The Omniscient State 164

It is not whether the individual had done anything wrong: it is whether the state has done anything wrong. Hague’s plea for the omniscient state is chilling: if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about. So it is alright for the state to eavesdrop all our social interactions, to follow our every move? Is there to be no privacy from the prying eye of the state, which can watch me on the toilet, and if I have done nothing wrong I have nothing to hide?

The terribly sad thing is that, by a media campaign which has raised public fear of terrorism beyond any rational analysis of the risk (depending which year you take as the base line, you have between 40 and 300 times more risk of drowning in your own bath than being killed by a terrorist) there is great public acceptance of the intrusive state. This of course depends on the notion that the state is not only omniscient but benevolent. I do urge anyone infected by this way of thinking to read Murder in Samarkand for a practical demonstration of just how malevolent, indeed evil, the state can be.

GCHQ and NSA share all intelligence reports, as do the CIA and MI6, under US/UK intelligence sharing agreements first put in place by Roosevelt and Churchill. That is one of the most widely known of all official secrets – there are probably fifty thousand current or retired civil servants like me who know that, and many academics, journalists etc – but even in the light of the Snowden revelations, you probably won’t see it much in print, and you won’t hear it in Parliament, because it is still a criminal offence to say it. Let me say it again:

GCHQ and NSA share all intelligence, as do the CIA and MI6, under US/UK intelligence sharing agreements first put in place by Roosevelt and Churchill. NSA and GCHQ do the large bulk of communication interception. Now both NSA and GCHQ are banned from spying on their own citizens without some motive of suspicion – though as Edward Snowden has been explaining, that motive of suspicion can be terribly slight, like you have someone as a facebook friend who has a facebook friend whose sister once knew someone connected with an animal liberation group. But in any event, the safeguards are meaningless as NSA and GCHQ can intercept communications of each other’s citizens and they share all information. I have been explaining this in public talks these last ten years – I am happy it is finally hitting the headlines.

We need Edward Snowden and we need Bradley Manning. I had hoped that the barefaced lies of Bush and Blair, leading to a war that killed hundreds of thousands, would make people see that politicians, and the corporate interests that stand so close behind them, simply cannot be trusted.

The world needs whistleblowers. Now more than ever.

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164 thoughts on “The Omniscient State

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  • doug scorgie

    Abe Rene
    (1) “Seriously, we are talking about Western democracies, not Uzbekistan. Citizens are free to set up parties like Put An Honest Leftie into Parliament, get elected (if they can) and then change official policy.”

    (2) “@Indigo Do you really believe that MPs have any control at all over ‘national security’ matters? “I can think of a number of possible ways: being on commons select committees, being on party policy committees, and being cabinet ministers.”

    (3) “I wonder why Edward Snowden didn’t take connecting flights all the way to Rejkjavik and then ask for asylum, instead of flying into Hong Kong…”

    Abe, are you thick, naive or a card carrying statist?

  • doug scorgie

    Abe Rene
    10 Jun, 2013 – 11:45 am

    “Of course. Snowden might not be in HK at all! (Lightly slaps his forehead). Where he might be is anyone’s guess. South America, maybe.”

    The Guardian interviewed him in Hong Kong.

  • Clydebuilt

    KingofWelshNoir 10 Jun, 2013 – 10:16 am

    “It’s a terrible irony that the internet which is such a wonderful development may turn out to be the means of our own ultimate ensnarement. It gives the spooks undreamed of possibilities for control and it seems we are being slowly bound round and round with digital spider silk.”

    Is that what’s happening in the comments on this blog. Quickly the comments are o/t going round in circles, just what’s required.

  • doug scorgie

    10 Jun, 2013 – 12:32 pm

    “As to Hague, well I think we all know about Hague. He’s lying. His other, ah, issues are his own, but his routine dishonesty is our problem. How this failed leader became Forn Sec is beyond me, unless it’s related to these, uhm, other issues about which we may only speculate.”

    In August 2010, Hague set out a values based foreign policy. He said:

    “We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience. Foreign policy is domestic policy written large. The values we live by at home do not stop at our shores. Human rights are not the only issue that informs the making of foreign policy, but they are indivisible from it, not least because the consequences of foreign policy failure are human”.

    Just one month later, after press speculation, William Hague admitted that he shared a hotel room on a number of occasions with Christopher Myers, a young man with little, if any, foreign affairs experience.

    Who tipped off the press? MI5?

    Soon after, Hague abandoned his human rights values-based foreign policy and has since toed the establishment line.

    State blackmail?

    Picture of “twin beds”:

  • doug scorgie

    10 Jun, 2013 – 12:38 pm

    “This is what I don’t understand, why anyone is surprised, I thought it had been common knowledge for over a decade.”

