İNGİLİZ İÇ VE DIŞ İSTİHBARAT SERVİSLERİ – MI5 & MI6
Kuzey İrlanda’nın Belfast kentindeki Queen’s Üniversitesi’nden Profesör Keith Jeffery, kendisine sunulan arşiv belgelerini tarihçiler açısından "Alaaddin’in Altın Mağarası" olarak nitelendirdi. Keith Jeffery, çalışmalarına yönelik tek sınırlamanın, ülkesine ihanet eden bazı İngiliz ajanarının adlarının açıklanmaması olduğunu söyledi. Jeffery’nin kitabı, MI6’in İkinci Dünya savaşı sonrası o dönem İngiliz mandası olan Filistin’e giden ve Yahudi mültecileri taşıyan gemileri sabote etmeye yönelik operasyonlarına yönelik bilgiler içeriyor. Kitapta, Operation Embarrass (Utandırma Operasyonu) ile Yahudilerin caydırılması için İtalya limanlarındaki bazı gemilerin MI6 ajanlarınca imha edildikleri belirtiliyor.
Kitapta anlatılan diğer olaylar arasında, MI6’ın 1930’lı yıllarda Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’ndeki aktif casusluk faaliyetleri ve İkinci Dünya Savaşı’nın dönüm noktalarından 1944’teki Normandiya Çıkarması öncesi suikastle öldürülebilecek bazı Nazi liderlerinin listesinin çıkarılması da var. Ancak suikast planlarından, çok riskli oldukları ve kanlı isyanlara yol açabilecekleri gerekçesiyle vazgeçildiği aktarılıyor. Yazar Profesör Keith Jeffery’e göre, özellikle ünlü James Bond filmlerinde yansıtılanın aksine MI6 ajanlarının "öldürme lisansı" da bulunmuyor. Gerçek James Bondlar ise yazarın ifadesiyle, James Bond karakterinden "çok daha ilginç" kişiler.
Profesör Chris Andrew tarafından yazılan The Defence Of The Realm (Ülke Savunması) adlı kitaba onay veren MI5, bazı sınırlamalar koymakla birlikte, arşivindeki 400 bin dosyayı kullanıma açtı. Teşkilatın Soğuk Savaş döneminden başlayarak günümüzde "terörle mücadeleye" dek değişen önceliklerinin analizini yapan kitap, MI5’ın belli dönemlerdeki başarısızlıklarını da ortaya koyuyor. MI5 örgütü 1909 yılında, basit bir amaçla kuruluyor: İngiltere’deki Alman casuslarını yakalamak.
Bu konuda en büyük başarı da İkinci Dünya Savaşı sırasında yakalanıyor. MI5, Alman casusları yakalamakla kalmıyor, onları kendi tarafına geçirerek ülkelerine yanlış istihbarat vermelerini sağlıyor. Aynı istihbarat başarısı, savaş sonrasında Sovyetler Birliği’ne karşı sürdürülemiyor. Zira Sovyet istihbaratı, sadece MI5’a değil, dış istihbarattan sorumlu olan MI6’e de sızmayı başarıyor. Profesör Andrew’a göre 1971 yılında 100 Sovyet diplomat ülkeden sınır dışı edilene kadar da, KGB’nin istihbarat faaliyetleri kontrol altına alınamıyor.
İç istihbarat örgütünün siyaset ile en içli dışlı olduğu yıllar da Soğuk Savaş yılları. MI5 bu dönemde önceliğini, "yıkıcı faaliyetler ile mücadele" olarak belirliyor. Yıkıcı faaliyetlerin tanımı, "parlamenter demokrasiyi siyasi ya da silahlı yollarla yıkmaya çalışmak" olarak yapılınca, izlenenlerin arasına siyasetçiler de katılıyor. Bu dönemde başbakanlık koltuğuna oturan her lidere, kabinesini oluştururken dikkat etmesi gereken isimlerin bir listesi veriliyor. Kitapta, 1960’larda görev yapan üç milletvekilinin Sovyet istihbarat servisleri adına çalıştığı belirtiliyor. 1970’lerde ise, teşkilatın Sovyet istihbaratına karşı koyma kabiliyetinin bir hayli azaldığı anlatılıyor. Profesör Andrew’a göre Margaret Thatcher döneminde hükümet, madenciler grevi gibi siyasi olaylarda MI5’tan yardım istiyor.
Ancak MI5, grevcilerin elebaşları hakkında rapor hazırlamayı reddediyor. 1980’lerin sonuna doğru, terörle mücadele MI5 için daha öncelikli hale geliyor. u dönemde önce IRA, 11 Eylül 2001 saldırılarından sonra ise El Kaide takip edilmeye başlanıyor. Chris Andrew dosyalarını neredeyse tamamen kendisine açan MI5’a teşekkür etti. Dünyada ilk kez önde gelen bir istihbarat örgütünün böyle birşey yaptığını söyleyen Andrew, şöyle konuştu: "Eğer tarihinizin yazılmasına izin vermezseniz, tarihin duracağı yerde sadece boş bir sayfa olaz; uydurma bilgiler olur, komplo teorisi olur."
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SECRET SERVICE BUREAU
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
The Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) began operations in October 1909 as a single organization, the Secret Service Bureau, staffed initially by only two officers: the fifty-year-old Royal Navy Commander Mansfield Cumming and an Army captain fourteen years his junior, Vernon Kell. Cumming and Kell later parted company to become the first heads of, respectively, the future SIS and MI5.
Vernon Kell, MI5’s founder
As well as being an accomplished linguist, Kell also proved adept at running an office on a shoestring. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, he had only sixteen staff (including the caretaker), well below the minimum which any modern security service would think necessary in order to function at all.
Kell’s original remit was to deal with what an official committee reported in 1909 was ‘an extensive system of German espionage’, based largely on German nationals in Britain. ‘Refuse to be served by a German waiter’, the Daily Mail advised its readers. ‘If your waiter says he is Swiss, ask to see his passport.’ Such alarmism reflected the tensions caused by the Anglo-German naval arms race and the approach of the First World War. Most of the ‘spies’ who persuaded Whitehall that it was faced with ‘an extensive system of German espionage’ in Britain were figments of the media and popular imaginations.
