The Sunday Telegraph has two stories about Foreign Spies in the United Kingdom, which, if true, raises serious Questions about the current performance of MI5 the Security Service., claiming that the traditional espionage threat against the UK is not being dealt with because of the resources diverted to anti-terrorism investigations.
Just as seriously, the Sunday Telegraph seems to be claiming that a Foreign Intelligence agency, the CIA is actively snooping on, and recruiting informers and "intelligence assets" here on the streets of the United Kingdom, outside of the direct control of the British intelligence agencies and outside of the legal powers and protections under which they are supposed to work.
- Is MI5 the Security Service lobbying for more money and resources i.e."British Jobs for British Spies"
- Why has the CIA been allowed to spy on British citizens, directly here in the United Kingdom, independently of the British intelligence agencies ?
- What happened to British Sovereignty ?
- How can we be sure that they are not using their usual tactics of entrapment or perhaps torture, here on British soil, things which we are supposed to believe that UK intelligence agencies do not indulge in, but which US ones certainly do when operating outside of the United States ?
- How can we be sure that the US agents, especially if "they don't tell us the names of all their sources" are not wastefully duplicating the work already done by the British agencies ?
- How can we be sure that both British and US agents are not being played off against each other by their informers and "intelligence assets" ?
- What guarantee is there that the US agents are all really targeting Al Quaeda etc. in the UK, and are not also indulging in their own economic and political espionage and insider trading etc ?
- Has Home Secretary Jacqui Smith illegally conspired to evade the provisions of the various Acts of Parliament which are supposed to regulate British intelligence agency operations, by allowing the CIA to operate illegally here in the UK ?
- Will the Intelligence and Security Committee under their new chairman Kim Howells bother to investigate this dire situation, or will they just publish Yet Another Anodyne Censored Annual Report ?
Spies from 20 foreign intelligence agencies, including Nato allies such as France and Germany, are attempting to steal Britain's most sensitive secrets.
By Sean Rayment, Security Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:05PM GMT 07 Feb 2009
Russia and China have been identified as having the most active spy networks operating in the UK but it is understood that some European countries are also involved in espionage attacks against Britain.
Details of the spy plots were revealed in a government security document obtained by The Sunday Telegraph which states that Britain is "high priority espionage target" for 20 foreign intelligence agencies.
Security sources have revealed that the list of foreign agencies operating within the UK includes Iran, Syria, North Korea and Serbia, as well as some members of the European Union, such as France and Germany, who have traditionally been regarded as allies.
The document, marked "restricted", warns that foreign spies are trying to steal secrets related to the military, optics, communications, genetics and aviation industries.
The report, which was drawn up by an Army intelligence cell inside Whitehall, warns that it is too easy to "lose sight" of the threat from traditional espionage and become solely focused on attacks by al Qaeda.
The document, which has been distributed to all government departments, states: "Whilst our primary threat would seem to come from International Terrorism, it is important that we do not lose sight of another omnipresent threat. Espionage against UK interests continues to come from many quarters."
The report, dated 19th January 2009, continues: "In the past, espionage activity was typically directed towards obtaining political and military intelligence. In today's high-tech world, the intelligence requirements of a number of countries now include new communications technologies, IT, genetics, aviation, lasers, optics, electronics and many other fields. Intelligence services, therefore, are targeting commercial enterprises far more than in the past.
"The UK is a high priority espionage target and a number of countries are actively seeking UK information and material to advance their own, military, technological, political and economic programmes.
"It is estimated that at least 20 Foreign intelligence services are operating to some degree against UK interests. Of greatest concern are the Russians and Chinese. The number of Russian intelligence officers in London has not fallen since the Soviet times."
Assuming that this Protectively Marked Document. albeit one classified at the lowest level of Restricted, is genuine, then what is motivation for the whistleblower leak, or is the deliberate media spin briefing ?
A Whitehall source told The Sunday Telegraph that Russia uses its massive spy network as an "extension of state power" in an attempt to "further its own military and economic base".
