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Video: Parsons Green terror suspect ‘known to MI5, let free 2 weeks ago’, supine...

Police first held 'refugee boy', 18, arrested at Dover over bucket bomb TWO WEEKS AGO but let him go, say neighbours - as officers...

Britain will face radical Islamist threat for decades to come, says ex-MI5 boss

Published time: 11 Aug, 2017 11:53 Former MI5 chief Lord Evans has warned that the...
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Video: Put up job? What the BBC/MI5 aren’t telling us about London Bridge terrorist...

London Bridge terror attacks: ISIS claims on attacks – Rita Katz's SITE and Amaq News Agency – NATO backed terrorism; Charles Shoebridge – can...
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Video: London Bridge Terrorists WERE Reported To MI5 – Heads Must Roll

Wed 22 Mar 2017 - Westminster Bridge terrorist Khalid Masood: investigated by MI5 over plot to blow up an army base using a remote...
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Video: Terror At London Bridge, MI5 Are Not Doing Their Job So Heads Must...

Lack of MI5 and MI6 accountability – has their conduct been seen as a failure or an achievement? Via Youtube
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Video: MI5 Don’t Need A Press Office, Most Home Affairs Journalists Are MI5 Press...

Interview with Charles Shoebridge, former police Special Branch and Army Officer, about failings of MI5 around the Manchester terror attack. Shooting of PC ... Via...

UK MI5 intelligence to investigate itself after Manchester attack – Home Secretary

Published time: 29 May, 2017 07:39 Edited time: 29 May, 2017 08:01 MI5 has launched...

MI5 failed to stop Manchester bomber despite ‘warnings from friends’ – report

A relative of the Manchester bomber warned British authorities he was “dangerous” and that he...
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Video: UK secret services, MI5 MI6 complicit in Manchester Arena terror attack?

Investigative reports: including a look at whether UK secret services, MI5 and MI6, were complicit in Monday's terrorist attack at Manchester Arena. Manchester ... Via...

Twitter turns tables on UK govt & MI5, blocking access to thwart online spying

Twitter has blocked the British government and its domestic spy agency MI5 from accessing data on potential terrorist threats in a bid to tackle...
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Video: Intel agencies drown in info, not target those who pose threat – fmr...

One policeman has been fatally shot, and two others seriously injured on the Champs Elysees in central Paris. President Francois Hollande made a statement...

MI5 sting on ‘Three Musketeers terror gang’ finds pipe bomb & meat cleaver

Published time: 7 Apr, 2017 13:20 A joint MI5-police sting operation against an alleged Birmingham terrorist...

British woman fighting against ISIS in Syria says MI5 targeting her family

The first British female fighter to join the battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria says UK intelligence agency MI5 is targeting...

Theresa May tells Parliament terrorist attacker was UK national known to MI5

Prime Minister Theresa May says the terrorist attacker was a British national who was known...

MI5 launches inquiry into whether it could have prevented Westminster terrorist attack

Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 has launched an internal inquiry into whether it could have...
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Video: Theresa May: London attacker was UK born, known to MI5

Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday said police knew the identity of the British-born man who went on a car and gun rampage at...
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Video: ‘Copyright used as pretext for censorship ’ – fmr MI5 agent on new...

RT has been blocked from posting content to its Facebook page. The ban, according to the Facebook bot, will last until Saturday 10:55pm Moscow...
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Video: ‘Insider leaks, not Russian hacking’: CIA & MI5 veterans discuss ODNI report (DEBATE)

The ODNI devoted seven pages to RT and its influence on the election “by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and...

Flagship of Fearmongering: The Guardian, MI5 and State Propaganda

Readers of the Guardian woke up last Tuesday (November 1, 2016) to find that the newspaper and website had been given over to promoting...

‘At work across Europe & UK’: MI5 chief says Russia is growing threat to...

Russia poses an increasing threat to the UK and is using all the powers at...
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Video: ‘At work across Europe & UK’: MI5 chief says Russia is growing threat...

Russia poses an increasing threat to the UK and is using all the powers at its disposal to push its policies abroad, Director General...

ISIS sympathizer who refused to become MI5 informant convicted in secret trial

A man who rejected an offer from MI5 to become an informant has been convicted...

MI5 spy narrowly avoids being butchered by north London Islamists

A former MI5 spy narrowly avoided being butchered by terrorists while following a group of...

MI5 lawyer to be grilled by MPs over UK’s role in Guantanamo ‘torture’

MI5’s top lawyer is to answer questions in Parliament over whether the intelligence agency knew...
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Video: ‘Unbelievable that US strike on Syrian army was mistake’ – fmr MI5 agent

The US must cooperate with Russia on intelligence matters in Syria, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT, expressing doubt over Washington's explanation ... Via...

UK intelligence watchdog says MI5 spies broke dozens of privacy rules… by ‘mistake’

British spies have been censured by the government’s intelligence watchdog for breaking dozens of agency...

MI5 ‘blocked’ arrest of ISIS-supporting radical preacher Choudary ‘for years’

Counterterrorism officers were repeatedly blocked by British security service MI5 from pursuing criminal investigations against...

MI5 ‘mind reading unit’ foils potential terrorist attacks

Up to seven potential terror attacks across Britain have been uncovered and stopped over the past year by a special MI5 unit which reads...

Exposed: MI5, GCHQ have 15 secret bulk data collection warrants in force

Fifteen “secret warrants” are in force to enable British intelligence services to collect bulk data...

Third of ‘Leave’ voters think MI5 spies working with govt to stop Brexit –...

Up to one third of Leave voters think the UK’s intelligence agency MI5 is conspiring with the government to stop Britain leaving the European...

Snowden leak: MI5 has gathered so much data it may actually be missing ‘life-saving...

British spies may have missed potentially "life-saving intelligence” because their surveillance systems were sweeping up more data than could be analyzed, a leaked classified...

MI5 was bulk collecting public’s data, with little or no oversight

MI5 was allowed to escape regular scrutiny of its bulk collection of communications data by the watchdog charged with overseeing it, newly-released confidential correspondence...

MI5, MI6 suffered ‘serious rift’ over Libya rendition flights & torture

Britain’s involvement in secret rendition operations during the ‘War on Terror’ caused a serious breakdown...

MI5 ‘blackmailed pedophile politicians’ over Belfast boys’ home abuse, inquiry hears

An inquiry into allegations of mistreatment – including sexual abuse – at a Belfast boys’...

Ex-MI5 chief becomes latest doom-monger to warn of Brexit risk

Project Fear has returned with a vengeance in the Brexit debate, with Britain’s former MI5...
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Video: Former Mi5 Agent David Shayler On Why The EU Referendum Is A Charade.

Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube
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Video: ‘Short air space violation is no excuse to shoot an ally’ — fmr...

A Russian Su-24 fighter has been shot down in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding the plane hadn't violated Turkish airspace and was...
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Video: ‘Any govt that uses US military software is vulnerable’ — frmr MI5 officer...

The German Patriot air and missile defense systems, stationed at the Turkish border with Syria, have carried out “unexplained” commands allegedly issued by ... Via...

MI5’s Killing Spree in Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland. “Cameron went completely off script at that point and he said ‘Look, the last administration couldn’t deliver an inquiry in your husband’s...

Revealed: MI5 blackmailed child sex abusers

Some reports suggest that the British Security Service, MI5, shielded pedophile politicians from prosecution to blackmail them back in the 1970s.  "There's now substantial evidence...

MI5 and David Cameron Push For New Surveillance Powers

David Cameron appears to want to strengthen the laws that allow the security services to intercept communications so that no method or element of...

MI5 spied on prominent academics ‘for decades’, secret docs show

British intelligence services, including MI5, secretly spied on a number of prominent academics with socialist leanings “for decades,” including Oxbridge dons Christopher Hill and...
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RINF Video: How an Establishment Paedophile Ring Leads to the Monarchy, MI5 & Rothschilds

It has long been alleged that the systematic abuse of children took place in the Kincora home at the hands of a paedophile ring...

MI5 chief rapped for ‘foolish rhetoric’

MI5™s chief Andrew Parker has been criticized for using œfoolish rhetoric” over the recent GCHQ leaks.A former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has criticized...

Edward Snowden Witch-hunted by UK Government, MI5 and Media

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and Britain's intelligence chiefs have launched a counter-offensive against whistleblower Edward Snowden in an effort to legitimise and continue their...

MI5 seeking to justify military action

An anti-war activist has accused Britain's domestic spying apparatus MI5 of seeking to justify the country™s future interventions into foreign states under the pretext...

MI5 warns of threat after GCHQ leaks

MI5 chief Andrew Parker describes GCHQ disclosures ˜a gift to terrorists™.The director general of Britain™s spying agency MI5 has described the leaked documents on...

MI5 chief: Muslims pose threat to UK

The director general of Britain™s domestic spying apparatus MI5 has accused the country™s Muslim community of posing threat to what he describes as ˜the...

MI5 aware of Kenya attack 4 years ago

MI5 might have been informed about the plan to attack a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi four years ago .Britain™s intelligence...

Bin Laden aide requests MI5 evidence

A London-based man has renewed requests for a US court to obtain evidence from Britain's internal spy agency, MI5, to prove his innocence over...

Britain’s MI5 & MI6 sabotage revisited

Britainâ„¢s spying apparatus MI6 has also been training, supporting and funding anti-Iran terrorist group-lets.The UK spying agencies, the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret...

The 7/7 London Bombings and MI5′s “Stepford Four” Operation: How the 2005 London Bombings...

Dedicated to former South Yorkshire terror analyst Tony Farrell who lost his job but kept his integrity, and with thanks to the documentation provided...

UK: Soldier Killing Suspect Approached by MI5 to Become Informer

Two British-Nigerians frightened the great former colonial empire to death by nearly beheading a soldier, in London. Yet British and other western politicians have...

Britain’s Security Service: More Questions about MI5’s Relations with Woolwich Killers

Questions continue to pile up over the security services’ familiarity and contact with the two killers of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, southeast London. Rigby...

Spy on your neighbors, says former MI5 head Stella Rimington

Tom Whitehead and Hannah FurnessThe TelegraphMay 28, 2013 People who suspect their neighbours may be extremists...

MI5 ‘tried to recruit’ Woolwich murder suspect

UK intelligence service MI5 approached Woolwich killing suspect Michael Adebolajo to offer him a job, a friend of the alleged murderer claimed in a...

Woolwich murder suspect ‘was offered job with MI5 six months ago’, claims childhood friend

UK Daily MailMay 25, 2013 Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo was approached by MI5 six months...

Woolwich murder suspect ‘was offered job with MI5 six months ago’, claims childhood friend

UK Daily MailMay 25, 2013 Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo was approached by MI5 six months...

MI5 ‘tried to recruit’ Woolwich murder suspect

UK intelligence service MI5 approached Woolwich killing suspect Michael Adebolajo to offer him a job, a friend of the alleged murderer claimed in a...

Britain’s MI5 agency knows about Woolwich suspects

presstv.ir May 24, 2013 Britain’s intelligence agency MI5 is facing tough questions over Woolwich attack, following the emergence of a photo of...

UK’s MI5 knew about Woolwich attackers

It has been claimed that MI5 and the police knew about the suspects hacking a UK soldier to death.Britainâ„¢s intelligence agency MI5 is facing...

King Edward VIII calls tapped by MI5

King Edward VIII calls were tapped by MI5 in 1936 abdication crisis.Secret documents have revealed Britainâ„¢s intelligence service MI5 has tapped King Edward VIIIâ„¢s...

$140mn down the drain: MI5 reportedly scraps failed IT project

UK intelligence agency MI5 reportedly terminated a failed multimillion-dollar IT project to centralize the agency’s data stores. The system was supposed to be ready...

MI5’s Secret Activist Dossiers

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Labour MPs have increased pressure on MI5 to release secret personal files of thousands of political activists, anti-fascists and anti-apartheid campaigners, the Morning Star reports.

Proof MI6 and MI5 Aided Libyan Torture

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New evidence has emerged that proves the UK was complicit in the kidnap and torture of a Libyan man. For over a decade British politicians including  Gordon Brown, Jack Straw and David Miliband have strongly denied that the UK had involvement with torture. Crucially, the files detail a meeting between senior heads of MI6,  MI5 and Gaddafi's external intelligence agency.

MI5 tried to destroy the Rolling Stones career

MARTIN KIELTY | An author claims MI5 planned to sabotage the Rolling Stones’ career, and the infamous Redlands raid was the result of a carefully-orchestrated plot. Philip...

State-sponsored terrorism: MI5 links to Russian spy murder

Cahal Milmo | The British government has ordered potentially vital information about whether murdered former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had links with the UK intelligence...

Anonymous hit MI5 and MI6 websites

The websites of intelligence services MI5 and MI6 were brought down for an hour yesterday in protest over attempts by the British government to...

MI5 accused of bribes for silence

Britain's first terror convict has accused MI5 of trying to bribe him to drop torture charges against them. Rangzieb Ahmed, who was born in Rochdale,...

Spying Teachers – MI5 Wants Recruits

Now pay attention school teachers: your country needs you. The British Security Service MI5 is seeking to recruit teachers to serve as intelligence officers in...

New claim of MI5 collusion in torture

Claims that secret agents working for MI5 and MI6 watched and encouraged the torture of a second British resident held by the Americans must...

More MI5 torture claims

By politics.co.uk | A former British terrorism suspect has claimed he was tortured on behalf of MI5 in Egypt. Azhar Khan, 26, has acquired legal representation...

Ex-MI5 chief: Ministers scare public to pass terrorism laws

By Paul Waugh A FORMER MI5 chief today accused the Government of exploiting fears of terrorism to pass draconian laws as fresh allegations emerged of...

MI5 ‘Colluded in Torture’ Claim

A committee of MPs is to consider allegations tomorrow that British security services colluded in the torture of terrorism suspects. The claims, which were first...

Ex-MI5 chief ‘astonished’ at how many organisations use anti-terror law

By Andrew Sparrow The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) was passed in 2000 to regulate the way that public bodies such as the police...

MI5 said Iraq “exacerbated the threat from international terrorism”

By David Morrison | Stella Rimington, the last but one head of MI5, was interviewed by Decca Aikenhead in The Guardian on 18 October...

Dissident “threat” at all time high, despite MI5 “huge effort.”

By Brian Walker | The police assessment is, in fact, that the dissident threat is at an all-time high.” This is the theme of...

MI5 report challenges views on terrorism in Britain

The Guardian | MI5 has concluded that there is no easy way to identify those who become involved in terrorism in Britain, according to a...

South Africa Hearing Claims Elite Unit Controlled by CIA, MI5

iol | British intelligence organisation MI5 and the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are the masters of South Africa's elite crime fighting unit,...

Torture: MPs call for inquiry into MI5 role

By Ian Cobain | MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has "outsourced" the torture of British citizens to Pakistani...

Ex-MI5 chief attacks 42-day plan

Baroness Manningham-Buller tells the Lords why she is against the plans (video) The former head of MI5 has dismissed government plans to extend the time...

MI5: revealing areas at mercy of collapsing dams is a terror threat

By Michael McCarthy | MI5 and flood risk experts are at odds over whether to publish inundation maps highlighting areas under threat if any...

MI5 chief speaks out over 42-day row

By Peter Walker and agencies | The head of MI5 has released a rare public statement to stress that his organisation is not arguing...

Ex-MI5 chief warns over detention

BBC News | MPs should work together to agree a detention limit for terror suspects and ensure the matter is not a political football,...

Fourth Briton accuses MI5 of torture

Ian Cobain - The Guardian | Human rights groups and MPs are calling for an investigation into claims that MI5 officers colluded in the torture...

MI5 accused of colluding in torture of terrorist suspects

By Ian Cobain | Officers of the Security Service, MI5, are being accused of "outsourcing" the torture of British citizens to a notorious Pakistani...

MI5 Wants Oyster Card Travel Data

Counter-terrorism experts call it a 'force multiplier': an attack combining slaughter and electronic chaos. Now Britain's security services want total access to commuters' travel...

Former IRA driver spy ‘worked for MI5’

AP A man who served as a driver for Sinn Fein leader and former IRA commander Gerry Adams secretly worked as a British spy, a...

MP first probed by MI5 over 9/11

By NICK PARKER THOMAS WHITAKER and GRAEME WILSON BUGGING scandal MP Sadiq Khan was first probed by security services over his association with a 9/11 terrorist, The...

MI5 accuses China of hacking businesses

Howard Dahdah According to reports in the weekend newspapers, the government has accused China of hacking into the computer systems of leading companies. According to The...

MI5 and MI6 to recruit more minority spies

MI5, which has a target of increasing its current 3,000 staff to 4,000 by 2011, also insisted that it wanted to improve relations with...

Brown moots register for terrorists, DNA rights for MI5

By John Lettice Anti-terrorism proposals outlined by the Government today will include a sex-offenders style register for those convicted of terrorism offences, and will allow...

Files prove that MI5 spied on SNP

MARC HORNE   THE SNP was spied on by British secret service agents, previously classified Government files seen by Scotland on Sunday have finally proved. Claims of...

‘Torture flight’ airline sued by MI5 informer

David Rose Sunday August 5, 2007 The Observer Bisher al-Rawi, the British-based Iraqi and former MI5 source detained by America for more than four years, is suing...

Haneef linked to MI5 probe

By Renee Viellaris, Ian McPhedran and Margaret Wenham FREED terror suspect Mohamed Haneef was regularly in contact with Islamic radicals under surveillance by Britain's top...

Greenwald: Terrorism used as ‘pretext’ for mass data collection

Terrorism is being used as a “pretext” by governments and intelligence services to indiscriminately collect...

‘Terrorist incident’: London’s police probe Parsons Green tube explosion (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Emergency services are responding to “a terrorist incident” at Parsons Green tube station in London,...

Year of terror: Timeline of ISIS attacks in Great Britain

Published time: 16 Sep, 2017 07:54 Edited time: 16 Sep, 2017 09:48 The Parsons Green...

Police identify Parsons Green terrorism suspect from CCTV – Sky sources

Published time: 15 Sep, 2017 14:09 Edited time: 15 Sep, 2017 16:33 Police sources say...

London Parsons Green IED 'similar to Boston Marathon bomb,' only partially detonated

Police have confirmed the explosion on a packed rush hour tube train at Parsons Green...

'Evidence tampering; lying witness' cast doubt on Craigavon 2 murder conviction – RT investigates

The ‘Craigavon Two’ were wrongfully convicted of murdering a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)...

Number of Islamic radicals feared to be in UK revealed by EU counter-terrorism chief

Published time: 1 Sep, 2017 10:05 Edited time: 1 Sep, 2017 13:54 The UK has...

Spying on the spies: State surveillance of Britons now being monitored

Published time: 1 Sep, 2017 10:48 A new watchdog charged with regulating state surveillance has...

Govt buried report showing terrorism, crime & illegal migration will increase after Brexit

Terrorism, crime, and illegal migration in the UK will increase after Brexit, Theresa May’s own...

‘Three Musketeers’ terror gang found guilty of planning Lee Rigby-style attack

Published time: 2 Aug, 2017 11:07 Members of a terror cell that dubbed themselves the...

Media mogul asked Thatcher for $20bn to save Soviet Union

A Labour MP and media mogul, the late Robert Maxwell, attempted to secure a $20...

Republicans Push Bill to Delay Reducing Ground Level Ozone

WASHINGTON - A Republican bill to delay, until 2025, the reduction of dangerous ground level ozone is up for a vote this week in...

Twitter lawsuit seeking right to reveal US surveillance requests moves forward

Published time: 6 Jul, 2017 21:57 A US district judge has denied the Department of Justice’s...

Teenage jihadist jailed for life over London bomb attack plot on 9/11 anniversary

Published time: 4 Jul, 2017 04:33 A 19-year-old has been sentenced to life in prison...

British spies could be forced to disclose deepest secrets in legal challenge

A legal challenge brought against British intelligence services aims to shed light on the nature...

London Terror Suspect

By Kurt Nimmo Newsbud June 27, 2017 On this episode of The Geopolitical Report, we uncover Salman Abedi’s, the Manchester suicide bomber, link to British intelligence....

Lee Rigby murderer branded ‘most dangerous’ inmate in UK

Lee Rigby’s murderer has been branded “Britain’s most dangerous prisoner” amid allegations that he has...
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Video: ‘To avoid coup’? Duterte accepts US advisers invited by Philippine military

The Philippines army has launched a fresh push to drive ISIL militants out of the southern island city of Marawi. The military are deploying...

ISIS-supporter who emailed PM threat to ‘wage jihad’ was hired on Crossrail security

A jihadist arrested for attempting to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria sent...

Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudary could be free next year

Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary, accused of radicalizing the London Bridge terrorists, could be released...

Mother of London attacker ‘believed he was under police control & not dangerous’

The mother of Yousef Zaghba, one of the three men responsible for the deadly vehicle...

Spy agencies expect torrent of new job applications after London Bridge attack

Published time: 6 Jun, 2017 12:58 Britain’s spy agencies expect the recent terrorist attacks in...

‘I’m going to be a terrorist,’ 3rd London Bridge attacker told authorities

The Moroccan-Italian man identified as the third London attacker told Italian authorities “I’m going to be a terrorist” when he was stopped at Bologna...