After initially pursuing some false leads, Kell discovered a real network of spies working for German Naval Intelligence who, because of the naval arms race, presented a significant threat to British security. As Home Secretary in 1910-11, Winston Churchill, the greatest intelligence enthusiast in all the cabinets in which he served, enabled Kell to make maximum use of his slender resources in two vital ways.
First, Churchill successfully urged chief constables to assist Kell’s counter-espionage operations. Secondly, he introduced a system of Home Office Warrants (HOWs), each personally authorised by the Home Secretary, which authorised the interception of all the correspondence of suspects. Hitherto individual warrants signed by the Home Secretary had been required for every letter opened. Home Office Warrants are still used today and the Home Secretary continues to be responsible for authorising them. These new arrangements proved crucial in enabling MI5 to investigate suspects.
MI5 IN WORLD WAR I
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
At the start of the First World War, with the assistance of the police, MI5 rounded up all the agents of any significance working for German naval intelligence. No remaining agent was able to pass on potentially crucial intelligence on the departure for the continent of the British Expeditionary Force.
Gustav Steinhauer, the head of the British section of German Naval Intelligence, later acknowledged that the Kaiser had been beside himself with fury when told of the ‘wholesale round-up of our secret service agents’: ‘Apparently unable to believe his ears, [he] raved and stormed for the better part of two hours about the incompetence of his so-called intelligence officers, bellowing: “Am I surrounded by dolts? Why was I not told? Who is responsible?” and more in the same vein.’ Steinhauer is unlikely to have fabricated such a devastating denunciation of his own alleged incompetence.
Vernon Kell (centre of front row) with heads of MI5 branches, 1918
German archives reveal that at least 120 spies were sent to Britain at some point during the First World War. MI5 caught 65 of them. There is no convincing evidence that any of the remainder sent back significant intelligence to Germany. Some appear to have been ‘reconnaissance agents’ on neutral shipping, able to report only on what they could observe when calling at British ports. A number of other agents broke contact with their case officers.
A post-war MI5 report concluded: ‘It is apparently a paradox, but it is none the less true, and a most important truth, that the efficiency of a counter espionage service is not to be measured chiefly by the number of spies caught by it.’
Though MI5 caught a record number of spies in 1915, it was probably less successful then than in 1918 when it caught none. Good ‘protective security’ (better developed during the First World War than ever before) and the deterrent effect of the executions of some captured spies had by then made it difficult for Germany either to recruit any spies for work in Britain or to carry out sabotage operations as effective as those in the United States (which included blowing up a huge arms dump in New Jersey in which 900 tonnes of explosives was detonated, killing seven people and damaging the Statue of Liberty).
Faced with the declining threat from German espionage, MI5 paid increasing attention during the second half of the War to counter-subversion. Like the government, it wrongly suspected that German and Communist subversion was inflaming British industrial disputes. Its New Year Card for 1918, correctly forecasting victory by the end of the year, showed MI5, depicted as a masked Britannia, impaling the beast of Subversion with her trident before it can stab the British fighting man in the back. The card was personally designed by Kell’s long-serving deputy, Eric Holt-Wilson.
In the course of the war MI5’s staff increased almost fiftyfold to reach a total of 844. Though the leadership remained overwhelmingly male, several female recruits achieved positions of greater significance than in any other British official agency or department. Miss A. W. Masterson became the first woman to manage the finances of a government office. Jane Sissmore, who joined MI5 as a sixteen-year-old secretary straight from school in 1916, progressed so rapidly that by 1924 she had qualified as a barrister and become MI5’s chief expert on Soviet affairs. Though the intelligence glass ceiling was not broken until Stella Rimington became Director General of MI5 in 1992, the first cracks began to appear in the First World War.
THE INTER-WAR YEARS
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
Unknown to most of his staff, for six years after victory in the First World War, Vernon Kell had to fight for the survival of MI5. In addition to being faced with savage peacetime cutbacks, MI5 was threatened by rivalry with both the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).
The head of the Special Branch, Sir Basil Thomson, whose Whitehall network was more influential than Kell’s, persuaded Lloyd George’s coalition government in 1919 to make him head of a newly created Directorate of Intelligence to take charge of counter-subversion. Thomson proved out of his depth and in 1921 was, in his own words, ‘kicked out by the P.M.’ Scotland Yard, however, retained the lead role in counter-subversion (except in the armed forces) for another decade.
Maxwell Knight, MI5’s leading agent-runner in the 1930s
Admiral Sir Hugh ‘Quex’ Sinclair, who became Chief of SIS after Cumming’s death in 1923, made an unsuccessful take-over bid for MI5 on the grounds that it was ‘impossible to draw the line’ between espionage and counter-espionage. By 1925, though MI5 had secured its survival as an independent agency, it had only thirty-five staff. Kell told Whitehall’s Secret Service Committee in 1925 that, because of lack of resources, ‘he had no ‘‘agents’’ in the accepted sense of the word, but only informants, though he might employ an agent for a specific purpose’.
MI5 dramatically returned to centre stage in the intelligence community after a surveillance operation revealed that the Special Branch had been penetrated by Soviet intelligence. Though there were no prosecutions, two officers were dismissed from Scotland Yard in 1929 after a disciplinary board of inquiry. As part of an intelligence reorganisation in 1931 full responsibility for counter-subversion was transferred to MI5, which was officially known henceforth as the Security Service but continued to be more frequently referred to as MI5.
Security Service staff numbers, however, increased only gradually. Even at the start of 1939 it had only thirty-six officers, assisted by 103 secretarial and Registry staff. MI5’s most striking pre-war success was the penetration of the London embassy of Nazi Germany. Its most important source was the anti-Nazi German diplomat, Wolfgang zu Putlitz, whose constant message was that the British policy of trying to ‘appease’ Hitler by making concessions to him made war more, not less, likely. Putlitz came close to despair in September 1938 when the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, returned from the Munich conference claiming that an agreement pressuring the Czechs to surrender the Sudetenland on their western border to Germany meant not only ‘peace with honour’ but ‘peace for our time’. In an attempt to persuade Chamberlain to think again, Kell took the personal decision to inform him that Hitler referred to him in private as an ‘arsehole’. The probably shocked Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, underlined the insult three times in red ink.
