News of the World politics blog: alleged CIA intelligence sharing threat and the Operation Pathway intelligence failure

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How many people read the News of the World tabloid newspaper ? Quite a lot on Sundays, when the weekly paper edition is published . How many people read the News of the World's multi-authored "politics blog" on a Saturday ? At guess, hardly anyone at all.

Even the usual blog search engines do not seem to pay much attention to that newspaper blog.

However, when an online article published on the Saturday is picked up by a "real political blogger", in this case Iain Dale, then other bloggers and commentators (and the search engines) will take note. This precisely the opposite of the usual information relationship between newspapers and bloggers.

This particular News of the World blog article seems to scream "disinformation", and deserves some sceptical comment, which will end up in the search engines for posterity.

Politics

News of the World

CIA freeze intel over Libya
Saturday, September 5

BRITAIN was facing the likelihood of an increased terror threat last night -- after America's CIA chiefs threatened to stop sharing vital intelligence with us following the Lockerbie bomber's release.

The Americans have already warned British intelligence services that sending cancer-stricken Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to Libya has destroyed our "special relationship".

What "special relationship" ? The one where US politicians and officials blab details about alleged terrorist plots in Pakistan, which force the UK authorities to arrest their suspects here in the UK far too soon to gather any real evidence against them, like the mythical "gas limos" plot ?

But the fallout following the bomber's release has now worsened with the CIA threat to stop sharing information on terrorists gathered by their agents.

What threat ? Made by whom, exactly ?

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton seems to have obliquely threatened our useless UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, with something similar, at the end of July, over the Binyam Mohamed torture allegations High Court case, but that has nothing to do with Libya.

How could such a nonsensical threat ever be justified ? It would weaken US national security as well as that of the UK - which would be a victory for the terrorists and for other foreign intelligence agency enemies.

They have also warned they may not pass on vital information picked up by their sophisticated eavesdropping satellites.

The United States "sophisticated eavesdropping satellites" are run by the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency, for the entire US Intelligence community, not just for the benefit of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) alone.

The Americans are furious at the bomber's release -- and at revelations this week that the Libyans had been told privately that Gordon Brown did not want al-Megrahi to die in jail.

As are many people in the United Kingdom.

Now senior security sources in Britain have told the News of the World the row threatens to put Britain's security at risk.

This anonymous briefing of mainstream newspapers is utterly counterproductive.

Why should anyone ever trust such anonymous "senior security sources" ?

If the Whitehall securocrats were really serious about the "Prevent" strand of their National Security Strategy, then they would have a proper, much more open press and internet operation, with named official press spokesmen. and would issue press releases online, so that they could be found by web search engines.

Ideally they should also digitally sign such press releases to reduce the chance of forgery.

It is not a waste of time for them to rapidly rebutt stupid "climate of fear" stories, disinformation, conspiracy theories and rumours - it should be a core part of their mission to protect our society from national security threats.

Instead they still seem to be operating in a fantasy world which tries to ignore the 24/7 broadcast news and non-stop internet reporting and commentary.

There does seem to be funding, however, for the joint Home Office and Foreign Office
Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), which apparently, according to The Guardian, seeks to monitor and influence foreign and domestic UK media and "non-media" sources of information, with anti-Al Queda propaganda.

They say American intelligence was vital in Operation Pathway -- which thwarted a possible UK al Qaeda operation in April.

Operation Pathway was an utter intelligence disaster !

14 people were held at gunpoint (a couple of innocent people at the University campus were pinned to the ground at gunpoint, but not arrested) , not in dawn raids, but during the early evening, thereby putting the general public at more danger than necessary, in a rushed operation brought forward because of the former head of the Metropolitan Police counter terrorism command, Bob Quick's security breach which exposed secret briefing papers about Operation Pathway to the digital zoom lenses of press photographers on his way in to a meeting at Number 10 Downing street.

