Category Archives: MI5/MI6/GCHQ

Did Brits Kill New York City Cops to Get U.S. into WWII?

Marc Wortman writes for The Daily Beast:

The sequence of events appears to tell a damning story: On June 4, 1940, Nazi Germany shoved the last British troop off the Continent at Dunkirk. Adolf Hitler moved his forces into position for a final cross-Channel invasion and occupation of England. That same month the new British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, dispatched a shadowy figure, Sir William Stephenson—later most famous as the original of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Agent 007—to set up a spy shop for Britain’s MI6 in Midtown Manhattan. A hero of World War One and self-made multi-millionaire, Stephenson was on neutral ground in America, but he and Churchill shared the conviction that nothing was more important to their nation’s chances for survival than winning American support for the war against Hitler. Then, on July 4, 1940, with throngs of holiday visitors at the New York World’s Fair, a time bomb planted in the British Pavilion exploded, instantly killing two New York City policemen and badly mauling five others. Was Stephenson behind the blast in an attempt to frame Nazis and their American sympathizers? Were these officers sacrificed to win American sympathy and draw a reluctant United States into the Second World War?

This past Independence Day marked the seventy-seventh anniversary of the unsolved crime. “It’s a cold case, but still an open case,” New York City Police Lieutenant Bernard Whalen tells me. He has scrutinized the original bombing case files while researching two books he wrote on the history of the NYPD. “There was a massive investigation at the time. The FBI was involved.” No effort was spared—except to get at those he believes were likeliest to have knowledge of the bomb, the security staff of the British Pavilion itself.

Although the United States was officially neutral, in the midst of a world at war, it was fast becoming a shadowy battlefield. New York teemed with spies, political agitators, and foreign agents, many with violence in mind for their enemies, some desperate enough to go to any length to sway American public opinion. While Whalen won’t pin blame on any single possible culprit, he says after his own studies of the case, “You could draw the conclusion that it was an inside job.” At one point the NYPD suspected as much, but were stopped from getting to the bottom of the case.

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64 Years Later, CIA Details Long-Hidden Role in Iran Coup

Aaron Maté speaks with Malcolm Byrne of the National Security Archives about the quiet release of long-awaited and long-hidden CIA documents offering key details on how the U.S. and Britain overthrew Iran’s democratic government in 1953. (The Real News) 

Theresa May Blames ‘Tolerance of Extremism’ But UK Policies Help Terrorists

Aaron Mate speaks with investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed who says British government policies benefit extremists and endanger civilians. (The Real News)

ISIS Recruiter Who Radicalised London Bridge Attackers Was Protected by MI5

Nafeez Ahmed reports for Insurge Intelligence:

The terrorists who rampaged across London on the night of 3 June were part of a wider extremist network closely monitored by MI5 for decades. The same network was heavily involved in recruiting Britons to fight with jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Police have confirmed that Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba were the three terrorists shot dead after participating in a brutal van and knife attack in the London Bridge area.

According to press reports, both Butt and Redouane were longstanding members of the proscribed extremist network formerly known as al-Muhajiroun. After 9/11, the group operated under different names such as Shariah4UK, Muslims4Crusades and Islam4UK. Originally founded by Lebanese firebrand, Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned from returning to the UK after the 7/7 attacks, the network was later run by Bakri’s deputy, Anjem Choudary.

Choudary was convicted in 2016 for supporting and encouraging support for ISIS.

Yet the press has largely ignored the extent to which Choudary’s uncanny freedom to operate in Britain, and to send British Muslims to fight in foreign theatres, was linked to his opaque relationship to Britain’s security services.

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‘Sorted’ by MI5: How UK Government Sent British-Libyans to Fight Gaddafi

Amandla Thomas-Johnson and Simon Hooper report for Middle East Eye:

The British government operated an “open door” policy that allowed Libyan exiles and British-Libyan citizens to join the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi even though some had been subject to counter-terrorism control orders, Middle East Eye can reveal.

