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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  • nevermind

    Truth is free, thanks for your reminder of Gladio, nukes disguised as air condition units etc. Another numb nut idea that will only result in self destruction, whether it is Israel or anybody else indulging in such fantasy, you would not want to live on earth after a medium tactical nuclear exchange or attack.

    So why should anybody be so shit stupid to commit suicide?

    The debate is not about who’s best at digging up the smelliest pile of rumours, but to tell the NSA that they have gone too far.

    People will make their own decision regards to internet security, encrypting is one way, it might not be able stop them, but it will force those snoops to eat their muesli and do the work.
    The elation that must be felt after four days of solid deciphering when one finds out that a coffee morning has happened the same day.
    A coffee morning were issues were discussed nobody will ever find out about. lets not forget the power of meeting people and talking, still the safest form of communicating, in a park or back garden or elsewhere without CCTV.

    Thanks for that link showing the vector search option these days, Richard, very interesting to analysts of all sorts, this ‘market data’ of internet consumers. George Orwell is standing at the doorstep, best ask Suhayl to put the kettle on.

    @John Goss, agree on McCain, he’s nasty by profession.

  • Dreoilin

    Twitter + Guardian comments keep me smiling


    “If we all log into Facebook at the same time and post ‘Allahu Akhbar’ will the (NSA) system crash?”

  • Jemand

    The exposure of Project PRISM brings into question the security and confidentiality of non-US commercial data that resides on American cloud-computing servers. From these servers, business intelligence can be extracted and then furnished to major US corporations who seek commercial advantages over their foreign competitors. British companies would be ill-advised to use American cloud-computing services without using robust military-grade encryption to enforce privacy.

  • Dreoilin

    O/T – sort of

    ‘Former drone operator says he’s haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths’


    “McClatchy” – ISLAMABAD — In office for less than a week, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, vented his anger Monday at two recent U.S. drone strikes, all but accusing his country’s overbearing military of lying to Pakistanis about its cooperation with the CIA to eliminate terrorism suspects in northwest tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

    “The policy of protesting against drone strikes for public consumption, while working behind the scenes to make them happen, is not on,” Sharif said, according to an official statement issued after the first meeting of his Cabinet. (continues)

  • Dreoilin

    ‘US nuclear bombs ‘based in Netherlands’ – ex-Dutch PM Lubbers’
    Lubbers was Dutch prime minister from 1982 to 1994

    ‘Some 22 US nuclear weapons are stored on Dutch territory, says former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers’

    ‘He made the revelation in a documentary for National Geographic – saying: “I would never have thought those silly things would still be there in 2013”.’

  • nevermind

    Thanks for that Dreolin, Europe seems to be full of nukes and those who in recent days have become known to have designed the systems that control us, might have been able to find out the command sequences to these WMD’s and what is needed to take control their use.

    That would make a ‘Samson option’ scenario possible, if at all.
    But what would it have taken during the cold war, theoretically, to operate a top secret program to take control over some NATO nukes?

    Would it be possible to break top secret codes for their use?, their timers and choice of coordinates are usually triggered by two commands, for security, sic.

    But, theoretically thinking, if a group would have been able to break into these codes and find out how to activate them, it would give them access to any of NATO’s nukes in Europe and it would look authentic when they go off.

    The only plausible Samson option imho.

  • Roberto

    Komodo 12 Jun, 2013 – 9:43 am

    “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

    The problem with the story quoted wasn’t that someone called a Jew a ‘Jew’. It was the fact that a Jew was publicly criticised by a non-Jew.

    If you, as a gentile, criticise Netanyahu then you are the same as Hitler. If your criticism is *exactly* the same as another Jew’s criticism then yours is ‘anti-Semitic’ and theirs is not. It’s one rule for them and one for the rest.

    Former Israeli Minister Shulamit Aloni explains anti-Semitism in her own words.

  • Fred

    “If you, as a gentile, criticise Netanyahu then you are the same as Hitler. If your criticism is *exactly* the same as another Jew’s criticism then yours is ‘anti-Semitic’ and theirs is not. It’s one rule for them and one for the rest. ”

    Was a time when anti-Semitic meant somebody who doesn’t like Jews.

    Now it means somebody who Jews don’t like.

  • Iain Orr

    Going back to Abe Rene’s contribution (11 June @ 2.50 pm), his reference to the NOFORN classification in US documents is a useful reminder that the US does not trust its “closest ally”. Nor (pace Craig) does it share everything with it. There’s nothing wrong about that. I would be appalled if the UK Government shared with the US authorities information which the UK has about UK campaigners against Guantanamo Bay. [Treat this as both ironic and non-ironic.]

