Modern Spies (2012) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

1 From James Bond to Spooks, the fictional world of espionage is a world of danger and deception, glamour and lies.
But what is spying really like? For the first time on television, serving members of Britain's intelligence services talk about life as a modern spy.
The risks are very, very real here.
When we're deploying under a different identity, it is quite nerve wracking.
In this series, we probe the secrets of spycraft.
The sleeper cell.
The honey trap.
It plays to an ego of an older guy.
She's probably not in your league when she sits next to you in a bar and then the pillow talk causes a leak of significant information.
The Brush Pass.
And working undercover.
You have to be a sort of a, what I like to call Mr Grey.
A person you might pass on the street, but you'd forget him in a second.
And increasingly today, the Cut Out and the Cyber Spy.
We're up against the cream of the crop.
It's a chess game with deadly consequences.
Espionage has always been a secret and shadowy world.
For decades, the British government didn't even acknowledge its spy agencies existed.
Instead, our image of spying is conditioned by movies and thrillers.
It's presented as a world of uncontrolled macho secret agents with license to kill.
You've still got your gloves on.
Powerful and sinister organisations a law unto themselves.
But now, for the first time, serving British spies have been allowed to talk about their work.
For security reasons, they can't discuss specific operations and, of course, their identities are disguised.
So what's it like being a modern spy? Michael works for MI6 - the Secret Intelligence Service or SIS.
Only my very close family know that I work for SIS.
With everyone else, I have to adopt a cover of working for another government department and to make that sound as dull as possible.
Emma works for the Security Service, MI5.
She investigates suspected Al-Qaeda networks.
and that is hard and it's difficult not to be able to share the successes of the work you've done with people outside work.
Shami is an MI5 surveillance officer.
You're constantly trying to avoid talking about work.
I'm having to constantly to think about what I'm going to say and what I'm going to talk about, so it's quite difficult sometimes.
Now they And now they've looked you up again.
You great nit! This was the image of spying projected by a British government propaganda film 50 years ago.
He's a highly sophisticated operator.
Nikolai Alexandrevitz Popov.
One or two of you know him already.
The rest of you, take a good look at these.
He's to have the full treatment.
If you run into any difficulties, break off.
If anything happens to alert Popov, I'll personally brain the lot of you.
During the Cold War with Russia, Britain's spies were recruited from the upper classes - part of an old boy network centred around Oxbridge colleges.
But that was yesterday.
I guess there's this perception that people have a kind of a tap on the shoulder and, you know, it's their tutors at University.
But it's no longer like that.
No longer like that at all.
We have a very open website now, you can apply through that website.
'SIS works secretly overseas to make the UK safer and more prosperous.
'We obtain secret foreign intelligence 'to inform government decisions' The world is now very different and Britain's intelligence agencies have had to adapt.
They now use the press and the internet to advertise for recruits.
Have you thought about working for MI5? Open talent spotting like this would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
We're always looking to recruit people with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds.
This new world of spying was born on September 11th, 2001.
9/11 revealed a new enemy - often home grown, Muslim and mainly working class.
And that meant there was a need for a new kind of spy someone like Shami, who'd never been to University.
My impression of MI5 is you had to be an Oxbridge graduate or something.
I just felt that I'd nothing to offer.
But MI5 recruiters thought differently.
They both stood up and put their hands out and said, "Congratulations! Welcome to the Service!" Yeah, and shook my hand.
I couldn't believe it at first.
I was sort of taking it in.
I was almost going to ask them, "Are you sure?" What do you want? Drazen.
Drazen? He knows he can't get the money.
Senator! No! 9/11 produced a new television image of espionage with nightmare scenarios.
In America, "24", and in Britain, "Spooks".
So names, sources, runners - everything you've got.
A world where any amount of violence and torture are justifiable in defence of your country.
Oh, dear.
Oh, dear.
Let her go! I'll give you what you want! What was your mother's reaction when you told her you were going to work for MI5? My mother was rather horrified.
She'd watched Spooks and her initial reaction was, "Oh, my goodness, you're going to end up "with your head in a fat fryer!" And have you? No, I haven't.
MI5, working as an intelligence officer is really quite different from life in Spooks.
My job is largely desk-based.
So unfortunately, I'm not running around the streets of London chasing terrorists, being nearly blown up every other week.
In the real world, Britain's intelligence services operate under strict political control.
The Foreign Secretary is ultimately in charge of MI6 and the Government's eavesdropping centre - GCHQ.
The Home Secretary is responsible for MI5.
Together, the agencies employ more than 10,000 people, with an annual budget of more than £2 billion.
