Feeds

back to article GCHQ tracks diplomats' hotel bookings to plant bugs, say leaked docs

The latest Snowden leaks have revealed that Australia spies on the heads of state of its neighbours while the UK monitors luxury hotel bookings made by foreign diplomats, among other unsurprising revelations. Australian intelligence attempted to spy on phone calls made by the President of Indonesia, his wife and entourage while …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge

Not.

I am shocked, simply shocked at this wholly unexpected revelation. Thank goodness it has come to light. Now that our leaders know about, we can be sure this will be corrected.

Not.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Not.

Must say if I were the government I'd be rather miffed if GCHQ weren't doing this - it is rather what we pay them to do.

4
2
Silver badge

all your base belong us

What's next - tapping the hotel sewers to extract DNA and biological samples?

1
0
Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: Version 1.0 Re: all your base belong us

"....extract DNA and biological samples?" Allegedly, there is often doubt as to whether a diplomat is actually a spy with a diplomatic job as cover, or just a foreign spy using a completely different and innocent diplomat's cloned ID as cover. One of the ways to ensure you can identify the "diplomat" in future is to collect DNA and fingerprintsbfrom their hotel room, either whilst they are there or the moment they check out. The KGB used to go a step further and coat hotel door handles with mildly radioactive dust - when the "diplomat" went out, any door or person he came into contact with got marked with the dust, allowing the KGB to easily track Western efforts to make contact with Russians. There are some fun stories about ladies of the night in Moscow positively glowing after a visit by Bill Clinton!

1
5
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Version 1.0 all your base belong us

Such "ladies of the night in Moscow" coming into contact (oo-er, missus) with Clinton would definitely have been KGB/FSB (depending upon when) operatives, anyway.

1
0
Gold badge

Re: all your base belong us

No, given the logic by which these agencies work I suspect it will end up with a ban on the use of Powerpoint :)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: all your base belong us

According to wikileaks, American Diplomats are asked to collect DNA of the people they meet. The Americans are simply disgusting.

0
3

Re: all your base belong us

"What's next - tapping the hotel sewers to extract DNA and biological samples?"

Has already been done.

When Nikita Khrushchev visited Vienna in 1961, for a summit meeting with Kennedy, the CIA allegedly rented the hotel room below his and tapped (groan) the plumbing to gather K's bodily waste. Similar operations have made against other world leaders such as the late Syrian President Hafez Assad and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev by the Mossad and the CIA.

1
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: all your base belong us

"When Nikita Khrushchev visited Vienna in 1961, for a summit meeting with Kennedy, the CIA allegedly rented the hotel room below his and tapped (groan) the plumbing to gather K's bodily waste."

Adds a whole new meaning to the phrase "Side channel attack" does it not?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Version 1.0 all your base belong us

There are some fun stories about ladies of the night in Moscow positively glowing after a visit by Bill Clinton!

Hmm, "Hotlips" :)

1
0
Bronze badge
Happy

Re: Version 1.0 all your base belong us

There, you see? You've been marked down because no one liked what you posted. That there is truth in your words is completely irrelevant, for this is the world of imaginary democracy, where espionage was not brought to new heights by Walsingham, and has never been and never will be justified. The modern attitude to intelligence and spying is akin to that prevalent in the western world to the modern sciences after WWII; rather than get their fingers dirty, 'nice' middle class people with education (most of them, e.g.) opted for analytic philosophy, calling it science. They didn't have to wear white coats, they could pontificate and moralise and, best of all, the birds loved them because there's nothing like a pseud if you want to be shagged. Allegedly.

Watch my post attract down votes like merde attracts flies, like magnets attract iron filings, like planets attract inter planetary detritus, like diplomats attract 'informers', like classified information attracts information thieves, like Julian Assange attracts money [...]. C'mon boiz, I'll be disappointed if you don't, and you know it.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: all your base belong us

For more than 50 years it has been taught to the appropriate battlefield intelligence operatives that they collect excrement and assess it. For example, if the merde is running freely amongst the majority of the troops, that is evidence that they are anxious and their bodies are mobilised. I'm not sure what solid coprolites mean in battlefield intelligence speak (I didn't do the course), but my modern scientific training indicates this could be due to haemorrhoids, a poor diet, or even the lack of a poor crap hole; when I was desperate for a shit I'd run off to the general's personal crapper and make a deposit; it never smelled bad! So if the Soviet battlefield folk had the job of analysing my general's shit they'd find it necessary to run DNA analyses on the DNA matter left on the outside of each turd, in order to assess if it originated from the same people. Knowing the general's DNA would of course help them to be sure if it was him being anxious/laid back and so on, or me; my turds were always regular, because of using his bog and not worrying about the stink of the communal ones. Ah bliss. ...and I was only ever caught out once, but not by the general.

