The recent NSA revelations by Der Spiegel, have not directly cited Edward Snowden as the source.
- NSA's Secret Toolbox: Unit Offers Spy Gadgets for Every Need
- Shopping for Spy Gear: Catalog Advertises NSA Toolbox
- Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit
Is this so as not to embarass his Russian temporary asylum hosts or, as some people are speculating, because there is now at least one other, new NSA whistleblower source ? Or are existing whistleblowers handing over previously unpublished documents ?
Journalists and the public shpuld be wary of such new sources, which could be disinformation or propaganda. Equally, UK and US government officials should not jump to conclusions too quickly, as this newly de-classified documents about an obvious intelligence related hoax illustrates:
Vice UK has followed up their 2004 interview with anarer Speigelions by Dchist punk artist Penny Rimbaud who was a member of the anrachist punk music band Crass . They have tied in some National Archve 30 year rule declassified document disclosures about the post Falklands war hoax tape supposedly of a BT intercepted conversation between British PM Margaret Thatcher and US President Reagan.
The misleading Vice UK headline is:
They do however link to the new National Archives disclosures of documents declassified after 30 years i.e. from 1984:
The newspaper reports from 1983 /1984 are not easily available online, but this article reproduces them:
Everyone who actually heard the fake tape: Dutch and Belgian journalists, the British Press Spokesman Bernard Ingham, the US and UK intelligence analysts, the US State Department The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer etc. all seems to have spotted it was an obvious fake.
The only reason Fleet Street took an interest was because of a stupid bit of US State Department briefing to the Sunday Times, which claimed, without any evidence, that this fake tape was an example of Soviet KGB disinformation. This is the sort of pushing of a political agenda in spite of any actual intelligence data or real evidence, is one of the failings which the current Edward Snowden affair has also highlighted.
However, even this obvious forgery still occupied the attention of the senior securocrats in Whitehall for at least 10 months, from May 1983 to March 1984.
The more senior the officials, the less they seemed able to come to the firm decision that whole thing was a hoax.
The document dated 21st July 1983 from "PO Box 500" i.e. the Security Service MI5 which states that
There is no indication that any subversive group or individual in this country was involved in making this tape of a purported telephone conversation between the Prime Minister and President Reagan
Clearly up to 1983 the anarchist punk band Crass had failed to bring themselves to the attention of MI5 as a revoloutionary threat to the UK. Were they monitored "after the horse had bolted" when The Observer, not MI5 or CIA etc. tracked them down to a farmhouse in Essex in 1984 ?
As VIce UK reported in 2004:
"We edited bits and pieces from speeches made by the two of them, creating a conversation which included all the details of the Sheffield. We then sent out tapes to all the major European newspapers, but nothing happened. Thatcher was re-elected, but then, six months down the line, the US State Department announced that they were in possession of KGB tapes 'produced to destroy democracy as we know it'.
"It soon became obvious that it was our tape they were talking about. It was frightening. A bunch of anarchist jokers sparking off a world war? Anyway, the same KGB story eventually broke in the British press and it wasn't long before The Observer got in touch with us, asking whether we knew anything about the tapes. It was unbelievable. The whole operation had been carried out in absolute secrecy, but somehow or other they'd managed to pin it onto us. After a gruelling day of negotiations, we agreed to admit responsibility if they would print the Sheffield details in their article, which, true to their word, they did.
How did The Observer track down the Crass anarchists, when MI5 clearly had no clue ?
As late as 6th April 2004, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office officials were still keeping their options open / covering their backsides:
The question, raised in your letter of 22 July, of the origin of this recording was considered further at the time, but no clear conclusions emerged.
Nobody thought the tape was genuine, but, somehow, " no clear conclusions emerged." ?? Surely its very crudeness showed that it was not KGB disinformation.
This unwillingness to apply any common sense or to come to a firm decision by the senior Whitehall bureacrats basically makes all the efforts of the intelligence services, a waste of time.
The Daily Telegraph of 28 July reported that the State Department suspected KGB 'disinformation'. Neither our friends nor CIA considered this very likely, but further analysis would have required a disproprortionate committment of resources which even CIA felt unable to contemplate.
More recently of course articles in the British press have attributed the production of the tape to the anarchist punk band CRASS (the Observer of 22 January and the Tribune
and City Limits of 27 January)
Why did they not just simply say "it is an obvious fake, who cares who produced it, just ignore it" ?
A comedy of errors, but one which perhaps sheds some light on the way in which later, more professional intelligence hoaxes or disinformation e.g. the .alleged smuggling of uranium yellow-cake ore from Niger to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, could gain credence within the corridors of power, even if some (or even all) people had their their doubts.
Remember that this was a vintage 1983 , pre-internet intelligence hoax. How can UK and US intelligence analysts and their political masters possibly now sort the wheat from the chaff regarding internet "chatter" ?