Revelations About Massive UK Police Corruption Shows Why We Cannot -- And Must Not -- Trust The Spies

from the trust-no-one dept

As Mike reported recently, the NSA has presented no credible evidence that its bulk metadata collection is stopping terrorist attacks, or keeping people safe. Instead, the argument in support of the secret activities of the NSA and its friends abroad has become essentially: "Trust us, we really have your best interests at heart." But that raises the question: Can we really do that? New revelations from The Independent newspaper about massive and thorough-going corruption of the UK police and judiciary a decade ago show that we can't:

The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.

In 2003 Operation Tiberius found that men suspected of being Britain's most notorious criminals had compromised multiple agencies, including [UK tax and customs services] HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the City of London Police and the Prison Service, as well as pillars of the criminal justice system including juries and the legal profession.
If an entire criminal justice system can be corrupted so completely, there's no reason to believe that agencies like the NSA or the UK's GCHQ are immune. After all, they have the same ethos of serving the public that supposedly prevents them from betraying the trust placed in them (but didn't in the case of the UK police), and the same kind of privileged access to important and valuable information that inevitably makes them attractive targets for blackmail and bribery.

Snowden showed us in a dramatic fashion just how easy it is for an individual to access and copy top secret material. In his case, we are fortunate that his strong moral principles led him to reveal the abuses he found, rather than selling them to the highest bidder. Next time we may not be so lucky, so we need to build a system that assumes people are weak or corrupt, and make it as hard as possible for them to get away with any unauthorized use of the system. Despite what the NSA and GCHQ would like, that requires not trust, but its exact opposite.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:36am

    If an entire criminal justice system can be corrupted so completely, there's no reason to believe that agencies like the NSA or the UK's GCHQ are immune.

    The Govt as a whole is not to be completely trusted. There will always be interests infiltrating. They can be criminal, ideological, religious... What if the [insert religion here] get the majority in the Govt and start pushing laws that suit their dogma? Then at a later stage thei start using the espionage apparatus to persecute those that are not in line with their ideas? Is it far fetched or do we already see the church interfering in the laws for instance? What about totalitarians, has it happened before?

    The argument against such broad invasion are sound and strong. The only ones that won't accept them are those benefiting from these exact issues.

     

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  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    To be fair some people that embrace the surveillance state are actually just clueless about the implications. Or simply can't see the complexity of the issue. So my last sentence may be kind of wrong.

     

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  3.  
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    ethorad (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    "Next time we may not be so lucky"

    Don't you mean "The previous N times we weren't so lucky"

    The problem is we don't know how big N is

     

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  4.  
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    Niall (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:34am

    This will be the same City of London Police that think they can unilaterally shut sites down without any due process, other than MAFIAA say-so/kickbacks? :)

     

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  5.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Bu, bu, but . . . Copyright!

    Isn't the criminal infiltration of government okay if it is for the purpose of stretching copyright to infinity?

    * infinite copyright length
    * automatic takedowns of a site and anything near it upon mere complaint
    * no evidence required
    * no due process
    * no appeals
    * levies on blank media, internet, blank paper, and bathroom tissue -- to compensate artists
    * statutory copyright damages that dwarf the entire global economic output of humanity for all human history

     

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  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    This "IF" is a major part of the problem: people don't grasp fundamentals:

    "If an entire criminal justice system can be corrupted so completely..." -- That's ALWAYS true, and rest of gov't TOO. -- And the NSA tie-in is silly: corruption existed before all the gadgets, and in corporations TOO.

    Challenge: state ONE gov't or corporation that has ever voluntarily limited its size or control. -- YOU CAN'T. -- But why don't you apply that to present trends and oppose coporate power TOO?

    05:51:43[g-602-7]

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    What if the [insert religion here] get the majority in the Govt and start pushing laws that suit their dogma?


    Nothing wrong with that, assuming it doesn't rise to the level of an establishment of religion. If the religion of the duly elected majority states that God established us as stewards of the earth and we therefore have a responsibility to reduce mercury levels in the groundwater, you cannot object just because they are doing it for religious reasons. It has a public benefit, regardless of the religious motives involved.

    Then at a later stage thei start using the espionage apparatus to persecute those that are not in line with their ideas?


    THAT would be a problem. I suppose that if we didn't already have the apparatus in place they could just build it, but that takes time, and it gains legitimacy if it's something that's already there.

     

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  8.  
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    Jerrymiah, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:06am

    The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.

    In the US, the NSA has already been infiltrated by the likes of:

    John C Inglis
    Mike Rogers
    Keith Alexander
    Michael Hayden
    Peter King
    Nancy Pelosi
    James Clapper
    Diane Feinstein

    to name only a few

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:14am

    Re: The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.

    And they will all exfiltrate to cushy jobs in the private sector.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:36am

    even in the last few months we have read about the UK courts jailing people for sharing web site links, about web sites being blocked without the owner/runner being informed, all on the demand of the entertainment industries, let alone given the chance to defend themself, then we have the situation where Cameron has instigated porn sites blocked, under the disguise of 'saving the children', knowing full well that it is against EU regulations to do that because it leaves the ISPs open to prosecution as they are 'interfering with the free flow of information through their pipes'

     

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  11.  
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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    I can't help but think that the people, in every country, every nation, is going to get fed up with this surveilance and it's going to turn into a a global civil war between the people and the petty fogging politicians who continue to abuse our constitutional, civil and human rights.

     

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  12.  
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    Dirkmaster (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    Yep, perfect example of being corrupted by "the good guys". And proof that the oversight is insufficient.

     

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  13.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 11:49am

    Re:

    What if the [insert religion here] get the majority in the Govt and start pushing laws that suit their dogma?

    and those of a religious disposition should remember that getting too close to the state has its dangers for them also.

