Q turns double agent to work for America

THE US intelligence agency, the CIA, has recruited one of James Bond's colleagues in an effort to stay abreast of the latest technology. It has set up a new venture capital company, named in part after Q, Bond's supplier of esoteric gadgets.

The firm is intended to form links with the hi-tech companies of Silicon Valley that build new generations of computer products. It is called In- Q-It, with "In" standing for intelligence and "It" for information technology. The company will have offices in Washington and Palo Alto, California.

"We do have a sense of humor,'' said a spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency. This is the CIA's first public venture into business.

Q was responsible for giving Bond what now seem rather dated devices - laser pens and flamethrower lighters that might not be so useful in the days of encryption, the Internet and money laundering. The company will have 20 to 25 employees, and will work only on unclassified projects.