London terror suspects were known to police

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London Bridge attacker appeared in Channel 4 doc on ‘British jihadis’ (VIDEO)

Published time: 5 Jun, 2017 19:15 Edited time: 5 Jun, 2017 19:52 Khuram Shazad Butt,...

Police name 2 London Bridge attackers as Khuram Shazad Butt & Rachid Redouane, release...

Published time: 5 Jun, 2017 17:14 Edited time: 5 Jun, 2017 17:59 Metropolitan Police have...

Did Home Secretary Rudd ‘censor’ rival’s speech about Saudi arms sales? (VIDEO)

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has been accused of shutting down a speech by an opponent...

Theresa May should resign over security failures – ex-Cameron advisor

Published time: 5 Jun, 2017 10:14 Prime Minister Theresa May should resign rather than seek...

Terror in Britain: What did the Prime Minister Know?

The unsayable in Britain’s general election campaign is this. The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by...

More could have been done to prevent chaos in Libya – Foreign Office minister

Published time: 31 May, 2017 10:09 Edited time: 31 May, 2017 10:13 Britain could have...

Blowback: Manchester and the Libya Connection

In the wake of yet another horrendous atrocity, this time in Manchester claiming 23 lives, ‘respectable’ media once again refused to seriously discuss the extent...

Terror in Britain: What Did the Prime Minister Know?

The unsayable in Britain’s general election campaign is this. The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by...

Manchester councils refuse to bury or cremate suicide bomber Salman Abedi

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people and injured over a hundred more in the Manchester Arena attack last week, will never be...

Terrorists will ‘always get through the net,’ ex-security chief tells RT

Published time: 30 May, 2017 16:01 Terrorist...

Terrorist suspects should be locked up in internment camps, says ex-police chief

Thousands of suspected terrorists should be placed in internment camps, as the threat of terrorism...

UN slams Britain’s ‘Big Brother’ anti-terrorism strategy

The UK’s ‘Big Brother’ culture of surveillance and suspicion in combatting terrorism is “inherently flawed” and could be promoting extremism rather than combatting it,...

Manchester attack: Police appeal for information on bomber’s blue suitcase

Published time: 29 May, 2017 18:38 Police investigating the Manchester terrorist attack are looking for...
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Video: Manchester Terror Attack contradictions: Kerry Cassidy Project Camelot Tony Gosling

'Sorted' by MI5: How UK government sent British-Libyans to fight Gaddafi #LibyaCrisis Fighters say government operated 'open door' policy allowing them to ... Via Youtube

Programmer denied prize money from UK data challenge because of his Russian citizenship

A Russian programmer says, despite his success in a challenge held by the British military,...

23,000 potential terrorists live in Britain, intelligence shows – UK media

Around 23,000 jihadist extremists currently living in the UK have been identified by intelligence services...

8 arrests are ‘significant’ to Manchester terrorist attack probe – police

Greater Manchester Police say eight arrests made in relation to the terrorist attack in Manchester...

Australia will continue sharing intelligence with US despite Manchester bombing leak

Published time: 26 May, 2017 12:07 Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that his...

Blowback? Manchester bomber linked to terrorist group which UK allegedly backed

Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his father, Ramadan, had long-standing links to a violent...

British public defends Muslims amid series of Islamophobic comments online

Published time: 23 May, 2017 16:40 Thousands of people took to social media to defend...

Spies on both sides of Atlantic hunting for Manchester bomb culprits

Published time: 23 May, 2017 16:07 Intelligence agencies from the UK and US are looking...

Suicide bomber behind Manchester Arena attack that killed 22 people

Published time: 23 May, 2017 06:22 Edited time: 23 May, 2017 06:49 The explosion at...

‘A bit of dead cat’: Labour MP dismisses claims Corbyn backed IRA

Published time: 22 May, 2017 13:07 Claims by the press and Conservatives that Labour leader...

4 men arrested in London, accused of plotting terrorist attack – police

Published time: 18 May, 2017 00:34 Four young men have been arrested in London on...

Ice-is? Britain issues terrorism warning for Antarctica… & security experts aren’t impressed

Published time: 16 May, 2017 15:37 Despite Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) founding its “caliphate”...

Ed Morales on Puerto Rican Debt Crisis, Margarida Jorge on Trumpcare

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Burka-clad mother & daughter charged with terrorist plot asked to lift veils in court

Published time: 11 May, 2017 16:07 Three women appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central...

Whitehall terrorist suspect identified

Published time: 28 Apr, 2017 09:47Edited time: 28 Apr, 2017 12:29 A terrorist suspect who was...

British woman fighting ISIS goes on hunger strike to support Turkish prison protests

Published time: 6 Apr, 2017 09:36Edited time: 7 Apr, 2017 09:56 The first British female fighter...

British ‘secret warfare’ unsustainable in information age – report

Britain’s secret war-fighting operations using special forces, drones and similar clandestine methods are folly in...

‘Hand in hand’: Vigil held on Westminster Bridge for terrorist attack victims (VIDEO)

People across all “nations, faiths, orientation and sexes” stood hand in hand on Westminster Bridge...

Muslim leaders across Britain condemn 'cowardly' Parliament attack

British Muslim leaders have condemned Wednesday’s terrorist attack that hit right at the heart of...

British police release image of Westminster terrorist attacker Khalid Masood

Police have released an image of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood. Masood...

Eyewitness relives moment she came face-to-face with Westminster attacker (RT EXCLUSIVE)

An eyewitness to the London terrorist attack says she came face-to-face with the assailant Khalid...

London police reveal British-born Muslim convert birth-name as more arrests made

Published time: 24 Mar, 2017 08:42Edited time: 24 Mar, 2017 09:20 London police have revealed the...

ISIS claims its ‘soldier’ carried out UK Parliament attack

Published time: 23 Mar, 2017 12:22Edited time: 23 Mar, 2017 15:39 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)...

British suicide bomber ‘wasn’t being monitored’ because Theresa May ‘downgraded surveillance’

While serving as home secretary, Prime Minister Theresa May downgraded the surveillance of an extremist...

Pulling out of Europol would make post-Brexit UK vulnerable to terrorism – agency chief

Britain’s continued relationship with Europol is “absolutely necessary” to keep the country safe from future...

US intel agencies keep Trump in dark citing alleged ‘Russian contacts’ – media

US intelligence officials may have kept sensitive information from President Donald Trump due to concerns of...

Skills shortage leaving Britain at mercy of cyber-attacks – former senior GCHQ spook

Britain is ‘highly vulnerable’ to a powerful cyber-attack due to a shortage in skilled staff...

British hackers, spies & whistleblowers could face 14yrs in prison under new proposals

British spies and civil servants could now face up to 14 years in prison if they are found leaking national secrets, after allegations about...

Nurses Urge Senate to Reject Pruitt for Critical EPA Post

National Nurses United today announced its opposition to the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.“It’s hard...

London university ‘monitoring’ emails to stop students ‘being drawn into terrorism’

King’s College London is warning staff and students their computer activity could be monitored as...

The Ugly Specter of Torture and Lies

Exclusive: President Obama refused to hold “war on terror” torturers to account but punished truth-tellers severely, a bleak legacy not...

Ex-spies flocking to private security sector, eroding traditional codes of silence – report

Britain’s burgeoning security sector is increasingly recruiting former spies to do its dirty work, leading...

All Russian Hacking ‘Evidence’ Is Fake

(RINF) - The only thread that holds the DNI report together at first glance is the false testimony and fake evidence Crowdstrike and Dmitri...

Facts force Washington Post to backtrack on report that Russia hacked US power grid

The Washington Post has corrected an article in which it said that Russian hackers had infiltrated the US power grid at a Vermont utility....

Most UK terrorism arrests result in no charges – Home Office

The majority of UK terrorism arrests result in no charges or convictions, according to new...

Christmas Markets Under Terror Watch in Britain

Mass Third World immigration has now caused so much terrorism in Europe that Britain’s traditional Christmas markets in at least three cities...

Terrorist plan to bomb British Christmas shoppers foiled – six arrested

British police say they prevented a major terrorist plot to bomb Christmas shoppers from being...

Spies recruited me then ‘threw me to the wolves’ – terrorism convict

A convicted terrorist suspect who aided the Brussels bombers has claimed that he was recruited and groomed by UK spies before being thrown “to...

Islamic terrorists funded by British benefits cash, says former watchdog

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of British housing and child welfare payments have been used...

Leaked memo exposes Theresa May’s crackdown on ‘corrosive’ govt insiders

A memo has warned public officials that Theresa May has threatened to sack them for disclosing sensitive information, as leaks are “corrosive” and undermine...

Louis Perez on Fidel Castro, Craig Aaron on Local Media Auctions

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NATO war with Russia ‘not likely’ in 2017, UK Defence Secretary says

Speculation that NATO could go to war with Russia next year are “too extreme,” according to Britain’s defence secretary, who maintained that such an...

Britain will ‘strike back’ at cyber-attackers with £1.9bn security boost – Hammond

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 The site you are reading this article on is part of the ‘alternative’ or ‘independent’ media. Many of these sites do not take advertising...

Countering The Lies Of The Mainstream Media

Global Research, The 4th Media, RINF, Countercurrents

The site you are reading this article on is part of the ‘alternative’ or ‘independent’ media. Many of these sites do not take advertising and are run on the basis of donations from readers. Many of the authors whose articles appear on these sites write for no or little financial remuneration. 

Contrast this situation with the so-called ‘mainstream’ print and TV media.

The corporate mainstream media with its well-paid journalists and increasing concentration of ownership bows to the concerns of advertisers. It tends to be privately owned and its owners have a vested interest in maintaining an economic system based on private ownership and in manufacturing consent for it. Moreover, such outlets these days are increasingly part of major conglomerates, which may include armaments manufacturers, banking or industrial concerns, and will not therefore adopt stances or report on stories that are harmful to the interests of the wider organisation.

The public is thus given access to a world view that is distorted in favour of state-corporate interests. Such interests have succeeded in getting across the message that, for example, the ‘free market’ is the best way to deliver goods and services to people, state provided welfare is bad and ‘individual responsibility’ is good, ‘austerity’ is necessary, privatisation increases efficiency, an endless ‘war on terror’ must be waged on designated enemies, well-being is measured in terms of a never-ending quest for GDP growth, the US and NATO are the 'world's policemen', giant agribusiness must displace peasant farmers to secure food security and gross inequalities and unregulated corporate power are both necessary and legitimate.

Over the past 15 years, numerous 'alternative' news websites have sprung up that challenge these assumptions and the belief that ordinary citizens should be passive consumers of a predetermined news agenda. There are now dozens of popular news sites that inform people of issues the mainstream media has deliberately failed to tell people the truth about. There are also many more sites with global reach that exist to scrutinise specific sectors, hold practices to account and counter corporate propaganda (for example, GMWatchCorporate Europe ObservatoryFood & Water WatchCampaign Against the Arms Trade, etc.).

The existence of ‘alternative’ independent sites has led the European Union to express concerns about the ‘damaging’ effects of people having access to these sources of information. The EU argues that societal consensus is being eroded as people are being ‘led astray’ by dissenting voices on the internet. In the report ‘A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy’, the EU feels there is a danger that people are being misguidedly radicalised. It advocates EU funding for ‘responsible’ journalism, getting the EU’s viewpoint across regularly and prominently in the media and placing controls on the net. The EU perceives this to be ‘pluralism’.

What is ‘responsible journalism’?

An article by Annie Day indicates that as a result of its destabilisations, coups, mass bombings and death squads, the US military and the CIA have been responsible for a figure of an estimated ten million deaths since 1945. Yet the corporate media never describes any of this as constituting a form of mass terror. Through the cynical hijacking of the concept of ‘terror’, the US now attempts to justify its ongoing tyranny through a ‘war on terror’, which goes unquestioned on a daily basis by the mainstream media.

Ukraine is the latest example of a US-backed terror campaign, which the corporate media has consistently failed to question. As the world edges ever closer to nuclear war, the mainstream media merely parrots the official lie coming from Washington that the situation is all due to ‘Russian aggression’.

You can also add to that ten million, countless others whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit, which did not rely on the military to bomb peoples and countries into submission but on the IMF, World Bank and WTO. It begs the question how many lives have been cut short across the world because of the inherent structural violence or silent killing of the everyday functioning of predatory capitalism? 

The appropriation of wealth through a system that funnels it from bottom to top via a process of accumulation by dispossession is celebrated by the corporate media as growthprosperity, and freedom of choice, despite evidence that, from Greece to Spain and beyond, the reality for the majority has been falling wages, increasing poverty, the stripping away of choice and misery.

So where is the ‘responsible journalism’ that the EU calls for?

Does it lie with those journalists in the corporate media whose claim to respectability is their rigid professionalism, their accountability, their objectivity?

If you can call professionalism, accountability and objectivity being in the pay of and not wishing to offend advertising interests, officialdom and powerful corporate interests then they are paragons of absolute responsibility.

Peddling their high salaried deceptions, they have failed and continue to fail the public and genuinely hold power to account. By shining their ‘investigative’ light on ‘parliamentary procedures’, personalities, the rubber stamping of policies and the inane machinations of party politics, they merely serve to maintain and perpetuate the status quo and keep the public in the dark as to the unaccountable self-serving nature of power broking and the unity ofinterests that enable Big Oil, Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Agra and the rest of them via their secretive think tanks and policy initiatives to keep bleeding us all dry. 

But that’s the role of the media: to help reinforce and reproduce the material conditions of a divisive social system on a daily basis. It’s called having a compliant, toothless media. It’s what the corporate media itself calls part of ‘liberal democracy’
And in this type of 'liberal democracy', it is people like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange who expose the wrongdoings of the political-corporate elites that are hounded. 

It was George Orwell who said that journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed and everything else is public relations. Orwell was correct. Former CIA boss General Petraeus stated in 2006 that his strategy was to wage a war of perceptions conducted continuously through the news media, while John Pilger observes that the role of respectable journalism in western state crimes - from Iraq to Iran, Afghanistan to Libya - remains taboo. Its role has been to serve as first-choice cheerleader for illegal wars.

Intelligence agencies secure media compliance

There are of course some good journalists working in the corporate mainstream media. But if you think this article mounts to little more than a one-sided attack on the ‘mainstream’ media, you may need to think again.

Many readers will be aware of a recent story about the former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, who claimed that he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name. 

This revelation came as a shock to many. But it should not have because  in the UK, for example, the British intelligence agencies along with the CIA has for decades strived to ensure that the mainstream press and TV complied with the interests of the Establishment. In addition to making sure that the British left was subverted, infiltrated and made toothless, the mainstream media was molded by the intelligence agencies to parrot the Establishment’s viewpoints and aims.


The article reveals the tight-knit relationship between senior journalists and MI5:

MI5 targeted labour correspondents in both newspapers and broadcasting right up to the 80s; they were recruited in droves for their contacts with a wide range of trade union officials and with each other. According to Peter Wright, MI5 always had about twenty senior journalists working for it in the national press. “They were not employed directly by us, but we regarded them as agents because they were happy to be associated with us.”

As the national public service broadcaster funded by the state, special attention was paid to the BBC:

At the BBC, Brigadier Ronald Stonham liaised with MI5 and Special Branch and advised the corporation on whether or not to employ people. Names of applicants for editorial posts in the BBC were similarly ‘vetted’ by MI5.

From the article, it becomes clear were the elite thinks journalism’s loyalty should ultimately lie:

“There should be times when the journalist, when he’s examined all the facts and tested all his sources, should come down on the side of the government of the day, the established order and the Establishment as a whole.” - Chairman of the Radio Authority

And the working class in particular should certainly know its place (Toxteth is an urban district and is used here to signify the social unrest that gripped a number of British cities in the early eighties):

“We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths… but if we have a highly-educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious conflict. People must be educated to once more know their place.” – from a secret Department of Education Report.

The article makes clear who the British Establishment regards as the ‘enemy within’ and what it perceives the role of the much-heralded ‘free press’ (much heralded by people belonging to this ‘free press’) to be.

With massive decreases in readership, however, the print media seems to be in terminal decline. The Establishment's grip on the control of information has been in danger of slipping as the internet has become a major vehicle for the dissemination of information.

The state-corporate-financial elite has presided over a bought and paid for mainstream media for some time. Now it is engaged in an ongoing strategy of global mass surveillance and a clamp down on internet freedom. The goal is to eventually have a fully controlled internet that mirrors the shackled ‘free press’ that the Establishment has for so long cherished. 

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Police State Britain


Police State Britain

by Stephen Lendman

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) operates like NSA. They work cooperatively. They're out-of-control rogue agencies. 

They spy on their own populations. They do it globally. They conduct espionage. They collect enormous amounts of personal information. They do it illegally. 

Obama wages war on freedom. He targets whistleblowers and investigative journalists exposing government wrongdoing. So does Britain. It equates doing so with terrorism.

London's Guardian is threatened. Its offices were raided. Hard drive stored information was destroyed. Its editor, Alan Rusbridger, was warned. Cease and desist or else.

He asked if steps would be taken "to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route - by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working."

"The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intentions."

It was "one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history," he said. It was likely the most chilling.

Two GCHQ security experts oversaw the destruction of Guardian hard drives. They checked to be sure nothing but "mangled bits of metal" remained.

Whitehall was satisfied. Freedom in Britain sustained another body blow. It's fast disappearing like in America. Both nations are more police states than democracies. 

They mock virtually all democratic principles. They govern lawlessly. They do it ruthlessly. Sweeping surveillance is official policy. So is suppressing information about government wrongdoing.

Journalists involved in exposing it are threatened. Guardian disclosures fall under parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee's remit. 

It reinforces government claims about compromising national security. When good journalism is equated with doing it, freedom dies.

Guardian contributors are targeted for doing their job. Doing so amounts to state censorship. Warnings about prosecutions and imprisonments follow.

Free expression is the most important of all rights. Without it, all others at risk. On the bogus pretext of fighting terrorism, America and Britain want none of their lawless activities exposed.

On August 18, UK authorities detained Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, at Heathrow Airport.

He was held incommunicado for nine hours. He was denied legal counsel. A counterterrorism law pretext was used to do so. 

He was in transit from Berlin to Rio de Janeriro. He threatened no one. He violated no laws. It didn't matter. 

His laptop, cell phone, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and game consoles were confiscated. It was done lawlessly. Police states operate this way. 

London's Observer said Miranda was detained "for promoting 'political' causes." His detention shone "new light on the Metropolitan police's explanation for invoking terrorism powers - a decision critics have called draconian."

London's Mirror headlined "David Miranda detention shows UK is becoming a police state." Targeting him "shows just how determined the security services are to get the upper hand."

"Big Brother isn't just watching you. He knows which plane you're on, where you're traveling, and he's in close contact with Big Daddy across the water in Washington."

It "illustrates the general point that we are now living in a security state."

"Historically, the national interest has always been what's good for the government, not what's right for the people." 

It's more than ever true today. State-of-the-art technology makes it easy. So do rogue politicians wanting unchallenged control.

Greenwald called detaining his partner "a failed attempt at intimidation." I'll have the opposite effect, he said. Virtually never are in transit passengers detained like Miranda.

Schedule 7 of Britain's Terrorism Act says "fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders." Over 97% of examinations last under an hour. 

Individuals are questioned regarding possible involvement "in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

Miranda didn't enter Britain. He was en route to Rio. Targeting him was unrelated to terrorism. It was intimidation. It was harassment. Downing Street was directly involved.

It sent a message. Responsible journalism exposing government wrongdoing is threatened. Authorities want it entirely eliminated.

Miranda was released uncharged. Journalists, editors, human rights lawyers and civil libertarians expressed outrage over what happened. Doing so reflects police state harshness.

UK Metropolitan police lied saying:

"Holding and properly using intelligence gained from such stops is a key part of fighting crime, pursuing offenders and protecting the public."

Police states justify lawlessness this way. Miranda was threatened. He was treated like a criminal. 

He was told he faced prosecution if he didn't cooperate. He did nothing wrong. It didn't matter. It got worse.

On September 6, Britain's high court said government authorities could continue examining materials seized from him. 

They could do it to determine if he violated Britain's Terrorism and Official Secrets Acts. UK courts lack independence like America's. 

They support the worst of government practices. They rubber-stamp some of the most outrageous acts. They violate fundamental freedoms doing so.

On November 2, Reuters headlined "NSA Leaks Journalist Glenn Greenwald's Partner Accused of 'Terrorism,' 'Espionage.' 

After returning to Rio, Miranda filed suit. He wants lawlessly seized materials returned.

"At a London court hearing a document called a 'Ports Circulation Sheet' was read into the record." 

"It was prepared by Scotland Yard - in consultation with the MI5 counterintelligence agency."

It said "(i)intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security."

"We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material the release of which would endanger people's lives." 

"Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism."

Miranda wasn't charged. At least not so far. He remains threatened. He may become as much at risk as Edward Snowden.

A hearing on Miranda's legal challenge is scheduled this week. During a preparatory session days earlier, "new details of how and why British authorities (targeted him) were made public…"

Materials authorities seized allegedly included 58,000 NSA and GCHQ documents. In an email to Reuters, Greenwald said:

"For all the lecturing it doles out to the world about press freedoms, the UK offers virtually none. They are absolutely and explicitly equating terrorism with journalism."