    The mechanisms that were used by Stalin to persecute the church in Russia in the 20's and 30's were put in place under the previous Tsarist regime.

     

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  14.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    The question is, if the government cannot be trusted, what is the solution? Unfortunately (and paradoxically) at least half the people you talk to will suggest some change or law that actually increases government power.

    The solution to government corruption is smaller government. If there is less power and money in the government's hands, then there is less incentive to try and take it or abuse it.

     

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  15.  
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    Alien Rebel (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    The problem with power is that it's not a question of less or more. Smaller government means a vacuum for others. Do you think Goldmad-sacks wouldn't finance their own army, and use it for fun and profit, if they could?

    I suggest you think about who keeps spreading that nonsense and why. Geez, if I had a nickle for all the times I've heard "small government" mindlessly repeated, I'd be an oligarch by now.

     

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  16.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re:

    That's right. Theocrats forget (or ignore) that the separation of church and state explicitely exists to protect the church as much as the state.

     

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  17.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re:

    The solution is for us to stop thinking of "the government" as some kind of entity that is separate from us. It's not, it is us, it serves at our pleasure, and we are it's bosses.

    The reason that it was successfully taken over by the crowd that currently runs it is because we, as a nation, have forgotten who is really in charge.

    In the end, the buck stops with us.

     

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  18.  
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    1st Person Pronoun, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:44pm

    Response to: kenichi tanaka on Jan 15th, 2014 @ 10:48am

    At that point, it's not a civil war.That's WW3

     

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  19.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    By default the government has certain responsibilities - basically it is responsible for everything that we cannot do without. Where those responsibilities coincide with something that is a natural monopoly or where most providers will be "too big to be allowed to fail" (defence, law enforcement, finance) or something where market mechanisms cannot work properly (health, education, a safety net for the poor and the unfortunate) then direct state involvement is inevitable. For other necessities (eg food) the state will have to provide a degree of regulation and contingency planning. Any attempt to shrink the state beyond this inevitable (and rather large) size is a charade designed to enrich certain powerful individuals at the public expense.

    Having said that there are some areas of the state I would like to shrink (because they don't fall into the categories above). The obvious example here is (so called) intellectual property.

     

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  20.  
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    1st Person Pronoun, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I see what you did there

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re: The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.

    Yo, DoJ! Extradition already? :-)

     

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  22.  
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    donalds (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:56pm

    police corruption

    DoD study on random polygraphs for personnel. http://t.co/Tr7uafTd

    "the polygraph is the single most effective tool for finding information people were trying to hide." - DIA, NSA.

    CBP could require current employees to undergo polygraphs. http://t.co/MpPsmq2p

    Make policy that polygraphs for all new hires expire every 2-5yrs. http://shar.es/epfm2

    Random drug, lie detector tests for Police Officers in Spain. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Random-drug-lie-detector-tests-221734651.

    LAPD body video cameras. http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-dodgers-lapd-20131002,0,4237783.story

    The honest, brave officers with integrity deserve better.

    And so does the public.

    Wherever you are in the World, in your own jurisdictions, in your own capacity, you can do something, anything, just one thing. And make a difference.

    Body cameras for fighthing misconduct.

    Routine polygraphs as hiring policy for fighting corruption.

    Break the code. Break the culture.

    Plain and simple.

     

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  23.  
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    DaveHowe (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:06am

    Everybody has a handle

    ... and everybody has a price. All you can hope is that the price of those you have to rely on is too high for anyone to afford.

    Think *you* don't? What if your child was dying, and they *could* be saved, if only....?

     

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

  24.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:13am

    Re: Re:

    It has a public benefit, regardless of the religious motives involved.

    In this specific example. Look no further than some theocratic countries in the Arab world to see there are plenty of issues with letting religion run loose with the Government.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:40am

    Re:

    See the Red states for examples of what you're saying in practice. I am outraged that in 31 states, rapists have paternal rights over their victims' babies and can have visitation rights enforced.

    http://www.thewire.com/national/2012/08/31-states-grant-rapists-custody-and-visitation-rights/56118

    S omething something fetus something fathers have rights too something marriage something make lemonade.

    As a member of a small Protestant church, I worry that I may soon discover that I'm the wrong kind of Christian. I'm already the wrong kind of conservative, and am regularly bashed by right-wingers who say I'm a liberal socialist because I'm moderate.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 16th, 2014 @ 1:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What John Fenderson says. Pay attention, people!

    We've allowed ourselves to be convinced that the government is an insidious enemy at the gates, creeping in an inch at a time like a freeloading relative who won't get the hint about leaving. It's actually an institution we the people created to provide the administration services we need to run the country.

    The idea that a private agency could or would do this as a disinterested act of altuism for its own sake is laughable. When it's ours and paid for with our dollars, we own it. And that means we're the bosses. It's time to remind our employees that they work for us. Or get fired in the next election.

     

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  27.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Re: police corruption

    Umm, how about 'no'?

    Polygraphs tests are a joke in every circle except the conmen selling them, and the conned who keep buying them, everyone else knows how insanely inaccurate they are, so making them mandatory like that would not solve the problems.

     

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

  28.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re:

    If the religion of the duly elected majority states that God established us as stewards of the earth and we therefore have a responsibility to reduce mercury levels in the groundwater, you cannot object just because they are doing it for religious reasons.


    Sure I can.

    Regardless of how good the outcome, if the rationale to get there ("god said so") is accepted then a precedent is established, and you can bet that there will be additional, less obviously good, laws that will be enacted on the same premise.

    "Establishment of religion" doesn't simply mean that a given religion is deemed as "official". If the laws are based on a religious beliefs, that's just as much -- maybe even more -- of an establishment as making a religion official.

     

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

  29.  
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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 12:02pm

    I bet large companies read union activists email.

     

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


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