Tag Archives: MI5

Writers and Propaganda

“Richard Lance Keeble in “Hacks and Spooks” writes about the close ties between British and American intelligence agencies and the mass media. The media has always closely cooperated with intelligence agencies in both countries, sharing the same political outlook and goals. The CIA, M15 and M16 have used the mass media to plant stories.

For instance, from 1948-77 M16 operated the information Research Department Office (IRD) where it ran dozens of Fleet Street journalists and news agencies across the globe. The IRD, set up by the Labor government in 1948, spread ” white” (true), “grey” (partially true) and “black” (false) propaganda about the former socialist countries of central Europe as well as “planting smears, lies, false rumors and forged official reports about the Soviet threat in the media”

The CIA ran its own propaganda unit modeled on the IRD during the 1960s called the Forum World Features to feed false information to the public. The Senate’s Church Committee and the House of Representative’s Pike Committee revealed in the 1970s that the CIA had invested large resources in propaganda operations. For instance, the CIA had a secret agreement with the New York Times to employ at least 10 agents as reporters or clerks in foreign bureaus. Feminist writer Gloria Steinem was revealed to be an agent. “The Pike Committee found that 29 per cent of the CIA’s covert operations was directed at ‘media and propaganda,’ meaning that in 1978 the agency had spent in this area as much as the combined budgets of the world’s biggest news agencies (AP, Reuters and UPI) put together” SOURCE

The media serving the power should not be a surprise. The, so called, “news” industry, has always been a target of intelligence agencies, and for obvious reasons: we are the screen generation, consuming everything directed at us. That the media is a willing participant in these propaganda wars might be surprising to some, particularly to the hopeless FOX audience. But it is not only the TV that messes with our perception of the world. Print, including books, are a part of the battlefield. With the slow demise of paper books, that tangible expression of our thought, some worry that the digital books are too prone to manipulation, to changes at will, the 1984-come-true. Hence the growing number voices calling for the preservation of the printed word.

Would you like to know how the power reaches you on every level, from conscious, to unconscious? Read Propaganada.

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Britain’s “first” double agent

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“To his handlers in the Security Service, MI5, he was code-named Snow, while to his masters in German intelligence he was Johnny. Arthur Owens, Welsh nationalist, frustrated inventor, father of a future Hollywood starlet, was an unlikely spy, yet became one of the most important double agents of the Second World War.

The first German agent to be “turned” by British intelligence during the conflict, he was used to entrap other Nazi spies as part of the Double Cross system, possibly the most successful counter-espionage operation ever undertaken.

Run by the Twenty Committee – the Roman numeral XX a play on Double Cross – it resulted in the detection of every German agent in Britain and the feeding of false information, including the bogus location of the D-Day landings, to their masters in Berlin.

Yet, despite Owens’s prominent role in the secret war, he is to this day an enigma, his motives as unclear on the day of his death as they were when he decided to offer his services as a spy. Now, a new book seeks to illuminate corners of that shadowy life and fill in some the gaps in the strange career of Agent Snow.”

More: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/britainatwar/8980777/Britains-first-double-agent-the-spy-who-tricked-us-all.html

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The double agent spy who came back from the dead

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Juan Pujol “Garcia, code-named “Garbo” by his MI5 handlers because he was “the world’s best actor,” was the man who more than anyone else convinced Hitler that the Normandy landings were a mere diversionary attack, a feint to distract the Wehrmacht from the real assault that was about to take place 150 miles to the north in the Pas de Calais. So successful was Garbo that the Germans were continuing to reinforce the Pas de Calais even after D-Day, and not committing their full resources to countering the Normandy landings. Although the story of the success of the Operation Overlord deception plans are well known, and Garbo’s vital role well established in history, what is not much known about is what Garbo did after the war”.

[...] the story of Garcia’s life of deception did not end with VE Day. After visiting his Abwehr case officer in Spain—who apologized that the Nazis had lost the war and gave him a huge golden handshake in cash, the Iron Cross, and the thanks of the now-defunct Reich—MI5 unsuccessfully tried to recruit Garcia for service against the Russians in the Cold War. The next that anyone ever heard of him was that he had tragically died of a snake bite in Angola in 1949.”