On October 31, German lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele met with Edward Snowden. He did so in Moscow. He released a letter he wrote. In part, it said:

"I have been invited to write to you regarding your investigation of mass surveillance."

"I believe I witnessed systemic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act." 

"As a result of reporting these concerns, I have faced a severe and sustained campaign of persecution that forced me from my family and home."

"Citizens around the world as well as high officials - including in the United States - have judged the revelation of an unaccountable system of pervasive surveillance to be a public service."

"Though the outcome of my efforts has been demonstrably positive, my government continues to treat dissent as defection, and seeks to criminalize political speech with felony charges that provide no defense."

"(S)peaking truth is not a crime." He thanked supporters for their "efforts in upholding the international laws that protect us all."

Not in America or Britain. In a document read into the public record, Britain's MI5 said:

"Our main objectives against David Miranda are to understand the nature of any material he is carrying (so as to) mitigate the risks to national security that this material poses."

A UK Washington spokesperson had no comment. Equating good journalism with terrorism shows Britain will stop at nothing to keep government wrongdoing secret.

Doing so shows how low Britain has sunk. Its stripped off facade reveals dark side tyranny. 

Britain's Terrorism Law provides wide latitude. Its terrorism definition includes a "use or threat designed to influence the government (or international governmental organization)."

It's "made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause."

It does so if it "endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action (and) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public."

Most chilling is that UK security services, on their own, can decide if legitimate journalism is terrorism or its equivalent.

They can do so without publicly releasing materials allegedly able to compromise national security. They can pronounce guilt on their say alone. They can get courts to rubber-stamp their accusations. 

It's much the same in America. Government whistleblowers are threatened. They're fraudulently charged under the long ago outdated Espionage Act. 

It's a WW I relic. It belongs in history's dustbin. It's unrelated to exposing government wrongdoing. Revealing it is equated with aiding the enemy.

The so-called "enemy" apparently is "we the people." Our fundamental constitutional rights are threatened. Upholding them is what courts are supposed to do.

Not in America. Not in Britain. Terrorism or acts relating to it are what both governments say they are.

On July 30, Bradley Manning was wrongfully convicted on 20 of 22 bogus charges. He never had a chance. 

He was judged guilty by accusation. He got 35 years imprisonment for acting responsibly. 

It's by far the harshest ever punishment for leaking information everyone has a right to know.

Washington wants Edward Snowden prosecuted the same way. Russia granted him political asylum.

Whether he'll stay free remains to be seen. He's America's public enemy number one. Safety is his main concern. 

He's got good reason to worry. He's a wanted man. He knows how NSA operates. It'll try monitoring him every way possible.

Whether he'll stay free from its tracking remains to be seen. The same is true for everyone.

America and Britain are ruthless. They're unforgiving. They want unchallenged power. They want no one compromising it. 

They want government wrongdoing suppressed. UK Prime Minister David Cameron threatened Britain's media with injunctions or so-called D (Defense Advisory) notices. 

They're official requests not to publish or broadcast information for reasons of national security.

London's Guardian and Miranda remain in limbo. Criminal charges could follow. Responsible journalism is threatened. 

It bears repeating. Equating it with terrorism shows how low Britain has sunk. The same holds for America. Police state justice prevails.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/police-state-britain/

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Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

 

By Chris Marsden
18 October 2013

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament, “I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.

“So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations.

Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

In June, according to Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, he and other Guardian journalists were threatened with legal action and forced to destroy hard drives containing material from Snowden when “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” made “an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.”

According to Rusbridger, “two GCHQ security experts” oversaw the destruction. Now, Cameron cites the newspaper’s response to the government’s threats as proof of its guilt!

A spokesman for Guardian News and Media issued a statement declaring, “The prime minister is wrong to say the Guardian destroyed computer files because we agreed our reporting was damaging. We destroyed the computers because the government said it would use the full force of the law to prevent a newspaper from publishing anything about the NSA or GCHQ.”

Cameron made his statement in response to a question from former defence secretary Dr, Liam Fox, who asked for a “full and transparent assessment about whether the Guardian s involvement in the Snowden affair has damaged Britain’s national security.” Making clear he was seeking criminal charges, Fox said it was “bizarre” that that people alleged to have taken part in newspaper phone hacking have been prosecuted, while people who leave security personnel “more vulnerable” have not.

Tory backbencher Julian Smith has been granted a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday over the publishing of the top-secret documents. He earlier wrote to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He said he would use the debate to “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us.”

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has already aligned himself with the moves against the Guardian, declaring that Snowden’s leaks have “gifted” terrorists with the ability to attack Britain. The calls for repression are being made in conjunction with the Security services. New head of MI5 Andrew Parker described leaks about the Prism and Tempora programmes as handing “the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

The most significant support for state persecution of journalists, newspapers and whistleblowers such as Snowden again comes from the nominal “parliamentary opposition”, the Labour Party.

Following the debate in parliament, Fox wrote to the chairmen of five Commons select committees urging them to carry out an investigation into the Guardian ’s “reckless and potentially dangerous conduct.”

“A free press does not mean the freedom to make the UK, its people or its allies more vulnerable to serious organised crime or terrorism. I am writing to formally request, as both a Member of Parliament and a former Security of State for Defence, that your committee considers the elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

The first response came from Labour’s Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

Within hours, Vaz said he would look into “elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

“I will be writing to assure Dr. Fox that the committee is currently conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we will be looking at this matter as part of it.”

The other committee heads petitioned by Fox are Sir Malcolm Rifkind of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), John Arbuthnot of the Defence Committee, Richard Ottaway at Foreign Affairs and Sir Alan Beith of the Liaison Select Committee.

The ISC is presently making a pose of investigating the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the GCHQ and NSA in an inquiry launched yesterday. It has been heavily criticised for its cosy relationship with the security services, forcing Rifkind to issue platitudes such as the need to strike a “balance” between “our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.”

The committee is now supposed to determine whether the intelligence laws are “fit for purpose”.

The move by the Home Affairs Committee to investigate the Guardian for possible criminal action cuts through such a pose of impartiality.

The entire machinery of parliament and its parties are being lined up in defence of the secret state apparatus, beginning with a clampdown on press freedom. Its implications for democratic rights are chilling. The Guardian is being targeted for revealing criminal actions by the secret services targeting every man, woman, and child in the UK and internationally for unwarranted state surveillance. This is done without legal justification or even official sanction by parliament. This demonstrates that the United Kingdom has gone far down the road to a de facto police state. It testifies to the extraordinary political and moral decay of a ruling elite poisoned by wealth, which lives in mortal fear of the millions below them being plunged ever deeper into hardship and poverty.

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Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

 

By Chris Marsden
18 October 2013

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament, “I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.

“So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations.

Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

In June, according to Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, he and other Guardian journalists were threatened with legal action and forced to destroy hard drives containing material from Snowden when “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” made “an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.”

According to Rusbridger, “two GCHQ security experts” oversaw the destruction. Now, Cameron cites the newspaper’s response to the government’s threats as proof of its guilt!

A spokesman for Guardian News and Media issued a statement declaring, “The prime minister is wrong to say the Guardian destroyed computer files because we agreed our reporting was damaging. We destroyed the computers because the government said it would use the full force of the law to prevent a newspaper from publishing anything about the NSA or GCHQ.”

Cameron made his statement in response to a question from former defence secretary Dr, Liam Fox, who asked for a “full and transparent assessment about whether the Guardian s involvement in the Snowden affair has damaged Britain’s national security.” Making clear he was seeking criminal charges, Fox said it was “bizarre” that that people alleged to have taken part in newspaper phone hacking have been prosecuted, while people who leave security personnel “more vulnerable” have not.

Tory backbencher Julian Smith has been granted a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall next Tuesday over the publishing of the top-secret documents. He earlier wrote to the Metropolitan Police calling for the Guardian to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act and the Terrorism Act 2000. He said he would use the debate to “lay out the reasons why I believe that the Guardian has crossed the line between responsible journalism and seriously risking our national security and the lives of those who seek to protect us.”

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has already aligned himself with the moves against the Guardian, declaring that Snowden’s leaks have “gifted” terrorists with the ability to attack Britain. The calls for repression are being made in conjunction with the Security services. New head of MI5 Andrew Parker described leaks about the Prism and Tempora programmes as handing “the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will.”

The most significant support for state persecution of journalists, newspapers and whistleblowers such as Snowden again comes from the nominal “parliamentary opposition”, the Labour Party.

Following the debate in parliament, Fox wrote to the chairmen of five Commons select committees urging them to carry out an investigation into the Guardian ’s “reckless and potentially dangerous conduct.”

“A free press does not mean the freedom to make the UK, its people or its allies more vulnerable to serious organised crime or terrorism. I am writing to formally request, as both a Member of Parliament and a former Security of State for Defence, that your committee considers the elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

The first response came from Labour’s Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

Within hours, Vaz said he would look into “elements of the Guardian s involvement in, and publication of, the Snowden leaks.”

“I will be writing to assure Dr. Fox that the committee is currently conducting an inquiry into counter-terrorism and we will be looking at this matter as part of it.”

The other committee heads petitioned by Fox are Sir Malcolm Rifkind of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), John Arbuthnot of the Defence Committee, Richard Ottaway at Foreign Affairs and Sir Alan Beith of the Liaison Select Committee.

The ISC is presently making a pose of investigating the extent of mass surveillance carried out by the GCHQ and NSA in an inquiry launched yesterday. It has been heavily criticised for its cosy relationship with the security services, forcing Rifkind to issue platitudes such as the need to strike a “balance” between “our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security.”

The committee is now supposed to determine whether the intelligence laws are “fit for purpose”.

The move by the Home Affairs Committee to investigate the Guardian for possible criminal action cuts through such a pose of impartiality.

The entire machinery of parliament and its parties are being lined up in defence of the secret state apparatus, beginning with a clampdown on press freedom. Its implications for democratic rights are chilling. The Guardian is being targeted for revealing criminal actions by the secret services targeting every man, woman, and child in the UK and internationally for unwarranted state surveillance. This is done without legal justification or even official sanction by parliament. This demonstrates that the United Kingdom has gone far down the road to a de facto police state. It testifies to the extraordinary political and moral decay of a ruling elite poisoned by wealth, which lives in mortal fear of the millions below them being plunged ever deeper into hardship and poverty.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

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“If you are a law-abiding citizen of this country, going about your business and your personal life, you have nothing to fear.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague, responding to the revelations of mass surveillance in the US and the UK (BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on 9 June). 
What does William Hague take the British public for? This bureaucrat politician stands in front of the cameras time and again setting out to mislead with his self righteous platitudes. He did it over Libya and tens of thousands lost their lives. His is doing it over Syria with similar results. And he is doing it over mass surveillance by the state.

Do not believe we have nothing to fear. We have much to fear. Take the case of Stephen Lawrence, for example, who was lawfully ‘going about his business’ in April 1993, when white racists murdered him while he was waiting for a bus. It has now emerged that, after the murder, four London Metropolitan police officers were deployed to spy on the Lawrence family and Stephen’s friends.

The Lawrences were just ‘law-abiding citizens going about their business’. But undercover police were used to smear the Lawrence family’s fight for justice (1). One of those the spies says he job was to hunt for disinformation and dirt in order to stop the Lawrence’s justice campaign in its tracks. Nothing to fear from the state Mr Hague?

And then there are the numerous well-documented cases of the police and/or intelligence agencies infiltrating legitimate campaign and protest groups (2) and ‘investigating’ political parties or prominent figures (3)(4) in order to subvert or discredit them. Let us not forget too (how could we?) the massive police cover ups, none more prominent than the Hillsborough case (5). Still nothing to fear Mr Hague?

But let’s not be too harsh on Hague. The same ‘terror threat/nothing to fear’ script is being read out to the public in the US. Politicians elsewhere are using ‘terror’ as an excuse for spying on the public at large as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is convinced that Germany has to protect itself against potential terrorist attacks by using mass surveillance:

“We are dependent on being able to act and not being entirely at the mercy of the terrorists. And today, it’s on the Internet that communication takes place.” (6)
Alexander Dix, data protection commissioner for the city of Berlin, is a lot more sceptical. He calls for more restraint in the collection of data:

“You don’t have to follow conspiracy theories in order to suspect that data collected for fighting terrorism will also be used in other areas.” (6)
It’s all very convenient for politicians to pull out the magic phrase ‘war on terror’ in a futile attempt to stop any discussion on surveillance in its tracks. If the US-led alliance really wanted to stop or drastically reduce terrorism, it should listen to journalist Nir Rosen’s advice: stop committing it (7).


We need more monitoring and surveillance


The likes of Obama, Kerry, Hague or Cameron have become experts in churning out their fear-mongering platitudes by using some abstract notion of ‘we’ to imply ‘the nation’ or the ‘national interest’. But ‘we’ – the ordinary folk – need to hold power to account, to question its legitimacy and to challenge it when it is illegitimate.

We need to do this to help guarantee our safety, our common interests, our freedoms and threats to democracy. How about more but bottom-up monitoring and surveillance in terms of transparency within government and accountability to ensure decisions are properly scrutinized and genuinely open to pubic debate. In the absence of this, we have corruption, profiteering and the revolving door between government and big business, which all ensure that the powerful and wealthy get away with murder, quite literally when it comes to their illegal wars and mass killing.


In the absence of real democracy, we have food safety/regulation authorities being hijacked by corporate interests in order to feather their own nests. We have armaments companies using politicians as their sales lackeys.

We have police and intelligence agencies infiltrating, harassing or subverting legitimate groups that have every right to protest, dissent and oppose. We have a wide range of powerful corporate players that lobby, threaten or buy their way towards casting the world in their own self-serving nuclear, retail, biotech, petro-chemical or pharmaceutical image. And we have banks, industries and whole economies that are undemocratically owned and controlled.

We also have ‘stuff’ being sprayed onto us without our consent (or very often knowledge) and have no power to stop ‘stuff’ from being sprayed onto us (8).

But we are told all this top-down surveillance and all of the increasing unfreedoms are for our own good. We are told that public servants serve us by bowing down to elite interests. We are told that an incredible mass media is credible even though it serves a corporate agenda.


Based on his research for the book Who Killed Diana?, the late journalist Simon Regan stated that it is (paraphrased):


Whitehall that really runs the country with a close-knit Mafia-like clique… made up of a handful of powerful, but low-key, City brokers and financiers; the top brains at the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and the Trade Department. Key figures in the security forces… and…at least one key member of the prime minister’s secretariat… the police and judiciary… through the Home Office… can certainly be manipulated. The Super-Establishment’s power is based upon its ability to manipulate the level below it – the individuals that most people believe are governing our country. The elected government is almost irrelevant… The world in which the Super-Establishment exists is a grey and murky world in which sensitive matters of state are planned and executed in gentlemen’s clubs. It is where manipulation plots are hatched, whether it is manipulation of a certain minister towards a certain viewpoint, or the wholesale orchestration of a Foreign Office ploy to bring down a foreign government… It is almost the divine "mission of the secret services to protect the status quo, and hitherto it has been their full intention to thwart anyone who tried to disrupt it. The actual existence of the Super-Establishment is not a flight of fancy. It is entirely manipulative and exercises a great deal of power behind the scenes. (9)


The elite, the oligarchs, the ruling class, the one percent – call it how you will. Yet it is we, the people, who are spied on and monitored by them for their good, to serve their interests and to feather their highly privileged and secretive world, a world built on the stolen wealth of both past and present deeds.


But don’t worry about any of this. There is no need. If that nice Mr Hague says we’ve nothing to fear, he must be right.


Notes



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The Surveillance State: In Britain, Everything Is Not Okay!

Global Research and Countercurrents 22/6/2013, The Market Oracle 23/6/2013 and Deccan Herald 27/6/2013

“The innocent have everything to fear, mostly from the guilty, but in the longer term even more from those who say things like ‘The innocent have nothing to fear.’" Terry Pratchett (British author), in Snuff (Doubleday, 2011).

For many people, personal privacy vs widespread surveillance has been a major issue for decades. However, some thought mass spying on us has been happening but chose to downplay it. Others didn’t want to know and just didn’t care. Edward Snowden’s recent revelations indicate it is happening and that we should all care.    

Former National Security Agency (NSA) worker turned whistleblower Edward Snowden has now turned his attention to the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA. On Friday, Snowden released documents to The Guardian newspaper in the UK to back up his claims that GCHQ has secretly accessed fibre optic cables carrying huge amounts of internet and communications data. According to The Guardian, the agency is able to tap into, analyse and store data. Snowden told the newspaper that the NSA has a more prolific British ally in GCHQ. (GCHQ is one of three UKintelligence agencies, alongside MI5 and MI6.)

“It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight… They (GCHQ) are worse than the US.” Edward Snowden

Although it is physically impossible for the intelligence agencies to read everyone’s emails, for instance, GCHQ can apparently record phone calls, read email and Facebook postings and review website traffic if they so wish. It can also access entire web use histories on individuals. Although GCHQ can only store certain data for 30 days, the Guardian says the practice is subject to little scrutiny. GCHQ operation can tap cables that carry global communications with the potential to carry 600 million daily ‘telephone events’.

“If GCHQ have been intercepting huge numbers of innocent people's communications as part of a massive sweeping exercise, then I struggle to see how that squares with a process that requires a warrant for each individual intercept.” Nick Pickles, Big Brother Watch director, as reported in The Guardian, 22 June.

This massive interception effort operates under two programmes: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation. GCHQ is tapping 200 internet links, each with a data rate of 10Gbps, and the agency has the technical capacity to concurrently analyze 46 of these 200 streams of data at a time.

The revelations come alongside reports of the NSA snooping on US and international citizens via the metadata held on them by telecommunication companies, and secret data-sharing agreements between the NSA and consumer-web giants, such as Facebook, Google, Apple and others under the PRISM scheme.

GCHQ is able to capitalize on the UK's position at the edge of Western Europe, by tapping into the vast quantity of data flowing through cables around the UK and abroad. Over 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sift through the data, which they use to identify communications relating to security, terror, organized crime, and economic well-being.

Britain and the US are the founding members of the Five-Eyes intelligence sharing agreement. The Five-Eyes are members of a special club of former British colonies that gather and intelligence with each other. AustraliaCanadaand New Zealand are the three other members.

According to The Guardian, Britain's ability to tap these fibre-optic cables makes it the web eavesdropping powerhouse of the Five-Eyes, with the documents provided by Snowden saying that of the five, Britain has "the biggest Internet access."

The Guardian reports that British personnel on the team of 300 GCHQ and 250 NSA analysts sifting through the data have "a light oversight regime compared to the US"

The newspaper reports that 850,000 NSA and employees and private American contractors have been able to access to the information gathered by CGHQ. One of the documents quotes NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander as urging British spies to collect everything they could.
"Why can't we collect at the signals, all the time? Sounds like a good summer homework project for Menwith," is written at the top of a slide shown by the Guardian that supposedly quotes Alexander during a 2008 visit to the UK. The slide is titled, "Collect-it-all."
Menwith refers to RAF Menwith Hill, a secret signals intelligence gathering facility in the Yorkshire countryside run by the US.
GCHQ operatives tapped the fibre-optic cables over the last five years at the point where the transatlantic cables reach British shores - these cables move Internet and telephone data from North America to Western Europe.  All of this was done with agreements with the communications companies, described by the document as "intercept partners."
Last week, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Robert Cole defended bulk collection of cellphone data and other business records to US lawmakers:
"If you're looking for a needle in a haystack, you've got to get the haystack first," said Cole during a June 18 House intelligence committee hearing on the matter. "That's why we have the ability under the [FISA] court order, to acquire . . . all of that data, we don't get to use all of that data, necessarily." As reported by John Reed in Foreign Policy on 21 June.
Britain and the US are rapidly perfecting the system to allow them to capture and analyse a large quantity of international traffic consisting of emails, texts, phone calls, internet searches, chat, photographs, blogposts, videos and the many uses of Google.
Writing in The Guardian on Friday 21 June, Henry Porter states:
“Mastering the Internet treats the rights of billions of foreign web users, the possible menace to the privacy of British and American citizens and the duties of their legislators with equal contempt. After Iraq and the banking crash, the world may come to see MTI as further evidence of a heedless delinquency in two of the world's oldest democracies.”
Porter talks about the lack of meaningful oversight in both countries, the use of commercial companies in the surveillance process and the wholesale disregard for the fundamentals of both countries’ democratic principles. Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights organisation Liberty, says that GCHQ are exploiting the fact that the internet is so international in nature and that what's holding them back from going further is technological capability, certainly not ethics (1).

Why it matters, really matters
For too long, the majority in Britain has been led to believe that governments in major western liberal democracies operate with benign intentions, that the government acts on our behalf and in our interests and that only those with something to hide have anything to fear. The belief is forwarded that the loss of liberty and intrusions into our personal privacy are small prices to pay for ensuring our safety in a barbaric world that wants to attack and inflict terror on us.
It’s all part of the dominant narrative. It’s all part of a dominant narrative that seeks to mislead and to mask the real essence of power and the true nature of intent behind notions of patriotism, nationalism, bowing down to the flag, militarism and that ‘we’, ‘the nation’ are in united in cause and belief.   
What Snowden’s revelations illustrate is the unaccountable face of power. And this should concern us because it’s not the greater good of humankind, queen, flag or country that this power serves. It ultimately serves capital and the extremely wealthy, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of ordinary people across the world (2).

