Gordon Brown - Chatham House speech part 2

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Here is the second part of our commentary on Gordon Brown's (long) speech to Chatham House on Tuesday.

Speech by the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on "Meeting the terrorist challenge" given to Chatham House, 10 October 2006

Feel free to add your own comments below:

In total here in Britain since September 11th almost 200 accounts have been frozen linked to over 100 organisations with suspected connections to Al Qaeda.

Another misleading statement, given that the vast majority of the money actually frozen over the last 5 years, about £79 million out of just under £80million, over 5 has been returned to the now legitimate Government of Afghanistan.

See this Parliamentary Written Answer on 27th February 2006

In 2005 alone our requirements to report suspicious activity saw banks and other businesses report over 2,000 suspicious potential terrorist transactions with 650 leading to detailed investigations resulting in not just the seizure of cash thought to be destined for terrorism in Iraq but the tracking down of individuals wanted for terrorist charges and not just here but overseas.

In addition to denying terror suspects funds, forensic accounting of transaction trails across continents has been vital in identifying threats, uncovering accomplices, piecing together command structures, and ultimately providing evidence for prosecution. Most recently, forensic accounting techniques have tracked an alleged terrorist bomb maker, using multiple identities, multiple bank accounts and third parties and third countries to purchase bomb making equipment and tracked him to and uncovered an overseas bomb factory.

Would that be a terrorist who posed a direct threat whatsoever to the United Kingdom ? Was this "forensic accounting" done by Gordon Brown's team of forensic accountants, or by someone else ?

The background is, of course, a globalisation that now offers the potential for instant communication and transfer of information, but also for its subjugation to criminal purposes.

Whereas once, influence was carried by word of mouth and through books and newspapers, today the internet and 24 hour media allow access to a global audience - with examples of course of young people being radicalised solely by contact with the internet. And we must also confront a growing tide of those seeking to corrupt and exploit this new international marketplace and the freedoms it brings - from drugs, counterfeit goods and people trafficking, to organised crime, fraud and terrorism. And at all points we must meet this new international criminality with new policing security and intelligence measures - and one such area is the international acquisition of finance for supporting terrorism.

"drugs, counterfeit goods and people trafficking, to organised crime, fraud and terrorism" are not new crimes, they have been around for centuries !

And following specific announcements this morning by the Economic Secretary to the House of Commons, I am able to explain today how, as we review our work, the Treasury are developing a comprehensive and increasingly proactive framework that will mean at all times we will be able to act quickly in support of the police and the security authorities in rooting out terrorist finance.

Our aim is simple: just as there be no safe haven for terrorists, so there be no hiding place for those who finance terrorism.

What the use of fingerprints was to the 19th century, and DNA analysis was to the 20th century, so financial information and forensic accounting has come to be one of today's most powerful investigative and intelligence tools available in the fight against crime and terrorism. And Ministers have been examining in detail how we can deploy it in the fight against terrorist extremists.

By putting to work the most modern of forensic accounting techniques and bringing the expertise of the private sector - the accountancy, law and financial sectors - together with the public sector, we can create what some will call a modern 'Bletchley Park' with forensic accounting of such intricacy and sophistication in tracking finance and connections that it can achieve, for our generation, the same results as code breaking at the original Bletchley Park did sixty years ago.

"what some will call a modern 'Bletchley Park'"

The only person who has mentioned "Bletchley Park" in this context is Gordon Brown himself, or his speechwriter, back in his speech in February to the Royal United Services Institute

Are there really the best Nobel Prize winning scientific minds at work on this project, as there were at Bletchley Park ?

