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Is spying necessary?

08:35 UK time, Friday, 9 July 2010

Ten Russian spies caught living in the US have been deported to Russia, following the biggest 'spy swap' since the end of the Cold War. Does spying still have a purpose in the world today?

The ten Russian agents left New York after a judge ordered their expulsion during a court hearing at which they admitted spying for a foreign country.

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pardoned four people convicted of espionage in Russia.

Two of the four Russians expelled from Moscow are reported to be staying undercover in a British hotel.

How essential are intelligence services for countries? Are there better ways of getting information? What impact does it have with relations between nations?

US-Russia spy swap: Your comments

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Knowing what someone is up to, let alone one's enemies or rivals, is essentially a Security issue, hence spying will always be with us.

  • Comment number 2.

    Got to agree with Ian Cheese. But it's not just security, it's getting one over on the competition too. Everybody is nosy. Goverments and organisations will all ways want to know what everybody else is up to.

    What else are they going to do? Ask if someone is planning to build a doomsday device/develop secret technology etc and expect an honest answer? It would be refrehing but not likely.

    Not saying it's right, but it won't stop anytime soon.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'd be very careful what you say on this one. You never know who's reading!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Obviously, or no one would be doing it!

  • Comment number 5.

    Interminable shots of not a lot happening at an airport. A slow news day, is it? People are spying, then some of them get caught. Occasionally, there's a swap, though more usually without telling the press. Where's the news here? Where's the public interest. Why is News 24 stuck showing the airport? Have the newsreader got stuck in the toilet?
    We spy it all the time, so does everyone else. Get over it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Of course - in order to protect us all from terrorism and nasty people - it is increasingly becoming necessary for the state to spy on all of us! These old fashioned 'cold war' type of spies, the 007's and KGB agents have no place in the modern world of paranoia and surveillance! Its the enemy within who was always the real threat - we must spy on all our neighbours now - for our own safety and to protect our freedoms and liberties of course!

    Big Brothers, little boys and girls are watching you!

  • Comment number 7.

    The Great Game has always been played, and probably always will.

    Yet every time one of these little spats blows up, one wonders just how much it matters outwith the spy community. Whatever this little flock of agents has been up to, is there any clearly discernable advantage that their employers display that is due to their activities?

  • Comment number 8.

    I really don't care if paranoid governments are pointing cameras and listening devices at each other. I do care when my own government is pointing them at me. I hope the new government will keep its promises and stop it right now.

  • Comment number 9.

    What I find interesting is why swap them.

    Spying obviously happens all the time, all over the world. Just look at the huge amount of money spent by both MI5 and MI6!

    SO just what were the yanks frightened the russians were going to say in open court when the trials started?

  • Comment number 10.

    Its like watching carry on spying. The goverments know who the spys are as proved whenever one is caught and we dismiss one of theirs. it just game for ex oxbridge public schoolboys if it keeps them happy let them get on with it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Is spying necessary?

    Not really.

    Not only does, for example, Britain, know that there are foreign agents on our soil, they've know exactly who most of them are.

    The same goes for British agents in Moscow.

    Our Government knows pretty much everything that foreign governments are up to, whilst those same foreign governments know exactly what we're up to.

    'State Secrets' tend only to be secret from the general public, not from other governments.

    If our governments were mature enough they would just release various bits of classified information to each other (which they already do anyway, to an extent) and cut out the middle men.

    But the government agencies are all addicted to this Cloak and Dagger play acting so I expect it will continue pretty much as long as there are governments.

  • Comment number 12.

    5. At 10:55am on 09 Jul 2010, Paul Loebig:

    I do believe they have been stuck in the toilet for the past three or four decades!

  • Comment number 13.

    What it really needs is some enterprising film producer to now offer Anna Chapman a contract. I don't know if she can act, but she certainly could be a superb role model.

    Now the topic, spies? There are too many of them. All ours are Government employees or Multinational companies dressed as "security or social" sites and services. The only thing specific about the Russians is that they weren't as effective. Obviously they couldn't find our effective policy-making circles. Maybe because we don't have any.

  • Comment number 14.

