Espionage


Recent Research Reading

A few articles that have been sitting in open tabs for too long, that I’ve finally got round to reading-

During the 2008 financial crisis the theory emerged that certain companies, particularly financial institutions, were “too big to fail.” These firms were considered to be so large and entwined with other companies that their closure would be catastrophic to the entire economy. In today’s Navy, the aircraft carrier has become “too big to sink.” When it functions as designed, it is an extremely powerful platform that has remarkable economies of scale. But carriers are crucial to so many of the fleet’s missions that if the enemy can defeat them, the results would be catastrophic for both the Navy and the nation. The loss of a $12 billion capital ship, more than 5,000 American lives, and a powerful symbol of U.S. military superiority would send shock waves around the world.

Too Big to Sink – Proceedings Magazine – May 2017

Perepilichnyy, who faced repeated threats after fleeing to Britain, was found dead outside his home in Surrey after returning from a mysterious trip to Paris in 2012. Despite an expert detecting signs of a fatal plant poison in his stomach, the British police have insisted there was no evidence of foul play, and Theresa May’s government has invoked national security powers to withhold evidence from the inquest into his cause of death – which is ongoing.

Poison in the System – Buzzfeed (Part 1 of 5)

Lavish London mansions. A hand-painted Rolls-Royce. And eight dead friends. For the British fixer Scot Young, working for Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic meant stunning perks – but also constant danger. His gruesome death is one of 14 that US spy agencies have linked to Russia – but the UK police shut down every last case. A bombshell cache of documents today reveals the full story of a ring of death on British soil that the government has ignored.

From Russia With Blood – Buzzfeed (Part 2 of 5)

His nuclear research helped a judge determine that former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had been assassinated – likely on Putin’s orders. Just months after the verdict, the scientist himself was found stabbed to death with two knives. Police deemed it a suicide, but US intelligence officials suspect it was murder.

The Man Who Knew Too Much- Buzzfeed (Part 3 of 5)

After the dead body of an MI6 spy was found locked in a sports bag in London, police said the death was “probably an accident” – but British and American spy agencies have secret intelligence suggesting Gareth Williams may have been assassinated over highly sensitive work on Russia.

The Secrets Of The Spy In The Bag- Buzzfeed (Part 4 of 5)

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.

“Everyone thinks he was whacked”- Buzzfeed (Part 5 of 5)

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainians have long struggled with fake news from Russia, but last week, they discovered something even more insidious: a fake journalist.

Masquerading as Reporter, Assassin Hunted Putin Foes in Ukraine- New York Times

Reports of satellite navigation problems in the Black Sea suggest that Russia may be testing a new system for spoofing GPS, New Scientist has learned. This could be the first hint of a new form of electronic warfare available to everyone from rogue nation states to petty criminals.

Ships fooled in GPS spoofing attack suggest Russian cyberweapon- New Scientist


Moscow has activated the sleeper agents!

Numbers stations are a mysterious phenomenon possibly related to espionage. They are radio transmitters in Russia which broadcast seemingly random numbers or sounds. Recently one of them, UVB-76, changed from its normal buzzing to garbled messages. Theories abound about what they could possibly mean. If this was part of the prologue to a piece of spy fiction it would signal the activation of a sleeper agent or cell intent on killing key members of the British establishment (or US government if you must insist on not being parochial). They would have been called out of retirement by reactionary forces within the Russian government intent on taking the world back to the uncertain certainties of the Cold War or creating a neo-Soviet empire.

Another real life event which sounds like the opening of a thriller is the gruesome and bizarre murder of Gareth Williams a specialist in codes who worked at GCHQ and had been seconded to MI6. The conspiracy theories are already being formulated on that one, and everyone’s calling him a spy when the label is almost certainly inappropriate, just to sex the story up.

The Irwin series of stories (I have ideas for a few more after Tiger has finished serialising) feature a former MI6 analyst, so stories like this are of great interest to me. The reality will be much more mundane than the imagined reasons behind them, of course, but they fascinate for alittle while.