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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 6, 2010 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT

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he has drawn my blood more than once, scratching for no apparent reason. i like him, but i don't trust him. he has a wild streak that i recognize. i have one also. we can't be tamed. neither of us would make good pets. so thank you very much, it is a pleasure as always to be. beautiful bellingham, washington on this gorgeous fall evening. i look for to talking to you again soon about no animals were harmed during the writing of this book. ..
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professor at queen's university belfast examines the british secret intelligence service, mi6, from 1909 to 1949. mr. jeffery recalls the relationship between mi6 and the white house as well as its covert operations inside the united states. he profiles members of the surface, which included authors bagram greene and somerset mauggam. hosted by politics and prose bookstore in washington, d.c.. >> i am indeed the historian of the international spy museum. it's a pleasure to be here. i would like to say i've been this by means of the 11 years. that is a mistake. i would love to take credit for that, but i appreciate it.
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of course, here at the internationals by museum it was an obvious event for us when we heard mi6 was quick to be giving an authorized history, an obvious thing to get on board with and when the chance came up forking together with politics and prose with course jumped at it because like all thinking people in the washington, d.c. area we are enormous fans of your work here. i would say we had the opportunity at this by museum earlier today to record a podcast with professor keith jeffery, who you'll hear in a moment, so it's wonderful to be here in this venue. for those of you interested in this by museum and some of our defense there's literature i think, but table at the back. i would highlight for instance the november 2nd and we have coming up on the mumbai terrorist attacks. but barbaro will introduce our real guest, professor keith speed and sir john scarlett but i would like to make a personal note, an observation. professor jeffery was part of the committee against whom i had
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to defend my phd dissertation earlier this year. [laughter] and i can tell you he asked extremely tough, very probing questions, and as someone who truly believes turnabout is fair play, i expect you to ask equally tough and probing questions of him. with that said, i would note he passed me so i'd expect your questions to be fair. but again, i'd like to get off the stage and finally thank again politics and prose for an opportunity to work with you and interregional to come to the spy museum. over to barbara and let's get this started. thanks. [applause] >> first, this evening i want to introduce john scarlett, laws recently retired about a year ago as the retired chief, they don't say director in britain, the state chief, of mi6.
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it was sir john who commissioned the history of mi6 back in 2005. i just heard that there was -- it was around the middle of 2009 the book was in delivery. so this is about a four and a half year effort that we have here. okay. i want to welcome keith jeffery, who has come to talk about his new book. professor speed is a professor of british history at queens university in belfast, and he was commissioned, as i said, the british secret intelligence service. the secret intelligence service is the proper name as i understand it, and mi6 is what was a cover name that was adopted at the beginning of the
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second world war and it's just kind of stock, and i think james bond has done his part in getting it into our american language. the book is a history of the first 40 years, and as in 1949. the secret service feels very strongly that all the activities post 1949 are still too close back in our history that to allow those activities to be accessed by the public would be the compromise agents, compromise the lives of agents. so we are going to this evening have an evening of disguises, invisible ink and forgery, which
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were the stock and trade of mi6, and one of the members of mi6 he wasn't -- i don't think he was strictly a member but he was a friend of many members was ian fleming. and ian fleming spent a lot of time with fees of five, and one of the ones the was a very charismatic spite, his name was wilford. he was called biffy. he was a fluent russian speaker and in the 1930's he was the head of the paris station. he was known for chasing pretty women and driving fast cars and for his tremendous charm.
