Lack of Intelligence 123


I am astonished that still none of our pusillanimous media has published the simple fact that NSA and GCHQ share ALL intelligence reports with each other. Every member of the House of Commons who has ever been in the most junior ministerial position knows this – that amounts to hundreds. So do at least fifty thousand current or retired civil service and military personnel. So do the majority of senior journalists. Yet Hague was allowed to talk round the subject without being challenged about the truth, and the fiction of official secrecy persists.

The Guardian almost published the truth:

“It has been suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless. Any data obtained by us from the US involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”

This is the nub of the issue and the foreign secretary’s statement seems to mask a much more complex picture. If a UK agency wanted to tap the phone of a Briton living in the UK, it would have to get ministerial approval through RIPA. But not all telecoms and internet companies are based in the UK – most of the giants have their headquarters in the US. This is where the UK’s relationship with the NSA is critical. If the firm storing the required information is outside RIPA’s authority, GCHQ could ask the NSA for help.

And if the NSA had any relevant intelligence, via Prism or any other programme, it could give it to GCHQ. Strictly speaking, GCHQ would still have needed a RIPA authorisation if it was requesting this material. But if the NSA was offering, the same principles don’t appear to apply.

Matthew Ryder QC said: “It is not the breaking of laws that is most troubling in this area, but the absence of them. Foreigners storing their personal data on US servers have neither the protection that their own domestic laws would give them from their own governments, nor the protection that US citizens have from the US government. It is foreigners, potentially UK citizens in the UK, who are the targets of programmes like Prism.

“Once such data is in the hands of the US authorities, there is no clear legal framework that prevents it from being shared with UK authorities. The Security Service Act 1989 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994 place MI5, MI6 and GCHQ on a statutory basis, and permit those bodies to receive any information from foreign agencies in the ‘proper discharge’ of their statutory functions.

“Under that broad principle, UK agencies may receive and examine data from the US about UK citizens without having to comply with any of the legal requirements they would have to meet if the same agencies had tried to gather that information themselves.”

In fact GCHQ do not have to ask, and NSA do not have specifically to initiate. US citizens are included in the UK Prism operation, and UK citizens are included in the US Prism operation, and the swapping of resulting intelligence reports is an automatic process. So the UK takes the view it is not breaching the guidelines about spying on its own citizens as it is not REQUESTING the NSA to do anything, and vice versa.

It is precisely analogous to our receipt of intelligence from torture, which I was told as Ambassador was perfectly legal as long as we don’t request that the individual be tortured.


123 thoughts on “Lack of Intelligence

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  • Dick the Prick

    And then they wonder why they can’t even control the Tory party! Ha ha ha. Little shits. Apparently Cameron’s on the edge of a nervous breakdown and from my 2 associations – he frikkin’ well should be. Labour, too, can be killed from the inside although with guys like Doogie Alexander being promoted so high, who knows? Don’t need no hacking to read polls – Billy Hague’s fucked and Eric Pickles can go back to rigging mayoralties. Toodles! Arseholes. Call themselves Tories? If it doesn’t take 7 years, it’ll take 12 or 17 or 22 to get them back. Can anyone remember the great repeal act? No, me neither. Funny old business. Anyone career minded should choose Labour.

  • Abe Rene

    50,000 people know a secret and it has never been let out? Remarkable! Perhaps the idea is exaggerated in the first place?

  • Villager

    To repeat a comment from the last thread:

    Jake
    10 Jun, 2013 – 4:17 pm
    This from The Guardian:

    @2013-06-10 09:40:04 UTC

    But he indicated that GCHQ might have also fallen foul of the law if it accepted information from the NSA on British citizens. “One of the big questions that is being asked is if British intelligence agencies want to seek to know the content of emails can they get round the normal law in the UK by simply asking an American agency to provide that information?” he said.

    @2013-06-10 13:40:38 UTC (about 4 hours later)

    But he indicated that GCHQ might have also fallen foul of the law if it requested information from the NSA on British citizens. “One of the big questions that is being asked is if British intelligence agencies want to seek to know the content of emails can they get round the normal law in the UK by simply asking an American agency to provide that information?” he said.