Look no further to see who funds the major political parties or individual politicians to do their bidding. Look no further than the backgrounds of many of these politicians. But, most important, look no further to see who owns the major corporations and banks and who sits on the bodies that hammer out major policies (3)(4)(5). It is the powerful foundations and think tanks headed or funded by private corporations that drive US and British policies, whether at home or abroad, and that includes the Project for a New American Century (6) and the resultant ongoing war of terror waged on countries across the world.

Western liberal democracy has been quite successful in making many at home blind to the chains that bind and which make them immune to the falsehoods that underpin the system. However, with the economic meltdown, ‘austerity’, increasing public awareness of corporate crimes, disillusionment with mainstream politics and the ramping up of wars, paranoia and the stripping away of civil liberties, social control is no longer able to operate on the relatively benign level that it once did. The collapse of the economic system and its propping up has laid bare just who that system is set up to benefit. State violence and mass surveillance is now part of the changing agenda of liberal democracy that is no longer able to hide behind the pretence of being liberal or democratic. The mask has slipped and we are right to be concerned.

“The world has evidence of the totally monitored future that GCHQ and NSA plan for us and that political establishments turn a blind eye to…. fear still trumps everything. On Tuesday, the head of NSA, General Keith B Alexander, and the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, insisted that many terror plots had been stopped by surveillance. In Britain, the foreign secretary, William Hague… was joined by three former home secretaries, Jack Straw, Lord (John) Reid and Alan Johnson, to reassure us that mass surveillance was indeed necessary to make interdictions and… that further powers were needed… The point about these latest revelations is that they show there are more than adequate powers for interception on both sides of the Atlantic and that the terror agenda and, to a lesser degree, the fear of paedophilia, may well have been used to elaborate a huge system of espionage and domestic surveillance.” – Henry Porter, The Guardian 21 June.

Notes

Sources for this article
The Guardian 21 and 22 June

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Published time: March 27, 2013 10:39
AFP Photo/Fred Dufour

The UK is opening a cyber-crime center to fight the “astonishing” number of hack attacks on Britain. The initiative follows an EU plan that forces companies to disclose hacked data, potentially damaging reputations and share prices.

The new initiative will combine information from government communications headquarters GCHQ, MI5, the police and various businesses. The idea behind the body is to orchestrate quicker responses to cyber-attacks that hit UK companies.

The so-called Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership will share information between governments and businesses to gather a more complete picture of the attacks being carried out on computer systems in the UK.

Currently, 160 companies are involved in the initiative, from the fields of finance, defense, energy, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

UK companies have previously voiced concerns over releasing data on cyber-attacks, fearing that such information would damage their credibility and share prices if it were disseminated publically.  

“The government is understandably wary about divulging information to outsiders about cyber threats which has been derived from secret sources and agencies,” cyber-security expert Nigel Inkster told the Financial Times.

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UK company had lost over $1 billion in an act of intellectual property theft.

And the year previous, cyber-security specialist BAE Systems Detica estimated that British companies lost around $40 billion a year in revenues through hacking attacks.

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David Garfield, managing director of cyber security at BAE Systems Detica, told the Financial Times that the EU measure could end up being counterproductive: “The real effect of a system of compulsory disclosure might ultimately be to encourage companies to turn a blind eye to attacks, pretending they have not seen them.”

The European Commission’s ‘Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace’ plan would be a massive operation involving 42,000 companies dealing with banking, transport, energy, health, the Internet and public administrations. 

The companies would be required to immediately inform EU authorities in the event of a hack attack, “to share early warnings on risks and incidents through a secure infrastructure, cooperate and organize regular peer reviews.”

UK officials have voiced concerns over the bill, saying they would be uncomfortable with a law making it mandatory for companies to disclose data on attacks.

Towards the Globalization of CIA Torture and Rendition

cia

by Jeff Lincoln

A report released in early February by the Open Society Justice Initiative titled “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition” establishes that the Central Intelligence Agency, acting under the direction of the highest levels of the US government, has utilized a global network of secret prisons, foreign intelligence agents, and interrogation and torture centers to send detainees to without any legal protections.

This arrangement is worldwide and includes the involvement of at least 54 different countries touching almost every continent.

There is enormous diversity among the countries involved. They include Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Jordan, which carried out the torture on suspects that the CIA rendered to them. Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Thailand hosted secret prisons operated by the CIA where detainees could be held clandestinely and have interrogations or torture conducted directly by American intelligence operatives.

European nations such as Macedonia, Georgia, and Sweden detained and delivered suspects to the CIA to be tortured. Larger countries such as Britain or Germany conducted some of the interrogations themselves while smaller countries such as Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, or Greece provided intelligence, logistical support, use of airspace, etc.

On the whole, the report stands as an indictment against all of Washington’s allies and client states in its self-proclaimed “war on terror.”

The Australian government stands implicated in the rendition of Mamdouh Habib, an Australian national, to Egypt where he was tortured and then later transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was detained until he was released without charge in 2005.

Egypt stands as the country that has interrogated, tortured and abused the most people subject to extraordinary rendition. The relationship between the US and Egypt dates back to the Clinton administration that used the country almost exclusively for its rendition program, which was dramatically ramped up after September 11, 2001.

Italy’s secret services played a role in the abduction of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who was previously given asylum in Italy but was abducted in Milan in 2003; he was then placed on a flight to Egypt. Italian authorities authorized some 46 stopovers by CIA operated aircraft at Italian airports.

The United Kingdom, the country that enjoys the closest relationship with US imperialism, has extensive involvement with America’s rendition program. In addition to providing airspace, MI6 and other British intelligence worked hand in glove with the CIA to abduct and interrogate suspects. Omar Deghayes, a Libyan national but a British resident was arrested in 2002 and transported by US and British intelligence agents to Bagram, where he was subjected to abuse. After interrogation by MI5 agents, he was sent to Guantanamo where he underwent further physical abuse, suffering a broken finger, a broken nose, and damage to his right eye.

In 2004, the British government arranged to have a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Sami al-Saadi, rendered into Libyan custody by approaching him in China and convincing him to fly to the British embassy in Hong Kong where he would be allowed to return to the UK. Instead, his whole family was taken into custody in Hong Kong and flown over to Libya where Mr. al-Saadi remained for six years and was subjected to torture by physical beatings and electric shocks.

While the report sheds some light on what countries are involved, the numbers of individuals subjected to rendition remains unknown. By 2005, it is estimated that about 150 persons were rendered to foreign countries according to admissions made by then-president George W. Bush. The real number is likely much higher, as Egypt alone has had to acknowledge that it received sixty to seventy terror suspects since September 11, 2001. Human Rights Watch has attempted to compile a list of persons who have been held in CIA prisons, and they have identified almost forty people who have either gone missing or whose whereabouts are unknown.

There are dozens more countries detailed in the report than just the ones mentioned above. Still, the report is extremely limited in scope in that it does not document transfers or detentions by any agency other than the CIA. It does not include the detention practices of the Defense Department, for example, and its notorious facilities in Guantanamo Bay or Afghanistan. Moreover, what is known is only based on the experiences of 139 individuals who have been released from custody. Nevertheless, it is now clear that the US government has been running a detention and “enhanced interrogation” operation with tentacles that span the globe.

It appears likely that the United States intentionally sought out the widespread involvement of so many countries to ensure that those who might later nominally reject these practices would themselves be so implicated that they would be unwilling to publicly expose the details of Washington’s dirty deeds.

Indeed, none of the countries mentioned in the report, save one, has even admitted any culpability for their participation in gross human rights violations. The lone exception is Canada, which assisted in the rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar in 2002 to Syria where he was tortured. A hastily conducted commission placed blame on the Royal Mounted Police but absolved those higher up in government of any responsibility. Other nations, such as Britain, Sweden and Australia have quietly settled lawsuits alleging their participation but have made no admission of liability.

As a matter of fact, far from acknowledging their complicity in abduction, rendition, and torture, many of the countries in the report were publicly denouncing these practices by the US government at the same time they were secretly abetting them.

A number of liberal and human rights organizations have reacted to the revelations in the Open Society Justice Initiative report by calling for and supporting the efforts of international tribunals to hear cases brought against officials of some of the countries complicit in assisting in the rendition of persons by the US Government.

While there are some actions pending in the European Court of Human Rights and other high courts against some of the countries named in the report for their role in assisting in rendition, the cases will have no impact on the operations of the CIA.

Setting aside the obvious fact that cases can only be brought by individuals whom the CIA has already decided to release, the outcome of these actions hinge on the narrow issue of the extent to which the participating countries knew or should have known torture was likely to occur. This glosses over the more fundamental issue that, unlike extradition, extraordinary rendition is, by definition, a transfer without legal process. In fact, the whole CIA program is designed to place detainee interrogations completely beyond the reach of law. Moreover, the US government has refused to recognize the jurisdiction of international courts of human rights.

President Barack Obama for his part, despite making claims of reversing the Bush-era CIA policies, has further escalated the crimes committed by his predecessor.

In January 2009, Obama issued a series of executive orders that purported to close down then existing CIA detention facilities and also created a task force to examine rendition practices and make recommendations to ensure humane treatment. These orders were nothing more than a sham to conceal the fact that, rather than restricting the ability of the CIA to conduct extraordinary renditions, the orders were purposely crafted to preserve it.

While Obama has ordered the CIA to shut down certain detention facilities, the directive specifically exempts facilities designed to hold people on a temporary or transitory basis. In other words, the executive order essentially codifies the CIA’s authority to detain suspects and then to render them to other countries to face interrogation, trial, or worse. Furthermore, if the CIA wanted the detainees to remain in the custody of the United States, they could be sent to a facility operated by the Department of Defense or kept offshore on a Navy vessel.

The task force created by Obama’s order functions merely as a fig leaf for the continuation of Bush-era policies. The report, which was completed in 2009, has not been made public and is not binding on any agency. However, as an example of its toothlessness, a Justice Department press release disclosed that one of the recommended safeguards was relying on assurances from the receiving country that the detainees would be treated humanely.

The Justice Department under Obama appointee Eric Holder has closed inquiries into the treatment of over 100 detainees who were in CIA custody overseas, including several who died while in custody, stating that no criminal charges would be pursued.

Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women...

Once, as a reporter, I covered wars, conflicts, civil wars, and even a genocide in places like Vietnam, Angola, Eritrea, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, keeping away from official briefings and listening to the people who were living the war.  In the years since the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, I’ve done the same thing without ever leaving home.

In the last decade, I didn’t travel to distant refugee camps in Pakistan or destroyed villages in Afghanistan, nor did I spend time in besieged cities like Iraq’s Fallujah or Libya’s Misrata.  I stayed in Great Britain.  There, my government, in close conjunction with Washington, was pursuing its own version of what, whether anyone cared to say it or not, was essentially a war against Islam.  Somehow, by a series of chance events, I found myself inside it, spending time with families transformed into enemies.

I hadn’t planned to write about the war on terror, but driven by curiosity about lives most of us never see and a few lucky coincidences, I stumbled into a world of Muslim women in London, Manchester, and Birmingham.  Some of them were British, others from Arab and African countries, but their husbands or sons had been swept up in Washington’s war. Some were in Guantanamo, some were among the dozen Muslim foreigners who did not know each other, and who were surprised to find themselves imprisoned together in Britain on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. Later, some of these families would find themselves under house arrest.

In the process, I came to know women and children who were living in almost complete isolation and with the stigma of a supposed link to terrorism. They had few friends, and were cut off from the wider world. Those with a husband under house arrest were allowed no visitors who had not been vetted for “security,” nor could they have computers, even for their children to do their homework.  Other lonely women had husbands or sons who had sometimes spent a decade or more in prison without charges in the United Kingdom, and were fighting deportation or extradition.

Gradually, they came to accept me into their isolated lives and talked to me about their children, their mothers, their childhoods — but seldom, at first, about the grim situations of their husbands, which seemed too intimate, too raw, too frightening, too unknowable to be put into words.

In the early years, it was a steep learning curve for me, spending time in homes where faith was the primary reality, Allah was constantly invoked, English was a second language, and privacy and reticence were givens. Facebook culture had not come to most of these families. The reticence faded over the years, especially when the children were not there, or in the face of the kind of desolation that came from a failed court appeal to lift the restrictions on their lives, an unexpected police raid on the house, a husband’s suicide attempt, or the coming of a new torture report from Washington’s then-expanding global gulag of black sites and, of course, Guantanamo.

In these years, I met some of their husbands and sons as well.  The first was a British man from Birmingham, Moazzam Begg. He had been held for three years in Washington’s notorious offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to be released without charges.  When he came home, through his lawyer, he asked me to help write his memoir, the first to come out of Guantanamo.  We worked long months on Enemy Combatant. It was hard for him to relive his nightmare days and nights in American custody in Kandahar and in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then those limbo years in Cuba. It was even harder for him to visit the women whose absent husbands he had known in prison and who, unlike him, were still there.

Was My Husband Tortured?

In these homes he visited, there was always one great unspoken question: Was my husband or son tortured? It was the single question no one could bear to ask a survivor of that nightmare, even for reassurance. When working on his book, I deliberately left the chapter on his experiences in American hands in Bagram prison for last, as I sensed how difficult it would be for both of us to speak about the worst of the torture I knew he had experienced.

Through Moazzam, I met other men who had been swept up in the post-9/11 dragnet for Muslims in Great Britain, refugees who sought him out as an Arabic speaker and a British citizen to help them negotiate Britain’s newly hostile atmosphere in the post-9/11 years.  Soon, I began to visit some of their wives, too.

In time, I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death unless he was given refugee documents to leave Britain, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I was halfway through working on Moazzam’s book when London was struck by our 9/11, which we call 7/7. The July 7, 2005, suicide bombings, in three parts of the London underground and a bus, killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700. The four bombers were all young British men between 18 and 30, two of them married with children, and one of them a mentor at a primary school. In video statements left behind they described themselves as “soldiers” whose aim was to force the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, there were four more coordinated bomb attacks on the London subway system.  (All failed to detonate.) The four men responsible, longterm British residents originally from the Horn of Africa, were captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this way, the whole country was traumatised in 2005, and that particularly includes the various strands of the Muslim community in Great Britain.

The British security services quickly returned to a post-9/11 stance on overdrive. The same MI5 intelligence agents who had interrogated Moazzam while he was in U.S. custody asked to meet him again to get his thoughts on who might be behind the attacks. However, three years in U.S. custody and five months at home occupied with his family and his book had not made him a likely source of information on current strains of thought in the British Muslim community.

At the same time, the dozen foreign Muslim refugees detained in the aftermath of 9/11 and held without trial for two years before being released on the orders of the House of Lords were rearrested. In the summer of 2005, the government prepared to deport them to countries they had originally fled as refugees.

All of them had been made anonymous by court order and in legal documents were referred to as Mr. G, Mr. U, and so on. This was no doubt intended to safeguard their privacy, but in a sense it also condemned them.  It made them faceless, inhuman, and their families experienced it just that way. “They even took my husband’s name away, why?” one wife asked me.

The women I was meeting in these years were mostly from this small group, as well as the relatives of a handful of British residents — Arabs — who were not initially returned from Guantanamo with the nine British citizens that the Americans finally released without charges in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps no one in the country was, in the end, more terrorised than them, thanks to the various terror plots by British nationals that followed. And they were right to be fearful.  The pressure on them was overwhelming.  Some of them simply gave up and went home voluntarily because they could not bear house arrest, though they risked being sent to prison in their native lands; others went through years of house arrest and court appeals against deportation, all of which continues to this day.

Among the plots that unnerved them were one in 2006 against transatlantic aircraft, for which a total of 12 Britons were jailed for life in 2009, and the 2007 attempt to blow up a London nightclub and Glasgow International Airport, in which one bomber died and the second was jailed for 32 years. In the post-9/11 decade, 237 people were convicted of terror-related offences in Britain.

Though all of this was going on, much of it remained remote from the world of the refugee women I came to know who, in the larger world, were mainly preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, with Palestinian developments, filled their TV screens tuned only to Arabic stations.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares, but for anyone in their company there was no mistaking them: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another, with several small children, turned back from a prison visit, despite a long journey, because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

Here was the texture of a hidden war of continual harassment against a largely helpless population.  This was how some of the most vulnerable people in British society — often already traumatised refugees and torture survivors — were made permanent scapegoats for our post-9/11, and then post-7/7 fears.

So powerful is the stigma of “terrorism” today that, in the name of “our security,” whether in Great Britain or the United States, just about anything now goes, and ever fewer people ask questions about what that “anything” might actually be. Here in London, repeated attempts to get influential religious or political figures simply to visit one of these officially locked-down families and see these lives for themselves have failed. In the present political climate, such a personal, fact-finding visit proved to be anything but a priority for such people.

A Legal System of Secret Evidence, House Arrest, and Financial Sanctions

Against this captive population, in such an anything-goes atmosphere, all sorts of experimental perversions of the legal system were tried out.  As a result, the British system of post-9/11 justice contains many features which should frighten us all but are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom.

Key aspects for the families I have been concerned with include the use of secret evidence in cases involving deportation, bail conditions, and imprisonment without trial. In addition, most of their cases have been heard in a special court known as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission or SIAC, which is housed in an anonymous basement set of rooms in central London.

One of SIAC’s innovative features is the use of “special advocates,” senior barristers who have security clearance to see secret evidence on behalf of their clients, but without being allowed to disclose it or discuss it, even with the client or his or her own lawyer. The resignation on principle of a highly respected barrister, Ian Macdonald, as a special advocate in November 2004 exposed this process to the public for the first time — but almost no one took any interest.

And a sense of the injustice in this arcane system was never sufficiently sparked by such voices, which found little echo in the media. Nor was there a wide audience for reports from a team of top psychiatrists about the devastating psychological impact on the men and their families of indefinite detention without trial, and of a house-arrest system framed by “control orders” that allow the government to place restrictions of almost any sort on the lives of those it designates.

An even less noted aspect of the anti-terror legal system brought into existence after 9/11 was the financial sanctions that could freeze the assets of designated individuals.  First ordered by the United Nations, the financial-sanctions regime was consolidated here through a European Union list of designated people. The few lawyers who specialized in this area were scathing about the draconian measures involved and the utter lack of transparency when it came to which governments had put which names on which list.

The effect on the listed families was draconian.  Marriages collapsed under the strain. The listed men were barred from working and only allowed £10 a week for personal expenses. Their wives — often from conservative cultures where all dealings with the outside world had been left to husbands — suddenly were the families’ faces to the world, responsible for everything from shopping to accounting monthly to the government’s Home Office for every item the family purchased, right down to a bottle of milk or a pencil for a child. It was humiliating for the men, who lost their family role overnight, and exhausting and frustrating for the women, while in some cases the rest of their families shunned them because of the taint of alleged terrorism. Almost no one except specialist lawyers even knew that such financial sanctions existed in Britain.

In the country’s High Court, the first judicial challenge to the financial-sanctions regime was brought in 2008 by five British Muslim men known only as G, K, A, M, and Q. In response, Justice Andrew Collins said he found it “totally unacceptable” that, to take an especially absurd example, a man should have to get a license for legal advice about the sanctions from the very body that was imposing them. The man in question had waited three months for a “basic expense” license permitting funds for food and rent, and six months for a license to obtain legal advice about the situation he found himself in.

In a related case before the judicial committee of the House of Lords, Justice Leonard Hoffman expressed incredulity at the “meanness and squalor” of a regime that “monitored who had what for lunch.” More recently, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court endorsed the comments of Lord Justice Stephen Sedley who described those subject to the regime as being akin to “prisoners of the state.”

Among senior lawyers concerned about this hidden world of punishment was Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism. He devoted one of his official U.N. reports to the financial sanctions issue. His recommendations included significantly more transparency from governments who put people on such a list, the explicit exclusion of evidence obtained by torture, and the obligation of governments to give reasons when they refuse to remove individuals from the list.  Of course, no one who mattered was paying the slightest attention.

Against ideological governments obsessed by terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic and a culture numbed by violent anti-terrorist tales like “24” and Zero Dark Thirty, such complicated and technical initiatives on behalf of individuals who have been given the tag, implicitly if not explicitly, of “terrorist” stand little chance of getting attention.

“Each Time It’s Worse”

Nearly a decade ago, at the New York opening night of Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, the play Gillian Slovo and I wrote using only the words of the relatives of prisoners in that jail, their lawyers, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an elderly man approached Moazzam Begg’s father and me.  He introduced himself as a former foreign policy adviser to President John Kennedy. “It could never have happened in our time,” he said.

When the Global War on Terror was still relatively new, it was common for audiences to react similarly and with shock to a play in which fathers and brothers describe their bewilderment over the way their relation had disappeared into the legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay. In the years since, we have become numb to the destruction of lives, livelihoods, futures, childhoods, legal systems, and trust by Washington’s and London’s never-ending war on terror.