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wilfred what this sending ian fleming in a lot of adventures about his secret adventures and then at one point he told ian fleming it seems the stories he had been telling him showed up in the next movie of james bond. so james bond is certainly the one who has now made its -- spa unit and an activity in this country. so, here are two gentlemen here, a scholar and a spy. so, sir john or professor jeffery who would like to start? >> do i need to speak into a microphone? should all the hues of this? all right. it's a fantastic and a wonderful
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privilege and pleasure to be in this famous bookstore. because everywhere i went they said what are you doing in the united states and i would say politics and prose and they would see politics and prose? everybody goes there. i discovered as i came in the door jimmy carter even has been counseled. there is a silver lining to everything. [laughter] i got on to the diane ream book program because he was indisposed and i was disposed. [laughter] and i wish him all the best for his next term and i hope he will come to promote his book. but anyway, we will just had a little bit about this -- this work for a bit, but we want to give you time to ask questions. we may anticipate some of the questions you want to ask, but we just have to see how it goes.
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but about 20 minutes, not too much longer, we might just talk around the subject a bit. and i wanted to actually ask sir john firstly why on earth this organization commissioned the work in the first place? >> a famous question. it's not as obvious as it might seem to many people in the united states because as perhaps many of you know, many people here know the culture around intelligence work in the united kingdom has always been fundamentally different, and it's always been very, very secret. the surface has made an obsession and a passion of secrecy logical given it's a secret service. secret service, which only does secret things. if it is not secret it shouldn't be doing it. [laughter] that has always some of profound
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logic. and it's not always followed by other secret services. [laughter] there are good practical reasons for that because genuinely the lifeblood of the business. if people don't have confidence in your ability to keep secret they are not going to tell you any and that is true of life as many of you know it is certainly true of our profession. and we guard that jealousy. so it wasn't an obvious thing to do to write and effectively authorized surface of the history and allowed an outsider of whom we have no control into our service archives. so why did we do it? when it came down to it in 2005i had been chief of the service for a few months. the issue as to whether we should be doing something like
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this had really been on the table pretty well from when i started out. the idea had been around for awhile, it just hadn't taken not precise forms. during the service during his streak we were well on the way getting it to 2009. the joint your 2,009 weeks this by some distance the oldest intelligence service in the world. now, in addition to the fact we were secretive and needed to protect our secrets and we had this very long history for an intelligence service, we also had unique mabey is too strong a word about quite a strong requirement to find a better way of exposing to the great british public what it was the we did. what was the purpose of the intelligence service? what did do, what did not do? what was its role in government?
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what was its objectives? what are the methods in general terms, and what was its character and its ecology? the reason i say that is that in the united kingdom the intelligence service has been for many years an important part of government and that is certainly not less the case now and probably more the case then it's ever been in the government now of course you need to be transparent in a genuine form for accountability which is a difficult to be transparent in what you do if they are secretive. [laughter] and the results of this of course have been a great number of myths of recent account our service. there's been several lessons already this evening understandably to james bond. faugh whether we like it or not
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it was there we don't have to encourage it. it's there. my own view has always been slightly personal view our colleagues that this myth is that face some helpful to and i certainly feel profoundly it's not a good idea to base your professional activity and professional reputation on a mess and for example we have a large role okay, fine, a lot of people believe it but if you are a license to kill you also have a license to torture. it's not surprising people to can get out to all sorts of things. if they believe those basic
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myths. there's a strong lead to put that right. how you do that without breaching the needs of security. we have a long history so you try to bring these things together and use that history to put facts about the past but in a way in which people can see is relevant to today under the table, and how do you do that, whether you bring in an outsider, somebody you have no control, somebody of the authority in the field as a historian of concern and somebody with no independent judgment. you let him loose in the archives from the on restricted access absolutely vital that there is in restricted access, and his brief is to write the full story of the service within the period decided. it has to be a full story. you can't say we are going to not allow you to write a big story here or aspect there,
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otherwise its credibility is undermined. and that was a logic that led us to 1999, 1949. that's what -- that sets up for you, telling you now and everybody else here, what the policy decision was, and of course has it worked, has it been successful? and that is the test we are undergoing now and the view where all of you conclude one way or the other whether it has been successful or not. >> yes, i think the point of independence is absolutely vital. you know, i am a scholar. i have the reputation to defend. i don't want to write a history if it comes across as some glossy corporate promotional document, then who exercises? on echols use of levels it's not
