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WW2 Codebreaker Alan Turing - great news!

Article about: He should be given a posthumous Knighthood IMO Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon | Science | The Guardian Nick

  1. #11


    I read about this - good to see him vindicated.

    His intellect is undeniable as is his contributions to science.

    Quote by big ned View Post
    Alan Turing was made an example of due to his sexual orientation at a time when the Cambridge spy ring was causing great problems and mass panic for MI5 and the security services. With the likes of Burgess, Mclean, Philby, Cairncross and Blunt running around behaving like characters from Brideshead Revisited, they quickly fell pray to Soviet spies either through blackmail/money or left wing sympathies/ beliefs. The damage done over nearly 20 years was incalculable at a time when the Cold War could have turned hot at anytime.

    Therefore it was unsuprising that Turing was swept up into the situation due to his highly sensitive position in the Enigma code breaking and his charcter having a whiff of lavender about it. He was compromised, and therefore the weight and moral opprobrium of the government and secret services was unleashed upon him. He became an outcast and sadly commited suicide over the treatment he received, both mental and physical, as there was an attempt to chemically castrate him amongst the other indignities heaped upon him.

    I doubt that he will be awarded a posthumous knighthood, that would be a first I think, But the pardon he has received today is a unique one in that the usual criteria of having one considered and then granted is unprecedented in that they are normally awarded after a request from an interested party, such as family, and proven evidence of innocence. Neither of these requirements have been met.

    I believe todays pardon has more to do with political correctness than any general will by the governmental departments concerned to allow it, at the time he was correctly convicted of an unlawful act by the law of the day, that is fact. Personally I have no problem with the pardon, in todays more enlightened times it would not happen, but the facts at the time over 60 years ago when the events occured are unequivocal, and that in this case the law took it's course, no matter how tragic the consequences were.

    Let's hope that this now ends the matter, as beyond getting Turing beatified, nothing more can be done other than say, putting up a statue or two. What's done is done and it's time to move on.

    Regards, Ned.
    Well put, old Ned. I concur.

    The ramifications and the damage done by the loathsome spies mentioend in the above is almost incalculable.

    It echoed in Western intelligence communities and even caused Angleton to become even more paranoid ...., even though one would not have thought that possible in retrospect.

  2. #12


    I think it is amusing that we think of spies such as Philby, Blake, Burgess et al. as loathsome but our own spies in the USSR and Eastern Bloc as heroes.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  3. #13


    Quote by StefanM View Post
    I think it is amusing that we think of spies such as Philby, Blake, Burgess et al. as loathsome but our own spies in the USSR and Eastern Bloc as heroes.
    First of all, I didnt state, that I considered 'our own' spies heroes. That one is all you.
    A somewhat spurious extrapolation, if you'll permit me to say so.

    (as a case in point, look up the aforementioned Angleton - hardly 'hero' material (what ever constitutes a 'hero')).

    Secondly - how so!?

    I dont get my knickers in a bunch over it (it doesnt affect my life directly), but I dont find it amusing per so. I dont find it 'haha' funny at all.

    I look at the broad picture: You'd have to not only look at the damage and effect, that their actions had, but also what drove them and especially how they behaved, what they represented and how and why one of them could cling on long after the others went to Moscow.

    I dont even crack a smile at the thought of how the lives of the inbred cretins ended badly with some of them living a solitary pathetic exsistence in Russia with only a busted liver for company.

    Long term they did a tremendous amount of damage.

    I'm curious in regards to your statement - you like Cold War KGB spies better, you are neutral and find all Cold War spies loathsome or you are neutral (no opinion) in regards to Cold War spies ....?

  4. #14


    I am interested in the history of the cold war and consider myself dispassionate or as you would say neutral in my views of the cold war warriors on either side whether CIA, MI5 or KGB - spies or regular armed forces.

    I agree I did "extrapolate" the view that if Soviet spies in the West could be considered loathsome to us then our own spies would be seen as heroes in the fight against communism or if not heroic then certainly not loathsome in the West's eyes. Such a dichotomy is amusing, although there is nothing amusing about war.

    There is a similar dichotomy in the views many hold about Snowden and his leaking of NSA secrets..he is both treacherous or treasonous in his betrayal of his sworn oath of allegiance to the US government and Commander-in-chief but also a courageous whistleblower on the side of truth and freedom...depending which side of the looking glass one is on.

    But I digress from one of the original questions so back on point, I don't like KGB spies better or less than any other spies although I do (or did) enjoy a good cold war spy novel...sadly this genre effectively died with tearing down of the Berlin Wall
    Last edited by StefanM; 12-27-2013 at 10:40 PM.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

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