I WAS amused to read that blueprints of Germany’s new £1.4 billion intelligence agency headquarters have gone missing. The hi-tech building in Berlin is nearly finished but the plans have been stolen.
A spokesman said: “It’s a serious issue and the government is interested in clearing up this case as quickly as possible.”
I’ll bet they are.
If a copy got into the wrong hands, the whole place could be bugged and compromised before the German secret service moved in. It has happened before.
The Soviet Embassy in Ottawa was bugged by the Canadian secret service and MI5 during its construction.
When the Americans built a new Moscow Embassy in the 1970s they employed Russian workmen who, not surprisingly, included specialist technicians who hid hundreds of microphones in the cement. They did such a thorough job that when the Americans realised a decade later, they had to rip the place down and start again – this time with imported American workmen.
And if you can’t get in at the ground floor, so to speak, as the place is being constructed, the next best thing is to give someone a present.
One of the most famous cases of covert penetration was when the Russians presented the American Ambassador with a huge copy of the Great Seal of the United States in 1946 which he proudly hung on the wall of the Moscow Embassy. It was bugged. And the bug wasn’t discovered until 1952.
Even the Queen may have been a target. A few years ago, security services removed an electric samovar from Balmoral. It had been given to her Majesty 20 years before as a goodwill gesture from the Russians. It was thought, rather late in the day, that it could have been a listening device.
But for what purpose?
Would the KGB really have been interested in eavesdropping on the royals? Maybe it was a goodwill gesture from the News of the World?
It is relatively easy to bug someone these days. Anyone can get hold of the kit. Wives could bug husbands they suspect of infidelity – trace where they have been in the car, what stops they have made, have a listening device in the back seat. All those sweet nothings could be held against them.
And what about your place of work? How do you know the office isn’t bugged and that the boss is listening to everything you say? Oo-er. Nice chap, really.
Be particularly wary if your employer becomes generous with gifts to the general office. Especially samovars and something nice to hang on the wall.
As for the German secret service, they should turn their new building in Berlin into a Lidl superstore. It would be more useful than a new HQ to an intelligence service that can lose its blueprints.