Look at it another way - SIS have been in the business for a very long time. How often do we get stories of failure, and how often do their successes go unreported? Unless you are in the know, you'll never know.
Given that MI6's record of incompetence stretches back to WW1 when they were founded I'm sure they would find a way to trumpet any success they had. I believe that they were bigged up in WW2 as a cover for Ultra. Even their authorised history "MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949" by Keith Jeffrey doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture.
Including the army? Actually I'd suggest that the military is as good as any organisation because the answer to this question in my opinion is that the lowest level must have a sense of commitment and responsibility. How you achieve that is the holy grail of leadership and is probably particularly difficult in an organisation where ground level operatives are selected for an ability to lie.
The problem SIS and the BSS have is that if they get their job right, they cant exactly tell anyone about it. Its very easy to parade failings, as these are the things that become public. Yes SIS has had some embarrassing moments, and yes some things have gone wrong, but show me any HUMINT based organisation, either Government or Defence based, anywhere in the world, or in history, which has had a perfect success rate and zero failings.
People dont seem to get that in this business, if you reveal successes, then they can be traced. If they get traced, people can die. Its that simple. Its not like SIGINT where you can more easily verify stuff - the HUMINT world is difficult, challenging and often dangerous. I take my hat off to those people who are doing a job which is often extremely risky, in order to help support UK troops on the ground.
The other point to consider - if this guy had been real, its likely that the story would never have been broken for fear of compromising s source. Thats why we'll only ever get one side of the story.
Its ok its going to be revealed in the 7/7 enquiry anyway. MI5 will have to give the truth the whole truth and **** all but the truth....
And is that Santa I just seen out the window, must be doing a pre-xmas recce.
Why - SIS is the correct name of one of the organisations; BSS is widely used in Whitehall to refer to the Security Service in order to avoid the unfortunate contraction 'SS'. Would you prefer the long obsolete MI5 or the ever inaccurate MI6?; a knowing but dated reference to the 'boxes'; a tap of the nose and a muttered 'south of the river'?
I know its the official (and therefore the way they refer to each other) but the move smacks of pointless Whitehall rebranding that began in the 70s, an attempt to wipe away ever trace of unique British terminology from our machinery of state.
Again SIS and BSS does not even make sense as a ratioanlisation.
I know it silly but its something that really seems to wind me and a no-end of columnists up simply because you are dumping a title of considerable cache and kudos (Royal Mail to Consignia). Look at the furore over regimental mergers for how much people who are not part of an organisation value a title and what it represents.