Vatican Begins Anti-surveillance Operation

The Vatican has deployed countermeasures in an attempt to keep enterprising reporters from spying on the papal selection conclave.

Vatican mobilises anti-surveillance op (The Register)

If press reports are to be believed, then next Monday’s gathering of cardinals in the Sistine Chapel will represent the biggest counter-surveillance operation since the Posh/Becks royal wedding. Indeed, so busy will the Vatican be blocking laser microphone assault, checking vases of flowers for nanobugs and setting the Swiss Guard on suspicious men using 3G mobes to communicate with circling black helicopters that we very much doubt whether there will be enough time to elect a new Pope between the stripsearches and electromagnetic sweeps.

Of course, there is a certain amount of legitimacy to the idea that some will stop at nothing to eavesdrop on the cardinals’ deliberations. The Pope-vote conclave is legendarily secretive. Pope John Paul II tackled the burgeoning technological threat when he introduced rules protecting cardinals from “threats to their independence of judgment”, viz; mobile phones, electronic organizers, radios, newspapers and TVs.

However, according to Wired, the Vatican now faces a mutli-pronged techno-assault on the Sistine Chapel. New menaces include – according to Massachusetts security operative James Atkinson – the aforementioned vibration-detecting laser mics and, chillingly, the possibility that a mole might alert the outside world by “using colored smoke or by flushing dye down a toilet with a discharge pipe that could be monitored elsewhere”.

Not that they’re paranoid or anything.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    You know the old joke: “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean…”

  2. OsamaBL says:

    I’d like to see ET, CNN,MSNBC,CourtTv, Fox and Page 6 outside the Sistene Chapel doing what they all do so well. We could have the graphic of the elapsed time since they started meeting, the betting in Vegas, and then when the white smoke appears, we could see the Flash News-Breaking News-FoxNews Alert so evberyone could carry the same thing at the same time.
    Anyone see any idiocy in how we do things?

  3. Kent says:

    It’s only paranoia if it is unfounded and irrational.

    Neither applies here.