We are a unique government department, because every day, we are making decisions which affect the safety and security of people who are putting their lives on the line for us.
Our working hours can change instantly.
The mission is a constant but every day is different.
What I do is important - yet no one will ever know.
In America, the CIA makes glossy, Hollywood-style commercials to attract new recruits.
But new secret agents might be slightly disappointed.
CIA's National Clandestine Service.
They think it's more like the movies, Mission Impossible, that they're going to be jumping out of cars and that everyone carries a weapon.
My workplace could be anywhere.
I must always be ready.
Yet I can't tell my friends what I do.
We have to kind of give them that reality.
Yes, we're collecting human intelligence, but we don't all drive fast cars, you know? You're going to be writing reports, you're in meetings, so it's not always that glamorous image of, you know, what you see in the movies.
If James Bond actually worked in MI6 today, he'd spend a large amount of time behind a desk doing paperwork.
And making sure everything was properly cleared and authorised.
And he certainly wouldn't be the lone wolf of the films.
The Big Screen has made us all familiar with the language of spying - from "Spooks" and "Moles" to "Codenames" and "Sources".
Smiley is suspicious, Percy.
Where did it come from? What's the access? A new secret source of mine.
But how could he possibly have access? He has access to the most sensitive levels of policy-making.
We've named the operation, "Witchcraft".
So how does the modern spycraft of today compare to the fiction? At the core of intelligence gathering is that priceless asset, the source.
America's domestic intelligence service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has a century of history in running human sources.
The more I'm in this business, the more I believe that sources and wires are absolutely essential to address espionage, address terrorism and the like.
It's adapting that long history of using sources and wires to the threats of today that has been the challenge.
If you love America, and if you are interested, I can present a unique opportunity for you.
At its Academy in Quantico, Virginia, the FBI use role playing to train special agents in turning and recruiting sources.
Do you want me to get information? I want you to hang out with the same people you've hung out with in the past, do the same things you've always done, but just under direction from us.
If I do what you're asking, what about these charges? I can't promise you anything, but I want to help you out in every way I can, but I want you to help me in every way YOU can.
It's a give and take relationship.
You cannot replace a human source.
You might be able to listen to a portion of a phone call or see a portion of an email, but being able to put a human being inside a cell really does give you both what is being said, the mindset, the mentality, helps you better understand other people that might be involved in a network that you simply wouldn't see any other way.
Just like the FBI, recruiting and running human sources is central to the work of British intelligence, often far afield in Al-Qaeda's heartlands.
Now for the first time on television, an MI6 officer talks about how it's done.
When you're in some dusty outpost about to meet for the first time a contact within a terrorist organisation that you've brokered, that is nerve-wracking.
Heart in mouth? Yes, inevitably.
I don't think we'd get very far if we were timid and risk averse.
How do you recruit a source? We'll start with a targeting process, understand who the key figures are, understand the connections between them.
Leading from that would be an assessment of whether we think any individuals there might be recruitable.
Could we get alongside them? Are they accessible? Would they have access to information that would be useful to the government? Why should they want to become agents working for you? There are a whole spectrum of motivations.
A lot of the agents that I've run were motivated because they disagreed with the violent ideology of Al-Qaeda.
They disagreed, for example, with attacks against civilians.
A lot of these people want to better their own life, so money, a future life in the UK might be things that they're interested in.
It's really the job of our officers to understand what those motivations are and to persuade people to work with us.
One of the most important sources in the entire so-called war on terror turned out to be a young American Muslim.
In Pakistan, just a month after 9/11, he openly boasted to a television camera.
We will kill them in Afghanistan.
There is no negotiation with the Americans when they are coming in with the mindset to kill my Muslim brothers and sisters.
I will do the same on the frontline.
I will kill every American I see in Afghanistan.
Mohammed Babar had helped set up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, attended by many British would-be jihadis.
One of them was Kazi Rahman from East London.
The Muslims from Britain, there's hundreds of them who come over from Britain to Pakistan or Afghanistan.
What we do is we supply them with weapons, clothing, we feed them, we shelter them.
And we take them over the border and train them up.
Two and a half years after those interviews, Mohammed Babar flew back home to New York.
Remarkably, even this fiercely committed jihadi could be induced to become a human source.
Over six months, he told the FBI everything.
What he'd done, who he'd trained with in Pakistan and the attacks they were planning.
Mohammed Babar was to prove a human source that intelligence services dream of.
He was critical.
He's an individual who had both the access and the capability to get into groups that simply would not have existed without him.
