Almost all media people who comment on Russiagate, election meddling, CIA operations, or anything relating to a deep state are utterly unqualified to talk about these matters. In conspiracy circles it is very common to denounce everyone with a different opinion and every critic as some enemy agent, paid shill or “zionist” operative. Next time, ask someone to provide a list of quality literature that person has read relating to the topic. That person will either outright refuse or give you a fake list of books whose contents contracdict what the person beliefs or you will hear something about a handful of junk conspiracy books and websites.
In school we generally learn nothing at all about intelligence services and intelligence methods, which is of course one of the most dangerous gaps in education. Trying to shape politics and economics without fully understanding the work of secret services is about as absurd as the attempt to shape biology without knowledge of the cell.
The tricky literature
How do you learn about the world’s most secret business without working in it yourself? The most important source of information is and remains non-fiction books. Non-fiction books on the subject provide us with all kinds of information, but they must be read with caution and understood in context, because they mainly come from
- defectors of foreign secret services: Such books are usually heavily censored, because here in the West the defector was of course debriefed by our services and may not publish anything that was not approved. Often the defectors from the East are joined by so-called “secret service historians” as ghost writers and co-authors, who come from shady universities like Cambridge. The defector can also be a double agent who mixes facts with fakes and distractions
- dropouts with dubious motives: Such persons could have been dismissed because of incompetence or personality disorders or the like, just want to take revenge or get as much money and attention as possible
- suspicious journalists who may even have a suspicious relationship with a secret service and spread propaganda. Typical are large newspaper publishers, or rich patrons in the background
- impostors who wildly exaggerate or invent their tales. Classic conspiracy writers in particular have often lied shamelessly, used aliases and invented a background story in the secret service or invented top intelligence sources with whom they allegedly collaborated
- ideological fanatics and one-sided complacent writers, for example, who only blast Western intelligence services but at the same time protect or praise Eastern services. This may be direct propaganda from a secret service, or the work may have been created under the influence of secret service propaganda
- specialized “secret service historians” who claim to be independent, but mostly come from espionage universities like Cambridge. They are financially dependent on elitist structures, earn a splendid salary as professors and give their readers and students a distorted, strongly limited perspective
- prominent retired intelligence officials who offer their distorted and selective views. After a shameful career, they want to justify themselves, bend the past and blow a lot of smoke
- covert agents who want to spread targeted disinformation or expose their opponents. A classic example were the departments of the Stasi and the KGB, which tied up packages of data and handed them over to their agents in the West, who could then effortlessly make a sensationalist scandal book from it
Of course, documentary TV programmes share the same problems as non-fiction books. In addition there are mountains of popular novels, fictional films and TV series in which the everyday life of espionage is portrayed with varying degrees of realism. James Bond had always been mass entertainment and a flat advertisement for the MI6 secret service and came from the pen of Ian Fleming, who himself never had a real espionage career. John le Carré’s stories were much more realistic and still inspire TV series like Homeland or The Night Manager. Carré was with both the British domestic and foreign intelligence services, had a good insight into the business and, especially in the East-West conflict, shed light on the moral limits that were regularly crossed in the fight against the KGB. However, he did not reveal any real secrets of his old employer or secret methods. Steven Spielberg blew the same horn with “Munich” and “Bridge of Spies” and even brought some criticism to the Israeli Mossad, but the filmed material is quite soft and the Hollywood mogul would never have dared to go for material from Victor Ostrovsky’s book instead.