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

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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  1. Luke 11

    TRAITORS

    You people absolutely disgust me. Disseminating this information puts us and government personnel in danger. You're as bad as that traitor Snowden and should be hung for treason.

    Bugger the fact that these installations cost tens of millions to design and build so you're essentially throwing hard earned tax payers money down the drain.

    I can't believe how disgusted I am right now. You make me want to be sick.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TRAITORS

      I would imagine.. Having had a look on google earth at the satellite photos:

      That what this installation is and does is probably a common urban legend amongst the locals near the site.

      It looks like its visible from the passing motorway, and not far from other buildings. Local contractors probably built the place, and provide the day to day security, cleaning, and general facilities functions.

      If its staffed by locals, they'll know what goes on, if its staffed exclusively by sunburnt westerners, they'll guess what goes on.

      Just because our national press is bullied into not publishing something, doesn't mean that no-one knows about it.

      I assume the register has taken this step because its 'out-there' somewhere else now.

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: TRAITORS

        I worked for a company one of whose major markets was sensitive parts of the UK IT infrastructure. It too had a specialist relationship team. The point was to create a firewall in the transference of both information and product between us and them. This enabled us on the outside to behave both legally and morally correct.

        By definition we did not know what happened the other side of the firewall. Whether it was moral or legal. Neither, I suspect, did the CEO. That was left in trust to the relevant government structure. It is the responsibility for government to govern itself on this. When corners are cut or worse we need whistleblowers. When they get too awkward, like Snowden it is a message that an internal whistleblower process is not working and that is the real damaging fact.

        Silly names for BT or the payment for services contracted is neither here nor there. Better it be part of the corporation than having our security services infiltrate them. More expensive and less efficient. But it isn't going to stop anything.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. dogged

      KUDOS

      Thanks, El Reg, for being brave enough to actually inform (some of) the public about what is done with our money, in our name.

      The kid above is probably fourteen and still thinks Britain can do no wrong - don't mind him. Without a Fourth Estate that actually reports and provides accountability, the politicians will abuse power, the bureaucracies that feed them will seize ever more and we shall continue to be expected to shut up and obey our masters.

      Well, fuck 'em.

      And BT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: KUDOS

        Humour bypass? I'm disgusted that a Briton can not sense humour, even clumsy humour. Or is this a cunning counter-humour response_

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: KUDOS

        brave enough to actually inform (some of) the public

        What's brave about it?

        The fact that this is happening is surely no surprise to anyone. Spies spy, it's their job. I'd be more worried if I found out that GHCQ staff just sat around analyzing the world's newspapers each day.

        El Reg claims that the info is already in the hands of the bad guys, so they might as well tell us about it as well. If their assumption is true then this looks just like they didn't want to miss out on the fun, no journo likes to be "scooped", especially if it's going to be by the Grauniad or the Daily Fail. Of course, if their information is false, and the details weren't widely known, then publishing them may put the lives of the workers at these sites at risk, to no obvious benefit for anyone. Either way it seems pointless at best, and perhaps the sort of article better left to New Statesman than an online IT rag.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: KUDOS @Phil

          "better left to New Statesman than an online IT rag."

          Ah yes - let someone else do it. The rallying cry of the apathetic and irresponsible since days of yore.

          As a previous poster mentioned shouldn't we be congratulating El Reg for living up to the principles of the 4th Estate?

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: KUDOS @Phil

            Ah yes - let someone else do it. The rallying cry of the apathetic and irresponsible since days of yore.

            I take it you didn't read the article's byline, then? Or maybe it didn't ring any bells?

            shouldn't we be congratulating El Reg for living up to the principles of the 4th Estate?

            What, publish the muck before someone else gets paid to do it before you can?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: KUDOS

          "Spies spy, it's their job".

          I'm actually pretty sick of seeing that remark. The implication is that spying is just part of nature's rich pageant, just another line of work that some people do.

          But the wording is carefully calculated to blur the fact that spying is often unethical or illegal. Indeed, it's almost always illegal according to the people being spied on.