    Very necessary. Otherwise we would not have all the entertaining novels and movies about these overpaid nerds playing their silly games and misinforming gullible government ministers.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lena

    the birds are flying south for winter

    Dmitry

  • Comment number 16.

    Of course its necessary and it is good that they are being traded back.

    It is interesting to see people agree with espionage but cry out when israel hit teams kill terrorists

  • Comment number 17.

    This is a complete non-event of a story.

    Why on earth has there been so much coverage of it? And now an HYS slot?

    The over-coverage is symptomatic of the media's, particularly the BBC's, America-fixation.

    Let's have more reporting on Latin America, Europe etc.

  • Comment number 18.

    As an agent strolled passed the Lubyanka one day
    He said to his operator, 'I know what 'll make 'em pay'
    'We'll invent a spy exchange in the old fashoinded way
    and have them all talk about it on Have Your Say'

    'Why would you do that' the operator queried
    'Oh don't you see' replied the agent somewhat weried
    It'll deflect from the fact, as they'll all be gobsmacked
    Cos did you notice Prescott getting that Peerage!!

    sorry.

  • Comment number 19.

    Spying is necessary.

    Otherwise, I would be out of a job.

  • Comment number 20.

    Spying is what gives one an edge over one's competitor.

    Whether it's industrial espionage or James Bond, one party wants to know what other groups are doing while trying to keep their own plans and discoveries secret. So it probably comes under the heading of the second oldest profession in the world, and was probably used by those who plied the oldest profession in the world. Knowledge is power, and disinformation is more rife today than ever, so good spies are worth more.

    If you think this is sill then do some research. Pick a subject, say Climate Change, and just see how easy it is to find conflicting facts. The job of a spy is to find the underlying information, sift it and recognise what might give an advantage to their employer. We have stopped thinking about how easy it is to pass on information, and that even a snippet could be the crucial link that gives the game away. A simple scenario is where the opposition know something is going to happen and know who's likely to be involved, but don't know when. At a dinner party one of the proponents gets a little tipsy and promises to "do this again sometimes. Oh, but not this weekend - I'm needed 'elsewhere' (wink, wink)".

    I'm reminded of what my father-in-law (an ex-soviet) once told me about spies - there are good spies and there are the ones we know about. Maybe think on that next time you "meet in" with a stranger and are having a few drinks.

  • Comment number 21.

    Our need to spy is based on our actual or perceived role in the world. The truth is that the UK really should focus on reducing its global security footprint, not expanding it. Does the Netherlands spy on other countries? Does Sweden? Does Spain, or Germany? Why is there a need for Britain to continue throwing its weight around? We should concentrate on having fewer enemies, not better ways to fight them.

  • Comment number 22.

    There has always been a special aura about spying where clever agents and femme fatales are used to gather sensitive information and state secrets. The popularity of James Bond films has such mesmeric effect. But with the ebb and flow of American-Russian relations, one wonders whether spy thrillers will ever lose popularity. The Russians and Americans were warming up to each other and one thought a new transparency was becoming evident. Perhaps we have to wait a little longer before the vestiges of the'iron curtain' are removed and trust becomes scacrosanct.

  • Comment number 23.

    Of course - how else can you suss out your neighbours bad habits.

  • Comment number 24.

    In my opinion New Russian capitalists are the last people who will want to change something in USA.
    The only problems which eventually may occur are well described in works of Mr. Marx – fight for natural resources and money in form of new technologies and lucrative private contracts :)

  • Comment number 25.

    I have an old woman that lives across the road from me. She would say its a must!
    Nobody can come near my house with out her checking them out what they wear and shoe size.

  • Comment number 26.

    Spying will only stop when human beings learn to trust each other, which will never happen.

  • Comment number 27.

    It really is laughable that this is headline news. The security services of all countries spy on the "goings on" in all other countries regardless of if they are friend or foe. From time to time thing get out of hand and one countries agents get caught and jailed so they pick up some of the oppositions foot soldiers and an exchange is done.

    More laughable was the attitude of the BBC Security correspondent who sat po faced and said that the UK do not engage in these type of activities. Even a ten year old would have trouble believing him.

    The "great game" carries on it's just the "enemy" who changes.