Several former rebel fighters now back in the UK told MEE that they had been able to travel to Libya with “no questions asked” as authorities continued to investigate the background of a British-Libyan suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Monday’s attack in Manchester.

Salman Abedi, 22, the British-born son of exiled dissidents who returned to Libya as the revolution against Gaddafi gathered momentum, is also understood to have spent time in the North African country in 2011 and to have returned there on several subsequent occasions.

British police have said they believe the bomber, who returned to Manchester just a few days before the attack, was part of a network and have arrested six people including Abedi‘s older brother since Monday.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said that Abedi was known to security services, while a local community worker told the BBC that several people had reported him to the police via an anti-terrorism hotline.

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The Spy Who Wrote the Trump-Russia Memos

David Corn writes for Mother Jones:

Last fall, a week before the election, I broke the story that a former Western counterintelligence official had sent memos to the FBI with troubling allegations related to Donald Trump. The memos noted that this spy’s sources had provided him with information indicating that Russian intelligence had mounted a yearslong operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and had gathered secret compromising material on Trump. They also alleged that Trump and his inner circle had accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin. These memos caused a media and political firestorm this week when CNN reported that President Barack Obama and Trump had been told about their existence, as part of briefings on the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia hacked political targets during the 2016 campaign to help Trump become president. For my story in October, I spoke with the former spy who wrote these memos, under the condition that I not name him or reveal his nationality or the spy service where he had worked for nearly two decades, mostly on Russian matters.

The former spy told me that he had been retained in early June by a private research firm in the United States to look into Trump’s activity in Europe and Russia. “It started off as a fairly general inquiry,” he recalled. One question for him, he said, was, “Are there business ties in Russia?” The American firm was conducting a Trump opposition research project that was first financed by a Republican source until the funding switched to a Democratic one. The former spy said he was never told the identity of the client.

The former intelligence official went to work and contacted his network of sources in Russia and elsewhere. He soon received what he called “hair-raising” information. His sources told him, he said, that Trump had been “sexually compromised” by Russian intelligence in 2013 (when Trump was in Moscow for the Miss Universe contest) or earlier and that there was an “established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.” He noted he was “shocked” by these allegations. By the end of June, he was sending reports of what he was finding to the American firm.

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The Spy Who Compiled The Golden Showers Dossier Helped Bring Down Sepp Blatter

Patrick Redford reports for Dead Spin:

A day after Donald Trump held a press conference to decry Buzzfeed’s reporting, spout nonsensically about how he doesn’t do treason, and claim that he wouldn’t take part in a golden shower party because he’s a germaphobe, the Wall Street Journal has reported the identity of the British spy who helped compile the explosive dossier.

Christopher Steele is the 52-year-old owner of a London-based private security company, but he previously served in MI6, posing as a diplomat in Russia and Paris. The English FA hired Steele’s private security firm to investigate FIFA corruption while it was still in the running to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. England was unsuccessful in its attempts to delegitimize Russia or Qatar’s bids, but in the summer of 2010, Steele reportedly supplied the FBI with information about the widespread corruption within FIFA.

According to Reuters, the FBI came to him in 2010 and the information he supplied helped spur on the FBI’s investigation.

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The Story of the Trump Dossier: Secret Sources, an Airport Rendezvous, and John McCain

Julian Borger reports for The Guardian:

Image result for The Story of the Trump DossierThe extraordinary but unverified documents published on Tuesday on Donald Trump’s ties with Moscow began life as a piece of opposition research, which has become as much a part of US politics as yard signs and coloured balloons.

There is a small industry of research and investigative firms in Washington, typically staffed by a mix of former journalists and security officials, adept at finding information about politicians that the politicians would rather stay hidden. The firms often do not know who exactly is hiring them; the request could come from a law firm acting on behalf of a client from one of the parties.

In this case, the request for opposition research on Donald Trump came from one of his Republican opponents in the primary campaign. The research firm then hired one of its sub-contractors who it used regularly on all things Russian: a retired western European former counter-intelligence official, with a long history of dealing with the shadow world of Moscow’s spooks and siloviki (securocrats).

