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The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in World War II – Halik Kochanski

On 23 January 2013 I attended a talk given by Dr Halik Kochanski at the National Army Museum in London on her book The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War. It was part of a regular series of talks that are held at the NAM on Thursday lunchtimes.

She argued that this is the first book published since the fall of Communism to cover the full story of Poland in World War II. Previous works have concentrated on Poles in the Battles of Britain and Monte Cassino, the Holocaust and the Warsaw Uprising.

Poland had a population of 32 million in 1939, which was made up of 22 million Poles, 4.5 million Ukrainians, 3 million Jews, 1 million Belarusians, 0.75 million Germans and 0.75 million people described as ‘locals.’ A total of 6 million of them were killed in the war, only 10% in military actions. The dead included 90% of the Jews. Five million of the pre-war population were outside the altered post-war borders of Poland at the end of the war.

Poland was in a hopeless position in 1939, with only 1 million troops to defend itself against a German attack from three sides. The Polish plan was to defend and withdraw slowly, launching a counter-attack once the Western Allies had drawn off the Germans.

This plan failed because of the speed of the German Blitzkrieg and because the British and French did little: they were preparing for a long war.

It is a myth that the Polish cavalry charged tanks. There was an action where Polish cavalry successfully charged German infantry but were then surprised by German armour.

It is also untrue that the Polish Air Force was destroyed on the first day. It managed to disperse and continued to fight.

The Poles had few tanks, but the 10th Cavalry (Mechanised) Brigade, the only Polish armoured unit, put up a good fight. Its commander, General Stanislaw Maczek, later commanded the Polish 1st Armoured Division, which fought in Normandy in 1944 and captured the German naval base of Wilhelmshaven in 1945.

The Poles had few forces left in the East to defend when the USSR invaded on 17 September.

The Polish government and high command left the country for Romania and ordered the army to follow. About 85,000 troops escaped to Romania. Most of the government were interned, but 40,000 troops and some politicians escaped to France. 19,000 soldiers made it to Britain in 1939.

Polish military casualties in 1939 were 200,000, a third of them dead and the rest wounded. The Germans took 640,000 prisoners. The officers remained PoWs for the duration of the war, but the other ranks were employed as forced labourers. The Soviets took 240,000 prisoners.

The German policy was to make Poland into an intellectual desert, with a pool of labour that would receive only a very basic education. They killed or imprisoned many intellectuals and priests.

The main difference in the part of Poland occupied by the USSR in 1939 was that education continued, albeit in Belarussian or Ukrainian and with a big political content. They imprisoned 10% of the population, targetting anybody who had been active in the Polish state, whether as a politician or a government employee. They murdered 15,ooo Polish officers at Katyn and elsewhere.

A single resistance body, initially called the ZWZ (Union for Armed Struggle in English) and later the AK (Home Army), was established. An underground government of all political parties was set up. Attempts to extend the network to the Soviet occupied area were made but ran into the problem that the NKVD was more efficient than the Gestapo.

The Germans annexed part of Poland, establishing the General-Government in the rest of their occupation zone. Poles were expelled from the annexed territories to the General-Government; Jews went  to the Lodz Ghetto, which was inside the annexed area. The Poles took revenge by expelling Germans from Poland in 1945. Poland then lost the territory taken by the USSR in 1939, but was compensated with parts of eastern Germany.

There was some collaboration with the Germans at a low-level but none at a political level. Some Poles obtained jobs with the local administration as this protected them from being deported for slave labour. Others were conscripted into the German army and deserted as soon as they could in order to join the Allies.

The Soviets deported a million Poles to the east. Victims were selected for political reasons. Both the Soviets and the Germans gave deportees little notice. Poles expelled by the Germans were given little time to pack, and were sometimes expected to leave their homes clean and tidy for their new German occupants.

After the Germans invaded the USSR in June 1941 Poland and the USSR signed an agreement. The 1939 territorial changes were annulled and diplomatic relations restored. Poles deported to the USSR were given an amnesty, although they had committed no crimes, and a Polish army was established on Soviet soil.