Babar talked because he was offered a deal known as a plea bargain.
In return for a much shorter sentence, he agreed to cooperate and reveal everything.
Instead of a life sentence, he served just five years and is now a free man.
This could not have happened in Britain, because of fears that sources like Babar could fabricate evidence in the hope of a shorter sentence.
Do you think the UK would benefit from doing the same? I do.
If they had access to the information in the heads of the numbers, those numbers of persons who have been arrested over a period of time as to where they went for their training, whether it be Pakistan or someplace else, who was involved in the training, what other plots were in train that would be of benefit to those agencies to have to access to that intelligence.
Mohammed Babar's evidence helped identify a whole series of terrorists.
One of them was Kazi Rahman, the British jihadi whom Babar had met at the training camp in Pakistan.
I can't wait for the day that I meet British soldiers on the battlefield and to see them run.
I am very happy to kill them.
By 2005, Rahman was back in Britain and intelligence indicated he was an imminent threat.
MI5 and the Metropolitan Police prepared to catch him red-handed.
Any operation such as this begins with the bread and butter of spycraft - surveillance.
It can build a detailed picture of a target's life, their routines, their associates and their intentions.
Do you have any hesitation about spying on the lives of others? No, not at all.
I know why I'm doing it.
I'm trying to prevent something major occurring which could lead on to loss of life, you know, so that's, that's my biggest motivation.
What's it like when you're doing surveillance, how do you feel? Excited.
You feel a lot of pressure as well, cos you understand the task at hand and how serious it is.
And you're thinking about any potential hazards or dangers that might pose a threat to yourself.
When you're out there, how do you think of yourself? You have to be what I like to call "Mr Grey.
" He's a nobody, he's a person you might pass on the street but you'd forget him in a second.
Surveillance is labour intensive, often involving dozens of officers working shifts round the clock, just to shadow one target.
What's your biggest fear? Missing it.
Missing a vital bit of information.
Something that will go on to causing loss of life.
That's a big fear of mine.
We have thick smoke coming from the tunnel.
I need to clear now Russell Square! MI5 missed the 7/7 London bombers, and 52 people died.
In the wake of that horrific day, it was more urgent than ever to catch the British jihadi, Kazi Rahman.
MI5 decided to try and catch Rahman in an undercover operation, known as the sting.
The plan was for undercover officers to meet with Rahman to discover if he was planning attacks.
Spies of the Old School would have seemed out of place in this kind of operation.
These officers were all British Asians.
It's highly dangerous territory to put yourself into a terrorist group.
I mean, that's an act of great bravery in itself.
An MI5 officer wired for secret recording, posed as a criminal dealing in counterfeit money and false passports.
Rahman made it clear he wanted much more.
What else can you provide? Rahman indicated a handgun using sign language and then an AK 47.
At a motorway service station in the south of England, the undercover officer arranged for Rahman to meet an arms dealer.
But the dealer was spy number two, this time from the Metropolitan Police.
I need three Uzis with silencers, magazines and 3,000 rounds of ammunition.
Very worrying.
You don't need machine guns, unless you want to kill a lot of people.
Over a month, the undercover officers gradually gained Rahman's confidence.
He paid a deposit for the guns.
He then upped the stakes and asked for rocket propelled grenades and surface to air missiles.
I want RPGs and SAM-7s.
After four months, the trap was ready.
The setting was a quiet cul de sac just off a main road in Hertfordshire.
A third undercover officer was tasked with closing the deal.
And he showed Rahman three Uzis with silencers wrapped in plastic.
At the very moment Rahman got his hands on the guns, he became suspicious.
Look, I'm really not happy here.
This looks like a sting.
ARMED POLICE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE! But it was too late.
Armed police moved in and Rahman was arrested.
My first reaction when I heard that he'd been arrested was relief that it had been achieved safely.
A potentially hugely dangerous terrorist was now behind bars.
Rahman had been stung.
The evidence of the FBI's super source, Mohammed Babar, was essential.
Rahman was convicted and sentenced to nine years.
A potential atrocity had been prevented.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction in what you do? The arrest of the individuals that we've gone up against, that's a great satisfaction, that we've disrupted anything that could have possibly occurred.
But in any operation, MI5 surveillance officers on the ground are supported by a team of analysts back at base.
Their job is to sift through all the intelligence that comes in, not only from surveillance, but also from intercepts, agents and foreign services.
It's really like piecing together a jigsaw.
We're constantly asking ourselves the big question, which is, "What is this network involved in? "Is this an attack planning network or what do we know "these individuals are actually doing?" I believe your department has information on plans for the Polaris mixed fleet.