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good for my reputation, although i have a get out of jail free cards and then i can say if someone says we haven't told the whole truth i can say my lips are sealed, power is greater than me over here. [laughter] you know, restricted me from doing that, and i haven't had to play that card, and i don't need to play that card. but there is a sense in which by being the person sufficiently trusted and chosen, and there was a selection process in the frame, it was funny the recruitment process was a bit like a mixture of the old style and the new style. the old style went something like this. you would be at your oxbridge college and get tapped on the shoulder by some mysterious but well-dressed man who would say well, dear boy, i might have something interesting for you. come have dinner at my club, and you would do that, and i would
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sign the note. why be interested in the possibility of having the privileged access to the archives of mi6 to write some historical work in relation to the upcoming sentinelle ury? of course i would say yes. this is the holy grail of the british archives screws so tight they don't see it at all. it didn't release these documents to the national archives, the our xm from the legislation, except from a freedom of legislation. so it's a kind of, as you say, holy grail. and the opportunity to be let loose, as indeed i was, was the opportunity to be a child in a candy store and even better, barbara would be alarmed to select any books you want. [laughter] and run out the door with them,
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which is not to be encouraged and sure. [laughter] so, there are these conflicting attractions. i'm taken up to the high mountain, there are temptations to this. and so those temptations have to be tempered by professionalism and the ethics of a professional career and history might have given me. now in the end you have to -- you don't have to trust me about this. you look at the book and make up your own mind because that's all i can do, and that's what i want. i want my peers. some of them think because i was chosen my imprecisely the worst person to do the job. that disqualifies be completely but that is just the way it is. and i was never going to give up
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a lifetime, once in a lifetime opportunity. the first, the only, nobody gets that job. and it's hard to resist peer and of course there is no pressure because nobody else gets to do it. this falls down on the quality of the professionalism. on one level, i am a historian, 30 years experience of doing this. that's what i do. writing the history in one sense is not difficult. the subject matter is interesting and engrossing and sensational in some areas, but that's what i do, that's my profession. the interesting and difficult was perhaps negotiating it as a building. and that is where the risks come in and there might be risks for the service as well as for me and i don't know if you want to look at the edginess, the problems there might be about material which you couldn't
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release. >> yes, we talk about risk in that way. i realize that the beginning, i, we come in the service for taking a risk by allowing the project to proceed because wanted to proceed was pretty unthinkable where it was going to stop once we were committed we were going to have to go through to the end. can you show me all right? yeah? we would have to go through to the end. but of course the reality is that neither i nor anybody in the service, although we had some of our own in-house historians, none of us could know for certain what was in this archive. especially stretching over 40 years, and there clearly was a risk. now either there would be individual stories or issues which would be there which winfield and public would be shocking, not just embarrassing.
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there are embarrassing stories in the book as you will see when you read it, but so shocking, some kind of ease and which we would be ashamed given the purpose of history which has been covered in a terrible thing that happened in the period although of course we were always clear our country was on the right side of the argument it was there. it would be at the end of the day it just wouldn't be a particularly good story. there wouldn't be enough excitement our achievement there would be more failures and successes into the service would come out looking not to brilliant. and there has been a perception out there for many years since the great histories of british intelligence in the second world war written in the late 1970's. the big thing about british intelligence in the second world war was the signal successes,
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the greatest intelligence achievement ever. the codebreaking in the second world war, and that is overshadowed with human intelligence work and that is what we perceive idea and we didn't offer much after the second world war so that was a risk. it would be somehow confirmed. not as conscious of the risk as it should have been because knowing the service as i did i was of profound faith to the basic faith that when the story was told properly in its entirety by a professional it would come down right and i believe it has. actually it has come out better than i had expected in my moments. now that is the risk from my point of view. the more technical and strategic
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the more technical tactical level of risk would be we just wouldn't be able to say what will allow the historians to include something which he felt fundamentally that he had to include. there were bound to be tensions. of course this is the historians instinct and a sense of duty to publish work wherever he possibly can including the identity of the agents, certainly the identity of as many significant officers you possibly can, and techniques where he can and a nationally the instinct of the service is going to be to protect that where if it absolutely has to and there have been tensions are around that, and i might ask you now what he feels about those tensions and whether a given his awareness of the risks that he was taking when he started this whether he feels now at the end that it's come out satisfactory from that point of view.
