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GCHQ Sir Iain Lobban's valedictory speech

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A few comments, in context, on:

Sir Iain Lobban's valedictory speech - as delivered
Full transcript of the speech given by Sir Iain Lobban, Director GCHQ, at the Cabinet War Rooms on 21 Oct 2014.

Weirdly, the GCHQ website no longer seems to support the use of https:// SSL / TLS encryption at all, unlike Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service SIS / MI6

In the middle of the summer, when I resolved to give this talk, the following events were taking place around the world:

  • A commercial airliner flying at over thirty thousand feet over eastern Ukraine was shot down with a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system, with the loss of 298 lives, 80 of them children
  • Fierce fighting on the ground continued after Russia's annexation of Crimea
  • ISIL advances in Syria and Iraq continued, treating local populations with devastating savagery, and the video of the beheading of the first western hostage spread across the internet
  • the American, Canadian and British embassies suspended operations in Tripoli due to armed clashes between Libyan militias in the country
  • the National Crime Agency carried out further arrests of predators involved in child exploitation

  • thirty-five adults and children, one of whom died, were discovered in a lorry, illegally trafficked from Afghanistan
  • £100 million pounds-worth of cocaine was seized off the coast of Ireland
  • Nearly 200 cyber incidents against the UK's networks of national significance were detected and responded to.


As my teams pivoted to tackle such intelligence and security requirements, and I marvelled yet again at their dedication and tenacity, I decided I wanted to use the occasion of my departure from this post to reflect publically on the profession to which I've devoted the past 31 years: to explain why people like me are motivated to do what we do. After all, it's sometimes called the second oldest profession in the world, and like the oldest, you tend not to talk about it as a career choice. But that's exactly what I want to do now. That career choice is one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I want to tell you why.

I also want to think aloud about the place of intelligence in national life, which makes this exactly the right place for this final public speech. Has there ever been a politician who was so comprehensively focused on intelligence, and on the policy and processes underpinning the production of intelligence, as Winston Churchill?

I joined GCHQ in what felt like the dark days of the Cold War. The majority of my early postings in the department were focused on the Warsaw Pact: a massive challenge. And as I leave, once more we look towards and beyond the Urals. Perhaps I needn't have bothered... Certainly the bookends of my career illustrate how the world continues to be a dangerous and unpredictable place.

But there's a longer timespan in which we should situate the work that GCHQ does today.

UK Signals Intelligence celebrates its centenary this year. There was no Sigint organisation in this country on 4 August 1914, but in November 1914 the First Sea Lord, Winston Churchill, issued a Charter. That Charter prescribed the operating model for Room 40, the section in the Admiralty which had started producing intelligence from intercepted and decrypted messages, would operate. Churchill oversaw the birth of British Sigint, and was instrumental in the creation in 1919 of GCHQ, under its former name of GC&CS.

In another dark time, a sparkling generation radiated their genius from dingy huts at Bletchley to defend a beleaguered nation against the Nazi onslaught:

  • They sent the intelligence to leaders right here in these War Rooms
  • Just as today, GCHQ continues to supply our National Security Council with the intelligence necessary to make the right strategic decisions.

It was here that Churchill applied the lessons he had learned during the First World War about keeping the use and the protection of Sigint in balance: intelligence is of no use if you can't use it, but it will quickly disappear if those using it do not protect its source.

In his Charter for Room 40, Churchill proposed that his Sigint staff should study intercepts, past and present, and compare them with what actually happened in order to penetrate the German mind. This process of traffic analysis was further developed at Bletchley Park, where analysts built a picture of hostile activity by analysing communications for patterns, connections and abnormalities.

  • Today, we continue to look for the patterns, connections and abnormalities that indicate of illuminate hostile capability and intent.

Bletchley Park saved the lives of numerous seamen and the shipping, materiel, and other supplies criss-crossing the Atlantic and the Arctic, all the while stalked by enemy submarines, providing intercepts on which evasive action could be taken. They kept those vital supply routes open.

  • Today, we continue to use intelligence to safeguard the electronic networks on which our trade, our finance, our way of life, now depend.

By June 1944, Sigint could tell General Eisenhower about the German Order of Battle in Normandy, about German perceptions on where the Second Front would be opened, on German intentions to respond to it, and on the success of his deception plan.

  • I am not going to tell you the details of the way we support the UK military today, but let me assure you that our aim is to ensure that every British or allied Commander has the same complete Information Superiority that Eisenhower had. The stakes of our mission today engage life and death as compellingly now as they did then. We are fiercely proud of the work we do to support troops in the front line, foiling attacks on British and allied forces deployed anywhere in the world.

But today's ask is in some ways broader than that of Bletchley Park:

  • With our partners at Mi5 and SIS we apply all our skills to keep our streets safe from terrorists
  • We work to stop the spread of destructive weapons across the world
  • We strain sinews to locate hostages imprisoned in dark and dangerous places, tragically not always with success
  • With the National Crime Agency we battle serious and organised crime
  • We counter internet fraudsters and their malware to save the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

We counter internet fraudsters and their malware to save the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds

GCHQ appear to be spectacularly unsuccessful in this regard, given the estimates of billions of pounds of attempted internet fraud each year.

Perhaps this is because the same "phishing" and malware techniques used by fraudsters seem to be used by GCHQ themselves, according to the Snowden revelations.

How many malware authors and distributors have been prosecuted and convicted in the UK ? Almost none. How many were caught by GCHQ ? Zero.

How many foreign cyber attackers have been extradited to the UK ? Zero

And we also battle to save something upon which nobody can place a value: we strive to protect our children from terrible abuse.

Wars, terrorism, fraud, child sexual exploitation - nothing new in that, you might think. Until you recall that we're witnessing the biggest migration in human history. In the six years since I took up this post, almost one and half billion people have joined the enormous exodus to the internet. That's a doubling of the people accessing information and communicating online. There are over six and a half billion mobile subscribers in the world, nearly two billion active social network users.

We all know that the beautiful dream of the internet as a totally ungoverned space was just that - a beautiful dream. Like all utopian visions, it was flawed because it failed to account for the persistence of the worst aspects of human nature. Alongside the amazing benefits - the comprehensive information, education, health, the communities of interest, the commercial opportunities and efficiencies - there are the plotters, the proliferators and the paedophiles. From what we know of ungoverned spaces in the real world, do we really believe that the world would be a better place if the internet becomes an ungoverned space where anybody can act freely with impunity?

the other impractical utopian vision is the myth that the state can or should provide absolute security.

Those who would do us harm don't want to be found. They choose certain routers or applications to hide in the darkest places of the internet. We have to enter that labyrinth to find them. We work to crack their defences. We have to understand what adversaries seek to do to us, and dedicate ourselves to preventing them from realising their plans. And the vast majority of those criminal threats to the UK are posed by groups or individuals based overseas. So we need strong intelligence and cyber capabilities to identify them and, where international law enforcement doesn't work, to disrupt them directly. This combination is increasingly essential.

where international law enforcement doesn't work, to disrupt them directly

"Disruption" is particularly evil concept, as it does not seem to require any actual evidence or proportionality or regard for collateral damage to the innocent or an appreciation of the economic damage to the UK.


But how to find them in the first place? We used to map the frequencies of the Warsaw Pact's naval, ground, and air forces, just as our predecessors at Bletchley Park tracked the frequencies used by U boats and panzer divisions. But now most of the time there's no tell-tale frequency to intercept, and our adversaries use a diverse range of complex comms methods. Unfortunately, there's no 'badguy.com' for us to log onto and to find terrorists or serious criminals: instead we have to search for them in the vast morass of the internet.

N.B. of course there is already a is a badguy.com domain name and website registered, but hopefully GCHQ are not targeting it "just in case".