My boss had.
I shouldn't have told you.
Of course not.
But you have! 50 years ago, the dominant threat was Reds under the Bed.
The world has now changed beyond recognition.
But elements of Cold War spycraft are still in use.
And what's more, the West's old enemies are still out there.
In the years following 9/11, what the US government found itself in need of doing urgently, was to retool our entire national security apparatus to deal with the threat presented by Al-Qaeda.
And did counter-intelligence suffer? I think there is no question there was a trade off in resources.
Counter intelligence is tracking down spies from foreign governments.
From the end of the Second World War, the traditional enemy was Russia.
And it seems the KGB's successors simply carried on where the KGB left off.
The break up of the former Soviet Union did not wipe away the memories and the knowledge of how to work effectively against us.
I think the public would be surprised to know that we still see intelligence officers posted to the United States in the same numbers that we saw during the height of the Cold War, so that has not diminished.
And the classic Cold War fear was Soviet spies living under cover in our midst, awaiting Moscow's bidding.
It's known as the sleeper cell.
Montclair, New Jersey - the quintessential prosperous New York suburb.
The last place you'd expect to find a spy ring.
For more than 15 years, Richard and Cynthia Murphy appeared to be the perfect, all-American family.
The wife was always, you know, charming and pleasant and a lovely smile.
They were a regular family that fit in with the other families here.
She was always making sure her front yard looked beautiful.
She was passionate about her gardening.
But Cynthia Murphy was actually part of a long term Russian sleeper cell planted in the heart of America in the mid 1990s.
This is a long term assignment, the very concept of sleeper is that they're activated when they need to be.
They have a mission.
Here was a group of at least ten Russian spies who spent over a decade quietly infiltrating influential policy circles.
Cynthia worked her way up to a top banking job in Downtown Manhattan.
Meanwhile, her husband ostensibly stayed at home looking after the children, while secretly acting as an undercover courier for his Russian handler.
But an FBI operation, codenamed Ghost Stories, was just as elaborate and lasted ten years.
Surveillance videos recorded in detail the Russian cell's well-honed spycraft.
The brush pass, where identical bags are swapped.
Inside could be documents, memory sticks or money.
And the dead drop, a secret hiding place for thousands of dollars to fund the spy ring.
Most of the sleeper cell, like Cynthia Murphy, were what's known as dead doubles.
Dead doubles are operatives who have stolen the identities of dead infants who generally match their date of birth, so in this case most of the Russian illegals were in fact dead doubles.
Walking, walking dead.
Creating a false identity is part of the stock in trade of spycraft.
It's known as creating a legend or alias.
It's quite nerve-wracking the first time you deploy under alias, overseas, under a different name, under a different identity, pretending to have a different kind of employment.
So there's a lot of preparatory work that you need to do to make sure that you understand the person that you're supposed to be.
You become somebody else.
You become somebody else.
Spying is a never ending battle.
As soon as one technique is closed off, a new one is needed.
After 9/11, there was a huge increase in American security and the Russians could no longer use false identities with impunity.
In 2006, the glamorous Russian spy Anna Chapman moved to New York to join the sleeper cell.
But she was using her own name, having once been married to a British citizen.
She was extremely savvy, very engaging, tremendous interpersonal skills, very attractive young lady, very bright young lady and trained in technology and covert communications.
A risk for any spy is to be seen meeting their handler.
So Chapman came equipped with a brand new and ingenious technique to avoid face to face contact.
An encrypted wireless connection allowed a stream of data to be sent to her handler waiting nearby.
There's a video that shows her shopping in New York City, but she's doing far more than shopping.
As she shops, you'll also see her fiddling with something in a bag.
Well, she's fiddling with a laptop and she's transmitting a message to a Russian official who's in close proximity.
He's not in the store but he's outside in the neighbourhood.
Every week, Chapman rendezvous-ed with her handler to pass on her secret information.
But the FBI had broken Russian encryption and reading the messages made them increasingly nervous.
We were becoming very concerned.
They were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.
Who was the US Cabinet member? Well, something that we've never publicly disclosed.
Was the Cabinet member warned? Yes.
Having cracked the Russian encryption code, the FBI could now send Anna Chapman messages and even pose as her new handler.
In June 2010, the FBI took the final and most audacious step arranging a face to face meeting with Chapman.
Tell me, how are you doing? Everything is cool apart from the connection.
So convincing was the FBI undercover agent that Anna Chapman literally turned over her covert communication laptop to the FBI, which the undercover agent was more than happy to take.
