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|The Spies Who Love Our Money
- Secret services get huge government cash boost
MI5 and MI6, Britain's internal and external secret services, are due to get a government windfall over the next few years.
Spending on the twin arms of the country's intelligence network, plus the communication 'eavesdropping' centre at Cheltenham, was UKP703 million in 1998, but will rise to UKP859 million by the year 2003, it has been revealed.
By that time, secret security expenditure will be double what it was in real terms at the end of the Cold War some ten years ago. Even those huge amounts dramatically understate the case, according to former MI6 head Sir Gerald Warner, who says the overall cost is more like UKP2.5 billion, once military spy networks are taken into account.
The role of the spy organisations has come under increasing criticism since the end of the Cold War. The official line is that MI5 and MI6 now concentrate on combatting terrorism and the drug trade, but with the success of the IRA ceasefire and the continued rise in drug use, the usefulness of funding a huge spy organisation is likely to be questioned still further.