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>> my job as a historian is to reveal secrets, to tell the open story as openly as possible and us transparently as possible with a scholarly apparatus and a whole range of all these things. the service's instinct is to keep secrets. so there is a inevitably going to be tension there. and from a very early stage, i discovered that it was the difficulty with the provision for example on the maiming of agents. if you're working for -- if you are responding to the british intelligence against germany, german in 1933 were 34, 35, the contact that is given to you by the surface is that your secret is safe with us forever in perpetuity, this is a long and negotiable kind of compact that essentials trust. what runs through is a very important theme runs through the
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book and the making of the book is trust that governance trust their intelligence organizations to be straight and speak as it were true it's on to power. the trust their intelligence organizations not to go off the rails. the intelligence organizing -- the public should trust them, not unconditionally because you need accountability in these areas, but that essentials trust in the case officer and the agent is a core relationship, and i note that from a very early stage, and that under no circumstances would the service for the first time name an agent, and it's like i get asked this one day by an investigative journalist and i said would you agree to the sources? of course she would go to jail before reading the sources and it's that kind of relationship. i was going to say secrets of a professional. but that is a difficult area in the catholic church we come past
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a man out there who might diffuse on the secrecy of the confessional. [laughter] so that is perhaps not a very good analogy and i don't want to trespass in other people's -- anyway, to move on. and writing the official history that's another one, i'm not going to write that one. but if you had spied for britain, come 1945 for 46 you might be very pleased to tell your story, and many people did. particularly in more time they write memoirs afterwards. as of the agents who already ordered themselves to tell their own story and refilled their relationship with mi6, then i could name them, that's fine. there is another category of people who do say they cite fer mi6 who didn't, and so it's not just enough to say i spied for british intelligence. i hope to find some
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corroborating perform this on the archive. so that was quite an important restriction. the second level is the question of officers. there is a distinction to be made between officers and agents and it isn't always understood, and the james bond is in fact an officer. an officer is on the central staff, the the establishment of the organization, an officer is a, usually, though not -- usually a british national and will employ someone else who is frequently a foreign national to the spying for him to as it happens to become and i tried to persuade the surface to have one of those moving headlines in south london which you see in the movies and what is a james bond is an officer coming off an agent. that is what he would say just to get this message over.
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but there were a number of practical apparently difficulties in doing that. [laughter] but historically, the agency has never named officers, and until -- in fact until now, to the publication of this book, the only officers named associated with the agency for the chiefs. and then beyond that, the only people officially acknowledged as associating with the agency for the chiefs and me and my full-time research assistant to the assistant who did all the hard work. i'm sorry he's not here but budgets are tight these days but i'm bringing them back a souvenir from the spy museum, a little panic, he would like that. [laughter] for the first time it was agreed i could name officers. many of the names are out there.