  • Comment number 28.

    In business, we call it competitor analysis. No sane business operates without knowledge of what their competition is doing. This can be friendly competition or aggressive industrial espionage.

    Whatever the relationship or purpose, it is necessary to maintain a competitive advantage through product or service development.

    Is this grossly different?



    I honestly do not know - but my feeling is that it is not significantly different, because one needs to be aware of developments that affect the status quo and realign accordingly.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Spying is helpful in the right places. I can't see why the Russian or Americans would need to spy on each other any more. There may be some truths that all governments keep, but were there ones we'd really want to know they wouldn't tell their own people.

  • Comment number 31.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 32.

    Spying is a symptom of the meddling that all the big countries do in other countries affairs. If countries didn't meddle, we wouldn't need spies. And the meddling is the root cause of many of the problems that the world currently faces.

  • Comment number 33.

    As an Indian I can say that spying is necessary to know our terror sponsoring neighbor(you know who). Many of the terror attacks in India could have been prevented if the intelligence services were given enough resources to carry out their task.

  • Comment number 34.

    These spies were not that great. They got too comfy and forgot about their missions. Not suprising really given that most of the things they were asked to find are available on Google

  • Comment number 35.

    "15. At 11:20am on 09 Jul 2010, Lard_Cheeses wrote:
    Lena

    the birds are flying south for winter

    Dmitry"
    ___________________________________________________________

    Dmitry

    How many times have I told you not to use my real name when passing codes - you'll get us caught!

    erm....Nastia

  • Comment number 36.

    Well spying has its uses, obviously, but in this case it doesn't look like anyone had access to any information that couldn't have been obtained by asking nicely... All a bit silly really.

  • Comment number 37.

    I just find the whole thing incredibly funny, and can't help wondering how long before someone turns it all into a film!

  • Comment number 38.

    "It is interesting to see people agree with espionage but cry out when israel hit teams kill terrorists"

    One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter eh? Shame we didn't use "hit teams" to eliminate Ben Gurion and co after they bombed the King David Hotel.

  • Comment number 39.

    This is slightly off topic but it amazes me the double standard of the british public and its reporters. A few months ago when Israel used fake passports there was a genral outcry fromthe british press and public vlifying israel for forging apassport but when the Russians use fake Britishpassports it doesnt even causethe tiniest of stirs.Could some on please explain this to me?

  • Comment number 40.

    Many species spy on competitors and situations, it's not just a human behaviour, its just a basic natural survival trait older than any presently living species.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think from an historical perspective, spying can be shown to be a good thing. Lack of good intelligence has caused leaders of nations to make very poor decisions, like the Iraq war for example; transparency and good inelligence on both sides more often than not prevents leaders from making strategic blunders. Intelligence is much more often used as a protective measure than an offensive one, and so is useful for states to ensure the security of their citizenry.

  • Comment number 42.

    Spying is necessary especially in regard to counter intelligence and the defence of the realm. I think your question is really about proactive spying and espionage in which we engage because most other countries do. Surely with the opening up of our borders, more countries wishing to join the EU, the world trade agreement etc the need for this role must decrease.
    This leaves us with predominately Muslim countries that have been brought into conflict with us by a few fanatics. The countries will not denounce them and therefore marginalise their legitimacy. Whilst they still present a threat we will have to continue our spying activities.

  • Comment number 43.

    29. At 11:42am on 09 Jul 2010, Scamandrius wrote:

    I think its more that Israeli 'assasanation' has been known to involve an airstrike on two terrorists in a car driving down a crowded Gazan street, ensuring maximum civilian casualties, rather than the policy of killing terrorists per se.

    Or that Israeli 'espionage' has involved stealing passports, not from any old nation, but specifically from allied nationals who then ended up on Interpols 'most wanted' list and have subsequently recieved death threats.

    But lets not make this about Israel.

    -------------------------------

    You obviously sucked into the israel hating but how far different is obtaining an allies passport and assassinating a terrorist from obtaining an allies passport to spy on an ally?

    When your enemy fights by conventional means you must be unconventional. When your enemy fights by unconventional means you must be able to match him to win.

  • Comment number 44.

