Work for the UN 1072

GCHQ and the NSA between them employ tens of thousands of people.  I am bemused by the shock at the “revelation” they have been spying.  What on Earth did journalists think that spies do all day? That includes electronics spies.

Since Katherine Gun revealed that we spy on other delegations – and the secretariat – within the UN building, it is hardly a shock that we spy on other governments at summits in the UK.  For once, the government cannot pretend that the object is to save us all from terrorism, which is the usual catch all excuse.  Nor in the real world is any of the G20 nations a military threat to the UK.  The real truth of the matter is that our spies – GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 – are themselves a large and highly influential interest block within the state.  Lots of people make a great deal of money out of the security state, and this kind of activity is actually simply an excuse for taking money from taxpayers – which is from everyone who has ever bought anything – and giving that money to the “security industry”.

I do not view spying on other governments as quite as despicable as spying on ordinary citizens, which is an unspeakable betrayal of the purpose of government.  Spying on other governments is a game they all play to extort money each to their own security elites.  But I will say that spying on the South African government seems pretty low.  Why?

Interception of diplomatic communications is plainly a gross breach of the Vienna Conventions, even if the forms of communication have changed since they were drafted.  I have never studied the particulars of international law as they relate to spying, but it seems to me an area that in the modern world needs regulation.  There must be room here for the UN to be involved in preparing a Convention to outlaw the interception of international communications, with recourse to the International Court of Justice for those victim of it.

There is more work for the UN on Syria.  We should all be grateful that Russia is holding out against the very dubious western claims that the  Syrian government has deployed chemical weapons.  But while Obama can declare all the red lines he wishes, they do not give any country a right to take action on Syrian soil without UN authority.  That needs to be restated, strongly.  There is no basis at all for the continued and massive Israeli attacks on Syria – they are absolutely illegal.  Israeli strikes have definitely killed more people than the alleged deaths from chemical weapons.  Can someone explain to me why that is not a red line?

The UN Secretary General should be speaking out, and the UN Security Council should be meeting, to discuss the Israeli attacks on Syria.  The system of international law has broken down irretrievably.

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1,072 thoughts on “Work for the UN

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  • Indigo

    “The UN Secretary General should be speaking out, and the UN Security Council should be meeting, to discuss the Israeli attacks on Syria. The system of international law has broken down irretrievably”.

    Yes, they should and it has but …

    The UN has become powerless … if it was ever anything else … and Israel is a rogue state backed up politically, economically and militarily by the biggest, most powerful rogue state in the world.

  • Jives

    One mans red line is another mans blood.

    Good post again Craig.

    Maybe divorce emboldens Putin?

    Hope the heel is er…healing.

  • Richard

    Having been born in the ’50s and growing up until I was thirty-odd with the Berlin wall which they killed people for trying to get over, when the Stalinist excesses were still well within living memory and the Hungarian and Czechoslovak invasions more recent than that, I never thought that I would live to see the day when I would say “Thank God for Russia”.

  • Villager

    Somebody had to pull all the threads together (and no i definitely do not mean the comments degenerating to a heel). Brilliant holistic view Craig pulling together various aspects and bringing cohesive focus to the role of the UN, international law and Israel’s liberties. The UN should also investigate the free flow of money from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf member states to the extremists, but of course that’s not about to happen.

  • Jay

    What do these thousands of employees of the state system do all day?

    They cannot be asking how can we be improving the quality of life for all people; considering environmental effects and sustainability.

    As with most, they are
    truly considering what delhi sandwich to have – and what healthy drink option to obtain.

    I can only see change with some major artistic, cultural, or economic invention, that stays uncompromised.

    Joy rates highly.
    Hope your getting better Craig, ease of the gas and your foot should improve.

    Hope maestro is well.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    ‘I do not view spying on other governments as quite as despicable as spying on ordinary citizens…’

    Maybe not, but is there not something deeply unpleasant in the shameless dishonesty here? – setting up bugged email cafes for G20 delegates? Imagine inviting a guest to your home and offering him the use of a laptop during his stay, and installing key-logger software to capture his log-on details and read his email. I suspect there is hardly a person in the country who would behave in such a despicable fashion to a guest, but it seems to be routine behaviour among the people who rule the country.

  • Jemand

    With or without external interference, Syria has sufficient internal conflict now to ensure that any post-war settlement will require an aggressive enforcement of peace under a brutal regime. What can the UN do? Partition the country like we saw in Korea? Not many countries split or reunite without bloodshed. I don’t think Syrians will quickly forget their grudges so we might be looking at a couple of decades of misery before things improve for their people.