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biffy is one of them, one of these alleged models for james bond, but the surface has ever until this moment in this book itself officially acknowledged people as members, as officers of the service, so that is a real advance. that is a point that was a change from one situation to another situation. it didn't mean i was able to name the officers because a was a problem like this because people who worked a day for the service to mosul with the do. it's very unlike the cia. i remember going to a conference 15 years ago, and a man produces a business card from his pocket saying cia, and i could have dropped dead. was astonishing. a much different kind of culture which john illustrated some of this and spoke of earlier. so there is stuff in that sense and important stuff revealed certainly for the first time. i don't know, i mean if you want
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to -- are there -- we want to talk a little bit before we open to questions, but just about individual operations or individuals bias, anything that you would like to draw the reader's attention to? >> yes, i would. there are two or three particular operations that i would like to mention here. one that i appreciate and fascinates me in particular is because i am a professional intelligence officer, a case officer and that is why is that all of my career doing, and there is often very fine individual agent operations described in this story, but none finer than that of tea or 16, the was the code name given to this agent, standing for tinselly in the first world war and i suppose he was source number 16 and this was a german naval engineer who was a volunteer has many of those
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forces are from the history. in the british intelligence he had previously been in the imperial german navy would have been sacked because in some way he had insulted a relative of the kaiser, so he had a motivation, classic motivation. and he was taken on. it's the dream of the foreign intelligence service to have an individual source, one individual source who is at the very heart of your most important target. that is the best thing you can do. that is worth any number of the second division's forces the situation see what to have them, too, but that critical character can make so much difference. on the 21st of may, 1966 the battle took place.
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when the german high seas fleet came over from being destroyed by the more powerful british navy it slipped away, got back to and immediately put the story of that a, it slipped away and the ground fleet missed its chance, and of course it was expected to destroy because the navy was expected to dominate. and not only that, but it he escaped without too much damage where it had inflicted significant damage on the above ground fleet. so it was -- it went from london to brief the task of to your 16 he he got those instructions and
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he went. next month, four weeks she was at the tend naval dockyards and saw pretty comprehensively the ships that had come back from the battle and the 27 negative june she was giving a detailed account that showed correctly much more damage than it had admitted in the public and that was sent immediately to the admiralty on the copy of the report now somebody has written in the intelligence i think it was the intelligence across the top 100%. now that is what the intelligence work is about. and certainly someone like me working on my life for a human intelligence service that is what it is about. i would also draw your attention
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to two other stories which are slightly different in character -- which were targeted from july, 1944 until almost the end of the war, march, 1945 against london, the early major western city that has actually been the subject of sustained attack. this worked on the secret weapons and began in 1942. in the late 1942 the first reports came in from the agents who visit to germany. they were not british nationals. of course british nationals couldn't visit germany so the other agents from other countries, national bodies come particularly from scandinavia.
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april 1943 a volunteer came to the embassy in switzerland and left a detailed report which is the main center. they had been working at the site and it was awfully messy. thinking no one will be interested in this and came back a message saying this is fantastic stuff, get whatever you possibly can. in august, 1943 substantially, not entirely on the basis of that reporting, significantly on that basis, on the 18th and 19th of august they launched a raid of substantial damage and forced much of the work and delete the work by two or three months at
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least. there were subsequent raids and subsequent -- very large number of intelligence reports that can from those group including resistance groups in france and belgium. the leaders of those groups and the agents of those groups lost their lives on the courts and their overall effort enabled constant attacks. those delays were critical. if the bomber had been launched against london before d-day rather than a month after that, there would have been a profound affect on the war plane and the timing of the invasion of europe to put it mildly. >> i think will stop. we can talk forever because it is full of extraordinary stories, but what we want to do i think is to give you an