MI5’s leading agent-runner, Maxwell Knight (later a well-known BBC naturalist) also had considerable success in penetrating British fascist movements. MI5 was hampered, however, by the unwillingness of successive pre-war Home Secretaries to sign a Home Office Warrant (HOW) for the interception of the communications of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, apparently because of the belief that he was, at root, a sincere patriot who posed no threat to national security—despite the fact that he married his second wife at a private ceremony in Goebbels’s drawing room, attended by Hitler.
MI5 IN WORLD WAR II
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
During the first year of the Second World War the Security Service made what one of its staff called a transition ‘from prison to palace’. Failing to find office space in London for its rapidly expanding staff after the outbreak of War, MI5 moved its headquarters to Wormwood Scrubs, a Victorian prison in West London.
After the prison was bombed during the London Blitz in September 1940, most staff transferred to Blenheim Palace at Woodstock, near Oxford. The Director (as the DG was then known), some other senior officers and counter-espionage operations officers stayed in London at a former MGM building in St James’s Street whose identity was camouflaged by a large ‘To Let’ sign outside.
Winston Churchill, who had been one of Vernon Kell’s chief supporters at the foundation of the Secret Service Bureau in 1909, quickly realised when he became Prime Minister in May 1940 that Kell had stayed on too long. MI5 could not cope with the huge increase in business which followed the end of the ‘Phoney War’ and Hitler’s invasion of France and the Low Countries. An in-house history later acknowledged, ‘By the time of the fall of France [in June] the organisation of the Security Service as a whole was in a state which can only be described as chaotic.’ Kell was sacked. His immediate successor, ‘Jasper’ Harker, was also not up the job.
MI5’s fortunes were rapidly restored by a former head of the Delhi Intelligence Bureau and chairman of the Indian Public Service Commission, Sir David Petrie, who served as Director General from 1942 to 1946. Its main wartime success was taking the lead role in the now celebrated ‘Double Cross System’, which fed disinformation to Germany through turned German agents. The origins of Double Cross went back to an adventurous MI5 double agent in the mid-1930s, the First World War fighter ace, Christopher ‘Mad Major’ Draper, who flew under 15 of London’s 18 bridges in 1931 —a feat which impressed Hitler, among others. Draper did little to deceive the Germans but provided MI5 with important intelligence on how German Intelligence maintained contact with its agents in Britain. That intelligence led to MI5’s discovery of a Welsh-born electrical engineer spying for the Germans, whom it codenamed SNOW.
Shortly after the outbreak of War, SNOW became the first in a series of 120 wartime German agents who were turned by MI5 into double agents. From January 1941 the disinformation passed on by the double agents to German Intelligence was coordinated by the Twenty Committee (so called because the Roman numeral for twenty, XX, is a double cross), chaired by J. C. Masterman, an Oxford historian and international sportsman recruited by MI5. Through the Double Cross System, wrote Masterman later, ‘we actively ran and controlled the German espionage system in this country’.
The greatest of the double agents, in Masterman’s view, was the Catalan businessman Juan Pujol García, who had set out to deceive the Germans even before he became part of the Double Cross System as Agent GARBO. In collaboration with his MI5 case officer, Tomás Harris, GARBO deceived the Germans into believing that, in addition to his own operations, he had a network of twenty-eight highly productive sub-agents, most of them in the UK but some based as far afield as North America and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
GARBO played a key role in persuading the Germans that the main target of the D-Day landings in June 1944 was not the Normandy beaches but the area round Calais. Four weeks after the landings began, MI5 reported to Churchill: ‘It is known for a fact that the Germans intended at one time to move certain Divisions from the Pas de Calais area to Normandy but, in view of the possibility of a threat to the Pas de Calais area, these troops were either stopped on their way to Normandy and recalled or it was decided that they should not be moved at all.’ Churchill was also informed that Berlin had awarded GARBO the Iron Cross (Second Class) in recognition of what his German case officer called his ‘perfect and cherished work … in the supreme and decisive hours of the struggle for the future of Europe’.
Thanks chiefly to the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, who provided indispensable support for the Double Cross System, Britain had better intelligence about Germany during the Second World War than any power had ever had about its enemies in any previous war. The Soviet Union was less well informed about Germany but better informed about its wartime allies than any power had been before. The chief asset of Soviet intelligence against its allies was its ideologically motivated penetration agents, of whom the most important in Britain were the Cambridge Five. MI5’s main handicap in countering Soviet penetration was that, with the recruitment of the art historian Anthony Blunt in June 1940, it was itself penetrated.
Blunt provided a phenomenal amount of intelligence to Moscow as well as running a sub-agent, Leo Long, in British military intelligence. To Soviet intelligence HQ it increasingly seemed too good to be true. In 1943 it concluded that Blunt and the rest of the Cambridge Five must be part of a Double Cross System directed against the Soviet Union. Not until a few months before D-Day did it finally accept that the intelligence provided by the Five was genuine.
Probably the only person in the wartime Security Service who became suspicious of Blunt was the future Director General Roger Hollis. When, almost twenty years later, Blunt confessed to having been a Soviet agent, he told his interrogators, Peter Wright and Arthur Martin, ‘I believe [Hollis] disliked me – I believe he slightly suspected me.’ It was sadly ironic that Wright and Martin, the most damaging conspiracy theorists in MI5’s history, should persuade themselves that Hollis, like Blunt, was a Soviet agent.
The interrogation of captured enemy agents and other suspects has always been an essential – but sometimes controversial – element in counter-espionage and counter-terrorist work. Different generations have confronted this challenge in different ways, but all have faced a consistent issue: how to persuade detainees to disclose reliable information in a useful period of time that will help us to protect the country and the lives of its citizens.
