train or a pub or a disco while MI5 was still investigating how good its penetration agent s information was The resulting public outcry would blow MI5 out of the water Finally MI5 felt it had no choice Dame Manningham Buller informed the UK antiterror chief Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke of its agent and his information and at a meeting last Thursday the matter was thrashed out Such meetings are always awkward There is no love lost between the police and MI5 The police regard MI5 officers as arrogant and overpaid They believe that they could do a much better job and do not hesitate to say so And they suspect both MI5 and MI6 of being in the governmentof the day s pocket of being prepared as with the dodgy dossier on Iraq to bend their intelligence reports to suit their political masters MI5 regards the police as plodders and thief catchers not up to the subtlety of counterterrorism work and they resent the fact that for years they had to ask Special Branch to carry out arrests on MI5 s behalf depriving them of the thrill of the collar In last week s case the police were reluctant to move too quickly If anything went wrong as it appears to have done they would carry the can and after the fiasco of the shooting on the Tube of an innocent man Jean Charles de Menezes following the July 7 terror attacks they would suffer a further loss of public confidence But MI5 was now pressing for urgent action so as to cover its own back and authorised at the highest level last Friday s operation went ahead There is evidence of how unhappy the police were in some of their public statements Asked about the raid Peter Clarke could have said We believed that there was a clear and present danger of a terrorist attack in London We raided the

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2006/06/mi5-the-police-and-the-inside-story-of-a-raid-that-went-wrong/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Deadly secrets
    and used it as a suicide bomb against an American target What target Well Arab terrorists had already tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993 Did it not occur to American intelligence officers that terrorists night try it again That leaves When It has now been revealed at the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the US that there was a stream of reports between April and July 2001 that said that bin Laden was preparing a big attack If some bright intelligence officer had put it all together the world might today be a different place The sort of heavy security now in force at all American airports might just might have stopped the 9 11 hijackers before they got on the planes So post Cold War western intelligence was off to a dismal start but since then has it been catching up Unfortunately no Two years on what do we really know about al Qaida Is it an organisation or an idea If it is an organisation how is it organised How big is it What are its aims Where is it based How is it controlled The idea that the ailing bin Laden runs the whole show from a mountain cave in Afghanistan is ludicrous We are constantly told that certain terrorist organisations have links to al Qaida but we are never told what these links are and how they are maintained The only answer to any of these questions I have been able to elicit came from Professor Amin Saikal of the ANU Canberra when he spoke at the Sydney Institute on 1 April I asked him What is al Qaida and he replied It s a franchise operation So the West had this catastrophic intelligence failure over 9 11 Then we had the intelligence failure of East Timor Even though Lieut Col Lance Collins probably the best and brightest military intelligence officer this country has ever produced got it right no one would listen to him Then all the intelligence services got the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq wrong probably because they were looking the wrong way Here the point is that there are WMD in Iraq and they HAVE been found They are called small arms Most wars since World War 2 have been fought with them and every year they kill more people than the casualties caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Japan One of the last acts of the dying regime of Saddam Hussein was to throw open Iraq s arsenals and the largest transfer of small arms from a state to its citizens in the history of modern warfare took place Iraqi citizens queued up to help themselves to the Kalashnikovs rocket propelled grenades grenades and pistols they are now using with such deadly effect against the Coalition forces Philip Alpers of the Small Arms Survey in Geneva estimates that there are now between eight and fourteen million small arms in civilian hands in Iraq They

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2004/04/deadly-secrets/ (2016-02-13)
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  • Here, there and everywhere
    have penetrated most aspects of our nation s life how broad their interests extend and how by appealing to our patriotism they can persuade even the most level headed professional to play spy games We have now almost forgotten that until the emphasis switched to terrorism spying after the end of the Cold War was largely commercial and industrial SIS s charter specifically empowers it to do whatever is necessary to ensure the commercial well being of the United Kingdom As Sir Percy Cradock former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee put it We are a trading nation We are therefore profoundly interested in international stability We need to know where the water is going to be stormy It was at this point that the concept of not spying on friends and allies went down the plughole Cold War spying was ideologically based The aim was to defeat Communism and the identity of the enemy was clear But in the harsh world of international business competition every country is a potential enemy So we spy on all our European allies And they spy on us To give us an edge in trade negotiations we spy on our American friends and commercial rivals and they spy on us A recent FBI report identified 57 countries around the world that were running economic and commercial espionage operations against the United States At least half of those were rated by the State Department as being friendly Britain was one of them For its part the CIA provides the relevant American departments with French and British negotiating positions at international meetings like GATT positions that America s National Security Agency has established by eavesdropping on British communications A French secret service officer was expelled from New Delhi for giving a French arms salesman details of a competing British bid French intelligence officers in Britain receive regular shopping lists of commercial and industrial secrets they are to try to steal Our Joint Intelligence Committee sends the Bank of England a weekly assessment of the world economic and trading situation GCHQ routinely eavesdrops on commercial satellites for intelligence on commodities markets and passes its information to big British companies like BP and ICI Baroness Park a former SIS controller of many years experience once spelt out this symbiotic relationship between the intelligence services and business and explained how relatively easy it is to recruit businessmen With some people it may be money with others a little bit of help a little bit of knowledge For instance if you knew a British company was trying to get an order for helicopters and you knew from other sources that the French and Italians were bidding you would certainly tell your man so that he was forearmed and knew the competition Former CIA officer Earl Hopgood was serving in Hong Kong when by accident he received a diplomatic pouch that the SIS station there had intended to go to London Naturally he opened it I was stunned by the

