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James Bond: what the British secret services are really like (via Qpute.com)


James Bond: what the British secret services are really like

October 2, 2021 by archyde

  • Por Frank Gardner
  • BBC News

Three hours

Image source, Getty Images

Caption,

Very rarely do real intelligence agents work alone, says an expert from MI6, the British spy agency.

Finally. After several postponements caused by the pandemic and a sudden change of director, the long-awaited and latest James Bond film hits the screens. “No time to die” is the 25th. production of a Bond film and the farewell of Daniel Craig as the interpreter of the gallant spy.

But how much does that Bond fantasy relate to what actually happens in the real MI6, the UK’s foreign spy agency, properly known as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)? And, perhaps more importantly, how relevant can a spy agency be in this digital age?

“I think the biggest difference,” says Sam (not his real name), “is that we are more collaborative than the people in Bond. Very rarely, if ever, would I go out to do something alone, without support. It’s about teamwork … a security team always surrounds you. “

Sam is a professional MI6 agent with a background in counterterrorism, one of several acting intelligence agents I asked to meet for an interview in anticipation of the release of the Bond movie.

Well then if they are not Bond,what exactly the real MI6 agents doEither from its base in the head office next to the Thames, in London, or abroad “in the field of action”?

“There are a wide variety of positions you can take on,” says Tara, who is not called that either. “There is the management of agents and recruitment, we need technical experts, we have communication teams, at the front it is more out of the ordinary. There is never anyone alone. It seems very little to the reality of working for SIS. So I think that if someone wanted to do that they would find out very early in the application process that this is not for them. “

Armed? Do MI6 agents carry firearms? The official response is: “We cannot confirm or deny it.”

But another MI6 agent told me: “The idea of ​​a guy banging all over the world shooting people is absolute anathema to us. Someone like that wouldn’t even let him in the door.”

James Bond: what the British secret services are really like

Image source, Getty Images

Caption,

The latest Bond film – the last to star Daniel Craig – has received critical acclaim.

But, if we pause to consider some of the most dangerous places in the world where British intelligence agents are most likely to operate, it is hard to imagine that if they themselves are not armed, someone very close to them will be ready with all the weaponry. and pending of them.

Strictly speaking, MI6 employees are not agents. They are intelligence officials that, on the front line, try to persuade the real agents – who could be well-placed individuals, for example, within an al Qaeda plan of attack cell or a nuclear research facility of an enemy state – to steal vital secrets for Her Majesty’s Government.

It’s the officers who take the biggest risks every day, and MI6 clearly goes to great lengths to protect their identities and their families.

So how close does an agent supervisor get to the real agent? I ask. Can they ever make friends?

“There is a mutual dependency,” says Tom, another serving official. “You are responsible for the life of another, so you talk about things that they may not want to hear, you could have difficult conversations, but it is about their safety.”

“People put their lives at risk to work with us”Tara adds. “Some are not so risky. But there is a category of people that we have the privilege of working with who, if discovered working with us, would be in serious danger. They could lose their lives, and we take that very seriously from the first moment we interact with that person. ”

James Bond: what the British secret services are really like

Caption,

MI6 headquarters on the River Thames, London.

A lot has happened in the real world of espionage in the past six years since the last Bond film, “Specter,” in 2015. The self-styled caliphate of Islamic State has come and gone, the deal to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions is practically undone and China is hinting at “taking back” Taiwan. There’s a lot to keep MI6 busy.

But in a time when almost every action we take leaves a fingerprintIs there still a place for an old-fashioned human intelligence service, with the long tradition of the art of persuasion for people to help steal the secrets of others?

“If you look from one end to the other at the life cycle of the information that is being analyzed,” explains Emma (again not her name) a senior internal technical officer, “there are people involved in every step of the process. And those it’s the relationships we’re cultivating. Of course we’re trying to harness all of that technology to support our intelligence employees in the field. “

Then, Is there a workshop full of gadgets deep in MI6’s London headquarters? Supossely Yes.

“It’s very different from what we see in movies,” says Emma. “I have a much larger team of engineers working for me and delivering new capabilities. And, contrary to the movies, we don’t all wear white coats and we don’t look or talk like computer bugs. But device-wise, we work very closely. with intelligence officials to find out what they need. “

James Bond: what the British secret services are really like

Image source, Getty Images

Caption,

Computer science and artificial intelligence play an important role in today’s espionage.

Almost 60 years have passed since the first James Bond film, “Dr. No,” in 1962, and another ten before that when author Ian Fleming created the fictional character after working for naval intelligence.

Since then, the character of espionage has changed to the point of being unrecognizable.

Currently, there are officials in the upper echelons of MI6 who started their careers before mobile phones or the internet existed, not to mention social media. The files were kept in steel cabinets inside safes. Biometric data was not yet used and, officially, MI6 didn’t even exist before 1994.

Back then, it was relatively easy to smuggle an undercover intelligence agent across a border into a hostile location by assuming a false identity and sometimes literally donning a fake beard and glasses.

James Bond: what the British secret services are really like

Image source, Getty Images

Caption,

Ian Fleming created the James Bond character 70 years ago.

It is more difficult today – although not impossible. As shown is the team of the Main Board of the High Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, GRU, which was safely traveled to Salisbury, England, in 2018 to, according to the London metropolitan police, try to assassinate a former agent of the KGB, Sergei Skripal.

Today, the digital revolution, with all its biometric data, iris recognition, AI, cybernetics, cryptography and quantum computing, has made technology essential in espionage.

But human intelligence will always be indispensable, says Sir Alex Younger, who was head of MI6 for six years until 2020. His fictional screen counterpart, M, played by Ralph Fiennes in “No Time to Die,” prophetically warns that, “the world is assembling faster. than we can answer. ”

That’s something that clearly keeps the real women and men in MI6 showing up at work.

James Bond: what the British secret services are really like

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