Again, I reach back to the First World War. The reason that there was no Sigint on 4 August 1914 was that the members of the Royal Navy's signal staff who had, from time to time, looked at foreign use of radio, had looked at random messages and had found little or nothing of interest. When they saw a message saying "Proceed to Grid 1596 by 0830 hours" it was dismissed as of no interest. It was only the collection and examination of many such messages that led to an understanding that such items were like tiny fragments of a mosaic: Sigint's job is to reveal the big picture. In the first few weeks of the war, those in Room 40 began to look at what today we would call the network,
focussing on the bigger patter of message traffic which produced intelligence about German intentions.

Today, of all the communications out there globally - the emails, the texts, the images - only a small percentage are within reach of our sensors.

  • Of that, we only intercept a small percentage
  • Of that, we store a miniscule percentage for a limited period of time
  • Of that, only a small percentage is ever viewed or listened to, as permitted by our legal framework, and self-evidently, constrained by resource.

TEMPORA snooping on fibre optic communications cables - "full take" cached for 3 days, "metadata" stored for 30 days, as revealed by Edward Snowden, appears to contradict these claims.

We access the internet at scale so as to dissect it with surgical precision. Practically, it is now impossible to operate successfully in any other way. You can't pick and choose the components of a global interception system that you like (catching terrorists and paedophiles), and those you don't (incidental collection of data at scale): it's one integrated system.
That process has other benefits beyond obtaining the intelligence needed by our nation and its allies. By understanding the technicalities of obtaining intelligence, we can help government, businesses and citizens to protect their systems and their data. And by understanding trends in both the technology itself and how it's used, we can help to build the kind of skilled workforce that our country will need in order to flourish in the future.

It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens and to develop a system of capabilities to ensure that its protection is as complete as it can be: the question becomes how we use that system in a way that is consistent with the law, and with values you and I are determined to uphold.

It's a process of intelligence-gathering laid down by law, pored over by parliament, inspected by independent commissioners and under the supervision of a Tribunal. And we wouldn't have it any other way. We've even implemented certain internal safeguards beyond what is required. We've done so because we want to belong to a society that can have confidence in its intelligence services. And so, even when we hear fellow citizens saying things like: "I don't mind being watched because I've nothing to hide" or "I don't mind because it's the price of security," that's depressing for us. The people who work at GCHQ would sooner walk out the door than be involved in anything remotely resembling 'mass surveillance'.

"mass surveillance" does not mean total blanket surveillance i.e. billions or trillions of events a day. It is still "mass surveillance" if only hundreds or thousands of people are caught up in it directly or indirectly.

I want to make it absolutely clear that the core of my organisation's mission is the protection of liberty, not the erosion of it. And that presenting our activities as some sort of binary option - security or privacy - is to represent a false choice: we are committed to doing our utmost to deliver security at the same time as protecting privacy to the greatest extent possible.

GCHQ's compliance regime, like those of our sister Agencies, is supported by a strong culture and ethos of personal accountability. My staff undertake mandatory policy and legalities training before they can access operational data. And we underpin all this internally with a series of processes to uphold not just the letter, but the spirit, of the relevant laws and policies. We respect privacy and take utterly seriously our obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We actively seek to minimise intrusion into everyday lives, working in accordance with the principles of necessity and proportionality. By definition, the acquisition, aggregation, usage, sharing and retention of information involve varying degrees of interference with, or intrusion into, the privacy rights of individuals. So those activities can only be undertaken if judged to be necessary in the interests of our statutory purposes - national security, economic wellbeing, or the prevention and detection of serious crime - and proportionate in what we seek to achieve.

This is perhaps the most interesting part of the speech, which seems to contradict the repeated questioning of the witnesses giving oral evidence in public to the Intelligence and Security committee last week about "balance" and "is privacy engaged at the point of collection ?" :

  • And so, even when we hear fellow citizens saying things like: "I don't mind being watched because I've nothing to hide" or "I don't mind because it's the price of security," that's depressing for us.
  • And that presenting our activities as some sort of binary option - security or privacy - is to represent a false choice: we are committed to doing our utmost to deliver security at the same time as protecting privacy to the greatest extent possible.
  • By definition, the acquisition, aggregation, usage, sharing and retention of information involve varying degrees of interference with, or intrusion into, the privacy rights of individuals

Why did the ISC waste so much time on these topics, when even Sir Iain agrees with the human rights activists and lawyers and academics on these points ?

Those principles of necessity and proportionality are fundamental to the functions and ethos of the Agencies, and are critical components of the legal framework within which the Agencies strictly operate. They are applied within every investigation, and are subject to multiple layers of scrutiny and controls.



From the Snowden revelations, it seems that none of this applies to NSA or other 5 Eyes partners (Australia, Canada and New Zealand) when they target UK citizens in the UK or overseas, or their internet or telecommunications traffic routed in transit overseas. They then share the raw data or the processed analyses with GCHQ and other UK intelligence agencies, in secret, with little or no effective UK oversight.

On top of that, GCHQ has an Ethical Framework, setting out our approach to ethical decision-making, applying objectivity and professionalism to those principles.

So why doesn't GCHQ publish this "Ethical Framework" so that the public can be reassured ? Surely this does not contain any "sources and methods" details ?

It's not for me to act as a cheerleader for the system of oversight and scrutiny that apply to GCHQ and my sister intelligence and security Agencies. But I will say that it is the most coherent and well-developed system of which I am aware in relation to such agencies around the world, with its triple lock of:

  • Authorisations by a Secretary of State
  • Informed, rigorous scrutiny by the Intelligence Services Commissioner and by the Interception of Communications Commissioner - and I commend Sir Anthony May's 87-page open report from April this year to the interested reader
  • Review by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, as strengthened by the recent Justice and Security Act.

2013 Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner (.pdf)

And that triple lock is supplemented by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which can hear, and indeed is hearing, legal challenges against our activities, with access to secret material.

This "triple lock" is worse than useless for investigating real or imagined abuses of the system against individuals or groups - it is all too secret and relies on public trust in government bureaucracies which simply does not exist.

And some things do need to remain secret. Let me reflect on the relationship between the intelligence profession and the journalism profession. That relationship may be complex, but let me be clear: we may get frustrated when our efforts are undone, our enemies advantaged, and our integrity questioned, but we're not frustrated by the free press itself. We do what we do precisely to safeguard the kind of society that has a free press.

Why can't GCHQ and the other intelligence agencies have official spokesmen, just like in the USA, to correct the misreporting in the press ?

"Neither confirm nor deny" is a counter-productive policy which literally insults the intelligence of the public, fuels conspiracy theories and destroys public trust, not just of GCHQ but of the UK government in general.

I wonder if it's worth musing upon the shared motivations between our professions. I don't just mean the mutual concern with sources and methods. I mean something more fundamental: at the height of their professions, intelligence officers and journalists both care deeply about knowledge; we are scrupulous about the integrity of the analysis that our reporting depends upon; we both seek the truth; and to get it, we both have to shine a light into dark and often dangerous places, places where we aren't exactly welcome. The difference is what happens to the truth we find. For journalists, the public interest is served by publicity itself; for us, the public interest is served by some things remaining secret.

Over my three decade career I've spent about half of it in roles where it's been necessary to consider whether, and if so how, to use Sigint, to employ it outside the ring of secrecy, to 'disclose' it. The trick is to release the facts so action can be taken if necessary, but to avoid risk to the sources and methods involved. These are, for the most part, very finely balanced judgements made by deep professionals with an instinctive feel for what needs to be released so it can be used, at the same time as applying structured tests so as not to throw away the fragile 'edge' of knowledge secured by intelligence penetration. Back to Churchill again! It's crucial that the targets whose communications we seek to exploit for the purposes of our national security do not know what we can and can't do.

Presumably Sir Iain is talking about the Police and (secret) Courts and the censored RIPA Commisioners' and Intelligence and Security Committee reports when he talks about disclosing Sigint "outside the ring of secrecy" because GCHQ has never bothered to give any useful information to the public, even at a general policy level, without exposing any tactical details.