    21 James Maxwell

    "Our need to spy is based on our actual or perceived role in the world. The truth is that the UK really should focus on reducing its global security footprint, not expanding it. Does the Netherlands spy on other countries? Does Sweden? Does Spain, or Germany? "

    As far as I know, they all have spies, even Sweden. Also, even countries like Denmark and Holland have troops fighting in Afghanistan.

    It's a real pity that the BBC doesn't report more about mainland Europe, and rather less about the US and Israel. If it did, you might be a bit better informed.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well personally I hope we have a few at Natanz and Esfahan, possibly Washington wouldn't be a bad idea these days too.

  • Comment number 46.

    It might not be strictly necessary but it is inevitable.

  • Comment number 47.

    15. At 11:20am on 09 Jul 2010, Lard_Cheeses wrote:
    Lena

    the birds are flying south for winter

    Dmitry

    ----

    The duck is in the moose.

  • Comment number 48.

    Intelligence services for countries are important when focused on criminal gangs and activities and terrorist organisations/cells. Other than that, the allies and relationships with the developed nations should not be based on suspicion and they need not be spying on each other rather to work together towards a common enemy and goal and that enemy is certainly not against each other or their nations but against Al Qaeda & Criminal Gangs.

  • Comment number 49.

    The US and Russia are making history in spy. Each of them is using different tactics. I think they should promise to the UN and G20 that it will not repeat. Instead of spying each other they need to concentrate how to make world safer for us.

  • Comment number 50.

    The best person to answer this question is Gordon Brown.

    His government had it down to a fine art.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why is this reported as though it is somthing new? Everyone spies on each other ie:-

    The UK spies on france, germany, italy spain, america, autrailia. Every coutnry in the world in fact and they spy on us too.

    You see we have a privatised military industrial complex that competes with similar companies in every country in the world so espionage is common.

    My grandfather had his house phone tapped right up until his death in 1996 because of his french citizenship, BAE systems were paranoid he would give away secrets.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm sure there are some spinoffs from the espionage industry that eventually trickle down to society. Or maybe not.

    What about industrial espionage?

    Does the NSA with its various intercept bases around the globe purely monitor military or terror related communications?

    Big business seems to control governments rather than governments controlling what businesses do...

    Food for thought!

  • Comment number 53.

    Phillip Knightley, the celebrated journalist on all things to do with the security services (he was one of the last to interview Kim Philby) asked a leading east german spy master, Markus Wolf, (after the fall of communism in east germany) if there was any thing of benefit, to either side, obtained from the secret services during the cold war.

    Wolf could not name one single occasion when anything learnt through espionage was of any benefit for any government.

    Its just public schoolboys playing at james bond.

  • Comment number 54.

    yes Good "spying "
    Even internal spying ...It is a great pity no one was watching Blair and Brown ,Damaging this Country .
    Even during the cold war and the Second world war the Russians and Germans never managed to inflict such Damage...

    Was that because of "good spying "?

  • Comment number 55.

    It depends who's asking :)

  • Comment number 56.

    33. At 11:51am on 09 Jul 2010, jaytirth wrote:
    As an Indian I can say that spying is necessary to know our terror sponsoring neighbor(you know who). Many of the terror attacks in India could have been prevented if the intelligence services were given enough resources to carry out their task.


    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Yes, a very good point that ought to silense the doubting Thomas'

  • Comment number 57.

    I certainly hope someone is spying on and subverting our present government.

  • Comment number 58.

    Before being expelled from the U.S.

    •"Richard Murphy" and "Cynthia Murphy" admitted their real names were Vladimir Guryev and Lydia Guryev.

    •"Donald Howard Heathfield" and "Tracey Lee Ann Foley" admitted their real names were Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova.

    •"Juan Lazaro" admitted his real name was Mikhail Vasenkov.

    "Michael Zottoli" and "Patricia Mills" had admitted their real names were Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva.


    Which goes to show you that we're not racists and Mexicans and other Latinos are not the only illegal aliens being expelled when caught.

  • Comment number 59.

    Moscow, this is Agent Chris Cross, I have made contact with Agents Sue Flay, Carrie Oakey, Polly Ester, Jerry Atrick and Comrade General Duane Pipe.