Poles made their way from labour camps and collective farms to the new Polish army. Most were in poor health, and many died along the way. There was a shortage of officers because many had been murdered by the NKVD. The army was eventually evacuated to Iran, where it was supplied by the British. Many civilians accompanied it; they were sent to various parts of the British Commonwealth or to Mexico.

In 1942 the Germans proposed deporting 30 million Slavs, including 85% of Poles, east. The rest of the Poles would be Germanised. 200,000 blue-eyed, blond children were taken from their families and sent to Germany and Austria. Only about 20% returned home after the war. This great tragedy was overshadowed by the even greater tragedy of the Holocaust.

The first of 400 ghettos was set up in October 1939, and mass shootings began when the Germans invaded the USSR in June 1941. These did not reduce the Jewish populations quickly enough, so the death camps were set up. Most Polish Jews died in the four purpose built camps of Belzec, Chelmno, Sobibor and Treblinka.

The vast majority of those sent to these camps were murdered in the gas chambers on arrival, with only a small number of Jews being kept temporarily alive in order to provide the slave labour to operate the gas chambers and burn the corpses. Only 110 Jews survived these camps. Auschwitz and Majdanek were combinations of concentration and death camps, where a higher proportion of Jews were initially selected for slave labour rather than immediate death, and not all the inmates were Jews.

The systematic murder of the Polish Jews began in mid 1942 and was largely over by the end of 1943. By then, the only Jews left in Poland were either slave labourers, including the inhabitants of the Lodz Ghetto, or in hiding.

It was difficult for Polish Jews to find help in escaping, as 80% of them were unassimilated, and Poland was the only occupied country where the penalty for helping Jews was death. Despite this, Zegota in Poland was the only government sponsored scheme to help Jews in occupied Europe.

It took 100 helpers to save one Jew, whilst one collaborator could betray a 100 Jews. The people named as The Righteous Amongst the Nations by Yad Vashem in Israel include over 6,000 Poles, but far more helped Jews. A few Jews collaborated; one of their tactics was to speak Yiddish in public in order to trick Jews into revealing themselves.

Jews resisted, including breaking out into forests and revolts in the Sobibor and Treblinka death camps and the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Polish government-in-exile in London commanded two corps and the AK. The Poles made a major contribution to the war in the air, most famously in the Battle of Britain, where 303 Squadron shot down more enemy aircraft than any other fighter squadron.

The 1 Corps included the afore-mentioned 1st Armoured Division and a parachute brigade. The latter unit was originally earmarked for operations in Poland, but was sent to Arnhem. Its commander, General Stanislaw Sosabowski, was unfairly criticised by General Frederick Browning, the commander of the 1st British Airborne Corps, after the operation failed. Sosabowski was later praised in the memoirs of General Robert Urquhart, commander of the 1st Airborne Division.

The 2 Corps, commanded by General Wladyslaw Anders, was made up of the men who had been captured by the USSR in 1939 and then moved to the Middle East. It fought in Italy, including at Monte Cassino. Most of its members came from the eastern parts of Poland, which were annexed by the USSR in 1945. Few of them returned to Poland after the war.

Poles made a major contribution to Allied intelligence, including the first success in breaking the Enigma code. The Germans knew that an early version of it had been cracked, and tortured four captured Polish code-breakers in order to discover if the current code had been broken. It had, but the Poles insisted, even under torture, that it had not. The Poles also provided intelligence on the German scientific research site at Peenemunde, the V2 rocket and the German plan to invade the USSR in 1941.

Poland broke off diplomatic relations with the USSR after the bodies of the Poles murdered at Katyn were discovered. It had little say in the decision taken by the Big Three of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Stalin wanted eastern Poland, but was prepared to give Poland some German territory in return.

The Soviets formed the 1st Polish Army in 1943 from Polish PoWs who had not moved to the Middle East and Soviet officers. It was commanded by General Zygmunt Berling, a Polish officer who had refused to follow Anders to the Middle East. Its first battle at Lenino took place in October 1943, before Anders’s 2 Corps had been in action in the Middle East.

The AK had 400,000 members. A general uprising, called Operation Tempest, was planned in order to liberate Polish territory ahead of the advancing Red Army. The AK liberated Vilna and Lvov, but its members were conscripted into the Red Army when it arrived.