1
0
Bronze badge
Happy

Re: Version 1.0 all your base belong us

Houlahan!

0
0
Bronze badge

Common practice, sometimes with unintended consequences...

I remember the story of one diplomat who, convinced the metal object he had found under his hotel carpet was a bug, unscrewed it. In fact it was holding up the chandelier from the ballroom below.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Common practice, sometimes with unintended consequences...

I suspect that is an urban myth, funny as it is. Few buildings have floors that thin, so a chandelier anchor would normally never reach floor level at the floor above.

2
0

Re: Common practice, sometimes with unintended consequences...

No, it's a true story. I saw a documentary about it, starring Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

JOKE/

I've had my suspicions for a long time... about that Indonesian bloke... have you seen the colour of his skin... he's obviously dodgy, and liable to become a terrorist at any moment, so he's an obvious target for anti-terrorism monitoring.

/JOKE

If I were the Indonesian President right now, I'd be summoning the British Ambassador to explain why his intelligence chiefs have publicly implied that I am a paedophile... that is the excuse GCHQ used to justify their over-reaching spying programs, isn't it?

Who'd have thought diplomats were so much more likely than the rest of us to be prone to sexually abusing children? GCHQ seem to think so.

3
4
Silver badge

Good point, except this was the Aussies, not the Brits (although they all share (most) intelligence). They'd be much more interested in Indonesia than we are.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Speigel

Apologies, I don't know where to send in corrections, but it should be "Der Spiegel" not "Der Speigel", I assume you made a typo :)

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Speigel

At the top of the page next to the big "Post comment" button, don't worry I missed it until it was pointed out to me too. Was so much more obvious when it was on the same page as the article.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

A friend of mine was travelling on the Number 10 plane on a trip to Moscow. He was told that the return flight was being changed and they were going somewhere else before returning to the UK.

He was told he could ring his boss to explain what was going on, but nobody else.

The next morning he was told off in no uncertain way that he should not have called his wife, and had prompted a security alert which meant the flight had to be rerouted...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

One should assume they have some ladies in Whitehall, who could notify relatives without compromising Operational Security. Or, CESG could provide these people with a communications system that is encrypted and monitored (by humans in the UK) until reaching the UK phone system.

But yeah, everybody should be instructed not to reveal travel details, as that indeed could be used to place a team with HF scanners and a Stinger-type missiles to take down the plane while approaching an airport. Or do nasty things with the fuel supply of the plane in question.

0
0
Bronze badge

The joke about the Indonesian president issue is that Oz PM actually said that the term spying should not be used as it is "kind of loaded language" and that instead it should be described as "research". Hold on one moment, is research using convert means on a foreign government not the definition of spying? What an idiot.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

The interwebs is a double-edged sword... Data collection of your marks is made easier, but the dissemination of information is even easier. Remember the brouhaha the Government of the time made of 'Spycatcher'

0
0

Based on all the leaks

Do we assume that Russia, China, France, Israel, etc don't do this or do we simply assume that they have a much better approach to the recruitment of staff and maintaining their loyalty to King/Queen/President and country?

I am just getting a little bored of this one sided process of releasing information about the antics of the English speaking western nations. Does no one have any good leaks about the other countries situated on this planet? I am pretty sure that every single thing that has been leaked by Snowden and others is also being done by every other country to the extent that their ability to buy the technology lets them.

Perhaps the UK and US should take a tip from one of their global competitors around staff management and job termination policies.

5
1
Silver badge

Re: Based on all the leaks

Yes but they are evil empires that we spend billions of $$ pointing nukes at (except Israel) - we are the good guys.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Based on all the leaks

"Perhaps the UK and US should take a tip from one of their global competitors around staff management and job termination policies."

I would have thought that the majority of their global competitors manage this not so much due to their staff management and job termination policies, but to their job management and staff termination policies...

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Based on all the leaks

"Yes but they are evil empires that we spend billions of $$ pointing nukes at (except Israel) - we are the good guys."

And except France, presumably. Or do you think not?

1
0
Bronze badge
Flame

What else would you expect from our so-called democracies?

Australia with its Defence Signals Directorate, New Zealand, Canada, US and UK have been at this shady caper for years so we shouldn't be a bit surprised.

Moreover, the Indonesians are almost certainly doing the same—their present show of indignation should be just translated as jealousy that their technical capabilities at tapping aren't quite up to the combined efforts of the English-speaking cabal.

Nevertheless, Snowden's leaks are a solid confirmation of what any thinking person already knows.

However, what's key and needs to be mentioned repeatedly is that in our so-called democracies the 'real' government is unelected, not immediately obvious and essentially unaccountable to us citizens.