Secret does not have to equal sinister. The idea that it does is perhaps inspired by the portrayal of uncontrolled intelligence operations in popular films and TV programmes. The reality is more mundane, but contrary to what you might expect, it's also more inspiring. GCHQ staff are drawn from the British population. Yes, we have people with diverse skills and talents, and geniuses from our past, like Alan Turing, remind us that neuro-diverse conditions can frequently unlock exceptional contributions. But basically they are normal, decent human beings - people who spend their lives outside work shopping at Sainsbury's or the Co-op, watching EastEnders and Spooks, listening to Radio 4 and TalkSport, drinking in pubs, wine bars and Cotswold tea rooms, and worrying about their kids, the weather, the football, cricket, and rugby, and what to have for tea. They give their time to charitable causes and help children in local schools.

N.B. No mention of Geoffrey Prime the KGB Communist spy, who was not detected by GCHQ counter-intelligence, but by the local Police ,who arrested him for paedophile sex attacks on local children in the Cheltenham area.

"Prime constructed a system of 2,287 index cards bearing details of individual girls; each card contained information on their parents routines and detailed when they were alone at home"

Imagine what such a cunning spy and paedophile could do with GCHQ insider access to the internet, regardless of any laws or internal policies.

It is the potential unauthorised abuse of powerful state surveillance systems by corrupt or fanatical privileged insiders which is the worry and which is not alleviated by "neither confirm, nor deny" or "it's all legal with oversight" platitudes.

Outside work, we are the people that the inhabitants of Cheltenham, Gloucester and the surrounding area regard as friends, neighbours and customers. We don't suddenly lose our souls the moment we swipe into the Doughnut. My staff are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.

...Ordinary people, but their extraordinary job can demand extraordinary sacrifices.

Sometimes those sacrifices are economic. My staff choose public service even where they possess astonishing skills prized by the market.

Sometimes those sacrifices are social. Intelligence professionals can't share the details of their work with family and friends. Imagine having no chance to share the good days and download the difficult days. And the same goes for the gratitude of the wider population: it's a rewarding form of public service, but more often than not, the thanks are received behind closed doors.

Their enemies don't stop, so neither can they - the analyst who misses their Christmas dinner to rush in for an urgent task; the teams mounting a 24/7 operation to find a fellow citizen taken hostage overseas. They miss sleep and family commitments over days, weeks and sometimes months, working against the clock, trying to save someone they've never met. They scour far-flung networks for clues and identifiers, feeling the thrill of a breakthrough and, sometimes, despair if they are unsuccessful and people are harmed. One of my saddest duties is to talk to teams devastated by such an outcome.

And the psychological sacrifices can be severe. Like the police or the military, British "spies" have to deal with the worst of human behaviour. Have no doubt that dealing with that is emotionally arduous. They have to look at some highly disturbing images of grotesque things being done to children, at graphic videos of beheadings. They examine such things carefully for clues to the perpetrators. You can imagine the potential effect of looking at such images day-in and day-out, and so we have mechanisms to support people in these roles. I can assure you viewing of such material at GCHQ is not taken lightly. We do it because our job is to protect your loved ones.

So I believe - passionately - that intelligence and security work in the United Kingdom is a noble profession. It helps good decision-taking. It can prevent wars and disrupt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It does prevent terrorist attacks. It pursues criminals who threaten the most vulnerable. A monument in the National Memorial Arboretum honours those who have dedicated their careers to the pursuit of Signals Intelligence.

And, as I complete my own journey from Iron Curtain to Final Curtain, and give way to a distinguished successor waiting in the wings, I cherish my choice of career. My colleagues and I joined the intelligence services to protect others from those who would do them harm. That has always been the passion of our profession. It was our passion when we resisted the Wehrmacht, the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; it was our passion during the Cold War when we wrestled the Soviet machine; and it's our passion today.

Back to Winston Churchill: he was responsible for two momentous decisions which transformed GCHQ, and which mark it to this day.

  • He personally approved the proposal to share every single one of Bletchley Park's secrets with the United States, a decision which led to what is the most enduring intelligence partnership in history.
  • And he personally answered the urgent appeal made to him by Turing, Alexander, Welchman and Milner-Barry for more resources: "Action this day: Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this has been done". This decision transformed GCHQ: it became the organisation it is today, enabled by technology to produce intelligence at scale and at pace.

And even earlier than that, when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924, he demanded access to Sigint reporting, writing to the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin: "In the years I have been in office since Room 40 began in the autumn of 1914, I have read every one of these flimsies and I attach more importance to them as a means of forming a true judgement of public policy in these spheres than to any other source of knowledge at the disposal of the State". He shared our passion, and our predecessors recognised it and responded to it.

When I joined GCHQ, there were still veterans of Bletchley Park working in Cheltenham. They had worked alongside those who had started Sigint in 1914, learning not just how to do their jobs, but learning too why they did their work the way they did, and how GCHQ had grown and adapted as new sources became available, or productive sources were turned off. I learned from them, and eventually, as the Director of GCHQ, have had the responsibility of ensuring that the thread of continuity that links us to our past continues to extend into the future.

I won't pretend that I've enjoyed every minute of the media attention, but the only thing worse than being in the eye of the storm would have been to be anywhere else. Had that been so, I'd be unable to bear witness now to my fellow professionals, ordinary men and women whose integrity has been insulted time and again, and whose response to such provocation has not been a noisy retort but a quiet resolve - a resolve to continue doing extraordinary things for others. I will miss them, the friends who made the same career choice: their skill, their sacrifice, their silence.

I said this to the parliamentary committee in a closed evidence session, and I'll say it again now:

  • My staff are the embodiment of British values, not a threat to them.

Most current GCHQ staff are probably not a threat to British values, but the automated infrastructure of snooping is a huge threat to us all, including such privileged insiders themselves.

  • What if an extremist government takes power ?
  • What if a weak government fails to prevent the ponderous bureaucracy from sleep walking us into a repressive surveillance state on autopilot, as officials and politicians try to deflect blame and protect their budgets and empires, by seeking to "leave no stone unturned" in their surveillance activities ?

What will Sir Iain Lobban do next ? Will he enjoy a quiet retirement or will he magically appear as a Director or Consultant in the "revolving door" world of Defence / Intelligence / Lobbyist companies ?

How different, if at all, will his successor Robert Hannigan as Director of GCHQ ?

The legal challenge in the (mostly secret) Investigatory Powers Tribunal by several civil liberties groups against the mass surveillance schemes such as GCHQ's Tempora has led to a witness statement by Charles Farr at the Home office.

UK intelligence forced to reveal secret policy for mass surveillance of residents' Facebook and Google use

Unfortunately the copy of Charles Farr's witness statement, which needs to be analysed carefully, is only available as a non-accessible image scanned (.pdf) file.

https://www.privacyinternational.org/sites/privacyinternational.org/files/downloads/press-releases/witness_st_of_charles_blandford_farr.pdf

Therefore, with the help of Optical Character Recognition, Spy Blog has produced a text / html version of this important historical document for the benefit of the public and search engines.

If we have time we will try to clear up the inevitable formatting errors and spelling mistakes, but you should get the gist and be able to search for key words:

Down load our text file

http://spyblog.org.uk/ssl/spyblog/images/Charles_Farr_IPT_witness_statement_on_mass_surveillance.txt

or read it here below:

The recent NSA revelations by Der Spiegel, have not directly cited Edward Snowden as the source.

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:

[via IanCobain]

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:

Penny Rimbaud On How Crass Nearly Started World War 3

They do however link to the new National Archives disclosures of documents declassified after 30 years i.e. from 1984:

http://filestore.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/prem-19-1380.pdf

The newspaper reports from 1983 /1984 are not easily available online, but this article reproduces them:

http://killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/news/crass-capital-radio-reagan-thatcher-tape-new-broadcast-270184/

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" ?

Here are some notes on the Membership of the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill

Please lobby these people with your opposition to the Draft Communications Data Bill.

N.B. Just as with the now suppressed Detainee Inquiry (whose second anniversary of doing not very much at all comes up this Friday 6th July 2012) into allegations of complicity in torture, the Intelligence Agencies and the Police and private sector Defence contractors will be intensely interested in identifying potential witnesses and especially potential whistleblowers who might wish to give Evidence to this Committee, so that they can prepare their own positions if and when they are called to give evidence and to nobble any "security risks" within their own ranks.