During and after WW2 one of those most closely involved in managing detainee interrogations was Robin ‘Tin Eye’ Stephens who had joined MI5 shortly before the outbreak of war. He ended up running successively two interrogation centres: Camp 020 in London between 1940-45, and No.74 Detailed Interrogation Centre at Bad Nenndorf in Germany between 1945-47. The latter played an important part in the western Allies’ efforts to stabilize and ‘denazify’ Germany in the immediate aftermath of the war. But this led to controversy, scandal, accusations of sadism, and a Court Martial.
Early in the war, MI5 established an interrogation centre, known as Camp 020, at Latchmere House on Ham Common in south London. This was new territory for MI5 and, indeed, for the British Government. (The Home Office, to which MI5 answered, carried out inspections of the camp and provided advice and direction on the prison regime. Internees were permitted to write to the Home Office if they had complaints or requests.) Camp 020, in which captured enemy agents of many different nationalities were interrogated and ‘broken’, played a key role in MI5’s now legendary ‘Double Cross’ System. It achieved successes that were unprecedented in the history of warfare. MI5 detected every wartime German spy who arrived in Britain and turned many of them into effective and often long-running double agents.
Lt Col Robin "Tin Eye"
Stephens, Commandant of Camp 020
Camp 020’s function, however, was not simply confined to the ‘Double Cross’ System. It also provided useful information for Allied code-breakers in their vital work on ENGIMA and ULTRA at Bletchley Park. And in the closing stages of the war, it was responsible for ‘breaking’ several captured Nazi leaders – some of whom were then successfully prosecuted by the Allies at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.
Colonel Stephens, who ran Camp 020, was a formidable, forceful and energetic character who had an extraordinary ability to break even the hardest of spies. ‘Tin Eye’ – so called because of his thick monocle – used every kind of ‘mental pressure’ to ‘break’ prisoners. Such methods were deemed at that time to be a permissible ruse de guerre, provided the threats were not carried out. Stephens’ monocle, by the way, was not some theatrical affectation: it was the result of his exposure to Italian mustard gas while working as a volunteer with a British Red Cross team in Abyssinia in the mid-1930s.
Much like Stephens himself, Camp 020 made for an ominous first impression. The camp was not designed for prisoners of War (POWs) but rather for captured civilian agents (spies). The Geneva Convention relates only to POWs and so did not apply to Camp 020, nor was it listed by the Red Cross. This left the inmates potentially open to physical abuse.
But Stephens was adamantly opposed to the use of physical violence. This is supported by a number of sources. First, in conformity with normal military practice, Stephens, who had served with distinction in the Indian Army as a younger man, drafted and issued Standing Orders – rules and guidance for all personnel working at Camp 020. He later employed these orders at Bad Nenndorf. Importantly, one Standing Order stated: “Under no circumstances will physical violence be used except in self-defence or in cases of prisoners attempting to escape.” Stephens had no hesitation in punishing those who disobeyed this order. Second, in an in-house history of Camp 020 (now available as a National Archives publication) Stephens asserted: “Violence is taboo, for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information”. He put the unprecedented successes of Camp 020 down to this rule of non-violence. “Never strike a man,” wrote Stephens in instructions for interrogators. “In the first place it is an act of cowardice. In the second place, it is not intelligent. A prisoner will lie to avoid further punishment and everything he says thereafter will be based on a false premise.” Finally, staff who served at Camp 020 during the war and knew Stephens well have spoken out publicly over the years in Stephens’ defence, asserting that, while an intimidating character, he never resorted to the use of physical violence.
Stephens never wavered on this issue. His stance was well known to, and endorsed by, senior officials from the Home Office and Security Executive who conducted regular inspections of the Camp. And the diary – never intended for publication – kept by Guy Liddell (a future MI5 Deputy Director General) confirms that Stephens sometimes went to considerable lengths to enforce his edict. On one occasion, in September 1940, Stephens ejected from Camp 020 a visiting senior War Office interrogator who hit a prisoner, the double agent TATE. As Liddell noted in his diary “It is quite clear to me that we cannot have this sort of thing going on in our establishment. Apart from the moral aspect of the whole thing, I am quite convinced that these Gestapo methods do not pay in the long run.” Stephens, infuriated by this foolish incident, made sure that that the officer in question never returned to Camp 020.
Stephens’ rule regarding interrogations was straightforward: he believed that in a protracted ideological battle like WW2 or the Cold War, the quick benefits that might be gained from physical abuse were outweighed by the long-term damage to intelligence-gathering which those acts caused. He believed that the objective of interrogations was not to obtain quick answers to a few questions, nor to extract a simple answer. Rather, interrogations should induce a prisoner to give all the relevant information in his or her possession – and the only way to do that, Stephens believed, was to abide by an axiomatic rule of non-violence.
At the end of the war, Stephens, with considerable reluctance, accepted a secondment to the Army in occupied Germany, where he was placed in charge of a new interrogation facility (No.74 Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, or No.74 DIC) at Bad Nenndorf, a spa town near Hanover in Lower Saxony. Stephens was the obvious choice to run this camp: he had more experience of running such an establishment and of conducting and directing successful interrogations than anyone else in the British intelligence community.
Although the camp was modelled on Camp 020, it was under different management. It was run by the War Office – the predecessor of today’s Ministry of Defence – rather than by MI5, and its administration was in the hands of the Control Commission Germany. It was staffed by personnel drawn from across the British Armed Forces and intelligence community, including MI5.
The location of Bad Nenndorf in occupied Germany
The camp was initially used to gather information on the German intelligence services, in part to prevent a post-war Nazi revival, which was feared to be a real possibility in 1945. Some of Hitler’s most notorious henchmen were interrogated at No.74 DIC, including one of the Third Reich’s main espionage chiefs, Horst Kopow (whose MI5 files are now in The National Archives). Hitler’s former adjutant, Nicholaus von Below, was sent there and revealed previously undisclosed details of the Nazi leader’s final communications to his generals. The test pilot Hanna Reitsch was also interrogated there under American supervision, as was Oswald Pohl, a senior Nazi official who played a leading role in the Holocaust. His unrepentant statements to his interrogators were to play an important part in his later trial, at which he was sentenced to death.
