An article in The Sun quotes terrorism author Neil Doyle: " 'These are MI6 documents relating to an operation against al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq. It's jaw-dropping they got into the public domain.
" 'Not only do they divulge secrets about operations, operating systems and previously unheard-of MI6 departments, but they could put lives at risk.' "
British OfficialsDisplaying the sort of polite consideration that's so typical of the British character, those of Her Majesty's subjects who have come across secret documents and data have been kind enough to return them to the proper authorities. Like in June of this year, when an inattentive took papers out of Whitehall. And left them on a train.
Actually, it was two officials, two sets of secret papers, and two trains ("More secret files found on train" BBC (June 15, 2008)). Similar procedural irregularities had occurred previously, but that double-barrel whammy hit the Brit headlines and made international news ("British police investigating after secret documents about Al Qaeda left on train" International Herald Tribune (June 11, 2008)).
One might have expected that the "UK Top Secret" stamp might have reminded the absent-minded official.
That dodgy matter of documents on the trains, and now this spy camera, suggest that some people employed by the British government haven't quite grasped the importance of the second word in "military intelligence."
Selling State Secrets: For $30.50?!!I remember, back in my youth, reading of government officials being accused of selling very sensitive information for sums of around $10,000 USD (around £5,500). Although ten thousand dollars was quite a bit of money back then, those people were sitting on information that should have been worth at least ten times that. I remember trying to decide whether I was more upset about them betraying their country, or having such abysmal business sense.
As for the British agent who sold a Nikon Coolpix worth over $100 USD (new) containing MI6 documents on eBay, for about $30 USD: that's so daft, I almost have to assume that he's a twit.
In the news:
- "For sale: Second hand camera, good condition, contains top secret MI6 terrorist records and pics"
- "A SECOND-HAND camera sold on eBay by a top MI6 agent held secret records used in the fight against al-Qaeda terrorists.
- "Names, snaps, fingerprints and suspects’ academic records were found in the memory of the digital device.
- "Alongside them were photos of rocket launchers and missiles which spooks believe Iran is supplying to Osama Bin Laden’s henchmen in Iraq."
The Sun (U.K.) (September 30, 2008)