Revealed: rocking tastes of Britain's most senior spooks

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Indy Politics

After a hard day, or night, defending the realm, it seems the heads of our security service like nothing better than to relax to a bit of rock music.

After the revelation on Friday that Alex Allan, the new head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is a world authority on the Grateful Dead, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, 59, who stepped down as the head of MI5 in April, will today tell listeners to Radio 4's Desert Island Discs that one of her favourite bands is the White Stripes, the guitar and drum duo renowned for their minimalist, blues-inspired rock.

Dame Eliza, asked by presenter Kirsty Young how she came to the oeuvre of Jack and Meg White, said it was "a result of my eldest step-granddaughter trying to bring my husband and I into the 21st century by introducing us to the White Stripes – which we're both now very keen on, to everybody's surprise." She chooses their cover of the Dusty Springfield track "I Just Don't

Know What to Do With Myself" from the Elephant album as one of her discs, along with the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man", saying the Stones were edgier than the Beatles.

Dame Eliza, in her first ever interview, is not drawn on what she thought of the war in Iraq – she had advised before the conflict that it would lead to more terrorism. She does, however, reveal a frustration with the US handling of the war on terror. "The real issue was the suggestion, particularly in America, that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Which was completely false, and I think that confusion has been unhelpful in a number of ways."

She added that the greatest concern for terror attacks came from third-generation British citizens. "There are too many people with this sort of intention in the UK for us to be confident of stopping [terror attacks] 100 per cent. We've stopped very, very many," she said.

'Desert Island Discs', Radio 4, 11.15am today, repeated on Friday at 9am