UK Intelligence Boss Blames Snowden And Reporters For Giving A 'Gift' To Terrorists

from the blame-game dept

Well, it appears that the head of the UK's MI5 is going on the offensive (and I mean that in multiple ways) concerning the Ed Snowden leaks, spreading a hilarious story claiming that it's Snowden (and to a lesser extent the Guardian) who have "helped the terrorists" with the leaks... and the UK press dutifully repeated the talking points as fact:
And, indeed, the claims are making the rounds of the UK press with little analysis.
Revelations by Edward Snowden about British eavesdropping are a gift to terrorists because they weaken the ability of the security services to stop those plotting deadly attacks against the West, the head of the MI5 Security Service said on Tuesday....

[....] Though he did not mention Snowden by name, Parker warned about the danger of disclosures about the work of Britain's listening agency, known as GCHQ, whose capabilities were made public by media reports based on documents from Snowden stole.

"It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will," Parker said in his first public speech taking up his post as MI5 chief on April 22.
This is hogwash on multiple levels. First, it takes incredible self-obsession to claim that someone exposing your questionable activities should be blamed for the consequences of those questionable activities. That's what Andrew Parker doesn't seem to recognize: the problem isn't that Snowden revealed these things, it's that the intelligence community was doing it in the first place. Second, it's already been shown, repeatedly, that terrorists already assumed these kinds of surveillance efforts were ongoing, and were careful to avoid such easy routes of surveillance. Third, if the surveillance relies on keeping the entire concept secret, you're doing it wrong. For decades, criminals have known that the police have the ability to tap phones. There's a whole process involved with real oversight, and most people are now comfortable with the general idea of phone taps following a specific warrant and oversight. The point here is that you don't have to keep the fact that you tap these things a secret if you have sufficient oversight and controls to make sure they're not abused. But that's not what anyone did here.

But, really, these stories of doom and gloom are pretty laughable given that there's been almost no evidence that these surveillance techniques have ever actually stopped terrorist attacks in the first place.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:48am

    UK Intelligence has no one to blame but themselves. If they would have used their spy tools responsibly, then chances are UK citizens wouldn't feel the need to pry those tools from their abusive hands.

    Instead, UK Intelligence took bribe money from the NSA and started "collecting it all". That's a big no no. Now it's time to take their spy toys away and send them to the corner, so they can reflect on their bad behavior.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    A little history (reposted due to error)

    It was 2009, Jacqui Smith, was Home Secretary and for some reason (we didn't know at the time the order had come down from the NSA), she wanted to spy on everyones internet connection. Via an "Interception Modernisation Programme" law.

    The GCHQ portion of it was called "Mastering the Internet" and the law was never passed because Brits hated the idea and it was illegal anyway under the Right of Privacy.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/03/gchq_mti/

    That attempt to pass the law happened again and again, but mass surveillance of Internet connections never made it to law. The most recent attempt was the 'Snoopers Charter'.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/09/snoopers_charter_what_happens_now/

    "The government is committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to protect the public and ensure national security."

    "These agencies use communications data – the who, when, where and how of a communication, but not its content – to investigate and prosecute serious crimes."

    etc. etc. This was before the Snowden leaks, and before we realized they were in fact doing it illegally and wanted a law to make it all shiny and legal. Not that they wanted to 'begin' doing it, and needed a law.

    So we currently have an agency acting outside and against British law, and that was sustained by hiding it from Parliament. We learned on Monday, the National Security Council, the group of ministers that are supposed to oversea MI5 and GCHQ was also kept in the dark.

    The money is an interesting story. Where did that money come from, I know it was hidden from Parliament because the whole program was hidden. But how?
    So there should be investigations into all of these crimes, if we ever get the UK back on democracy, but that seems unlikely.

    We've had the leaks about attacks on the Belgian telecoms network, which of course is also illegal in Britain. There is no law permitting GCHQ to attack friendly networks, and no immunity in Belgium for the MI5 & GCHQ chiefs for doing so.

    Snowden leaks let us know about that, and in turn started a raft of criminal investigations across Europe.

    So MI5 chief and GCHQ chief is on the attack, and the most interesting thing is the media sources that are helping them. Newsnight tried to do a hatchet job on the Guardian, which was one of the oddest things ever for the flagship journalism show on the BBC. Daily mail is trying to sell 'Surveillance' to its anti-surveillance readership (weird editorial decision to do a U-turn and hope your readers don't care).

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 1:23am

    Signal politics. If the terrorists hear how the secret service operates, they will be careful around that!

    There is the other option of overclaiming capabilities to poke at the terrorists paranoia. If they trust noone, they will never earn more capabilities. Since the Snowden documents do not seem to cover all programs per se, it might be wortwhile to poke at things like couriers and hinting at their surveillance of mobile activities.

