Intelligence services, spooks and security. Obviously we don’t really know what goes on, that is the whole point. Anyhow from the news I get a perception that in the EU all the spooks and police have a weekly meeting and share all their data; and that this is a good thing we might put at risk if we leave. When I think about that, I’d hope that there is a good level of chat between secret services but I sincerely hope that our guys are very selective about what they share and where they share it. If my first perception were reality you might as well stick it all straight on wikileaks.
Which EU countries’ security service would you trust with the competence to keep a secret ? (Yeah I know, some would say we don’t even trust our own). Well, for me, those countries would become vanishingly few the further south and east I look. I don’t like saying that because it sounds nasty. It is not being nasty, it is just very hard to create sophisticated, competent, secure and un-corrupt security services, and if you’ve recently been released from a huge paranoid soviet bloc or are in the middle of economic meltdown it is impossible.
Also there is the question of political snouts. All police and secret services suffer, in varying degrees, from short term interference by whichever politician is ‘in power’.
A problem with politicians is that they often believe their ideals so strongly that they try to apply them to everything. For example, an anti-Zionist Home Secretary or Ministre de l’Interieur or whatever might instruct that we share nothing with the Israelis. Or they might insist we can’t share with country X because some of our voters don’t quite agree with their legal system. But they really mean, if something goes Pete Tong people at home will blame me and I’ll get canned. Or one who felt deeply in his heart about the environment might stop our spies using jet packs or fast cars which leave carbon footprints all over the place (very bad field craft); but where would James Bond be without the kit?
Which countries would you trust not to be so politicised that they compromise global security for political reasons? For me this list is of zero length, yes not even our own politicians can resist sticking their conks in.
I really hope that communication goes on at a level above politics or at least invisible to politicians. Our chaps are trying to keep us safe forever not just while one or other political structure is in place. Yes the police, Mi5, Mi6, whoever, must be accountable; but accountable to the people and the slow changing trends in our society’s moral attitudes which is not the same thing as knee jerking to the tune of the politician du jour.
I think my view is this; politics should have little to do with the serious long term business of intelligence and security. Given that position, I have to observe that being in the EU, I can only see more political interference I certainly can’t see it getting any less.
The EU arrest warrant which I have not mentioned yet because it is so clearly a double edged sword will not help me decide.