    Operation bumble bee is complete, I repeat, operation bumble bee is complete.

  • Comment number 60.

    "The hens are in the hen house"

  • Comment number 61.

    Everybody is doing it so it must be.

    Unless it's another gross waste of our taxes....

  • Comment number 62.

    Spying necessary? Maybe not! But you can’t blame just one country as even our own government/police spy on us citizens. Just think how many times you are caught on CCTV per day!

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm more worried about OUR government spying on me than other governments!!

  • Comment number 64.

    If any American tried spying on me I'd make sure they never see daylight again.

  • Comment number 65.

    In all of these spy incidents isn't striking how completely amateurish the whole set-up is? When things are this bad (especially with our own bunch of rank amateurs)we have nothing to worry about. If they had a brain then they would be dangerous.

  • Comment number 66.

    Spying is always going to be essential - having a third party that is trusted that can verify or clarify and indeed explain other countries or trans-national companies actions is always going to be necessary. There is a potential argument that if we were better at spying in Iran then we would know what they were up to much better than we do and could adjust our attitudes accordingly. Spying or intelligence operations in Iraq when Saddam was in power could have meant that the War that followed - on bad intel, would not have happened - maybe. Subsequently espionage is an essential element to the workings of the state without it we wouldn't be able to tell what our friends and our enemies have in store for us.

  • Comment number 67.

    Is spying necessary?

    Combine Cold War weapons acquisition possibilities with insane religious groups and one gets the worst of both worlds.

    Ignorance of such enemies is not an option so not only must we still spy on the Cold War situation (smaller but not gone away and in fact being modernised as we speak) but also on the new battleground of the largely Western secular v the largely Middle Eastern fundamentally religious, in short, the rational v the irrational.

    In the days of Cold War, US / Russian rational logic and the MAD defence game worked very well to keep us from global conflict. We now face an irrational faith based menace not subject to that level of logical approach. One just cannot apply cool and clearly thought out Cold War logic to predict the probable actions of the religiously insane combatants we now face; spying is thus more vital than ever.

  • Comment number 68.

    Do fish need water. Of course spying is necessary. For one thing it provides a flow of information outside of public posturing and has undoubtedly prevented more conflicts than it has fueled.

  • Comment number 69.

    How primitive and tedious. When IS the human race going to grow up??

  • Comment number 70.

    • 44. At 12:04pm on 09 Jul 2010, The Bloke wrote:
    21 James Maxwell

    "Our need to spy is based on our actual or perceived role in the world. The truth is that the UK really should focus on reducing its global security footprint, not expanding it. Does the Netherlands spy on other countries? Does Sweden? Does Spain, or Germany? "

    Absolutely!! we all do it and we all have counter intelligence units as well it all depends on who you are spying on who does it.

    The Military will spy on other countries capabilities, The Police spy on criminals, criminals spy on the Police, neighbours spy on neighbours

    Just a couple of days ago a relative of a victim of the 7/7 bombings asked the question how can the government guarantee it won’t happen again. Answer it can’t. but by spying it can get a bloody good idea

  • Comment number 71.

    Spying is a complicated issue.
    Industrial spying goes on moreso than any other IMO.
    Amazing how much spying takes place with so called friendly nations.
    China has a dubious record , but few consequences, Israeli defenders dislike Israel being included in anything negative , but Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard languishes in an American prison for stealing nuclear and other secrets , some of which it is beleived he sold to the Russians during the cold war, strenous efforts continue to be made by the Israelis for his release , to date unsucessful but the US continues to fund Israel with billions of dollars.
    It seems like the SPYING game has its own set of rules and procedures from all other attacks on welfare and security, probably because everone does it ?

  • Comment number 72.

    #39. At 11:59am on 09 Jul 2010, dorshev wrote:
    "This is slightly off topic but it amazes me the double standard of the british public and its reporters. A few months ago when Israel used fake passports there was a genral outcry fromthe british press and public vlifying israel for forging apassport but when the Russians use fake Britishpassports it doesnt even causethe tiniest of stirs.Could some on please explain this to me?"

    1) Israel is a close ally. Friends don't do that kind of thing to friends.