In that time, I have seen children grow from toddlers to teenagers locked inside this particular war machine.  What they say today should startle us out of such numbness. Here, for instance, are the words of two teenagers, a girl and a boy whose fathers had been imprisoned or under house arrest in Britain for 10 years and whose lives in those same years were filled with indignities and humiliations:

“People seem to think that we get used to things being how they are for us, so we don’t feel the injustices so much now. They are quite wrong: it was painful the first time, more painful the second, even more so the third. In fact, each time it’s worse, if you can believe that. There isn’t a limit on how much pain you can feel.”

The boy added this:

“There is never one day when I feel safe. It can be the authorities, it can be ordinary people, they can do something bad for us. Only like now when we are all in the house together can I stop worrying about my mum and my sisters, and even me, what might happen to us. On the tube [subway], in class at university, people look at my beard.  I see them looking and I know they are thinking bad things about me. I would like to be a normal guy who no one looks at. You know, other boys, some of my friends, they cut corners, things like driving without a current license, everyone does it. But I can’t, I can’t ever, ever, take even a small risk. I have to always be cautious, be responsible… for my family.”

These children have been brought up by women who, against all odds, have often preserved their dignity and kept at least a modicum of joy in their families’ lives, and so, however despised, however unnoticed, however locked away, made themselves an inspiration to others. They are not victims to be pitied, but women our societies should embrace.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s response to recent proposals that Washington establish a secret court to oversee the targeting of terrorist suspects for death-by-drone and President Obama’s expanding executive power to kill, speak for the world beyond the West.  They offer a different perspective on the war on terror that Washington and Great Britain continue to pursue with no end in sight:

“Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the nineteenth century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.  I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.”

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013) has just been published.

Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women...

Once, as a reporter, I covered wars, conflicts, civil wars, and even a genocide in places like Vietnam, Angola, Eritrea, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, keeping away from official briefings and listening to the people who were living the war.  In the years since the Bush administration launched its Global War on Terror, I’ve done the same thing without ever leaving home.

In the last decade, I didn’t travel to distant refugee camps in Pakistan or destroyed villages in Afghanistan, nor did I spend time in besieged cities like Iraq’s Fallujah or Libya’s Misrata.  I stayed in Great Britain.  There, my government, in close conjunction with Washington, was pursuing its own version of what, whether anyone cared to say it or not, was essentially a war against Islam.  Somehow, by a series of chance events, I found myself inside it, spending time with families transformed into enemies.

I hadn’t planned to write about the war on terror, but driven by curiosity about lives most of us never see and a few lucky coincidences, I stumbled into a world of Muslim women in London, Manchester, and Birmingham.  Some of them were British, others from Arab and African countries, but their husbands or sons had been swept up in Washington’s war. Some were in Guantanamo, some were among the dozen Muslim foreigners who did not know each other, and who were surprised to find themselves imprisoned together in Britain on suspicion of links to al-Qaeda. Later, some of these families would find themselves under house arrest.

In the process, I came to know women and children who were living in almost complete isolation and with the stigma of a supposed link to terrorism. They had few friends, and were cut off from the wider world. Those with a husband under house arrest were allowed no visitors who had not been vetted for “security,” nor could they have computers, even for their children to do their homework.  Other lonely women had husbands or sons who had sometimes spent a decade or more in prison without charges in the United Kingdom, and were fighting deportation or extradition.

Gradually, they came to accept me into their isolated lives and talked to me about their children, their mothers, their childhoods -- but seldom, at first, about the grim situations of their husbands, which seemed too intimate, too raw, too frightening, too unknowable to be put into words.

In the early years, it was a steep learning curve for me, spending time in homes where faith was the primary reality, Allah was constantly invoked, English was a second language, and privacy and reticence were givens. Facebook culture had not come to most of these families. The reticence faded over the years, especially when the children were not there, or in the face of the kind of desolation that came from a failed court appeal to lift the restrictions on their lives, an unexpected police raid on the house, a husband’s suicide attempt, or the coming of a new torture report from Washington’s then-expanding global gulag of black sites and, of course, Guantanamo.

In these years, I met some of their husbands and sons as well.  The first was a British man from Birmingham, Moazzam Begg. He had been held for three years in Washington’s notorious offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to be released without charges.  When he came home, through his lawyer, he asked me to help write his memoir, the first to come out of Guantanamo.  We worked long months on Enemy Combatant. It was hard for him to relive his nightmare days and nights in American custody in Kandahar and in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and then those limbo years in Cuba. It was even harder for him to visit the women whose absent husbands he had known in prison and who, unlike him, were still there.

Was My Husband Tortured?

In these homes he visited, there was always one great unspoken question: Was my husband or son tortured? It was the single question no one could bear to ask a survivor of that nightmare, even for reassurance. When working on his book, I deliberately left the chapter on his experiences in American hands in Bagram prison for last, as I sensed how difficult it would be for both of us to speak about the worst of the torture I knew he had experienced.

Through Moazzam, I met other men who had been swept up in the post-9/11 dragnet for Muslims in Great Britain, refugees who sought him out as an Arabic speaker and a British citizen to help them negotiate Britain’s newly hostile atmosphere in the post-9/11 years.  Soon, I began to visit some of their wives, too.

In time, I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death unless he was given refugee documents to leave Britain, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I found myself deep inside a world of civilian women who were being warred upon (after a fashion) in my own country, which was how I came upon a locked-down hospital ward with a man determined to starve himself to death, children who cried in terror in response to a knock on the door, wives faced with a husband changed beyond words by prison.

I was halfway through working on Moazzam’s book when London was struck by our 9/11, which we call 7/7. The July 7, 2005, suicide bombings, in three parts of the London underground and a bus, killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700. The four bombers were all young British men between 18 and 30, two of them married with children, and one of them a mentor at a primary school. In video statements left behind they described themselves as “soldiers” whose aim was to force the British government to pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Just three weeks later, there were four more coordinated bomb attacks on the London subway system.  (All failed to detonate.) The four men responsible, longterm British residents originally from the Horn of Africa, were captured, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this way, the whole country was traumatised in 2005, and that particularly includes the various strands of the Muslim community in Great Britain.

The British security services quickly returned to a post-9/11 stance on overdrive. The same MI5 intelligence agents who had interrogated Moazzam while he was in U.S. custody asked to meet him again to get his thoughts on who might be behind the attacks. However, three years in U.S. custody and five months at home occupied with his family and his book had not made him a likely source of information on current strains of thought in the British Muslim community.

At the same time, the dozen foreign Muslim refugees detained in the aftermath of 9/11 and held without trial for two years before being released on the orders of the House of Lords were rearrested. In the summer of 2005, the government prepared to deport them to countries they had originally fled as refugees.

All of them had been made anonymous by court order and in legal documents were referred to as Mr. G, Mr. U, and so on. This was no doubt intended to safeguard their privacy, but in a sense it also condemned them.  It made them faceless, inhuman, and their families experienced it just that way. “They even took my husband’s name away, why?” one wife asked me.

The women I was meeting in these years were mostly from this small group, as well as the relatives of a handful of British residents -- Arabs -- who were not initially returned from Guantanamo with the nine British citizens that the Americans finally released without charges in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps no one in the country was, in the end, more terrorised than them, thanks to the various terror plots by British nationals that followed. And they were right to be fearful.  The pressure on them was overwhelming.  Some of them simply gave up and went home voluntarily because they could not bear house arrest, though they risked being sent to prison in their native lands; others went through years of house arrest and court appeals against deportation, all of which continues to this day.

Among the plots that unnerved them were one in 2006 against transatlantic aircraft, for which a total of 12 Britons were jailed for life in 2009, and the 2007 attempt to blow up a London nightclub and Glasgow International Airport, in which one bomber died and the second was jailed for 32 years. In the post-9/11 decade, 237 people were convicted of terror-related offences in Britain.

Though all of this was going on, much of it remained remote from the world of the refugee women I came to know who, in the larger world, were mainly preoccupied with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, with Palestinian developments, filled their TV screens tuned only to Arabic stations.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares, but for anyone in their company there was no mistaking them: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another, with several small children, turned back from a prison visit, despite a long journey, because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

These women did not tend to dwell on their own private nightmares: a wife prevented from taking her baby into the hospital to visit her hunger-striking husband and get him to eat before he starved to death; another turned back from a prison visit because her husband was being punished that day; children whose toys were taken in a police raid and never given back; midnight visits from a private security company to check on a man already electronically tagged.

Here was the texture of a hidden war of continual harassment against a largely helpless population.  This was how some of the most vulnerable people in British society -- often already traumatised refugees and torture survivors -- were made permanent scapegoats for our post-9/11, and then post-7/7 fears.

So powerful is the stigma of “terrorism” today that, in the name of “our security,” whether in Great Britain or the United States, just about anything now goes, and ever fewer people ask questions about what that “anything” might actually be. Here in London, repeated attempts to get influential religious or political figures simply to visit one of these officially locked-down families and see these lives for themselves have failed. In the present political climate, such a personal, fact-finding visit proved to be anything but a priority for such people.

A Legal System of Secret Evidence, House Arrest, and Financial Sanctions

Against this captive population, in such an anything-goes atmosphere, all sorts of experimental perversions of the legal system were tried out.  As a result, the British system of post-9/11 justice contains many features which should frighten us all but are completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom.

Key aspects for the families I have been concerned with include the use of secret evidence in cases involving deportation, bail conditions, and imprisonment without trial. In addition, most of their cases have been heard in a special court known as the Special Immigration Appeals Commission or SIAC, which is housed in an anonymous basement set of rooms in central London.

One of SIAC’s innovative features is the use of “special advocates,” senior barristers who have security clearance to see secret evidence on behalf of their clients, but without being allowed to disclose it or discuss it, even with the client or his or her own lawyer. The resignation on principle of a highly respected barrister, Ian Macdonald, as a special advocate in November 2004 exposed this process to the public for the first time -- but almost no one took any interest.

And a sense of the injustice in this arcane system was never sufficiently sparked by such voices, which found little echo in the media. Nor was there a wide audience for reports from a team of top psychiatrists about the devastating psychological impact on the men and their families of indefinite detention without trial, and of a house-arrest system framed by “control orders” that allow the government to place restrictions of almost any sort on the lives of those it designates.

An even less noted aspect of the anti-terror legal system brought into existence after 9/11 was the financial sanctions that could freeze the assets of designated individuals.  First ordered by the United Nations, the financial-sanctions regime was consolidated here through a European Union list of designated people. The few lawyers who specialized in this area were scathing about the draconian measures involved and the utter lack of transparency when it came to which governments had put which names on which list.

The effect on the listed families was draconian.  Marriages collapsed under the strain. The listed men were barred from working and only allowed £10 a week for personal expenses. Their wives -- often from conservative cultures where all dealings with the outside world had been left to husbands -- suddenly were the families’ faces to the world, responsible for everything from shopping to accounting monthly to the government’s Home Office for every item the family purchased, right down to a bottle of milk or a pencil for a child. It was humiliating for the men, who lost their family role overnight, and exhausting and frustrating for the women, while in some cases the rest of their families shunned them because of the taint of alleged terrorism. Almost no one except specialist lawyers even knew that such financial sanctions existed in Britain.

In the country’s High Court, the first judicial challenge to the financial-sanctions regime was brought in 2008 by five British Muslim men known only as G, K, A, M, and Q. In response, Justice Andrew Collins said he found it "totally unacceptable" that, to take an especially absurd example, a man should have to get a license for legal advice about the sanctions from the very body that was imposing them. The man in question had waited three months for a "basic expense" license permitting funds for food and rent, and six months for a license to obtain legal advice about the situation he found himself in.

In a related case before the judicial committee of the House of Lords, Justice Leonard Hoffman expressed incredulity at the "meanness and squalor" of a regime that "monitored who had what for lunch." More recently, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court endorsed the comments of Lord Justice Stephen Sedley who described those subject to the regime as being akin to “prisoners of the state.”

Among senior lawyers concerned about this hidden world of punishment was Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism. He devoted one of his official U.N. reports to the financial sanctions issue. His recommendations included significantly more transparency from governments who put people on such a list, the explicit exclusion of evidence obtained by torture, and the obligation of governments to give reasons when they refuse to remove individuals from the list.  Of course, no one who mattered was paying the slightest attention.

Against ideological governments obsessed by terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic and a culture numbed by violent anti-terrorist tales like “24” and Zero Dark Thirty, such complicated and technical initiatives on behalf of individuals who have been given the tag, implicitly if not explicitly, of “terrorist” stand little chance of getting attention.

"Each Time It's Worse"

Nearly a decade ago, at the New York opening night of Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, the play Gillian Slovo and I wrote using only the words of the relatives of prisoners in that jail, their lawyers, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, an elderly man approached Moazzam Begg’s father and me.  He introduced himself as a former foreign policy adviser to President John Kennedy. “It could never have happened in our time,” he said.

When the Global War on Terror was still relatively new, it was common for audiences to react similarly and with shock to a play in which fathers and brothers describe their bewilderment over the way their relation had disappeared into the legal black hole of Guantanamo Bay. In the years since, we have become numb to the destruction of lives, livelihoods, futures, childhoods, legal systems, and trust by Washington’s and London’s never-ending war on terror.

In that time, I have seen children grow from toddlers to teenagers locked inside this particular war machine.  What they say today should startle us out of such numbness. Here, for instance, are the words of two teenagers, a girl and a boy whose fathers had been imprisoned or under house arrest in Britain for 10 years and whose lives in those same years were filled with indignities and humiliations:

"People seem to think that we get used to things being how they are for us, so we don't feel the injustices so much now. They are quite wrong: it was painful the first time, more painful the second, even more so the third. In fact, each time it’s worse, if you can believe that. There isn’t a limit on how much pain you can feel."

The boy added this:

"There is never one day when I feel safe. It can be the authorities, it can be ordinary people, they can do something bad for us. Only like now when we are all in the house together can I stop worrying about my mum and my sisters, and even me, what might happen to us. On the tube [subway], in class at university, people look at my beard.  I see them looking and I know they are thinking bad things about me. I would like to be a normal guy who no one looks at. You know, other boys, some of my friends, they cut corners, things like driving without a current license, everyone does it. But I can’t, I can’t ever, ever, take even a small risk. I have to always be cautious, be responsible... for my family."

These children have been brought up by women who, against all odds, have often preserved their dignity and kept at least a modicum of joy in their families’ lives, and so, however despised, however unnoticed, however locked away, made themselves an inspiration to others. They are not victims to be pitied, but women our societies should embrace.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s response to recent proposals that Washington establish a secret court to oversee the targeting of terrorist suspects for death-by-drone and President Obama’s expanding executive power to kill, speak for the world beyond the West.  They offer a different perspective on the war on terror that Washington and Great Britain continue to pursue with no end in sight:

"Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the nineteenth century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.  I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity."

© 2013 Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain, journalist and former editor at the Guardian, has authored or co-authored two plays and four books, including Enemy Combatant with Moazzam Begg. Her latest book, Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2013) has just been published.

‘Privilege, not a right’: UK on secret passport-revoking crusade

Published time: March 04, 2013 14:32

British biometric European Union passport (AFP Photo/Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As the number of those stripped of British citizenship on national security grounds grows, Chris Woods from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has told RT that the whole process is highly secretive, and unaccountable to the rule of law.

“Neither of these individuals had been charged with any offense in the UK. We know they were accused of serious terrorist offenses, but no charges were ever laid against them,” Woods said, arguing that the process is highly secretive.

“We don't know the evidence that has been laid against these men and even if they are able to get an appeal which is very very difficult that appeal would mostly be heard in secret,” he said. “The government`s response so far has been that citizenship here in the UK is a privilege, not a right.”

The London-based bureau has revealed that since 2010, Home Secretary Theresa May has revoked the passports of 16 individuals over alleged links to militant or terrorist groups. Two of those sixteen were subsequently killed in US drone strikes.

In many cases, they were stripped of their citizenship while abroad. A Sudanese-British man took his four children on holiday to Sudan. Four days after leaving, he was stripped of his passport and his children were banned from returning the UK.

At least five of those whose British passport has been revoked were born in Britain; one man had lived in the country for almost 50 years, the bureau reported.

Mohamed Sakr, who was born in Newham and raised in west London, had dual nationality as his parents were Egyptian. His British citizenship was revoked in September 2010, and 17 months later he was killed in a US drone strike in Somalia.

According to Woods, the US drone strike killings of those stripped of British citizenship raise questions of a possible connection between the two. The US was also apparently involved in the case of another man kicked out of the UK.
 

Mahdi Hashi

A dual British-Somali national, Mahdi Hashi was stripped of his UK citizenship while in Somalia caring for his grandmother. He went missing shortly after the incident, and later appeared before a US court on charges of "providing material support" to Somali militant group al-Shabaab, and “unlawful use of high-powered firearms.”

Hashi's family has claimed he was stripped of British citizenship after he refused to become an informant for the UK's MI5 intelligence service.

Spy Agencies Plan ‘Black Box’ Style Web Surveillance

British intelligence services are planning to significantly increase the level of web surveillance on UK citizens. Agencies would use 'black box' style snooping devices to monitor nearly all web activity including Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