For hundreds if not thousands of years, it's The Diplomatic Service of each of these countries that essentially drives spying, negotiates and involves us in wars, lumbers us with treaties such as SOPA, ACTA and WIPO and such, all of which they carry out in secret, etc. We, the public, are completely excluded from their negations and decisions which ultimately end up having a dramatic effect on our daily lives.

Although this does not apply to corporations and large multinationals; as we've seen, they've little trouble in lobbying and even drafting many of the treaties that our governments just rubber-stamp.

Furthermore, these diplomats consistently manage to deflect attention and blame from themselves whilst simultaneously getting our elected governments to rubber-stamp their secret negotiations. What WikiLeaks and Snowden's revelations repeatedly exemplify is that we citizens need to make these secret 'unaccountable' diplomatic governments openly and transparently accountable to us the public.

Nevertheless, it's clear in all this hoo-hah over WikiLeaks, Snowden etc., that again the diplomats have succeeded in escaping their fair share of recognition.

Unfortunately, the press and we the public are to blame for being so easily sidetracked.

3
3

So true

@ RobHib

When will we ever wake up.

They have so many things there to keep us entertained & distracted not to mention life itself being so challenging right now.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: So true

Life has always been challenging no?

Remember running from the 'saurs?

2
0
Bronze badge
Big Brother

Dear Concerned Heads of State...

How to thwart the dreaded GCHQ:

#1: Announce that you are going to stay at luxury Hotel in country 'X'.

#2: On arrival at luxury Hotel, slip out the back and stay at a nice

little B&B down the road and use their landline for all important

calls, which will be harder to tap and will require the Home Office

to get involved thus leaving a nice paper trail all the way to No 10.

No charge to you.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Concerned Heads of State...

.. and for God's sake leave your phone at home. Secure or not, it transmits a serial number so you might as well stick a tracker in your briefcase.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Concerned Heads of State...

Now you know why we must capture 100% of traffic of all you Civilians for threee days and all of your metadata for 30 days.

You could be harbouring the consul of Malta more or less illegally in your unregistered hostel !

Sincerely

Sir Archibald P. Tom

Director General GCHQ, Member of House of Lords, Member of the Order Of Canterbury And Other Importantnesses

3
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Concerned Heads of State...

#1: Announce that you are going to stay at luxury Hotel in country 'X'.

#2: On arrival at luxury Hotel, slip out the back and stay at a nice

little B&B down the road and use their landline for all important

calls, which will be harder to tap and will require the Home Office

to get involved thus leaving a nice paper trail all the way to No 10.

You wish. That's one of the issues, covert ops have become too covert to be supervised. Most likely it'll be arranged via the nod nod, wink wink route. What's more, once you give them the slip you are certain to receive extra attention. Instead, enjoy giving them misinformation. That way you can laugh at them when they try to blackmail you with it, because if you do it well they will not know they've been fed BS until the time they try to use the information.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Dear Concerned Heads of State...

No. Give you phone to someone else flying out. Tell them to take battery out 1 hour prior going to airport as airport is a legal no mans land, where British law does not necessarily apply (in the case of the UK). When they get to destination put battery in 1 hour after landing and give it to someone else travelling. Continue like this and confusion will reign.

A phone is worse than any tracker giving out GPS location stats in some cases and acts as a bug.

Failing that, get a PGP encrypted Blackberry with 6 months credit and a key that you do not know !!! Used wisely they are really good and obviously should never travel with your normal phone as pattern analysis will identify it.

0
1
Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

Tsk! Don't be silly!

Everyone nose that we in the UK don't have spies. We have intelligence operators who gather intelligence AND we have James Bond.

Other nations have spies and you can tell them easily because they do things like wear shoes and when you click the heals together sharp (as in really, really manhood piercingly sharp) metal blades flick out from the toes of the shoes.

We in the UK need to have a first-line, frontline means of defense against such peoples.

1
0

Yawn.....

http://www.newser.com/story/177343/how-obama-outwits-spies-with-a-tent.html

There are a slew of other stories on the subject. Pick one. NYT's is pretty good.

In Japan they've been bugging hotel rooms for years to collect sex videos to sell online. There's a wide offering of bugged lamps, clocks, radios and smoke detectors available cheap. It's completely impossible to clean a hotel room of cameras and microphones without demolishing the room.

So any VIP who doesn't realize this is going on is clueless and has an equally incompetent staff.

2
0
Meh

Imagine my surprise

...to discover the security services spy on foreign diplomats! Who would have thought that possible?!

It get's more like Hollywood every day - next you'll be telling us "dissident shot with tiny pellet of Ricin" or some such other nonsense!

2
0
This topic is closed for new posts.