The Wilson Doctrine only forbids the interception of the telephones, faxes, emails, tweets and SMS text messages of Members of Parliament the House of Commons and of Peers in the House of Lords.

It does allow for the (self authorised) collection of Communications Traffic Data, the very subject of this Bill, about anybody who contacts this Joint Committee to give them a political message or to provide Evidence to them.

If you intend to contact the Committee (which is about to make its formal call for evidence soon) , then please take some precautions, either to protect your own whistleblower anonymity, or as a matter of principle, to demonstrate what a waste of money and a blow to the UK economy, these expensive proposals will be.
c.f.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers etc.
http://ht4w.co.uk

Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for
Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists,
Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc.

Unlike the faceless bureaucrats and lobbyists who are proposing this Bill, here are some images (from the Parliament.uk website) and some brief opinions of the runners and riders on this Committee, which is supposed to scrutinise this controversial legislation.

Will they be swayed by principled civil liberties or technological arguments ? Or will they cut backroom political deals with the vested interests and lobbyists for more surveillance snooping powers and budgets ?

Rt_Hon_Nick_Brown_MP.jpg
Rt Hon Nicholas Brown - Labour

Former Minister and New Labour Chief Whip. Gordon Brown's political "enforcer"
Very experienced in secret backroom political wheeling and dealing

It will be astonishing if he champions anything but more snooping powers.

Michael_Ellis_MP.jpg
Michael Ellis - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Former barrister

Dr_Julian_Huppert_MP.jpg
Dr Julian Huppert - Liberal Democrat

new MP in 2010
Academic computational biochemist

So far the lone voice of opposition to the dafter aspects of the Bill, but will he be pressured by the devious former Whips into political compromises ?

Stephen_Mosley_MP.jpg
Stephen Mosley - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Had a career in IT before becoming an MP, but before the vast increase in internet usage.

"Degree in Chemistry from Nottingham University, Stephen worked for IBM for four years before setting up his own IT Consultancy in 1997."

Craig_Whitaker_MP.jpg
Craig Whittaker - Conservative

new MP in 2010
Former Retail Manager

David_Wright_MP.jpg
David Wright - Labour

Former Labour government and opposition Whip
Junior to Nick Brown, but with an equally untrustworthy voting record.

Lord_Armstrong_of_Ilminster.jpg
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster Cross Bench

Former Cabinet Secretary

The actual Whitehall Sir Humprey who coined the phrase "economical with the truth" during the MI5 Spycatcher book publication censorship affair.

Will be perceived to be biased in favour of more snooping by the Intelligence Agencies.

Lord_Blencathra.jpg
Lord Blencathra - Conservative

David Maclean the former Tory Chief Whip who masterminded the sneaky attempt in the Commons to exclude the the House of Commons (and as an afterthought, the House of Lords) from the Freedom of Information Act, just as the MPs expenses scandal was breaking.

Currently a lobbyist for the government of the Cayman Islands tax haven.

Not a champion of free speech, transparency or liberty.

Apparently he is set to be Chairman of the Joint Committee

Baroness_Cohen_of_Pimlico.jpg
Baroness Cohen of Pimlico - Labour

A former solicitor and writer of crime fiction novels

Lord_Faulks.jpg
Lord Faulks - Conservative

Former barrister and Queen's Counsel

Lord_Jones.jpg
Lord Jones (N.B. Parliament.uk website URL say Stephen Jones, but points to Barry Jones) - Labour

He is a former MP who has also served on the useless Intelligence and Security Committee from 1994-97 so he cannot be trusted to stand up for the general public's rights and freedoms.

Lord_Strasburger.jpg
Lord Strasburger - Liberal Democrat

Property developer, businessman, party donor


Despite their claims to be merely "civil servants", subservient to Parliament and the general public, MI5 the Security Service are meddling in politics again.

Security Service Act 1989

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 ?

The Olympics and Beyond

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:

OLYMPICS

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 ?

CYBER SECURITY

21.

[...]

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

29.
[...]

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.


Is the Sunday Times helping to set up Charles Farr as the fall guy for the Coalition government's failure to undo the massive damage to our freedoms and liberties which was done by Labour, with the help of this former MI6 officer, who is now the Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism at the Home Office ?

This article by David Leppard has several anonymous opinions from people who have worked with or against Charles Farr, almost none of which are complimentary.

Is he really the sole architect of Labour and the Coalition's counterproductive anti-terrorism and mass surveillance policies, or are there other guilty mandarins who should also be named and shamed ?

The Sunday Times
22nd April 2012

page 23

Profile Charles Farr

Chief snooper pops out of the shadows

The volatile former spy turned security mandarin is going public to defend his plan to monitor all our digital communication, writes David Leppard

When the embattled Theresa May appears before a committee of MPs on Tuesday to give evidence about her work as home secretary she will be accompanied by one of Whitehall's most powerful, controversial and secretive mandarins. Charles Farr, the Home Office's top "securocrat", is set to emerge from the shadows for the first time as he is asked to defend the coalition's plans to monitor the internet use and digital communications of everyone in Britain.

Do not pin too much hope in the Home Affairs Committee, they have been bamboozled by the Home Office and by the intelligence agencies many times before. Perhaps Dr. Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge) might get a few telling questions in, but he is unlikely to get any straight answers.

Farr is probably Whitehall's most important and influential spy, the man most closely associated with "Big Brother Britain". He was responsible for the so-called "snooping bill" that caused the government so many prob­lems earlier this month. He personally oversaw the introduction of the coalition's rebranded regime of control orders to detain terror suspects without charge and he drove its ambitious attempts to curb the radicalisation of young Muslim men.

A bright and driven bureaucrat, he has shaken up Whitehall's security machine, impressing successive ministerial bosses with his vision since he was plucked from MI6 in 2007 by John Reid, the former Labour home secretary, to head the Home Office's security and counterterrorism office. Farr won plaudits for overhauling the government's handling of the war on terror.

Impressing John "not fit for purpose" Reid, (now a lobbyist for the G4S private security company) the former hard line Communist and drinking partner of the Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadžić, should not be seen as a positive character reference.

"He has made a major contribution to the government's counterterrorism efforts, principally because of his leadership," said Patrick Mercer, former chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counterterrorism. Yet talk to current and former colleagues, and they will tell you there is a flip side to the 52-year-old Farr. They portray him as a bucca­neer whose intelligence past and explosive temper raise questions about his constitutional role as a civil servant -- and the robust style in which he does business.

Little is known of Farr's early life and career. He was educated at Monkton Combe, a private school near Bath, of which Slr Richard Dearlove, a former M6 chief and his future boss, is also an old boy. After leaving in 1977 Farr studied English at Magdalen College Oxford, alma mater of several spies including Sir John Scarlett, another former MI6 chief.

So he probably has little clue about the technology and business implications of his policies, which affect the internet, mobile phones, computer databases etc.

He joined MI6 some time in the 1980s, serving in South Africa and Jordan. Farr is understood to have come to prominence, as one contemporary recalled, "flying around Afghanistan in a helicopter with thousands of dollars in bundles, doing deals with farmers to not grow opium. Bad policy as it turned out, but he did it very well". So well, in fact, that he was appointed an OBE in 2003. He would go on to run MI6's counterterrorism department before Reid spotted him.

Farr's critics say he still carries the legacy of his MI6 heyday -- a mindset they claim is inappropriate for his job at the heart of Whitehall security policy. "When you are an MI6 officer out in the field, trying to stop people getting nuclear weapons in, say, Kazakhstan, you have to be very independ­ently minded and very confident in your own judgment. There's not a lot of ministerial con­trol or public accountability," says an admirer who knows him well. "Charles feels very uncomfortable in the world of domestic politics and doesn't read it very well."

That comment was from "an admirer" !