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opportunity to ask your questions. >> yes, the british were very active in the first world war and the post war period in the soviet union and the soviet intelligence devise an opportunity on trust to read what insight could you give, what was the sis involvement and was there every post mortem or today damage assessment done of that and -- yes, that's my question. >> it was an operation -- they are dealing with operation groups within the soviet union. a classic kind of sting operation. and it did on old sydney riley
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some of you may have heard of. now sidney was a very able man and man of many personas and of many disguises who was taken up and he has hired originally by the first chief of the service who said this guy is a complete scallywag, he says. he seems to have done everything and has been everywhere but i think we can use him or he can be useful to us. the emphasis is important there and he is very useful. he provides a lot of information and early information out of the soviet union and from south russia in the first instance and we got some of the reports we can -- or in the book and quotations from the six symbols of them and then later moscow and st. petersburg itself, but from the earliest moments and this is one of the interesting things about the supplies from the earliest moment his political commitment he combined spying against the soviet union
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or he went spawning as the soviet union for the british because he wanted to bring on the bolshevik regime, and that gradually populated of his activities to such an extent that he was blinded to the necessities of intelligence gathering, and the bigger picture and began, as it were, mixing politics and intelligence with, in his case, fatal consequences as precisely the trust that lured him through. and there was -- this was one of the unfortunate -- there was a sis man in the baltic who rather encouraged him he slightly detached with the brits at this stage when he comes back, but he comes back and seized some of his old pals and mi6 and mrs. okay it's probably safe for you to go into the soviet union at this particular moment, and he never came back, so the trust
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is an example of a very successful so the operation against patrician by mi6, to which mi6 did not succeed at that moment. >> he was not really acting on the central sis orders. >> c2 >> said he was not really acting on a central sis orders from london. in the final period as a spy. >> he was flying so low. >> during fi intermediary years before the end of the first world war and between the beginning and middle of the second world war, the mi6 helped feed oss united states and have a fairly development. what underscore to the development? understand, you know, the german
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cretul logical machine, the enigma. other than that enigma in the relationship that the british for sharing that with the americans, what enabled the british to organize the americans from basically being a scattered of naval and military intelligence to a centralized intelligence system? >> well, i think the relationship in the second world war is crucial, and it is a crucial underpinning to that most close alliance which, you know, if there is a special relationship in the second world war and within that relationship it is an intelligent relationship, and what happens is that the head of the mi6 station in north america there is a canadian called bill stevenson, and stevenson is a very troubled character for the historian because stevenson did wonderful and important things but he spent his later years of furnishing his reputation to
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such an extent that it undermines it. i mean, it is an extraordinary kind of tragedy i regret to say. it's just very, very difficult. and it's quite difficult to attach what he actually did from what he tried to get people to say he did after the war. nevertheless come here again is this human intelligence, close human intelligence and mention of a liaison. his friends with bill donovan. bill donovan, first world war hero, arch american fighting 69th, that sort of thing. and he encourages donovan in trying to create an american equivalent to boost sis, mi6, and the organizations for the oss and during both of those things. there are problems, about that as well they can discuss on another occasion or later if you like, and of course donovan and roosevelt were classmates at
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college, so immediately you've got this kind of human dimension to bring in an important component of acid for the modern warfare which the united states for the various reasons, institutional rivalry and steve e-business, they don't read other gentlemen's mehl, we don't need to know about the rest of the world because we are sufficient unto ourselves. those kind things contributed to the absence of a foreign intelligence capacity. nevertheless, when the challenge emerges in the second world war, the united states got off very quickly to develop precisely that. >> claim to degette will lead the british intelligence in the creation of the american special services because the period when it was very important. and certainly there was the perception on the american side of the british saw themselves as being superior in this area and
