Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cuckoo Cocoon

Spying is not all the Life of Reilly, and look what happened to him. Nor is it the pulp fiction world of James Bond, the spy who never dies, never loses a limb. Such is the disdain in which spies are held, the last capital crime in New Zealand was treason. To betray one's own people was recognised to be worse than murder, worse than rape. The sentence for treason now is life imprisonment. Double agents can thank the Declaration of Human Rights for that reprieve. So when Matt McCarten says that Gilchrist was lucky he hadn't caught him, I can see what he means.

But spies are only pawns, and the police pwned Gilchrist. They used him and he enjoyed it. After all, he was living a dream. As Neil Gaiman pointed out in A Game of You, little boys dream of their secret identites. Gilchrist had his alter-ego paid for and approved by the state. He could play the agent provocateur with impunity and immunity. Never mind that his little dream was poisoning other people's dreams, he was validated.

Then Rochelle Rees woke up and the reality became the nightmare. For in the real world of espionage, it's hard to tell the smoke from the mirrors. As Paul Buchanan notes, there may be more to this than meets the eye:
The fact that the Mr. Gilchrist did not practice electronic security in his emailed reports to his Police handlers (as easy as establishing remote accounts on large internet providers), then asked his computer technician girlfriend to fix a minor technical problem on the home computer he was using to send his reports is evidence of supreme stupidity, amateurism, or perhaps something else. It was a very convenient way of “outing” that particular individual, who then expressed remorse for his actions.
Armed with a bullshit detector and not a smoke detector though, I'm hoping it's just stupidity or complacency that blew Gilchrist's cover. Likewise, I'm hoping that Gilchrist was the only cuckoo in the village. But I'm not putting money on it. The Winstons that Howard Broad told on Monday had been disproved by Friday. If this thing isn't quarantined and exposed to light soon, we may very well have a virulent form of cuckoo flu on our hands.

Now for some Monkey Dust, dedicated to Nevil Gibson: