Sunday, April 21, 2024

A taste of honey


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ISRAEL MAY BE THE LAND referred to in The Bible as “overflowing with milk and honey” but it is also the land that pulled off one of the most daring and cynical “honey traps” of all time.
Spy fiction aficionados know that a “honey pot” or “honey trap” is a buzz phrase in the espionage business and refers to using sexual seduction as a means of recruiting or getting information from someone. Philip Knightley, writing in Foreign Policy on The History Of The Honey Trap, explained: “For millennia, spymasters of all sorts have trained their spies to use the amorous arts to obtain secret information.
The trade name for this type of spying is the ‘honey trap’.”The Israeli masterclass is as classic in its field as the Beatles Taste Of Honey in pop music. According to Knightley and other sources, Mordechai Vanunu, whose father was a rabbi, fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, was honourably discharged and then studied physics at the Tel Aviv University.  After graduation he got a job at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre.
Most experts believe that Israel developed nuclear weapons since 1960 but maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its capability. Vanunu took pictures inside the plant and in 1986, after failing to sell them to Newsweek, got the British Sunday Times interested.  The credibility of the Times had already suffered severely from the fake Hitler Diaries, so the paper went to great lengths to verify the accuracy of the story and Vanunu’s bona fides. 
They kept him hidden in a secret location in London while they checked with nuclear weapons experts. Vanunu got restless and then told the Times he had met and fallen for a young American woman and was heading out to Rome for a taste of honey with the lady. Instead of honey, Vanunu got stung. The American woman turned out to be Cheryl Ben Tov (code named “Cindy”), who was married to an Israeli security officer.
As soon as they arrived in Rome, Vanunu and Cindy took a taxi to an apartment where three waiting Mossad operatives overpowered Vanunu, injected him with a paralyzing drug and smuggled him out by ambulance to a speedboat and then to an Israeli surveillance vessel disguised as a merchant ship.  Vanunu was tried and convicted to 18 years in jail with eleven of those years in solitary confinement. He was released in 2004, but even now he is not permitted to meet with foreigners or talk about his experiences.  
There have been other stories – Mata Hari, an erotic dancer, accused of working for the Germans against the French during World War I, was executed by firing squad; the “Christine Keeler” affair in Britain that destroyed the political career of Secretary of State for War John Profumo and may have brought down the Conservative government of Harold MacMillan.
Recently, Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a defence contractor and former United States Army officer with a top secret clearance, was charged with communicating national defence secrets to a 27-year-old Chinese national with whom he had a romantic relationship. Bishop gave the woman national defence information on existing war plans, nuclear weapons, and relations with international partners. Now that Bishop has been defrocked, he may have a different slant on the Chinese “honey-moon”.
He certainly gave her everything he had.Although Mr Knightley is right in saying that cleverness, training, character, and patriotism are often no defence against a well-set honey trap, something has recently emerged which seems to work not on the taste buds or other organs to deny the taste and tasting of honey, but in helping men make more rational decisions when facing the full magnetic force of extremely sexy women. It is an antibiotic named minocycline, which is normally used to treat acne and make some young people even more attractive.
Scientists think the drug may clear the brain of distractions like arousal to improve focus for making rational decisions. Other studies have demonstrated that minocycline can improve patients’ focus on social cues, encourage sober decision-making and improve the symptoms associated with schizophrenia and depression.   What this means in the world of espionage is that in addition to the mandatory and convenient cyanide pill, which all spies can bite down on when facing capture or torture, they now have to carry minocycline whenever there is a possibility that they will come face-to-face (or other body part) with beautiful women. Instead of a quantum of solace, perhaps the next James Bond movie will be a quantum of minocycline. 
• Tony Deyal was last seen saying that in addition to minocycline, people with state and industrial secrets should also take with them a copy of Lord Kitchener’s calypso Killer Bee Bite Me.


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