Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Intelligence isn't always very bright

People tend to think of ‘intelligence-gathering’ as a murky world of spies, secrets, and interception of communications.  But what gets presented to decision-makers as ‘intelligence’, neatly collated into digestible reports, can often include a great deal of gossip, which is as likely to have been gleaned in chance discussions as by devious methods.  It also seems as though some of the final reports blur the distinction between fact, gossip, and fiction – outright dishonesty isn’t the sole progenitor of dodgy dossiers.
The recent revelation on Wikileaks about the cables sent by the US Ambassador to the then Secretary of State is a case in point.  What it amounts to is that the Secretary of State was being fed ‘information’ about what was happening in Wales which would be utterly unrecognisable to many of those involved.
My favourite bit was this:
Plaid Cymru was “vehemently opposed to nuclear energy.”
The American claimed Welsh Government energy advisor Dr Ron Loveland told the embassy that “even raising the issue of nuclear energy with Welsh Deputy First Minister and leader of Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones is ‘too sensitive.’”  Mr Jones has since left those posts.  “This negative attitude toward civil nuclear energy is pervasive in Wales, as several contacts echoed to ESTHOff similar concerns about nuclear waste.”
Given the huge difficulties that Plaid has faced over many years precisely because Plaid Cymru, far from being vehemently opposed, is unable to articulate a coherent policy on the issue, and given that a lot of that difficulty stemmed from the pro-Wylfa stance of Ieuan, this part of the feedback to the US is laughable.
On second thoughts, no it’s not laughable, it’s extremely worrying.  If they can get something as simple as this so wrong, how much more wrong information is being passed back up the line?  Worse still, how many US decisions on how to react to events in the world’s trouble spots are being made on the basis of information of such dubious veracity?


Anonymous said...

Worryingly, I don't think too many people living in the UK would disagree with the US analysis of matters Wales.

But, whereas in most societies those with radical views are invariably marginalised by the mainstream majority, nothing of the kind happens in Wales.

Is it any wonder there is a massive drive to eradicate all things 'Welsh' throughout the British Isles?

Spirit of BME said...

I think the US Ambassador hid his true contact in Wales and what must have happened to obtain such a confusing picture was that he must have rung Mr Elis Thomas – twice.