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On Her Majesty’s Not So Secret Service
By Alexander Scott
This is an advert placed in The Guardian and no, it’s not a skit, this is genuine.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Fighting Terrorism Means Knowing Your Audience
The Research, Information and Communication Unit (RICU) is an exciting new team operating across the Government’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy and working to stop people becoming or supporting terrorists.
Understanding our target audiences is crucial to our success. That’s why we need you to help our specialist audience team analyse and understand effective counter-terrorism communications and translate them into authoritative advice for Ministers and policy makers.
You should have experience of large data sets and, ideally, training in SPSS and a cross-tabulation system such as IMS or Telmar.
Making the fight against global terrorism sound like audience research for EastEnders may not seem to be the best method of preventing suicide bombers but perhaps this best explains why so much intelligence these days is so inept at best and dangerously false at worst. Thousands of people died because of faulty/bogus intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion. Civilians, soldiers and scientists who dared discredit stories of stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, all perished as a direct result of ‘dumb intelligence.’
For decades we’ve been fed this idea of super suave spooks, risking life and limb James Bond style to provide MI5 and the CIA with the latest jungle/desert tittle tattle. In the Cold War, spies were routinely traded and double agents jumped ship or were simply killed. It was tit for tat and the status quo was preserved until the collapse of the Soviet bloc. This ‘triumph’ then unleashed the very forces of nationalism and religious fundamentalism that the Communists had kept in check for almost a century.
What was lacking in Iraq and Afghanistan was the old fashioned ‘imbedded’ agent – someone, most likely a local and indeed an insider who was prepared to spill the beans on what their comrades were up to in return for money. Worked in Northern Ireland, even though the IRA had perhaps the most sophisticated counter-intelligence measures of any paramilitary organisation. People are greedy, even idealists and fanatics. People will sell out their friends and their families for a wedge, whether that’s gangsters or terrorists.
In the wake of 911, 7/7 and Iraq, these supposed bastions of high quality counter-terrorism information, MI5, CIA, Mossad and co were made to look very shoddy indeed and were blatantly attempting to recruit ‘ethnic types’ from universities to swell their ranks in clumsy advertising campaigns that ignored the real issue at the heart of ‘terrorism.’ Public school James Bond types tend to stick out like sore thumbs in Helmand province see.
Economics and share dividends dictate ‘western’ political and military policy, always have done, always will do. It’s so easy to pass this off as a crusade against ‘evil’ and to demonise young muslims as ‘paradise fanatics’ because that ignores the real reason why the 7/7 bombers acted as they did and why others still feel such hostility and anger towards the power structures that collude and confuse the issues.
Back when I worked as a civil servant in the Department of Employment some of our colleagues at the spook listening post GCHQ were banned from union membership as the Torys claimed that, as trade union members, they were not to be trusted with intelligence material. There’s the fallacy of the so-called ‘National Interest’ in a nutshell. There is no ‘National’ interest only the interest of a small yet powerful cabal of industrialists who then camouflage their greed by inventing phoney motivations for their political pals to sell to ‘the general public’ (for which read; Daily Mail readers).
You don’t need some statistician who can cross-reference databases full of encrypted names of ‘potential’ terrorists or ‘potential ‘supporters’ of terrorism to tell you this, it’s common fucking sense. So let’s not fool ourselves that by getting Asians and Muslims to swear some ridiculous ‘loyalty’ oath and to uphold some bogus concept of ‘Britishness’ that only deluded politicians desperate to curry favour with the right wing press peddle is going to stop people ‘supporting terrorism’. As Hitler knew, “the people are more likely to fall for one big lie than a lot of little ones.”
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