Supervisor of Intelligence Estimate Hailed for Preventing War With Iran

Transcript

Hassan Ghani

An award for integrity and honesty, for work that essentially prevented a war.Thomas Fingar, now a Professor at Stanford University, oversaw the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in 2007, during a period when the Bush administration was beating the drums of war. Its conclusion, that all 16 US intelligence agencies judged with high confidence that Iran had given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, placed an insurmountable obstacle on the path to conflict.Critics of the report's conclusions say it was politicised. But speaking to us in Oxford, where he's currently teaching as part of an overseas programme, Thomas Fingar told us that unlike the flawed WMD report on Iraq in 2002, his assessment has withstood scrutiny over the years.Professor Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council (2005-2008)“The assessment of our estimate has been reviewed many times. Many times before we issued it, many times in the years since, in the years since with additional information. Judging by the public statements, the annual threat testimony and the other statements of the administration, which must be consistent with the classified report, they haven’t changed it. It stood up as good analytic tradecraft. There are people who characterise it as if it was written in order to prevent war – that’s not why it was written, it was written to describe the situation as best we understood it.Hassan GhaniWhen asked what went wrong in 2002, Fingar says those authoring the NIE on Iraq caved in to pressure to produce a rushed report.Professor Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council (2005-2008)“They produced an estimate in 17 days. That was the congressionally imposed deadline agreed to by George Tenet. So they produced something in 17 days, which had two weekends in there. It’s a classic case of you want something real bad, you get something real bad. Stuff pulled off the shelf not really re-evaluated, no ability to go back and really tear into this stuff. And we were not going to make that mistake again with the Iran estimate. So we took the heat and said ‘you don’t get it until we’re ready’.”Hassan GhaniBut he that ultimately politicians can choose to ignore the intelligence agencies, if they don't get the results they want.Professor Thomas Fingar, Chairman of National Intelligence Council (2005-2008)“The decision to go to war had clearly been made before that estimate was undertaken. Troops were moving, you could not have been in Washington and not known there was going to be war. For I&R we said there’s not evidence of a reconstituted nuclear programme – that was the only one that really mattered – and we said no, evidence isn’t there, the evidences can all be explained in other ways. That’s the third sentence of the estimate. So if you cared about this enough to read to the third sentence, you’d know that there was a dissent on the major justification for the conflict.”Hassan GhaniThe Sam Adams associates present their award each year for integrity in intelligence. Many previous awardees have been intelligence professionals and whistleblowers.2010 Sam Adams awardee, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, was piped into the ceremony by video link. He used the opportunity to tackle an upcoming Hollywood movie, which he says is an attack on Wikileaks, and renews the push for war with Iran.Julian Assange, Wikileaks“We have something here, which is a recent acquisition of Wikileaks. The script to a tens of millions of dollar budget Dreamworks movie. What is it about? It is about us, nominally. It is about Wikileaks the organisation. It is a mass propaganda attack against Wikileaks the organisation and the character of my staff and our activities and so on. But it is not just an attack against us, it fans the flames to start a war with Iran. It’s coming out in November, it’s being filmed now. So that’s the reality of where we’re at. Not merely a war of intelligence agencies, but a war of corrupt media, corrupt culture.”Hassan GhaniSam Adams himself was a CIA analyst in the Vietnam-era, tasked with estimating enemy strength in numbers. His conclusion that the Viet-cong numbered at least half a million, twice the official figure, was swept under the rug at the time, seen as politically unacceptable. He later did go public, but too late to have an impact on the war.Raymond McGovern, Former CIA Analyst“He went to an early death at age 55, with great remorse that he had not gone outside the system, that he had not said what he knew back in 1967, half way through the war. The way he explained it to me is, that Vietnam memorial, made of granite in a V, that whole left section wouldn’t be there, because there would be no names to carve into that granite. If he had spoken out, if I had spoken out, if we had spoken around 1967, when we had that cable from General Abrahams saying ‘we can’t go with the honest figures, because we’ve been projecting a view of progress’.”Hassan GhaniAnd so just as interesting as this year's award winner, are those presenting it to him. Former US Army Colonel Ann Wright resigned as a State department official in protest over the Iraq War. She argues that too many within government are carried along with political tides, often at the expense of what's best for the nation.Ann Wright, Former US State Dep. Official“There were so many people, that were a part of the decision to go ahead and invade and occupy Iraq, that knew better. That knew that the rationale for it was wrong, but they went along with the senior leadership of our country, who for whatever reason it was, whether it was for oil or for whatever it was, wanted to take out the Saddam Hussein regime.”Hassan GhaniLike other Sam Adams associates, she sees whistleblowers as an essential check to keep the system in balance.Ann Wright, Former US State Dep. Official“So many whistleblowers find that the system doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. Because usually it’s something that the government system is doing wrong and whistleblowers are saying ‘wait wait, this is going wrong’ or ‘maybe there’s even criminal acts that are happening that the government’s involved in and we’ve got to stop that and change it’. And we find that many times the government and senior officials in the government don’t want to hear that.”Hassan GhaniPrevious Sam Adams award winner, Coleen Rowley, blew the whistle after 9/11 on major intelligence sharing failures within the FBI in the run up to the attacks. Her 9/11 commission testimony helped re-organise the agency and the way information is shared.Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Agent, Whistleblower“They realised that 9/11 occurred because the agencies blocked information from each other, they blocked it vertically, horizontally, and they blocked it from the public. So the people who are in those environments, when information is blocked and there is lack of sharing, what is their choice? They almost have to either become a whistleblower or then live forever with the consequences of knowing that they could have done something. That’s why Wikileaks, or a method of sharing information, and of course I talked about sharing information between agencies, but it’s also with the public. The 9/11 commission said if the information even had been shared of Moussawi’s arrest, that would have probably prevented 9/11. So it’s an incredible situation, most people think that secrecy is protecting them, and it’s the exact opposite.”Hassan GhaniRowley believes much more information should be made public, whether or not it's politically embarrassing.Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Agent, Whistleblower“We’ve had some good inspector general investigations, for instance of torture in the CIA, to this day though it remains secret. And you see the opposite is Abu Ghraib, that report was made public, and so at least the public learned about it, and there was at the time an outcry about the fact that it was discovered that abuses were occurring in Abu Ghraib. But the CIA torture report, I think it’s probably a good investigation, but the public still doesn’t know, and so what’s happened? There’s a movie out there that’s using a false narrative – the public doesn’t know that it’s false, because how would they know? Because they’ve never seen the truth. It’s a pretty incredible situation, the truth really matters.”Hassan GhaniThe US government says it’s necessary to prosecute whistleblowers to protect national security. And for whistleblowers who do choose to go public, the consequences are increasingly dangerous.Coleen Rowley, Former FBI Agent, Whistleblower“Especially under Obama, there have been prosecutions, I think it’s 7 now, twice as many as all Presidents of all time, under the official espionage act. If you go back to deepthroat, and the FBI who knew that the highest level of President’s men were actually engaging wrongdoing – would that repeat today? I really wonder, especially now with the surveillance and the monitoring.”Hassan GhaniThomas Drake is the only whistleblower so far who's managed to fight espionage charges under Obama and win - there are six other cases. A former senior executive at the NSA, he blew the whistle to the media on a failed billion dollar surveillance programme which he believed violated the constitution.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“I would I eyewitness to massive fraud, waste and abuse on a multi-billion dollar program, a boondoggle programme called trailblazer, when there was actually a superior alternative, and was also a program that would have completely honoured the fourth amendment and the exclusive statute by which the US government, NSA, was authorised to violate the fourth amendment rights fo Americans. That was under FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wilfully broke the law, criminally. But what happened later, as all of this came out and I ended up going to a reporter, decriminalised the reporting of the government wrong doing. They criminalized the reporting of government criminal conduct.”Hassan GhaniDrake says he was careful not to reveal any classified information, and after reviewing laws on disclosure, thought that the worst that could happen is that he would lose his job. Instead, he faced espionage charges amounting to 35 years in prison.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“I was turned into enemy of the state, I mean I'm charged with the espionage act, I'm being put into the same category as historical spies in US history, the Alder Hiss’, the Robert Hanssens, the Alrdich Ames of the world. That the category of people you become associated with. So it's probably one of the worst things an american can be charged with, under the espionage act, because you are painted into a very dark corner, you have betrayed your country. I was put under investigation by the bush administration, but the Bush administration never actually indicted me, it took the Obama administration to actually indictment me. And when they indicted me, they threw everything they had at me.In 2008, his presidential campaign, he actually lauded whistleblowers, he called them out as patriots. Who better to call the government onto the carpet when they’re up to no good. And yet he’s presided over the most draconian crackdown on truth tellers and whistleblowers of any administration, actually all administrations combined. It truly is unprecedented.Hassan GhaniDespite immense pressure to plead out, Drake maintained his innocence, and on the eve of trial government prosecutors dropped the charges. But Thomas Drake has been left blacklisted, financially bankrupt, and disturbed at the path his country is following.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“I'm having great difficulty recognising my own country, in terms of the government, the form of government under which I took an oath to support and defend four times in my government career. Any yet I was criminalized, and was painted as an enemy of the state, for simply speaking truth to power, and it was clear they were going to make me an object lesson, and they threw everything they had at me.Hassan GhaniOf course, it's not just US administrations that face accusations of covering up fraud and criminal acts under the guise of national security. Annie Machon was an agent in the British spy agency MI5. She claims Britain is ahead of the US in terms of stifling whistleblowers from within the intelligence community.Annie Machon, Former MI5 Agent, Whistleblower“They a rethink about the official secrets act and launched a new in 1989, the 1989 official secrets act, which obviated, got rid of, the public interest defence. And the only reason that clause was put in was to stifle whistleblowing. There’s already that old law to stop treachery, so this is designed to stifle whistleblowers. And it has been used many times in the UK since, against David Shayler, Richard Tomlinson, Katherine Gun, and it has a very chilling effect on the idea that if you see crimes committed by the spy agencies, what do you do with that information? The only person that you can go to legally under the OSA of 1989 is the head of the agency you wish to make a complaint against. So you can imagine how many of those complaints are upheld.And I think it’s particularly pertinent at the moment, certainly in the last 10 years, where we’ve seen false information fed into the political process, where we’ve seen politicisation of intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war, with the Downing Street memo and the head of MI6 saying the intelligence facts had to be fitted around the policy. And also where we see torture and extraordinary rendition, where our British spies are being used to do that and they are protected under a lot of secrecy laws, and the government in fact wants to make greater protection for them by setting up secret courts, where the accused can’t even see what they’re accused of. It’s Kafkaesque.”Hassan GhaniAllegations against British intelligence services of complicity in torture do still make it through to the media when the alleged victims speak out. But with tight laws around disclosure in the UK, it's impossible to say whether or not what we hear is just a fraction of what's taking place.Annie Machon, Former MI5 Agent, Whistleblower“I worked in MI5 in the mid-1990s for six years. That I would say would be the only marginally ethical decade of its hundred year existence, because up until 1989 it did not officially exist - it could do whatever it wanted - and post 9/11 the gloves came off with the intelligence agencies. So in the 1990s peace was breaking out, they didn’t get involved in torture, they stopped looking at political activists, the whole shebang. So that was actually the more ethical era, and yet in those six years David Shayler and I saw so much going wrong that we felt compelled to blow the whistle. So how much worse is it now? That has to be the question. I think all we’re seeing now with extradition and torture cases is definitely very much the tip of the iceberg.Hassan GhaniIt’s clear that the act of whistleblowing, even in the public interest, is under serious threat. Some may consider this a positive development in terms of national security. Others see it as the end of public accountability for those in positions of power.Thomas Drake, Former NSA Executive, Whistleblower“If the government begins to exercise increasing influence, even if it’s self-censorship where people will not speak up because they’re afraid that they’re going to be noticed by the government, that means that critical information about government activities will never see the light of day. And especially the secret side of government, you would think that’s the part of government you want the most accountability with. Well, if they’re choking off the sources and they’re making it very clear, even though I was able to prevail and hold off the government and remained a free man, the message was still sent.”

When Truth Tried to Stop War

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Ten years ago, Katharine Gun, then a 28-year-old British intelligence officer, saw an e-mailed memo from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that confirmed for her in black and white the already widespread suspicion that the U.S. and U.K. were about to launch war against Iraq on false pretenses.

Doing what she could to head off what she considered, correctly, an illegal war of aggression, she printed a copy of the memo and arranged for a friend to give it to the London Observer. “I have always ever followed my conscience,” she said, explaining what drove her to take such a large risk.

Those early months of 2003 were among the worst of times – and not just because the U.S. and U.K. leaders were perverting the post-World War II structure that those same nations designed to stop aggressive wars, but because the vast majority of U.S. and U.K. institutions including the major news organizations and the nations’ legislatures were failing miserably to provide any meaningful check or balance.

The common excuse from politicians, bureaucrats, editors and other opinion leaders was that there was no way the momentum toward war could be stopped, so why take on the career damage that would result from getting in the way. And if Ms. Gun were made of lesser stuff, she might have hidden behind a similar self-serving excuse or found solace in other comforting rationalizations, like the government must know what it’s doing, or what do I, a Mandarin-to-English translator, know about Iraq.

But Katharine Gun could smell a rat, as well as the sulfur of war, and she would not put her career and comfort ahead of the slaughter and devastation that war inevitably brings to innocent people. In that, she distinguished herself, just as many others in positions of authority disgraced themselves.

Missing WMD

In fall 2002, Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein shocked the world by agreeing to a very intrusive U.N. inspection regime with inspectors crawling all over suspect sites in Iraq, though not finding one “weapon of mass destruction.” Since Iraq’s inventory of WMD was the main casus belli, things were getting downright embarrassing. Even a few in the domesticated “mainstream” media in the U.S. and U.K. were feeling some discomfort in merely feeding off the official statements of President George W. Bush and co-conspirator Prime Minister Tony Blair.

At that key moment, the U.S. and U.K. leaders intensified their effort to get the U.N. Security Council to approve the kind of resolution that would enable them to attack Iraq with at least a thin veneer of legality. We know from the Downing Street memos, which were leaked two years later, that U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith had told Blair in July 2002 that, absent a new Security Council resolution, war on Iraq would be illegal.

So, in early 2003, the focus was riveted on the U.N. Security Council where Bush and Blair were having trouble rallying the three other recalcitrant permanent members – France, China and Russia – to support war on Iraq. Already facing that resistance, Bush and Blair were not about to brook interference by the non-permanent members. Thus, word went out to the U.S./U.K. intelligence services to ensure that none of those upstart nations did anything to complicate U.S./U.K. plans for war.

Accordingly, the NSA intensified electronic collection on those countries’ representatives (as well as on officials of the three obstinate permanent members). The Bush administration wanted to learn immediately of anything that could help win the Security Council’s approval of a resolution to make the attack “legal.”

On Jan. 31, 2003, NSA’s Frank Koza, head of “Regional Targets” (RT) sent a “HIGH-Importance,” Top Secret e-mail to Britain’s NSA counterpart, GCHQ, where Katharine Gun worked. The e-mail asked that British eavesdroppers emulate NSA’s “surge” in electronic collection against Security Council members “for insights … [on] plans to vote on any Iraq-related resolutions … the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. … [T]hat means a … surge effort to revive/create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.”

Koza’s “surge” instruction left no doubt in Gun’s mind that Bush and Blair were hell-bent to have their war – legal or illegal – and that she had been correct in dismissing recent assurances by GCHQ management that she and her co-workers would not be asked to cooperate in facilitating unprovoked war.

As Gun explained later to Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, authors of The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War, she calculated that if people could see how desperate Bush and Blair were to have an appearance of legitimacy for war, “Their eyes would be opened; they would see that the intention was not to disarm Saddam but in fact to go to war.”

She made a copy of the Koza memo, walked out with it in her purse, and eventually gave it to a friend with contacts in the media. The London Observer got hold of it, was able to establish that it was authentic, and on March 2, 2003, two and a half weeks before the attack on Iraq front-paged the text of the memo with an accompanying article.

The report shook the government of Tony Blair and caused consternation on several continents. In the U.S., however, it was not a big story. For the New York Times, whose editors were either cheering on false articles about Iraq’s WMD or going into a self-protective career crouch, it was no story at all.

The U.S. intelligence agencies stonewalled any media inquiries and the journalists quickly moved on to the main event, embedding themselves inside the U.S. military as war correspondents. The story from Gun’s document – indicating a major spying initiative to coerce sovereign countries to support an unprovoked war – simply didn’t fit with the narrative of “good guy” America taking on “bad guy” Iraq.

Despite the spying, Bush and Blair failed to win approval from the Security Council to invade Iraq, forcing Bush and Blair to lead a “coalition of the willing” and counting on the cowardice and complicity of the U.S./U.K. mainstream news media to ignore the inconvenient truth about the illegality of the invasion.

Confession and Charge

Gun soon confessed to what she had done. She later explained to the Mitchells: “I’m pretty rubbish at telling lies … and I try to be an honest person. … I have to say that I’ve only ever followed my conscience. And it, my conscience, is such a nuisance.”

On Nov. 13, 2003, she was charged with violating the UK’s Official Secrets Act. She planned to plead “not guilty,” stressing that she acted to prevent imminent loss of life in an illegal war.

Gun’s pro bono lawyers insisted that the Blair government produce the opinions of U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith on the legality of the war but the government refused. It was already widely known, well before the leak of the Downing Street memos, that Goldsmith initially advised that an attack on Iraq would be illegal without a second U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing it, and that, only after intense consultation with several lawyers from the White House, Goldsmith showed the required flexibility and changed his mind.

Blair was not about to release such damning documents. Even the usually docile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally got around to acknowledging the obvious and agreeing that the attack on Iraq was illegal, albeit Annan found his voice only well after the butchery was underway.

So, when Gun’s case came to court on Feb. 25, 2004, her lawyers did not need to argue that trying to stop an illegal act (a war of aggression) trumped Gun’s obligations under the Official Secrets Act. The Blair government clearly did not want to let Lord Goldsmith’s dirty laundry hang out on the line. Within half an hour, the prosecution dropped the case and Katharine Gun walked.

The Sam Adams Award

For her courage and commitment to principle, Katharine Gun was the second recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The citation read at the presentation on April 14, 2004, noted that:

“Heeding the dictates of conscience and true patriotism, Ms. Gun put her career and her very liberty at risk trying to prevent the launching of an illegal war. That she is here with us today and not in a prison cell bespeaks a tacit but clear admission by her government that the US/UK attack on Iraq in March 2003 was in defiance of international law.

“Ms. Gun’s beacon of light pierced a thick cloud of deception. She set a courageous example for those intelligence analysts of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ who have first-hand knowledge of how intelligence was corrupted to ‘justify’ war, but who have not yet been able to find their voice.”

Commenting on Katharine Gun’s courage and integrity, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Dan Ellsberg had this to say:

“No one has had this story to tell before, because no one else – including myself – has ever done what Katharine Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important – and courageous – leak I’ve ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers.”

Fast forward to Jan. 23, 2013, in the Debate Chamber of the Oxford Union where the tenth annual Sam Adams award presentation was held before a packed house of Oxford students. Ms. Gun, her husband, and their four-year-old daughter shed their coveted privacy long enough to allow Katharine to be one of two former Sam Adams Award winners to present this year’s award.

The other was Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent and counsel at the Minneapolis bureau, who blew the whistle on FBI and other shortcomings before 9/11 and was named one of the three Persons of the Year by Time Magazine in 2002. The Sam Adams award is named for the late CIA analyst Sam Adams who challenged false assessments of Vietcong and North Vietnamese troop strength during the height of that conflict.

The 10th annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence was given to Thomas Fingar, the consummate intelligence professional who led the U.S. National Intelligence Council from 2005 to 2008 (and is now a professor in Stanford’s overseas program at Oxford).

Fingar supervised the drafting of the eye-opening National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007 on Iran, which differed markedly from previous estimates in assessing that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003 and had not resumed such work – and key finding revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence in formal testimony to Congress.

With the help of that honest assessment, U.S. military leaders and other honest officials were able to beat back pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives for an attack on Iran during 2008 – the last year of the Bush administration. (See Bush’s own memoir, Decision Points, page 419.)

Heading Off Wars of Choice

The poignancy of the moment was not lost on the audience at the Oxford Union. After Katharine Gun read the citation (text below) for the award to Tom Fingar, she turned toward Fingar, and suggested that if honest professionals like him had been supervising U.S. and U.K. intelligence analysis in 2002-2003, the warping of intelligence to support plans for war would have been prevented. And Gun could have avoided the painful choice that her conscience required.

It was quite a spectacle: One “spy” who tried her best (but failed) to stop the Iraq war was giving the Sam Adams award to another, more senior intelligence official who, simply by adhering tightly to the professional ethos of following the evidence wherever it leads, played a huge role in stopping war on Iran.

Also “giving evidence” (in British parlance) on Jan. 23 at the Sam Adams Award evening at the Oxford Union were three other former awardees besides Gun and Rowley – former U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, former NSA executive Thomas Drake and, video-linked from asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

Other Sam Adams associates also spoke briefly, including former U.K. MI5 officer Annnie Machon and two of the three U.S. diplomats who resigned on principle before the attack on Iraq – Ann Wright and Brady Kiesling. Oxford Union President Maria Rioumine joined me in introductory remarks; still other associates made the trek across the Atlantic, at considerable personal expense, just to be there to honor Thomas Fingar.

Iran: Always Iran

There is yet another poignant back story here. In 2006, as Thomas Fingar was settling into his position as chief analyst for the entire U.S. intelligence community, the threats from the West and Israel directed at Iran were proliferating in an alarming way, and the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program was just in the planning stage.

Amid the calls for military action against Iran, Katharine Gun came out of seclusion and wrote an op-ed titled “Iran: Time to Leak.” Her article appeared on March 20, 2006, the third anniversary of the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq.

Apparently unaware of the paradigm shift toward honesty in drafting U.S. intelligence estimates, Ms. Gun drew on her own experience and tried to motivate analysts to blow the whistle when necessary, as she had done three years before:

“Truth telling and whistle blowing [continue to be] crucial after a war as ill advised as Iraq — at least it allows us to piece together the facts — but it’s too late to save lives. Where are the memos and emails about Iran now?

“I urge those in a position to do so to disclose information which relates to this planned aggression; legal advice, meetings between the White House and other intelligence agencies, assessments of Iran’s threat level (or better yet, evidence that assessments have been altered), troop deployments and army notifications. Don’t let ‘the intelligence and the facts be fixed around the policy’ this time. …

“As the political momentum builds toward a military ‘solution,’ it would be wrong to wait until the bombs have fallen on Iran and families destroyed before finally informing the public.”

Only when the Fingar-supervised NIE, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, emerged in November 2007 could Katharine Gun (and the rest of us) understand that integrity had been restored to the estimative analysis process. It would be extremely difficult to attack Iran with that NIE on the books. No need to leak this time.

Not to say pressures to attack Iran have disappeared. Ironically, it was Julian Assange, the Sam Adams award winner in 2010, who alerted the Oxford Union audience (via videolink from the Ecuadorian embassy) of a DreamWorks movie, “Fifth Estate,” now in production. WikiLeaks somehow got hold of the script, which paints a much more ominous picture of Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities and takes the customary U.S. mass-media potshots at WikiLeaks and Assange.

Not to over-use “ironic,” the timely leak of that transcript to WikiLeaks will give those of us who remain committed to combating falsehood and pro-war propaganda advance time to expose the film for what it is and dissect its none-too-subtle objectives. No rest for the weary, as the expression goes.

Meanwhile, with the example set by Thomas Fingar, and the systems he has put in place to ensure intelligence assessments are not “fixed around the policy” – as the 2002 Downing Street Memo famously depicted the fabrication of the case for war with Iraq – there is reason to hope that yet another “war of choice” can be thwarted.

Following is the citation read by Katharine Gun to accompany the award to Thomas Fingar:

“Know all ye by these presents that Thomas Fingar is hereby awarded the Corner-Brightener Candlestick, presented by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

“In 2005, when Tom Fingar assumed responsibility for supervising the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), the discipline of intelligence analysis had been corrupted on both sides of the Atlantic.  We know from the Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002 that ‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy’ prior to the US/UK attack on Iraq.

“Integrity and professionalism were the only cure. Dr. Fingar oversaw the landmark 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which concluded with ‘high confidence’ that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon design and weaponization work in 2003. That NIE was issued with the unanimous approval of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Its key judgments have been revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence.

“The Estimate’s findings were a marked departure from earlier assessments of Iran’s nuclear program.  That it was instrumental in thwarting an attack on Iran is seen in President George W. Bush’s own memoir in which he complains that the ‘eye-popping’ findings of the 2007 NIE stayed his hand: ‘How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?’

“Presented this 23rd day of January 2013 at Oxford University by admirers of the example set by our former colleague, Sam Adams.

Britain probes VIP paedophiles case

Operation Fairbank was set up following claims by Labour Party politician Tom Watson in the House of Commons.

British police have launched an investigation into allegations that members of an organized paedophile ring have been abusing vulnerable underage boys in council care for years.