However, as the Nazi threat declined and the Cold War set in, No.74 DIC was directed to focus on the Soviet Union, a former wartime ally. British intelligence had emerged from WW2 knowing very little about the Soviets and No.74 DIC played an important part in developing a greater understanding of the potential threat. Interrogations at the camp provided a crucial source of information on a range of subjects, such as Soviet scientific research and technology, most importantly atomic research, and the Soviet intelligence services. They also produced, as one report noted in 1947, “as complete an Order of Battle for the Red Army” as was possible to obtain at the time. Several suspected Soviet agents were interrogated at Bad Nenndorf, providing “unassailable evidence of Russian espionage within the British Zone in Germany”, as Stephens put it.
The scandal at Bad Nenndorf
Despite No.74 DIC’s crucial role in the early Cold War, Stephens, facing funding and other belt-tightening measures imposed by the Control Commission, struggled to run the sprawling camp effectively. Due to massive and rapid post-war demobilisation, he lost some of his most experienced personnel – people who had served with him at Camp 020 – and the replacement interrogators and warders often lacked the appropriate experience and attributes for their tasks. Seven hundred staff had been stationed at Bad Nenndorf in 1945, but by 1946 staff numbers had been more than halved. Later testimony confirms that, despite Stephens’ vigorous and repeated protests to his military superiors, a number of whom clearly sympathised with his predicament, quite a few soldiers with extensive criminal records were deployed to the camp as warders.
By his own account, supported by the testimony of others, Stephens worked assiduously to ensure that No.74 DIC operated on the same principles as Camp 020. Interrogating officers were briefed on their role and were shown a copy of Stephens’ history of Camp 020. Standing Orders were posted and drawn to the attention of all personnel and Stephens himself, on a couple of occasions, lectured the warders on the absolute necessity of refraining from violence. And he had other measures in place to ensure oversight and control. Prison Control Officers were responsible for the day-to-day operation of the prison; at night Duty Officers made rounds of the prison wing; the Medical Officer made daily visits; and Stephens conducted a formal inspection once a week and made other unannounced visits to the wing. He also assumed that the covert eavesdropping system covering the inmates’ cells would reveal if anything were amiss in the prison. He thought he could rely on these arrangements.
Much has been made in recent years of Stephens’ alleged sadism, his utter disregard for the welfare of those under his control. The record does not support this. In addition to his clear opposition to the use of physical violence, Stephens also seems to have taken some steps to ameliorate the conditions in which inmates at No.74 DIC were held. Against considerable opposition from the Control Commission, he was successful in securing an enhanced food ration for prisoners, considerably superior to that for those held in civil internment camps in the British Zone. And during the unusually harsh winter of 1946-47, when the Control Commission was unable to replenish coal stocks for the camp’s heating system, Stephens, as a partial remedy, was able to provide stoves and wood supplies for the detainees. He also secured a supply of drugs and other materials from Camp 020 to enable the Medical Officer to treat internees, when the provision of such items for use on Germans had been forbidden.
Despite these various measures, something was clearly going wrong at Bad Nenndorf. In the early months of 1947, a number of internees from the camp were transferred to the local internee hospital at Rotenburg. Some appeared to have suffered physical abuse, others were evidently malnourished, while others were thought to have suffered serious medical neglect. Two inmates died within twenty-four hours of arrival at the hospital, while another, Robert Buttlar-Brandenfels (an interesting character whose MI5 file is now in the National Archives), had four toes amputated as a consequence of undiagnosed frostbite.
When all this was brought to public notice, it caused a scandal, both in Britain and Germany. Britain, it was claimed, had established ‘concentration camps’ similar to those of the Nazis. The apparently poor physical and mental condition of some detainees following their release from No.74 DIC caused serious concern. This led, in April 1947, to a military Court of Inquiry being hastily appointed to look urgently into the allegations. In a matter of days, following the receipt of some fairly alarming evidence, it concluded that there had been a number of serious failings and abuses at the camp. Stephens and two other officers were immediately suspended. But the Court of Inquiry reserved some of its harshest criticism for Stephens’ superiors, noting that:
“Intelligence Division [of the Control Commission] must themselves bear the major share of the ultimate responsibility for the treatment meted out at Bad Nenndorf. The establishment was run under their authority and they should have ensured that proper regulations were laid down for the guidance of the Commandant and his staff…”
The Court also recognised that it was some of the warders that had been directly responsible for the ill-treatment of internees. These men were later identified and granted immunity to give evidence for the Prosecution at Stephens’ Court Martial. While admitting their role in the physical abuse of prisoners, none implicated Stephens. And, despite the Court of Inquiry’s strictures, no members of the Intelligence Division of the Control Commission were subject to administrative or other action.
Following the Court of Inquiry’s findings, a more detailed investigation was launched, led by a former Metropolitan Police officer. As a consequence of this investigation – and following considerable debate between the Foreign Office, the War Office and the Control Commission – it was decided to bring several officers before Courts Martial to face a range of charges relating to the neglect and abuse of prisoners at Bad Nenndorf.
In the event, between March and July 1948, three officers were prosecuted. A fourth – an officer in charge of one of the interrogation sections at Bad Nenndorf – escaped prosecution through a legal technicality, a decision that troubled the Foreign Office and the Attorney General. The first to be tried, a young interrogation officer, was acquitted. The next trial was that of the Medical Officer: he was acquitted of two charges of manslaughter but found guilty on a number of charges of professional neglect and dismissed from the Army.
As commanding officer of Bad Nenndorf, Stephens faced four charges. These related essentially to cruelty arising from the improper confinement of prisoners; neglect of duty through failure to exercise appropriate supervision resulting in a range of abuses including prisoners being subjected to physical violence; and inflicting hardship and suffering on prisoners through failure to provide adequate nutrition. Two of the charges he faced were dropped on the first day. Much of his case was conducted behind closed doors because of the sensitivity of the testimony heard in his defence, which included details of the information gained on the Soviet Union. Over fifty witnesses testified for the Prosecution, and twenty for the Defence. The latter included some of the most distinguished members of the British intelligence community, including Sir Dick White, a future head of both MI5 and MI6.
