I like spy shows. I like them with a dash of fantasy or whimsy, portraying the secret agent as a superhero of sorts who can outwit anyone and plays a dangerous chess game with the guys on the opposite side. (see "Alias") I also like it when they focus on the process (see "Spooks" or "Burn Notice"), showing spies as people with jobs using specialized techniques and equipment just like any of us (just marginally cooler).
The truth is actually less glamorous. And while the latter examples are nearer to the truth, they're still TV shows that need to inject a hearty dose of excitement to tell a decent story. Real spy work is tedious and consists mostly of gathering information and taking pictures. Unlike journalism, though, spying needs to be more clandestine.
Which is why this news report, which I caught on yesterday's primetime news, confirmed the joke that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron (at least in the Philippines).
Why would you send people in their late 30s, who act like burly military/police types (I saw the suspects on TV) to spy on student activists? Send a young-ish looking man posing as a journalist (campus or otherwise) to take pictures. Or hack the picture folders of the campus newspaper's computer to get copies.
Whoever ran this operation needs to be sacked simply for lacking common sense. Don't these guys watch spy movies? Did they honestly think that the students they were spying on won't notice four old guys taking pictures? They're either really, really stupid or really, really arrogant.
Either way they deserve to be lynched.