The organized criminal ring included former ministers, senior lawmakers, top police officers, judges, bishops, members of the royal family, and show-business celebrities. They are all alleged to have indecently assaulted vulnerable, under-age males between 1979 and 1982.

According to reports, the inquiry will focus on boys who were living at Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond, South-West London, in the 1980s.

It is claimed the boys were taken from Grafton Close to Elm Guest House in Rocks Lane, a suburban street in nearby Barnes where they were subjected to appalling sexual abuse.

One source is said to have suggested that Anthony Blunt, former Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures and an exposed Soviet spy, used to go to sordid parties at the guest house. Others are said to have spoken of two High Court judges and a Foreign Office official attending.

Detectives launched the probe, codenamed Operation Fernbridge, after they obtained a list of ‘prominent people’ who allegedly stayed at the guest house in the 1980s.

At these parties, young boys, specially brought over from several children’s homes would be plied with drugs and alcohol.

A party at the Elm Guest House was raided by police in 1982, following which 12 boys gave evidence that they had been abused by men.
German born Carole Kasir was convicted for running a gay brothel disorderly house.

Following the sudden death of 47-year-old Kasir in 1990 from an insulin overdose, two social worker friends of her gave some worrying evidence to the inquest. Mary Moss and Christopher Fay made allegations of the sexual abuse of children at the Elm Guest House. However, the allegations of sexual abuse against children by the rich and powerful were not pursued.

The claims are now being re-investigated by the Metropolitan Police, decades after they were first made. Attempts have been made by care workers to lay bare the secrets of Rocks Lane but to no avail.

Operation Fairbank is a police investigation into alleged sexual abuse, predominantly the abuse of children, by British politicians in the 1980s.

The investigation, led by the Metropolitan Police Service, started in late 2012. The investigation is currently a “scoping exercise” aimed at a “preliminary assessment of the evidence rather than a formal inquiry”. The existence of the operation was confirmed on 12 December 2012, after operating in secret for several weeks. Five officers are currently working on the inquiry.

Operation Fairbank was set up following claims by Labour Party politician Tom Watson in the House of Commons that the police should look afresh at claims of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10?.

Watson raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on 24 October 2012. He suggested that such a network may have existed in the past at a high level, protected by connections to Parliament and involving a close aide to a former Prime Minister; neither the aide nor the former Prime Minister were named.

Watson referred to Peter Righton, a former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau, who was convicted of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material in 1992.

Watson said that files on Peter Righton contained “clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring…One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.”

Nine officers raided the North London home of former child protection worker Mary Moss after she initially declined to co-operate with the investigation.

Documents and a laptop were seized. Ms Moss later handed over a further 19 files she had hidden in a neighbour’s shed.

The papers include a list of men who went to sex parties in the 80s at the Elm Guest House, Barnes, South West London.

Among the names are two former Conservative Cabinet ministers and four other senior Tories.

There is also a Labour MP, a prominent Irish republican and a leading National Front member.

Others on the handwritten note are two members of the royal household - one a former Buckingham Palace employee - plus the owner of a multinational company and two pop stars.

One of those is a best-selling musician, but like some others on the list he is not suspected of being involved in the child abuse.

The list was taken at meetings in 1988 between the guest house’s manager Carole Kasir and child protection officials.

Other documents seized are believed to identify 16 boys who were allegedly trafficked to the guest house from local care homes. Police have asked Richmond Council for a full list of children in care at the time.

Officers will also be examining copies of cash receipts and ­the guest house’s visitor records.
Operation Fernbridge is investigating claims that boys who were in council care were brought to the Elm to be sexually abused by bigwigs and VIPs.

Police have allegedly taken boxes of documents from the London home of Mary Moss, who worked as an advocate for abused children at the now defunct National Association for Young People in Care.

Mary Moss said the documents contained evidence that senior figures from a number of political parties had abused children at Elm Guest House and elsewhere.

The documents allegedly identify: Carol Kazir as guest house owner, “X” a top person in charge of MI5, “Y” MI5 officer; Two former Conservative cabinet ministers; 7 Further MPs - four Other Tories, two Labour, one Liberal Democrat; Several figures with links to the right wing Conservative Monday Club; A leading figure in the National Front, who is now dead; A Sinn Fein member; two Buckingham Palace Officials; two Pop Stars, and Anthony Blunt said to have used the name ‘Antony Goldstein’.

Rocks Lane is a conspiracy theorist’s dream, taking in allegations of the grooming of young boys in care for sex, elaborate gay parties involving senior public figures including members of the Conservative Party, charges of a police cover-up and even the suggestion of murder.

The police believe that in the context of the Jimmy Savile scandal and renewed claims over the treatment of boys in care in North Wales, there is every reason to look again at an extremely murky saga.

What is known is that in the late 1970s, the Elm Guest House on Rocks Lane was a safe, unthreatening meeting place for homosexual men free from the stigma of a sexual orientation legalised barely a decade earlier.

According to a former friend of Carole Kasir, the guest house’s German-born manager, she initially regarded herself as offering gay men an opportunity to “be themselves” without fear.

Rocks Lane, which overlooks a playing field, was known to homosexual men as it is close to Barnes Common, itself popular with gay men for cruising.

But Elm Guest House’s willingness to accommodate a small industry (“It became a convenient place for rent boys to take their clients,” says one person familiar with the place), began to attract the attentions of the local police force.

One neighbour remembers a months-long police stakeout: “They were there all the time. Police hiding behind the trees to look at the property was a running joke with the neighbours.”

In 1982, the police learned that one of the guest house’s parties was to take place, and the Met’s notorious Special Patrol Group, the precursor of the Territorial Support Group, duly raided the property, resulting in a number of charges being brought against Kasir. The fact that two police officers were in the house at the time of the raid has fed the speculation.

The IoS has established that, according to an officer closely involved at the time, two officers were embedded as guests in the property for two or three days, one even pretending to have a broken arm, hiding a police radio in a plaster cast to make secret recordings.

As many as 12 boys gave evidence to the police to the effect that they had been abused by men at the house, The IoS has established, but the only conviction was the comparatively minor one of running a disorderly house (ie, a brothel).

“Abused boys do not always make the most impressive of witnesses once they get into the witness box,” someone involved in the case said. “The real unlawful activity was underage sex. The police should have been able to make the other charges stick, but the boys were only ever interviewed with a view to them being witnesses against Carole, not as kids who were abused themselves.”

Chris Fay, a social worker who worked for a small charity, the National Association for Young People in Care (Naypic), has alleged that a terrified Kasir had shown him about 20 photographs of middle-aged men with young boys, taken at what he said were kings and queens fancy-dress parties, attended by a number of powerful and well-known people.

One, Mr Fay alleged, featured a well-known public figure wearing nothing but a French maid’s apron alongside a young boy nude apart from a tiara.

In 1990, at the age of 47, Kasir was found dead in her flat. The coroner’s inquest concluded that, a diabetic, she had suffered an insulin overdose. Two Naypic employees told the coroner they believed that because she seemingly had not had an insulin injection for three days, she had been murdered, the victim of powerful people who feared she knew too much. Nonetheless, she was found to have committed suicide, worn down by an eight-year battle to have her son, who was taken into care after her conviction, returned to her.

The alleged presence of household names adds to the intrigue, but in a celeb-obsessed age, there is a danger that, should such names not materialise, Rocks Lane will be seen as “just another” child abuse case. Yet police sources fear that dozens of boys were either taken or on the run from care homes to be abused. By any standards, that should be a big story.

Peter Hatton-Bornshin killed himself six days after his 28th birthday. He had taken an overdose of codeine and choked to death. ‘The tragic end to a tragic life,’ is how the coroner summed up the stark facts presented to the inquest.

And who at the time would disagree? Peter was only a baby when his father died in an accident. He was orphaned at 13 when his mother threw herself in front of a train. His stepfather then handed Peter and his older brother to social services.

And that is how Peter ended up at the Grafton Close Children’s Home, which was run by Richmond borough council in South-West London. Truly, he was a lost soul.

When his life finally came to an end in a Kingston-upon-Thames bedsit, he left a note which explained that he feared he would be unable to control his violent fantasies against women if he remained alive.

This personality disorder had caused him briefly to be a patient at Broadmoor mental hospital. His case worker said that while he did not consider Peter to be a danger to society, his mental problems were partly a result of the abuse he had suffered while in local authority care. One line in his suicide note seemed to refer to this. It read: ‘I will get those bastards.’

But while it was the ‘tragic end to a tragic life’, his story does not finish there.

Eighteen years after his death, the police are again looking at the Peter Hatton-Bornshin case, as part of a wider investigation, launched last month, into allegations that in the early Eighties a paedophile ring of VIPs preyed on boys from the Grafton Close Children’s Home

If the historic allegations at the heart of Operation Fernbridge are proved, they would represent one of the more sensational and disturbing Establishment sex scandals of the modern era.

Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP for Rochdale, has already been named as a regular at the guest house, where he allegedly met teenage rent boys when the homosexual age of consent was 21.

The guest house has also been linked to a now-defunct Tory fringe group that promoted homosexual rights.

Operation Fernbridge detectives are also believed to be on the trail of almost two dozen photographs that are supposed to have been taken by the guest-house owner - which place a number of these figures from the worlds of politics, show-business and national security at her establishment.

Some pictures are said to show these men in the company of under-age boys.

New police interest in the Elm Guest House allegations stems from October last year, when the campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson called for an investigation into the political links of one Peter Righton, a notorious paedophile who had first been exposed 20 years before.

In September 1992, Righton pleaded guilty to three charges of importing or possessing obscene material - paedophile gay porn - after customs officers at Dover intercepted two packages addressed to him.

It was a squalid case that in other circumstances might have warranted only local interest.

But Righton, then aged 66, was no ordinary child sex offender. He had been a very senior and respected figure in the field of residential child care, and a former consultant to the charity the National Children’s Bureau, whose patrons included the then Health Minister, Virginia Bottomley.

After his conviction, it emerged that Righton was a founder member of the Paedophile Information Exchange - a contact group for men interested in sex with children. He is now believed to be dead.

Westminster sources say that following his intervention in the House, Mr Watson received more than 200 phone calls, many of them from alleged victims of paedophile abuse by public figures unconnected with Righton. The MP passed the information on to the police.

Righton’s links to figures in the Thatcher government are still being assessed by detectives.

The Mail understands that no formal decision has been taken yet on whether Watson’s allegations will be formally probed.
However, one person who contacted Watson had specific information about boys from Grafton Close Children’s Home being abused at the Elm Guest House.

Run by Indian-born Haroon Kasir and his German wife Carole, the guest house was openly advertised in the gay press of the time as nothing more sinister than a place where homosexual men could meet.

MOL/HE

Lies, damned lies, and newspaper reporting… (Op-Ed)

Where to start with this tangled skein of media spin, mis­rep­res­ent­a­tion and out­right hypocrisy?

Last week the Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates for Integ­rity in Intel­li­gence presen­ted this year’s award to Dr Tom Fin­gar at a cere­mony jointly hos­ted by the pres­ti­gi­ous Oxford Union Soci­ety.

Dr Fin­gar, cur­rently a vis­it­ing lec­turer at Oxford, had in 2007 co-ordinated the pro­duc­tion of the US National Intel­li­gence Estim­ate — the com­bined ana­lysis of all 16 of America’s intel­li­gence agen­cies — which assessed that the Ira­nian nuc­lear weapon­isa­tion pro­gramme had ceased in 2003.  This con­sidered and author­it­at­ive Estim­ate dir­ectly thwarted the 2008 US drive towards war against Iran, and has been reaf­firmed every year since then.

By the very fact of doing his job of provid­ing dis­pas­sion­ate and object­ive assess­ments and res­ist­ing any pres­sure to politi­cise the intel­li­gence (à la Down­ing Street Memo), Dr Fingar’s work is out­stand­ing and he is the win­ner of Sam Adams Award, 2012.  This may say some­thing about the par­lous state of our intel­li­gence agen­cies gen­er­ally, but don’t get me star­ted on that…

Any­way, as I said, the award cere­mony was co-hosted by the Oxford Union Soci­ety last week, and many Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates atten­ded, often trav­el­ling long dis­tances to do so.  Former win­ners were asked to speak at the cere­mony, such as FBI Coleen Row­ley, GCHQ Kath­er­ine Gun, NSA Thomas Drake, and former UK Ambas­sador Craig Mur­ray.  Other asso­ci­ates, includ­ing CIA Ray McGov­ern, dip­lo­mats Ann Wright and Brady Kiesling and myself also said a few words.  As former insiders and whis­tleblowers, we recog­nised the vitally import­ant work that Dr Fin­gar had done and all spoke about the import­ance of integ­rity in intelligence.

One other pre­vi­ous win­ner of the Sam Adams Award was also invited to speak — Julian Assange of Wikileaks.  He spoke elo­quently about the need for integ­rity and was gra­cious in prais­ing the work of Dr Fingar.

All the national and inter­na­tional media were invited to attend what was an his­toric gath­er­ing of inter­na­tional whis­lteblowers and cover an award given to someone who, by doing their job with integ­rity, pre­ven­ted yet fur­ther ruin­ous war and blood­shed in the Middle East.

Few atten­ded, still fewer repor­ted on the event, and the prom­ised live stream­ing on You­tube was blocked by shad­owy powers at the very last minute — an irony con­sid­er­ing the Oxford Union is renowned as a free speech society.

But worse was to come.  The next day The Guard­ian news­pa­per, which his­tor­ic­ally fell out with Wikileaks, pub­lished a myopic hit-piece about the event. No men­tion of all the whis­tleblowers who atten­ded and what they said, no men­tion of the award to Dr Fin­gar, no men­tion of the fact that his work saved the Ira­nian people from need­less war.

Oh no, the entire piece focused on the taw­dry alleg­a­tions eman­at­ing from Sweden about Julian Assange’s extra­di­tion case.  Dis­count­ing the 450 stu­dents who applauded all the speeches, dis­count­ing all the ser­i­ous points raised by Julian Assange dur­ing his present­a­tion, and dis­count­ing the speeches of all the other inter­na­tion­ally renowned whis­tleblowers present that even­ing, The Guardian’s reporter, Amelia Hill, focused on the small demo out­side the event and the only three attendees she could appar­ently find to cri­ti­cise the fact that a plat­form, any plat­form, had been given to Assange from his polit­ical asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

So this is where we arrive at the deep, really deep, hypo­crisy of the even­ing.  Amelia Hill is, I’m assum­ing,  the same Guard­ian journ­al­ist who was threatened in 2011 with pro­sec­u­tion under the Offi­cial Secrets Act.  She had allegedly been receiv­ing leaks from the Met­ro­pol­itan Police about the on-going invest­ig­a­tion into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

At the time Fleet Street was up in arms — how dare the police threaten one of their own with pro­sec­u­tion under the OSA for expos­ing insti­tu­tional cor­rup­tion? Shades of the Shayler case were used in her defence. As I wrote at the time, it’s a shame the UK media could not have been more con­sist­ently robust in con­demning the chilling effects of the OSA on the free-flow of inform­a­tion and pro­tect all the Poor Bloody Whis­tleblowers, and not just come out fight­ing when it is one of their own being threatened.  Such is the way of the world.…

But really, Ms Hill — if you are indeed the same reporter who was threatened with pro­sec­u­tion in 2011 under the OSA — exam­ine your conscience.

How can you write a hit-piece focus­ing purely on Assange — a man who has designed a pub­lish­ing sys­tem to pro­tect poten­tial whis­tleblowers from pre­cisely such dra­conian secrecy laws as you were hyper­bol­ic­ally threatened with? And how could you, at the same time, air­brush out of his­tory the testi­mony of so many whis­tleblowers gathered together, many of whom have indeed been arres­ted and have faced pro­sec­u­tion under the terms of the OSA or US secrecy legislation?

Have you no shame?  You know how fright­en­ing it is to be faced with such a prosecution.

Your hypo­crisy is breath-taking.

The offence was com­poun­ded when the Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates all wrote a let­ter to The Guard­ian to set the record straight. The ori­ginal let­ter is repro­duced below, and this is what was pub­lished.  Of course, The Guard­ian has a per­fect right under its Terms and Con­di­tions to edit the let­ter, but I would like every­one to see how this can be used and abused.

And the old media won­ders why it is in decline?

Let­ter to The Guard­ian, 29 Janu­ary 2013:

Dear Sir

With regard to the 24 Janu­ary art­icle in The Guard­ian entitled “Julian Assange Finds No Allies and Tough Quer­ies in Oxford Uni­ver­sity Talk,” we ques­tion whether the newspaper’s reporter was actu­ally present at the event, since the account con­tains so many false and mis­lead­ing statements.

If The Guard­ian could “find no allies” of Mr. Assange, it did not look very hard! They could be found among the appre­ci­at­ive audi­ence of the packed Oxford Union Debate Hall, and — in case you missed us — in the group seated right at the front of the Hall: the Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates for Integ­rity in Intelligence.

Many in our group — which, you might be inter­ested to know co-sponsored the event with Oxford Union — had traveled con­sid­er­able dis­tances at our own expense to con­fer the 10th annual Sam Adams award to Dr. Thomas Fin­gar for his work on over­see­ing the 2007 National Intel­li­gence Estim­ate that revealed the lack of an Ira­nian nuc­lear weapon­iz­a­tion program.

Many of us spoke in turn about the need for integ­rity in intel­li­gence, describ­ing the ter­rible eth­ical dilemma that con­fronts gov­ern­ment employ­ees who wit­ness illegal activ­ity includ­ing ser­i­ous threats to pub­lic safety and fraud, waste and abuse.

But none of this made it into what was sup­posed to pass for a news art­icle; neither did any aspect of the accept­ance speech delivered by Dr. Fin­gar. Also, why did The Guard­ian fail to provide even one sali­ent quote from Mr Assange’s sub­stan­tial twenty-minute address?

By cen­sor­ing the con­tri­bu­tions of the Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates and the speeches by Dr. Fin­gar and Mr. Assange, and by focus­ing exclus­ively on taw­dry and unproven alleg­a­tions against Mr. Assange, rather than on the import­ance of expos­ing war crimes and main­tain­ing integ­rity in intel­li­gence pro­cesses, The Guard­ian has suc­ceeded in dimin­ish­ing none but itself.

Sin­cerely,

The Sam Adams Asso­ci­ates for Integ­rity in Intelligence:

Ann Wright (retired Army Col­onel and For­eign Ser­vice Officer of US State Depart­ment), Ray McGov­ern (retired CIA ana­lyst), Eliza­beth Mur­ray (retired CIA ana­lyst), Coleen Row­ley (retired FBI agent), Annie Machon (former MI5 intel­li­gence officer), Thomas Drake (former NSA offi­cial), Craig Mur­ray (former Brit­ish Ambas­sador), David MacMi­chael (retired CIA ana­lyst), Brady Kiesling (former For­eign Ser­vice Officer of US State Depart­ment), and Todd Pierce (retired U.S. Army Major, Judge Advoc­ate, Guantanamo Defense Counsel).

­Annie Machon for RT

­Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer for MI5, the UK Security Service, who resigned in 1996 to blow the whistle on the spies' incompetence and crimes. Drawing on her varied experiences, she is now a media pundit, author, journalist, international tour and event organiser, political campaigner, and PR consultant.

The article was first published at anniemachon.ch

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

When Truth Tried to Stop War

Ten years ago, Katharine Gun, then a 28-year-old British intelligence officer, saw an e-mailed memo from the U.S. National Security Agency George Bush and Tony Blair. (Photo: Mario Tama/EPA)(NSA) that confirmed for her in black and white the already widespread suspicion that the U.S. and U.K. were about to launch war against Iraq on false pretenses.

Doing what she could to head off what she considered, correctly, an illegal war of aggression, she printed a copy of the memo and arranged for a friend to give it to the London Observer. “I have always ever followed my conscience,” she said, explaining what drove her to take such a large risk.

Those early months of 2003 were among the worst of times – and not just because the U.S. and U.K. leaders were perverting the post-World War II structure that those same nations designed to stop aggressive wars, but because the vast majority of U.S. and U.K. institutions including the major news organizations and the nations’ legislatures were failing miserably to provide any meaningful check or balance.

The common excuse from politicians, bureaucrats, editors and other opinion leaders was that there was no way the momentum toward war could be stopped, so why take on the career damage that would result from getting in the way. And if Ms. Gun were made of lesser stuff, she might have hidden behind a similar self-serving excuse or found solace in other comforting rationalizations, like the government must know what it’s doing, or what do I, a Mandarin-to-English translator, know about Iraq.

But Katharine Gun could smell a rat, as well as the sulfur of war, and she would not put her career and comfort ahead of the slaughter and devastation that war inevitably brings to innocent people. In that, she distinguished herself, just as many others in positions of authority disgraced themselves.

Missing WMD

In fall 2002, Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein shocked the world by agreeing to a very intrusive U.N. inspection regime with inspectors crawling all over suspect sites in Iraq, though not finding one “weapon of mass destruction.” Since Iraq’s inventory of WMD was the main casus belli, things were getting downright embarrassing. Even a few in the domesticated “mainstream” media in the U.S. and U.K. were feeling some discomfort in merely feeding off the official statements of President George W. Bush and co-conspirator Prime Minister Tony Blair.