Stephens pointed out to the Court Martial that he had persistently stood against the use of ‘physical pressure’ during interrogations and had repeatedly impressed this view upon his subordinates. It was also shown that he had not hesitated to punish those who disregarded these instructions. It was not Stephens’ case that the alleged abuses at No.74 DIC had not taken place, rather that the systems, processes and personnel upon which he thought he was entitled to rely for detecting and preventing such abuses had failed. While it was successfully shown that much of the prosecution evidence was exaggerated or false, it was nevertheless clearly demonstrated that there had been medical neglect – for which the Medical Officer was tried and convicted – and that some private soldiers and NCOs had assaulted prisoners. These former warders, in their prosecution evidence, admitted their part in these assaults; they also admitted that they were fully aware of Stephens’ rules forbidding violence. But these were evidently isolated incidents: there were no grounds for concluding that this behaviour was either widespread or systemic.
The Court Martial acquitted Stephens of all charges. Shortly afterwards, he returned to MI5. He retired in 1960 having served in several posts at home and abroad.
Following the Bad Nenndorf case, the government took steps to ensure that there would be no recurrence. It instigated oversight mechanisms and established universal standards for its interrogation centres abroad, including a prohibition of the use of ‘mental pressure’. To quote a brief given to the Prime Minister in March 1948: interrogation centres abroad had a crucial role to perform, but it was equally necessary to safeguard the rights of those who were detained.
Bad Nenndorf illustrated the importance of maintaining high standards for the interrogation of detainees. Some serious acts of abuse had clearly occurred at the camp and some of those implicated were investigated and brought to trial. The abuses were carried out at a low level, by personnel who ignored Stephens’ specific instructions, and were never condoned by higher authorities.
Stephens’ instructions for the interrogation of prisoners over half a century ago remain highly relevant today. MI5 still operates under strict rules for interviewing and questioning individuals. All MI5 staff are trained in the requirements of the Human Rights Act before they are deployed to operational posts, and the Service has rigorous procedures for ensuring that the law and the government’s consolidated guidance on the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas is followed.
THE BRITISH EMPIRE AND COMMONWEALTH
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
In 1934 MI5’s deputy head, Sir Eric Holt-Wilson, proudly proclaimed: "Our Security Service is more than national; it is Imperial. We have official agencies cooperating with us, under the direct instructions of the Dominions and Colonial Offices and the supervision of local Governors, and their chiefs of police, for enforcing security laws in every British Community overseas. These all act under our guidance for security duties."
Holt-Wilson’s claim was essentially aspirational. MI5 was still too small to provide security supervision and guidance for an empire which covered a quarter of the globe. In the final years of peace, however, to counter the threats from Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union and Imperial Japan, the Security Service began posting permanent liaison officers to some British overseas territories. In 1937 MI5’s first defence security officer (DSO) began work in Cairo. By the outbreak of war, there were also DSOs in Aden, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Palestine and Singapore.
In the Second World War and the early Cold War the Security Service built an imperial security network almost as ambitious as that to which Holt-Wilson had aspired in 1934. At the peak of post-war decolonisation, MI5 had forty-two offices abroad, most headed by Security Liaison Officers (SLOs) with only secretarial support, the great majority in the Empire and Commonwealth. Officers who joined the Service early in the Cold War could expect to spend a quarter to a third of their careers on overseas postings. This, for many recruits, was one of the attractions of an MI5 career in an era before the invention of the package holiday had brought foreign travel within the reach of most of the British population. An officer who joined in 1949 remembers overseas postings as ‘definitely the cream on the pudding’.
The Security Service’s main concern in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War was not, as often supposed, the looming Cold War with the Soviet Union but the threat from Middle Eastern terrorism during the final years of the Palestine mandate, which had been conferred on Britain by the League of Nations in 1922. The terrorists came not, as later in the twentieth century, from Palestinian or Islamist groups but from the Zionist extremists of the Irgun and the Stern Gang, who believed that the creation of an independent Jewish state required and legitimated the use of terror against the British administration.
MI5 reported to Attlee that Irgun and the Stern Gang were planning a series of attacks in Britain, including a plot to assassinate the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. Most of the plots failed as a result of successful MI5 surveillance and the lack of support for terrorism among the great majority of British Zionists. MI5 failed, however, to prevent a bomb being planted by the Stern Gang in the Colonial Office building (now used by the Foreign Office) on Whitehall in 1947. The bomb, however, did not detonate because of the failure of the timer.
Indian independence in 1947 set an important precedent for the rest of British decolonisation. The government of Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to the stationing of an MI5 Security Liaison Officer (SLO) in New Delhi after the end of British rule. For almost a quarter of a century, relations between MI5 and its Indian counterpart, the Delhi Intelligence Branch (DIB), were closer and more confident than those between any other departments of the British and Indian governments. In other newly independent Commonwealth countries, as in India, the continued presence of an SLO became a significant, though usually undisclosed, part of the transfer of power.
Within the Commonwealth MI5’s closest liaison was with Australia. In 1948, following the discovery of Soviet penetration of the Department of External Affairs, Prime Minister Ben Chifley approved the foundation of an agency ‘similar to MI5’. He also authorised the stationing of an SLO to advise, as well as liaise with, the Australian Security Intelligence Agency (ASIO) founded in the following year. MI5’s weakest Commonwealth links were with South Africa after the election victory in 1948 of Dr Daniel Malan’s white-supremacist Nationalist Party. MI5 had no SLO in Pretoria. The Director General, Sir Percy Sillitoe, visited South Africa in 1949. Though cautious interchange of intelligence on Communist movements continued, Sillitoe told Attlee afterwards that he was strongly opposed to the creation of a South African security service on the MI5 model:
"The improper uses to which a Security Service might be put by the Nationalists might well include its employment against the Parliamentary Opposition and against those members of the British community out of sympathy with the Nationalist political programme. It would certainly be used to keep down the black races."
During the Malayan Emergency (1948-60) MI5 played an important supporting role in devising the strategy which defeated the Communist insurgency. General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, high commissioner and director of operations, invited both Sillitoe and the Deputy DG, Dick White (who succeeded Sillitoe as DG) on tours of inspection during the ‘Emergency’. Templer chose another senior MI5 officer, Jack Morton, as his director of intelligence. An MI5 director, Bill Magan, played an equally important role in the Cyprus Emergency.
