back to article Revealed: GCHQ's beyond top secret Middle Eastern internet spy bawe

Above-top-secret details of Britain’s covert surveillance programme - including the location of a clandestine British base tapping undersea cables in the Middle East - have so far remained secret, despite being leaked by fugitive NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden. Government pressure has meant that some media organisations, despite …

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FAIL

Re: Shahahahaha what a sham Re: Jim 59 TRAITORS

".....maybe ours is the sort where people no longer question why so much of our lives is spent "working" and so little "playing"....." Bullshit. My grandfather worked sixty hour weeks every week in a draughting office and considered himself lucky. Miners and the like in the Twenties worked much longer hours in much worse conditions for much less pay than the average office "wage slave" of today. Before people start bitching about how they have it tough they really need to go read some history and get some perspective.

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Big Brother

Re: TRAITORS

There is real danger in keeping all this secret.

There is power, dangerous power in these wiretapping activities, including the power to rig elections, manipulate public opinion, and suppress political opposition.

Keeping this power secret opens the door wide for abuse. Without public knowledge, this power can quickly be used AGAINST those it is supposed to PROTECT.

Kudos for making this public!

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Re: TRAITORS

Do you seriously think that anyone at GCHQ has the time, or interest, to look into the average El Reg commentard's extra-martial philanderings?

Are you being deliberately difficult or do you really not realise what the issue is with allowing untargetted data collection?

Of course GCHQ is not intereted in your, or my, email or our personal failings. Not unless we become a "person of interest". For example, write an exposé article for El Reg, or get our MP to ask an embarassing question, or investigate corruption, or campaign for or against abortion, or animal rights, or organise a national strike. At that point, it would be very convenient for the government if they could look back at everything we (and our friends and family) ever did or wrote and try to find some way to discredit us.

I am not worried for myself, I am worried for investigative journalists, campaigning lawyers, radical politicians, or anyone else who should be being given the full protection of the law but instead are being shafted by it. Government ministers are the last people who should be able to authorise wide surveillance powers -- that should be an emergency power, only used in time of overwhelming national need, authorised by parliament and made in public.

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3x2

Re: TRAITORS

I have to say that I would be more shocked if our 'security services' were not doing this.

The long term problem I see is that it has just got out of hand and your (RIPA enabled) local council can delve into your comms at will if they can come up with some law breaking (wrong rubbish, wrong bin) activity that you are involved in.

It is one thing to 'spy' upon potential enemies and quite another to use that as an excuse to monitor your home population in order to help some local council fuckwit in its upcoming court case.

Mi(?) monitoring 'foreign activities' I can live with. Who wants some IRA bomb exploding in my local shopping centre?

But ... The ability of 'Sir' Cyril Smith (via his contacts in Government and 'The Party') or Savile (via his local council and BBC contacts) being allowed to monitor the activity of anyone who gets close to their 'activities'... Well now we see the problem in giving any 'government' employed wank stain (on childrens bed sheet) the ability to shut down any 'journalist or 'victim' that might come close to exposing them.

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Re: TRAITORS

The NSA has had to routinely discipline staff for illegally looking up exes, girlfriends. boyfriends, celebrities, neighbours, etc

As have UK police and the NHS

Do you honestly think GCHQ staff aren't doing it? It's human nature to find what dirt can be dug on people around you in order to have leverage over them - ESPECIALLY amongst the kind of personalities which gravitate to these organisations.

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Re: TRAITORS@ I ain't Spartacus

"The interesting thing is that despite the lack of public support for all of these actual or potential interventions, there is clearly an influential constituency who are keen on war and foreign intervention."

It's worth listening to the Dead Kennedys "Kinky sex makes the world go around" - the track is 35 years old but still devastatingly on point.

"The companies think it's time we all got together, sat down and had another war"

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Re: the problem in a nutshell

"data slurping of this magnitude will just overwhelm the system."

I'm sure some of us can arrange to push it just that bit harder.

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Re: TRAITORS

"I include all religious and political nut jobs who think the answer to anything is to blow people up."

Time and time again the REAL long-term answer to those kinds of crazies has been shown to be "ensure that people have a decent standard of living".

It's poverty and deprivation which breeds extremists. The US and UK armies have been the best recruiting tool that al Quaeda and various other organisations could wish for.

