back to article Guardian lets UK spooks trash 'Snowden files' PCs to make them feel better

GCHQ spooks reportedly rocked up at The Guardian's London headquarters and oversaw the destruction of some computer hardware - because the machines may have stored copies of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The move came after the newspaper's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger refused to comply with demands to …

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  1. b0llchit
    Big Brother

    Symbolism

    Symbolism can be a powerful weapon.

    It establishes an air of FUD to discourage. Nothing more, nothing less.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Symbolism

      Like ISPs being made to set-up porn filters

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Symbolism

      I'm worried this is getting completely out of hand. Even El Reg might be cruising for a bruising.

      It's reminding me strongly of "the dark actors playing games" just before the government murdered Dr. David Kelly CMG.

      Those dark actors are clearly very pissed off once again and now no one but them has any rights.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Symbolism

      A complete load of symbollocks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Symbolism

        "A complete load of symbollocks."

        Twelve months ago a lot of folks would have said something like that in response to claims that representatives of the NSA and GCHQ etc were recording the contents of our every phone conversation and our every email (on the basis that we are all potential terrorists, or it's just collateral damage, or whatever).

        Maybe Kelly was killed, maybe he wasn't.

        Either way, the "security" forces are now known to be way way way out of control. Some people may have suspected as much a year ago, now there's proof.

        1. streaky Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Symbolism

          "Twelve months ago a lot of folks would have said something like that in response to claims that representatives of the NSA and GCHQ etc were recording the contents of our every phone conversation and our every email"

          I'm not even slightly convinced that's true. Everybody knew about POTUS invoking executive privilege with regards to ATT + tap/trace which was enough to confirm the story.

          I don't think anybody knew they were quite so brazen or that GCHQ were so obviously breaking UK law - and boasting about it - though.

      2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Symbollocks

        Hope that makes it into the OED!

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

    Little bit of a conundrum there for The Man from Whitehall. If it's not worth reporting on, it's not worth protecting, and vice versa.

    1. TheAincient
      Mushroom

      "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

      This really pisses me off, no-one has the right to determine when a debate is over, especially not the government.

      The whole thing sounds like someone had a hissy fit, and didn't think things through.

      Next thing will be 'D' notices (if they still exist), best of luck with that in our internationally connected world.

      1. SamCrawford

        Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

        The D-Notice was two months ago... http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/17/defence-d-bbc-media-censor-surveillance-security

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

        Next thing will be 'D' notices (if they still exist),

        They do and don't at the same time, bit like my cat.

      3. xyz
        Black Helicopters

        Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

        Basically dear chappies, democracy is over, everyone back to feudalism. I think the tipping point has been reached where "they" can just go "we've got you by the scroat" and don't really care about putting a public spin on anything anymore. The problem with a internationally connected world is that the man with the biggest fuck-off internationally connected data centre is king.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

      <profanity filter off>

      Arrogant prick.

      </profanity filter off>

      1. Vimes

        Re: ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1319549/Judges-open-secrets-floodgates-as-paper-wins-MI6-book-battle.html

        Would make for an interesting court case if somebody did ignore and D notice and was repeating something previously reported elsewhere and abroad.

        1. myarse
          Black Helicopters

          Re: ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

          I'm pretty sure that a D notice is voluntary, and just an agreement not to publish, produce ect. If the Guardian didn't agree there's not much that can be done except stuff like this.

          1. Psyx

            Re: ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

            It is, and the idea of voluntary censorship as regards national security issues is a laudable one...

            ... when used in the right place, to protect operational security and save lives. Mis-using them to stifle public knowledge of the invasion of privacy and in vague sweeping terms is NOT the right way to use them and undermines the whole idea. They should be used very sparingly, not whenever an inconvenient matter is brought up in the media.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

        > Arrogant prick.

        I shall not invoke The Mustachioed One Who Shall Not Be Named, but "prick" does not cut it. We are far into leather coat territory here.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Meh

          Re: ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

          "I shall not invoke The Mustachioed One Who Shall Not Be Named, "

          Peter Mandelson?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ""You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”"

            ""I shall not invoke The Mustachioed One Who Shall Not Be Named, "

            Peter Mandelson?"

            Excuse me but please treat the gentleman with the respect he deserves.

            That's Lord "Two Resignations" Mandelson to you, matey.

            Anyone got any green slime, and Milibandelson's itinerary?

    3. Rick Giles
      Black Helicopters

      "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

      Thank God we still have the 1st Amendment here. At least, until they get rid of the 2nd one and then it'll be a free for all.

  3. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Happy

    The truth is out there

    I never thought that (see title) would be true.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The truth is out there

      but repeating it is an offence under the official secret acts

      >that used to be an x-files joke, deeply distrubing that it is now a true statement

  4. AdamT

    In the context of someone saying "Now we want the stuff back" about a digital file I think we have to resort to mis-quoting Babbage: "I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a demand."

    1. Anomalous Cowshed

      Suggested equivalents:

      Smashing a sand castle whose detailing is found to infringe an original design

      Killing the messenger

      Welding the doors of the stable shut so that the horses that got out, er, whatever...

      1. AdamT

        Re: Suggested equivalents:

        Watching someone feed the offending document into a shredder as you all stand around in a room that you earlier wallpapered with photocopies of that document.

    2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Or expressed in a more low-brow manner on bash.org

  5. Rono666
    WTF?

    I want to know

    If i broke someones hard drive that's criminal damage, oh i get like when you kidnap some that's different to being arrested, country stinks and the Establishment has to go it's rotten to the core.

    1. Brian Morrison
      Stop

      Re: I want to know

      But you don't understand, the people from GCHQ (if indeed they were really _from_ Cheltenham) didn't do the destruction themselves, they simply watched it being done by the owners of the equipment which means that they are not guilty of any damage-related laws at all.

      1. despairing citizen
        Big Brother

        Re: I want to know

        Regardless of whether they did the job themselves or intimidated a 3rd party into doing it, the criminal damage charge should stick, just the same as you can be charged for assult without actually touching a person.