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were always threatening to sort of garbled the american capability because they had such a head start. the reality is that once the resources were applied to it from the united states the got on with it very quickly and give a book to capability of their own which goes well beyond any capability we were ever lacking. >> have a question that goes to the oldest institution and this is sort of timeless. you hear when you read the histories in the place is about the squirrely nature of some of the people working there, but it occurs to me that the case officers also have to be a little strange in their own way in that you do have well motivated people that could trade their countries out of revenge that were not appreciate or the transaction where they just want paid from the black budget and then there's people that -- i wonder if you could
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talk about one level back in the management and how you deal with the fact the case officers might not eventually get jaded or feel sad about the fact they are persuading these people to risk the lives to be true their own countries -- vitre their own countries. of course, i know. >> to speak to the eccentricities -- [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> it seems like it is a sort of strange personality, again, i want don't want to persuade people to read out on their fellow countrymen at all. >> will that's not it at all. [laughter] [applause] i have never done so, and perhaps to say in my profession of persuading people to be
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betray what ever it is i have rarely come across somebody i believe to be dishonorable in some way. a very rarely. i've never been in the situation where i persuaded somebody to do something against their will or i had used inappropriate forms of pressure. and it's interesting in the book to see how that was something which was regarded as dishonorable and unacceptable and not right for gentlemen from the very beginning of sis. it's one of those things deepen the cultural service. the best agents don't work at the regions like that. the work for you because they believe in what they are doing and in the one of two cases that had the good fortune to work with quite exceptional people of exceptionally high standards who never saw themselves as the tree in their country but saw themselves as serving on higher more noble cause because there is something wrong, not with their country but the people who were running it. so it is quite possible, absolutely possible to stick to
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the street of the narrow win that way. >> i guess i need you sound worse. [laughter] are there any officers who were just unusual like i never thought i would go into this job when i set out to study at oxford. >> welcome in my day of course that was true because we didn't even know that the service existed so you were not able to -- to have the ambition to join. now it is rather a different method but it is a very steep to my colleagues in the service really are normal people in the way that you're describing an abnormal in the sense they are very able people and intelligent people. and a few individualists and eccentrics, but the essentially they are team players. >> i would like to ask a couple of your probing questions. first of all, in the period that we are talking about, 1919-1949,
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so 190 naim, what is it that you are least proud of? what do you wish had not actually happened in the history -- and the second question is to do with patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel i think it was dr. john sing who said that, and i'm wondering -- i mean i've heard people say that in the service one is expected to put to one's country before one's family for example, and that one should not hesitate basically to lie to one's wife or a loved one if it really compromise is the history of the service of the country, the interest of the country. to what extent would you subscribe to that view? >> on the first question there is a lot in the book of which i am not proud. the to tell the i am proud but
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the individual instances there are many of which i am not proud too many one has to say. i think phil stands up on his own has an awful situation. i mean, it was a disastrous situation. now of course the story cannot be told because the book stops in 1949 and many people seem to think the decision to stop them is because we didn't want to tell and other than that it is just conspiracy theory i am afraid and it is quite untrue and other regions are vindicated, and it's quite enough in the book of until 1949 to make it clear the wisdom of hindsight was a catastrophic situation having this able man at the very center of the service activity. so, that's that courier to the cut.
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or the other is a situation in the 1939 when the two officers from the administration that had performed heroically in the first world war but had an absolutely disastrous start to the second world war, the two officers were lulled into a trap by german sis who convinced them they were plotting, and so and the moderate wing was built up and they were lured out to a cafe on the dutch and german border and then kidnapped from the cafe and spent the rest of the war in a concentration camp having been interrogated and given away -- it could have been worse -- information. it just got carried away. i think that keith says in his book the morrill is the perhaps vanity because he thought somehow or another he could and the war on his own account. but he was backed up by some foolish politicians.
