THE BIRTH OF MI5
Secret agent; two simple words that when combined together bring about
glamorous images of adventure and excitement. With the release of the
latest series of Spooks coming to DVD we have further adrenaline fuelled
episodes of action to excite our government conspiracy appetites. But
not many people know the solid facts about the real government
departments that protect their country’s shores.
Derived from the Secret Service Bureau which was founded in 1909 as pre
War hysteria began to build, our British intelligence is now split into
two departments; MI5 and the slightly more infamous due to a certain
Martini sipper, MI6. With MI standing for Military Intelligence and the
number representing the certain section, we have had a total of 19
sections come and go over the years covering numerous variations of spy
activity such as cryptology and clandestine operations, (escape and
first director was Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, a lengthy
name if there ever was one, which eventually lost the Smith and was
shortened to the cunningly anonymous letter C, which he used to sign
correspondence in green ink. This rather intriguing signing has now
evolved as a code word, with following military intelligence directors
continuing the tradition of signing documents with a green C to retain
With national Headquarters currently located at Thames
House on Milibank in London since 1995, MI5 focuses upon domestic
intelligence and investigating threats in our country, with it being
revealed in 2006 that they were holding secret files on 272,000
individuals, that startling statistic approximating to one person in
The sister department MI6, otherwise referred to as The
Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), is our foreign intelligence section.
With headquarters located at Vauxhall Cross on the South Bank of the
Thames, our very own MI6 came under attack in September 2000 from a
causing superficial damage and blame being laid upon Irish Republicans.
American government has its own similar agencies also split into two
departments, with them being two of the most famous government agencies
out there; the CIA and the FBI.
With similar duties to our MI6, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
has its main roles revolving around the collection and evaluation of
foreign intelligence in relation to matters of National Security.
Forever a realm of secrecy, the memorial wall at the CIA headquarters of
agents who have died in action, whether they were accidents are
intentional hostile attacks, are represented by stars, many of them
nameless so as not to reveal the identity of them even in death.
Although renowned for secrecy, the CIA has not always abided by other
rules. When a front page article written by Seymour Hersh broke in the
New York Times, controversy was abound as it claimed that the CIA
had assassinated foreign leaders in the past and illegally conducted
surveillance on 7,000 unsuspecting U.S civilians.
Doubling as a federal criminal investigative unit as well as an internal
intelligence agency, the FBI is the second department in America, this
one having more in come with our own MI5 in that it focuses on domestic
protecting the laws of the U.S.A, the FBI is a huge force in America,
with the headquarters located in the
J. Edgar Hoover Building,
Washington D.C and
a whopping total of 33,652 employees;
13,807 of those
being special agents.
That’s a lot of Jason Bournes.
1908, the FBI have had a hand in many periods of history over the years,
one of those being their apprehending, and sometimes killing, of a
handful of criminals in their 1930’s ‘War on Crime’, which included John
Dillinger and ‘Babyface’ Nelson. Not only were they involved in this but
they also sought to reduce the influence of the dreaded Ku Klux Klan
colourful backgrounds, the secret agent worlds of Britain and America
have more in common than you would assume, it would appear secret code
words and leader assassinations populate our world as effectively as
they populate our television sets. So next time you are eagerly flicking
on that next episode of Spooks, just remember, maybe the events aren’t
as fictional as one would first think.
SPOOKS: SERIES 9 IS OUT ON
DVD FROM 28 FEBRUARY 2011