Or, did he?

Read More: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/11/27/garbo-the-spy-documentary-on-the-double-agent-who-helped-defeat-hitler.html

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This ain’t no James Bond – Real Spy Stories

“Although the Cold War saw some cool spy shenanigans, nothing beats the insanity of World War II. Eddie Chapman was a British criminal who was in prison on the Channel Islands when the Axis powers took them. They let him out when he promised to go back to England and spy for them, but what Hitler and his cronies didn’t think about was that criminals tend to lie. When he got back home, Chapman went immediately to MI5 and turned himself in, offering to work as a triple agent. The whole time he was feeding false info to the Nazis (who rewarded him with a huge salary and his own yacht), he was still engaging in scummy deeds like doping greyhounds to fix dog races.”

See more: http://www.ugo.com/web-culture/real-spy-stories

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Kim Philby and the woman who made him happy

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“Historians still argue why [ Kim] Philby, a British aristocrat and a graduate of the Cambridge University, suddenly chose to work for Soviet intelligence services. Was he a man of no principles who was ready to work for anyone who would pay him well – or did he really believe in the ideas of communism? Well, it looks like the second answer is closer to the truth, for it is known that Philby had a fancy for Marxism when he was a student.

[...] in 1933, Kim Philby started to work for Soviet intelligence services. It is by an order of the Soviet intelligence services that he integrated into the UK secret service in 1940.

Famous writer Graham Greene, known for his pro-Soviet sympathies, who himself used to work for the UK intelligence for some time, said that when Kim Philby was at the top of his career, practically every step and every plan of Western secret services immediately became known to the Soviet services.

“For the last 25 years of his life, Kim Philby lived in Moscow – but, at first, his life here was not simple. The Soviet authorities and Philby himself were afraid that he might be assassinated – and he had to live a very secluded life, until a fair woman appeared”…

More: http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/07/61745969.html

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Camp 020, MI5′s secret interrogation center

“The silence [...] gave little indication of the intensity and importance of the work being done in the building known as Camp 020, MI5’s secret interrogation center. Within those walls, captured German agents were questioned under the command of a ferociously tempered British officer named Lieutenant Colonel Robin Stephens. Boorish, disdainful of the non-English but half-German himself, Stephens was nicknamed “Tin Eye” for the monocle he was said to wear even when he slept. He had a record of breaking down even the most hardened of German spies.

“Figuratively, a spy in war should be at the points of a bayonet,” wrote Stephens, who insisted that he be addressed as the “commandant.” Yet he was adamant about one thing at Camp 020. “Violence is taboo,” he wrote, “for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information.” In his instructions for interrogators, Stephens wrote, “Never strike a man.  In the first place it is an act of cowardice. In the second place, it is not intelligent. A prisoner will lie to avoid further punishment and everything he says thereafter will be based on a false premise.”

Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2011/11/the-monocled-world-war-ii-interrogator/

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Working for the MI5

“I’m assured that many things people believe about MI5’s recruitment processes are myths. It is not true that it doesn’t recruit tall people, for instance. There is a height restriction for those who want to work in its mobile surveillance teams, but that is quite different to the digital stuff. It doesn’t kill anyone either. “The Security Service is subject to the rule of law in the same way as any other public body.”

That said, you do have to be very secretive. I am told: “You must not discuss your application, other than with your partner or close family.” MI5 does not disclose the names of any of its staff – the sole exception being the director general. If you’re interested, you do have to ask yourself seriously if you’re discreet enough. You must be the sort of person who does not need to discuss work with friends and family.

Put bluntly: “If publicly celebrating your career successes is important to you, you should reconsider your suitability.”

More: http://www.cityam.com/business-features/not-spooks-still-exciting

Royal secret agent

Margaret Rhodes, the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was employed as a secretary to the head of MI6.

