Spies Like Us – Why Everyone Seems To Be Missing The Point Over The Guardian Security Leaks

 

The Name's Bond. James Bond. Oh Fuck, I've Told Them My Real Name Again.

The Name’s Bond. James Bond. Oh Fuck, I’ve Told Them My Real Name Again.

The question on everyone’s lips over the last few days appears to be “How can The Guardian do this?” The arrogance, the hubris, the sheer bloody irresponsibility. And this is a fair enough point after a fashion. The question everyone should be asking, however, is this : “Why can The Guardian do this?” This is a newspaper which up until fairly recently was nicknamed “The Grunaid” ,due to an inability to muster sufficient resources to even spell the headlines on its front page correctly. So why is this newspaper able to publish supposed top secrets like they were daily weather reports? The answer is simple. Computers.

One fact that is undisputed about “Guardian-gate” – it’s only a matter of time before someone tags the suffix “gate” on the end of the issue- is that The Guardian got its information from Edward Snowden. I am not an expert on Edward Snowden, but I am fairly sure that he is not a Walther PPK toting, license-to-kill, superspy sort of chap. Yet he still managed to purloin crate loads of sensitive government documents.

In the old days, this sort of information was printed on bits of paper. It was guarded – physically- by highly trained, heavily armed men who took any attempts to remove it from its rightful home very personally. If the information went missing, it was chased down by Walther PPK toting, license-to-kill superspies.

During the cold war, spies chased each other around the world, seduced each other and bumped each other off with exploding bookmarks and poisoned lipsticks. Well, actually they mainly lurked around in public toilets, waited until their targets were taking a dump then shot them in the face, but you get the picture. Spying required effort and actual physical contact. Now anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can do it, which is just cheating whichever way you slice it.

I am a great believer in Occam’s Razor. There are many ways of stating this principle, some of them in Latin. My favourite way of stating it goes like this : “If you have two possible solutions to a problem and one of them is complicated and one of them isn’t, choose the one that isn’t.”  Or as the Americans are fond of saying “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. If the problem is that your top secrets are in constant danger of being stolen from a computer, then the solution is simple. Don’t keep them on a computer. Or if you absolutely have to keep secrets on a computer for reasons of space, make sure it is a computer that is in no way connected to any other computers. And make sure that it is in a room that is guarded by highly trained, heavily armed men who take unauthorised access to its data banks very personally.

If you think that the previous point is facetious or impractical, bear in mind that the Russian government has recently taken delivery of a large consignment of typewriters. It has done this to ensure that anything that is absolutely top, top secret is recorded on paper and absolutely nowhere else. If the Russians are doing it, then you’d better be sure that it’s the right thing to do. The Soviets were the absolute masters of espionage during the Cold War, where the stakes were possible global Thermo Nuclear conflict. They ran rings around everyone, even their closest rivals, the British.

Annoying as all this hoo hah about The Guardian revealing secrets that have already been unveiled is, it is not what is disturbing me about the whole thing. If these secrets were really so earth shatteringly important, wouldn’t the powers that be do something about it. I gather the traditional method is a discreet nocturnal visit where the visitor demonstrates the fine art of the double tap in the pillows next to the subject’s head. Then a politely stated “Back off”. Job done.

So why all this nonsense in the Daily Mail. I mean over and above the usual nonsense that populates the pages of the Daily Mail. Why all the wailing and rending of clothing about The Guardian’s faux pas. Also, why all of this “The SAS Assassinated Princess Diana” gubbins? I’m no conspiracy theorist. Did  man land on The Moon? Yes he did. The Japanese have recently taken pictures of the landing sites. All the shit that Apollo missions left behind is still there. See? Conspiracy theories. Not my thing. But why all of these ludicrous and sensational stories in the papers all of a sudden? What real issues are they trying to distract us from? I have to admit to having no idea. I know we’re not going to like it when we do eventually find out though. Definitely no mystery there.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013

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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

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