Jul 8, 2009

On Facebook, a Spy Revealed (Pale Legs, Too)

-always hele, forever conceal and never reveal ...

-hide in a field, not in a cave
--BoM 54:66

-Don't wait to be hunted to hide, that's always been my motto. --Samuel Beckett

LONDON — The man in the Facebook photographs seems like your average guy having a little fun. Here he is in a festive scene at a park, gamely wearing a red fleece and a Santa Claus hat. Here he is again, playing Frisbee on the beach, clad in a pair of snug bathing trunks that show off his muscular, if pale (he is British) legs.

Oops. It turns out that this is not a regular person at all. He is in fact Sir John Sawers, diplomat and spy, currently the British ambassador to the United Nations and soon to be the chief of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service. It is as if, suddenly, the Internet were awash with pictures of the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, cavorting half-naked on vacation.


[T]he disclosure, such as it was, raised a little flurry of excitement in diplomatic and journalistic circles. On one hand, The Mail on Sunday fulminated that the existence of the now-defunct items represented a shocking breach of security that exposed the failings of the state apparatus, possibly compromised the safety of Sir John and Lady Sawers and was “potentially useful to terrorists.”

On the other, “It is not a state secret that he wears Speedo swimming trunks,” Foreign Secretary David Miliband declared snippily in a television interview. “The fact that there’s a picture that the head of MI6 goes swimming — wow, that really is exciting.”


It was not so long ago that MI6, the agency that in fiction employs James Bond, was so shrouded in secrecy that the government barely admitted that it existed, let alone condescended to reveal the identity of its chief (forget photographs). That never seemed to stop counterspies from, say, the KGB from knowing a great deal about the secret services, as various episodes over the decades proved.

-Jacked & Hacked NYT

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