        In addition to the Crminal damage charge, it then becomes interesting under our Terrorism legislation, as anybody who undertakes criminal damage, or the threat of criminal damage, for the purpose of political, religous or idealogical goals is a terrorist.

        So whether this action was polictically motivated, or was genuinely done for a valid legal reasons, with appropriate judical authority, given law is a idealogical construct, we now have terrorists running GCHQ!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want to know

      They smashed up the entire laptop circuitry. They really don't know how a computer works do they?

      What this will push reporters towards is putting documents online somewhere. Which really does run the risk of being leaked by hackers.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am not sure whats more worrying that they were told to destroy the hard drives or that the people telling them to do that honestly thought that would solve the problem and there wouldn't be backups anywhere else.

    You can fit a lot of data on a micro SD card that could easily be taken in and out of buildings without being noticed (even if your are searched it would need to be a fully body search to find it)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I am not sure whats more worrying..."

      What's more worrying is that the government was legally able to stifle the Free Press.

      1. Nextweek

        Re: "I am not sure whats more worrying..."

        To be fair we never really had any legal protection on that like our American overlords do.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "I am not sure whats more worrying..."

        Seeing as we've just read about it, they didn't do a very good job of stifling the press.

    2. 404 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      @Mark

      Crazy, isn't it? Using projection of force (a time-honored American tradition) to compel compliance in a world where data can be anywhere in it. Thuggish, meant more to prove a point than get anything useful done.

      Stereotypical government drone lack of imagination.

  7. Christoph Silver badge
    Joke

    They must have asked a consultant

    They used a special consultant to advise them on the destruction of unwanted computer files.

    A Ms Streisand

  8. Anomalous Cowshed

    Tips to make them feel better

    These days law enforcement agents are overworked. They need to be given a break. So here are our guidelines to citizens to help those who protect us all let off some steam, and "make them feel better"!

    If you get stopped by police for driving in the wrong lane / having a broken tail-light: let them puncture your tyres and smack the bonnet and windscreen with a jemmy, it will make them feel better!

    If you get stopped by your neighbourhood wardens for acting in a drunk and disorderly manner (walking across the street when the light is red): let them kick your head in and knee you in the stomach a few times, it will make them feel better!

    If you get audited by the tax man and he can't read your handwriting: let him seize you by the hair and thrust your head under water in the sink for a couple of minutes, it will make him feel better!

    If you get stopped by the security forces for being too tall / too black / being in possession of a camera / wearing a rucksack: don't move and let them just shoot you, your sacrifice will make them feel better!

    If you are accused by MPAA of downloading songs or films illegally from the Internet: let them take your family hostage and work them in the mines for life, it will make them feel better!

    And always remember, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear!

    Thank you for your cooperation

  9. wowfood
    Facepalm

    Wait a minute

    After reading all these articles I was incredibly confused by the arrest of David Miranda partner of Glenn Greenwald. For ages I legit thought that by partner they meant 'gay other half' and not 'works with him at the newspaper'. Been sat here thinking "Why would the guy keep this confidential stuff on his other halfs laptop? What the hell are they doing? Attacking his loved ones to get to him?"

    Please tell me I'm not the only one who made this mistake.

    1. wowfood

      Re: Wait a minute

      Additionally, I cannot help but see the guy from whitehall as the PHB, or see the entire situation roll out as a BOFH script.

      "I want you to delete all the information from your hard drives"

      "The information isn't on our hard drives, it's on the cloud"

      "But it could be on the hard drives right?"

      "Well yes, the same way it could be written down on a piece of paper in that filing cabinet."

      "So will you give us the iniformation on the hard drives?"

      "Okay, here is all the information on those harddrives regarding snowden" *hands over an imaginary box* "Would you mind signing this to show you recieved the documents?" *Holds out an imaginary pen and clipboard to sign*

      "Listen, I just want the information on those hard disks, would you stop being difficult"

      "Would you stop being ignorant? We do not have the information, we do not have it here nor there, we do not have it anywhere, we do not have it in our SAN, we do not have it whitehall man"

      "Look, just give us the information we want from those hard drives, or we'll wipe the lot of them."

      "WE DON'T HAVE THE INFORMATION!"

      "Fine, have it your way, boys wipe the hard drives."

      "Do you want to wipe the backups too?"

      "Nah, just the main drives should be fine."

      1. nichomach
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wait a minute

        One suspects that asking these people to stop being ignorant would be rather like asking water to stop being wet, but nevertheless an outstanding job there, well done!

      2. Rikkeh
        Facepalm

        Re: Wait a minute

        I get the feeling that the bods at GCHQ had got fed up of their tech-illiterate superiors' demands for them to "destroy teh files" and carried out their instructions to the letter, just to shut them up.

        1. SoaG

          Re: Wait a minute

          Indeed.

          I would not be at all surprised if many of the junior folks at a number of government agencies very much disagree with what's been coming out as much as the rest of us. However, they can't do anything about it without throwing their entire lives away as Snowden has. After all, everything from themselves and all their friends and families has been caught in the net too.

          So, when the higher-ups order you to go out and do something that you know will draw even more negative publicity to themselves and what they've been doing,you don't point out that they're making a PR disaster worse, you happily comply.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: SoaG Re: Wait a minute

            Or, alternatively, the Guardian could just be claiming a complete load of male bovine manure to hype their story and drive sales. "What'" you shriek, "filthy capitalism in the heart of The Decent Leftisphere?" Yeah, it happens.

      3. BenR
        Happy

        Upvoted:

        Just for this:

        "Would you stop being ignorant? We do not have the information, we do not have it here nor there, we do not have it anywhere, we do not have it in our SAN, we do not have it whitehall man"

        That has made my day.

      4. WonkoTheSane
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wait a minute

        Nice use of Seuss - Upvoted

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Wait a minute

      "Please tell me I'm not the only one who made this mistake."

