From the editor
FROM THE EDITOR - MARK BIRDSALL
EYE SPY MAGAZINE ISSUE 116
A former senior Ministry of Defence official once said that "all too often politicians interfere on matters that they have little or no knowledge about." This mindset seems to be the case in the protracted negotiations over Britain's exit from the European Union and how it will affect intelligence sharing and security. Some EU people have already insisted the UK will not be allowed access or use of the important stand-alone Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System. This communications platform and resource library is very important to the intelligence community and used by various arms of government and senior business and technology ventures. Just as important, most national armed forces, and NATO, use aspects of Galileo in a plethora of ways to provide security and [battle]field communications.
The same EU politicians are also blocking UK security access to at least four other platforms which involve intelligence work: EUROPOL, Police and Security Agency; European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system; European Criminal Records Information Centre (ECRIS) and the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II).
Irresponsible is a word that comes to mind, and this viewpoint is shared by the vast majority of senior European intelligence and security officials, who recognise the importance of materials provided to Europe's 'intelligence pool', by organisations such as MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, not to mention numerous other security concerns such as New Scotland Yard.
WAR OF WORDS
The dangers of information loss were raised by intelligence officials at the recent annual security conference of Germany's BfV - the domestic intelligence agency. Here intelligence chiefs such as MI5's Andrew Parker warned of a growing threat to Europe and elsewhere from numerous adversaries: some state 'actors' such as Russia, other menaces in the form of global terrorism and cyber hackers. Mr Parker and his intelligence colleagues from Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Rome and elsewhere, all agree that the UK's intelligence input is simply too vital to dispense with.
And by sheer coincidence (or perhaps not), just days after the BfV conference, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg delivered a keynote speech to security officials in London, noting the UK's vital contribution. He warned Brussels that the UK's exit from the EU should not fracture the Alliance.
Time will tell if the move by Brussels is workable, but politicians should not engage with the mechanisms of intelligence sharing that have kept Europe safe through the dark days of the Cold War.
CIA SPY NETWORKS
The great game of espionage continues apace between the United States and China. Several trials have begun in the USA (and France) involving former intelligence officers - all charged with espionage offences. In one case, an individual has been accused of laying the foundation stone which led to the collapse of Langley's entire spy network in China. In this case, we are reliably informed, some CIA assets paid for their collaboration with their lives.
Agencies such as MI6, MI5, NSA and Russia's GRU have all been in the news of late.
MI6 launched its first national television advert in the hope of attracting a more diverse pool of recruits without using the time honoured and Establishment 'tap on the shoulder' method. Its relationship with the CIA and Langley's extraordinary rendition flights and black sites also made headlines.
Internal happenings in the world's largest collector of electronic information, NSA, will see US Cyber Command split from its overseer (though not the Fort Meade site entirely) and become a stand-alone agency. This as the Pentagon is asked to relaunch a programme discussed nearly 20-years ago to create an American Space Force - dubbed the 'Sixth Branch' (armed forces/intelligence/security).
MI5 surveillance (A4) foiled ISIS attacks in London, including a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Theresa May. And on the subject of ISIS, we have a special and major indepth Mid-2018 Estimate of the Situation on the terror group.
As for the GRU, Eye Spy editorial has joined with Russian specialists to write an outstanding overview of the agency's special relationship with the country's Spetsnaz forces. The GRU has access to numerous specialists who combine to provide support in all manner of areas and missions... including some involving assassination. Titled The Edict: Dark Spies, this investigative feature covers a myriad of operations and is not to be missed.
We also have several tradecraft features; a return visit to our popular A-Z The Language of Spies, and a fascinating look at the changing dynamics of the important Cover and Legend cloak used by agents, spies, intelligence officers and contact people.
These are but a few topics covered in this information-packed edition of Eye Spy.
Mark Birdsall - Editor