Fred Weir: On the Henry Jackson Society

A new report from the Henry Jackson Society — a report that is endorsed by the former head of MI6, among others, and getting massive [and uncritical] press coverage in Britain — makes the following astounding claims: Russian intelligence services have 200 case officers in Britain, managing 500 full time Russian agents. Moreover, fully half of the 150,000 Russians living in London are at least part-time informants for Russian spy services.

Now, we know that since the latest round of expulsions there are just 55 accredited Russian diplomats left in the UK. Even though the same report claims that half of them are spies too, that means that barely 15 percent of the hardcore “case officers” can even hope to possess diplomatic immunity.

Let’s try to see it from the point of view of those hard-pressed case officers, most of whom must lack diplomatic cover or any protection should they get caught [and why aren’t they getting caught?]. Each case worker has an average of 2.5 full time agents to manage, plus a whopping 375 part-time informants to keep track of. I don’t know the profession at all, but that sounds like an impossibly heavy burden of work to me. And they have to carry it out in utmost secrecy, using codes, and dead drops, fake documents, disguises and pseudonyms, and all that. You’d think they would slip up a lot; or else that British counter-intelligence must be a bunch of hopeless fuckwits to let those overtaxed Russian spooks keep getting away with it.

But, when you think about it, not much effort is required to make this shit up. You don’t have to be the venerable and respected Henry Jackson Society to do it, though it will guarantee you lots of attention. But no criticism? To get all that unquestioning media coverage, and endorsements from the very people whose job it would be to have rolled up this threat [if it exists], now that really says something profoundly depressing about the times we live in.

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