On Thursday the appointment of appointment of Alex Allan as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Head of Intelligence Assessment was announced.
Alex Allan, who literally had the Yes, Prime Minister role of "Bernard", to both John Major, and for a time, to Tony Blair, first came to our attention when he was appointed by Blair as the supposed head honcho of the UK Government's Information Technology and e-government plans - the "e-envoy". He was, for a senior civil servant, at least computer literate, with his own web page devoted to family stuff and to the music of the Grateful Dead. (look it up for yourselves via a search engine)
UK Government web and email server security improved somewhat under his stewardship, but not by very much. There were some appalling blunders made during that period, which repeatedly left almost all of the main UK Government webservers vulnerable to remote "script kiddy" exploitation, propaganda website defacements, and the risk of fake government official announcements and press releases, which could well have been used to support "look at this embargoed press release on the official government website" type insider information frauds and scams involving market sensitive information in the City of London.
After a spell in Australia as an academic, he came back as the "Sir Humphrey" at the Department for Consitutional Affairs (and later the Ministry of Justice), when they were in charge of Freedom of Information policies.
Alex Allan's personal website has now generated some media stories, due to his appointment as the new Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
Is reprinting details and copyright photos, for profit, from a personal website all that "investigative journalism" consists of these days ?
It seems that Alex Allan has now removed the alleged "security risk" personal address and telephone and mobile phone number information from his website.
However, either he, or his IT security staff, have not yet succeeded in removing these details from the Google and Yahoo caches of his CV - have they asked nicely, or will they flex their securocratic muscles ?
Alex Allan's website domain name registration (if you use the extended version of whois for .com domains at the Network Solutions website) also reveals his home address in the UK. Paying the extra privacy fee may well be worth the extra
$12 $9 a year.
Changing the previously published phone and mobile phone numbers might also be advisable, but whether moving home is really necessary, as The Daily Telegraph's anonymous Whitehall source claims, is debatable.
The prison like £3 million gilded cage ("Government house in Pimlico" , made notorious by the doubly disgraced Home Secretary / Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett is empty.
However, realistically, Alex Allan is in no more physical danger, than in his former senior Whitehall mandarin "Sir Humphrey" role.
These media reports and the various blogs which parrot them, fail to mention that the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee is not actually in charge of any of the intelligence or security agencies. They "report" to the JIC with, actual reports about the end product of all their spying and snooping and surveillance, so that "the bigger picture" can be established, but the Chairman of the JIC is not in charge of any actual spies.
Almost unreported since, the announcement was made back in July, so it seems to have escaped the short attention span of most of the media, is the parallel appointment of Robert Hannigan :
Robert Hannigan, currently the Director General (Political) at the Northern Ireland Office, will take up the post of Head of Security, Intelligence and Resilience and will act as Security Adviser to the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Office.
Biography: Robert Hannigan
The Director General (Political) at the Northern Ireland Office is the principal adviser to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State on the political process, including negotiations with the parties and liaison with the Irish Government. Before taking up this post, Robert was Director of Communications at the NIO.
Head of Security, Intelligence and Resilience will be responsible for the resourcing of the Intelligence Agencies, security issues including the Cabinet Office's role in counter–terrorism and civil contingencies (resilience). The post will have a key role in advising the Prime Minister on security, intelligence and resilience issues.
Head of Intelligence Assessment and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee will be responsible for the intelligence assessment and strengthening the intelligence analysis community across Government.
Joint Intelligence Committee
The Joint Intelligence Committee is part of the Cabinet Office and is responsible for providing Ministers and senior officials with co–ordinated interdepartmental intelligence assessments on a range of issues of immediate and long–term importance to national interests, primarily in the fields of security, defence and foreign affairs.
The JIC's members are senior officials in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence (including the Chief of Defence Intelligence), Home Office, Department for International Development, Treasury, and Cabinet Office, the Heads of the three intelligence Agencies and the Chief of the Assessments Staff. Other Departments attend as necessary.
So Robert Hannigan was a Spin Doctor, then a Political Fixer and is now in charge of the "resourcing of the intelligence agencies".