In 1943 a political body called the ZPP (Union of Polish Patriots) was formed in the USSR. It was dominated by Communists. In July 1944 the PKWN (Polish Committee of National Liberation) was established as a rival administration to the Polish government-in-exile in London. It was based in Lublin from 1 August, so was known as the Lublin Committee.

Also on 1 August, General Tadeusz Bor-Komorowski (Bor was his code-name and Komorowski his surname), the leader of the AK, launched the Warsaw Uprising. He thought that the Red Army was about to enter the city.

There were 50,000 members of the AK in Warsaw, but only 10% were armed. The German responded brutally to the uprising; 40,000 civilians were killed in one day. Stalin refused to give support to the AK. Only one US air supply mission was allowed to land on Soviet territory; other Allied air missions suffered heavy casualties and only 50% of the supplies dropped reached the AK.

The 1st Polish Army was ordered not to the cross the Vistula and join in the fighting. It made an attempt to do so in September, which resulted in Berling being removed from command.

Fighting ended on 2 October; most of the AK survivors were treated as PoWs, but the Germans destroyed Warsaw. The Red Army did not enter it until 17 January 1945.

A government recognised by the UK, USSR and USA was formed in 1945; it included representatives of the government-in-exile. Elections in 1947 were rigged, and the government-in-exile continued to exist in London until 1990. A referendum was held in 1946, with three questions. The official results showed majorities in favour of all three. However, in Krakow, where the elections were fair, around 85% supported the recommendation of the main anti-Communist party, the Polish People’s Party, and opposed the first question.

Dr Kochanski concluded by saying that Poland was the only Allied country to lose World War II.

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Intelligence and Human Networks – Stratfor

Another article re-produced from Stratfor.

Intelligence  and Human Networks is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Read more:  Intelligence and Human Networks | Stratfor

By Tristan Reed of Stratfor

Stratfor views the world through the lens of geopolitics,  the study of hard, physical constraints on man’s ability to shape reality.  Political decisions are limited by the geography in which they take place,  eliminating many of the options concocted by ideologues and making their human  decisions easier to predict. But the study of geopolitics only takes the  understanding of global affairs so far: It identifies the geographical  constraints but leaves an array of options open to human actors. So when  forecasting on a shorter time frame, analysis must go beyond geographical  constraints to more specific, temporal constraints. For this reason, predicting  the short-term activities of human actors requires an understanding of the  constraints they face in the human terrain within which they operate.

As a result, one task common to any intelligence organization is defining the  human network of a state, criminal organization, militant movement or any other  organization to better determine and understand a group’s characteristics and  abilities. A human network in this sense is a broad term used to describe the  intricate web of relations existing in an organization and within a specific  region. For anyone or any organization with interests in a given geographic  area, understanding the networks of individuals with influence in the region is  critical.

Intelligence and Analysis

People use human networks to organize the control of resources and geography.  No person alone can control anything of significance. Presidents, drug lords and  CEOs rely on people to execute their strategies and are constrained by the  capabilities and interests of the people who work for them. Identifying these  networks may be a daunting task depending on the network. For obvious reasons,  criminal organizations and militant networks strive to keep their membership  secret, and it is not always apparent who gives the orders and who carries out  the orders in a political body. To discern who’s who in a group, and therefore  whether an individual matters in a group, requires both intelligence and  analysis to make sense of the intelligence.

How intelligence is acquired depends on the resources and methods available  to an intelligence organization, while the analysis that follows differs  depending on the intent. For example, International Security Assistance Force  military operations aimed at disrupting militant networks in Afghanistan would  require the collection of informants and signals intelligence followed by  analysis to pinpoint the exact location of individuals within a network to  enable targeted operations. Simply knowing who belongs to a militant network and  their location is not enough; the value lies in the significance and  capabilities of an individual in the group. Detaining an individual who lays  improvised explosive devices on a road may result in short-term disruptions to  the target’s area of operations, but identifying and detaining a bombmaker with  exclusive experience and training will have a far greater impact.