    Did anybody see what they did there?

  • Bena

    “I am astonished that still none of our pusillanimous media has published the simple fact that NSA and GCHQ share ALL intelligence reports with each other.”

    I can believe that Britain is a sufficiently supine satellite of the US to make all its intelligence unconditionally available to the US, but I find it hard to imagine the reverse.

    That said, you basic point is correct: it is hard to believe that the British state does not enjoy extra-legal access to all private electronic communication in the UK.

  • Brendan

    I doubt many journalists are that conversant with the world of the security services. And those that are … well, let us just wonder aloud if they are not a little too conversant with said world. Not that journalists are ignorant, more that they don’t really look too closely, and accept what they are told by lawyers and senior editors. And what they are being told is that if they say too much, they’ll go to jail, or at least put their careers at risk.

    It’s a wondrous thing this propaganda model. So effective that people censor themselves, even censor their own thoughts. We are in the world of psychology here, not journalism as such.

  • Komodo

    Oh yes. This is salient: “In fact GCHQ do not have to ask, and NSA do not have specifically to initiate. US citizens are included in the UK Prism operation, and US citizens are included in the UK Prism operation, and the swapping of resulting intelligence reports is an automatic process. So the UK takes the view it is not breaching the guidelines about spying on its own citizens as it is not REQUESTING the NSA to do anything, and vice versa.”

    And the bland official reassurances such as “The idea that in GCHQ people are sitting working out how to circumvent a UK law with another agency in another country is fanciful. It is nonsense.” (Billy Fourteen Pints)…are carefully constructed to avoid this point. It’s rather like Thatcher’s immortal “We have no plans to privatise the water supply”. She didn’t happen to have the plans with her on that day… A couple of years later, privatised water.

    “In order to protect the public, that does require, as President Obama said in Washington, some intrusion on privacy,” said the unspeakable Rifkind.
    1. The terrorists have won. They’ve subverted our freedoms.
    2. Putting Rifkind in charge of the enquiry is like getting Murdoch to investigate phone hacking.

  • Villager

    Brendan, on the other hand… I wonder if at a subtle level, there is a shift in the collective consciousness taking place, accelerated by the younger generation. Assange, Manning, Snowden and others are responding to the massive injustice we have seen unabated in this new millennium. There are signs of a real and meaningful polarisation taking place at a far deeper level that the peace ‘movement’ around the Vietnam War days.

    The internet is also facilitating and fuelling this. It is a double-edged sword: one that lends to a more efficient and effective information and communication platform to move the global conversation constructively towards greater justice in society. While on the other side the power wielders and brokers figure out ways to sustain their grip and control over the 99%.

    The real impact of the internet as a platform of change is yet to materialise in the way society and government are arranged. Governments and their financial-military-industrial combine still have the synergy of sheer money power. However, in the meantime, millions upon millions young people around the world are creating a 1+1=11 synergy in fundamentally questioning and challenging the fatal grip.

    Snowden’s actions are undoubtedly historic. He declared “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded’’

    In other words, perhaps there is a different psychology coming into play with the younger generation that has grown up with the internet.

  • Iain Orr

    It will take some persistent and intelligent quizzing of Hague by MPs and journalists to make clear how he is being “economical with the actualité” in claiming that no law is being broken. Villager (above) has identified one of the key distinctions, that between “accepting” and “requesting” information. As Craig reminds us, the same distinction was used by Jack Straw to justify using (in intelligence assessments, though not as evidence in court)information secured by torturing prisoners.

    There’s a corollary that should, however, not be overlooked: a similar distinction is being made when Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organization argues that it did not request the information provided by Bradley Manning. The difference between the two cases is that both Assange and Manning can present a strong public interest argument to justify making public certain information that governments have sought to restrict [in economic terms, market manipulation and insider trading]. What the information is naturally affects the strength of the argument that it is in the public interest for it to be published. In the case of torture – and similarly with slavery, genital mutilation and the deliberate killing of innocent people in peacetime – no such justification is possible, even though many attempt to use a debased utilitarian argument to do so.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Am I the only one feeling a twinge of suspicion that this PowerPoint slide is a bit too good to be true? All those Yahoo, Facebook, Skype logos for the slow-learners. It reminds me a bit of those alleged 9/11 hijackers packing flight training manuals in their luggage.

