L'affaire Litvinenko becomes more bizarre by the day. We have a pic of him on the Observer wearing a Scots hat and brandishing a sword. Today I learn this by email:
The Litvinenko isssue is a very hot one in Italy.
Litvinenko had his last meal with with Mario Scaramella in London.
Scaramella is a shady character who was the consultant of Senator Paolo Guzzanti (a Berlusconi man) and was before the April electins was trying to frame Prodi and Alfnso Pecoraro Scanio (green leader) by trying to come up with fabricated evidence that Prodi and Pecoraro Scanio were... KGB spies!!!!
Litvinenko (RIP) appears to have posessed features of borderline personality disorder, as indeed do so many "Intelligence" agents. You have to have an unusual to be prepared to exist at two levels - that of an ordinary person, and that of the spy. You have to take on different identities. Some people have personality disorders that do this anyway, irrespective of employment in the "Intelligence" services. It is to be expected therefore that many of those with this personality problem will gravitate to the services.
I STRESS that some "Intelligence" personell will be ordinary decent people who want to serve their country.
The unaccountable nature of the work however, allows nutty ideas to ferment in odd persons. Evidence: "Spycatcher". Evidence: plots to overthrow the Wilson Government.
"Intelligence" Services are necessary and valuable for dealing with terrorism and
organised crime, but because of their non-transparency and unaccountability,
they can divert into stupid and unpleasant activities (including infiltration of democratic NGOs and political parties?). They need to be reined in, and this will have to be done on a multilateral basis.
I have only a couple of faint ideas how. One is for them to have internationally agreed, proportional and verifiable budgets (that can then be progressively shrunk). The other is that they should be accountable to democratic comittees.
Both suggestions will produce howls of protest.