On the subject of Syria: The vicious military dictatorship in place there was established by the USA, who backed a coup against the civilian, secular, democratic govt of the time.

There's a good reason most of the middle east population don't like or trust western powers and it's called "A recent history full of malevolent activities". (Not that the ex-USSR is any better). The area's been everyone's stomping ground for the last century and the locals are fairly justified in being pissed off.

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Re: TRAITORS — @ I ain't Spartacus

"Data that's obfuscating messages can be statistically analysed which reveals the presence of messages even if they're not able to be decrypted and the metadata (sender/receiver's ID etc.) may indicate reasons for intent to obfuscate."

Inspection of all those 1990s usenet gifs of Claudia Schiffer may prove somewhat interesting....

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Re: TRAITORS

"The issue with secret wide ranging warrants and secret interpretations and obfuscated laws is the function creep. Notice how "serious financial crime" is included. Where does it stop? What are the limits? "

Given that local councils have (ab)used such powers to spy on people putting out rubbish bins on the wrong day or fibbing about what school they live near, the question has to be rhetorical.

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Re: TRAITORS

Mean, median or mode?

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Stop

Re: Alan Brown Re: TRAITORS

".....It's poverty and deprivation which breeds extremists....." Bullshit. Bin Laden was a millionaire from an extremely influential Saudi family. Al Zwahiri comes from a well-off Egyptian family who had an university education and worked as a surgeon before dedicating his life to killing infidels. The nonsense that all extremists are just poor souls that need a little love, cash and education is so easily debunked I'm amazed anyone is still trying to peddle it.

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Re: KUDOS

No, the desalination station is further down the coast towards Muscat

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Re: TRAITORS

i don't think it's a huge loss.

A lot of the cabling can be reused/turned transparent and create better backbone for the internet. As for the locale , you can make like a school or something useful out of it. the agents, make them promote good business and economic/social ties between the countries so as to not need spying at all.

But I hate people who pretend to be offended on the behalf of Secret Service, If you want a more gaping example of waste of taxpayer money , look at all the fucking wars started in the region.

you sir are a complete buffoon.

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Re: TRAITORS

The people doing this spying are the traitors.

That is the thing. When those in government and military service put loyalty to unit, division, department or ministry ahead of loyalty to the nation and its people they become the most vile form of traitors.

"these installations cost tens of millions to design and build"

That's tens of millions of dollars spent by the most traitors acting against the interest of the British public.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: KUDOS

"the sort of article better left to New Statesman than an online IT rag."

Maybe so, but on that basis Worrall generally doesn't belong here either. If Worrall's stuff comes out here on a regular basis, with or without an IT connection, why not an occasional Duncan Campbell or similar ? Especially so if there is a genuine IT connection, as there is here.

Apologies if this has already been noted.

Any "SEO experts" know how we get this article headlining on Google News?

I'd encourage re-tweeting if I knew how....

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: KUDOS

There is also the small issue that nobody else in the media (Guardian, Indy on down) had enough guts to publish it. If those guys didn't, the chance of the Statesman doing so? Slim. But we were up for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TRAITORS

very convenient for the government if they could look back at everything we (and our friends and family) ever did or wrote and try to find some way to discredit us.

Paranoia rules!

Why would such a government waste time looking for such stuff when it would be easier just to make it up if and when they needed it? That's what governments have been doing for centuries. It's much simpler, cheaper and quicker than storing everything just in case they might need it, especially when they would then have to own up to where they got it from.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: KUDOS

"I'd chance a tenner on that thing at Seeb being a desalination station."

I'll take that Tenner, thank you. They tend to build desalination plants next to the water in that part of the world.

I'll give you a hint - look up the word 'Tropo-scatter'.

Seeing I'm unlikely to collect, i'll have a beer instead.

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Re: TRAITORS@ I ain't Spartacus

"If you recall, Saddam supposedly had WMD, and it all turned out to be a load of old c**k."

The people he mustard gassed would disagree.

That Saddam had such things is not really a matter of debate. That he'd got rid of them by the time we looked and that it was a shit-ridden excuse for Blair to launch a crusade are also true.

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Re: TRAITORS

"Despite the fact that 70% of the population want to see it brought back."