    2) Spying is wholly different to assassination.

  • Comment number 73.

    38. At 11:58am on 09 Jul 2010, Dearne Valley Lad wrote:

    "It is interesting to see people agree with espionage but cry out when israel hit teams kill terrorists"

    One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter eh? Shame we didn't use "hit teams" to eliminate Ben Gurion and co after they bombed the King David Hotel."

    ------------------------------

    Touché!

  • Comment number 74.

    Personally, I am convinced the BBC and other mainstream media are full of spies and secret agents! They employ code words and an evolving set of coded scripts all the time...and its not just journalists, but politicians too! I am no expert, but here is a partial list of odd and strange 'code' words I have identified....

    'way forward', 'right now', 'its complex', 'public do not understand', 'bail-out', 'crisis', 'regime', 'democracy', 'freedom', 'change', 'better future', 'quantitative easing', 'fair' and the latest new code word 'fluid' -

    I am sure there are many more out there, but I am no spy and continue to hear these seemingly meaningless words all the time in strange and odd contexts without being provided any indication of what the 'reporter' 'commentator' 'interviewee/interviewer' (spies and secret agents) are really talking about -

    Thus I must conclude they are all working covertly to inseminate vital and important information in code to various other operatives and secret agents watching BBC 24 and CNN etc ;-)

  • Comment number 75.

    Intelligence gathering's always necessary, there's a very real mistrust between governments. Consider for a moment that while Russia and the US might have an increasingly warm relationship these days, Russia is also on good terms with Iran, a country that obviously the US sees, and sees the US in turn, as a hated enemy. Under those circumstances you couldn't blame everyone for spying on everyone else.

  • Comment number 76.

    47. At 12:07pm on 09 Jul 2010, Scamandrius wrote:
    15. At 11:20am on 09 Jul 2010, Lard_Cheeses wrote:
    Lena

    the birds are flying south for winter

    Dmitry

    ----

    The duck is in the moose.
    -----


    The sun has fallen into the river.

    The red owl

  • Comment number 77.

    21. "Does the Netherlands spy on other countries? Does Sweden? Does Spain, or Germany?"

    Yes. The dutch have Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, the swedes Military Intelligence and Security Service, spain Centro Nacional de Inteligencia and the germans have Bundesnachrichtendienst.

    All intelligence agencies operating abroad to protect the national security of their respective countries. That means they're spies.

  • Comment number 78.

    The following comment is written in invisible ink:




    so there, that's what I think!!
    G. Smiley

  • Comment number 79.

    Spying and spies can come in very handy when you want to invade a country to steal its oil and need some people to write a dossier on non-existent weapons of mass destruction to "justify" your illegal actions...

  • Comment number 80.

    Cos did you notice Prescott getting that Peerage!!

    I have to agree with post 18.
    John Presscott getting a peerage is far more outragous than any spying story.
    Can we not swap him for a couple of Russians?

  • Comment number 81.

    Spying is important, but in Britain is is more important to spy on internal enemies who are likely to blow up underground trains and overground buses. There is also now the danger of open borders where potential terrorists and criminals can just walk in on a visitors visa and blow up the aforementioned trians, buses and stations and be back in Paris before the authorities have garnered information on the facts.

  • Comment number 82.

    Lena

    the birds are flying south for winter

    Dmitry
    --------
    Dmitry
    There will be snow on Barry Island tonight!
    Jones the Spy!

  • Comment number 83.

    Are we planning on taking moscow next? I know Russia has oil in plentiful supply.

  • Comment number 84.

    . (Written my comments on a microdot)

  • Comment number 85.

    Think of the number of CCTV cameras, speed cameras, vehicle recognition cameras etc etc, and you will realise that spying on any level is increasing. It is just that the media think it will sell more stories if they make the recent events in USA/Russia more dramatic.
    Spying has always existed and always will.

  • Comment number 86.

    Only an idiot would argue that a state should not have intelliogence services.

    You only have to look at those morons who were convicted yesterday in a(yet another) bomb plot to see why they are necessary.

