Despite their claims to be merely "civil servants", subservient to Parliament and the general public, MI5 the Security Service are meddling in politics again.
2 The Director-General.
(2)The Director-General shall be responsible for the efficiency of the Service and it shall be his duty to ensure--
(b) that the Service does not take any action to further the interests of any political party
How then can Jonathan Evans, the Director General of MI5 the Security Service comment in public in support of forthcoming legislation proposed by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government, such as the controversial Draft Communications Data Bill or the equally controversial Justice and Security Bill ?
Address at the Lord Mayor's Annual Defence and Security Lecture by the Director General of the Security Service, Jonathan Evans.
Mansion House, City of London, 25 June 2012
The main legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, from MI5's point of view, appears to be more intrusive state snooping:
8. At the forefront of our minds are the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The security preparations for the Games have been long and thorough. Members of my Service have been involved in advising on the physical design and security of the sites, but also in the accreditation of those working at the venues and in ensuring that intelligence collection and analysis for the security operation can meet the increased demand. This is not a solo activity. We are working as part of a mature and well developed counter-terrorist community in the UK and with the close support and co-operation of friendly Services overseas, who have been extremely generous in their assistance. We are also anticipating an Olympic security legacy after the Games - better intelligence coverage of potential threats, better integration at the local and national level of security and intelligence effort, and new, closer and better developed intelligence co-operation at the international level. I hope and expect that this legacy will live on well after the Games themselves have closed.
The speech then gave the usual uninformative stuff about Terrorism, but made no
mention whatsoever of any successful or failed Counter-Intelligence operations against Foreign Intelligence Agencies
Have the Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies all packed up and gone home ? Are no Middle Eastern governments spying on their political opponents in London any more ?
The front line in cyber security is as much in business as it is in government. Britain's National Security Strategy makes it clear that cyber security ranks alongside terrorism as one of the four key security challenges facing the UK. Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states. And the extent of what is going on is astonishing - with industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both State sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime.
23. Much of the Security Service's work in this area is undertaken through the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, in which we have made a significant investment in recent years. Working in close collaboration with GCHQ, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, and also with law enforcement, we are currently investigating cyber compromises in over a dozen companies and are working with many others that are of high economic value and that are potential future targets of hostile state cyber activity. But this is only a tiny proportion of those affected.
24. And the internet has developed from a communication network to what is called the "internet of things" - connecting via the internet the buildings we work in, the cars we drive, our traffic management systems, Bank ATMs, our industrial control systems and much more. This increases the potential for mischief and leads to risks of real world damage as well as information loss. We are contributing to the international process of ensuring that the appropriate IT security management standards are in place to manage some of these new risks. So far, established terrorist groups have not posed a significant threat in this medium, but they are aware of the potential to use cyber vulnerabilities to attack critical infrastructure and I would expect them to gain more capability to do so in future.
So what have MI5 done to protect us from the "collateral damage" or deliberate targeting of UK companies and organisations by US / Israeli government sponsored malware like Stuxnet or Flame ?
Where is the mention of the critical national infrastructure threat posed by the remote switch on / switch off and surveillance capabilities of proposed electricity or gas Smart Meters ?
Where is the mention of the surveillance and bomb targeting threat posed by "Contactless" RFID Passports ?
26. The Boards of all companies should consider the vulnerability of their own company to these risks as part of their normal corporate governance - and they should require their key advisors and suppliers to do the same. One major London listed company with which we have worked estimates that it incurred revenue losses of some £800m as a result of hostile state cyber attack - not just through intellectual property loss but also from commercial disadvantage in contractual negotiations. They will not be the only corporate victim of these problems.
£800 million !
British Petroleum or BAE Systems ? Was it the Russians, the Chinese or the Americans ?
Why were there no diplomatic expulsions as a result ?
Has there been any "cyber" retaliation of any sort ?
Now the political meddling begins:
JUSTICE AND SECURITY BILL
Secrecy is essential if we are to avoid our opponents knowing whether they are on our radar and learning how we go about our work, and if sensitive sources are not to be put at risk.
Transparency is essential if MI5 is retain any public trust and confidence that they are not wasting our money and snooping unnecessarily on innocent people and to prove that they are not covering up political or bureaucratic scandals rather than protecting genuine national security secrets.
Who cares if our opponents know that they are "on our radar" ? The professional ones will already be acting accordingly even if they are not.
"learning how we go about our work" in general terms is not an excuse for secrecy - MI5 do not have a monopoly on intelligence tradecraft or techniques.
Where is the deterrent effect if everything about MI5 techniques and operations is kept secret ?
Obviously protecting "sensitive sources" is a reasonable excuse for secrecy, but only during an ongoing operation, not for decades thereafter.
Pretending that all of our enemies are well resourced national intelligence agencies with lots of analytical staff, who might sometimes be able to deduce some crumbs of intelligence about where MI5's resources have been deployed or concentrated in the past, is wrong. Even if they could, that is insufficient to know tactically where they are deployed now or where they will be in the future.
30. I therefore welcome the recent proposals from the government to ensure that where sensitive intelligence-related material is relevant to a civil case it will be possible for the Judge to decide to consider it in a closed process. No material that is currently considered in public will be made secret under the new arrangements and the effect will be that more, rather than less, material will go before the courts. But the sensitive material will be protected. This will mean better justice and better accountability.
Presumably this speech was carefully vetted beforehand, so it is astonishing to see this political spin on the Justice and Security Bill.
It will be Ministers and Whitehall civil servants, not independent Judges who determine if Closed Material Procedure is applied to a particular bit of evidence in a civil case. i.e. the very people who are being sued in a civil case for, say, complicity in torture or breach of confidentiality etc. will be able to prevent the complainants from seeing evidence either for genuine national security reasons, or, unfortunately and just as likely, to cover up a political or bureacratic scandal.
The Justice and Security Bill would also nobble the the use of "Norwich Pharmacal" discovery orders, which have led to the revelations of illegal complicity in torture by UK intelligence agencies.
The Justice & Security Bill proposes minor changes to the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee
31. The government also proposes that the Intelligence and Security Committee should have a wider remit, with stronger powers to hear sensitive evidence and a more direct link to Parliament - again leading to better and more transparent accountability, which we welcome.
Since Jonathan Evans is not complaining that these changes go too far, it is obvious that these changes are utterly cosmetic and that MI5 is confident that they can still run rings around the parliamentarians, as have they done in the past.
There is also some political spin on the Draft Communications Data Bill:
32. At the same time, the proposed legislation to ensure that communications data continues to be available to the police and security agencies in the future, as it has in the past, is in my view a necessary and proportionate measure to ensure that crimes, including terrorist crimes, can be prevented, detected and punished. It would be extraordinary and self-defeating if terrorists and criminals were able to adopt new technologies in order to facilitate their activities while the law enforcement and security agencies were not permitted to keep pace with those same technological changes.
Jonathan Evans as Director General of MI5 the Security Service should not be seeking to influence Parliament about extra snooping powers and infrastructure which will be used against "crime" and "criminals" in general, rather than just in exceptional terrorism cases.
The spin from the Home Office, supported by the Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, another serving public official who should not be meddling politics, is that the Communications Data retention and "filtering" and snooping will only be for "terrorism and serious crimes". In fact the text of the proposed Bill applies to all levels of crime, including the most minor and petty infringements of unjust or ineptly constructed bureaucratic regulations, exactly the sort of thing which has been abused under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
It is inconceivable that neither the Home Office nor the Metropolitan Police nor MI5 the Security Service are unaware of this, so this section of the speech must also be treated as deliberate political meddling for more authoritarian snooping powers and budgets.