    For some reason, not overclaiming is helping the terrorists. What a traitor!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:42am

    I missed this little gem from Mr Stasi

    “The idea we either can or would want to operate intensive scrutiny of thousands is fanciful. This is not East Germany, or North Korea and thank goodness for that”, said Mr Parker.

    Not thousands? [In fact the leaks shows 40,000 selectors for GCHQ and 31000 for NSA, the filtering is done by the NSA, so they get the raw (pre-filter) feed which they most likely keep, because they keep everything else they get]

    http://larouchepac.com/node/27073

    This is transatlantic data, mostly US and UK data, all politicians are included in that 'all' set, all journalists, all activists, firefighters or resistance fighters, everyone.

    “ It is critically important to the sort of country we all want to live that organisations like this do not have free rein and equally that we are not politically directed. I am in charge of operations, but [I] am accountable to the Home Secretary. She in turn is accountable to Parliament and the British people.”

    He's trying to explain how Parliament and the Cabinet were kept out of the loop. Asserting that it's to prevent "politically directed" surveillance. Which is laughable. Obama knows it, but MPs overseeing GCHQ didn't and the cabinet committee discussing the Snoopers Charter were flat out lied to. Those 31000 selectors are chosen by the NSA under political leadership, even if the 40,000 are chosen by him.

    But I like the fact he's put the mental image of Stasi into people's heads. Basically saying he's not the Stasi by making claims, those claims are easily debunked, thereby confirming he is the Stasi.

     

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  5.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:48am

    Dictatorial regimes around the world past, present and future would be so proud.

     

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  6.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:49am

    You know what was a bigger gift to the 'terrorists'?

    Invading Iraq and Afghanistan
    Supporting Obama in his drone strikes
    The blatant demonisation of Muslims across the world

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:56am

    no one seems to think that turning every nation under the 'Democratic Flag' into a Police State, where everyone is continuously watched and listened in on, where Censorship is on the increase and getting towards dangerous levels where the people are only allowed to see, say, go, buy etc etc etc, what the government says, is an even bigger threat. if those who are so concerned about things, fuck off to somewhere like N.Korea and live under that sort of regime! dont keep changing things where you live into the same as that or similar nations, without giving the people the choice of changing or not. look what happened in Germ,any. look what has happened in Iran. dont make the same mistakes as they did, under the pretense of trying to stop terrorism, when it is actually to keep megalomaniacs in control!!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:04am

    If tidbits of leaked info confirming suspicions = a gift to terrorists, then what do we call all those weapons we gave them?

    writeoff?

     

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  9.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:18am

    Re:

    Ensuring job security in the surveillance/military industries.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    MOAR on this story please Mike.

    Exposing the British press is highly entertaining and also pretty useful for the people.

     

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  11.  
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    Pixelation, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 7:41am

    Where it belongs...

    Perhaps the blame should be put where it belongs. The NSA has been illegally spying on US citizens. That is the gift to terrorists.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Re:

    Muslims did it themselves so it was a self serving gift.

     

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  13.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Re: A little history (reposted due to error)

    So there should be investigations into all of these crimes, if we ever get the UK back on democracy, but that seems unlikely
    Thought this needed highlighting and dammit where's that "sad but true" button when you need it?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    Surveillance

    "For decades, criminals have known that the police have the ability to tap phones. There's a whole process involved with real oversight, and most people are now comfortable with the general idea of phone taps following a specific warrant and oversight."


    Except for the part where the government automatically monitors all phone conversations for certain key words, and everyone is a target.

    Policy is not enough. There needs to be independence between the government and those with the technical ability to execute a wiretap request: ISPs must be the last line of defense that stands between suspects and the government, with the ISPs themselves flipping whatever buttons or switches are necessary to comply with proper warrants.

    The government must not be allowed the ability to engage in large-scale domestic surveillance. It must be literally impossible for them to do so without specific support from ISPs, and that support must be conditioned upon clear legal principles and regulations.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:35am

    Isn't this the exact same thing the NSA is doing. It started screaming legality and lawful as soon as leaks started making them look bad, along with claims of we won't be able to do our job any more (unless you can make the Snowden stuff stop).

    Then Greenwald has a special place in his heart for the UK intelligence apparatus. So I imagine he will take a little joy in hearing what they are saying about the leak issues in the UK. Prehaps they should have thought of this when they stopped David in the airport?

     

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  16.  
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    ECA (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:02am

    Its getting tiring..

    Its funny.
    Over the history of man, there is 1 real truth..

    Its easier to HAVE THE PEOPLE HELP monitor things that to just let the Gov. TRY to do it.

    Talking to the people, and getting them to help, works Much better/easier...then thinking a small group can do the job.

    BE friends with the PEOPLE, dont antagonize and piss them off. GET everyone to help..its CHEAPER..