The true value of analysis lies in understanding the significance of a  particular individual in a network. Mapping out a human network begins with the  simple question of who belongs to a particular network. Next, identify and  define relationships with other known individuals and organizations. For some,  this process takes the form of link analysis, which is a visual representation  of a network where each individual is represented in a diagram. Links between  the individuals who interact with one another are then depicted. These links  show an individual’s significance in a group and establish whether he is a lowly  scout within a transnational criminal organization who may only interact with  his paymaster. The paymaster, by contrast, could be linked to dozens of other  group members. Examining how many links within a group an individual has,  however, is just scratching the surface of understanding the network.

Every individual within a given human network has reasons to be tied to  others within the network. Understanding what unites the individuals in an  organization provides further depth of understanding. Whether it be ideology,  mutual interests, familial ties or paid services, why a relationship exists will  help determine the strength of such bonds, the motives of the network and the  limitations to what a network can accomplish. For example, when assessing the  strength of the Syrian regime, it is imperative to identify and examine the inner circle of President Bashar  al Assad. Analyzing these members can indicate which factions of the  Syrian population and which political and familial groupings support or reject  the al Assad regime. That key posts within the government are now occupied  primarily by Alawites indicates a combination of regime distrust of the Sunnis  and dwindling levels of support from even high-ranking Sunnis. Similarly,  examining the once-strong ties of inner circle members who have defected  indicates which factions no longer support the regime and points toward other  groups that might also have doubts about remaining loyal.

Rarely is there a completely isolated human network. Human relations  typically span multiple regions or even continents. Politicians can have their  own business interests, drug traffickers may have counterparts in another  country and militant groups may have the sympathy of other groups or even  members in a state’s government. There are no limits on how separate networks  may interact with one another. Understanding a group’s ties to other groups  further defines the original group’s influence. For example, a political leader  at odds with the powerful military of his state may find significant constraints  in governing (due to the limitations within the human network on figures linking  the military assets to political leaders). A drug trafficker with a law  enforcement officer on his payroll will likely find less resistance from  authorities when conducting illicit business (due to the capabilities that a  police officer would provide to the network).

The reasons for, and methods of, defining a human network will vary depending  on the intelligence organization. A nation with vast resources like the United  States has an exceptionally large focus on human networks around the world and a  full array of intelligence disciplines to gather the necessary information. At  Stratfor, our reasons to map the intricate web of human relations within an  organization differ as we look to understand the constraints that human networks  place on actors.

Challenges of Tracking Human Networks

The individuals in an organization are constantly changing. This means the  job of mapping the driving forces in an organization never ends, since relations  shift, roles change and individuals often are taken out of the picture  altogether. As a result, intelligence collectors must continually task their  intelligence assets for new information, and analysts must continually update  their organizational charts.

Logically, the more fluid the membership of an organization, the more  difficult it is for an intelligence organization — or rival organization — to  follow it. As an example, take Los Zetas, who dominate the Mexican border town  of Nuevo Laredo. The group always will have individuals in the city in charge of  running daily criminal operations, such as coordinating gunmen, drug shipments,  money laundering and retail drug sales. Within a Mexican transnational criminal  organization, the person filling this role is typically called a “plaza boss.”  Several alleged Zetas plaza bosses of Nuevo Laredo were killed or captured  during 2012 in Mexican military operations. With each kill or capture, an  organization must replace the former plaza boss. This frequent succession of  plaza bosses obviously reshapes the human network operating in Nuevo Laredo.

It is no simple matter for a collector to ask his informants about, or to  eavesdrop through surveillance, for information about the personnel changes. It  takes time for a new plaza boss to assume his new responsibilities. A new office  manager must get to know his employees and operations before making critical  decisions. Additionally, an intelligence collector’s assets may not be able to  provide updates right away. In the case of an informant, does the informant have  the same access to the new plaza boss as the former? Roles are more constant  within an organization and can be split up among individuals. Thus, a person who  had handled both gunmen and drug shipments may be replaced by two people to  break up the responsibilities. Therefore, collectors and analysts must seek to  understand the roles of the new plaza boss and whether he has the same influence  as the prior one.

