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What are the chances ..

.. that a foreign intelligence agency could contrive a plan intricate enough to implicate a relative of a highly-placed allied intelligence officer in the hope of bringing him down?

Would you sacrifice a pawn to entrap a bishop?

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. пожалуйста #

    I see that Commissioner Gordon likes to reply obliquely to happenings on here and elsewhere via re-posts over on TS/BS.

    As ever, the focus there is on technique: titbits of tradecraft (“litter” etc.), novel poisons and their outre delivery mechanisms, micro-writing and all the other sub-Bondian distractions.

    Contemporary Soviet agents Blunt, Burgess, McLean, Philby and Cairncross largely did without any of this guff. They walked out of their offices with bundles of files for their handlers and brought them back in the morning. Rather more Tinker, Tailor than Man with the Golden Gun.

    As Smiley warns his opposite number in The Looking Glass War, it’s easy to become fixated on ‘technique’.

    So the question arises here too: in plotting out a byzantine ‘konspiratsia’, are we at risk of placing technique and mechanics ahead of motivation and evidence of past behaviour?

    Is sacrificing a pawn for a bishop something the NKVD had form in? And I don’t mean offing the odd dissident here, but an agent who had hitherto supposedly been working in country, with cover in place.

    Even if he had been given chickenfeed via Boxall and Harkness, would NKVD have dared to conspire in that way?

    July 9, 2020
  2. пожалуйста #

    I have made semantic error?

    July 9, 2020
    • Replace dare with capable ..

      July 9, 2020
      • пожалуйста #

        Capability was going to be my next point. It is tempting (especially to obsessors over technique) to ascribe to intelligence agencies great competence and powers.

        But we have seen this emperor in a state of déshabillé too many times. The failure of the british apparatus to detect the cambridge spies, of the Abwehr to get any of their shit together at all in WW2, of the whole secret world to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union, its failure to prevent 9/11, etc.

        And when, on occasion, this most secret royal fumbles around in the dark and actually manages to find some unstriped duds to cover its modesty, it turns out that it’s simply not reliably capable of the basics of subterfuge. Witness the bungling of the Skripal job.

        So, would the NKVD be capable of a plot of fiendish complexity and subtlety, enacted thousands of miles away from home base, with the support only of some flakey fellow travellers?

        Maybe. But it’d have to be a good day with a fair wind.

        July 9, 2020
        • One hundred words that ends with a maybe … goodnight, Boris, never a dull moment.

          July 9, 2020
          • пожалуйста #

            I was being generous.

            July 9, 2020

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