    Yes it has, as you say, but people who pointed this out have been labelled as paranoid conspiracy theorists.

    Now that it is officially out in the open (and the “conspiracy theorists” have been vindicated – but not acknowledged) we are told it was/is for our own protection.

  • guano

    Doug Scorbie

    You are very cynical about Hague, but I think in the wrong direction. William Hague is not capable of thinking up words like:

    “The values we live by at home do not stop at our shores. Human rights are not the only issue that informs the making of foreign policy, but they are indivisible from it, not least because the consequences of foreign policy failure are human.”

    He is not a decent man capable of being compromised. The Bankers “fixed it” for Cameron by lying to Gordon Brown and busting the economy, allowing a group of Thatcherite savages back into power that would never have seen the light of day again after the fall of Mrs Insane.

    These people have an agenda against the former Soviet Union, the bogeyman outsider of the Cold War, and they start civil wars in order prise ex-Soviet assets from their hands, killing millions of people. I am more worried about Hague’s relationship with Israel than with another man.

    Last week Israel shipped in Iranian mercenaries to AlQusayr, no doubt tipping off rebel fighters beforehand, in order to secure control over their Northern border with Syria/Lebanon. Netanyahu and Hague, Osborne and Cameron have horrible bedroom habits for sure, same as Maggie and the Savile man.

    But I will never forget Maggie publicly announcing her sponsorship of Saddam Hussein. The Tories have form.

  • Cryptonym

    Bruce Schneier has weighed in with a couple of interesting posts.

    I wonder at the possible google connections Private Eye has revealed about NewLab & Tories?

    The many links between the internet giant and UK political leaders.”

    Anyone got the most recent copy? Sod buying it, it’s nothing like as good as it was when this place was all glaciers.

    Also this bang up to date post

    related links:

  • doug scorgie

    10 Jun, 2013 – 1:13 pm

    “Fear not… for these slime balls will be voted in again at the next election.”

    Yes and it doesn’t matter which party the slime balls represent; they are all under the control of the puppet-masters, the state elite.

  • doug scorgie

    Trowbridge H. Ford
    10 Jun, 2013 – 5:30 pm

    “Perhaps the WP remembered what happened when Wikileaks posted all the unredacted Afghan File. from Gareth Williams.”

    Wikileaks – un-redacted Afghan File – Gareth Williams.

    How does Gareth Williams fit in here?

    Perhaps I have missed something but I don’t see a connection.

    Please explain

  • Roberto

    the odious homosexual paedophile protector makes my flesh crawl. it is beyond bizarre that the dumbstruck british public let these unelected cretins, criminals and perverts destroy their civil liberties, their wealth, and personal freedoms and then just sit there and watch it all happen like they’re in a trance or watching a car crash.

    it’s a statistical fact that politicians are 4 times more likely to be jailed than the average person so it is them that we should be watching. most of these cunts shouldn’t even be walking the streets let alone telling us what to do.

  • doug scorgie

    Lord Palmerston
    10 Jun, 2013 – 6:03 pm

    “There is a certain bitter satisfaction in all this for us Democracy-sceptics.”

    “Picking on a cabinet minister is silly; they are essentially interchangeable, as are the main parties.”

    Quite true but the thing that is not interchangeable is the state: comprising the unelected, unaccountable, rich and powerful elite.

    Can you explain your alternative to democracy that would see these bastards held to account?

  • Herbie

    “This is one govt IT project I hope just ends up being a useless white elephant”

    Very good.

    I wonder does govt procurement use better companies for security projects than they do for others, or is their much trumpeted listening ability as useful as a BBC detector van.

    They seem to use Israeli companies for these and other security projects.

  • CanSpeccy

    The world needs whistleblowers. Now more than ever.

    More like, we need to hang some of the traitors. A promise to hang the war criminals should pull in a good few votes in a US, French or British election.

  • Cryptonym

    Some details about probable/possible Israeli involvement:

    Whole NSA thing is a hoax, too apparently:

    Not that they aren’t spying/storing/logging everything, that has long been universally accepted; but do these ‘revelations’ actually tell us anything new, other than a new name — old wine in a new bottle. New Dazzling Prism3. With all this net privacy brouhaha, the Bilderbuggers are getting an easy ride and there hasn’t been a new royal story for some hours. When does the ‘silly season’ for the media officially start?

    I don’t know if Greenwald would be easily fooled, but the alacrity with which the mainstream media have gone large on this, doesn’t inspire confidence or salvage their credibility. Vampire politicians like Rifkind are tumbling out of their House of Lords lairs, hardly stopping to brush the cobwebs off before rushing to the TV studios to issue fevered denials.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)


    I have had the same creepy thought. Were we separated at birth?