The correspondence and telephone calls of the two main leaders of African independence movements, the Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah and the Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta, were monitored while they were living in Britain during and immediately after the Second World War. MI5 concluded that, despite their contacts with British Communists, ‘there was no evidence of Communism as it was understood in Europe’ in either West or East Africa. When Ghana became independent in 1957, Nkrumah asked the SLO, John Thomson, to stay on. Two years later, when Thomson’s term was extended, Nkrumah sent a letter of thanks to the Director General, Sir Roger Hollis. Shortly before Kenyan independence in 1963, Kenyatta called at MI5’s HQ to ask Hollis for help in training Kenyan police officers.
In most British colonies there was a relatively harmonious transfer of power to independent governments. British Guiana (now Guyana) was a notable exception. Following the election victory of the People’s Progressive Party in 1953, its leader Cheddi Jagan, whose contacts with the British Communist Party were monitored by MI5, became the first Marxist prime minister of a British colony. The SLO in Trinidad (whose responsibilities included British Guiana) reported that Jagan’s support was based not on popular enthusiasm for Marxism but on opposition to ‘selfish and high-handed’ sugar-plantation owners and other big employers.
After only a few months as prime minister, Jagan was removed from office and the governor given emergency powers. Though Jagan later returned to office, files in the PREM series in the UK’s National Archives reveal that successive British governments gave in to pressure from the White House to allow the Central Intelligence Agency to use ‘covert action’ to ensure that the first leader of independent Guyana in 1966 was not Jagan but his anti-Marxist rival, Forbes Burnham.
The stationing of SLOs in former British colonies came to an end at about the same time as the British Empire. At the close of the 1960s the Secret Intelligence Service’s responsibilities were extended to include former British possessions—a development similar to the transformation of the Foreign Office into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1968. The head of the Delhi Intelligence Bureau, with which MI5 had had a particularly long association, wrote to the DG that, ever since Indian independence, ‘uninterrupted liaison with your organisation through the Resident SLO in New Delhi … has proved invaluable to us.’
THE TERRORIST THREAT IN THE 1980S
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
From the mid-1980s onwards, the decline in the Cold War and in the perceived threat from domestic subversion was matched by increasing awareness of the terrorist menace, prompted in 1984 by such well publicised attacks as the Provisional IRA (PIRA) bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Conservative Party Conference and the shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher by a gunman inside the Libyan People’s Bureau (embassy) during an anti-Qadhafi
In 1984 the Security Service at last set up a branch (directorate) with undivided responsibility for counter-terrorism. Its first head, the future Director General Sir Patrick Walker, told the Home Secretary in 1985 that his work was evenly divided between Irish and international terrorism: ‘The threat posed by international terrorism was less intense and sustained, but it was, on the other hand, more diffuse and, in intelligence terms, tougher to crack. The threat posed by Irish terrorism was more sustained, but in this area the Security Service shared responsibility with MPSB.’
The most persistent state-sponsored terrorist threat in Britain during the 1980s came from Colonel Qadhafi’s Libya. Though good intelligence made it possible to limit the number of Libyan dissident émigrés assassinated by Qadhafi’s hitmen, it was not until 1987 that the Libyan supply of arms and Semtex explosive to PIRA was cut off. MI5 gloomily concluded that PIRA had already ‘acquired from Libya more weapons etc than it can use’.
Though the MPSB retained the lead intelligence role against PIRA in Britain, MI5, somewhat illogically, had responsibility for monitoring its ‘overseas links and source of [arms] supply’. The Security Service’s biggest deployment against an expected PIRA attack during the later Cold War was thus, paradoxically, not in London but in Gibraltar, where the weekly changing of the guard which marched down a route lined with parked cars offered an ideal location for a car bomb attack. In March 1988 the three members of a PIRA active service unit (ASU), who had been identified by MI5 and were preparing an attack, were shot dead in Gibraltar by military personnel in civilian clothes who said they believed that the ASU was about to detonate a car bomb by remote control and/or to draw their weapons. The ASU turned out to be unarmed.
CHANGES AND REFORMS
By Professor Christopher Andrew, author of "The Defence of the Realm".
Whitehall’s anxiety about the increased threat from international terrorism helped to produce a major change in Security Service culture. Sir Patrick Walker recalls that, during his years in charge of counter-terrorism during the mid-1980s, the Service ‘moved from being an introvert organisation with few officers (and certainly not the more junior) in touch with Whitehall departments to a Service at ease in Whitehall and confident in its expertise’. But, though alert to the threat from terrorism, Whitehall shrank from the cost of implementing MI5’s recommendations for ‘protective security’ at hundreds of ‘Economic Key Points’ (EKPs) around the UK. Even at the end of the 1980s the Security Service believed that ‘only a small number were even reasonably protected.’
The greater confidence of MI5 officers in their dealings with Whitehall owed much to the appointment as Director General from 1985 to 1988 of Sir Antony ‘Tony’ Duff: war hero, ex-ambassador, former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office. As well as being wise in the ways of Whitehall, the new DG did much for Service morale, which had been damaged by the public recriminations provoked by the Bettaney affair, whose impact had been heightened by the uncommunicative management style of Sir John Jones, his predecessor as DG.
A further threat to Service morale derived from the hostile global publicity generated in 1986-7 by Spycatcher, the memoirs of the retired MI5 officer, Peter Wright. Unsuccessful government attempts to prevent publication only intensified media attacks. An internal MI5 assessment found convincing evidence of ‘dishonesty on the part of Wright, who did not scruple to invent evidence where none existed’ to support the conspiracy theories in his memoirs. At the time, however, there was no Intelligence and Security Committee of the kind established in 1994, which could have used classified information to produce a public report on Wright’s allegations.
The Master of the Rolls, Sir John Donaldson, said, when giving judgment in an action against newspapers which had published Spycatcher extracts, ‘It may be that the time has come when Parliament should regularise the position of the Security Service.’ The Service agreed. Its Annual Report for 1987–8 concluded that ‘There is complete acceptance among staff of the desirability of legislation for the Security Service.’ However, Ministers initially disagreed. The main credit for convincing the government and senior civil servants of the need for legislation belongs to Duff.