If 70% of the population wanted to be able to murder anyone who stepped on their lawn, would that be a justification, too?

Just because a lot of public (50% of which has a below average IQ) want it back, it doesn't mean it could or should happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TRAITORS

Can you really not believe how disgusted you are? I don't think you've seen very much of the world at all if this disgusts you.

Have you been sick yet? Bless you, you're quite funny.

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Re: TRAITORS

I have to agree with luke11. I am intrinsically linked to the work our government security services provide and it is careless for a UK publication to publish this. I am hugely disappointed. If you don't don't think that every single government across the world with any capability does not do as much secret spying as possible then you are a fool. Reg, you are upsetting important political balances that our country has spent hundreds of years cultivating. Whilst we are small we still have a bit of clout and I for one want it to stay that way. To publish this so you can get a few more hits and flog a bit more advertising space to IBM/MS/HP is frankly disgusting.

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Re: TRAITORS

<snip>

"egging Nigel Farage"

<snip>

God that sounds nasty. How about adding some flour, whisking it up and we could have him battered possibly with some chips from his electorate's shoulders.

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Childcatcher

Re: TRAITORS

In an increasingly totalitarian regime, like the United States of Britain, one has a moral obligation to be a traitor.

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Paris Hilton

@AC 6 Days ago...

"...the average El Reg commentard's extra-martial philanderings..."

extra-MARTIAL philanderings?

Why should commentards fancy (or be) a bit of rough?

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Re: TRAITORS

> See also, the difference between a hung parliament and a hanged parliament.

One is a annoyance, and the other is a Good Thing?

By the way, is anyone voting for the "put them all up against the wall and shoot them party" in the next elections ?

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J P
Black Helicopters

So long El Reg, it's been nice knowing you. (I'd have posted AC, but what would be the point..?)

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Alien

Dissapointed

I would have hoped that "3 levels above Top Secret" would be flying saucers and such like, not yet another politically sensitive spying-at-scale program.

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Re: Dissapointed

I would have hoped that "3 levels above Top Secret" would be flying saucers and such like

No, silly, the aliens are 11 levels above Top Secret

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Re: Dissapointed

I thought "11 levels above Top Secret" was the latest Spinal Tap album...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dissapointed

The aliens are the government.

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Re: Dissapointed

I actually thought when I read this, talk about secrecy creep! Why on earth do we need 3 levels about top secret, top secret was supposed to be the top (hence the name) and there are already levels lower than that! Tells you all you need to know about how well the various secret organisations manage to keep things secret.

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Britain's got secrets

> classified 3 levels above Top Secret

Looks like the good old Top Secret isn't quite so "top" any more.

A case of inflation or just using the "onion" strategy of having layer upon layer?

It does make you wonder, though. At what level are things really kept secret, so that only those who need to know, actually *are* the only ones who do know. And what is it that they seriously don't want us (or The Guardian) to know about.

We should be told!

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Re: Britain's got secrets

Yes, we need to know!

But the people in power will never tell us (I mean the Civil service of course, not politicians, they have no power that the Civil Service don't let them have, or have I been watching too much Yes Minister?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Britain's got secrets

How on Earth can you watch too much "Yes Minister"?

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Re: Britain's got secrets

"It does make you wonder, though. At what level are things really kept secret, so that only those who need to know, actually *are* the only ones who do know."

Classified.

ALL Classified+ information is need to know. Beyond all classification levels is the idea that the information is disseminated only to those who need to know it. If one has TS clearance, one cannot just read everything that's classified as TS, because one does not need to know.

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Re: Britain's got secrets

They don't want us know all the dirty little deals that were done in our name, that quite possibly were not in our collective interest and were definitely done without our knowledge or informed consent. And they are fully cognisant that if we had known, we would have vociferously objected.

They know perfectly well that the public will be incandescent when they fully realise what has been going on. They fear that.

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Meh

Re: Britain's got secrets

"They know perfectly well that the public will be incandescent when they fully realise what has been going on.."

If only. The UK public would stain to reach a dim red glow, unless it's about TV or sport- on TV.