  • tdg

    “The strict surveillance that states once maintained over the activities of the citizenry have been shifted to other centers of power technically able (although not always legally) to find out to whom we have written, what we have bought, what trips we have taken, what our encyclopedic interests are, even our sexual preferences. The big problem facing a citizen’s private life is not hackers, which are no more frequent than the highwaymen who beset travelling merchants, but cookies and all those other technical marvels that make it possible to collect information about every one of us.

    If in Orwell’s novel Big Brother was an alegory for Stalin, the ‘little father’, the modern Big Brother watching us has no face and is not an individual, it is the global economy in its entirety. Like Foucault’s Power, it is not a recognisable entity but the combination of a series of power centers that accept the game, backing one another up reciprocally. The member of one center of power who spies on others making purchases in the supermarket will be spied on in turn when he pays his hotel bill with a credit card. When Power no longer has a face, it becomes invincible. Or at least difficult to control.

    Who wants their privacy defended? Those who have secret busines dealings, those who wish their personal correspondence to remain personal, those working on research that they do not yet wish to make public. We know all this perfectly well, but how many people call for this right? It seems to me that one of the great tragedies of mass society, of the press, television, and Internet, is the voluntary renunciation of privacy. The extreme expression of this renunciation is, at its pathalogical limit, exhibitionism. It strikes me as paradoxical that someone has to struggle for the defense of privacy in a society of exhibitionists.

    The fact is that the authorities who watch over our privacy need to defend not only those who wish to be defended but also those who no longer know how to defend themselves. It is precisely the behaviour of exhibitionists that tell us how much the assault on privacy has become -more than a crime- a social cancer. First and foremost, we should educate children to save them from the corrupting influence of their parents.

    But it’s a vicious circle. The assault on privacy accustoms everyone to the disappearance of privacy. Little by little we become exhibitionists, having learned that nothing can be kept confidential anymore and that no behaviour is considered scandalous. Those who are attacking our privacy, seeing that the victims themselves consent, will no longer stop at any violation.

    We must learn to work out, spread, and reward a new sensibility towards reserve, to educate people about reserve for themselves and toward others. Regarding respect for our own privacy, I’d like to quote the last phrase from the brief note left by Cesare Pavese before he committed suicide: “Don’t gossip too much.”

    Umberto Eco from the ‘The Loss of Privacy’ conference speech, Venice, Sept 2000

  • DtP

    It’s a bit optimistic to assume that the UN isn’t part of the problem in itself. Its agenda seems skewed, if not to say downright corrupt and if intelligence agencies adon’t respect their own governments, of what purpose would there be to suppose that anyone would respect the UN. It would just take agencies out of all administration, an arms length fuck you squad.

  • Passerby

    The system of international law has broken down irretrievably.

    This has been so for the last decade. The dying throws of the US empire has torn the mask of respectability and pretentious of adherence to laws and conventions ring hollow.

    The question arising: will the world recover from such a lawlessness, or will we spiral into an Hobbesian abyss?

    So far as the securofucks are concerned, these peeping toms, are out to only satiate their filthy voyeuristic penchants, at the expense of we the tax payers. Because any head of state, or foreign delegate damn fine well will know they are being spied on, and will act accordingly. Thus spying on these delegates is a purposeful activity akin to manufacture of chocolate fire-guards. However when there is free money and lots of it, who gives a damn?

    Although those sick malingerers taking up hospital beds and dying, ought not be getting a free ride from the state, and if they can so much as walk to the toilet unaided, they can damn fine well work too! Take away their sickness benefits, I say (cries the Tory/neo-labour/liberal tossers selected to attend the public trough called; the parliament); this is the way to save money!

  • karel (conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away)


    i share your amazement. If someone told me in nineteeneighties that I will watch RT one day then I would have considered him to be an imbecile. But it is all said by the prophetic Alan Price Everyone is going through the changes noone knows what is going on…

    more on

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Must say I don’t understand most of this – e.g.. getting upset about GCHQ data-mining summits, not objecting to The Guardian’s censoring the more important bits, not being upset that the newspaper doesn’t see fit to post more important revelations when Snowden needs NOW all the exposure he can get, posters finally seeing some good in Russia as if it had never done any good while it was part of the USSr, etc.