  • Komodo

    KoWN

    Yes, know what you mean. But it’s plausible, I think, as everything in the business world has to have logos and mission statements and irrelevant detail and be done by a PR company at immense expense. I imagine the NSA is similar. Also, reflect that Microsucks, with Windows 7 and the latest Office, have made it virtually impossible to produce a clear narrative while attempting to disable the multiple options for nasty colours and nursery shapes…

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Komodo, thanks, yes I take your point. I was just wondering, really. I guess I’m just a touch disappointed to learn that these days even Dr Strangelove has to give crappy PowerPoint presentations.

  • Declan

    “US citizens are included in the UK Prism operation, and US citizens are included in the UK Prism operation”

    (second last paragraph)

    Mistake?

  • craig Post author

    Abe Rene

    It is not exaggerated in the least. GHCQ and MI6 share all intelligence reports, and so do MI6 and the CIA. I saw such reports every day of my working life for 20 years, so I can assure you I perfectly well know of what I speak.

    When you receive the reports, signal intelligence (SIGINT) from GCHQ and NSA is covered in a blue jacket, human intelligence (HUMINT) from MI6 and CIA is in a red jacket. The only way you can tell US from UK intelligence is by the numeric code indicator at the start of the report. The format is precisely the same.

  • guano

    We should follow the Prime Minister’s advice at the recent emergency in Woolwich and not take any notice of terrorist activity by organised-criminal-terrorist-state-governments. Any government institution that collects information for security purposes and then divulges it to private corporations in order to harrass individuals who do not submit to government authority has exceeded the legitimate scope of spying for state security.

    It’s like the fact that our ballot papers are numbered. The information would reveal our identities and we are reassured that it is kept secret. Government can and does divulge what it likes to third parties, 1/ by sharing it with other countries including the intelligence diaspora from Al Qaida to the US, 2/ by contracting security to private companies including Israeli companies, 3/ by revealing it directly to the media through direct and indirect contacts, 4/ by utilising even very low grade police officers to implement direct punitive treatment, spread disinformation which would lead others, individuals or corporations to give punitive treatment, or to license others to do it by removing the fear of redress or discovery.

    When you shop in the supermarket, minor errors occur at the till. That’s normal. If a pattern of error accumulates, you suspect dishonesty. But if you complain and no correction is made, you have evidence of corporate fraud. in the matter of government intelligence we are at the last, last stage, not the first.

    David Cameron made a bid recently to divert the Aid budget to funding Security, which is combined now with a proposal to divide Syria. We saw the way in which the information Gaddafi kept about Libyan citizens was deliberately released to his lawless successors to enable genocide. That was done by us. the same is about to be done in Syria by William Hague and David Cameron. because of the money crisis created by the Zionist bankers, Cameron is forced to deliver UK Aid to Israeli security companies to wrap up Israel’s neighbouring civilian population as it sees fit. Who needs Assad to control the Muslims, when the UK gives its direct authority through the aid budget.

    Sometimes a thing is not the problem itself, but the narrative underlying that thing is completely corrosive. If Israel succeeds in controlling Syria, why would Israel not go on to control the United Kingdom through an EDL government. You turn a blind eye to what your government does to others and you pretty soon find it is doing the same thing to yourself.

  • guano

    If , as probably is the case, Snowden is a deliberate gaffe by the Hollywood film directors who run the world through the world’s media, then they probably calculate that they can focus the public’s imagination on the personal threat to themselves, which is trivial. The real threat lies in the hidden implications of NWO manipulation technique. The Anti-Christ is coming. Practise makes perfect, so practise on every piece of media generated manipulation, and you might not be completely taken-in by the AntiChrist.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Ditto Naval military signals routed with the same NSA key unless double encrypted for the ship captain’s eyes only. I witnessed the same ‘NOT FOR SOUTH AFRICA EYES’ signals on US naval boats while inspecting their high speed printers.