      You aren't the only one who made this mistake.

      We use the word partner to mean boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/whatever far more than is necessary, which leads to exactly this misunderstanding when it's used in another context.

      1. VinceH Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Wait a minute

        "You aren't the only one who made this mistake."

        And now I think we've both made the mistake of thinking we made a mistake after reading this article. Elswhere, they are described as a couple.

        1. wowfood

          Re: Wait a minute

          Gah dammit. Stupid partner having multiple meanings.

      2. Philip Lewis
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wait a minute

        And for this reason I have taken to using the word colleague generally for this kind of thing.

    3. Tom Wood

      Re: Wait a minute

      Uh, I'm fairly sure they do mean what you thought they meant. The Graun shows a picture of the two of them with arms around each other and says they live together (not "are housemates").

    4. Kevin Fairhurst

      Re: Wait a minute

      What mistake? They're married!

      From http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/26/gay-marriage-supreme-court-defeatism

      "DOMA is what prevents me, and thousands of other gay Americans, from living in the US with my spouse, while the legal and social stigma of officially sanctioned inequality is, by itself, devastating for gay children"

    5. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Wait a minute

      Yes, I assumed boyfriend or husband as well.

    6. ContentsMayVary

      Re: Wait a minute

      I too misunderstood the use of the word "partner". Why they don't just use the word "colleague" instead is beyond me.

  10. G Murphy

    Missing the point?

    I can't begin to entertain the idea, as some are suggesting, that they thought destroying this copy would destroy all traces. What appears to me to be far more likely is that they are trying to lock down the data so it is in as few a places as possible, and therefore less readily accessible.

    Who knows what tiny, seemingly insignificant, detail in these documents could actually be a crucial piece of information to those with ill intentions.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Ill Intentions

      You mean The Man from Whitehall, right?

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Missing the point? @ G Murphy

      And that is where the difficulty lies. You and Matt Bryant have the opinion, for whatever reason, justified or not, that there is an external "ill-intentioned" person or persons that could have a significant negative effect on the lives of you and, presumably, significant numbers of others. The government is, therefore, entirely justified, in your opinion, in doing these things.

      On the other hand, there are a significant number of people on here, and, presumably elsewhere, who see the "ill-intentioned" as being the government, which is taking action far in excess of anything proportional to any significant risk. It is acting not in the best interests of the populace, but of itself. It is unable to accept that it might have gone too far, that it is looking ridiculous, and has become the body most likely to cause a significant negative effect to all - you and Matt included.

      In my opinion, what the government and security forces are doing is utterly horrifying. I know they are nasty fuckers at the best of times, but it looks as if they are acting with overweening arrogance. The deaths of David Kelly and Gareth Williams look more and more like assassinations by those that should have protected them. The police look more like a paramilitary force to be feared by the population. The government, and, by extension, Parliament, looks like a threat to health and well-being of anyone that dares to question it.

      What do you see in the actions and justifications of those you are defending that I don't?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Pothead Re: Missing the point? @ G Murphy

        "And that is where the difficulty lies. You and Matt Bryant have the opinion, for whatever reason, justified or not, that there is an external "ill-intentioned" person or persons that could have a significant negative effect on the lives of you and, presumably, significant numbers of others. The government is, therefore, entirely justified, in your opinion, in doing these things....." Difference being there is concrete evidence for both the intent and a history if actions by people like Al Quaeda, whereas the majority of your bleating a are just conspiracy theories wildly looped together into a fantasy of paranoid delusions.

        ".....On the other hand, there are a significant number of people on here, and, presumably elsewhere....". Yeah, plenty of like-minded posters on all the conspiracy junkie websites, also with zero actual proof and nothing more than wild ramblings.

        "....,and has become the body most likely to cause a significant negative effect to all - you and Matt included....." Really? So please do show where I am being harmed? As a Westerner I am under threat from people that think like AQ, that you would have to be a completely blind and paranoid numpty to deny (well, actually that does cover quite a few of your fellow sheeple posting here), but apart from wild accusations that my email may be being read (which it is very cleat is not happening because the authorities don't have the time and resources to waste in everyone, just those they target), please do show me what harm the authorities are doing me? And don't spout some farcical bullshit about "losing liberties" as I have not lost any liberties at all, thanks.

        "....I know they are nasty fuckers at the best of times....". How, because some wannabe Z-lister celeb told you so? Did you read it on some conspiracy theorists website? Or was it just spoonfed to you at home by some equally paranoid and delusional family of losers that wanted to blame "the system" for their lack of success?

  11. Rampant Spaniel

    I normally support the concept that sometimes we cannot know something in order to protect a useful source who risked their life to pass us information and the concept that the secret service can have additional powers to protect us.

    However, this incident has made a mockery of the entire establishment. This is a monumental abuse of power out of nothing more than spite. To stand up and say this was legally sound is either a lie or evidence that they have powers under the law they should not have. To abuse powers extended to them in order to protect us from severe harm for nothing more than trying to punish someone who may or may not have played a part in uncovering a constitutional and legal nightmare of a spying scandal is childish and far more dangerous to our national security than the release of the documents in the first place. I really hope the people who ordered this are taken aside and punished, they have provided us with proof that they cannot be trusted with the powers they have but potentially may need.

    1. wowfood

      quis custodiet ipsos custodes

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

        1. Yet Another Commentard

          romanes eunt domus

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            What's this, then? "Romanes eunt domus"?

            People called Romanes, they go, the house?

            :-)

          2. wowfood
            Headmaster

            Romani ite domum

            1. Rampant Spaniel

              Excellent now write it out 100 times before sunset or I'll cut your balls off.

          3. The Real Tony Smith
            Happy

            "romanes eunt domus"

            You sir, have just made me deposit a major part of a Coronation Chicken sandwich in my keyboard!

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Bigus dickus.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              "Bigus dickus."

              He has a wife, you know....