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Christopher Steele: Super-Spy or Dodgy Dossier Writer?

Adam Lusher writes for The Independent:

christopher-steele-1.jpgAccording to his publicly-available LinkedIn profile, Christopher Steele never existed before he co-founded Orbis Business Intelligence, a “corporate intelligence consultancy” providing “strategic insight, intelligence and investigative services”.

There is no mention of the 52-year-old’s life before 2009, when he and Orbis took up offices in Belgravia, one of the wealthiest districts in London, and indeed the world.

The man behind the explosive dossier on US President-elect Donald Trump is proving equally elusive in the flesh, as well as online. “Terrified for his safety”, he is reported to have driven from his home in the south of England having asked a neighbour to look after his cat because he would be “gone for a few days”.

Now, though, some sources have started to fill in the gaps in the secretive Mr Steele’s CV.

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Why Is MI5 Making Such a Fuss About Russia?

Mary Dejevsky writes for The Guardian:

Image result for MI5 Russia[…] Why does Russia remain bogeyman-in-chief?

Here are a few ideas. The first is that blaming Russia carries little cost. Russia is not China. Investment is not a big consideration. For all sorts of reasons, political relations have long been dire. Applying the same virulent rhetoric to terrorism conducted in the name of Islam, on the other hand, risks fomenting social and cultural strife here at home.

A second reason, now as in the past, is that blaming Russia aligns us comfortably with the US, where stalwarts in Congress and at the Pentagon have never emerged from their old thinking about the threat. The Russia card has been played to exhaustion during this presidential campaign, to the point where it could swing the election – and I don’t mean in Donald Trump’s favour.

A third factor is the consensus about a strong and malevolent Russia that still rules the “expert” community, and will probably do so for a few years yet – helped along by the hatchet-faced Putin. There are younger specialists who take a rather different view, but they are drowned out by the ingrained cliches. Note how quickly Boris Johnson was “turned” from the realist of his journalist days to the fierce cold warrior foreign secretary. Such a U-turn makes him look intellectually foolish – but no more foolish, some might argue, than he has made himself look on so many other scores.

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The Snooper’s Charter and Chilcot: Interview with Annie Machon

Afshin Rattansi speaks to former MI5 agent Annie Machon about the dangers of drowning in data as the House of Lords discusses the Snoopers Charter. They also cover the long awaited Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War which is due to be published in a couple of weeks, seven years since it began. (Going Underground)

‘We pull everything we see’: GCHQ’s data-mining techniques revealed in new Snowden leak

Glyn Moody reports for Arstechnia:

A “Data Mining Research Problem Book” marked “top secret strap 1” has been leaked that details some of the key techniques used by GCHQ to sift through the huge volumes of data it pulls continuously from the Internet.

Originally obtained by Edward Snowden, the 96-page e-book has been published by Boing Boing, along with a second short document entitled “What’s the worst that can happen?”. Boing Boing describes this as “a kind of checklist for spies who are seeking permission to infect their adversaries’ computers or networks with malicious software.”

The data mining handbook was written by researchers from the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research in Bristol, a partnership between GCHQ and the University of Bristol. According to Boing Boing, “Staff spend half their time working on public research, the other half is given over to secret projects for the government.”

The handbook provides valuable insights into some of the details of GCHQ’s data mining work, at least as it was in September 2011, when the document was written.

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MI5 ‘secretly collected phone data’ for decade

BBC News reports:

Woman on phoneMI5 has secretly been collecting vast amounts of data about UK phone calls to search for terrorist connections.

The programme has been running for 10 years under a law described as “vague” by the government’s terror watchdog.

It emerged as Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled a draft bill governing spying on communications by the authorities.

If it becomes law, the internet activity of everyone in Britain will be held for a year by service providers.

Police and intelligence officers will then be able to see the names of sites suspected criminals have visited, without a warrant.

Mrs May told MPs the proposed powers were needed to fight crime and terrorism but civil liberties campaigners warned it represented to a “breathtaking” attack on the internet security of everyone living in the UK.