    Attacks on American and British soil were separated by four years. One attack was a fear catalyst, the other attack a fear fortifier of the fear catalyst.(The Iraq war took longer than projected) and to this very day people and children in Iraq are still dying in conflict, venom and toxins.

  • Komodo

    I guess I’m just a touch disappointed to learn that these days even Dr Strangelove has to give crappy PowerPoint presentations.

    It’s mandatory at Watford. You thought it was a Hitler salute, but he is just signalling to his flunkey to change the PP slide. Actually, I suspect that abolishing Power Point would have an even greater impact on human happiness than poisoning Osborne’s champagne…but I digress.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    @Declan No mishtake shurely. What in the realm of magazine advertising used to be—maybe still is—known, oddly enough, as a contra deal.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Surprised no one has pointed out its privileged strategic position permits Israel de facto access to the data of US & UK citizens.

  • guano

    Mark
    My parents had a friend who was an HM Art Inspector who enjoyed pulling rank on quite senior military. Fear fortifier sounds like something from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Morally invigourating to the spiritually lazy.

  • Flaming June

    From Medialens

    Russia ready to consider asylum for NSA whistleblower Snowden
    Posted by Richard on June 11, 2013, 11:21 am

    Russia is willing to consider granting political asylum for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who blew the lid on the US PRISM program, Russian media reported. Snowden dropped out of sight Monday after he was last seen checking out of a Hong Kong hotel.

    If we receive such a request, we will consider it,” Kommersant daily quoted President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying.

    Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, revealed the existence of PRISM, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive data-mining surveillance program which gave the agency backdoor access to emails, videos, chats, photos and search queries from nine worldwide tech giants.

    The whistleblower disappeared after checking out of a Hong Kong hotel, Reuters quoted witnesses as saying. A day earlier Snowden revealed his identity to The Guardian newspaper.

    The revelations of Edward Snowden have been condemned by senior US lawmakers, who threatened the whistleblower with prosecution. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Monday called Snowden’s NSA leaks an “act of treason.”

    Chairman of the House homeland security subcommittee Peter King stressed that if Edward Snowden is the leaker, then the US “must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law and begin extradition proceedings at the earliest date.”

    On Monday, Regina Ip, formerly Hong Kong’s top official overseeing security, told reporters it would be in Snowden’s “best interest to leave Hong Kong,” citing an extradition treaty with the United States that was signed in 1996.

    http://rt.com/news/russia-consider-asylum-snowden-517/

    Responses

    that probably puts the triad assassination option higher up the list nm – MikeD Today, 12:46 pm

    http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1370946073.html

  • Komodo

    “Surprised no one has pointed out its privileged strategic position permits Israel de facto access to the data of US & UK citizens.”

    Who do you think collects the data in the first place? 🙂

  • GF

    With what other countries is the US sharing the data they collect on UK citizens? We can be sure that, if it were in their interest, the US would trade such data without scruple.

    Also what else does the UK do, apart from browsing intelligence reports, care of the US secret services?
    Is it not reasonable to assume that agents within the UK, if they appeared employed by the US, could carry out actions against UK citizens that the law here would not permit? (They have similar arrangements on the continent, so why not here?)

  • babel fool

    How could there unqualified sharing? Even after all the problems with Blunt et al? Surely it is or has at some times been limited sharing?

  • nevermind

    Another centrally organised demonstration undermined and thwarted, because people are daft at communicating.

    What did they expect, all of them in one place, when they could be elsewhere. Organising demonstrations will have to take on more imaginary forms.

    NGO’s should also make clear where they stand, they can’t carry on sniping from the sidelines and when it comes to action, they jump on to the fence.

    Continuous bungling such as this makes me wonder whether the UK NGO’s have all been undermined and infiltrated by undercover police officers, whether any of them can mount an effective non violent protest without being hounded by the police.

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