Told the undercover agent she was having technical problems and told him to fix it.
I understand you're going to Moscow in two weeks but I have something for you to do tomorrow.
Of course.
This is the passport.
In order to prove that she was a spy, the FBI asked her to be a courier to hand over forged documents.
She will say, "Haven't we met in California last summer?" You will say to her, "No, I think it was The Hamptons.
" Like something straight out of a spy movie, the undercover agent gave Chapman the coded introductions the FBI knew the Russian spy ring was using.
She will come up to me and say, "Haven't we met in California?" and I will say "No, I think it was The Hamptons.
" Then give her the documents and get her to sign.
"You're positive no one is watching?" Chapman sensed there was something wrong.
This is the moment any spy dreads - having their cover blown.
An hour after meeting the FBI undercover agent, she rushed off to buy a new mobile phone under a false name.
She listed her address as 99 Fake Street.
But it was too late.
The FBI arrested her and the rest of the sleeper cell.
Had they been allowed to continue, it's hard to say where their efforts would have ended.
Why did you decide to swoop when you did? There were a number of reasons there, not least of which is, several of the individuals were on their way out of the country and we would have lost our opportunity to detain them.
The neighbours in Montclair just couldn't believe it.
Thought it was a joke.
If someone had told me that Martians were living next door, I would have believed that first before I'd believe we had Russian spies.
You know, when you think of spies, you don't think of parents with little kids.
One of the neighbours told us they couldn't possibly be spies, just look at their hydrangeas.
These were expert gardeners caring for their lawn and maintaining their garden.
Mr and Mrs Murphy's real names were Lidiya and Vladimir Guryev.
Theirs was a marriage made in Moscow.
These were couples that had been manufactured, marriages that had been appointed by the Russian intelligence service.
They came out of the Russian intelligence academy paired with each other for this special assignment.
Part of this plan, this sleeper cell, included having children and perhaps that's one of the saddest parts of this story, is children learning that their parents are not at all who they believe them to be and that perhaps their very existence was part of a fabrication of a foreign intelligence service.
For Mother Russia.
To carry out the orders of Mother Russia.
The Murphy's house now stands empty, the property of Moscow Centre.
In the end, there were no prosecutions.
There was a spy swap, reminiscent of Cold War days.
Anna Chapman and the other nine spies were exchanged for four Russian nationals on the runway of Vienna airport.
One of them was Igor Sutyagin.
Two planes were parked next to each other.
So it took, oh40 seconds.
We stepped, stepped on the ladder and we were aboard the American plane.
Igor Sutyagin had served 11 years in Russian prison camps for spying.
He's a nuclear weapons expert and admits he regularly met American defence officials at the US Embassy in Moscow.
But he denies he was ever a spy.
Given the kind of work you were doing and the kind of people you were associating with, from America's defence intelligence agency, it seems that you were a likely candidate to be recruited by the Americans? Well maybe, that is quite possible, I don't know.
I have some doubt.
It seemed to me that I was too visible.
I openly visited these person in the embassy.
It seemed to me that spies tried to hide.
Russia has retained a huge espionage apparatus.
And Sutyagin believes the Kremlin's spymasters need it to justify their existence.
The Cold War is not over.
At least in brains of the current Russian leaders.
They believed they grow up in the Cold War time, they feel comfortable in the cold war environment.
Somewhere deep in their brains, the Cold War is still here.
President Putin was once a KGB spymaster himself and sang Anna Chapman's praises.
She returned to her Homeland a hero and joined the annual military parade in Red Square.
It's a great day for this nation so I'm here to celebrate it.
She now has a new career as a model and even hosts her own TV show.
The FBI suspected that Chapman might have been the bait to elicit secrets from powerful men in high places in what's known as the honey trap.
Was she a honey trap? I think part of her value was indeed her ability to be engaging, charismatic, and I think to that extent she might have been viewed by them as a potential honey trap.
She was getting closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership.
How close did she get? She got close enough to disturb us.
That's going to be the last one for a while.
Am I going to see you tonight? Yeah.
FBI! Let me see your hands! Drop the cup, mam.
The FBI is so concerned, that it's produced a video warning government employees to watch out for traitors being seduced in their midst.
Is the honey trap purely a Hollywood fiction? No! Gosh, no.
Of course it's not.
The honey trap is used extensively by other countries.
The money flowed and he was caught in a honey trap.
It plays to an ego, usually plays to an ego of an older guy.
Pretty girl, probably should figure it out when you see it.