    Would think that The Guardian would allow the documents to speak for themselves, be eager to post ones about whistleblowers who have been destroyed for leaking secrets about them, and that people in the West had some idea of who got rid of the Axis powers, and who saved us from nuclear war when the Iran-Contra plotters attempted to end the Cold War with a non-nuclear one a the expense Olof Palme and a few dozen others.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Still waiting to see if Snowden has any revelations, and the media posts them about the unsolved or most inadequately covered up assassinations of whistleblowers Olof Palme, Dr. David Kelly, Anna Lindh, GMP Chief Constable Mike Todd, former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Stephen Hilder, Alexandr Litvinenko, Gareth Williams, Gudrun Loftus, Professor Steve Rawlings, etc., ad nauseam.


    Well I’m a bit surprised ‘cos I thought in the Vauxhall Westminster areas for example that spies lolled about all day in zipped up largish RED HOLDALLS. Ah well you live and learn. Wonder if they’re investigating unsightly Pimlico washing lines? They seem to be causing consternation in some circles.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Oh, I want to get on Crawford’s listing too.

    How about this:

    Charles Crawford can mouth off about Russia from rural Oxfordshire until the ghosts of Stephen Hilder and Dr.David Kelly reappear, but it won’t change the fact that we would all be nuclear cinders if Vladimir Putin had not successfully managed KCB assets from Dresden when the non-nuclear conclusion of the Cold War was planned in the wake of Palme’s assassination in Stockholm.

  • technicolour

    Tdg: great post, thanks.

    Of course, Russian intelligence spies on everyone too.

    Craig: agreed, the UN needs to raise and deal with this.

  • John Goss

    Trowbridge H Ford, you left out Bernt Carlsson from your list of assassinated whistle-blowers. He was probably the main target of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103, because he was just about to give independence to Namibia from De Beers and the blood diamond exploitation of Africa.

    Unfortunately all spying and secret service activity is no longer funded solely by the taxpayer in the UK. There would be less of it if it was. We have followed the US and Israel in that the secret services, MI5 and MI6 set up front companies, often global, which are, and have to be, profit-making to be believable. The line is blurred but there must be a good book somewhere that tries to show, and separate, where MI5 and MI6 funding is involved, not just in espionage, but in the establishment of power-elites across the industrial and government spectrum, a bit like Andrew Kreig’s forthcoming book about CIA and other involvement (Karl Rove for example) in US political elites. Its called Presidential Puppetry and I wish he would hurry up and finish it.

    In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century visitors from all over Europe had the Soho Manufactory at Birmingham on their list of places of interest, very often to steal, if they could, the latest ideas. Matthew Boulton was aware of this but the difference was that in those days the demarcation lines between industrial espionage and government espionage were more clearly defined. Today it is a nightmare.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Flaming June writes, à propos of Charles Crawford :

    “How does he get time to eat what with all this tweeting and blogging?”

    A question I’ve sometimes asked myself about you, my dear

  • Phil

    Acknowledging the “system of international law has broken down irretrievably” one paragraph after calling for more international law is odd.

    Next, you’ll be recognising all politicains as corruptible whilst declaring your support for the next one.

  • John Goss

    Habbabkuk @ 3:40 p.m. I hope you are not going to restart your insulting tirade having been the very last of those on this blog to recognise the identity of a certain individual comment-maker. It is out of order. Stay on topic. This blog is not for insulting individuals but for expressing topical views. If you bear bear that in mind life could be so so good.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Thanks, John Goss, for the addition as it illustrates what you are saying.

    The Lockerbie tragedy also got rid of a CIA team which was throwing light on its most covert arms for drugs for money scheme which Oliver North’s Iran-Contra thugs were running, especially the Syrian al-Manucher (sp?) connection, and some researchers claim that Carlsson was involved in finding out who killed his close political friend, Olof Palme, an Anglo-American plot of the deepest dimensions.

    If you go back there, you could also talk about German politician Uwe Barschel and Swedish arms overseer Admiral Frederic Algernon.

    Our governments just run plots of an increasingly sophisticated nature.

  • lwtc247

    “but it seems to me an area that in the modern world needs regulation.” – Well, yeah, but, just as they get away with spying because it’s sectet, so they can (and indeed do) break existing law/regulation now and will break any regulation in the future. Any ‘regularator’ can easily be bought off or blackmailed or bribed or even better installed as a puppet in the first place.

    Better (perhaps) is a more powerful wikileaks where the spies have their stuff tufed out into the open.

    There used to be a poster at called ‘Spies and traitors will be shot’. It was an interesting nick.

    P.S. the UN is pathetic.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    OT-Snowden on GG right now answering questions live…..I just can’t see replies.

  • lwtc247

    “It’s a bit optimistic to assume that the UN isn’t part of the problem in itself.” – Indeed.!

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