The Security Service Act 1989 at last placed MI5 on a statutory footing, while keeping it under the authority of the Home Secretary. To the tasks set out in the 1952 Maxwell Fyfe Directive, the Act added counter-terrorism and the need to safeguard Britain’s ‘economic well-being’. In addition to MI5’s authority under Home Office Warrants (HOWs) for letter-opening and telephone-tapping established by the 1985 Interception of Communications Act, the Security Service Act added the authority, also under HOWs, for ‘entry on or interference with property’.
With the sensational publicity provoked by the Spycatcher affair now largely abated, the Security Service Act attracted less public interest and parliamentary attention than the government had anticipated. Passions in the poorly attended Commons debates ran less strongly than during the passage of the Interception of Communications Bill four years earlier. Even the authorization for ‘entry on or interference with property’, which had been thought too contentious to include in the 1985 Act, failed to generate major controversy.
Within Whitehall, however, the Act was recognized as a turning point in the history of the British intelligence community and was celebrated by a party at MI5 HQ attended by Margaret Thatcher and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay.
POLICY ON DISCLOSURE
The long-standing policy of successive governments of all political complexions has been to give a "neither confirm nor deny" response to questions about matters that are sensitive on national security grounds (the "NCND policy").
The policy mainly applies to claims or speculation relating to the activities of the security and intelligence agencies. Secrecy is essential if the agencies are to be able to perform their statutory functions effectively. For the Security Service, the information protected by the NCND policy includes the identities of the Service’s investigative targets, the covert techniques and methods it uses to investigate them, not least its "covert human intelligence sources" (better known as agents), and the identities of its serving and former staff. Public disclosure or confirmation of a target’s identity, or of the covert techniques and methods used to investigate them, would alert the target to the Service’s interest and enable them to frustrate its ability to uncover and disrupt their plans. In the worst case, confirming the existence of an agent or revealing their identity could put lives at risk. The breaking of promises of anonymity given to agents would also be likely to make existing and prospective agents unwilling to cooperate with the Service. Similarly, disclosing the identities of staff could put them at risk, compromise the operations on which they are or have been engaged, and limit how they could be deployed in the future.
The NCND policy, reflected in the legislative framework of the Security Service Act 1989, is the starting point for the identification of targets, sources, agents and staff in the History, as it is for all other public disclosures of information relating to the Security Service. However, the History is a unique venture designed to enhance the Service’s ability to protect national security by explaining the Service and its work to the public that it serves, in the expectation that this will enhance confidence in it and support for its work. In recognition of the importance of the History and its aims, it has been agreed that there is an overriding national security interest in making public in the text, within carefully considered constraints, some matters that would ordinarily fall to be protected.
The History would not be credible if it said nothing about the groups and individuals who have been the subject of the Service’s investigations (we generally refer to groups and individuals of this type as "targets"). The release of historic Service files to The National Archives (‘TNA’), which began in 1997, has resulted in the official confirmation of the identities of a significant number of the Service’s targets in the period up to fifty years ago. The History of course draws on those files. As for the more recent period, the text explicitly identifies as targets certain individuals or organisations, whom it is obvious, from what has already been officially disclosed, must have been the subject of Service interest. Given the previous official disclosures, there is no requirement to apply NCND to protect these targets from disclosure. A small number of targets are identified for the first time in the History on the basis that the case for identifying them in this context is so strong, and the direct damage caused by so doing so small, that it is judged exceptionally that NCND need not be applied to protect them from disclosure.
In the case of target organisations, these disclosures are almost exclusively confined to the naming of senior leadership figures who were the subject of Security Service interest. In every case, the departure has been made after very careful consideration, on the basis that it is judged essential to the aims of the History and represents the outer limit of what can properly be disclosed without damaging national security, taking into account the continuing importance of NCND to the ability of the Service to perform its functions.
Information about the identities of agents is immensely sensitive and fiercely protected by the Service, and speculation or claims about the identities of particular agents will invariably be met with an NCND response. A small number of agents of major historical importance have been officially identified in the past in file releases to TNA – notably the Second World War "Double-Cross" agents whose wartime role has received extensively publicity. Their cases are referred to in the text. In addition, a very small number of agents are named here for the first time. The decision exceptionally to name these agents has been taken after the most careful consideration and on the following basis:
i) there is already very well-sourced information in the public domain about the work done for the Service by the individuals concerned;
ii) the individual’s role as an agent is judged to be of such historical importance that its disclosure is essential to the aims of the History; and
iii) the information relates to the period before 1945. Regardless of the circumstances or of the historical importance of the case, no agent’s identity is disclosed in the text and no information is included from which the identity of an agent may be inferred after the end of the Second World War.
As for agents (whether of the UK or its allies) who subsequently defected to the West, they are named in the text where both their agent role and subsequent defection have been previously disclosed or acknowledged officially by HMG in an exceptional departure from NCND or by the relevant allied government, or have been disclosed by the defector widely into the public domain. Otherwise, such agents are not identified in the text and the NCND policy applies to them in the usual way.
The Service’s policy is to preserve the anonymity of all living members of staff, whether serving or retired, and the anonymity of deceased staff in relation to the last fifty years (i.e. in the case of the History, from 1960 onwards). The reason is to protect the individuals concerned, their colleagues and families, and to maintain their operational value to the Service and the security of the operations on which they are or have been engaged. The policy permits the identification of deceased staff in relation to the period more than fifty years ago (pre-1960), as well as the identities of all DGs. Certain limited exceptions from this policy have been made in the History so as to permit the disclosure of the identity of a member of staff where:
i) their membership of the Service is already so effectively compromised that there is no longer a case for protecting it, or
ii) the contribution that naming the individual will make to the History’s aims is so strong, and the direct damage caused by doing so is so small, that it is judged exceptionally that NCND need not be applied to protect their identity from disclosure.
The second category is almost exclusively confined to a number of senior members of the Service employed before 1960 whose employment continued after that date, and whose identities have already received some unofficial publicity in relation to the later period.