          How come other nations' spies are filthy cowardly traitors who deserve to be executed or kept in prison for the rest of their lives - while our nation's spies are self-sacrificing heroes doing an essential job to keep us all safe?

          1. Vic

            Re: KUDOS

            How come other nations' spies are filthy cowardly traitors who deserve to be executed or kept in prison for the rest of their lives - while our nation's spies are self-sacrificing heroes doing an essential job to keep us all safe?

            That's Melchett's Law, isn't it?

            Vic.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          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....

          1. That Lewis Page (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.

      3. Roger Pearse

        Treacherous bastards

        Thanks you selfish scum for making the world a bit more dangerous for us all.

        In your own terms, you're helping bring censorship into being.

        In my terms you deserve whatever happens to you.

        1. Terry Cloth

          Antecedents needed

          Sorry---without threading, I get confused who's replying to whom. (Is there a way to know which reply attaches to which post? I don't see it on offer in my preferences.)

          However, if you're suggesting that publishing info about GCHQ invites censorship, I suggest you examine your position a bit more critically. Gov't censorship is at least visible; self-censorship can be worse.

          1. Terry Cloth

            Hoist with my own commentard

            My above post was in reply to @Roger Pearse:

            ``In your own terms, you're helping bring censorship into being.''

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: KUDOS

        He's not fourteen, dogged, he's eleven. He says so in his name. Unless he means '11 - which would make him three.

        Anyway, as he'd recall, had he been born at the time, Snowden saw fit to take himself on a jolly little tour of the most powerful and interested countries on earth BEFORE releasing the material to the public media. There, he negotiated the PRICE and terms with the Chinese then Russian governments. This was always a story of either greed or counter-intelligence. Both equally likely and it's practically impossible for us, the ignorant private observer to determine which it is. EITHER way, however, the information published by El Reg is ancient news to the Chinese government, the Russian government, and the world's media. The only people on earth who don't know about this are us - the poor ignorant sods under whose name and at whose expense it's being done!

        To my utterly untrained and uninformed eye, the whole thing stinks. FAR too lax - even for those pesky 'merkins.

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

        1. asiaseen

          Re: KUDOS

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

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

    3. Callam McMillan

      Re: TRAITORS

      To be honest, if it's on The Register, then it's hardly top secret any more. You should be more disgusted at the laziness of modern intelligence gathering, if the only way to find out what is going on it the work nowadays is to capture everything and hope you find something useful, then the spies have a lot to answer for!

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: TRAITORS

        You should be more disgusted at the laziness of modern intelligence gathering, if the only way to find out what is going on it the work nowadays is to capture everything and hope you find something useful, then the spies have a lot to answer for!

        Callam McMillan,

        Reading other people's mail is a long and dishonourable tradition in government circles. And is often an excellent way of finding out what's going on. By-and-large it's also a great way to find things out that doesn't risk getting people killed. Whereas spying, in the 'James Bond' sense of wandering around where you're not supposed to be, is rather risky. In the case of the more common type, which is mostly legally resident 'diplomatic' staff recruiting locals for information - the risk varies by the regime you're spying on. But there are plenty or governments who execute traitors.

        So to give some examples. Kim Philby betrayed pretty much all of Britain's Cold War intelligence networks in Eastern Europe. I remember reading that between 50 and 200 of those people were shot. I've seen rumours from multiple sources that the GRU burned Oleg Penkovsky alive, after he'd handed over intel on Soviet nuclear readiness during the Cuban Missile crisis. That could just be a myth to frighten others of course.

        Despite all the attempts at spying though, I can't remember much in the way of political intelligence from either the Cold War or WWII. Admittedly the US may have been doing rather well at spying on microwave relays, so we may have done better in the late Cold War. But if you read a book like 'The Secret State' (by Peter Hennessey), it's both fascinating and terrifying how little the Western governments knew about Soviet politics and intentions.

