British journalists -- and British journals -- are being manipulated by the secret intelligence agencies, and I think we ought to try and put a stop to it.--David LeighIntelligence agencies can manipulate journalists and their newspapers in various ways.
Firstly, spies may recruit journalists or even impersonate them. It goes without saying that these long and broadly practiced activities are unhealthy as they put the life of every single journalist in danger, and particularly those who work as foreign correspondents.
Secondly, intelligence agencies can plant disinformation in mainstream media under false identity. In the months preceding the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, intelligence agencies used this technique abundantly and without any difficulty, according to a copy of the CIA's secret history of the coup, which surfaced in 2000.
The third way for the spook to gain access to the media is rather subtle and particularly insidious. It consists of exploiting the vanity of journalists to impress on them to hide or lie about the real identity of their sources. Spies are said to have used this technique -- known as "I/Ops" for Information Operation -- heavily in the British press. Yet, it can rarely be documented. But once in a while, an I/Op gets out of control, giving the public a rare opportunity to take a peek inside the world of disinformation.
In November 1995, The Sunday Telegraph published a sensational story about one of our then favorite villains: Libya. Read full story