Stella Rimington joined Britains Security Service (MI5) in 1969. During her nearly thirty-year career she worked in all the main fields of the Services responsibilitiescounter subversion, counter espionage and counter terrorismand successively became Director of all three branches. Appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992, she was the first woman to hold the post and the first Director General whose name was publicly announced on appointment.
Following her retirement from MI5 in 1996, she became a nonexecutive director of Marks & Spencer and published her autobiography, Open Secret, in the United Kingdom. She is also the author of four novels featuring MI5 officer Liz Carlyle. Rimington lives in London.
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How long did you work for MI5 and what was your position there? For those in our American audience who may not be familiar with the UK organization, please give a brief explanation of how it is, or is not, similar to the FBI here in the States.
I worked for MI5 for 27 years, joining in 1969 as a Junior Assistant Officer (a special rank for women, who were only allowed to be assistants in those days) and leaving in 1996 as Director General (the boss). During my career I worked mainly in counter-espionage and counter-terrorism, becoming successively Director of each of those areas. For part of the time I ran human sources (or 'agents' as we call them in UKnot the same as Agents in FBIspeak), which is Liz Carlyle's job in the book. There is no exact equivalent to MI5 in the US. There has been some discussion, as a part of the investigations of the 9/11 Commission, for example, as to whether such an agency should be created. But it has been decided not to, as I understand it. The nearest equivalent is what used to be called the Foreign Counter Intelligence part of the FBI, but it is different. MI5 is a civilian intelligence service with no powers of arrest or any other police powers, but a lot of investigative ...
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