        You can find out lots from looking at stuff. What the military are up to, and what kit they have. What facilities have been built. But that only tells you what a state can do or is doing. Not what it will do, or intends. Hence we 'knew' Saddam had WMD, because we'd found loads of it in the 90s, and only destroyed some of it. But we had no political intel, to tell us he'd apparently decided it wasn't worth it and had got rid of it. Which was a costly mistake.

        We also know that Iran has a nuclear program. But I've no idea what intel we have on why they've got it, and whether they intend to bargain it away, build it for safety, or even use it.

        The great thing about reading internal government documents, is that you get to find out what the government are really thinking. And saying to each other. It's quite rare to find people at that level willing to spy. And even harder to get access to them. We spent the latter part of WWII reading lots of the German HQ-level traffic, and this gave a much more useful idea of what they were up to, than you can guess from looking at where troops are actually based.

        Not that I'm defending reading ordinary peoples' mail. But spying on foriegn governments is what we have intelligence services for. And I'm perfectly happy for that to include allies like Angela Merkel. The German government's position on various global and European issues is vital to British national interests. And no nation with a foreign intelligence service itself has any right to complain too much when it gets spied on. Well the game is, you complain loudly for a bit, for appearances, and maybe get some concessions, then go back to business as usual.

        1. Vic

          Re: TRAITORS

          > we 'knew' Saddam had WMD, because we'd found loads of it in the 90s

          we 'knew' Saddam had WMD, because we'd found loads of it in the 90s sold it to him in the first place

          There, FTFY.

          Vic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TRAITORS@ I ain't Spartacus

          "We also know that Iran has a nuclear program. But I've no idea what intel we have on why they've got it, and whether they intend to bargain it away, build it for safety, or even use it."

          Do we know that? We know that they have civilian nuclear ambitions because they commissioned a power generating reactor to be built by the Russians. But if you read more widely than the mainstream Western press, it's interesting to see the extent to which the claims of WMD programs seem to come more from geopolitical antagonisms and deliberate management of the press by Western governments than to any real evidence that Iran has ever had much intention of building a bomb. If you recall, Saddam supposedly had WMD, and it all turned out to be a load of old c**k. Then Libya was supposedly buying nuclear weapons tech, which likewise appears to have been bluster and misinformation by both sides. In Syria there's quite a lot of evidence that the use of chemical weapons has been false flag activities intended to support intervention which was only hours away when British public opinion stopped Parliament from repeating the mistakes of Iraq all over again (and were matched by similar attitudes in the US), all this despite the BBC's propaganda machine breathlessly declaring that the Assad regime was using chemical weapons.

          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. In the light of all that, are US claims of Iranian WMD any more credible than either Iranian denials, or the Iraqi dossier? Do we think that GCHQ-on-Sea is able to actually scoop Iranian intelligence because they send plain text emails via AOL about their plans?

          And this is my problem with your proposition. Electronic spying, keeping things under wraps, depending on the "intelligence" gathered remotely keeping us safe, defending our economic interests, sounds all so pacifist and 21st century "peacekeeper". In reality this approach is why there's about 188,000 dead Iraqis (a number still increasing at around 50 per day, every day), and why the US is $2 trillion poorer, and the UK around $10bn. And the subsequent attempts to involve the West in further wars for no good reason show that nothing has changed, other than the fact that the peasants have had enough of losing costly wars started on the pretext of "intelligence".

          1. AbelSoul

            Re: TRAITORS@ I ain't Spartacus

            @Ledswinger:

            +1. Excellent post, although I'm not sure I'd go along with this bit:

            ... which was only hours away when British public opinion stopped Parliament from repeating the mistakes of Iraq all...

            If only public opinion were that powerful, in which case there would probably never have been another attack on Iraq.

          2. Tringle

            Re: TRAITORS@ I ain't Spartacus

            Bear in mind that an Israeli Air Force General, when asked 'how far would you go to stop the Iranian nuclear programme?' answered 'about 3000 miles'.