She's probably not in your league when she sits next to you in a bar or is the translator at a conference or whatever and strikes up a friendship, asks for contact information, within a short period of time becomes your girlfriend and then the pillow talk causes a leak of significant information.
But when that happens, when the pretty girl comes up to you in a bar and you're an FBI agent, don't the red lights start flashing? I imagine they should.
I admire your luck, Mr? Bond.
James Bond.
Mr Bond Traditional spycraft like the honey trap may still be with us, but the days when spies tried their luck in glamorous, high rolling circles are over.
It's not the age, the James Bond age where you're going to someone at a cocktail party and coming out of the British and American Embassy saying, I'm the second secretary.
Those days are over.
Now there's a new breed of modern spy, known as the cut out.
And the country that is master of the cut out is the People's Republic of China.
The Chinese are aggressively targeting government insiders like this man, Gregg Bergersen, a weapons analyst at the Pentagon with top secret security clearance.
I think when you see the information, you can get out of it what you need.
Two FBI surveillance cameras capture him getting his pay off from a Taiwanese businessman, Tai-Shen Kuo.
Mr Kuo just basically takes around 2,000 in cash and just sticks it in Mr Bergersen's pocket.
Oh, you sure that's OK? Yeah! Mr Bergersen says, oh, jeez, that's great, thank you so much.
Mr Kuo was a cut out.
A middleman doing the work of his Chinese spymaster.
And Western intelligence believes China is running battalions of such cut outs to do the spying for them.
And they're much more difficult to detect.
They could be students, university professors or businessmen like Kuo, who was recruited when he needed help to develop his business in China.
Their MO is to become the eyes and ears of the intelligence practitioner on the other end.
It's all classified.
But I will let you see it and you can take all the notes you want.
They drive to a hotel where Bergersen happily gives Kuo a top secret document to copy.
He gets a glass of wine and a cigar and he goes outside and over the next hour, Mr Kuo copies the information from the classified sheet into his own notes.
In 2007, Bergersen was sentenced to five years and Tai-Shen Kuo to 15.
But the spymaster remained safely in China.
China is accused of stealing military and industrial secrets on an unprecedented scale.
One of the first things that I did when I assumed my responsibilities as Head of US Counter Intelligence, was to read all of the damage assessments.
I was astounded at the extent to which we had suffered serious, serious losses.
One example, the Chinese, by espionage, acquired all of the design information of US nuclear weapons currently in our inventory.
CURRENTLY in our inventory.
We know that have that information.
We still don't know how they got it.
The 21st century has opened up a formidable new front in the espionage war and there's a dramatic new weapon the cyber spy.
We used to be concerned about the passing of an envelope full of documents.
Today, we're concerned about entire networks being penetrated in the cyber realm.
We're concerned about terabytes, gigabytes of information passing in a heartbeat across the ocean.
And it seems that the cyber spy can go anywhere and get anything.
Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning fighter is America's most advanced warplane.
At almost 400 billion, it's the US Defense Department's costliest weapons programme ever.
The F-35 contains the latest top secret stealth technology that enables it to avoid enemy radar.
Last year, the Chinese showed off their latest fighter.
It looks remarkably like the F-35.
The Americans believe its stealth technology was stolen via the internet, a charge China denies.
When you're talking about giving up technology, defence research, you're talking about the difference between perhaps winning a battle and losing a battle.
That's this game we're in, a game with very deadly consequences.
This high-tech fortress is one of the most secret and secure locations in Britain, GCHQ, the Government Communication Headquarters in Cheltenham.
It's Britain's vital line of defence in the war against cyber spies.
TV cameras have never been allowed to film inside before.
Mark uses computer skills practiced since childhood to defend against cyber attacks.
The first computer I ever had, I was about the age of eight.
I was writing computer programmes before I was ten.
Are you a geek? I'm absolutely a geek.
And the office is full of them.
It's been lovely to come and work at a place where everyone is as geeky as each other and we're all pulling together for a common effort.
And you're proud to be a geek? Absolutely, very proud to be a geek.
Everything that we do is strictly controlled within the law.
I do penetration testing.
We use techniques to test the security of the UK government systems in the same kinds of ways as a malicious hacker might do in order to identify the flaws and vulnerabilities before, before the bad guys do, really.
How good are the hackers that you're up against? They're very good.
We just have to make sure that we're, you know, keeping up with them and hopefully even better than they are.
GCHQ says government departments are targeted with 20,000 hostile emails a month.
But it's nothing to what one Baltic State next door to Russia suffered.
Estonia is one of the most wired places on the planet and in 2007, the whole country was targeted with a massive cyber attack.