What We Do

Understanding that the players within organizations change frequently, but  that the roles and constraints of an organization transform far more slowly, is  key to how Stratfor approaches human networks. For the leader of a nation, the  geopolitical imperatives of the nation serve as impersonal forces directing the  decisions of a rational individual. For a criminal or insurgent leader, there is  only so much that can be done while attempting to avoid notice by law  enforcement and the military, and the organization’s imperatives will likely  remain in place. In determining the constraints and imperatives, we can better  identify the significance and courses of actions of an organization without  necessarily knowing the details about the individuals serving specific  roles.

Particularly with more clandestine human networks, we continually examine the  external effects of known personnel changes. For example, how has the death of a  Taliban leader in Pakistan affected the operations of the Tehrik-i-Taliban  Pakistan as a whole, such as in the case of the Jan. 3 death  of Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir in South Waziristan? Nazir commanded a  relatively benign faction of the Pakistani Taliban that kept more aggressive,  anti-government factions out of South Waziristan. His removal, and the nature of  his removal, could invite militants waging an active fight against the Pakistani  government to return to South Waziristan. Ultimately, Nazir was a distinct  figure in the Pakistani militant network due to his alliance with Islamabad.  While his removal won’t change the fact that militants will thrive on the  Pakistani-Afghan border (which geography dictates), it does marginally tilt the  balance away from Islamabad and toward the militants.

With the example of Los  Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, we know Nuevo Laredo is a critical location for the  transnational criminal organization. As a border town with one of the  highest volumes of cross-border commercial shipping to the United States, the  city serves as one of the principal sources of revenue for Zetas drug  traffickers. For this reason, Los Zetas will certainly continue to replace  figures who are removed by military and law enforcement.

Using this known behavior and the imperatives, we can learn about Los Zetas  elsewhere in Mexico: By observing the group at a broader geographic level, we  can deduce the significance of a capture or death in a specific locale. If the  losses of personnel in Nuevo Laredo have had a significant impact on the  organization, operations would likely suffer in other geographic areas as the  group accommodates its losses in Nuevo Laredo.

In forecasting the political, economic or security climate of a geographic  region, understanding human networks must be incorporated into any analysis.  Areas such as Mexico and Syria have geographic elements that define conflicts.  Mexico’s location between the cocaine producers of the northern Andes and  cocaine consumers in the United States ensures that groups will profit off the cocaine flow from south  to north. The Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental divide  trafficking corridors between the east and west coasts of Mexico. But geography  alone can’t be used to predict how groups will organize and compete with each  other within those trafficking corridors. Predicting the spread and scope of  violence depends on knowledge of the human network and of who controls the  resources and terrain. Similarly, the geographic significance of the Levant to  Iran and Iraq determines the importance of Syria as an access point to the  Mediterranean, but that alone doesn’t determine the future of al Assad’s regime.  Understanding who his most trusted confidants are, what their relationships are  based on and watching their moves enables us to filter the constant news of  death and destruction coming out of Syria and to focus on the individuals who  directly support al Assad and determine his immediate fate.

Inasmuch as humans can overcome geography, they can do so through  organizations that control terrain and resources. Understanding the nature of  those organizations and how they control those assets requires knowledge of the  human network.

Read more:  Intelligence and Human Networks | Stratfor

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Modern Spies Part 2- BBC2

The second and final episode of Modern Spies  was broadcast by BBC TV on Monday 9 April. It was presented by Peter Taylor, a BBC journalist who specialised in Northern Ireland in the 1990s and has reported widely on al-Qaeda since 9/11. It discussed the lengths to which the intelligences services are prepared to go in the fight against terror and asked whether or not British intelligence officers have a licence to kill. Click here for my blog on the first episode.

As in the first episode, Taylor interviewed serving British intelligence officers. They were identified by only their first names,  their faces were obscured and actors spoke their words, so we have to take their word and that of the BBC that they were who they claimed to be. Given Peter Taylor’s reputation, I would be surprised if they were not genuine. There were also open interviews with former senior British police officers and Israeli intelligence officers, current and former CIA and FBI officials and William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary.

It was claimed that there are about 2,000 al-Qaeda inspired terror suspects in the UK. In 2010 MI5 carried out extensive surveillance on a group suspected of planning attacks on major targets in London, including placing bugs in suspect’s homes. The MI5 and police officers interviewed said that everything they did was proportionate and legal, and that they were accountable to a high level of government. The evidence gathered was so convincing that the nine accused pleaded guilty and were given long prison sentences.