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that often happens by the way. [laughter] on the second point the last refuge of scoundrels i'm sure there were a large number of people here that feels very strongly about this country and i don't suppose many of them are scoundrels, so a great saying of what it is. patrick till is what drives the intelligence service. it's what drives public service and service to your country. it's what drives people in the surface throughout this book, and i can testify to the fact that it's exactly the same way it drives people in service to this day. >> [inaudible] service to those you love. >> well, if any soldier who goes
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off and fights for his country and puts his life of risk in a war or military campaign, quite a large number are doing that now [inaudible] national and personal experience it happens all the time. but of course the judgment has to be made as to where fundamentally your duty takes you to rate on don't get the feeling on the back of my colleagues in the office to work extremely hard also great people, men and if you ask them they probably see their family comes first in their behavior there are many instances it doesn't look like that, but that is true in lots of organizations with high power and effective successful where you have high power and successful people working for them i don't think it is fundamentally different
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with a bunch of crazy characters obsessed with their job. >> we are running out of time. we've got time for two more questions. >> i will try to make this quick. there's a story that took place of the end of world war i. british intelligence knew -- defense like the treaty of versailles was not going to do it, and they sent in an operative into germany to by the time world war ii took place he was like a major general responsible for giving -- okay, responsible for getting the germans to use of their resources. am i making any sense here? >> well, i'm sorry, i wish it were true. but it isn't. or at least i have found no evidence of that. one of the things that the british didn't do and certainly in the period looking out as opposed to the kind of things the soviets did is they didn't work in putting in the long term
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penetration agents. the best agents that have come are the walking or volunteers like t.r. 16, a number of other good examples like that. so the highest level of agents at the highest level of access to the secrets of the enemy tend to be not someone sent in as a graduate in turn to some german position or army or anything else like that, and indeed in 1919 germany wasn't seen as a potential enemy anymore, the war to end all war. there is a separate issue about not taking sufficiently seriously, sufficiently soon the german challenge in fact. and taking too much attention or excluding some much attention to the end of the war period. savitt isn't part of the modus operandi of the service as it certainly was in this first 40 years, and the opposite of that,
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the soviet concentration on recruiting clever young man had the best universities with the best backgrounds in effect work greatly to their benefits, but the work an entirely different way, so i have no knowledge that this happened. i'm sorry. i mean, we can write in of all about it. i've been doing that. [laughter] but even if -- i mean, it is not the way the surface worked anyway. okay. >> [inaudible] >> okay. last question. >> a question about the holocaust because i'm assuming that mi6, you know, had information about the concentration camps and had a vigorous internal debate about the relative merits and disadvantages of trying to do something to stop the, you know, the wholesale slaughter of the people. so i wanted to hear, you know, from both of you about the
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internal d date and what sort of went into the decisions that were made. spec well that's an extremely interesting question. it's something i looked up from the very beginning. because, again, you know, it's astonishing hindsight is a wonderful thing. we were talking about at the end of my pogo in december, 1949, i couldn't write about it as he was then. i have to use hindsight now in respect, and the holocaust is another one. as how could people not have known. we know the full horror of that reality of the appalling experience. and yet, when you go back to the contemporary documents, it is unnervingly absent. it now is it because they didn't care? is it because they didn't know? is it because they didn't want to know? is it because they didn't believe it could be possible? and is it because they may be
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new and it wasn't relative to winning the war? a whole series of difficult kind of conclusions to be drawn from this all of which end up with the same results, that is, you know, unbelievable numbers of people being killed and the industrial scale. and the question you asked me is the question i was asked by the son of a senior member of the service, the most senior member a man called kenseth cohen, and here in the free french networks. he was a very, very senior and a very, very important, and his son said to me do you think my dad knew about this? and how did he feel about it? because he, you know, he was equally mystified by the possibility that he might have known and done nothing or how he felt about it, but he never discussed it with his father.
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and i was given the same answers i gave you. i'm afraid at one level why don't know, but it's quite clear from the documents that it wasn't something that the service was asked to investigate by its star departments- customer departments. there was information coming from that terrible films are happening, and with the persecution, but the absolute, the true nature and scale of the catastrophe were just not a parent and even the hints of it were not believed. and i'm sorry, that's the answer. >> i would add me be an explanation to this that even in the war it was quite small. it was focused on its targets and objectives and you can gather from what we have already said that was support for the invasion of europe, western europe, the weapons, shipping,
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norway, and in europe it wasn't looking in that direction which would explain why it's not there in the documentation. he wasn't being asked to look. it wasn't coming his way any way. it was focused, the whole country was, on winning the war and putting a stop, an end to nazi germany, which of course they did, and that was the best way although it was too late for millions of people, of putting a stop to the holocaust. ..


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