James Bond’s license to kill is as famous as his shaken martinis. The fictional MI6 character, whose iconic 007 is based on a 16th century real British agent, can use lethal force in the delivery of his objectives without of course, breaking the law.
But what happens in real life? Do some British Secret Intelligence Service agents really have a license to kill and can do so without implications?
Let’s look at the facts. (the article continues after the ad)
The agency insists that killing is not a part of its operations and none of its agents is allowed to kill. As stated by Sir Richard Dearlove who was MI6’s former head, “assassination is no part of the policy of Her Majesty’s Government.” That being said, and because we know that these kind of agencies will not reveal to the public all their tactics, we decided to look into it and we’ve came across a very interesting article by Ian Cobain that was published in the Guardian.
The article sheds light on one little-known provision in the Intelligence Services Act that allows British spies to commit crimes, including assassination, overseas. According to the Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act, spies are protected from prosecution for crimes involving murder, kidnap, torture, bribery or bugging as long as their actions have been authorized by a Secretary of State.
So, even though MI6 agents don’t actually a ‘license to kill’ authorization that allows them to kill anyone they like, they can do so without implications if they have a written permission by a Secretary of State. In fact, there have been several leaks over the years showing that a number of foreign operations have been plotted with the help of MI6. Of course, despite many of them being under criminal investigation, don’t expect any official confirmation. Both the agencies and the governments are in favor of having these proceedings behind closed doors.
But at least now you know; you knowledge-thirsty, useless info junkie!
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Real 007: The British Agent That Inspired James Bond’s Iconic Code Number
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Sources: How secret renditions shed light on MI6’s licence to kill and torture | Intelligence Services Act 1994 | Hearing transcripts – 20 February 2008 – Morning session