A satirical confirmation of the Iranian government's claims about British government interference with its internal affairs:
LONDON, June 23, 2009 (IIN) This reporter has just come from an off the record interview with sources within Britain's hyper-secret MI7, the counter-counter intelligence service, once part of GCHQ, but now operating under its own portfolio. In fact, unlike MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, MI7 neither maintains an internet web site nor otherwise interacts with the public or press. The interview, the first known to be granted, occurred under the following conditions: 1) the location of the interview site not be identified or described beyond it being within the UK; 2) upon return to MI7 of certain items; and, 3) no MI7 official be quoted or otherwise identified by name or position.
Those documents, received by this reporter, related to a secret program, which, upon my contacting MI7, allowed my arranging for an interview with MI7 about the program, in exchange for returning the documents without revealing them to others.
After prolonged negotiation and finally much moving about, the "interview" took place. Unfortunately, it produced only vague repetitions of what I already knew, refusal to answer any additional questions, and finally threats, all within the context of a manifest reluctance to discuss any ongoing or past actions of the service. Since no real interview took place, even off the record, I realized that the only way this story could be told, as it surely should be, is by not honoring the interview terms because, in fact, the promised interview never really took place.
My solicitor, while agreeing a case might be made that my signing the secrecy agreement was part of a breached contract to which I could not be bound, she finally said "I must tell you, as a practical matter, not seeing the statement, it was likely unconditional, a point from which the Crown can not be expected to yield."
Upon arrival at the interview site, I was greeted and escorted to a nearby conference room, where I remained until my departure about 6 hours later. After signing a guest log and an additional non-disclosure agreement, surrendering my recorder and notebook, and some brief questions establishing I had read the documents returned to them, I was given a series of three briefings. Each lasting about three quarters of an hour on topics related to the documents, during which no questions were allowed, with assurances my questions would be address in "due course."
Almost nothing beyond what I had learned from the documents, which I regret to say I did turn over without retaining copies, immerged from the briefings. Instead, the sessions consisted mainly of assurances that the "gravest harm to the nation" would occur should any of the information I possessed be released. After a pleasant in-situate lunch with an older gentleman who remained with me during me entire stay and whose only topic of interest was me, I spent a rather uncomfortable three hours assuring my hosts I understood the importance of respecting the Crown's trust and fully feared the consequences should the slightest bit of information escape contrary to my written assurances.
I had arrived that morning the determined reporter, ready to press for the story of a lifetime. In wave of rising confidence at confirming the documents were genuine and my forcing an agreement to an interview in last few weeks, my only thoughts were about how best to supplement the information I already had during the promised interview. I imagined I might even meet with the director, perhaps after some preliminary sparing with staff, positing my offer: I would hold the story until it could be told later, in return for an under-the-covers look at what I had discovered. This wasn't a story, but a book, perhaps a career/life altering chance to escape the cycle of being at my cubical, out for a story, and back at my cubical, week after week, yet marginally better of and the envy of colleagues who labored under daily deadlines.
By the end of my visit, I must confess, I left feeling enormous relief at being allowed to leave. As the "interview" progressed, I realized approaching MI7 was a serious error, compounded by my willingness to believe each step in securing the interview was progress made. Instead, with every step taken reduced my options, which were never greater than before I contracted MI7. Now I realize I should have written everything I could based on the documents and additional discreet research, only then approach them or not, but with the draft story written and ready. Now I am writing under a likely tight but unknown deadline.
I think the only reason I left Whitehall that day was because I realized, during that ever so friendly lunch, that they wanted to know what I had already written and where it was. I almost assured them, that I hadn't written a thing. But, a moment before I did, a critical mass of accumulated folly finally emitted a precognitive alarm, and I found myself assuring them instead that I was into a second draft, but felt it needed more background, which I hoped they could help me with.
An additional half-hour of them pressing and me resisting, which came perilously close to an interrogation, I recovered my journalist demeanor enough to refuse to discuss a work in progress or those assisting me, should others become involved. Suddenly, my assurances about keeping the crown's secrets, which got me that worthless interview, seemed of equal value. Only after promising them nothing would be published until they had a chance review it, provided they contributed to my work, which up to now I felt they had not, the danger seemed to pass.
And then the Final Briefer was introduced, as nameless as the others, but clearly with greater authority, since my luncheon "friend" rose as he entered the room, as he had not for the others. Final Briefer went directly to the board and said "What I am about to tell you is a state secret, and if you reveal it I will personally see you serve at least 20 years, if you ever come to trial. Is that clear?"
I found myself rising from my chair and saying, "I want thank you for your time, but I am terminating this interview until I can consult with my employer about your offer." Without pause, Final Briefer said "Very well, but know you have already sworn to keep the matters at issue secret, for which you will be held to account." Within minutes, holding my unused recorder and notebook, I was on the street trying to control both my tremors and a rising sense of dread. Since I could only think to return home, I made no attempt to evade surveillance, which I did not detect but assumed.
When I got home, a substantial portion of the contents of my sparsely furnished flat were gone, including my desk, file cabinet and computer, replaced by an envelope stating the items removed and that they would be return to me "shortly", and I was under legal obligation to remain silent about this. Finally, I could contract the enclosed telephone number should I have an questions. So I am now at another location writing this.
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