Stephen Grey is a well-informed writer and broadcaster who used to head the Sunday Times Insight team and has published on CIA rendition and on the fighting in Helmand. He has walked the ground and has sand in his shoes. He writes here about the evolution of the post-Cold War intelligence world and the changes wrought upon it by the focus on counterterrorism.
Drawing on published and unpublished sources (many of the latter anonymous), he describes what he sees as the recent downgrading of ‘humint’ (human intelligence or classic espionage) in favour of ‘techint’ (technical intelligence) and covert action. He asks whether spying is actually any use at all and concludes that it is, provided it is set in an appropriate political context and