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Seven Major Takeaways From the U.K.’s Proposed Surveillance Rules

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

The British government on Wednesday published a proposed new law to reform and dramatically expand surveillance powers in the United Kingdom. The 190-page Investigatory Powers Bill is thick with detail and it will probably take weeks and months of analysis until its full ramifications are understood. In the meantime, I’ve read through the bill and noted down a few key aspects of the proposed powers that stood out to me – including unprecedented new data retention measures, a loophole that allows spies to monitor journalists’ and their sources, powers enabling the government to conduct large-scale hacking operations, and more.

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Former Head of GCHQ David Omand on the CIA, spying on Parliament, Snowden and James Bond

Afshin Rattansi speaks to David Omand, the former head of GCHQ (1997-2000), about the CIA and spying on our members of Parliament, Snowden and James Bond. (Going Underground)

“Snowden Treaty” proposed to curtail mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers

Glynn Moody reports for Ars Technica:

A “Snowden Treaty” designed to counter mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers around the world has been proposed by Edward Snowden, and three of the people most closely associated with his leaks: the documentary film-maker Laura Poitras; David Miranda, who was detained at Heathrow airport, and is the Brazilian coordinator of the campaign to give asylum to Snowden in Brazil; and his partner, the journalist Glenn Greenwald. The “International Treaty on the Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers,” to give it its full title, was launched yesterday in New York by Miranda, with Snowden and Greenwald speaking via video.

The treaty’s proponents say that Snowden’s leaks, and the treatment he received as a whistleblower, have “revealed the need for greater rights protections for citizens globally.” In order to achieve that, they write: “We are campaigning for governments to sign up to the Snowden Treaty, a proposed treaty that would curtail mass surveillance and protect the rights of whistleblowers.”

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Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

There was a simple aim at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.

The revelations about the scope of the British agency’s surveillance are contained in documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Previous reports based on the leaked files have exposed how GCHQ taps into Internet cables to monitor communications on a vast scale, but many details about what happens to the data after it has been vacuumed up have remained unclear.

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After 27 Years, Reporter Who Exposed ECHELON Finds Vindication in Snowden Archive

Dan Froomkin writes for The Intercept:

Ever since legendary British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell told the world in a 1988 magazine article about ECHELON — a massive, automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites — Western intelligence officials have refused to acknowledge that it existed.

Despite sporadic continuing press reports, people who complained about the program — which, as Campbell disclosed, automatically searched text-based communications using a dictionary of keywords to flag suspicious content — were routinely dismissed as conspiracy theorists.

The only real conspiracy, it turns out, was a conspiracy of silence among the governments that benefited from the program.

As Campbell writes today, in a first-person article in The Intercept, the archive of top-secret documents provided to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contains a stunning 2005 document that not only confirms ECHELON’s existence as “a system targeting communications satellites”– it shows how the program was kept an official secret for so long.

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UK Police Confirm Ongoing Criminal Probe of Snowden Leak Journalists

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

A secretive British police investigation focusing on journalists working with Edward Snowden’s leaked documents remains ongoing two years after it was quietly launched, The Intercept can reveal.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service has admitted it is still carrying out the probe, which is being led by its counterterrorism department, after previously refusing to confirm or deny its existence on the grounds that doing so could be “detrimental to national security.”

The disclosure was made by police in a letter sent to this reporter Tuesday, concluding a seven-month freedom of information battle that saw the London force repeatedly attempt to withhold basic details about the status of the case. It reversed its position this week only after an intervention from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the public body that enforces the U.K.’s freedom of information laws.

Following Snowden’s disclosures from the National Security Agency in 2013, the Metropolitan Police and a lawyer for the British government separately stated that a criminal investigation had been opened into the leaks. One of the London force’s most senior officers acknowledged during a parliamentary hearing that the investigation was looking at whether reporters at The Guardian had committed criminal offenses for their role in revealing secret surveillance operations exposed in the Snowden documents.’

