UK Spy Agency Fails In Attempt To Bury Records Of Its Criminal Activity

from the can't-have-a-secure-nation-without-a-certain-amount-of-crime dept

Hi, kids! Do you like state-ordained violence? Want to see me [redacted] in each one of my [redacted]? Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did? [Bond theme intensifies.]

The Snowden leaks gave us some of the first looks behind the Vantablack curtain surrounding intelligence efforts engaged in by US allies in the UK. The Snowden sneak peek enabled legal challenges that routinely found UK intelligence agencies were violating the rights of UK citizens, as well as those the UK government has unilaterally declared rightsless.

More rights violations and general wrongfulness has been uncovered. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal doesn’t like what it’s been seeing from MI6, which has apparently let its sources and informants run wild. The Tribunal doesn’t say what criminal violations have been committed in the name of national security, but its limited ruling expresses its displeasure with attempted MI6 interference and its apparent blessing of criminal actions.

MI6 agents and informants may be committing crimes in the UK, a watchdog has revealed.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal disclosed the ruling despite government attempts to keep the matter secret.

It also said questions raised should be disclosed to campaigners, who have been asking for greater legal clarity over what the intelligence agencies can do.

It comes a day after the intelligence services watchdog raised its own questions about some MI6 activities.

The ruling [PDF] doesn’t say anything about the criminal acts. Instead, it focuses on MI6’s attempt to derail the judicial process. Ongoing legal proceedings have demanded a level of forthcoming-ness British intelligence agencies aren’t accustomed to. MI6 reacted badly. This resulted in MI6 employees trying to talk the court into shutting further transparency down. The court rejected this… publicly.

Fifthly, in March 2019, it was recognised that the direct communication which took place with the tribunal was inappropriate. An apology was given and it was clearly recognised that nothing like this should happen in the future. At the hearing before us, Sir James Eadie acknowledged that everyone had recognised that something serious had gone wrong.

These conversations dealt with revelations British intelligence agencies felt shouldn’t be shared with the public.

On 5 March 2019, two members of the respondents’ staff contacted the tribunal secretary to state that the documents should not have been provided to the tribunal. On 7 March 2019, the tribunal secretary wrote to the respondents at the request of the President and stated that it was inappropriate to seek to intervene in the way that they had sought to do.

The government wants to hide something. Possibly that “something” is included in a recent report by IPT’s oversight. The recently released report doesn’t dig into the details, but makes it clear something approaching abhorrent was ordained by intelligence community handlers.

On renewal, six months after the original submission, SIS set out a number of indicators that the agent may have been involved in, or have contemplated, the serious criminality referenced above. We concluded that, on the basis of this new information, SIS’s ‘red lines’ had most likely been breached, but the renewal submission failed to make this clear. Whilst the submission referred to SIS’s ‘red lines’ and provided information about criminality that may have occurred and noted an increased risk in the case, it did not make expressly clear that SIS’s ‘red lines’ had probably been crossed.

That’s the determination. Bad things were done but it was not made clear that bad things were done in written reports. It’s a policy violation. It’s also probably a human rights violation, but as far as its oversight can see, it’s mostly problematic because the proper James Bond paperwork wasn’t filled out correctly.

The IPT’s refusal to bury this decision shows it’s willing to tackle the most problematic aspects of national security openly, for the most part. The fact that MI6 tried to bury everything via a bypass of the adversarial process is an indication it won’t be handling things honestly in the future. When the bad stuff comes out — as it always does eventually — UK spooks will try to bury it.

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Comments on “UK Spy Agency Fails In Attempt To Bury Records Of Its Criminal Activity”

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That One Guy (profile) says:


MI6 in private messages: It’d be really great if you were to look the other way regarding our criminal activity and let us keep pretending it doesn’t exist.

Investigatory Powers Tribunal to everyone within earshot: Hey everyone, MI6 would really like you not to know about it’s criminal activity! … Now then what were you saying, something about not airing your dirty laundry?

Anonymous Coward says:

It's all Ian Fleming's fault.

When the bad stuff comes out — as it always does eventually — UK spooks will try to bury it.

MI6 has such a good cover story in the James Bond films that you just wouldn’t expect it of them.

I mean sure, the FBI had The G-men, The FBI Story, and The Siege, but they also had Panther, and oh so many actual public faux pas. Can you say "COINTELPRO", boys and girls? I knew you could!

The CIA, meanwhile had much more direct attempts to control its media protrayal. For its trouble, it got "Glomared", stories of "the Cocaine Import Agency", and so on. They couldn’t BUY good press. … and they have tried.

FSB, KGB, bah. In the US, they are portrayed as villains, so there’s no trust there. But hey, fresh stories of FSB agents able to quote oddly specific details about English cathedral spires, and hot-off-the-presses stories of russian agents being trolled by their victim into revealing their deep-and-evil plans. Kinda makes you think about all those black powder bombs Boris and Natasha used, and how it paints a clown face on an otherwise unassuming Johnathan Teh-ah-tim-eh.

But what do MI6 get? James Bond and the Kingsmen. The whole genrea of "over-the-top", incredible gadgets (and budgets), enough arm candy to rot your … nevermind. You can’t buy that kind of PR.

… or can you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Better late than never: These people are becoming desparate

Hypothesis: Security organizations (and their parent regimes) are becoming desperate.

So many security organizations and parent regimes (ostensibly democratic and otherwise) have engaged in such bad behavior for so long that they can not recruit sufficient "good" people anymore. Good people as defined as well trained, ethical, honest, trustworthy and truthful aka virtuous/respectable.

The inability to recruit good people means that they can’t trust their own people, as well as anyone else. The inability to trust others turns security organizations and regimes into organized crime like organizations where the organization is the only entity it’s people can "rely" on and everyone else is a target. Further, the philosophy is to "damn" the future and get all you can today.

Worse, the not-good people who can be recruited are as self interested and self serving as the security organization, it’s leaders and it’s regime, thus, the organization can’t rely on itself.

Good people are going elsewhere, outside the realms where security organizations and their parent regimes work.

In due course there will be no more "good" people. As ostensible socialism takes hold, all who attempt to be "good" must be destroyed in order to not stand out as superior to the mob. All who attempt to be "good" must be destroyed in order to prevent one executive/bureaucrat from showing themselves superior to their peers and advancing (by effectively using "good" subordinates).

On the other hand, the real world of technology mandates as significant amount of work done correctly. Fuel, food, communications, drugs and so on can not be "persuaded" to come into being. Computers must be correctly programed in order to get the correct results (GIGO). The real world will allow only a limited amount of politics, regardless of the force used.

Therefore, security organizations and their parent regimes are becoming desperate. Entities like MI6, CIA, FBI, DoD and their counterparts elsewhere are progressively falling behind technologically, for want of "good" people. While they will always be able to recruit muscle, they are losing ground in recruiting good technology people. There will always be villain technology types available for organized crime, terrorist groups and shabby governments. Thus, the ability of security organization to effectively protect their regime, budget and executive perks is deteriorating, more quickly than is comfortable for those losing power. Ergo, time to become desperate.

(Of course the first action of the desperate is to deny being desperate.)

Remember: Power corrupts absolutely, absolute power corrupts faster!

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