Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spy Versus Spy.

The front page of today's National Post carries a report that a man has been detained on charges he was conducting espionage against Canada. The news item alleges that the man was a Russian, and that he was an illegal, that is a foreign intelligence operative operating under a false ID, versus someone operating under diplomatic or other legal cover. The obvious question that came to my mind on seeing this is how the spies of an ally would be treated. Would say an American illegal be arrested and charged, or would a double standard be observed and said illegal quietly asked to leave the country?

Anyone who doesn't think allies spy on each other is foolish. The world of espionage is a dirty one, and you spy on whoever you can spy on. It has for example been alleged that the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian equivalent of the US signals intelligence agency the National Security Agency, intercepted the telephone calls and other transmissions of American trade negotiators. Then there is the well known case of Jonathan Pollard, an American tried and convicted of espionage for US ally Israel against the US. In the end national interest trumps friendship.

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