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Sunday Times Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major U.S. and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials — laundered through their media — as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting.

We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” Just as the conventional media narrative was shifting to pro-Snowden sentiment in the wake of a key court ruling and a new surveillance law, the article (behind a paywall: full text here) claims in the first paragraph that these two adversaries “have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.”’

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Duncan Campbell at Ditchley: Talking to GCHQ (interception not required)

Duncan Campbell writes:

A remarkable consequence of the Snowden revelations took place last week (14 May), when a former “C” (Chief of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)) presided as forty-plus participants from around the world sat down in private for three days to talk intensively through changed approaches to intelligence, security and privacy.

I was asked to open the conference discussions, in conjunction with GCHQ’s new Director, Robert Hannigan (pictured below). No-one argued against calls for greater openness. That’s a first; coming 40 years after a time when it was a crime in Britain even to mention the existence of GCHQ, and programmes on the subject were banned.

Perhaps to many participants’ surprise, there was general agreement across broad divides of opinion that Snowden – love him or hate him – had changed the landscape; and that change towards transparency, or at least “translucency” and providing more information about intelligence activities affecting privacy, was both overdue and necessary. An event like this would have been inconceivable without Snowden.

Away from the foetid heat of political posturing and populist headlines, I heard some unexpected and suprising comments from senior intelligence voices, including that “cold winds of transparency” had arrived and were here to stay.’

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GCHQ’s Rainbow Lights: Exploiting Social Issues for Militarism and Imperialism

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

GCHQ lit up in rainbow coloursOver the weekend, the British surveillance agency GCHQ — the most extremist and invasive in the West — bathed its futuristic headquarters with rainbow-colored lights “as a symbol of the intelligence agency’s commitment to diversity” and to express solidarity with “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.” GCHQ’s public affairs office proudly distributed the above photograph to media outlets. Referring to Alan Turing, the closeted-and-oppressed gay World War II British code-breaker just memorialized by an Oscar-nominated feature film, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office celebrated GCHQ’s inspirational lights.

This is so very moving. Gay Brits are now just as free as everyone else to spy on people, covertly disseminate state propaganda, and destroy online privacy. Whatever your views on all this nasty surveillance business might be, how can you not feel good about GCHQ when it drapes itself in the colors of LGBT equality?

This is all a stark illustration of what has become a deeply cynical but highly effective tactic. Support for institutions of militarism and policies of imperialism is now manufactured by parading them under the emotionally manipulative banners of progressive social causes.

The CIA loves this strategy.’

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GCHQ, intelligence officers and police given immunity from hacking laws, tribunal told

Owen Bowcott reports for The Guardian:

GCHQ staff, intelligence officers and police have been given immunity from prosecution for hacking into computers, laptops and mobile phones under legislative changes that were never fully debated by parliament, a tribunal has been told.

The unnoticed rewriting of a key clause of the Computer Misuse Act has exempted law enforcement officials from the prohibition on breaking into other people’s laptops, databases, mobile phones or digital systems. It came into force in May.

The amended clause 10, entitled somewhat misleadingly “Savings”, is designed to prevent officers from committing a crime when they remotely access computers of suspected criminals. It is not known what category of offences are covered.

The act is primarily deployed to provide legal cover for domestic investigations. It is thought that individual warrants are not being obtained to justify each inquiry. Different legislation – section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act, nicknamed the “James Bond clause” – is believed to permit activities abroad that would otherwise be illegal.’

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How Big Money and Big Brother won the British Elections

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

The Conservatives have won the 2015 elections with a slim majority. Labour and the Liberal Democrats suffered unexpected crushing defeats, prompting their leaders, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, to resign. And despite winning a significant percentage of votes, UKIP only managed to win one seat, with its leader Nigel Farage also resigning after losing to a Tory MP.

But the Tory victory reveals precisely why British democracy is broken.

The ultimate determinant of which party won the elections was the money behind their political campaigns — the winning and losing parties correlate directly with the quantity of funding received. Yet there is also compelling evidence of another factor — interference from Britain’s security services.’

