From Act II, Chapter 3
I'm rushing back to London to meet with Dearlove's number two at MI6, the service's assistant director until 2006, Nigel Inkster.
We meet for drinks in the midafternoon in the lounge of a London hotel, not far from where Inkster now works at one of the city's major think tanks.
I tell him I've just met with Dearlove and that he and I talked about the Shipster mission. When I begin discussing it with Inkster, I mention Habbush as the Iraqi intelligence chief, and he confirms that, in fact, Habbush was Shipster's secret contact. "Though," he adds, "I'm not sure how Habbush managed to get out of Baghdad for the meetings."
During his thirty-one years in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, Inkster was stationed across three continents, worked on all manner of "transnational issues"--which means various types of cross-border trafficking and terrorism--and spent his last two years, from 2004 to 2006, as assistant chief of MI6 and director for operations and intelligence. He's a natty fellow--a Chinese speaker with a degree in Oriental Studies from Oxford--who carries a passing resemblance to Jeremy Irons, pinched and world wise, with delicate bags beneath his eyes. Inkster orders a vodka, and we talk of espionage. The whole Shipster business was very tightly held on the British side. "It was Richard's thing," he says. "at SIS, there's this very strict need-to-know culture."
But the yield, Inkster admits, was particularly illuminating. . . .
Nigel Inkster spent three decades in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, ending his career in 2006 as the agency's assistant chief. The Way of the World describes the meeting between Ron Suskind and Inkster in downtown London that establishes the identity of the secret Iraqi contact in a daring prewar intelligence-gathering mission run by MI6. Inkster provides key insights into the mission's yield and its reception on both sides of the Atlantic.