SitCen, Mossad and other shady handlings: is EU becoming exciting?
I found it funny that suddenly a lot of tweets I saw passing by were mentioning the fact that the EU has its own “secret service”…let’s admit it, if it’s in the press, it’s not really secret But then, that is true of MI-5, MI-6, the CIA, etc…and still there, the romantic vision of James Bondesque spooks comes to mind…except in Europe, we call it SitCen, which sounds more like a bacteria you could pick up in a Belgian hospital than a body of “licensed-to-kill” multi-lingual jet-setting secret agents…Even when it comes to spooks, we can’t make it sound exciting, or even very convincing for that matter!
As a word of background, and I am no specialist on this, I discovered SitCen in 2005 in a Euractiv interview of Gijs de Vries, where he described SitCen as “an integrated group of analysts from our external intelligence services and the internal security services to jointly assess the terrorist threat as it develops both inside Europe and outside”. A funnily vague answer (with explicit reference to WMD, i.e. Weapons of mass destruction) by the then UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke can also be found here and equally dates back to 2005. And if you look at the Wikipedia page on SitCen it seems it’s been around since 2001, albeit under the initial name Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG).
But anyway, the interesting part is that suddenly, a level of excitement reached the EU bubble with simultaneously the SitCen buzz (EUObserver stating a specific cell of secret service agents will be created within SitCen, including “undercover operatives”) and the EU passports issue regarding potential Mossad activities in Dubai (see coverage by Euractiv here and by EUObserver here )…and somehow, Europe still manages to look as sexy and efficient as Maxwell Smart (aka Agent 86) from the Get Smart series, rather than invoking the cool of Mr Bond. For those not familiar with the series, Agent 86 worked for the CONTROL organisation, in a perpetual fight against the evil KAOS (now who would that represent at EU level?). Next question if you draw the full parallel is obviously: who could embody the mysterious and beautiful Agent 99, will there only be one Chief, and should SitCen’s subdivision of spooks maybe be called PITS, standing for Provisional Intelligence Tactical Service? Or will they be the men from A.U.N.T.I.E (Ashton’s United Network against Terrorism In Europe)?
So much work to do and so little time to convince we can! So to come back to the title of this post: no excitement yet, I’m afraid.