The source said: "If a country, such as Russia or Iran, can steal a piece of software which will save it seven years in research and development then it will do so without any hesitation. Russian agents will target anybody that they believe could be useful to them. Spying is hard-wired into the country's DNA. They have been at it for centuries and they are simply not going to stop because the Cold War has ended."
The source added that Britain's European neighbours, including Germany and France, were also engaged in industrial and political espionage within the UK.
It's that wretched "Whitehall source" again.
What evidence is there of German or French espionage ?
On past performance, and given the recent "Climate of Fear" nonsense published by the mainstream media, why should anyone trust or believe this ?
Many senior figures in Britain's intelligence community are frustrated by the activities of Russian spies which they claim is detracting from the fight against al-Qaeda and international terrorism.
Or vice versa.
In a speech in November 2007, Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, said that foreign intelligence services were active in the UK, with the Russians at the forefront of covert operations.
He said: "Despite the Cold War ending nearly two decades ago, my service is still expending resources to defend the UK against unreconstructed attempts by Russia, China and others, to spy on us.
"A number of countries continue to devote considerable time and energy trying to steal our sensitive technology on civilian and military projects, and trying to obtain political and economic intelligence at our expense.
"They do not only use traditional methods to collect intelligence but increasingly deploy sophisticated technical attacks, using the internet to penetrate computer networks.
"It is a matter of some disappointment to me that I still have to devote significant amounts of equipment, money and staff to countering this threat.
"They are resources which I would far rather devote to countering the threat from international terrorism - a threat to the whole international community, not just the UK."
So what exactly have MI5 the Security Service and the Labour Government done about this situation in the 15 months since that mainstream press and media interview was given ?
How credible is this this Sunday Telegraph story ? Sean Rayment, is described by his publisher as:
- Sean Rayment served in the Parachute regiment for five years. As a journalist he has worked on many newspapers and is currently the Defence and Security Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph. He has covered conflicts in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, the Gulf and Afghanistan. Unlike other writers on the Afghanistan conflict Sean Rayment has had unique access to three regiments: the Paras, The Royal Marines and the Royal Anglians.
Presumably he is likely to have developed some "Whitehall sources" from the Ministry of Defence side of the intelligence and security bureaucracy.
The second Sunday Telegraph story, not given as much prominence as the one above, appears to rely on anonymous United States and Whitehall sources.
Barack Obama has been warned by the CIA that British Islamist extremists are the greatest threat to US homeland security.
By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 9:08PM GMT 07 Feb 2009
American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain.
They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.
Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service.
A British intelligence source revealed that a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain.
And a former CIA officer who has advised Mr Obama told The Sunday Telegraph that the CIA has stepped up its efforts in the last month after the Mumbai massacre laid bare the threat from Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group behind the attacks, which has an extensive web of supporters in the UK.
The CIA has already spent 18 months developing a network of agents in Britain to combat al-Qaeda, unprecedented in size within the borders of such a close ally, according to intelligence sources in both London and Washington.
The CIA should not be allowed to be operate within the United Kingdom !
Does British Sovereignty mean nothing anymore within Whitehall ?
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who has advised Mr Obama, told The Sunday Telegraph: "The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaeda's best mechanism for launching an attack against North America.
"The American security establishment believes that danger continues and there's very intimate cooperation between our security services to monitor that." Mr Riedel, who served three presidents as a Middle East expert on the White House National Security Council, added: "President Obama's national security team are well aware that this is a serious threat."
The British official said: "The Americans run their own assets in the Pakistani community; they get their own intelligence. There's close cooperation with MI5 but they don't tell us the names of all their sources.
"Around 40 per cent of CIA activity on homeland threats is now in the UK. This is quite unprecedented."
That is intolerable ! Only British intelligence agencies, who are supposed to be regulated by Acts of Parliament should be allowed to spy and snoop on targets within the United Kingdom.