“The daughter of the 16th Lord Elphinstone, who was a bridesmaid at the Queen’s wedding and still regularly receives visits from Her Majesty, was tasked with reading messages sent from British spies across the globe, narrowly avoided being killed by a V1 rocket, and had her London landlord arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi spy.

She recalled: “I wanted do my bit and went to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service, but found myself in MI6. It was dreadfully hush-hush and, for an impressionable 18-year-old, terribly mysterious.

“I reported each day to a disguised office near St James’s Park underground station. It was ‘Passport Control’ on the ground floor, but upstairs we were MI6.”

The teenager, who had spent her childhood summers playing with Princess Elizabeth at Balmoral, said the structure of the secret department closely mirrored that of the fictional Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) created by Ian Fleming.

She said: “The big chief, ‘M’ to James Bond fans, hid behind the letter ‘C’.

“He wrote in green ink and God-like powers were attributed to him by us underlings.

“One of my daily tasks was to read every single message transmitted by our spies all over the world.

It was fascinating, but frightening too.”

From: http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Royal-secret-agent-breaks-her.6846175.jp

History’s unsung spies

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“Surely the most eccentric unsung spy was Maxwell Knight, known to his friends as Max or M. Although he did later become well known, it was not as a spymaster. To children growing up in the late Fifties and early Sixties he was Uncle Max, the BBC radio naturalist.

He had always had a passion for fauna; indeed, when he was head of B5(b), an autonomous department within MI5 in the Thirties and Forties, those who worked with him also had to work with his menagerie of animals. He could recite trivia about them endlessly, from the correct method of mounting a llama to the breeding cycle of the laughing hyena. His daily help, Mrs Leather, would complain of the way grass snakes used to flop down the stairs of his flat in Chelsea. He kept them in the bath. He also kept a blue-fronted Amazonian parrot in the kitchen and a Himalayan monkey in the garden. And he was known to have raised a nest of adder eggs in his pyjama pocket. Ian Fleming, who worked in the Department of Naval Intelligence, was fascinated by Knight’s mysterious persona and used him as the model for “M”, James Bond’s boss.

But for all his eccentricity he was an effective spymaster. As early as 1927, the bisexual Knight had been put in charge of infiltrating the Communist Party of Great Britain. To this end he recruited Tom Driberg, the (homosexual) writer and future MP, and ordered him to join the Communist Party while at Oxford. He also infiltrated the British Union of Fascists and developed a rather sinister fascination with the occult which he shared with his friends Dennis Wheatley and Aleister Crowley.

When war broke out he recruited an astrologer as an MI5 agent and sent him to Germany to infiltrate the occult court of Rudolf Hess. The agent is said to have briefed Hess that the Duke of Hamilton was prepared to meet him to act as a peace negotiator between the German government and the British. Hess’s fateful flight to Scotland followed in 1941.

With the war against the Nazis over, Knight became increasingly obsessed with the Soviet Union, specifically with the idea that a communist spy ring had infiltrated MI5. But his colleagues no longer took him seriously – indeed, they ignored the numerous reports he wrote on the subject. Knight was by then regarded as paranoid and unstable and, even though his theory was proved right in 1951 when Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean fled to the Soviet Union, his reputation within the service never recovered. He left MI5 a few years later and embarked upon a successful second career as a naturalist on radio and television. He soon became a household name and was awarded an OBE. In 1967 he published How to Keep an Elephant, a guide to keeping off-beat pets. The following year he wrote a sequel: How to Keep a Gorilla.”

More: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/world-war-2/8749894/Double-O-Who-Meet-historys-unsung-spies.html

Top British Spies

“British spies are back this month. Of course they never went away. The shadowy world of MI5 and MI6 is rarely more than a microdot’s distance from everyday life, especially if you live in London, the world capital of the surveillance state, and mise en scene for the popular BBC drama, Spooks. It’s tempting to confuse spy fiction with real life, especially as its traditions and antecedents are so mixed up with the history of the secret state in the 20th century. But there is a difference, and here’s one guide to the nine lives of the British spy, from the beginning of the 20th century – arguably, the source of the modern spy story – to the present:”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/sep/08/master-spy-novelists