    ALSO, in the USA(cant say for other locations)
    Have you EVER tried to get info from a gov agency? You have a question or would like INFO on a person that wants something(not strictly legal).. AT LEAST to report strange occurrences/situations?

     

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  17.  
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    bshock, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:57am

    The statement may be accurate

    The UK and US governments apparently believe all of their citizens to be potential terrorists. So Snowden's leaks were indeed a gift to terrorists of a sort.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    uh oh...
    better watch that 'reasoning', otherwise you will find yourself obligated to start eliminating xtians, who are 100 X's the killers moose limbs are...

    you know how extreme and violent those crazy xtians are; they are all guaranteed to have 72 ho's in the afterlife ! ! !

    that's a true story i just made up !

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Rapnel (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Terrorsts!

    Fuck the terrorists! How about a nice gift to the public where you, intelligence and knowledgeable associated leaderships, stop fucking thinking that you're god's gift to safety and start behaving like the agencies that you are - agencies that serve at OUR behest.

    How about some fucking probable cause for gathering everything and anything that you can no matter what nor who it is that you think you're looking for... because fuck you. This is not YOUR world to pillage as you please.

    Revoke the PATRIOT act, revoke immunity and any other piece of shit legislation anywhere that puts you in charge of me. Once again, if there be law you deem yourself above then there is no law, only weapons. And if there is justice you will be held to account and if there is not then I can foresee a future filled with rebels and tyrants.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:55pm

    M15 Chief from Earth.........M15 Chief from Earth:
    Go lick a dog's balls !

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:49pm

    That's what Andrew Parker doesn't seem to recognize: the problem isn't that Snowden revealed these things, it's that the intelligence community was doing it in the first place. Second, it's already been shown, repeatedly, that terrorists already assumed these kinds of surveillance efforts were ongoing, and were careful to avoid such easy routes of surveillance. Third, if the surveillance relies on keeping the entire concept secret, you're doing it wrong.

    it's that the intelligence community was doing it in the first place,

    it's already been shown, repeatedly, that terrorists already assumed these kinds of surveillance efforts were ongoing.


    You seem to be trying to argue two opposing points at the same time here, yes, intelligence was doing, yes, everyone assumed they were doing it, including the terrorists.

    The fact is terrorists DO use the phone service to call from America to other countries to talk to their leaders. This is a known fact, 9/11 terrorists did.

    So that knowledge (that phones are tapped) is NOT assumed to be a threat for terrorists, but now it is different with these leaks, showing that now the terrorists have to take counter measures.

    You simply do not have to take countermeasures if you know 'measures' are not in place.

    In WW2 Germany did not know about the Allies use of Radar, without that knowledge they were unable to develop counter measures for stop it.

    Same with this, if you know about it you can develop ways to get around it, if you don't know about it (the details) you cant counter measure it.

    But to try to make the argument that if you have to be secret to spy on someone your doing it wrong does not seem to make a lot sense.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:53pm

    Re: Surveillance

    so we have gone from meta-data to computerised voice analysis of EVERY domestic phone call made in the US ?

    I did not see that Snowden leak, can you link it please ?

     

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  23.  
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    corwin155 (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 3:44am

    Re:

    Agree
    they wanted a Fascists Police state run by them, and now that everyone's found out they begin to call everyone who don't like it terrorists.
    you can bet that everyone who disagrees with them is now under heavy scrutiny, something like what the NSA and CIA is doing here in the USA and our department of Justice is protecting them.

     

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  24.  
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    corwin155 (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 3:59am

    Re: A little history (reposted due to error)

    Sadly here in the USA our government created secret laws and secret courts made top secret so that honest law abiding citizens could be made criminals by secret laws so as to be able to spy on everyone.
    because ignorance of the law is no excuse!
    and the protectors of our Constitution the department of justice began making secret interpretations as to bend the rules of the Constitution thus making it a farce.
    and im sure everyone here who disagrees are now under close scrutiny by these Fascists programs.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 5:49am

    Re:

    "In WW2 Germany did not know about the Allies use of Radar, without that knowledge they were unable to develop counter measures for stop it."

    I guess bombing the numerous radar antenna is not considered a viable counter measure. They may not have understood radar at the beginning of the war, but they knew enough to bomb the installations.


    "Same with this, if you know about it you can develop ways to get around it, if you don't know about it (the details) you cant counter measure it."

    Really? Prudence is for suckers eh?



    "But to try to make the argument that if you have to be secret to spy on someone your doing it wrong does not seem to make a lot sense."

    Hell no. It takes place out in the open on a routine basis.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    UK's media is pathetic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 8:15am

    We are all terrorist now because we loved the leaks.

     

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  28.  
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    Tony Lambu, Oct 12th, 2013 @ 12:52am

    MI5 NSA GCHQ NCA CIA FBI

    They r all in it together. Hogwash

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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