  • Comment number 87.


    dorshev wrote:

    This is slightly off topic but it amazes me the double standard of the british public and its reporters. A few months ago when Israel used fake passports there was a genral outcry fromthe british press and public vlifying israel for forging apassport but when the Russians use fake Britishpassports it doesnt even causethe tiniest of stirs.Could some on please explain this to me?


    Simple, the spies are legitimate holders of their passports. What they were doing was naughty, but were not murdering scum. The two incidents are not in the same league.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think there is that much information on the internet, why should anyone bother to recruit spies. The real threat is from lobbyists on a personal or self satisfying or self motivated agenda not in the interests of the country.

  • Comment number 89.

    Spying is an art. Abandoning spies altogether would put us at a competitive disadvantage and take decades to start back up once the importance was appreciated. You don't know what you've got till it's gone (as the song goes).

  • Comment number 90.

    "39. At 11:59am on 09 Jul 2010, dorshev wrote:
    This is slightly off topic but it amazes me the double standard of the british public and its reporters. A few months ago when Israel used fake passports there was a genral outcry fromthe british press and public vlifying israel for forging apassport but when the Russians use fake Britishpassports it doesnt even causethe tiniest of stirs.Could some on please explain this to me?"

    It's an interesting point you've raised (the passport issue), and not one I'd noticed, so thank you.

    It is beause many people hate Israel *(and are careful to not say "the Jews" on HYS). They love to bash Israel at any opportunity, while ignoring the many other wars and territorial disputes in the world.

  • Comment number 91.

    87 ; Sorry, forgot to put the quotes round "legitimate".

  • Comment number 92.

    So if many on here say it is a necessary evil then those spies who executed in Dubai are ok to use British names etc????? Spies are they trying to derstablilise a nation, jsut look at what CIA tried in venezuela by supporting the coup and using US spies to kidnap the presidente!

  • Comment number 93.

    Of course sying is essential, in fact it's not to far from the world's oldest occupation, one might even add that the two go hand in hand. Funny thing though, when this story initially broke the Soviets downplayed the whole thing then all of a sudden they want to do a spy swap. And everyone thought the cold war was over.

  • Comment number 94.

    49. At 12:19pm on 09 Jul 2010, Khalik Baregzai wrote:
    The US and Russia are making history in spy. Each of them is using different tactics. I think they should promise to the UN and G20 that it will not repeat. Instead of spying each other they need to concentrate how to make world safer for us.


    ---

    I hope you go into politics sir or madam,

    Because at the moment our respective leaders are quite keen that we continue to see each other as a potential threat.

  • Comment number 95.

    It provides a lot of employment in these austere times.

  • Comment number 96.

    Transparency, collaboration, trust and security are at the heart of the matter. Nations should bond together and fight the real problems facing the world: terrorism, poverty and hunger. If world leaders could identify such a common platform then spying would be confined to the annals of history. However spying will always be glorified! There is so much mistrust in the world. Power corrupts.

  • Comment number 97.

    Should HYS be asking this question while it continues to monitor our exchanges?

  • Comment number 98.

    Is spying necessary?

    Definitely...if you want to know what your neighbours are up to!

  • Comment number 99.

    56. At 12:29pm on 09 Jul 2010, Gareth wrote:

    33. At 11:51am on 09 Jul 2010, jaytirth wrote:
    As an Indian I can say that spying is necessary to know our terror sponsoring neighbor(you know who). Many of the terror attacks in India could have been prevented if the intelligence services were given enough resources to carry out their task.


    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Yes, a very good point that ought to silense the doubting Thomas'

    ====================================================================

    Yes i think the indian intelligence found that it was the Americans who were financing the ISI and terror attacks in india,and its probs because India gave the US a bloody nose by defeating it and Pakistan and stopped the genocide in Bangladesh and won the begalis Independence! Delhi has a prized museum of US made weapons and armaments it took off the pakistanis in that war, including barrels of some kind of chemical which is orange in colour, if you know what i mean! thank god the pakistanis didnt use it, as the Yanks wanted them to do, as it would have secured a hundred years of weapons sales for the US.

  • Comment number 100.

    60. At 12:40pm on 09 Jul 2010, Paul wrote:

    "The hens are in the hen house"


    But have they come home to roost?

 

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