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MI6: We acquire secrets others don't want us to know

Asked why intelligence agencies did not foresee the end of the Cold War, 9/11 or the Arab Spring, Sir John Sawers said: "We are not crystal ball gazers, we are intelligence agencies."

"We acquire the secrets that other countries do not want us to know. We are not all-knowing specialists in what is going to happen next month or next year."

Questions Guardian wants spy chiefs to answer

The Guardian, the newspaper which worked with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to expose leaks about the scale of US and UK surveillance programmes, has published a list of 10 questions it wanted MPs to put to intelligence agency directors today.

Among them:

  • Why weren't some Cabinet ministers allowed to know about certain surveillance programmes?
  • Did the chiefs know that so many people like US contractor Edward Snowden had access to British secrets?
  • Did GCHQ help the US tap the phones of world leaders including Angela Merkel?
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