At that key moment, the U.S. and U.K. leaders intensified their effort to get the U.N. Security Council to approve the kind of resolution that would enable them to attack Iraq with at least a thin veneer of legality. We know from the Downing Street memos, which were leaked two years later, that U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith had told Blair in July 2002 that, absent a new Security Council resolution, war on Iraq would be illegal.

So, in early 2003, the focus was riveted on the U.N. Security Council where Bush and Blair were having trouble rallying the three other recalcitrant permanent members – France, China and Russia – to support war on Iraq. Already facing that resistance, Bush and Blair were not about to brook interference by the non-permanent members. Thus, word went out to the U.S./U.K. intelligence services to ensure that none of those upstart nations did anything to complicate U.S./U.K. plans for war.

Accordingly, the NSA intensified electronic collection on those countries’ representatives (as well as on officials of the three obstinate permanent members). The Bush administration wanted to learn immediately of anything that could help win the Security Council’s approval of a resolution to make the attack “legal.”

On Jan. 31, 2003, NSA’s Frank Koza, head of “Regional Targets” (RT) sent a “HIGH-Importance,” Top Secret e-mail to Britain’s NSA counterpart, GCHQ, where Katharine Gun worked. The e-mail asked that British eavesdroppers emulate NSA’s “surge” in electronic collection against Security Council members “for insights … [on] plans to vote on any Iraq-related resolutions … the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. … [T]hat means a … surge effort to revive/create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters.”

Koza’s “surge” instruction left no doubt in Gun’s mind that Bush and Blair were hell-bent to have their war – legal or illegal – and that she had been correct in dismissing recent assurances by GCHQ management that she and her co-workers would not be asked to cooperate in facilitating unprovoked war.

As Gun explained later to Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, authors of The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War, she calculated that if people could see how desperate Bush and Blair were to have an appearance of legitimacy for war, “Their eyes would be opened; they would see that the intention was not to disarm Saddam but in fact to go to war.”

She made a copy of the Koza memo, walked out with it in her purse, and eventually gave it to a friend with contacts in the media. The London Observer got hold of it, was able to establish that it was authentic, and on March 2, 2003, two and a half weeks before the attack on Iraq front-paged the text of the memo with an accompanying article.

The report shook the government of Tony Blair and caused consternation on several continents. In the U.S., however, it was not a big story. For the New York Times, whose editors were either cheering on false articles about Iraq’s WMD or going into a self-protective career crouch, it was no story at all.

The U.S. intelligence agencies stonewalled any media inquiries and the journalists quickly moved on to the main event, embedding themselves inside the U.S. military as war correspondents. The story from Gun’s document – indicating a major spying initiative to coerce sovereign countries to support an unprovoked war – simply didn’t fit with the narrative of “good guy” America taking on “bad guy” Iraq.

Despite the spying, Bush and Blair failed to win approval from the Security Council to invade Iraq, forcing Bush and Blair to lead a “coalition of the willing” and counting on the cowardice and complicity of the U.S./U.K. mainstream news media to ignore the inconvenient truth about the illegality of the invasion.

Confession and Charge

Gun soon confessed to what she had done. She later explained to the Mitchells: “I’m pretty rubbish at telling lies … and I try to be an honest person. … I have to say that I’ve only ever followed my conscience. And it, my conscience, is such a nuisance.”

On Nov. 13, 2003, she was charged with violating the UK’s Official Secrets Act. She planned to plead “not guilty,” stressing that she acted to prevent imminent loss of life in an illegal war.

Gun’s pro bono lawyers insisted that the Blair government produce the opinions of U.K. Attorney General Peter Goldsmith on the legality of the war but the government refused. It was already widely known, well before the leak of the Downing Street memos, that Goldsmith initially advised that an attack on Iraq would be illegal without a second U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing it, and that, only after intense consultation with several lawyers from the White House, Goldsmith showed the required flexibility and changed his mind.

Blair was not about to release such damning documents. Even the usually docile UN Secretary General Kofi Annan finally got around to acknowledging the obvious and agreeing that the attack on Iraq was illegal, albeit Annan found his voice only well after the butchery was underway.

So, when Gun’s case came to court on Feb. 25, 2004, her lawyers did not need to argue that trying to stop an illegal act (a war of aggression) trumped Gun’s obligations under the Official Secrets Act. The Blair government clearly did not want to let Lord Goldsmith’s dirty laundry hang out on the line. Within half an hour, the prosecution dropped the case and Katharine Gun walked.

The Sam Adams Award

For her courage and commitment to principle, Katharine Gun was the second recipient of the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The citation read at the presentation on April 14, 2004, noted that:

“Heeding the dictates of conscience and true patriotism, Ms. Gun put her career and her very liberty at risk trying to prevent the launching of an illegal war. That she is here with us today and not in a prison cell bespeaks a tacit but clear admission by her government that the US/UK attack on Iraq in March 2003 was in defiance of international law.

“Ms. Gun’s beacon of light pierced a thick cloud of deception. She set a courageous example for those intelligence analysts of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ who have first-hand knowledge of how intelligence was corrupted to ‘justify’ war, but who have not yet been able to find their voice.”

Commenting on Katharine Gun’s courage and integrity, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Dan Ellsberg had this to say:

“No one has had this story to tell before, because no one else – including myself – has ever done what Katharine Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important – and courageous – leak I’ve ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers.”

Fast forward to Jan. 23, 2013, in the Debate Chamber of the Oxford Union where the tenth annual Sam Adams award presentation was held before a packed house of Oxford students. Ms. Gun, her husband, and their four-year-old daughter shed their coveted privacy long enough to allow Katharine to be one of two former Sam Adams Award winners to present this year’s award.

The other was Coleen Rowley, former FBI special agent and counsel at the Minneapolis bureau, who blew the whistle on FBI and other shortcomings before 9/11 and was named one of the three Persons of the Year by Time Magazine in 2002. The Sam Adams award is named for the late CIA analyst Sam Adams who challenged false assessments of Vietcong and North Vietnamese troop strength during the height of that conflict.

The 10th annual Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence was given to Thomas Fingar, the consummate intelligence professional who led the U.S. National Intelligence Council from 2005 to 2008 (and is now a professor in Stanford’s overseas program at Oxford).

Fingar supervised the drafting of the eye-opening National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007 on Iran, which differed markedly from previous estimates in assessing that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003 and had not resumed such work – and key finding revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence in formal testimony to Congress.

With the help of that honest assessment, U.S. military leaders and other honest officials were able to beat back pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives for an attack on Iran during 2008 – the last year of the Bush administration. (See Bush’s own memoir, Decision Points, page 419.)

Heading Off Wars of Choice

The poignancy of the moment was not lost on the audience at the Oxford Union. After Katharine Gun read the citation (text below) for the award to Tom Fingar, she turned toward Fingar, and suggested that if honest professionals like him had been supervising U.S. and U.K. intelligence analysis in 2002-2003, the warping of intelligence to support plans for war would have been prevented. And Gun could have avoided the painful choice that her conscience required.

It was quite a spectacle: One “spy” who tried her best (but failed) to stop the Iraq war was giving the Sam Adams award to another, more senior intelligence official who, simply by adhering tightly to the professional ethos of following the evidence wherever it leads, played a huge role in stopping war on Iran.

Also “giving evidence” (in British parlance) on Jan. 23 at the Sam Adams Award evening at the Oxford Union were three other former awardees besides Gun and Rowley – former U.K. ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, former NSA executive Thomas Drake and, video-linked from asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

Other Sam Adams associates also spoke briefly, including former U.K. MI5 officer Annnie Machon and two of the three U.S. diplomats who resigned on principle before the attack on Iraq – Ann Wright and Brady Kiesling. Oxford Union President Maria Rioumine joined me in introductory remarks; still other associates made the trek across the Atlantic, at considerable personal expense, just to be there to honor Thomas Fingar.

Iran: Always Iran

There is yet another poignant back story here. In 2006, as Thomas Fingar was settling into his position as chief analyst for the entire U.S. intelligence community, the threats from the West and Israel directed at Iran were proliferating in an alarming way, and the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program was just in the planning stage.

Amid the calls for military action against Iran, Katharine Gun came out of seclusion and wrote an op-ed titled “Iran: Time to Leak.” Her article appeared on March 20, 2006, the third anniversary of the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq.

Apparently unaware of the paradigm shift toward honesty in drafting U.S. intelligence estimates, Ms. Gun drew on her own experience and tried to motivate analysts to blow the whistle when necessary, as she had done three years before:

“Truth telling and whistle blowing [continue to be] crucial after a war as ill advised as Iraq — at least it allows us to piece together the facts — but it’s too late to save lives. Where are the memos and emails about Iran now?

“I urge those in a position to do so to disclose information which relates to this planned aggression; legal advice, meetings between the White House and other intelligence agencies, assessments of Iran’s threat level (or better yet, evidence that assessments have been altered), troop deployments and army notifications. Don’t let ‘the intelligence and the facts be fixed around the policy’ this time. …

“As the political momentum builds toward a military ‘solution,’ it would be wrong to wait until the bombs have fallen on Iran and families destroyed before finally informing the public.”

Only when the Fingar-supervised NIE, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, emerged in November 2007 could Katharine Gun (and the rest of us) understand that integrity had been restored to the estimative analysis process. It would be extremely difficult to attack Iran with that NIE on the books. No need to leak this time.

Not to say pressures to attack Iran have disappeared. Ironically, it was Julian Assange, the Sam Adams award winner in 2010, who alerted the Oxford Union audience (via videolink from the Ecuadorian embassy) of a DreamWorks movie, “Fifth Estate,” now in production. WikiLeaks somehow got hold of the script, which paints a much more ominous picture of Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities and takes the customary U.S. mass-media potshots at WikiLeaks and Assange.

Not to over-use “ironic,” the timely leak of that transcript to WikiLeaks will give those of us who remain committed to combating falsehood and pro-war propaganda advance time to expose the film for what it is and dissect its none-too-subtle objectives. No rest for the weary, as the expression goes.

Meanwhile, with the example set by Thomas Fingar, and the systems he has put in place to ensure intelligence assessments are not “fixed around the policy” – as the 2002 Downing Street Memo famously depicted the fabrication of the case for war with Iraq – there is reason to hope that yet another “war of choice” can be thwarted.

Following is the citation read by Katharine Gun to accompany the award to Thomas Fingar:

“Know all ye by these presents that Thomas Fingar is hereby awarded the Corner-Brightener Candlestick, presented by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.

“In 2005, when Tom Fingar assumed responsibility for supervising the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs), the discipline of intelligence analysis had been corrupted on both sides of the Atlantic.  We know from the Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002 that ‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy’ prior to the US/UK attack on Iraq.

“Integrity and professionalism were the only cure. Dr. Fingar oversaw the landmark 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which concluded with ‘high confidence’ that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon design and weaponization work in 2003. That NIE was issued with the unanimous approval of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Its key judgments have been revalidated every year since by the Director of National Intelligence.

“The Estimate’s findings were a marked departure from earlier assessments of Iran’s nuclear program.  That it was instrumental in thwarting an attack on Iran is seen in President George W. Bush’s own memoir in which he complains that the ‘eye-popping’ findings of the 2007 NIE stayed his hand: ‘How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?’

“Presented this 23rd day of January 2013 at Oxford University by admirers of the example set by our former colleague, Sam Adams.

A version of this piece first appeared in Consortium News.

Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President's Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Spies and the Media

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Paul Jay, Senior Editor, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Machon Report with Annie Machon, who now joins us from Germany.

Annie was an intelligence officer for the U.K.'s MI5 in the 1990s, but she left after blowing the whistle on incompetence and crimes of British spy agencies. She's also a director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, in Europe. She's a writer and political commentator.

Thanks for joining us again, Annie.

Annie Machon, Fmr. MI5 Intelligence Officer: My pleasure.

Jay: So what story have you been following recently?

Machon: Well, this is something that's been in the U.K. media for a while now, the intimate linkage between top politicians and media proprietors, and corrupt relations between police officers and the politicians and the media. This is leading to a big trial against a number of political and also media figures, including Rebekah Brooks, who used to be the editor of a national newspaper in the U.K. And this has resulted in a big judicial inquiry, which has produced something called the Leveson Report, investigating exactly how this corruption occurs.

And this is an area that I've been very interested in for many years. First of all, I come from a journalistic family anyway, and we were always brought up to believe that the press should hold power to account. Then I ended up working as an intelligence officer for MI5 in the U.K., and then ended up, after that, blowing the whistle, going public about a whole series of crimes that the U.K. intelligence agencies had committed. And this resulted in a number of trials, a number of arrests, and also massive spin in the media against the whistleblowers. So for many years now I've been watching stories about how spin can be managed, about how the intelligence agencies and spies can control the media.

So the Leveson Report has laid bare the connections between politics and police and the intelligence agencies. And it sort of, I think, concerns many people across the world. It's very difficult to trust the mainstream media these days, because they know that there are these sort of mechanisms going on in the background.

However, because of my experience as a whistleblower and my experience as a researcher and a speaker since, I think I've got quite a good handle on exactly how those levers of control are used against the mainstream media across the West. And this is a subject that I've been speaking about across Europe at investigative journalism conferences. And always after these talks, the journalists will come up to me and say it's at least as bad as you've been talking about.

So I'd just like to set out, really, a few key areas in the way that governments and the intelligence agencies can control the mainstream media and why we should not trust them implicitly, especially after they have allowed intelligence to be classified and that intelligence to be used and abused to take us into wars, illegal wars, in the Middle East.

Jay: Is there some evidence that what's happened in the U.K. with the Murdoch-owned newspaper and such that that's going to be portrayed, I guess, as if it's an anomaly, this one situation out of control? But is there evidence that it's actually more systematic than that?

Machon: Very much so. I mean, virtually every newspaper in the U.K. has been implicated in abusive practices that have been revealed about the Murdoch empire and the News of the World. And the way it works is that journalists in the mainstream media now have no job security. They now rely on briefings from government or the intelligence agencies or sort of police officers or whatever to get stories, and once they get their stories, they are expected to publish them uncritically. Otherwise, they don't get the next story and they can't then keep their job and earn a living. So they become these sort of stooges of the spin machine.

But it can get worse, because if you are particularly pliant as a journalist in the mainstream media, then you might be asked to do more and become what is known as an agent of influence, where you then report back to the police or you report back to the government or to the spy agencies about the stories your media organization may be investigating. They were actually switching.

Jay: Right. One of the things I know from the Canadian experience when CSIS was formed, which is essentially the Canadian spy agency, there was a royal commission that led to it, and it had various recommendations. And I remember clearly that there was a specific recommendation—I believe this was in the 1970s, by memory—that there actually—that CSIS should make sure that it actually had people in the various newsrooms across the country, that it should try to have at least one paid informant in every newsroom. Have you come across things like this?

Machon: I have indeed. I mean, there is a similar operation in the U.S. I think it was called Operation Mockingbird. But in the U.K. particularly, within MI6, which is the external intelligence gathering agency, the sort of James Bond wannabes, they have a little department which used to be called Information Operations, which [incompr.] specifically to plant stories in the media, even fake stories, in order to gain political advantage or to manipulate the spin of the story. So this happens time and time again.

So there's a whole sort of array of soft power that spies can use against the media in order to control their media profiles. So you have people being planted with stories, you have people reporting back to the spies, you have cozy lunches and interconnections between various agencies and the media, and then you also have this department in the U.K., IOPS, which plants fake stories in order to manipulate the perception. So it goes across a whole array of different methods. That's the sort of soft power in the U.K.

The hard power—so the carrot and the stick—the stick bit is where they start using a battery of laws to protect government and spies and the military and the police. And I think the U.K. is probably the least accountable and most legally protected of all Western democracies when it comes to this. There's a whole range of laws, starting with injunctions, super injunctions, government injunctions, libel laws, terrorist laws, whatever, that can be used against journalists trying to do their job.

But the worst one is the Official Secrets Act from 1989. And this makes it a crime for a whistleblower to report crimes committed by the spies or by the military or by governments. But it also makes it a crime for the journalists to report it. They can get two years in prison for exposing crimes up to and including murder committed by these people.

So they are very, very protected by this battery of laws, and it has a very chilling effect on democracy.

Jay: And I guess you add to that the extensive electronic surveillance now, which more or less every phone call, every email and such is being vacuumed up and looked at for key words. And they can do specific spying when they want to rather easily now. And I suppose journalists are well aware every time they pick up the phone, everything being said is no longer confidential.

Machon: I think they're very aware of the problem. They're just not very aware of what they can do about it. And that's where the intersection between the sort of hacktivist community and the journalist community are growing. So, for example, if you have some contact with a potential whistleblower coming out of the central government or the spy agencies, the pushback from those agencies potentially could be very severe, lifechanging for both the whistleblower and the journalist. And ensuring that sort of degree of safety can be very difficult.

I've just been involved in helping to set up in the U.K. a new organization in the U.K. called Whistleblowers U.K., and these are exactly the ideas and processes we've been trying to thrash out.

So it is very difficult in this surveillance society for a journalist to get a good whistleblower and to protect that whistleblower adequately. And this is why I think organizations, the methodology of organizations like WikiLeaks has been so valuable now, the idea that a whistleblower can retain a degree of control by leaking information and then deciding, do they want to go public about it, do they want to sort of turn their lives inside out by fighting the cause around this information.

But WikiLeaks have changed the playing field for most mainstream media. And I think if I were a whistleblower now sitting behind my desk at MI5, I would think long and hard about how I would do it, and I would probably attempt to go to WikiLeaks, because there would be a sense that you retain control and at least your information will get out there. A lot of the mainstream media can act as a sort of self-censoring blockage of information between those who know information that's important and those who need to know that important information, which is the citizenry, so they can make informed decisions.

Machon: So it's a very difficult world now. I mean, it's great that there's more and more independent media, not the sort of corporatist media that so many people distrust. So The Real News Network is making a great contribution to it.

Jay: Well, thanks. And I'd like to also talk to anyone who might be listening to any of my phone calls or any of the work we're doing at The Real News. I hope you're not getting too bored. You're welcome to listen in, because it's not going to stop us. We don't really have anything to hide. And you can actually see everything on The Real News Network anyway. Thanks very much for joining us, Annie.

Machon: Thank you.

Jay: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network, those of you who are watching, and those of you who are just kind of listening in.

Spies and the Media

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Machon Report with Annie Machon, who now joins us from Germany.

Annie was an intelligence officer for the U.K.'s MI5 in the 1990s, but she left after blowing the whistle on incompetence and crimes of British spy agencies. She's also a director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, in Europe. She's a writer and political commentator. Thanks for joining us again, Annie.ANNIE MACHON, FMR. MI5 INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: My pleasure.JAY: So what story have you been following recently?MACHON: Well, this is something that's been in the U.K. media for a while now, the intimate linkage between top politicians and media proprietors, and corrupt relations between police officers and the politicians and the media. This is leading to a big trial against a number of political and also media figures, including Rebekah Brooks, who used to be the editor of a national newspaper in the U.K. And this has resulted in a big judicial inquiry, which has produced something called the Leveson Report, investigating exactly how this corruption occurs.And this is an area that I've been very interested in for many years. First of all, I come from a journalistic family anyway, and we were always brought up to believe that the press should hold power to account. Then I ended up working as an intelligence officer for MI5 in the U.K., and then ended up, after that, blowing the whistle, going public about a whole series of crimes that the U.K. intelligence agencies had committed. And this resulted in a number of trials, a number of arrests, and also massive spin in the media against the whistleblowers. So for many years now I've been watching stories about how spin can be managed, about how the intelligence agencies and spies can control the media. So the Leveson Report has laid bare the connections between politics and police and the intelligence agencies. And it sort of, I think, concerns many people across the world. It's very difficult to trust the mainstream media these days, because they know that there are these sort of mechanisms going on in the background. However, because of my experience as a whistleblower and my experience as a researcher and a speaker since, I think I've got quite a good handle on exactly how those levers of control are used against the mainstream media across the West. And this is a subject that I've been speaking about across Europe at investigative journalism conferences. And always after these talks, the journalists will come up to me and say it's at least as bad as you've been talking about. So I'd just like to set out, really, a few key areas in the way that governments and the intelligence agencies can control the mainstream media and why we should not trust them implicitly, especially after they have allowed intelligence to be classified and that intelligence to be used and abused to take us into wars, illegal wars, in the Middle East.JAY: Is there some evidence that what's happened in the U.K. with the Murdoch-owned newspaper and such that that's going to be portrayed, I guess, as if it's an anomaly, this one situation out of control? But is there evidence that it's actually more systematic than that?MACHON: Very much so. I mean, virtually every newspaper in the U.K. has been implicated in abusive practices that have been revealed about the Murdoch empire and the News of the World. And the way it works is that journalists in the mainstream media now have no job security. They now rely on briefings from government or the intelligence agencies or sort of police officers or whatever to get stories, and once they get their stories, they are expected to publish them uncritically. Otherwise, they don't get the next story and they can't then keep their job and earn a living. So they become these sort of stooges of the spin machine.But it can get worse, because if you are particularly pli