And in particular we can address directly three of the most dangerous sources of terrorist finance - the abuse of charities, the abuse of money service businesses and the abuse of financial transactions:
  • We know that many charities and donors have been and are being exploited by terrorists. And all allegations of possible abuse are being examined. On August 24th, to take one example, the Charity Commission launched an enquiry into the charity 'Crescent Relief' and froze its bank accounts. But it is important to look at the whole sector so that dubious charities are rooted out and good charities protected from abuse. At the end of the year we will publish a report on our review.
  • We are reviewing bureaux de change, cheque cashers and money remitters - legitimate services but also, in instances, known to be open to abuse as a source of terrorist finance. So we will introduce a licensing system, more stringent requirements for firms to keep records, and tougher action against non-compliance.
  • And we are consulting now on new proposals against money laundering - a risk-based approach to ensure that legitimate businesses are not penalised, but at the same time a tough approach focusing attention on our new priorities.
  • We will also target the financial transactions of terror suspects operating in the UK. In July we announced we would restrict the payment of any benefits made to listed terror suspects and their households to ensure they are not diverted to terrorism. Just in the past few days this policy was upheld by the High Court in a Judicial Review.

What evidence is there that any state benefits paid to the families of terroist suspects who have not been convicted of any crime, as yet, would somehow be used to finance international terrorism, rather than to scape a meagre subsitence living on here in the UK ?

We will go further.

Tomorrow the Privy Council will lay before Parliament a new terrorism order which will give the Treasury the power to stop funds reaching anyone in the UK suspected of planning terror or engagement with terror.

suspected not proven !

When exactly is this going to happen ? Before such suspects are arrested , in which case this would tip off them, and their international conntacts, that they are under investigation.

If there is any actual evidence that money is being used to finance terrorism, then that is already an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000

All of which carry a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and / or a fine, and forfeiture of the money.

Since money is power, anyone disbursing large amounts for terrorist purposes, is likely to stand accused under section 56 Directing terrorism, "at any level", which carries a penalty of imprisonment for life

Why is even more legislation required, except to Pretend To Be Seen To Be Doing Something ?


And today Ed Balls, the Economic Secretary, has announced that for the first time we will use closed source evidence where it is necessary to take preventative action to freeze assets. This means acting on the basis of classified intelligence.

secret intelligence - obtained by torture or from massibe breaches of the financial privacy of millions of innocent people, such as the ongoing SWIFT scandal ?

Does this mean that Gordon Brown is similarly intending to data mine and snoop on millions of innocent people's confidential financial records, thereby increasing the risk of fraud and insider trading ?

But I am mindful that while it is essential to be able to act quickly using all sources of information, the British way is to ensure that Parliamentary accountability must be enhanced as we do so. To create a line of Parliamentary accountability and to ensure and be seen to ensure there is no arbitrariness in what we do, we will put in place a Special Advocate procedure to ensure a fair and consistent hearing of cases

How can any "Special Advocate procedure"
not fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6, the Right to a Fair trial in exactly the same way as the "Special Advocate procedure" under immigration laws did, for the Belmarsh detainees ?

The risk of a "fit up" of the innocent, by unknown accusers, using "secret intelligence", which the defendant is not allowed to see or challenge, is exactly the same.

and report to Parliament quarterly on the operation of the system.

Who believes that Gordon Brown or his sidekick Ed Balls would resign, when some "secret intelligence" proved to be faulty ?

Who believes that they will pay financial compensation to people whose assets have been frozen in error ?

And, as terrorist finance operates on a global scale, we know that we are only as strong as our weakest links.

So we will build on the action taken under our Presidencies of the G7 and EU last year. In Singapore we, the G8 and IMF, reaffirmed that the international community will continue to be vigilant.

The new US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and I - and Ministers of both our administrations - have discussed how the UK and US can show the way internationally in a proactive and effective terrorist finance framework.

We will use Britain's Presidency of the Financial Action Task Force next year to promote our proactive approach and to hold to account those countries who are undermining this international effort through insufficient terrorist financing controls. And I have written today to EU Finance Ministers to ask they review all aspects of their frameworks - including cross border cooperation and the introduction of the most modern forensic accounting techniques - to ensure there is never any weak link in Europe's front against terrorist finance.


1 Comments

they cannot catch a bloody immigrant who has raped women, they cannot find dozens of prisoners who were wrongly released, yet we are expected to believe they are on top of terrorism.

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Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

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Matt Wardman political blog analysis

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HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

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World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

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notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

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Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers