This week I've been watching TV shows Homeland and The Secret State and something struck me. The CIA really are a bit rubbish.
In The Secret State we see that GCHQ, the nation's secret service communications centre, is tapping into politician's cellphones/mobile phones even when they are off, to listen to conversations, flagged by corporate keywords requested by American secret services. Basically the US government in the pocket of corporate America, and using leverage over Britain for commercial interests.
But in Homeland, the CIA don't seem to be able to do that. Even though we know that they can.
Ever since Brody was accepted as a turned Al Qaeda operative by the CIA, they should have been able to tap into the microphone on his cellphone/mobile phone and listen in on his conversatios. Including a certain chat in the corridor a few episodes ago with Roya Hammad that they can only see but not hear, at the exact time they are trying to create a web of his contacts.
There are two reasons. Storytelling ability. In Homeland, the CIA are the protagonists, and it's hard to make the protagonists too powerful, because there would be no drama. If they had that conversation in the corridor tapped, they wouldn't have to go through all the hoops necessary to target Hammad as a suspect. She would have been arrested right away and where's the fun in that?
The other one is that you don't want to spook the horses. The American public are okay, it seems, with terrorist suspects being stabbed in the hand as part of an interrogation. Waterboarding, torture, whatever it takes, they've been arrested for reason right? But tapping the phones of people, even when they're not being used as a call, the realisation that everyone is carrying a potential bugging device or two on their person which can be listened in at any point? Even if you're subconsciously aware, America may not like this rubbed in their face all the time
In Britain, we know what shits the secret services are. We have no freedoms, we have no rights, but on the other hand, we can have nudity and swearing on network TV, and there's free healthcare at point of use, so you know, swings and roundabouts.