It does not matter if the United States agencies are our closest allies, they are operating illegally in the UK.
Explaining the increase in CIA activity over the past month, Mr Riedel added: "In the aftermath of the Mumbai attack the US and the UK intelligence services now have to regard Lashkar-e-Taiba as just as serious a threat to both of our countries as al-Qaeda. They have a much more extensive base among Pakistani Diaspora communities in the UK than al-Qaeda."
Information gleaned by CIA spies in Britain has already helped thwart several terrorist attacks in the UK and was instrumental in locating Rashid Rauf, a British-born al-Qaeda operative implicated in a plot to explode airliners over the Atlantic, who was tracked down and killed in a US missile strike in November.
Where is Rashid Rauf ? How did he magically disappear from Pakistani custody, having been in court to face extradition to the Uk on charges of involvement with the murder of his uncle ?
How does anyone know for sure that he was really killed in November ?
But some US intelligence officers are irritated that valuable manpower and resources have been diverted to the UK. One former intelligence officer who does contract work for the CIA dismissed Britain as a "swamp" of jihadis.
Another dubious anonymous source.
Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, admitted in January that the Security Service alone does not have the resources to maintain surveillance on all its targets. "We don't have anything approaching comprehensive coverage," he said.
The dramatic escalation in CIA activity in the UK followed the exposure in August 2006 of Operation Overt, the alleged airline bomb plot.
The British intelligence official revealed that CIA chiefs sent more resources to the UK because they were not prepared to see American citizens die as a result of MI5's inability to keep tabs on all suspects, even though the Security Service successfully uncovered the plot.
This "airline plot" led to huge over reaction by the UK Government, by the "not fit for purpose" Home Secretary John Reid and the useless Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander. Their utterly stupid "security theatre" banning of all liquid containers in airline hand luggage, and the arbitrary mucking around with the size of permitted hand luggage, led directly to massive delays, costing tens of millions of pounds.
This also put airline passengers at more risk, by destroying one of the previous supposed airline security safeguards, namely that passengers and their luggage should always travel together on the same flight.
Tens of thousands of passenger and their luggage did not do this, thereby increasing the risk of non suicide bomb attacks, and giving a free run to drug smugglers and airport baggage thieves.
MI5 manpower will have doubled to 4,100 by 2011 but many in the US intelligence community do not think that is enough.
For their part, some British officials are queasy that information obtained by the CIA from British Pakistanis was used to help target Mr Rauf, a British citizen, whom they would have preferred to capture and bring to trial.
Patrick Mercer, chairman of the House of Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said: "The special relationship is a huge benefit to us. It clearly works to our advantage and helps keep the people of the UK and the US safe.
"There is no doubt that a great deal of valuable intelligence vital to British national security is procured by American agents from British sources."
How can a Conservative MP and former military officer like Patrick Mercer acquiesce to US agents operating on UK territory ?
This article is not talking about, say, extra teams of CIA translators or forensic experts being draughted in to help provide backup for UK led intelligence operations, it implies active surveillance and recruitment of informers on the streets of the United Kingdom, outside of the direct control of the British security agencies.
Remember, that according to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, speaking during the debate on the bugging of an MP and his constituent at Woodhill Prison, nearly a year ago:
Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Given that foreign intelligence agencies fall outside the Wilson doctrine and existing and future codes of conduct, will the Home Secretary give the House an assurance that during the past 10 years, no British Minister, especially in the Ministry of Defence, has been bugged by a foreign intelligence agency--particularly the French intelligence agency--in relation to Ministry of Defence procurement contracts?
Jacqui Smith: It is illegal for foreign intelligence agencies to operate in this country.
The "airline plot" Operation Overt was in 2006, so either Jacqui Smith did not know, or deliberately did not ask about the CIA operations in the UK, or she has collaborated and illegally conspired to evade the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the Police Act 1997 Part III , the Intelligence Services Act 1994, the Security Service Act 1989, the Official Secrets Act 1989 etc.