UK Politics

There’s always one

Interesting piece from Philip Bobbitt, a former director for intelligence programmes at the US National Security Council, who takes a look at the relationship between the spooks and the hacks.

He makes the obvious point, ignored by many, that there is always someone in the intelligence services (a single source) who disagrees with the majority line and also says that there is nothing at all unusual or unethical about using open source material in intelligence gathering – on the contrary.

But he says it is time for both the media and the spies to change their ways:

The fraught relationship between the intelligence agencies and the press is mutating, with each taking on some of its opposite number’s characteristics under the intense competition of the 24-hour news cycle and the pressures of investigative journalism, on the one hand, and the new demands on intelligence agenices arising from terrorism, on the other.

As a result, the press will have to learn to be as sceptical of its sources, and as shrewd in triangulating facts that confirm or disconfirm the accounts it collects, as any good intelligence agency. And intelligence agencies will have to learn the collaborative information sharing of the best editors and journalists.