A former Home Office official went further: "When you're suddenly flung into a top position with management and policy respon­sibility in the Home Office, you can't go on behaving like you are in the Tora Bora caves doing deals with warlords. Your job is to advise ministers who decide policy. You can't go around thinking you are a player in your own right. It's a constitutional concern."

Farr's handling of the now infamous snooping bill seems to typify these contra­dictions. Ministers ran into a storm of criticism after The Sunday Times revealed they were planning to allow the intelligence agencies to monitor social media, Skype calls and email communications as well as logging every site visited by internet users in Britain. The plans were due to be announced in next month's Queen's speech, but were put on hold when they were leaked.

It is no secret in Whitehall that the grandiosely titled communications capabili­ties development programme was Farr's "policy baby". In fact, it was a rehash of an earlier attempt by Farr in 2009 to persuade the then Labour home secretary to build a giant database where the government could hold details of all emails and telephone calls. It obviously needed sensitive handling, but its delivery was bungled by Farr's office and it was dumped by Labour after an uproar. When a new government was elected he tried to resurrect the plan -- with similar results.

Why didn't the Coalition government sack this snoop happy Labour apparatchik when they took office ?

A similar lack of deftness befell Farr's efforts to develop "Prevent", a controversial plank of the government's counterterrorism policy that aimed to identify and thwart thousands of young Muslim men who might be vulnerable to violent extremism. A key strand of Prevent was the policy of dishing out tens of millions of pounds of public money to Muslim youth groups and charities. Basically Farr believed the government should engage with fundamentalist Muslim leaders because they were best placed to stop the radicalisation of the youths who were the most likely to become violent extremists. The problem with the policy was some of these groups were asked to "spot" potential extremists and report on teen­agers who might be vulnerable to grooming.

Critics inside and outside the government soon saw it as turning the Home Office into a giant spying machine. "They were offering money to youth groups and Muslim charities contingent on them spying for the Home Office," said a prominent lawyer, who saw draft documents outlining the conditions of the grant agreements.

The scheme became characterised as a huge bid for surveillance. "It was a blurring of the policy ol surveillance with a different policy of community engagement and building a civil society" said a former Home Office official.

"But if like Charles Fair, you are a career spook you just don't get that. You see everything as an opportunity for surveillance and you see everybody as potentially sinsister."

Perhaps the general public will see Charles Farr as "sinister" and a threat to our freedoms and liberties, who has wormed his way into the heart of Whitehall.

Whatever his intentions, the practical effect of his failed polices, is to have acted as a recruiting sergeant for the next generation of extremists here in the UK and to make the Home Office / MI5 / MI6 / GCHQ and the rest of the Whitehall and Westminster political elites, increasingly hated by the public who should be supporting them.

In the end the policy was binned after a speech in Munich in February last year by David Cameron on Islamic extremism. The prime minister argued that any kind of Islamic extremism, whether violent or not, was unacceptable. It was seen by insiders as an explicit attack on Farr. Reports that Farr "went ballistic" when he read the speech are over-blown. But one insider said: "He was unhappy with the Munich speech. But obviously not unhappy enough to resign."

So if the Prime Minister / Number 10 SpAds are unhappy with Charles Farr, why is he still in a position of power and influence ?

Who are his political allies within the Byzantine corridors of power in Whitehall ?

Does Charles Farr have access to secret material which could be used to blackmail politicians with, like the notorious J. Edgar Hoover did in the USA ?

Although his single-mindedness is widely admired, Farr's volcanic temper has won him few friends in Whitehall. Dealing with warlords on the front line in Afghanistan requires different skills from managing sensi­tive egos in the supposedly collegiate environ­ment of a government office.

Presumably the opium smuggling paedophile Afghan warlords are less duplicitous and more honourable than the civil service mandarins and politicians in Whitehall and Westminster.

In the often heated exchanges during the government's review of control orders in late 2010, a former official recalls one particularly fiery exchange between Farr and a civil liberties campaigner. "He was having one of his explosions, which seemed to last 45 minutes and was quite sinister. You just think: what on earth is going on? Is he all right? It was all very embarrassing and counterproductive."

Another former official, who had a show­down with Farr over policy, recalls: "He's almost messianic. He's like he's on a mission to protect the nation. When you disagree with him he gets very emotional. He's one of these guys who goes white and shakes when he loses his temper."

The cold fury that his policies have stirred up in many people who are at least as patriotic as he is, outside of Whitehall, more than match such alleged temper tantrums

Farr's relationship with MPs reflects the unique challenges of putting an MI6 hawk at the heart of the public policy machine. Farr feels uncomfortable when he is called to give evidence before Commons committees.

Tough.

That is part of what all Whitehall mandarins get their titles, honours and big salaries to do.

On the few occasions when he has testified he has always insisted he is heard in secret. He has told Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs committee, that as a serving spy he can't give evidence in public.

Rubbish.

Charles Farr is no longer a serving MI6 officer in the field, he is employed as a civil servant at the Home Office in Marsham Street.

"Charles likes being a secret squirrel," said another MP. "Keith asked him why he can't give evidence in public. Charles replied that there were no pictures of him any where on the internet. Nobody knew what he looked like, which is how he wanted it.

Why ? He is never going on an undercover mission again, is he ?

What makes him more special than the heads of the Intelligence Agencies who have been interviewed and photographed in public ? Nothing.

But Keith replied: 'Everybody knows what you look like: you look like an older version of Harry Potter'."

Unlike the star of JK Rowling's books no one inside Whitehall says Farr is Mr Popular. "He has on occasions adopted a style that could be considered inappropriate," said a former official. "He's a very uncivil servant."

That restrained euphemism sounds like an audition for the planned new series of Yes Minister

Additional reporting: Richard Kerbaj

The few English language documents in the cache of secret intelligence documents liberated as a result of the (British ?) bombing of one of the Libyan dictator Gaddafi's intelligence agency buildings, has already caused the abandonment / cover up of the Detainee Inquiry into allegations of MI6 the Secret Intelligence Service and the British government involvement in torture.

The Mail on Sunday seems to have access to some of the other ones, now translated from Arabic, which seem to implicate the MI5 Security Service as being in cahoots with the same murderous Libyan torturers, in London in 2006.

Will these allegations result in Yet Another Police / Crown Prosecution Service investigation, which like the previous ones, will dither for 2 or 3 years, thereby further delaying the promised replacement Inquiry into Torture complicity by the British government ?

Secret documents reveal MI5 agents betrayed Libyan dissidents to Gaddafi spies in London rendezvous just 700 yards from Harrods


  • British spies supplied the Libyan dictator's secret agents with intelligence, mobile phones and an upmarket London safe house
  • Experts say the explosive documents suggest breaches of the Geneva Conventions, the Human Rights Act and criminal law

By Robert Verkaik, Barbara Jones and David Rose

PUBLISHED: 23:00, 21 April 2012 | UPDATED: 02:52, 22 April 2012

MI5 betrayed enemies of Colonel Gaddafi given refuge in Britain in a covert joint operation with Libyan spies working on UK soil, documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal.

Gaddafi's secret agents were supplied by MI5 with intelligence, secure mobile phones and a luxurious safe house in the heart of London's Knightsbridge.

The extraordinary revelations emerge from hundreds of secret documents unearthed from Libyan spymasters' archives after the Gaddafi regime was toppled - with British military help - last year.

Shockingly, they reveal tactics of intimidation and coercion - and expose the British agents' specific fears that their actions might be reported by the press in the UK.

[...]

A senior former intelligence officer said it was 'difficult to imagine' that the joint operations were not sanctioned by Ministers and it was likely that the Home and Foreign Secretaries were involved, as well as the Prime Minister - at the time, Tony Blair.

But the then Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, said: 'I don't think I knew anything about this. I certainly have no recollection of it.' She thought that as an 'operational matter' it would not have needed ministerial authorisation.

Lord Reid, who was Home Secretary, failed to return phone calls asking for comment. A spokesman for Mr Blair said he had 'no recollection' of the operations.