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Patriot gains: Sir John Sawers is the latest in long line of British spy chief sell-outs

Charlie Skelton writes for the International Business Times:

Sir John Sawers (left) at the 2014 Bilderberg conference in Copenhagen, with BP chair Carl-Henric SvanbergYet more fallout from the HSBC tax scandal. The former head of MI6, Jonathan Evans, known to his friends as Baron Evans of Weardale, has resigned from the board of the National Crime Agency. He stepped down to avoid any “perceived conflict of interest” between his role at the publicly funded NCA and his rather more lucrative position as a director of HSBC.

What’s troubling about this situation is not so much the conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise, as the fact the former director of our domestic intelligence service is now a director of one of the world’s biggest banks.

In fact, Baron Evans is just one of a growing line of British spy chiefs who have hopped off the top of the intelligence pyramid into corporate boardrooms and cushy consultancies. But it wasn’t always so. There was a time, not long ago, when outgoing spy chiefs styled their post-resignation lives a little more along the lines of Sherlock Holmes, who retired to the Sussex Downs to keep bees.’

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Britain Used Spy Team to Shape Latin American Public Opinion on Falklands

Andrew Fishman and Glenn Greenwald report for The Intercept:

Faced with mounting international pressure over the Falkland Islands territorial dispute, the British government enlisted its spy service, including a highly secretive unit known for using “dirty tricks,” to covertly launch offensive cyberoperations to prevent Argentina from taking the islands.

A shadowy unit of the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had been preparing a bold, covert plan called “Operation QUITO” since at least 2009. Documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, published in partnership with Argentine news site Todo Notícias, refer to the mission as a “long-running, large scale, pioneering effects operation.”

At the heart of this operation was the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group, known by the acronym JTRIG, a secretive unit that has been involved in spreading misinformation.’

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ISC Report: UK Citizens Must Give Up Right To Privacy Because ‘Terrorism’, Reveals Huge Secret Gov’t Databases

Glynn Moody writes for Techdirt:

GCHQ composite[…] The heart of the report’s failure can be found in its discussion of bulk surveillance:

Our Inquiry has shown that the Agencies do not have the legal authority, the resources, the technical capability, or the desire to intercept every communication of British citizens, or of the internet as a whole: GCHQ are not reading the emails of everyone in the UK.

But of course, nobody said GCHQ was doing that. The problem is that it is ingesting disproportionate quantities of the Internet’s traffic passing into and out of the UK, and then analyzing it — in other words, engaging in indiscriminate mass surveillance. The report pretends to address that issue, writing:

GCHQ’s bulk interception systems operate on a very small percentage of the bearers that make up the internet.

A “bearer” refers to one of the main connections to the Internet — typically fiber-optic cables capable of carrying many gigabits of information per second. The issue is not how many such bearers GCHQ taps, but which ones. One of Snowden’s earliest and most important leaked documents suggests that spying on even a “very small percentage” of the bearers gives GCHQ almost total oversight of everyone’s Internet activities.’

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Could GCHQ soon have access to India’s phone network?

The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian Editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents log ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.’

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The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the ‘terror war’

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

‘Every time there’s a terrorist attack that makes national headlines, the same talking heads seem to pop up like an obscene game of “whack-a-mole”. Often they appear one after the other across the media circuit, bobbing from celebrity television pundit to erudite newspaper outlet.

A few years ago, BBC Newsnight proudly hosted a “debate” between Maajid Nawaz, director of counter-extremism think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned Islamist group formerly known as al-Muhajiroun, but which has since proscription repeatedly reincarnated itself. One of its more well-known recent incarnations was “Islam4UK”.

Both Nawaz and Choudary have received huge mainstream media attention, generating press headlines, and contributing to major TV news and current affairs shows. But unbeknown to most, they have one thing in common: Britain’s security services. And believe it or not, that bizarre fact explains why the Islamic State’s (IS) celebrity beheader, former west Londoner Mohammed Emwazi – aka “Jihadi John” – got to where he is now.’

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