Spook Who's Talking

Five ex-spies on movie vs real-world espionage action...

DENCH WARFARE
HOW DID THE FIRST FEMALE ‘M’ SHAPE UP?
Stella Rimington, first female head of MI5 (1992-1996).
“When I first saw Judi Dench playing ‘M’ in GoldenEye, I got quite a shock. She does look quite like I looked in those days, even the sort of clothes she was wearing. I would tell her to not get too directly involved in the operations, though. The director-general needs to be at home directing things, not captured and sitting in some horrible prison like she was in The World Is Not Enough.”

THE REAL THING
WHICH SPY MOVIE BEST CAPTURES THE REALITY OF THE COLD WAR?
Markus Wolfe, former head of the intelligence-gathering arm of the Stasi, East Germany’s secret service curing the Cold War.
“Our area never had anything to do with James Bond-style espionage. But the film version of John Le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold included what looked like a depiction of myself. The tension was exaggerated for the purposes of the film, but it really captured the underlying sense of unease.”

SAVING THE WORLD
ARE SPIES REALLY THE PLANET’S MOST IMPORTANT MEANS OF DEFENCE?
Victor Cherkashin, a KGB counter-intelligence officer for 40 years and the man who recruited CIA/KGB double agent Aldrich Ames.
“Intelligence work is less important than it may seem. Some of the best-known espionage cases were more about spy versus spy than real issues of national security. It was thieves stealing from thieves, which raises the question of whether all the years of work and hundreds of millions of dollars were worth it.”

GADGETS À GO-GO
ARE REAL-LIFE SPIES AS RELIANT ON TECHNOLOGY AS THEIR ON SCREEN COUNTERPARTS?
Oleg Kalugin, former chief of KGB foreign intelligence.
“The gadgetry used isn’t really that glamorous. It’s all miniature devices – listening, photographic, etc – that are used to look for compromising material against someone, to listen for the conversation which implicated them in something which could later be used against them. Human intelligence provided the bulk of information required by the government.”

 

SPY SEX
IS HAVING IT AWAY WITH ENEMY AGENTS AS IMPORTANT AS THE MOVIES MAKE OUT?
Markus Wolfe, ex-Stasi.
“Sex and espionage certainly go together. It’s an old tradition. Sex does play a major role, in so far as women are employed as weapons against men.”

PUBLIC vs PRIVATE
DO SPY FILMS REALLY MAKE PEOPLE THINK SPYING IS COOL?
Aldrich Ames, CIA agent who betrayed his country to spy for the KGB.
“Espionage revolves around the many different forms of betrayals of trust. It is corrupting: corrupting to the person who does it and corrupting to the people or institutions who sponsor it. This is why espionage has never been respectable. I don’t think the films of James Bond have done anything to alter the public revulsion of what espionage really is. The stench is always there.”

EVIL EMPIRE
WERE THE KGB AS DANGEROUS AS SPY FILMS MAKE OUT?
Oleg Kalugin, ex-KGB.
“Compared to its counterparts in the West – or East - the KGB was an omnipotent organisation. It was extremely well-funded, had the best-educated people, had access to almost everything, and yet it failed in the long run - showing that the cause it was fighting for was not the right one.”

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