7 Interesting Facts About The Secret Intelligence Service MI6
We are very sure you have been hearing of MI6 in movies.. and never understood what they mean, this article will explain everything about this agency in United Kingdom (UK).
Below are the facts you need to know about the MI6;
1. The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, is the foreign intelligence service of the government of the United Kingdom, tasked mainly with the covert overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence (HUMINT) in support of the UK’s national security. SIS is a member of the country’s intelligence community and its Chief is accountable to the country’s Foreign Secretary.
2. Formed in 1909 as a section of the Secret Service Bureau specialising in foreign intelligence, the section experienced dramatic growth during World War I and officially adopted its current name around 1920. The name “MI6” (meaning Military Intelligence, Section 6) originated as a flag of convenience during World War II, when SIS was known by many names. It is still commonly used today. The existence of SIS was not officially acknowledged until 1994. That year the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (ISA) was introduced to Parliament, to place the organisation on a statutory footing for the first time. It provides the legal basis for its operations. Today, SIS is subject to public oversight by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.
3. The stated priority roles of SIS are counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, providing intelligence in support of cyber security, and supporting stability overseas to disrupt terrorism and other criminal activities. Unlike its main sister agencies, the Security Service (MI5) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), SIS works exclusively in foreign intelligence gathering; the ISA allows it to carry out operations only against persons outside the British Islands. Some of SIS’s actions since the 2000s have attracted significant controversy, such as its alleged complicity in acts of torture and extraordinary rendition.
4. Since 1994, SIS has been headquartered in the SIS Building in London, on the South Bank of the River Thames.
5. The service derived from the Secret Service Bureau, which was founded on 1 October 1909. The Bureau was a joint initiative of the Admiralty and the War Office to control secret intelligence operations in the UK and overseas, particularly concentrating on the activities of the Imperial German government. The bureau was split into naval and army sections which, over time, specialised in foreign espionage and internal counter-espionage activities, respectively. This specialisation was because the Admiralty wanted to know the maritime strength of the Imperial German Navy. This specialisation was formalised before 1914. During the First World War in 1916, the two sections underwent administrative changes so that the foreign section became the section MI1(c) of the Directorate of Military Intelligence.
6. Its first director was Captain Sir Mansfield George Smith-Cumming, who often dropped the Smith in routine communication. He typically signed correspondence with his initial C in green ink. This usage evolved as a code name, and has been adhered to by all subsequent directors of SIS when signing documents to retain anonymity.
7. MI6 is nicknamed The Circus. Some say this was coined by John le Carré (former SIS officer David Cornwell) in his espionage novels and named after a fictional building on Cambridge Circus. Leo Marks explains in his World War II memoir Between Silk and Cyanide that the name arose because a section of the Special Operations Executive was housed in a building at 1 Dorset Square, London, which had formerly belonged to the directors of Bertram Mills circus.