The documents reveal meetings between the British and Libyan services in both Tripoli and London, and visits by the Libyan agents to make 'approaches' to their targets in London and Manchester in August and October 2006.

It does not matter whether these notoriously authoritarian Labour politicians now choose not to remember sanctioning such reprehensible betrayals on British soil. They were the elected politicians who bear the political responsibility for the actions of their Security Service MI5 and Secret Intelligence Service MI6 minions at the time.

If this was an unsanctioned operation, then that is also their fault, for allowing such things to go undetected and unpunished.

N.B. the warrants signed by Secretaries of State under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, apply to things like property interference (burglary to plant bugging devices).

They do not specifically sanction the use of blackmail threats to force the cooperation of Confidential Human Intelligence Sources, especially not in collaboration with the foreign intelligence service of a dictatorship.

Such warrants, even if they do actually exist, do not absolve MI5 officers or politicians from prosecution for misconduct in public office

[...]

According to the minutes, one of the MI5 staff said: 'The target person has the right to make a complaint or seek police protection. British intelligence must be careful how they approach a target because this individual could call on human rights or the press and cause a security scandal that exposes the co-operation between British and Libyan secret services.'

Note how, according to the blinkered MI5 mindset, it is the victim of the blackmail and betrayal who would somehow seen to be "causing" the scandal, if they complained to the police or the press, not the Labour government's Security Service MI5 and the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's External Security Organisation.

Mi5 always has and always should keep a close eye on foreign dissident groups which have sought refuge in the UK from evil foreign regimes. They used to keep the foreign intelligence agencies of such regimes, who prey on and (as was the case with the Libyans) assassinate such political refugees, under even tighter surveillance.

Moussa Koussa, the then head of the Libyan intelligence agencies, with whom MI6 and MI5 were so friendly with, had been expelled from London earlier in his career in 1980, precisely for threatening to murder ex-patriot Libyan dissidents in London.

It is appalling that MI5 actually cooperated with the Libyan dictatorship, in London and used their surveillance powers and blackmail threats of arrest and deportation, against refugees people who are not terrorists themselves, whilst fully aware that what they were doing was morally wrong and illegal in the UK.

How many other such joint intelligence agency operations with the foreign intelligence agencies of dictatorships, aimed at foreign refugees / dissidents, supposedly under asylum protection in the UK were there under the Labour government ?

How many of these operations have continued under the Coalition government ?

Were there, or are there still, similar arrangements in place with, say the Egyptian or Saudi Arabian or Indonesian governments ?

This time, the plan was to set up further meetings with the target in Didsbury, with the hope of introducing him to MI5. The Libyans were not to stay at the safe house, however, but at the five-star City Inn Hotel, which conveniently is next to MI5's headquarters on the Thames.

MI5_Thames_House_City_Inn_gsv_450.jpg
[via Google Street view]

The Thorney Street rear entrances / emergency exits to the Thames House buildings are all very well, but their comings and goings are presumably observed and remotely monitored by other domestic and foreign intelligence agencies 24/7 from the neighbouring Millbank and other office buildings which overlook Thorney Street.

Spy Blog has often wondered if there is a secret tunnel underground entrance to the MI5 Thames House HQ from this nearby City Inn Hotel, underneath Thorney Street.

Presumably the City Inn CCTV systems, hotel rooms, suites and telephones are electronically bugged by MI5 (they have been doing that sort of thing in London hotels for over a hundred years).

The Detainee Inquiry, headed by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson, was supposed to have investigated the allegations of complicity in torture and "extraordinary rendition", by the British government, especially its secret intelligence agencies - MI5 Security Service, SIS Secret Intelligence Service, GCHQ and possibly DIS the Defence Intelligence Staff.

However the Detainee Inquiry has been shut down before it even got started formally, even after 18 months delay, supposedly because of the suspiciously lengthy and ineffective Metropolitan Police Service and Crown Prosecution Service investigations into old allegations and the effect of the "smoking gun" documentary evidence discovered in Libya last autumn.

In order to probe exactly how potential witnesses and whistleblowers to the Detainee Inquiry might be protected from vengeful secret bureaucrats, Spy Blog requested, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the full, detailed text of the latest draft(s) (or the final version) of the promised undertakings from the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary and the heads of the intelligence services.

These Undertakings were promised by Prime Minister David Cameron when he set up the Detainee Inquiry over 18 months ago: The Prime Minister's Letter to Sir Peter Gibson 06 July 2010 (.pdf)

See the Spy Blog - FOIA request blog for the text of these FOIA disclosures:

Detainee Inquiry "undertakings" by the Attorney General and the Cabinet Secretary

Attorney General's Office disclosure

Attorney_General_to_Detainee_Inquiry_03Nov2011.pdf

This seems to be a reasonable level of legal immunity, especially for criminal offences which the Attorney General himself decides whether to prosecute or not e.g. Official Secrets Act cases.

The Detainee Inquiry is not a Tribunal or Court of Law (despite being chaired by a retired senior Judge) and it was not set up as an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 and so it has no legal power to compel any witnesses to give evidence,

How can it can enforce any prosecutions for giving, or conspiring to give it any "false evidence", which the Attorney General's undertaking explicitly does not give immunity for ?

Cabinet Office disclosure

Sir_Gus_O_Donnell_letter_21Nov2011.pdf

As expected by Spy Blog, the Cabinet Office letter by the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell (now Lord O'Donnell of Clapham) and its "overarching principles" seem suitable for protecting witnesses who are current or former intelligence agency staff members who espouse the official line e.g. by treating evidence given within the Terms of Reference of the Detainee Inquiry, as having been given "lawful authority" for the purposes of the Official Secrets Act 1989 section 7 Authorised disclosures

However the letter does not really provide the necessary guarantees for any whistleblowers who might contradict their current or former bosses.

Neither is it clear what whistleblower guarantees the vast array of private military contractors, defence industry suppliers and sub-contractors etc. who are not civil servants, but who will fear that their security clearances and government contracts could be at risk if they make allegations, or provide evidence which contradicts the official intelligence agency briefing positions, which those agencies might have provided to the Detainee Inquiry or which they might do so to a future inquiry.

There is no explicit prohibition on using the self authorised legal powers, human and technological resources available to each intelligence agency, to prevent them from snooping on the members and staff of the Detainee Inquiry itself (and their friends and families), so as to try to obtain advance notice of the identities of potential whistleblowers and the information or evidence which they might be offering to the Detainee Inquiry.

Spy Blog correspondence with the Detainee Inquiry

Spy Blog letter to the Detainee Inquiry re: lack of whistleblower anonymity protection and immunity from prosecution - August 2011

Reply from the Detainee Inquiry, regarding anonymity protection for whistleblowers, surveillance targeting against the Inquiry itself etc. - September 2011

The United Kingdom Security Service MI5 has an interesting little Quiz, to help pre-screen potential Intelligence Officer recruits,

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/careers/investigative-challenge-quiz.aspx

Spy Blog disagrees with several of the "correct" answers to this Quiz. If these really reflect the MI5 Security Service Intelligence Officer mindset, then there needs to be some retraining as soon as possible.

N.B. if you have gone to the MI5 website, or have arrived at this Spy Blog web page through, say, a Google web search or through Twitter or a blog RSS feed and you have not bothered to take any precautions to hide or fake your computer's IP address and web browser details, cookies etc. from foreign companies and governments, then you should have, in our view, already failed the MI5 Intelligence Officer recruitment procedure.

Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member.

Unfortunately, we suspect that MI5 still does not take "cyber security" / privacy and anonymity as seriously as it should.

The Quiz need Adobe Flash to be installed on your computer to run and imposes an artificial time deadline,

You can examine the source material and the questions (with the "correct" scores for each option) at your leisure, at our Spy Blog answers - MI5 Investigative Challenge Intelligence Officer Quiz web page.

This fictional scenario involves some alleged foreign intelligence officers operating from their Embassy in London (see the Spy Blog London Diplomatic List archive). However, in real life, Counter-intelligence operations against foreign intelligence officers under "diplomatic cover" in London takes up only a small proportion of MI5's resources compared with Counter-Terrorism..


