Sunday, October 16, 2005

Double Bluff

According to the Independent on Sunday (16th October 2005), the technologies used by insurgents in Iraq (which unofficial British sources have accused Iran of supplying) may have been deliberately passed to the IRA by the British security forces in the 1990s, in a dangerous game of double-bluff.

"The thinking of the security forces was that if they were intimate with the technology, then they could develop counter-measures, thereby staying one step ahead of the IRA," a senior source close to the inquiry explained. "It may seem absurd that the security services were supplying technology to the IRA, but the strategy was sound.

"Unfortunately, no one could see back then that this technology would be used to kill British soldiers thousands of miles away in a different war."

This raises some interesting questions about the boundaries of trust. If the story is true, it implies a degree of confidence (justified or otherwise) about the effectiveness of the available counter-technology within a known and controlled conflict zone. A carefully controlled dissemination of selected technologies may have been intended to make a given situation more predictable.

But the technology has apparently broken out of the controlled zone. (Gosh, what a surprise!) So what happens now? In a separate story, the Independent on Sunday reveals that the Horse Guards that parade around Buckingham Palace are being equipped with the latest electronic countermeasures.

One way of neutralizing a widely-disseminated threat technology is to ensure that the protection counter-technology is equally widely disseminated. Tell all your friends, publish the information on the Internet, etc, etc. Somehow I suspect that isn't going to happen in this case.

See also previous post on Radio-Controlled Landmines.