Security services make use of ‘sting’ operations, where undercover officers pretend to be able to supply suspected terrorists with the weapons and equipment needed to carry out their operation. There is a risk that these cross the line into entrapment, where the undercover officers entice the suspects into attempting to carry out an act of terror.

A British ‘sting’ operation against the Real IRA came close to entrapment, with the result that only one of the two suspects was convicted. This was blamed on the undercover agent not being trained by MI5; he was recruited specially for this operation, because MI5 did not have an agent with what was described as the ‘right face’ for the mission.

The US uses undercover agents more aggressively than Britain does. This was claimed to risk claims of entrapment. An operation, again carried out by outsiders brought in specially for this mission was described.  The Albanian-American Muslim Duka family took a film of themselves firing automatic weapons, whilst shouting Allah Akbar and Jihad, to a shop for conversion into a DVD. The film company informed the FBI which, lacking suitable agents, recruited two Albanian-Americans to penetrate the group.

Six men, including three Duka brothers, were convicted of buying weapons as part of a plan to attack the US military base at Fort Dix. There appeared little doubt that they had done so; the issue was that the FBI undercover agents may have proposed the operation and thus been guilty of entrapment. One of the undercover agents was paid $240,000 and the other received $150,000 and had deportation proceedings against him dropped.

The  question of whether or not British intelligence officers have a James Bond style licence to kill was discussed. The interviewees were adamant that they do not, and the programme then moved on to other intelligence services that have used assassination.

Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, has admitted that it hunted down and killed the Palestinians responsible for the deaths of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972; it argues that its motive was to prevent future attacks, rather than revenge. A fictionalised version of this story was told in the film Munich.

A team of up to 20 Mossad agents is believed to have assassinated Mahmoud al Mabhouh of Hamas in Dubai in 2010. The programme showed hotel CCTV footage of the agents, who were out of the country by the time that al Mabhouh had been found dead in his hotel room. Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence service, has also killed Palestinians.

The USA has killed a large number of al-Qaeda leaders in drone attacks. A total of 3,000 people have died in these, including innocent bystanders. Britain also uses drones. US Navy Seals assassinated Osama Bin Laden last year.

One awkward revelation for the British intelligence services was that Britain co-operated in the extraordinary rendition of the Libyan opposition leader Abdel Hakim Belhaj  to Libya in 2004. Belhaj was then the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which MI6 feared was close to al-Qaeda. He is now a senior military commander in the new Libya, which Britain helped to create.

This came to light when Libyan intelligence files were discovered after the headquarters of Libyan intelligence were bombed last year. Britain has always denied any involvement in torture, but Belhaj says that he was tortured during his captivity.

This was a very interesting series. To some extent, we were told only what the intelligence services wanted us to hear, but it had unprecedented access. It was noticeable that criticisms had to made tangentially, by talking about things that the Americans and Israelis had done, and which Britain might also have done.

It is available for UK viewers on the I-Player until 12:19am on 20 April. No co-producers, so I do not know if it will be shown in other countries.

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Modern Spies – BBC2

Modern Spies is a two-part BBC TV series that looks at the real world of modern spies and  compares it with the fictional spy world. There were clips from Spooks, 24, James Bond and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but the programme was mostly concerned with the real world. It was presented by Peter Taylor, a BBC journalist who specialised in Northern Ireland in the 1990s and has reported widely on al-Qaeda since 9/11.

For the first time interviews with serving British intelligence officers were broadcast on TV. They were identified by only their first names,  their faces were obscured and actors spoke their words, so we have to take their word and that of the BBC that they were who they claimed to be. Given Peter Taylor’s reputation, I would be surprised if they were not genuine.

They came from all three UK intelligence agencies; the Security Service, better known as MI5, which deals with threats to the UK’s national security; the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, which is responsible for intelligence operations abroad; and GCHQ, responsible for electronic security, codes and cyphers. This was the first time that cameras had been allowed inside GCHQ’s main site at Cheltenham. Science fiction fans (and perhaps conspiracy theorists) may be amused to learn that Britain’s military satellite communications network is called Skynet, the same name as the computer network that is humanity’s enemy in the Terminator films.