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Re: Britain's got secrets

"At what level are things really kept secret"

That would be Strap 4, which covers codewords like CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Britain's got secrets

Pre-Snowden and barring the odd leak the first most people would hear about TOP SECRET material was when it was officially released 30 (or sometimes more) years after the event, so marking something TOP SECRET would have done the job.

Contrary to popular belief (and Register headlines) there's nothing 'above' TOP SECRET. Material may be compartmentalised and have a limited distribution, as is the case here, but it's actual classification will still be TOP SECRET.

Aside from these details, is anyone really surprised that GCHQ has assets in the Middle East? Really?

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Re: Britain's got secrets

"That would be Strap 4, which covers codewords like CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN."

Do not forget that we also have our secret Raven's who spy by making liasions and friendships with parties of interest. I believe that their security level is s strap a dicktome.

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Big Brother

Re: Britain's got secrets

They know perfectly well that the public will be incandescent when they fully realise what has been going on. They fear that.

I don't think they do. They won't welcome it but they certainly won't fear it. The worst which will happen in Britain is they get pushed out of office but the system will endure and they will find their way back in after a few years or decades. Meaningful outrage, revolution and fundamental change is for other countries.

In fact it's a fundamental part of the elected dictatorships the west calls democracy and is what makes those a success. Governments can fall on their swords to appease the citizens but the system and establishment remains untouched.

Big Brother isn't running the show from parliament nor Downing Street. You are simply looking at puppets there.

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Re: Britain's got secrets

>They know perfectly well that the public will be incandescent when they fully realise what has been going on. They fear that.

I think you overestimate the public. Consider the number who voted for UKIP, apparently believing that a former commodities trader with a history of creative expense claims is a political novelty item.

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Watching too much Yes. Minister

Maybe he's watched the ruinous retread

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Black Helicopters

Re: Britain's got secrets

>>"At what level are things really kept secret"

>That would be Strap 4, which covers codewords like CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

Beyond that you have to have signed paragraph 4 of the OSA.

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Re: Britain's got secrets

So this inflationary system is where they got the idea for the new a level grades. ;)

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Re: Britain's got secrets -- @ Jason Bloomberg

"Big Brother isn't running the show from parliament nor Downing Street. You are simply looking at puppets there."

Right. I can remember the time when Tony Blair's government was about to come into existence. Blair or one of his cohorts made the promise that they'd reverse the onus of the FOI laws--meaning that all government documents would, by default, be unclassified and available and that public servants etc. would have to apply to have them classified otherwise.

At the time I thought this was a deliberate election promise for the truly gullible or they were just damn stupid if they actually believed they could pull it off.

Of course 'Big Brother isn't running the show from parliament nor Downing Street', but his stronger-than-spider's-web strings firmly extend back to HQ (as they've always done).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Britain's got secrets

>If only. The UK public would stain to reach a dim red glow, unless it's about TV or sport- on TV.

Bread and Circuses have always been used to control the public. Just as spying has been used probably since people started to form complex societies and structures such as villages, towns, cities and then countries. They are three tools used keep the people in power in power.

Luke 11 could be a Troll or one of the most naive readers of El Reg - after all most people who read this site know of Echelon and are smart enough to understand bread and circuses references. Luke please see Duncan Campbell's 1988 article in the Newstatesman for some of the earliest info on data gathering. Oh and I think people said similar things of Campbell as they are saying of Snowden.

We have to assume that since Bread, Circuses and Spying are fundamental to human existence then these will evolve in complexity as society does. Echelon has evolved into today's data gathering and data mining. The question then is not "do they monitor us?" - but "is that power evidently being abused?" Snowden so far has only told us what a reasonably intelligent person could have guessed in that governmental powers use technology to spy on people.

So we should consider that monitoring can be done, and worry about the controls around that monitoring. Whilst the argument from some quarters would be that they don't abuse the power, and that those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear - I would question that view. Society without proper checks and balances is not a good society. If people have a reason, based on a sound suspicion or evidence, that someone's communications need monitoring, then take that evidence to a person appointed to be an independent arbiter. If the arbiter signs off then monitor and analyse, but if it turns up nothing then destroy the collected information. We need to ask if the approach we appear to be allowing our security services to indulge in; ie monitor and analyse everything, is acceptable. That approach wouldn't have been out of place in Stalins Russia or Hitlers Germany and isn't something we should just accept.

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