OZY Spy Edition

OZY Spy Edition

Why you should care

Because they’re out there. Watching, listening, judging. And drinking martinis.

Everyone’s got our number. The hackers just breached the Home Depot. The NSA’s all up in our Gmail, on our phones. And the Internet of Things has us prematurely nostalgic for those blessed moments of anonymity we used to get in big cities. Sigh. But before we slip-slide into our Orwellian future, let’s not forget that the past wasn’t so halcyon. Georgie himself got underwritten by the U.K. Ministry of Information. Let’s not forget the spies, either, practitioners of old-fashioned spycraft. They still exist! OZY’s got their numbers.

Gerhard Schindler: Germany’s Spymaster

Forget the Stasi, if you can. As Germany becomes Europe’s dominant economic and political player, Gerhard Schindler is trying to ramp up the German spy agency responsible for foreign intelligence, writes OZY contributor Uwë Muller. Schindler wants an agency befitting Germany’s position. But he faces a skeptical public that remembers too well the abuses of the Nazi Gestapo and East German Stasi, which used intelligence against Germans. Germans were outraged last year to learn not just that the U.S. National Security Agency was spying on German citizens, but also that Schindler’s BND shares intelligence with the NSA. Read more here.

The Man Without a Face

The most powerful man in Algeria has no public face, according to OZY writer Pooja Bhatia. His name is Mohamed Lamine Mediène. Everyone calls him “Toufik.” Another nickname is the “God of Algiers,” supposedly because he’s more powerful than the president. No official photograph of Mediène has ever been made public. The pictures of him that do exist are few and blurry, and may be decades old. Rumor has it that Mediène receives visitors with his back turned — and that if you see his face, it’ll be the last one you ever see. An Algerian dissident who blogs under the name Baki Hour Mansour analyzed several photos that claimed to represent Mediène and found them all lacking. Does Mediène actually exist? Experts say yes. Read more here.

Saudi Arabia’s Twitter Whistleblower

Another anonymous spy — the best kind! Saudi Twitter fiend @mujtahidd has more than 1.5 million Twitter followers and is one of Saudi Arabia’s most ferocious political voices — but hardly anyone knows who he is, writes OZY’s itinerant storyteller Laura Secorun Palet. What they do know is that he’s exposed the secrets of Saudi Arabia’s elites, including compromising details of the country’s royal family, upon whose continued rule a good chunk of U.S. Middle East strategy depends. Mujtahid’s forensically detailed and often sarcastic posts address sensitive issues like the royals’ over-the-top lifestyles, land appropriations, dodgy military deals and rigged public tenders. Why hasn’t the authoritarian state put him behind bars at this point? Find out here.

Bond. James Bond. And the Suit of James Bond.

“Everything about Bond was great,” writer Timothy Ford once said. “But with the suits? Just a little bit more great. Like life.” In this sweet sartorial flashback, OZY’s oft-besuited Eugene S. Robinson goes all gaga over Sean Connery’s Bond days, especially Sinclair “Conduit Cut” wardrobe. These specimens were soft, durable and lightweight, marked departures from the stiff, heavy style favored by Savile Row back then. Connery was not used to such finery — but to play Bond, he needed to be. The possibly apocryphal solution? Connery slept in the suits for a month before filming. He had to wear them like he owned them, and after about four weeks, he did. Read more here.

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