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    Craig said, “It is not whether the individual had done anything wrong: it is whether the state has done anything wrong.”

    Despite this opening statement the cipher fails to inspire anyone here clearly because we are all focused on violations of our own civil liberties when in fact the wise among us couldn’t give a fkuc about autonomy; political, domestic, public, foreign or otherwise. We have moved on.

    Governments are antithetical to autonomy. Governments are dependent on public acceptance, confidence and certainty. That is the axiom of dominion and key to the reinforcement of power and control of our lives.

    The reliance on discreet social disclosure by the establishment to gauge nihilism and rebellion is an obsession, a neurosis as Bush the son intimates in a spent address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001 when he pronounced, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” (and we have armed drones!)

    Most of us with any sagacity are revolutionary and some of us are indeed rebels because we know the system of representative governance is crooked, perfidious, sordid and sleazy.

    LIFE IS meaningless to those consumed by power. It is those that are willing to hack into and destroy any life deemed apocalyptic even threatening to this system of governance.

    Thankfully we are many and growing, they are few. We are winning. To those ‘Masters of Nothing’ -expect us.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Happy to, Doug Scorgie.

    Gareth Williams got in trouble when, thanks to his ability to hack into encrypted lap tops for MI6/GCHQ, the Manhattan 11, naive Russian nationals and supporters who were willing to work with the Agency to expose subversive countrymen, were set up themselves as Russian spies, and when he decided to do something drastic about it, thinking he was untouchable, he was cruelly murdered.

    Wikileaks betrayed Williams by posting his unredacted Afghan File.

    I believe that the current case with Edward Snowden is an improvement upon the Manhattan 11 fiasco where a real secret agent goes under deep cover to entice America’s enemies, especially China, to fall for the ruse that he is really a whistleblower who has all kinds of real secrets to tell Beijing – what will cause the new Chinese President all kinds of problems if he stupidly fails for it.

    In the process, Bradley Manning will be made to look more like a real spy.

    It’s new DCI John Brennan’s effort to prove that he, not former DCI Leon Panetta, is the real spy master.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    The basic reason that there are no whistleblowers over the 9/11 fiasco is that most of them, the 15 unarmed agents, apparently working for the Agency, were on the planes when they crashed.

    The Pentagon made sure that the seven ones on the last plane that crashed did not turn whistleblowers over what they had foiled by having it deliberately shot down.

  • glenn_uk

    …whether the explicit denials from Facebook, Microsoft and Google are barefaced lies..

    This doesn’t matter, and rather misses the point. The entire purpose of companies like FB, MS and G are to aggregate data on individuals, and sell that data to interested parties for a profit. (When not performing any additional functions in secret on behalf of the state.)

    One such company is Palantir, a name familiar to readers of Tolkien, which boasts of its speciality in looking for patterns in vast amounts of disparate data. It has coinciding members on the board of directors with FB, and one just happens to be the founder of Paypal. The latter is a US-style Libertarian, which means one who disparages all state involvement in the “market” apart from enforcement of copyright and property law, and of course handing over taxpayer money to your own interests.

    The Paypal founder fantasises about a Libertarian paradise on some massive disused oil platform, or tanker, which would not be subject to any laws except their own principles. Until bad luck/ pirates / an epidemic etc. hits them, of course. He also offered the services of Palantir to teabagger groups at the last election, offering to dig dirt on their enemies. For a price, naturally.

  • oddie

    11 June: Fisaa law grants US ‘heavy-calibre mass surveillance firepower’
    by Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor
    It is widely alleged that the satellite ground station at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, the NSA’s largest eavesdropping centre outside the US, has been used for this purpose…

    can u believe this poll? thought not…

    11 June – Washington Post – Jon Cohen: Most Americans back NSA tracking phone records, prioritize probes over privacy
    (Jon Cohen is polling director for Capital Insight, Washington Post Media’s independent polling group)
    A large majority of Americans say the federal government should focus on investigating possible terrorist threats even if personal privacy is compromised, and most support the blanket tracking of telephone records in an effort to uncover terrorist activity, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.
    Fully 45 percent of all Americans say the government should be able to go further than it is, saying that it should be able to monitor everyone’s online activity if doing so would prevent terrorist attacks….
    Overall, 56 percent of Americans consider the NSA’s accessing of telephone call records of millions of Americans through secret court orders “acceptable,” while 41 percent call the practice “unacceptable.” ….

  • Jemand

    It might turn out that this NSA leak works for the US govt, at least domestically, in terms of eventual public acceptance of the encroachment by the surveillance state into their lives. Many US citizens will see this revelation as a necessary development in the fight against the perennial bogeyman, whatever form it takes at the time.