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After faffing around for over 4 years, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Service have decided not to charge anyone at MI5 the Security Service or SIS the Secret Intelligence Service in the cases of two people who have made allegations of complicity in torture against them.

Their joint statement does not "clear" the officers and agencies concerned of any wrongdoing, which is the propaganda line being spun by say , the Daily Telegraph, it just says that the CPS feels that there is insufficient evidence for the likely prospect of a criminal conviction.


Joint statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Metropolitan Police Service

12/01/2012

This is a joint statement by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) dealing with:

(a) the decisions of the CPS not to charge any named individuals in relation to the investigations in Operations Hinton and Iden;

(b) the setting up of an advisory panel for scoping other complaints about ill-treatment by detainees in similar circumstances; and

(c) the decision by the MPS whether to investigate two further cases where allegations of criminal wrongdoing are raised in relation to the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged ill-treatment of them in Libya.

[...]

All concerned have been mindful of the obligation that allegations such as those made in Operations Hinton and Iden must be investigated thoroughly and in accordance with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights is very short and all encompassing:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Operation Hinton involved the investigation of the alleged involvement of British officials in the ill-treatment and torture of Mr Binyam Mohamed when he was detained in Pakistan between about April and July 2002 and/or when he was detained elsewhere between about July 2002 and early 2004.

Mr Mohamed has never alleged that any member of either the Security Service or the Secret Intelligence Service was directly involved in the torture and ill-treatment he alleges. The investigation has therefore focused on whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of convicting any member of either Service for offences of aiding and abetting torture, aiding and abetting war crimes and misconduct in public office.

[...]

However, the CPS has also concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove to the standard required in a criminal court that any identifiable individual provided information to the US authorities about Mr Mohamed or supplied questions for the US authorities to put to Mr Mohamed, or was party to doing so, at a time when he or she knew or ought to have known that there was a real or serious risk that Mr Mohamed would be exposed to ill treatment amounting to torture.

"he or she knew or ought to have known that there was a real or serious risk"

The Crown Prosecution Service appear to be completely out of touch with reality, again.

Intelligence Agencies not only ought to have known exactly which countries and state agencies use torture, but they ought to know exactly where the torture chambers are located and the identities of the torturers and their superiors, because they should be hunting them down, instead of helping them.

If the Intelligence Agencies are claiming to be somehow ignorant of this, then MI5 or SiS officers and their superiors, should be charged with Misconduct in Public Office,
for "wilful neglect or misconduct", since everyone within the UK Intelligence Agencies is supposed to be aware that "torture" or "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" is utterly wrong.

Any investigation of the Libyan allegations , which Sir Peter Gibson's Detainee Inquiry had already promised to look into back in September 2011, are now in danger of being spun out for another 4 years by the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Ploddingly and bureaucratically, they have announced that they have set up "an advisory panel" to decide whether they should investigate these claims or not. Why have they not already started to investigate before Christmas 2011 ?

Statement by the Inquiry, January 12, 2012

[...]

Following the advice of the joint advisory Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police Panel, the Metropolitan Police has decided that the allegations raised in the two specific cases concerning the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged ill-treatment of them in Libya are so serious that it is in the public interest for them to be investigated rather than at the conclusion of the Detainee Inquiry.

The Detainee Inquiry Panel will now carefully consider its next steps and the Chairman of the Panel, Sir Peter Gibson, will make an announcement in due course.

Surely it is possible for the Detainee Inquiry to proceed in parallel with any Police investigation ? If they wait for every investigation and court case to finish, before they get formally started, then they might as well all resign now.

Were these kidnappings of individuals and families, none of whom were terrorists who posed a threat to the UK and their "extraordinary rendition" into the hands of torturers in the USA, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt or Libya etc.
sanctioned by Labour government Ministers under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, section 7 Authorisation of acts outside the British Islands ?

Will Tony Blair and his henchmen like Jack Straw and David Blunkett, try and divert responsibility for British complicity in torture by blaming their civil servant officials instead ?

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government's hands are not entirely clean either, given that only last year, they firstly accepted the defection of
Moussa Koussa from the Gadaffi regime in Libya and then let him go freely out of their custody. There are plenty of allegations around of his personal involvement in political assassinations, massacres and torture as head of the Libyan intelligence bureaucracy, whose abandoned offices have yielded prima facie evidence of such complicity.

It is now over 18 months since the Detainee Inquiry was set up and the promise Undertakings to protect witnesses or whistleblowers from prosecution and / or disciplinary action have still not been agreed or published

Spy Blog has raised with the Detainee Inquiry, the question of Communications data snooping, Interception of Communications and Intrusive Surveillance and recruitment of Confidential Human Intelligence Sources i.e. routine Intelligence Agencies powers and techniques, which could easily be aimed at members and staff of the Detainee Inquiry and their families and friends, by one or all of the intelligence Agencies, trying to identify potential or actual whistleblowers who may not be adhering to the official party line. The self justification for doing so will be on the nebulous grounds of "national security" - to determine if anyone willing to talk, even in secret, to the Detainee Inquiry about the deeds or misdeeds of their colleagues or superiors be trusted any more.

See the previous Spy Blog article: Reply from the Detainee Inquiry, regarding anonymity protection for whistleblowers, surveillance targeting against the Inquiry itself etc.

Were the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service teams working on investigations Operation Hinton and Operation Iden targeted in this way ? Given the 4 years it took them to fail to find sufficient evidence and the number of people they were not allowed to interview, it may well be that the Intelligence Agencies were always one step ahead of the investigators, perhaps through the use of such surveillance techniques.

Will the Metropolitan Police investigation into the Libyan allegations, if it ever goes ahead, also be so targeted by the Intelligence Agencies ?

Remember that individual Police officers and investigation teams have, according to evidence given to the Leveson Inquiry, been targeted by News of the World and / or other journalists and private investigators, including the team investigating Downing Street complicity in the "cash for honours" scandal headed by the now politically disgraced Assistant Commissioner John Yates.

It is therefore not fanciful to assume that people within the UK Intelligence Agencies with these secret surveillance powers will use them, or will get their US or European sister intelligence agencies to do so on their behalf against such torture investigations, unless expressly and publicly forbidden to do so .

Any such ban must be public, so that the companies and staff working in telecommunications, internet and postal communications services can recognise illegal requests for Communications Data or the contents of communications and refuse to accede to them.

It is ironic that the person to whom complaints about such abuses of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 by the Intelligence Agencies, if they exist, is the Intelligence Services Commissioner, the post held by Rt. Hon. Sir Peter Gibson until he resigned it early in his tenure to devote himself to the Detainee Inquiry.

The current Intelligence Services Commissioner is Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller - see the previous Spy Blog article: Intelligence Services Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Sir Mark Waller appointed early, announced late


About this blog

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.

The hope is that you the readers, will help to insist that strong safeguards for the privacy of the individual are implemented, especially in these times of increased alert over possible terrorist or criminal activity. If the systems which should help to protect us can be easily abused to supress our freedoms, then the terrorists will have won.

We know that there are decent, honest, trustworthy individual politicians, civil servants, law enforcement, intelligence agency personnel and broadcast, print and internet journalists etc., who often feel powerless or trapped in the system. They need the assistance of external, detailed, informed, public scrutiny to help them to resist deliberate or unthinking policies, which erode our freedoms and liberties.

Email & PGP Contact

Please feel free to email your views about this blog, or news about the issues it tries to comment on.

blog@spy[dot]org[dot]uk

Our PGP public encryption key is available for those correspondents who wish to send us news or information in confidence, and also for those of you who value your privacy, even if you have got nothing to hide.

We wiil use this verifiable public key (the ID is available on several keyservers, twitter etc.) to establish initial contact with whistleblowers and other confidential sources, but will then try to establish other secure, anonymous communications channels, as appropriate.

