A woman on top of the British intelligence


On Tuesday, Britain appointed Anne Keast Butler as director of the intelligence service known as Government Communications Headquarters, becoming the first woman to hold the position in the history of the agency.

Keast Butler will officially assume the position next May, succeeding Jeremy Fleming, who announced his intention to leave the position he held for six years.

Among its missions will be to protect the country from terrorists, cybercriminals and hostile foreign states.

The British foreign secretary, James Cleverly who appointed Keast Butler, commented, “Her remarkable record is at the heart of the UK’s national security network”.

Cleverly added that “she would use her vast experience to help keep the British people safe”.

Keast Butler is currently the Deputy Director General of the Internal Intelligence Agency (MI5).

The Government Communications Headquarters is the main intelligence service in Britain, and it has a close relationship with the US National Security Agency and similar agencies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand within a grouping known as the “Five Eyes”.

The establishment of this agency dates back to the early 20th century after the outbreak of World War I, and Keast Butler‘s appointment comes three decades after the appointment of the first woman director of MI5.

In 1992 Stella Remington became the first woman to lead MI5, and actress Judi Dench is said to have been inspired by her role as MI6 director in the James Bond films two years later.

Earlier this month, GCHQ issued a rare statement about its offensive operations in the field of cyber security, stating that the agency’s hacking experts launched operations against militants, targeting state-backed disinformation campaigns and attempts to interfere with the conduct of electoral processes.

GCHQ also works with MI6 and MI5, the police, the UK Ministry of Defense and overseas partners, as well as with the private sector and academia.

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