            You are conflating the intelligence community with political ambition. Even if there had been no intelligence whatsoever about Sadam Hussein's regime (and let's face it, what little there was was made up by politicians and their shills), Bush and Blair would still have gone to war on some pretext or other.

            As H L Mencken said "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." It's the politicians you need to fear, not GCHQ or the NSA. Damaging the latter does us no service whatsoever. When the next undetected Islamist attack kills dozens of innocents, think about how you wanted to disable the intelligence gatherers. Snowden is a traitor of historic importance, but the intelligence community will recover. The dead from the next downed plane, or eviscerated train or bus won't.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            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"

          4. Psyx

            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.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TRAITORS

          "But we had no political intel, to tell us he'd apparently decided it wasn't worth it and had got rid of it"

          A part from Hans Blix and a team of UN inspectors who spent three years seaching for WMD (that, aparently, could be deployed in 30mins on the battlefield, the lie that was used as a pretense for the illegal war on Iraq) , but don't let truth get in the way of your argument.

        4. RobHib
          Meh

          Re: TRAITORS — @ I ain't Spartacus

          "And I'm perfectly happy for that to include allies like Angela Merkel."

          Perhaps you're right. Irrespective, I reckon these Snowden (and associated ) revelations are of such an extent that they've the power to shock even the complacent into action in ways that The Secret State and similar revelations were never able to do.

          Furthermore, with the enormous proliferation of smartphones worldwide, millions are now aware they're being snooped upon by their governments—and even if they're as innocent and white as newly-fallen snow, they're left with nasty feelings of their privacy having been violated.

          This could change the ballgame altogether. In the past, people never responded to the The Secret State and such revelations so emphatically as they have now done here; back then these matters were more abstract, now they're immediate, up-close and personal. The CERN scientists' newly and promptly developed encrypted email based in Switzerland is likely only the beginning of considerable research and development in obfuscating communications.

          Currently, the 'weakness' in mail is that interception is easy, as the source and destination addresses are known or can be readily determined—certainly so with IP addresses (with snail-mail knowing the source may be more problematic but the destination is usually clear). Even if mail is encrypted, its metadata is abundantly clear (and thus useful to interceptors).

          As I've mentioned in previous posts on similar matters, it seems to me there'll not only be considerable research into encrypted email that's easily used but also in ways of bringing stenography back into the main stream. However, stenography isn't as easy as it seems. 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.

          To get around the metadata problem, any modern form of stenography would have to obfuscate both source and destination addresses. I've little idea how this would be achieved except to say that it would perhaps have to involve the 'smearing' of addresses over multitudes of servers combined with say breaks in the communications chain—by say inserting wireless links into cable/fibre paths to disrupt directly-traceable routes. (Radio circuits would enable source and destination to appear at different virtual locations other than actual real ones. If a fuzzy distributed system that used smartphone wireless connections were ever conceived then tracing source and destination would be a nightmare if nigh on impossible.)

          If heavy-duty research into such methods hasn't already begun then I'd be mightily surprised.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: TRAITORS — @ I ain't Spartacus

            "The Secret State"? Presumably the book by Peter Hennessey; a reference would have been helpful.

            ProtonMail may be good, but is new and untried (and temporarily deferring new accounts due to demand). It is not clear how (or if) they are solving the metadata problem, although they hint at it.

            Presumably you mean steganography, the art of concealing a secret message in a plaintext one rather than stenography, the taking of shorthand dictation.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            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....

        5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Gimp

          Re: TRAITORS

          "Not that I'm defending reading ordinary peoples' mail. But spying on foriegn governments is what we have intelligence services for. And I'm perfectly happy for that to include allies like Angela Merkel. The German government's position on various global and European issues is vital to British national interests. And no nation with a foreign intelligence service itself has any right to complain too much when it gets spied on. Well the game is, you complain loudly for a bit, for appearances, and maybe get some concessions, then go back to business as usual."

          If only.

          The whole point about this saga is it's indiscriminate spying on everyone, all the time.

          That's not "targeted intelligence gathering," that's data fetishism.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: TRAITORS

        "To be honest, if it's on The Register, then it's hardly top secret any more."