Some of the interviewees were from the CIA and FBI; they were named, but were either senior enough to already be publicly known or else retired.  A lot of it was devoted to recruitment; British and American intelligence agencies now have recruitment films on their websites. In the past, MI5 and MI6 recruited via informal approaches at universities, mainly Cambridge and Oxford.

Post 9/11 there has been a need for Asian agents who can infiltrate al-Qaeda. A ‘sting’ operation was re-enacted. British Asian MI5 agents persuaded a British member of al-Qaeda that they could supply him with weapons. The al-Qaeda man was arrested.

One of the FBI  officials interviewed said that 9/11 led to a downgrading of counter-intelligence (operations against foreign intelligence services) as counter-terrorism was expanded. This created problems because, despite the end of the Cold War, Russia continues to spy on the West. It was claimed that there are now as many Russian spies in the USA as there were Soviet ones during the Cold War.

In a well publicised case 10 Russian spies were arrested in the USA in June 2010. Most of them were ‘dead doubles’; Russians who had taken the identity of Americans who were born around the same time as themselves but died young. The exception was Anna Chapman, who has become the best known of the 10 because of her looks. She was able to operate under her own name because her ex-husband, Alex Chapman, is British.

The FBI investigation into the Russian spy ring was also re-enacted. Chapman did not meet her contact, but used a laptop with an encrypted wi-fi connection to send information to somebody a short distance away. The FBI broke the encryption and arranged a meeting between her and one of its own agents, who took the laptop for repair.

The Russian agents were arrested when the FBI realised that they were getting close to a Cabinet official. It was suggested that she might have been a ‘honey trap’ agent; one whose job is to obtain sensitive information by seducing somebody who possesses it. The FBI has subsequently issued a statement saying that Chapman had not attempted to seduce the Cabinet official. In fact, another Russian spy, Cynthia Murphy, who worked on Wall St, had several meetings with a financier who was a friend of the Cabinet official.

The 10 Russians were eventually swapped for four Russians accused of spying for the West. One potentially tragic impact of the case is on the two daughters of Cynthia Murphy and  her husband Richard, also a member of the spy ring. The BBC programme  suggested that their marriage was arranged as part of their cover by the Russian intelligence services. The daughters, having been born and brought up in the USA, now find themselves living in Russia with parents whose marriage may be a sham.

The programme talked about honey traps as if they were always used to entrap men by having them approached by younger and extremely attractive women, who would use pillow talk to obtain secrets. However, I recall reading during the Cold War of handsome and charming male agents who would seduce lonely government secretaries in order to obtain secrets.

Intelligence depends on the sources of information. An enormous risk is of acting on intelligence provided by a rogue source. Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, an Iraqi defector code-named ‘Curveball’, told German intelligence, the BND, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. His information was used by the USA to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He admitted on-screen that he made up his stories of secret factories and special trucks carrying bio-weapons. According to The Guardian, he did so in order to bring down Saddam’s regime and had an agreement with the BND that they would not pass his information onto other countries. He claims to be ‘comfortable’ with what he did.

A major intelligence threat to the West is coming from China. The Chinese intelligence services like to operate via what are known as ‘cut-outs.’ These, rather than a Chinese intelligence officer, deal with the sources. The sources may not know who they are supplying information to, and the risk that the intelligence officers may be arrested is considerably reduced.

It was claimed that China has obtained full details of all US nuclear weapons and it was pointed out that China’s newest combat aircraft, the J-20, is very similar to the Lockheed Martin F-35. It was alleged that the Chinese had obtained details of the F-35 by hacking into the computers of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin’s British partner.

A very interesting programme. albeit on a subject where you can never be sure that you are being told the whole truth. Like the spies, you are reliant on your sources. However, Peter Taylor has a good reputation so I think that we learnt as much of the truth as we are likely to on this subject.

More to follow on the second programme, which deals with the questions of how far the British intelligence services will go to protect the country from terrorist threats and whether or not they have a licence to kill.

For UK viewers, the programme is available on the I-Player until midnight on 16 April. There were no co-producers, so I do not know if it will be shown in other countries.

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