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Book on GCHQ authorized history lauded by British media

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
GCHQ's headquarters in Cheltenham where the UK's offensive cyber warfare capabilities are designed and deployed

The publication of the authorized history of the British signals and code breaking intelligence service GCHQ has been warmly received by the UK mainstream media, notably by establishment stalwarts the BBC and Sky News.

Entitled Behind the Enigma (and published by Bloomsbury), the book is reportedly based on access to top secret Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) files.

The work was commissioned by GCHQ in 2019 – to mark its centenary - which gave the trusted author access to the organization’s archive, reportedly containing 16 million documents, many of them previously classified .

The author, Professor John Ferris, who is affiliated to the Department of History at the University of Calgary (Canada), told the BBC that: “GCHQ is probably Britain’s most important strategic asset at the moment and will probably remain that way for generations”.

“I think that Britain gains from keeping it strong and world class, but at the same time, you need to put in proportion what it is you can and cannot get from intelligence”, Ferris added.

Meanwhile, Sky News – whose reporting on defense and intelligence issues is closely aligned to that of the British state – has decided to highlight Ferris’ insights and conclusions on GCHQ’s contribution to the 1982 war over Islas Malvinas (Malvinas Islands - which the UK calls the Falkland Islands).

Sky News quotes Ferris as claiming that GCHQ’s contribution to the war with Argentina in the early 1980s has been “underestimated”.  

Ferris further claims that GCHQ helped “guide” British strategy and diplomacy ahead of and during the war and that its intelligence played a key role in the controversial sinking of the Argentine navy light cruiser, General Belgrano, in May 1982 with the loss of 323 lives.

Ferris concludes that without GCHQ’s contribution the UK “probably would have lost” the war over Islas Malvinas.

Ferris’ authorized history of GCHQ is in keeping with recent official accounts of British intelligence services produced by establishment academic types.

This effort – commissioned and guided by the UK’s intelligence community – began in 2010 with Cambridge historian Christoper Andrew’s authorized history of MI5 entitled The Defense of the Realm

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