        Agreeing or disagreeing with anything else in the story, that isn't a good argument. It's rather like a whistleblower's defence being "well, now I've told everyone, it's not secret any more, hence it's fine." There might be other defences, but this isn't one of them.

        1. RobHib

          Re: TRAITORS - - @ DavCrav

          "... that isn't a good argument."

          Right, the argument is logically correct but that's not the real point!

          What's significant and key is that the citizenry's trust in its governance and belief in democracy is low and continues to fall*. That even the act of surveillance is made covert by The State (rather than just its substance) is further aiding and abetting that belief/perception.

          __

          * Just tally the up/down votes on this story/posts alone and there's little doubt as to the truth of this statement. Even with the wildly anarchical tendencies of many El Reg readers, the stats are too strong to fudge. The figures are too strong to conclude otherwise for the general population.

    4. K Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: TRAITORS

      Luke 11, What is your problem? Is your cushy job at GCHQ now under threat ..

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. GrumpyMiddleAgedGuy

        Re: TRAITORS

        As someone who only just avoided being blown up on 7/7, I'm not particularly impressed by the publication of these details. Terrorism is a real danger and its childish to pretend that GCHQ and NSA are the real enemy.

        Next time a train or plane is blown up, and there is a very good chance there will be a next time, I hope those who have supported these leaks feel comfortable with themselves. Apparently targeted individuals have changed their behaviour, making it much harder to track them.

        1. Vic

          Re: TRAITORS

          Apparently targeted individuals have changed their behaviour, making it much harder to track them.

          If such individuals could be tracked and prevented from committing their atrocities prior to these revelations, how come we didn't do so?

          There are two possible explanations - at least one of which is inescapable :-

          - Our security services are actually staffed by people dimmer than those we are trying to catch

          - All this surveillance has no effect on catching bad guys.

          We've heard lots of bluster from "anti-terrorist" groups on both sides of the Atlantic about how fabulously the whole thing works, but when pushed to provide details of a *single* atrocity that's been prevented, there is much navel-gazing and shuffling of feet...

          The prevention of terrorism is best achieved by communities watching themselves - and that does not happen when said community does not feel any affection for the State. So all this mass-snooping actually makes terrorism more likely, not less so.

          Vic.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TRAITORS

      Hanged, not "hung". Meat is hung by the butcher. People are hanged by an executioner (or mob).

      1. Shrimpling

        Re: hung/hanged

        I would rather be well hung than well hanged.

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: hung/hanged

          Whoops, you got there first apologies.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: hung/hanged

          "I would rather be well hung than well hanged".

          Unless you're a deer or a partridge, of course.

      2. Ben Bonsall

        Re: TRAITORS

        Re: hanged/hung, there's really no difference, they've always been used interchangably.

        But I believe mobs 'lynch' :)

      3. Vic
        Joke

        Re: TRAITORS

        > Hanged, not "hung"

        Hence the pub argument :-

        "You should be bloody well hung!"

        "I bloody well am!"

        Vic.

      4. Bloakey1

        Re: TRAITORS

        "Hanged, not "hung". Meat is hung by the butcher. People are hanged by an executioner (or mob)."

        Agreed although my young lady tells me that a man who has been hanged may also be well hung!

        Tempora, hmmmm, brings to mind operation Tempura.

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: TRAITORS

          >Meat is hung by the butcher. People are hanged by an executioner (or mob).

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

          1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
            Terminator

            Re: TRAITORS - "hung parliament and a hanged parliament"

            With the current bunch of oxygen thieves my preference is for the latter.

          2. bpfh Bronze badge

            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 ?

      5. Desidero

        Re: TRAITORS

        Well-hung porn stars are occasionally butchered if it's a snuff film.

        I'm still trying to get my head (the one on shoulders) around "extra-martial affairs". If it were a well-hung extra-martian affair, we'd have an intergalactic incident on our hands.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TRAITORS

      Gosh, what a rant.