  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Tantrum

    The only word that adequately describes the recent pointless behaviour of the security services. They're incapable of doing anything effective, so they start detaining people and smashing kit to show how tough they are.

    It's especially disturbing that stuff leaked from an American agency by an American national is safer in New York than London.

    1. G Murphy

      Re: Tantrum

      I am of course as certain as you are that the one-sided version we have of these events is a true and fair reflection of reality.

      Or something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tantrum

        The balance of probabilities tends to indicate that the Grauniad is more trustworthy than any spokesbeing of the security apparatus of the British state (or any other state, for that matter).

        And unless-and-until said security apparatus is willing to divulge a full, detailed, and factually accurate account of their actions and the decision-making process leading to those actions (and maybe not even then), that will remain the case.

        1. G Murphy

          Re: Tantrum

          the Grauniad is more trustworthy than no other side of the story? Tautology surely? We only have one side of the story, it sounds absolutely ridiculous, so it almost certainly needs a hefty pinch of salt.

          If you know the people you are talking about can not and will not respond, then you can say what you like about them. If you happen to have a bit of an issue with said people, whether through antagonising interactions, ideological differences etc, then you not only can, but probably will say what you want. Plus issues around driving up readership and the Guardian brand.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Tantrum

            It sounds absolutely ridiculous - and that's why I believe it's true.

            You wouldn't try making this up, you'd invent something much less preposterous.

  13. codejunky Silver badge

    hmm

    Surely this must be a stunt? There is no way these intelligence guys could be that stupid. I expect some sort of diversion while bugging? Or misdirection? Or threats?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmm

      You haven't had many dealings with the Cabinet Office have you?

      Yes they can be that pig headed and much much worse.

  14. Carl

    Groklaw shutdown

    Pam's put a bullet in groklaw because she has no idea how to continue with Big Brother over her shoulder.

    Not sure if she's just curtailing her own involvement or shuttering it. Sad day either way.

    www.groklaw.net

  15. Miek
    Big Brother

    It sounds like the Snowden files actually cover possible wrongdoings by the UK security services, hence why they are so keen to get it back and force the horse back into the stable, unless the information belonged to them directly, I don't see how they can demand that the data is returned to them or destroyed.

    "You've had your fun" -- Well, all I can say is that the security services in both the United Kingdom and the United States both feel they are well beyond any repercussions for their actions and they are probably correct. In reality, we have not had fun, we are all alarmed that there simply is no privacy at all in the world today and that everyone is treated with contempt by our overlords regardless of any criminality.

    This incursion against the press demonstrates to me that UK and US governments are guilty as hell for crimes that they are trying to hide behind the veil of "National Security" and "Our Protection". Fuck them and the horse they rode in on, remember these are the guys that actually cannot stop terrorist attacks (unless they are lame attempts, like the shoe bomber) even though they already had monitoring schemes in place that were beyond oversight and beyond reproach.

  16. spiny norman

    DeMockRacy

    Come the next election, will we have the option of voting for a government that wouldn't do this in future?

    I'm very much afraid we won't.

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: DeMockRacy

      Perhaps there's a British Spring on the horizon?

      Seriously, those buggers made a tour de force too early. They may not have enough power to control the fallout.

    2. Brian Morrison
      Mushroom

      Re: DeMockRacy

      Of course we won't, this is driven by career spooks/civil servants who know that the politicians will blame them for failing to prevent atrocities no matter what powers they are given and use. So the only solution is to ask for more powers, at least in their minds.

      From my perspective I would willingly trade a tiny risk of death at the hands of a mad idealogue terrorist during my lifetime against the certain knowledge that everything I do is watched, stored and pored over behind my back. I hope that enough people who feel that way are able to articulate their anger at what is being done and convince the establishment that this time it has gone too far, I don't know if we will be able to get people to take notice or not but surely an attempt to do away with this morally bankrupt approach to government.

      I shall await the next installment in the Snowden revelations with interest, but I suspect not very much surprise.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: DeMockRacy

      Vote Monster Raving Loony!

      It's the only way to get a sane Government.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: DeMockRacy

        There may be a way. If enough people stand as independents at the next election, some will get in. Hopefully, enough people who aren't career politicians, and not in the pockets of vested interests, would get in to make some sort of difference.

  17. Miek
    Coat

    Dear US and UK security services, if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear. Oh wait!

  18. ukgnome Silver badge
    Joke

    Have you ever wondered why it was so sunny during July?

    Yep, you guessed it, they wiped the cloud too.

  19. Roo
    Pirate

    Huge potential cost savings to be had.

    Instead of paying someone to destroy your decommissioned hard drives/storage media all you have to do is call Whitehall and tell them that the decommissioned kit may have some of Snowden's files stored in it. From the article it looks like they sweep up afterwards too. :)

  20. RonWheeler

    Managers

    Spooks have managers too. Managers need to have something - anything 'positive' they can type up to make it sound like something was done. Yes - sir! Horse nowhere in sight, stable door firmly bolted using protocol 7.

    1. TheAincient

      Re: Managers

      More likely it was the Home Secretary had a tantrum and said something like.

      "Just go and destroy their hard drives, that will stop it" and some functionary took it literally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Managers

        Or...who will rid me of this meddlesome priest....?

  21. Goldmember
    WTF?

    Just when I thought....

    ...this country couldn't look any more pathetic and stupid, our 'security services' go and do something like this. All they achieved was some pointless vandalism. They didn't bother taking drives, and clearly anything that might have been on them would have been distributed around the globe in several forms anyway.

    Seriously, to the International community, we look like a shit version of the USA. And that's saying something. It makes you proud to be British.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Just when I thought....

      Remember for 40 years while we faced imminent thermonuclear annihilation from the USSR - MI5 was mostly being run by KGB agents.

      So we can only assume that GCHQ is now being run by 4chan, Kevin Mitnick and lolcats

  22. HereWeGoAgain

    "press laws are tougher"

    You mean censorship is tougher.