It lasted over four weeks.
Millions of computers around the world had been infiltrated by malicious software viruses.
They were then used to target and overload Estonia's computer network.
An adversary will send out malware to computers and it allows those computers to be controlled by one master computer.
So an adversary can control, in effect, hundreds of thousands or in some cases, millions of computers from one computer.
Overloaded computer systems crashed at Estonia's two main banks, in the media and in a host of government departments.
It is actually a little bit frightening.
I felt that my country was under attack.
They used actually professional tools, so it is quite clear that there was some kind of really strong coordination behind it.
What's your personal view as to where the coordination came from? The country actually who has something against the Estonia, politically, is quite clearly Russia.
For nearly 50 years, Estonia was ruled by Russia and it was this Soviet war memorial that triggered the crisis.
There were rumours that the Estonian government had destroyed it, provoking Estonia's Russian minority to riot.
The cyber attacks soon followed.
If there is somebody who looks like a dog, barks and bites like a dog, then most probably it's a dog.
I think there was some, let's say, sympathisers to the Soviet cause behind those attacks.
The Russian Government denies any involvement.
For the modern spy, the cyber attack is the perfect crime, almost undetectable.
The FBI now has cyber agents embedded in countries like Estonia to fight the threat from the internet.
You don't actually have to go outside and carry out the task.
You can basically do this from your bedroom.
They can direct their attack through several different countries, before it reaches the victim computer.
Truly borderless.
The British Government is investing £650 million to counter the cyber threat.
The Ministry of Defence's Global Operations and Cyber Security Centre is central to that operation.
These are the secret computers that mount a round the clock vigil to defend the military's global communications and computer systems from attack.
Almost the whole span of human life now, from what people are doing on the internet as individuals, to how armies operate on a battlefield, are affected by our cyber-capabilities.
And that means we have to be able to defend ourselves in cyber space, and sometimes defend ourselves in a very aggressive way.
Despite the reliance on such awesome technology and the billions spent on Britain's intelligence services, things don't always go according to plan.
In March last year, the Foreign Secretary authorised a top secret mission to Libya.
At around three o'clock in the morning, a special forces Chinook helicopter landed somewhere outside the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
On board was an MI6 officer protected by six heavily armed SAS minders.
The operation began just like the movies.
Its purpose was to make contact with the rebel leadership that was fighting to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi.
Here was a dictator, setting about murdering huge numbers of his own people.
It was in our national interest to do something about that.
Now, intelligence does not in any way dictate our decision, but of course, it helps us to come to our decision about what to do.
The plan was to use a farm as an operating base with the support of the British farm manager - but no-one had informed the rebel leaders that an MI6 emissary was coming.
Really, we were surprised, you know? Me, personally, I have no idea about it, no.
Never heard about that at all.
Had the British told anyone in the NTC that they were coming? That time, as a secretary of the NTC, I have no idea.
The council, nobody knows.
Locals had been warned to watch out for looters and Gaddafi's fighters, as the situation grew increasingly tense.
I managed to track down one of the farm guards, who told me what happened that night.
What did you hear? The noise of a helicopter.
And they flew over the farm? They flew over the farm.
We were surprised and then we became suspicious.
The guards watched as the MI6 officer and the British team drove into the farm and started unloading their equipment.
We thought it was odd this was happening.
It made us suspicious.
Who did you fear they might be? We didn't really know.
We wanted to find out what they were carrying with them and who they were.
The intruders were quickly surrounded and captured by armed guards.
They offered no resistance.
This is not how the movie was meant to end.
The team looked on as their highly sensitive military communications were exposed.
They were held and interrogated for several days.
It was embarrassing for MI6, but even more so for the Foreign Secretary.
Last week, I authorised the dispatch of a small diplomatic team to Eastern Libya in uncertain circumstances which we judged required their protection.
They were withdrawn yesterday after a serious misunderstanding about their role leading to their temporary detention.
There were other routes into Libya.
And other countries' spies had already driven into Benghazi from neighbouring Egypt.
The SAS wanted to go in the same way, but were overruled.
Why was the decision made to send in SIS and SAS officers into Libya by the back door, when the Italian and the French intelligence services went in under cover of humanitarian aid? Well, I'm not going to go into operational details about these things, there were good reasons for that.
Clearly, this was something that went wrong.
Sometimes operations do go wrong.
Whereas actually such failings are very rare in the operations that our intelligence agencies conduct.
Although the operation was an embarrassing public failure, MI6 finally made contact with the rebels.
Behind the scenes, MI6 supplied them with advanced communications equipment and intelligence about plots to assassinate their leaders.