    What deserves far more attention is that in the recent Judicial Review of the Chagos Marine Protected Area (MPA) the UK judges ruled as “inadmissible evidence” the Wikileaked cable of 15 May 2009 in which the US Embassy recorded Colin Roberts – then the FCO’s Director Overseas Territories – as using the derogatory words “Man Fridays” about the Chagossians in a UK/US meeting in the FCO on 12 May 09 about the rationale for the proposed MPA. That judgment, based on a deeply flawed interpretation of Paragraph 24 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, meant that crucial evidence was not allowed as evidence that Colin Roberts had lied under oath when he claimed not to have uttered these words – attributed to him in quotation marks in the US Embassy cable – during the 12 May meeting.

    The danger – unless it is successfully challenged – is that this UK Common Law court ruling will become a building block of the wall between what governments say and what they can be asked to explain in court. Be very afraid.

  • oddie

    this paper has a poll at the bottom and 86% don’t want their emails etc read by govt. paper shuts down comments after just 11 are posted, and the article is nowhere on the paper’s homepage. i’d heard about the article, yet it took quite a bit of time before i could locate it in a search:

    14 June -Sydney Morning Herald: Australia gets ‘deluge’ of US secret data, prompting a new data facility
    PIC CAPTION: Security centre: The rapidly expanding volume of Australian data and intelligence has required construction of a high-security communications and data centre at HMAS Harman
    The Australian government has been building a state-of-the art, secret data storage facility just outside Canberra to enable intelligence agencies to deal with a ”data deluge” siphoned from the internet and global telecommunications networks…
    Privately labelled by one Defence official as ”the new black vault”, the data centre is one of the few visible manifestations of Australia’s deep involvement in mass surveillance and intelligence collection operations such as the US National Security Agency’s PRISM program revealed last week by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden…
    Fairfax Media has confirmed Australian intelligence agencies receive what Defence intelligence officials describe as ”huge volumes” of ”immensely valuable” information derived from PRISM and other US signals intelligence collection programs…
    Officials cite intelligence relating to North Korea’s military threats, information relating to Australian citizens involved in fighting in Syria, missile technology acquisition efforts by Iran and Chinese internal political and economic developments as recent examples of the benefits of Australia’s intelligence ties with the US.
    US signals intelligence is also described as ”absolutely critical” to Australia’s diplomatic campaign to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
    ”Without intelligence support, overwhelmingly provided by US capabilities, we would not have won the seat,” one Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officer recently said…
    Media reports have suggested both Britain and the Netherlands, another close US intelligence partner, also enjoy access to reporting from PRISM.
    Officials estimate that Australia’s intelligence capabilities contribute between 5 and 8 per cent of the intelligence collection efforts of the five-eyes community…
    The $163.5 million HMAS Harman Communications Facility Project includes an extension to the existing Defence Network Operations Centre, the central hub of Australia’s third-largest telecommunications network, and the construction of what is described as ”a co-located but stand-alone communication/data-room facility”.
    Due to its complexity and expansion of requirements, the project is 80 per cent over its original budget and five years behind schedule, but is now near completion.
    In April 2009, the Labor government exempted the project from review by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works on the grounds that scrutiny ”would not be in the public interest”…

  • Komodo

    Fred – true. However, I’d have thought the Israeli soldierette (go on, feminists, take a pop, I don’t mind) would have been proud and gratified to have been described as looking like a Jew, since that’s exactly what she was. Difficult people, definitely.

  • Komodo

    Fox v. Boulter to go ahead. The Daily Wail doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry (“Ephraim Hardcastle”, their idiot sleb correspondent, yesterday interpreted Justice Bean’s clearance of the case to proceed as clearing Fox..)

    Lest we forget:

    In March 2011, Werritty was introduced by lobbyist Lee Petar of Tetra Strategy to the venture capitalist Harvey Boulter, who was engaged in a legal dispute with 3M over technology developed by the Ministry of Defence.[30]

    This led to a controversial meeting between then Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Mr Boulter in Dubai in June 2011.[31]

    Shortly after this meeting, Boulter sent an email to William Brewer of 3M, which read in part:

    At headline of of $30mn+ you will allow MoD internally to save face. IF it were to settle 3M would need to do an immediate charm offensive – my recommendation. The British generally are silent when they are upset – I am sure you realise this.

