You forgot your double security check
Harding, James. (2012) You forgot your double security check. Performance Research, 17 (3). pp. 76-82. ISSN 1352-8165Full text not available from this repository.
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2012.696865
Just three years before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the British historian Phillip Knightly published an unconventional history of western espionage entitled The Second Oldest Profession. The title cleverly ranked the sordidness of espionage just shy of the dirty secrets of prostitution (the oldest profession) and foreshadowed one of the book's central theses. The secret history of intelligence communities, Knightly argues, remains untold not because it is comprised of classified material. The history remains untold, he argues, because it is comprised of unimpressive, exaggerated successes accompanied by countless failed performances and because a full critical assessment of this history would counter the very justification for the existence of intelligence communities as such. While a questionable use of the veil of national security is certainly a plausible reason that this history is obscured from the critical scrutiny, my paper argues that however unimpressive the record of the intelligence community might be, intelligence communities thrive not because of a clever ability to obscure their short-comings but because they appeal to a more basic cultural desire to believe in performance, particularly performance shrouded in mystery and particularly mystery that performs as a surrogate for memory. They themselves are not immune to this desire.
Examples from the history of espionage that illustrate this point are numerous, but my paper suggests that there are few better examples than that of Great Britain's “Special Operations Executive,” or SOE during WWII. As a focal point, I am specifically interested in the frequent capture of SOE agents by Germans in Holland and France who then coerced the captured SOE agents into transmitting false reports to London that seduced the British into sending more agents who, in turn, were met, captured and also coerced by the Germans into transmitting false reports. Drawing upon an odd configuration of theories about performance, encryption, radio drama and poetic discourse, my essay explores how the multi-layered performances that these false transmissions required played against agreed upon protocols for signaling capture. In short, my paper explores the question of why the authorities in London repeatedly chose – indeed, were culturally predisposed – to believe the radio performances and forget the signs designed to signal capture and failure.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater|
|Divisions:||Faculty of Arts > Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Performance Research|
|Official Date:||25 June 2012|
|Page Range:||pp. 76-82|
|Access rights to Published version:||Restricted or Subscription Access|
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