Spying is not an infallible science.
But governments often rely on it.
Which is why accuracy is so vital.
In the end, human beings make judgements and those judgements can be misinterpreted.
How certain can you be that the intelligence that you have got is right? We are constantly assessing our agents, constantly questioning what they are saying, making sure that we're still confident in their access, in their motivations and their suitability, that we can trust them, that they're not feeding us false information.
And when you have just one source, the stakes can be life threateningly high.
When you're dealing with single threaded intelligence, whether it's counter intelligence, counter terrorism you have to be careful.
People lie, they cheat and they steal.
Isn't there a danger that you may want the intelligence to be what you want it to be, as opposed to what it actually is? There's always another pair of eyes focussed on that case, questioning the product, making sure that we are as confident as we can be, that it's not just what someone wants to hear.
The spies' nightmare is the rogue source.
I went to a town in Germany to meet a man whose codename is Curveball.
His real name is Rafed Al Janabi.
He'd worked as a chemical engineer at a seed factory in Iraq.
In 1999, he arrived in Germany seeking political asylum.
I worked at the Djerf Al-Nadaf site for a period of about seven to eight months, in a project called Seed Purification and I was the site manager for this project.
He was interviewed at length by Germany's MI6 - the BND.
He told them the seed plant was just a cover for manufacturing Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction - WMD.
Whilst there, he said he'd overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory that could be driven around the country to avoid detection.
I insisted this existed and they asked me for diagrams.
I told them that I was part of the working team but I didn't tell them I was an engineering expert.
Curveball's secret intelligence was eagerly embraced by Washington.
For the Bush administration, this was the smoking gun that would make the case for war.
As Secretary of State Colin Powell made his landmark presentation to the United Nations' Security Council, Curveball's intelligence assumed centre stage.
Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources.
These are not assertions.
What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities.
He was actually present during biological agent production runs.
But there was just one problem.
Colin Powell said that, "He", that's you the source, was present during the biological production runs.
Were you present then? No.
He was also at the site when an accident occurred in 1998.
12 technicians died from exposure to biological agents.
Were you present on site? No.
When the accident occurred? No.
We have first hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.
The trucks and train cars are easily moved, and are designed to evade detection by inspectors.
You say you provided diagrams of the mobile biological trucks.
You were making that up? Yes.
And also, you constructed a model of these trucks.
Again, you made that up? Yes.
None of it was true? No.
All of it was lies? Yes.
The Administration wasn't happy with the look of Curveball's sketched diagrams.
Colin Powell's Chief of Staff was called on to make them more presentable.
Blame me.
Blame me.
I bought the White House team in to do the graphics.
It was his evidence that supported that contention by the Secretary and by the US intelligence community that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs.
The problem was, is that the administration believed what it wanted to believe, didn't it? Absolutely.
The intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy.
We now know that MI6 and German intelligence warned the CIA they didn't think Curveball was wholly reliable.
After the war, America desperately searched for the mobile labs, but found not a trace.
It was only then that the CIA finally got to interview Curveball.
Soon after, they took the unusual step of issuing a burn notice, retracting all his intelligence.
Did Secretary Powell feel that he had been let down over Curveball or over the intelligence that Curveball provided? I don't see any way on this earth that Secretary Powell doesn't feel almost a rage about Curveball and the way he was used, with regard to that intelligence.
One of the foundations of intelligence that I think many of us analysts were reminded of with the Iraqi WMD story, is, how carefully do you distinguish between what you know, what you don't know and what you think? You can very quickly go down a hole of saying, we're pretty sure of this, when actually, you're just speculating and a lot of smart people do that all the time.
Curveball underpinned the Bush administration's case for war.
So why did he lie? My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime's oppression.
For Britain and America, this was an intelligence failure on a catastrophic scale.
The fact is, we went to war in Iraq on a lie! And that lie was your lie.
What's the lesson of Curveball? The lesson of all intelligence, especially at a strategic level, if your going to make fateful decisions as a president, you're gonna make decisions to send young men and young women to die for state purposes and to kill other people for those purposes, you better be damn sure it's correct.
When intelligence services get it wrong, the results can be disastrous.
But when they get it right, countless lives may be saved.
In recent years, British jihadis have plotted to blow up night clubs and shopping centres and bring down aircraft.
Those plots and more have been foiled by Britain's modern spies.
But with the stakes so incredibly high, there may sometimes be temptation to go too far.
Next time, we investigate allegations of British complicity in rendition and torture, and whether modern spies ever have a licence to kill.