  23. Chizo Ejindu

    It's hilariously depressing how life imitates art

    There's a scene in the film "In The Loop" where a government enforcer wades into an office and proceeds to destroy a random fax machine while shouting at the staff because he believes a leak was sent via that fax.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: It's hilariously depressing how life imitates art

      Crucially, in that scene his claim that he knows that fax machine sent the leak is a bluff, to get them to confess.

  24. Number6

    It reads a bit like a Peter Sellers Pink Panther script. One can imagine Inspector Clouseau behaving in this manner.

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    This little thing called the internet

    This reminds me a little of the time I bought a Mac off my ex-company and they absolutely insisted on wiping the disk even though I could (and did) take a backup of the stuff I wanted to keep prior to them doing it. They got to waste a bunch of time and tick a box for zero gain.

    The days where data stays in one place put has long gone. I imagine that the Guardian has the means to push large files around its sites over it's internal network (which is presumably encrypted) and they absolutely would do it in this case. I'm also sure they could slip out to a public wifi spot and upload it with nobody the wiser. Or post it. And most likely they did some or all of these things. Wouldn't surprise me if this journalist's partner was stopped and searched on the suspicion that he might be a courier for this information, and quite possibly he was.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This little thing called the internet

      I think you give a lot of credit to the newsroom networks in modern newspapers. They're run on a shoestring, lots of local storage on laptops etc. etc.

      Also, how does there seem to be this opinion that the guys from GCHQ are all idiots and that the non-tech journos from the Graun are all IT geniuses. I've met some of them and I can assure you they're not.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: This little thing called the internet

        I'm not giving them a lot of credit since what I suggest is what any medium size enterprise could do these days - connect two sites over a VPN. And I assume that a newspaper (such as the Guardian is) which has 500 editorial staff and offices in the US, plus a very large website to run and administer, and large files like images, PDFs, videos etc. to exchange is capable and has the necessity of doing it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This little thing called the internet

          Oh, they put money into the Web site, because they see a return from the web site. That's akin to making sure that the printing presses work and shouldn't be confused with maintenance of office systems.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria each had their governments rocked by popular uprising in 2012 due to a dissatisfaction with their governments oppressive natures.

    That worries other governments and now others are taking draconian measures to control what their citizens see and do on line. Twitter, Facebook, Google, et al. all now must report the information passing through their care directly into government hands. Communications are monitored and what you do, where you go and who you associate with is indexed and stored.

    Governments are empowered by the people. When a government tries to control its populace, it typically falls. The road that several major governments are taking today is a dark one that will lead to a lot of misery and suffering.

    Security can never be placed above individual freedoms. Control of media by government should not be tolerated. We crossed the channel in 1944 to take out a government who did control the newspapers and treated their own citizens with disdain. Now we don't even need to take the Chunnel to see oppression and a police state interfering with the press.

    "All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."

    ~ Sir Winston Churchill

  27. Rob Crawford

    Maybe they heard of quantum entanglement

    and therefore mistakenly believed that destroying one copy would cause all other copies to vanish as well

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relax. They're just filming a new saturday afternoon program for ITV. "You've been detained". You'll all be laughing at how you got caught out when they air it.

  29. a cynic writes...
    Coat

    Next week's BOFH...

    "...for the umpteenth time the concern is that personal data is destroyed in line with ISO 27001: 2005. We accept, albeit reluctantly, that you have the data and will run stories based on it. Even you realise that there's some things that shouldn't be broadcast or you wouldn't redact them."

    "So you're not going to arrest me?"

    "No", Agent Smith sighed "we're not going to arrest you. We just want to make sure that equipment you no longer need is disposed of securely".

    ...20 minutes and 3 wrong turns later...

    The big boss was clearly confused, as he struggled to remember my name. "This is er....our...er..."

    "Hello, Simon"

    "Hello Dave, what brings you down here?"

    "Security audit basically. We need to make sure you don't leak the data that was leaked to you. If I could take a copy of the secure destruction certificates I'll be on my way."

    "No can do...we do it in-house I'm afraid. Stephen can show you if you like?" I say as I pick up the Head Beancounter's Macbook

    ...Five minutes of the PFY with a sledge hammer later...

    "I think I can safely say that's securely destroyed" said Dave as he brushed plastic fragments from his suit.

    "So everything's OK" said the Big Boss

    "Yes, we can call off the black helicopters. Thanks Simon - pint later?"

  30. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Only the KGB?

    Thought experiment: suppose they had successfully destroyed the Guardian's copy of everything, and any copies they'd made or distributed.

    Might that leave the KGB with the only remaining copies? Can't imagine Snowden got his asylum without going through an interview with Russian police, and in his case that would mean something more than a bog-standard immigration officer. Seems likely they demanded copies - maybe all copies and originals - of everything.

    That's what you get by putting a man so totally at the mercy of a foreign power. If he could've returned home without facing Manning's fate, none of that need have happened.

    Should we conclude that TPTB are happier for the KGB than the Guardian to have its secrets?

    1. kyza

      Re: Only the KGB?

      It's the FSB now.

      Same personnel, new logo.

    2. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Only the KGB?

      Should we conclude that TPTB are happier for the KGB than the Guardian to have its secrets?

      Yes. The KGB wont let the rest of the Russian population know what's in the documents.

    3. SoaG

      Re: Only the KGB?

      Of course not! PRC got their copy first remember, and I wouldn't be surprised if they shared with DPRK. Frankly, I'm a little surprised Snowden isn't sipping an umbrella drink on a beach right outside the wire of Guantanamo.

  31. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    Wonder if they turn up on YouTube. CCTV is everywhere, right?

    Funny how the people so keen to destroy our privacy are so protective of theirs?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So this can only fuel the development of secure email and a more secure internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "So this can only fuel the development of secure email and a more secure internet."

      We (tech enthusiasts) may think that.

      Ms Bloggs and your gran don't have a clue about what is going on and will not be discussing.

