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Not so Secret Service

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When I was much younger and acne was still in its death throws, I fancied the life of a secret agent.  I was fired by the sight of James Bond and Ursula Andress cavorting in the surf, and what a sight that was, as she spent the entire film in a bikini.  Mark you, no complaints in that department.

I pictured myself as 007, jetting hither and thither, packing my trusty Walther PK, shooting my way out of trouble and getting first crack at the girls.  And the thought of sailing into the sunset, with Ursula bobbing up and down to the rhythmic lapping of the waves, was almost too much to bear.

But back in those halcyon days, joining MI5 or 6 was by invitation only, rather like joining a gentleman’s club, and as both services were secret, I had no idea how to apply.  I knew the director was ‘M’, but ‘M’ who?  And it wasn’t as if I was going to bump into 007 in the Ferret and Trouserleg, and over a pint of Mine Host’s Old Peculiar, to listen to his tales of daring do as a secret agent.  After all, once the secret’s out, it’s no longer a secret.

However, Her Majesty’s Judiciary have a different agenda, and it’s all to do with Guantanamo Bay, and allegations by former inmates that they had been tortured and deprived of their human rights, which amounts to much the same thing.  They complain that the secret services were complicit in this ill treatment, and have started a legal action for compensation.

So far, so good.  But the secret services have asked the High Court to adopt a “closed” procedure to guard their anonymity and, more to the point, the whole ethos of their services.  If these hearings are to be conducted in open court, with the tabloids sniffing around for sensational news, then their cover will be blown.  Needless to say, the solicitors acting for the complainants object, but they would, wouldn’t they?

I have argued more than once in recent articles, that we as a civilised society must accept a measure of “Big Brother” if we are to walk the streets safely without being blown up.  Extreme threats sometimes call for extreme measures, so I support the secret services.  If everything they do is open to public scrutiny, there seems little point in having them at all.  And perish the thought that Plod would assume responsibility for our health and safety.

James Bond and his ilk are decent men and women, often putting their lives on the line, and they deserve to be protected.  If this means that the former inmates of Guantanamo Bay have to go without shed loads of compensation, then so be it.  A small price to pay.

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