Current PGP Key ID: 0xE08E882B13FC89C which will expire on 30th September 2015.

pgp-now.gif
You can download a free copy of the PGP encryption software from www.pgpi.org
(available for most of the common computer operating systems, and also in various Open Source versions like GPG)

We look forward to the day when UK Government Legislation, Press Releases and Emails etc. are Digitally Signed so that we can be assured that they are not fakes. Trusting that the digitally signed content makes any sense, is another matter entirely.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers and Political Dissidents

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g. see Spy Blog's Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers - or use this easier to remember link: http://ht4w.co.uk

BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

Links

Watching Them, Watching Us

London 2600

Our UK Freedom of Information Act request tracking blog

WikiLeak.org - ethical and technical discussion about the WikiLeaks.org project for anonymous mass leaking of documents etc.

Privacy and Security

Privacy International
United Kingdom Privacy Profile (2011)

Cryptome - censored or leaked government documents etc.

Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
Surveillance & Society the fully peer-reviewed transdisciplinary online surveillance studies journal

Statewatch - monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union

The Policy Laundering Project - attempts by Governments to pretend their repressive surveillance systems, have to be introduced to comply with international agreements, which they themselves have pushed for in the first place

International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance

ARCH Action Rights for Children in Education - worried about the planned Children's Bill Database, Connexions Card, fingerprinting of children, CCTV spy cameras in schools etc.

Foundation for Information Policy Research
UK Crypto - UK Cryptography Policy Discussion Group email list

Technical Advisory Board on internet and telecomms interception under RIPA

European Digital Rights

Open Rights Group - a UK version of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a clearinghouse to raise digital rights and civil liberties issues with the media and to influence Governments.

Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

Blindside - "What’s going to go wrong in our e-enabled world? " blog and wiki and Quarterly Report will supposedly be read by the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance. Whether the rest of the Government bureaucracy and the Politicians actually listen to the CSIA, is another matter.

Biometrics in schools - 'A concerned parent who doesn't want her children to live in "1984" type society.'

Human Rights

Liberty Human Rights campaigners

British Institute of Human Rights
Amnesty International
Justice

Prevent Genocide International

asboconcern - campaign for reform of Anti-Social Behavior Orders

Front Line Defenders - Irish charity - Defenders of Human Rights Defenders

Internet Censorship

OpenNet Initiative - researches and measures the extent of actual state level censorship of the internet. Features a blocked web URL checker and censorship map.

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."

Reporters without Borders internet section - news of internet related censorship and repression of journalists, bloggers and dissidents etc.

Judicial Links

British and Irish Legal Information Institute - publishes the full text of major case Judgments

Her Majesty's Courts Service - publishes forthcoming High Court etc. cases (but only in the next few days !)

House of Lords - The Law Lords are currently the supreme court in the UK - will be moved to the new Supreme Court in October 2009.

Information Tribunal - deals with appeals under FOIA, DPA both for and against the Information Commissioner

Investigatory Powers Tribunal - deals with complaints about interception and snooping under RIPA - has almost never ruled in favour of a complainant.

Parliamentary Opposition

The incompetent yet authoritarian Labour party have not apologised for their time in Government. They are still not providing any proper Opposition to the current Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition government, on any freedom or civil liberties or privacy or surveillance issues.

UK Government

Home Office - "Not fit for purpose. It is inadequate in terms of its scope, it is inadequate in terms of its information technology, leadership, management systems and processes" - Home Secretary John Reid. 23rd May 2006. Not quite the fount of all evil legislation in the UK, but close.

No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

Public Bills before Parliament

United Kingdom Parliament
Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons.

House of Commons "Question Book"

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

FaxYourMP - identify and then fax your Member of Parliament
WriteToThem - identify and then contact your Local Councillors, members of devolved assemblies, Member of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament etc.
They Work For You - House of Commons Hansard made more accessible ? UK Members of the European Parliament

Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
ACPOS Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland

Online Media

Boing Boing

Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

NewsNow Encryption and Security aggregate news feed
KableNet - UK Government IT project news
PublicTechnology.net - UK eGovernment and public sector IT news
eGov Monitor

Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported stand.org.uk have gone on to set up other online tools like WriteToThem.com. The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the stand.org website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

Home Office Identity Cards website
No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
UK ID Cards blog
NO2ID press clippings blog
CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow
www.idcards-uk.info - New Alliance's ID Cards page
irefuse.org - total rejection of any UK ID Card

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics

CommentOnThis.com - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

Surveillance Infrastructures

National Roads Telecommunications Services project - infrastruture for various mass surveillance systems, CCTV, ANPR, PMMR imaging etc.

CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

RFID Links

RFID tag privacy concerns - our own original article updated with photos

NoTags - campaign against individual item RFID tags
Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products has been endorsed by a large number of privacy and human rights organisations.
RFID Privacy Happenings at MIT
Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
RFID Scanner blog
RFID Gazette
The Sorting Door Project

RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

Genetic Links

DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
GeneWatch UK monitors genetic privacy and other issues
Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

Miscellanous Links

Michael Field - Pacific Island news - no longer a paradise
freetotravel.org - John Gilmore versus USA internal flight passports and passenger profiling etc.

The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

Former Spies

MI6 v Tomlinson - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Blog Links

e-nsecure.net blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
Rat's Blog -The Reverend Rat writes about London street life and technology
Duncan Drury - wired adventures in Tanzania & London
Dr. K's blog - Hacker, Author, Musician, Philosopher

David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

James Hammerton
White Rose - a thorn in the side of Big Brother
Big Blunkett
Into The Machine - formerly "David Blunkett is an Arse" by Charlie Williams and Scribe
infinite ideas machine - Phil Booth
Louise Ferguson - City of Bits
Chris Lightfoot
Oblomovka - Danny O'Brien

Liberty Central

dropsafe - Alec Muffett
The Identity Corner - Stefan Brands
Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
Schneier on Security - Bruce Schneier
Politics of Privacy Blog - Andreas Busch
solarider blog

Richard Allan - former Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam
Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
Craig Murray - former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, "outsourced torture" whistleblower

Howard Rheingold - SmartMobs
Global Guerrillas - John Robb
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends

Vmyths - debunking computer security hype

Nick Leaton - Random Ramblings
The Periscope - Companion weblog to Euro-correspondent.com journalist network.
The Practical Nomad Blog Edward Hasbrouck on Privacy and Travel
Policeman's Blog
World Weary Detective

Martin Stabe
Longrider
B2fxxx - Ray Corrigan
Matt Sellers
Grits for Breakfast - Scott Henson in Texas
The Green Ribbon - Tom Griffin
Guido Fawkes blog - Parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy.
The Last Ditch - Tom Paine
Murky.org
The (e)State of Tim - Tim Hicks
Ilkley Against CCTV
Tim Worstall
Bill's Comment Page - Bill Cameron
The Society of Qualified Archivists
The Streeb-Greebling Diaries - Bob Mottram

Your Right To Know - Heather Brooke - Freedom off Information campaigning journalist

Ministry of Truth _ Unity's V for Vendetta styled blog.

Bloggerheads - Tim Ireland

W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al.
EUrophobia - Nosemonkey

Blogzilla - Ian Brown

BlairWatch - Chronicling the demise of the New Labour Project

dreamfish - Robert Longstaff

Informaticopia - Rod Ward

War-on-Freedom

The Musings of Harry

Chicken Yoghurt - Justin McKeating

The Red Tape Chronicles - Bob Sullivan MSNBC

Campaign Against the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Stop the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

Rob Wilton's esoterica

panGloss - Innovation, Technology and the Law

Arch Rights - Action on Rights for Children blog

Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.

Shaphan

Moving On

Steve Moxon blog - former Home Office whistleblower and author.

Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

Architectures of Control in Design - Dan Lockton

rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

BLOGDIAL

MySecured.com - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

UK Liberty - A blog on issues relating to liberty in the UK

Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

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

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

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

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

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.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

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.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

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.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

Brian Burnell's British / US nuclear weapons history at http://nuclear-weapons.info

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

UK Legislation Links

UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

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Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

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Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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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