Not one of the 12 people arrested has been charged with any terrorism offences, nor any other criminal offences, presumably because not a trace of any explosives, weapons, terrorist plans or money was found after their arrests.

How the CIA are meant to have been involved in the supposedly intercepted emails about a wedding, which were seemingly interpreted as a coded list of unnamed explosives ingredients, is a mystery. This farcical theory was put forward to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), when it considered the deportation of several of the Operation Pathway arrestees, who were not charged and then released, but still held under immigration regulations..

It also helped foil the plot to blow up an airplane flying out of Heathrow in 2006.

How exactly ? Which airplane plot was that ?

Surely not the rushed Operation Overt , the security theatre over-reaction to which, lead to the multi-million pound collateral damage to the airline industry, and increased danger risk to passengers (lots of baggage was flown on planes , without the corresponding passengers just like the Lockerbie Pan Am Flight 193 bomb), as a result of the farcical and ever changing bans on even the most harmless liquids carried by passengers ?

Patrick Mercer, chairman of the House of Commons' counter-terrorism sub-committee, also says: "We depend upon the US for much of our intelligence gathering. Gordon Brown must not let the co-operation be ruptured.

"To do so will endanger this country and its citizens."

The Conservative opposition spokesman Patrick Mercer always seems ready with a quote for the media, even when there is utter silence from Labour Government Ministers.

One security source revealed: "A large number of CIA agents are effectively British intelligence officers. They are doing a terribly important job."

How are we meant to assess the reliability of this anonymous "security source" ?

Is this an oblique reference to the Sunday Telegraph story which claimed that the CIA was running its own agents within Pakistani communities here in the United Kingdom, thereby sidestepping the legal framework of the Security Service Act 1989 (and 1996) , the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 etc.

See Spy Blog - Sunday Telegraph - British Jobs For British Spies ? MI5 overwhelmed, or lobbying for even more resources ?

He addded that the FBI had joined forces with the CIA to show the US anger. The recent public letter from FBI director Robert Mueller lambasting the bomber's release was written "because the CIA are so p****d off with us but dare not speak it, so the FBI are doing it instead. That is unprecedented."

Robert Mueller's letter makes no mention of any intelligence sharing at all - it is only about legal prosecution and justice, neither of which have anything to do with the CIA.

Tories stepped up demands for an inquiry into al-Megrahi's release after Justice Secretary Jack Straw admitted trade and oil were central to the decision.

jamie.lyons@notw.co.uk

Is Jamie Lyons, the Deputy Political Editor of the News of the World, being manipulated by his anonymous "senior security sources", into blaming the CIA for the Operation Pathway intelligence disaster ?

4 Comments

> the supposedly intercepted emails about a wedding

From my recollection, the eight emails in question were not intercepted but recovered from XC's computer.

You can read some notes of this SAIC bail appeal hearing at http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2009/08/05/secret-evidence-in-the-case-of-the-north-west-10-terror-suspects/

br -d

@ David - therefore even less chance of any direct "CIA intelligence sharing" in that case then ?

The legal distinction between an email in transit and a stored copy of it on your personal computer hard disk, is entirely artificial.

@wtwu

> therefore even less chance of any direct "CIA intelligence sharing" in that case then ?

Very possibly. Of course I only heard what was said in the open session I attended. SIAC then went into a closed session to discuss secret evidence and may or may not have then mentioned anything coming from the CIA. The government made no open reference to such material.

br -d

Has Intelligence Collection ever been reliable? In certain cases where the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted granted, but the remainder of the time it is merely an opinion. One really has to wonder at the cost of Intelligence Sharing and the hours that are spent in surveillance and counter surveillance by our defence forces as a result of Intelligence sharing.

I know I once wrote about the snooping culture of the UK authorities and the extent to which the gathering of intelligence encroached on peoples lives daily. Have a read and tell me what you think.

http://wp.me/pyq3l-1s

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This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

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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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National Crime Agency - the replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency

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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