Open secret

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The Independent Online

Magnificent news that GCHQ, the international eavesdroppers' centre in Cheltenham, plans to open its doors for family days. Government Communications Headquarters says it will welcome the families of staff "for a glimpse of life behind the fence". This should, however, only be the start. GCHQ can follow the example of Sellafield in selling itself to the public at large (Sellafield, worried that it was seen as environmentally dodgy, marketed itself with pictures of grazing cows).

We should, of course, be allowed to do more than just gawp. "Listen in to the KGB smokers' room"; "Hear Saddam go mad in Baghdad"; even (since spies are not fussy between friends and foes) "Hear Bill and Hillary's latest shrieking match".

Nor should they stop at GCHQ. Porton Down, the chemical warfare research establishment, would make a great day out with the kids. Best of all, perhaps, they should instead open up the grandiose new headquarters of MI6. Why should Pierce Brosnan's James Bond be the only person to get a peek inside? But there's a catch: if we're allowed inside the spies' world, we may be exposed to the most embarrassing secret of all: there is nothing more boring than a real-life nest of spies.

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