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Secret intelligence

Winston Churchill was interested in secret intelligence back in 1909.

He wanted to know what was really going on in the world.

Naturally, the intelligence had to be good.

No point being wrong about Iranian nuclear bombs or surprised by rioting in Cairo or many other life and death issues.

Finest Hour, The Journal of Winston Churchill, Number 149, has just arrived from Chicago, and inside is a piece on Churchill's intelligence apparatus, which famously kept him informed about Nazi Germany during the 1930s and on Soviet spies in Europe after the war. One of the countless telegrams Churchill received read:

MESSAGE RECEIVED VERY LATE AS WAS TRAVELLING APOLOGIES STOP NUMBERS INCLUDING MINOR PARTS AND ATTACHMENTS IN BOTH CASES ARE NOW TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX THEIRS AND ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN OURS

Clear as glass to Churchill. David Stafford explains the telegram and the intensity of Churchill's influence on Britain's infant secret service and subsequent development.

Intelligence personnel have been given the mission of keeping us safe. One of them, Stella Riminto, former Director General of MI5, was also a defender of liberty.

She famously said that our elected representatives should be "recognising risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state".

Davud Stafford, the author of the article, lives in Victoria, BC. He is the Leverhulme Emeritus Professor in Edinburgh University's School of History, Classics and Archaeology, and a preeminent intelligence scholar with a number of books to his credit.

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