      So the reality is, No, this will not fuel the development of secure email and a more secure internet.

      even if paranoid computing becomes mainstream, "the Feds" will always demand backdoor access in the name of keeping us safe from terrorists.

    2. Alan Firminger

      I suspect that all calculated encryption is fallible.

      The only way we get to converse privately is using a one time pad. That might be perhaps a pen drive full of 4kb files of random numbers, one at sender and at recipient. When the sender has used the next files in the drive they are wiped.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are we sure they were UK spooks?

    Perhaps they weren't UK spooks. How would you confirm their identity?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Are we sure they were UK spooks?

      Half the journalists had been at Eton and Cambridge with them?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are we sure they were UK spooks?

        ...and knew the nicknames of the GCHQ people.

        "Hello, tosser old sport, last time I saw you you were beating a fag because you felt like it. Come down in the world since then, haven't you?"

  34. Jens Goerke

    That explains their previous steps

    So that's why they they wanted their subjects to be disarmed - they're playing the long game.

  35. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Use the cloud

    Next time the Grauniad are asked about this, how about they say that it was all uploaded to Amazon S3 - "but they've forgotten the name of the account", and then get GCHQ to smash all of Amazon's hard drives...

  36. Mr Young
    Mushroom

    I'm increasingly convinced...

    Governments have 'something to hide' (how innocent of me to take this long); Detaining partners of journalists "just because" stinks of total fucking hypocrisy when all I hear is 'I've got nothing to fear'. Well fuck them and stop abusing all of us in anyway you can think of thanks...

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: I'm increasingly convinced...

      They are obviously scared shirtless (as it seems are most major European governments) that something will come out that compromises the gchq's activities, or causes the NSA such a blow that the gchq has to go looking for another sugar daddy.

      For instance, not picked up here on el reg were all the references to "fveye" (if I am remembering synonym accurately) in the audit report and training materials that came out late last week. That stands for "five eyes", and my understanding was that means that any example of querying/surveilling proceeded by that designation meant those capabilities were available to each of the now famous "five eyes". The gchq can't have been happy to see that pop out.

  37. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Operational Inteligence

    Duncan Campbell described something similar 25years ago when the police came and seized the computer he was using when investigating something.

    They proudly carried the monitor of the PCW out of the house but left all the boxes of floppy disks.

  38. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    OK, let's sum things up

    A whistleblower escapes to another country after revealing publicly damning evidence that world society is under a total surveillance scheme without any regard for individual privacy, contrary to the very legal foundations of said country.

    After the initial shock period, spook centers around the world work in concert to lock down the leak, find the whistleblower and silence him.

    In order to do so, authorities have demonstrated that they are now willing to :

    1) force ambassadorial entities to stop and prove that the whistleblower is not on board

    2) harass and intimidate people related to the whistleblower, or that are in professional relations with him, using clearly abusive pretexts

    3) abuse state powers and proceed to destroy private equipment without any justification

    What is next ? Night visits to anyone who has contacted the whistleblower, with complementary beatings ? Some "unfortunate" accidents ? Waterboarding people who have read about this whole affair on the Web ?

    I have the very unfunny feeling that, for the first time in recent history, Goodwin's Law should be invoked.

    Because it is starting to look like the Gestapo have not disappeared at all. They have become Gestapo Incorporated, and they are watching you from your local Beating Center.

    You will behave, Citizen.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am not British, so maybe I am offbase with this:

    Frankly, if I were the Queen, I'd blow a fuse over hearing a story such as this. I would call the PM in and demand an explanation. I know the Queen is not the political ruler of the country, but her opinion counts to both the people and the government and I know Queen Elizabeth II is very thoughtful and conscientious of Great Britain's system. If I were the Queen, I'd warn the PM that if I EVER heard of another occurrence such as this, I'd make a public statement of my dissatisfaction with the government's handling of same, calling it almost a level of embarrassment on the overstepping of governmental power.

    What the hell is going on with our governments? The only answer is to throw them ALL out, vote for a wholesale changing of the guard, get all new politicians in even if they are loyal to the same party. But that won't happen - the voting power is still with the people yet they constantly vote back the same individuals who abuse the power we give them.

    We've caused this on ourselves.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      re: if I were the Queen

      I would certainly be worried about my security - what with Brazillian terrorists being released into the country and such.

      At my next weekly meeting with the PM I would make sure I had a couple of beefy members of the Scots and Irish guards standing behind him with their sabres drawn.

    2. Anonymous Dutch Coward
      Linux

      If I were the UK queen, I'd rather emigrate to Iceland. Seems a lot better for one's mental health than trying to get to change civil servants/security services to change their ways.

      PS: Shame there's no polar bear icon...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "What the hell is going on with our governments? The only answer is to throw them ALL out, vote for a wholesale changing of the guard, get all new politicians in even if they are loyal to the same party. But that won't happen - the voting power is still with the people yet they constantly vote back the same individuals who abuse the power we give them.

      We've caused this on ourselves."

      Said this for years but most just think I'm a nut!

      It's only when you, rarely, hear what is really happening that small numbers of people sit up and listen. But the great unwashed just don't give a shit and will say "meh" and go back to posting shitting links to kittens and kids on Fakebook.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not the queen, Charlie boy would be on the phone. Except that he doesn't like us very much, he is already consulted on laws and we don't know what he has said.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stellar security

    And we wonder how the data leaked in the first place?

    A typical 7-year-old smartphone newbie could do better!

    Intimidate! Intimidate!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old drives?

    I suppose they just took some old 200MB drives from old PCs and smashed them up for the spooks to see while they hid the real drives.

  42. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    WTF?

    "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

    Did someone from HM government seriously say that? Maybe its just me, but that seems just a tad at odds with the concept of "democracy".

    And then they show up on premises to smash some hard drives that probably don't contain anything more seditious than sedoku sheets?

    You Brits have it even worse than we do in the U.S.!!

    1. TheAincient

      Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

      My understanding it was a quote from one of the bods from GCHQ, so from one perspective it was a government man.

