The counter-intelligence officer briefed us on, among other things, the case of Daniel James, the British corporal convicted of spying on ISAF for Iran. I had never before heard of James, who, his name notwithstanding, had emigrated to Britain from Iran as a child.
“So how many other Iranian born people have the Brits sent us?” I asked during the final Q&A.
I almost felt sorry for the poor CI guy, as this question clearly caught him off guard. Visibly struggling to regain his footing, he stammered, “Well, I don’t have any specific numbers . . . . Mainly we rely on you folks to flag suspicious behavior for us . . . and anyway, [finding his stride] there’s no reason to be suspicious of someone just because they were born in Iran.”
“So what you’re telling us, as a counter-intelligence professional,” I replied, “is that there is no relationship between James’ country-of-origin and his successful recruitment by the intelligence agency of his country-of-origin?”
“Well, we wouldn’t think that every person from Iran was a potential spy just because he was born in Iran.”