  • DavidH

    The public seem to regard privacy as an outdated concept. They don’t much care if their online activity is being snooped on because they themselves are throwing away their own privacy by posting every mundane and intimate detail all the time, often not even bothering to use the privacy settings offered by the online platforms, let alone taking any extra precautions to protect themselves against back-door access by government agencies.

    It will take some clear cases of members of the public being hurt by the surveillance before many people sit up and take notice – “hey, that could have been me!”. So far, perhaps a few individuals of Pakistani descent being wrongly arrested, entrapped, renditioned or tortured does not raise much alarm. They probably had weird beards and were up to no good anyway, right?? The only significant public response about internet freedoms seems to be when the right to illegally download vast quantities of pirated movies and music is threatened – a rather selfish and superficial concern, if you ask me, and not a principled human rights position.

  • Flaming June

    As a reporter said, after half an hour nobody was any the wiser as to who, what and why.

    Strange that the question was addressed to Gideon who attended yet Clarke, who also attended, answered.

    The HoC becomes more like the set for an Alice in Wonderland film by the day.
    Michael Meacher (Oldham West and Royton, Labour)

    (Urgent Question):To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Bilderberg conference, which he attended.

    Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe, Conservative)

    This is a first occasion for me, as I have never previously answered a question in the House of Commons on behalf of a private organisation for which the Government have no responsibility. I have been a member of the steering committee of Bilderberg for many years now—about 10 years, I think—and by chance this will be my last year, as we have a rule against being on the committee for too long, so I am on the point of stepping down. [Interruption.]Other roles are timeless, with no rules at all, but in this role I have now reached the end of my allotted span.

    The Bilderberg organisation exists for the purpose of holding meetings once a year in various countries; it exists for no other purpose. This year, the meeting was held at a large hotel near Watford in Hertfordshire. I did not receive adequate notice of the right hon. Gentleman’s question—because I was not found in time—to put to hand the list of those who participated and the agenda we discussed. We always circulate those before the meeting, and they are readily available. I can certainly put any hon. Member in touch with a source of the list of those who took part.


    This is Hague’s piffle/waffle from yesterday.

    William Hague (Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Richmond (Yorks), Conservative)

    With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on the work of the Government Communications Headquarters—GCHQ—its legal framework and recent publicity about it. As Foreign Secretary, I am responsible for the work of GCHQ and the Secret Intelligence Service—MI6—under the overall authority of the Prime Minister. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is responsible for the work of the Security Service, MI5.


    That went on for just over an hour. He must have been quite done in after that effort.

  • oddie

    today we get a distraction –

    U.S. could decide to arm Syrian rebels as early as this week: U.S. official

    and today abc australia chooses the very people whose plan it is to balkanise the arab countries!

    AUDIO: ABC Australia: Is Syria headed for partition?
    Israeli defence specialist, Ron Ben-Yishai, tells us that the Syrian conflict may be resolved through the partition of the country but that president Assad could equally make an all out strike on Israel if he feels cornered

    google’s world news page couples the abc piece with this! LOL.

    Jerusalem Post: Israel avoids US debate on arming Syrian rebels

  • Flaming June

    Comment from Medialens which mentions Craig. I concure with CJ.

    CameraOn :”our intelligence agencies do a fantastic job” – did they let the public know about Iraq?!
    Posted by CJ on June 11, 2013, 2:26 am

    “David Cameron said the UK’s intelligence agencies were subject to proper scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security Committee in the House of Commons.

    “That scrutiny is important and I will make sure that it takes place.”

    He added: “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastic job to keep us safe and operate within the law.” ”

    We always hear what a great job the intelligence services are doing – but did we ever hear a dicky bird from any of them on the lies our politicians were feeding us about Iraq before and after 2003.

    Do we hear from them about the truth in Yugoslavia, Libya and Syria – nothing.

    Why should we have any faith in these people who have continually conspired with politicians to hide the truth from the public for their own gain?

    The Government is trying to play the armed forces Patriot card in respect of a community that could never claim to be working for us, only themselves and their political masters.

    As Craig Murray says we are being protected from a threat which is 300 times less likely to happen than drowning in our own bath – and it costs us billions each year and eats into our human rights like the bubonic plague.

    Power corrupts , absolute power corrupts absolutely, secret power is absolute power that we just haven’t crossed yet.


    Cameron was speaking yesterday at DP World’s massive new development in Essex – The London Gateway. DP World is a United Arab Emirates owned global conglomerate. They also run Southampton port in conjunction with Associated British Ports.

    The Board

    See connections of Parker and Williams.

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