      The point is, it indicates an serious dis-respect for democracy and the people of the UK.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

        The really sad thing is that my grandfather used to be a director of radio interception for GCHQ back in the 50s and 60s. I'd like to think he would think this kind of authoritarian stongarming would be pretty stupid. He was the kind of guy who would never hurt a fly and basically your somewhat eccentric Brit technologist stereotype.

        But then again he was also something of a company man....

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Your grandfather would definitely have been against it, don't you worry.

          If nothing else, it's a bloody stupid thing to do.

          Radio interception worked because neither end knew whether GCHQ was listening in - they might suspect, but they did not know.

          Marching in at all defeats the point.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

        "The point is, it indicates an serious dis-respect for democracy and the people of the UK"

        And this is surprising? These are the people who kept files on Labour Ministers (but not of course Conservative ones).

        The recruitment base for Intelligence officers (not the technical staff, as revealed by Spycatcher, which I was careful at the time to read in the US) probably has a very high intersection with the right wing of the Conservative Party and the families who, in the 1930s, thought a dose of Hitlerism would sort out the country. Would one expect their perception of the world to be anything but warped? On the contrary, a reasonable hypothesis is that secret police everywhere are pretty much the same, and what they get away with depends only on the extent to which the Government is more representative of the population as a whole. This really is one for the Lib Dems to unite on with Labour.

        Notice that UKIP is silent on the subject, presumably because they appeal to the core demographic that's in favour of a bit of oik-bashing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.”

      It's a bit like Rupert Murdoch dismissing all those allegations as being a waste of police time.

      Do you think these people take their real world behaviour from the films they watch? It could explain a lot. I vaguely recall an article some years ago suggesting that some members of the Manchester police believed that various TV programmes were a realistic portrayal of policing in the US.

  43. Nifty

    Don't worry, a copy of the trashed data will turn up on a rubbish dump on one of GCHQ's own unencrypted hard drives.

  44. Maty

    Still think Britain is a democracy?

    1. jason 7
      Meh

      We in the west havent had real democracy for decades. Only an illusion of it.

      Whomever you vote for the same old agenda goes on. The few cherry picked bits of differing but irrlevant ideology is just there to let us know the difference.

      Pick a western country and you'll see the pattern. Look at Bush/Obama/Cameron/Brown

      Same song, different tempo.

      Bit late to change it now though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "We in the west havent had real democracy for decades"

        W B Yeats said it, after being disillusioned by the Irish Civil War:

        "Hurrah for revolution, and more cannon-shot

        A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.

        Hurrah for revolution, and cannon come again

        The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on".

  45. Christian Berger Silver badge

    If you ever thought your government could be trusted

    You now know you can't.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good news!

    You're not paranoid!

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Good news!

      The Daily Show already used the above as their segment title when talking about the NSA. They didn't mention gchq though.

  47. Furbian
    Unhappy

    Sounds hilarious..

    ... but this just isn't funny, guys in (jackboots?) turning up and trashing hardware, and the whole 'you've had your fun' etc. exchanges.

    Looks like the 'government' is acting with impunity. This is simply wrong.

  48. SoaG

    Yeah...that'll work...

    I'm sure those HDDs contained the only copies in existence other than on Snowden's personal laptop. None of the data is stored a dozen different places on the internet...

    Here's a hint for the cops. The only likely reasons the entire trove isn't all publicly available, are that releasing a bit at a time A) keeps Snowden in the public mind so he feels safer and B) it sells a LOT more papers. If the US feds don't work out something with Snowden before the effectiveness of that strategy inevitably wanes due to the public going SQUIRREL!, it will all be available via wikileaks/torrent/etc.

  49. Forget It

    Quite satisfying that a MacBook was the whipping boy.

  50. Richard Boyce
    Facepalm

    Just following orders

    I wonder if those GCHQ "security experts" were just ex-soldiers who were hired by GCHQ solely because they could be trusted to obey orders and keep their mouths shut. No understanding required.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just following orders

      No, British soldiers are trained to follow the rule of law. Unlike the Met, they are not even allowed to shoot people who aren't pointing guns at them.

      More likely Serco or G4S, I would think. They have form.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where was the Guardian's BOFH?

    ...me thinks this would have ended differently if the BOFH had been in that day.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Where was the Guardian's BOFH?

      >KZERRT!<

  52. Only me!
    Black Helicopters

    Not China Only One Agent Here!

    Comments on Le Reg here.

    Comment Blah, Blah, Blah

    Up Votes 42 Down Votes 1

    Comment Blah, Blah, Blah

    Up Votes 17 Down Votes 1

    Comment Blah, Blah, Blah

    Up Votes 6453738 Down Votes 1

    Conclusion.....1 British agent is on the case of Le Reg!

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Not China Only One Agent Here!

      More likely, it's Matt Bryant desperately showing that he isn't "sheeple" who are wrong in our distrust of the government he seems to implicitly trust!

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Pothead Re: Not China Only One Agent Here!

        "More likely, it's Matt Bryant desperately showing that he isn't "sheeple" who are wrong in our distrust of the government he seems to implicitly trust!" So, you show me where this mythical threat from The Man is, without just spouting a load of leftie bullshit and conspiracy theories, and then I might take your posts as anything more than paranoid delusions. And pointing to the other sheeple that have been spoonfed the same paranoid delusions is not evidence of anything other than the gullibility of the herd mentality.

  53. bag o' spanners
    Devil

    Given the not so trivial US funding of GCHQ and the much trumpeted "sharing" of intelligence, can we legitimately claim that our spooks and their apologists in the Houses of Patronage are acting in the best interests of our own state? If our spooks are just sub-contractors who operate a European listening post for their overlords in the States, how far down their list of priorities are fine details like public accountability and freedom of expression in this septic isle?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      "how far down their list of priorities are fine details like public accountability and freedom of expression in this septic isle?"

      You seriously believe they are even on a list?