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2004/02/here-there-and-everywhere/ (2016-02-13)
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  • How Britain and the US keep watch on the world
    real indication of its strength It has monitoring stations in Cyprus West Germany and Australia and smaller ones elsewhere Much of its overseas work is done by service personnel Its budget is thought to be more than 300m a year A large part of this is funded by the United States in return for the right to run NSA listening stations in Britain Chicksands Bedfordshire Edzell Scotland Mentworth Hill Harrogate Brawdy Wales and on British territory around the world The collaboration between the two agencies offers many advantages to both Not only does it make monitoring the globe easier it solves tricky legal problems and is the basis of the Prime Minister s statement yesterday that all Britain s bugging is lawful The two agencies simply swap each other s dirty work GCHQ eavesdrops on calls made by American citizens and the NSA monitors calls made by British citizens thus allowing each government plausibly to deny it has tapped its own citizens calls as they do The NSA station at Menwith Hill intercepts all international telephone calls made from Britain and GCHQ has a list of American citizens whose phone conversations interest the NSA The NSA request to GCHQ for help in bugging the diplomats from those nations who were holding out for a second Security Council resolution to authorise an attack on Iraq is unsurprising Nor is it surprising that both organisations wanted to provide their political masters with recordings of private conversations of high ranking international diplomats It is not difficult Listening bugs can be planted in phones electrical plugs desk lamps and book spines Given a clear line of sight one device enables someone to detect and and interpret sound waves vibrating against the glass window panes of an office Bugging the world is not the problem

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/2004/02/how-britain-and-the-us-keep-watch-on-the-world/ (2016-02-13)
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  • spying — Page 2
    being useless spies who frequently made things up Then the the Iraq Survey Group ISG reported that it could find no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq thus underlining a fundamental failure of intelligence and removing at a stroke Britain s justification for going to war 0 comments From No 10 with love why is New Labour so passionate about spies August 31 2003 1 comment in Articles propaganda spying One of the Hutton Inquiry s little surprises concerns the relationship between the Labour government and the top ranks of the British intelligence community They are in love Downing Street s Director of Communications Alastair Campbell regards John Scarlett once our top spy in Moscow and now chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee as a mate Tony Blair is immensely grateful for the help the intelligence services gave in the preparation of the dossier on the threat posed by Iraq At the urging of an unnamed spymaster the Secret Intelligence Service SIS empties its files trying to find a few nuggets to help make the dossier even stronger 1 comment Doomsday for James Bond August 24 2003 1 comment in Articles propaganda spying James Bond and his masters will never be the same again The changes in the relationship between the British intelligence community and the government revealed by the Hutton Inquiry are for better or worse here to stay Intelligence bureaucracies such as Britain s Secret Intelligence Service SIS and America s Central Intelligence Agency have traditionally seen their role as identifying monsters Their officers go out into the world keep their eyes and ears open and return with warnings for their masters of threats to the well being of the nation they serve 1 comment Of secrets and spies August 17 2003 0 comments in Articles propaganda spying The Hutton Inquiry has surprised everyone It was meant to look at the circumstances surrounding the death of the government scientist Dr David Kelly Instead it has been revealing who wields power in Britain and how Most of the facts in the Kelly affair were clear in the public mind long before Lord Hutton called his first witness at the Royal Courts of Justice this week Tony Blair wanted to attack Iraq and hoped for help from the Secret Intelligence Service SIS in making the case for war 0 comments Spinning the spooks a Downing Street disaster June 1 2003 0 comments in Articles propaganda spying The secret battle that has been raging in the secret world over the way the British government is trying to politicise our intelligence services is now in the open The outcome will decide the path that the Security Service MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 will take for the rest of this century At the heart of the fight is a simple question what are intelligence services for The traditional view is that since they owe allegiance to the realm and not the government of the day they are there to report as

    Original URL path: http://phillipknightley.com/category/articles/spying-articles/page/2/ (2016-02-13)
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