    Of course a settlement might not be possible, but as a result of my meeting today you ought to understand that David Cameron’s Cabinet will very shortly be discussing the rather embarrassing situation of George’s knighthood. It was discussed today. Government’s are big and sometimes decisions in one part are not well coordinated.[32]

    According to the Guardian, Boulter had discussed the issue of the knighthood being considered for 3M head George Buckley with Werritty, but not with Fox.[32]

    In a statement to the Guardian on the episode, Tetra stated:

    Tetra Strategy was retained in 2010 to provide litigation PR assistance to the Porton Group in connection with its ongoing High Court claim in England against 3M. The case concerned the development of new MRSA testing technology developed by the MoD. Tetra introduced its client to Adam Werritty in March 2011, who was widely believed at the time to be an official adviser to Dr Liam Fox. The purpose of the introduction was to brief the MoD on the litigation. The suggestion by the Guardian that Tetra was paid to arrange a “secretive” meeting with Dr Fox is not true and is expressly denied. Tetra is referring this matter to the PCC.”[30]

    The Cabinet Secretary’s report concluded on the Boulter meeting: “Dr Fox has acknowledged that conducting this meeting without a private secretary present was unwise and inappropriate.” According to the report, Fox had been offered and declined to have private office representation at the meeting.[17] (Powerbase)

    And Lee Petar, who introduced them? Jog my memory…ah, yes:

    I can’t think of a better Chief Whip for the Tories than Liam. Can you?

  • Cryptonym

    Nice one Komodo (3:48pm), I think a knighthood is in order, though I can’t promise anything.

    “I can’t think of a better Chief Whip for the Tories than Liam. Can you?”

    Neither can I in a Machiavellian way, as the stench of such contempt and disregard for propriety could hardly be bettered, except by Fox getting long absent chum Werrity to stand in for him in whipping the red raw backsides of the witless lumpen Tory lobby fodder; it is almost as if the Coalition were set on an early bath and are now steaming well past the bounds of acceptabilty, to make a early exit in an almighty blaze of ignominy.

    It is long past time too that the Liberals split in forlorn hope of resurrecting their ex-party. Cameron did say once, giving a hostage to fortune, that he would not preside over the breakup of the UK and though his word is only a wavering wail, he might rather Ed Miliband were presiding when that now certain contraction of Westminster’s remit becomes fact, it might be that his seeming arrogance turns accidentally to be prescience.

  • Ziggy

    “our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society… We won’t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line … I’ve learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dream world America I once believed in … Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.”

    Jim Garrison Oct. 1967

  • Flaming June

    Wish we had the equivalent of Birgitta Jonsdottir in this country.

    June 14 2013

    An Interview With Birgitta Jonsdottir, the Co-Producer of WikiLeaks’s “Collateral Murder” Video

    Fighting Secrecy and the National Security State


    The U.S. government’s “war on terror” and its companion “surveillance state” have become troubling issues not only for the civil liberties of Americans but even more so for the rest of the world where popular movements are arising to challenge the electronic penetration of people’s information and violation of their privacy.

    Iceland Member of Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir of the Pirate Party was in Berkeley, California, recently to speak at a forum with Daniel Ellsberg on “Disappearing Civil Liberties in The United States.” Jonsdottir is also Director of the International Modern Media Institute and co-producer of WikiLeaks’ “Collateral Murder” video, which revealed the slaughter of Iraqis in 2007 by a U.S. aerial weapons team.

    Jonsdottir, who has worked closely with WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, discussed the status of this emerging international struggle against government secrecy and surveillance in an interview with Dennis J Bernstein.

  • Wolf Baginski

    It sometimes gets hard to know what is truth and what is some wild conspiracy theory.

    Some of the current scandal doesn’t add up. The numbers don’t make sense. But the underlying structure of legal sidestepping that lets UK and US agencies get around legal restrictions, that feels solid.

    It’s just that a suck-up-everything approach is such a huge amount of data to duplicate in a safe place, both storage and getting it from A to B. Hundreds of internet company staff, running the networks, have to know about the data flow if it is that big. Every Google search copied to the NSA–how can that be kept secret? Google gets billions of requests and responses from all over the world, and how do you hide the duplicates sent to a few NSA sites? It’s a traffic level bigger than even IBM might generate.

    Snowden is exactly the sort of guy which such a scenario will throw up, the network engineer who sees things happen, and isn’t a part of the government.

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