  54. Dr P
    Holmes

    Avoiding the long arm of the law...

    Am I the only one to enjoy the mild irony that the Guardian spent so much invective on multinationals who legally use multiple jurisdictions to avoid tax payments and then itself legally used multiple jurisdictions to avoid government intervention?

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding the long arm of the law... (@ Dr P)

      Yes, you are the only one, unless there are other commentards that can't see the differences between dodging taxes and informing the public. </sarcasm>

  55. Chris G Silver badge

    A message from Whitehall Man

    We are watching all you Reg readers and commenters and we know where you live!

    You are no longer allowed to comment on and discuss this subject.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: A message from Whitehall Man

      The trouble is, I'm starting to think that isn't so unlikely.

      That is really sad.

  56. cd

    change

    Who's being a third-world country now?

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Options?

    So how do we change this, on a practical level?

    This government is run by civil servants not politicians. How do you gut the rotten system without ruining the country or loss of life?

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Options?

      Lots of people standing as independent candidates. No worries about "political career". No links to dodgy firms. A desire to actually do the right thing. No need to follow a Party line.

      Even a relatively small number of independent MPs would have an effect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Options?

        I'd like to believe this; in our town we have an independent majority on the Council and they do quite a good job. But in Parliament the PM can always bribe people with official jobs. Our own Lib Dem MP has got awfully subservient since he became a Minister. I'm afraid that in this country we don't seem mature enough to have actual multi party democracy.

        Post war, we applied all the lessons we had learnt to Germany, and didn't apply them at home. They seem to have worked rather well. Perhaps Angela Merkel could be persuaded to invade us to restore democracy, in the interests of a united Europe. I'd be the one waving the blue flag with the circle of stars from the window, because the other one is getting a bit tattered.

  58. Glen 1 Bronze badge

    I realise this thread is old now...

    but I find it really fucking dumb that the partner of the jurno would try to get through the major airport of crony-in-chief with the files about his person.

    That's just bad tradecraft.

    All it would take is an Iranian/Chinese/Yemeni 'mugger' to have his way for peoples lives to be put at risk. Middle class bloke with a laptop bag? Easy pickings. Rubber hose cryptography anyone?

    The same people who are too paranoid to use TOR trust to not have their stuff confiscated at airports?

    *facepalm*

    The journalists are now soft targets in possession of the crown jewels.

    It is in the UK/US interests to protect them...

  59. david 12 Bronze badge

    anti-terror cops

    "Miranda was held by anti-terror cops for nine hours and his digital equipment seized at London Heathrow airport"

    I was wondering if there is a not-quite-derogotory term that is more accurate than "anti-terror cops", for people who are state-sponsored terrorists (in the technical sense).

    "Thugs", isn't right: presumably they were not violent. "Firemen" is just an in-joke. Are there other words?

  60. channel extended

    Eeny meany miney moe data.

    How could the govt. even be sure that they had the correct drives?

    'Here they are boys! All three of these 9.1Gig, SCSI, full hight drives are it!"

  61. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Glenn Greenwald and partner on CNN tonight

    Anderson Cooper gave about 25 minutes to an interview with Greenwald, going over his partner's detention in London and the GCHQ's raid on the Guardian.

    Good to see some serious coverage from them.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    irony

    The Guardian admit to having copies which are out of the country. So I think the destruction of the data on the laptop was an attempt by the security services to force The Guardian to send one of those copies back to the UK over the internet once the GCHQ spooks had gone. And in that twist of irony, GCHQ/NSA detect the transmission of that data and are therefore able to concoct some new excuse to go after the sender and recipient.

  63. Benjol

    More that meets the eye

    Both of these stories seem a bit 'off' to me.

    Not long ago, Laura Poitras gave an interview (can't find the link now) saying how she was often subjected to these 'extra-legal' stop and searches in transit zones. This makes me wonder whether this wasn't a setup by Greenwald and co to make a story: not so much to create news, as to push the 'security state' to show its hand.

    And as several others have posited here, the idea of GCHQ people (or ministers for that matter) thinking that stomping a hard disk destroys data also seems a bit to facile. To add to previous AC's theory, I wonder whether it isn't the case that the US authorities will 'take care' of the copies on their side, legally or otherwise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More that meets the eye

      "the idea of GCHQ people (or ministers for that matter) thinking that stomping a hard disk destroys data also seems a bit to facile."

      The idea that Cameron could block dodgy stuff on the Internet with an ISP-operated porn filter also seems a bit facile to anybody with a clue.

      Isn't it clear to folk yet that Cameron doesn't have a clue, and nor do his fellow travellers in the Millionaires Cabinet. Unlike me (and maybe you), they do have lots of money, and friends in high places.

      We're all in this together.

  64. colinvj

    Now we understand it was the senior civil servant who first contacted the guardian and made threats, since when do civil servants have the power to make threat's , they are not the Government, they are just that servants. If Cameron and the home office minster May don't have the guts to do it then don't do it , this signals a new phase in this already discredited coalition when they now hide behind civil servants. come the revolution we will have them all shot, and not before time too.

  65. This post has been deleted by its author

  66. Green Nigel 42

    Too close for comfort

    With all these warnings, threats, detentions at airports, symbolic destruction & whatever comes next, it could be deduced that something of high importance, that can only be seen when added to the greater scheme of things, has been compromised by the files?

    Problem with that of course is, why draw attention to it and make such a hash at destroying it?

    My only conclusion is that the Establishment did this in order to put pressure on the media to consider further releases very, very carefully with these serious FUD tactics.

  67. Bleo

    Two birds with one stone.

    .... By beating those spooks to death with the contended equipment.

  68. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Petty minded hardly describes it

    How can any security agency seriously consider this to be even a remotely intelligent action?

    What would the average alleged perpetrator do if he knew the Plod were visiting in a week or two?

    Hopefully the Giardian took some dogs of computers to destroy after ensuring the Snowden data was backed up.

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