UK Foreign Secretary Too Open About British Spies?

Not too long ago, the official word was that MI5 and MI6, the UK’s top secret intelligence agencies, didn’t exist. Spies were certainly never admitted to in arenas accessible to the public, and spy agencies were only ‘rumors.’ But UK Foreign Secretary William Hague seems to have thrown secrecy to the wind at a hearing conducted by one of the House of Commons’ select committees this week.

So what beans were spilled? Not anything too incriminating…indeed the fact that Hague’s words actually drew the attention of the British press is a testament to how hush-hush these topics have been traditionally.

Bernard Jenkins, the Conservative chairman of the commons public administration select committee was questioning Hague on his foreign policy strategy. Seeing as the UK’s new government has done away with the foreign office’s strategy department, Jenkins wanted to know whether soldiers and spies stationed overseas are now being expected to cobble together their own strategy on the fly.

Hague responded as follows: “No. That is the absolute opposite of what I am saying. The strategy of the country comes from the prime minister, the national security council, the foreign secretary. They have to be the people who think together about this and use every possible source of advice about it, including the advice and the varied opinions of the people who work in their department. So, no, we are not leaving it to the spy in a particular location or the soldier in a particular location.”

Aha…so they do exist!

It has been said that Hague should have offered a ‘no comment’ on intelligence-related topics instead of responding directly to the query about spies, but then again, it’s a little bit ridiculous to continue the charade that British spies don’t exist. Apparently, it’s extremely easy to ‘spot the spy’ in any British embassy, mostly because they think so highly of themselves (à la James Bond). True or not, spies are no secret…most countries have their own network of operatives (though some more extensive than others) stationed around the world…

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