Agent Anon's media musings

Agent Anon's media musings
AIM is a book that would be of interest to those in the media since it not only gives an insider’s view of how the IB functions but also explains how it manipulates the media. AJITH PILLAI brings us the excerpts from the book.
Posted/Updated Thursday, Jul 18 14:24:31, 2013
Trust a retired Intelligence Bureau (IB) official to anonymously write a book. Titled “Art of Intelligence and Misinformation (AIM)” by Agent Anon, the manuscript is currently with a publisher who is rather intrigued by the fact that the sleuth who doesn’t want his name mentioned anywhere in the book insists that his photograph be carried on the back cover. “I have always attended office in disguise so no one recognises me. They just know me by name and not by face,” he said to clear the air. But the managing editor of Crime and Publish-ment (C&P) was still confused. However, since the author insisted he agreed to print his picture which had written behind it his nickname—Hoodwink.
Now, AIM is a book that would be of interest to those in the media since it not only gives an insider’s view of how the IB functions but also explains how it manipulates the media to spread disinformation. Hoodwink, or whatever his real name is, spent several years studying the media (since that was a lot better than making an inventory of fake evidence in the possession of the IB) and has included several of his observations in his yet to be published book. According to the editors in C&P giving the final touches to the manuscript--they wished to remain as anonymous as the author-- the book was hot enough for the IB to make enquiries as to when Agent Anon will come calling next. (Incidentally, Hoodwink mysteriously disappeared ever since their visit). The men from the intelligence agency also wanted a copy of the manuscript but were given a fake one which had on its first page the title TO LeT (another way of writing TO LET if you have an aversion towards E in capitals). It was actually an analysis of houses on rent in parts of Delhi and the mental state of the tenants. But the LeT word did the trick for the IB men who were excited at the prospect of investigating the 25,000 houses mentioned in the MS which could be harbouring terrorists.
All that, no doubt, is very amusing stuff. But it strays from the burden of what Hoodwink has to share with us.  Here we must thank our sources in C&P with whose kind offices we have in our possession excerpts from AIM relating to the IB and the media. So here goes:
Plant at Will—Thou Shan’t Perish: Everyone in the IB knows that no one in the agency needs to own up to any story even when it creates a controversy. The expression “according to IB sources” means nothing in real terms. In fact, any document emanating from the IB is unsigned and anonymous and needn’t be confirmed or denied. If the journalist or his publication or channel gets into trouble then they are on their own. For the record, the reporter was never given any information. But many in the press are not aware of this simple fact and rush to the newsroom with planted stories.  In some circles we –the IB and R&AW—are known as Plantation Kings since we plug whatever we please. So how can the media hit back? A secret cam can do the trick. That alone can get us “on record” and it would make for a good spy story though one could be arrested either for anti-national activities or for unstated strategic reasons.
Different Stories- Same Sequence: Whether it’s an arrest made in Mumbai or someone picked up in Mangalore the same story sells. Typically, the arrested person Ali alias Raj went to Dubai or Kathmandu, met the trademark ISI operative, travelled on fake documents to Karachi and trained under a Major Gabbar, Khan or Rahim to use explosive devices and came back to India via Bangladesh. We never forget to repeat this sequence because it not only has recall value but when reporters trawl the net they see the same story in earlier cases and therefore assume it is true. There apparently is authenticity in oft repeated tales.
The Spy Branding—Any Document will do: Our intelligence agencies do not target one community as alleged by a section of the press. Didn’t we arrest Captain B.K Subbarao of the Indian Navy for espionage and leaking details about our nuclear submarine programme? He was detained under the Official Secrets Act and when his case finally came up in court it was revealed that the classified documents we found on him was his doctoral thesis readily available at the IIT Powai library! There are several other such instances where we have been impartial—affecting arrests for possessing anti-national literature like Das Kapital or mistaking Bob Marley posters for that of Che Guevera and labelling young men and women as Maoists. Even a copy of a map of a cantonment--often found painted on a board outside the main gate –is good enough evidence to be planted on ‘suspects.’ In almost all of these cases we have got good media coverage. Most journalists are impressed by any reference to “incriminating documents that compromise national security.”
Be Creative—Friends in the Media Love it: Smart coinage helps. It also catches on. Take, for example, the Bhatkal Brothers, Iqbal, Riyaz and Yasin. Their real surname is Shahbandari—which many would say is not good enough to ring a bell. So we used the name of the town they hail from instead. And you suddenly had the Bhatkal Brothers or The Brothers Bhatkal (for those who like a reference to Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov). Similarly, structure of militant and terrorist formations which can be converted into graphics goes down well with most papers and channels and could give a story more play. Also, introducing a female character and suggesting a link to the main ‘suspect’ helps in jazzing up any espionage/terror story.
Not Botched Operation but Collateral Damage: Remember, any intelligence agency works for varied vested interests and in some cases we may arrest wrong persons and in operations a few ‘suspects’ may die. In such cases we have always resorted to explaining our mistake as collateral damage (CD). The CD factor comes up each time there is a botched up or staged operation or what our critics call a fake encounter. It is very heartening to note that several journalists subscribe to the CD justification and it will serve the IB for years to come. Also our use of the term “controlled killing” where moles are used to lure targets can justify any operation.     
Unaccountable we Stand, Accountable we Fall: So long as we are given a free hand we will be the masters of all we can survey. That is why we strongly despise and oppose any accountability clause. And to be free and independent (in national and other interests we cannot divulge) we need the support of the press. It is time to help the people who help provide the media with stories. Remember only an unaccountable and imaginative intelligent apparatus can ensure the free flow of information. Three cheers to that!     
(C&P hope to bring out Agent Anon’s book after it decides on a price. Currently it is categorised as priceless leading to speculation that it may finally be distributed free.)


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