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What a strange time for our intelligence agencies to try to present a human face. While the media has a brief conniption over the revelation that Chinese intelligence does precisely what Australian, US and UK intelligence have been doing for years, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service is launching a recruitment ad.

“This is a person of interest to [ASIS],” the voice-over informs us over footage of a hooded hacker type — she is “in a race against time” as security forces appear to close in — before the reveal: she’s actually a person ASIS is interested in … hiring.

The “we’re going to arrest this person … sike! We’re actually going to hire this person (until they turn whistleblower)!” ad joins a notable list of recent attempts by intelligence agencies in Australia to present a kinder, gentler face.

There was ASIO’s lovely first tweet — a joke about tracking Australian citizens, presumably influenced by the Australian Signals Directorate’s (ASD) similar jest a few years earlier. ASD head Rachel Noble gave a rare speech at the start of September arguing that its “intrusive and expensive capabilities” were important because “some Australians are not on our side”.

Then, of course, there was the collaboration with the ABC over the “chamber of secrets” room. Crikey has been arguing for greater transparency for years, but the national broadcaster credulously aiding ASIO in its stated ambition to display its power and remind people they are being watched wasn’t the kind of transparency we were hoping for.