      Lets work through your lines one by one.

      "You people absolutely disgust me" -- Not quite sure that you can be any more disgusted than just disgusted, but I'll accept that this has upset you.

      "Disseminating this information puts us and government personnel in danger." -- How has this put you in danger? I assume you include yourself in "us", What has this done that makes your life more dangerous than yesterday. Please provide examples not take from the Daily Mail or any US govt information sheet. Please also provide citations and and anything else you can to show how some arbitrary government personnel are also in danger. My partner works for the govt and I'm now worried that she is a target for some no-named organisation based on this. Should I suggest she packs her job in?

      "You're as bad as that traitor Snowden and should be hung for treason." -- So first of all Snowden hasn't been found guilty of treason or of being a traitor. The US laws on treason oddly enough makes it difficult for Snowden to be convicted of that particular crime as it needs to be witnessed by two people. Then again, the US has never let laws get in the way of a good lynching. Again I'm struggling to understand how this is treason for the UK. I have no doubt that The Register has good lawyers and that these were consulted before this article was written. I have to confess to not being a lawyer, so what I say could be wrong, but if this was treasonous I expect the lawyer to have pointed this out to El Reg and indicated some of the potential pitfalls in publishing. Since they did publish, I have to assume that the lawyers are either a) incompetent or b) thought it wasn't treason. On the other hand I have to agree that some people at The Register should be hung, drawn and possibly quartered (can you be quartered in this metric age, should they be 0.25'ed) based on other articles that were awful. I know its harsh but true.

      "Bugger the fact that these installations cost tens of millions to design and build so you're essentially throwing hard earned tax payers money down the drain" - Not sure what sodomy has to do with this, but we'll gloss over that. Do you really think that other intelligence agencies didn't know about this? Did you really think that they don't super-duper encrypt stuff using their special spy ring encoding wheel as a matter of course? Any wannabee double oh seven would always assume their communications are insecure and that the message is intercepted. Same goes for the terrorist groups. This installation is aimed at spying on you and me. Do you think (no evidence for you on this so far) that this installation will not carry on doing exactly what it has been doing for the last few years? Nothing has been wasted or thrown down the drain. It spies on you and me and will carry on doing so.

      "I can't believe how disgusted I am right now. You make me want to be sick." - If you can't believe how disgusted you are, what makes you think I can? Wanting to be sick is a form of self-harm, I suggest speaking to a doctor or other counselling group to cure you of this affliction, I would also suggest giving up reading the Daily Mail, voting UKIP and getting out more and meeting real people.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: TRAITORS @AC no.1

        A splendid reposte only slightly spoilt by your AC status - have an upvote

        1. RobHib

          Re: TRAITORS @AC no.1 - - @ El Reg

          [El Reg, it would seem like a good idea to number ACs as above. Numbering each AC would reduce confusion when referring to earlier posts or following threads especially when there's many, as here. Alternatively, indent or colour-code threads.]

      2. Malcolm 2
        Black Helicopters

        Re: TRAITORS

        "... giving up reading the Daily Mail, voting UKIP and getting out more ..."

        Dear AC, I hope that you will not be too offended if I object to your lumping of the Daily Mail and voting UKIP in the same sentence. I am not a Daily Mail reader, but, for my sins, I did vote UKIP at the recent EU election. My reason for doing so is that I believe in a democratically accountable state (naive I know), something that current the European plutocracy is not. I voted "yes" in 1975. That was for a common market and a mutually beneficial alignment of neighbour states. If there ever is another referendum, I will be voting to leave.

        1. kraut

          Re: TRAITORS

          <quote>I did vote UKIP at the recent EU election. My reason for doing so is that I believe in a democratically accountable state</quote>

          That's sadly a bit like believing in the Easter Bunny these days.

          And UKIP is hardly going to lead to more democracy. Quite the opposite, I'd suggest

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TRAITORS

          As did I, Malcolm. On the whole, UKIP is against big government and militarism. It all wastes money and makes life worse for the ordinary citizen.

        3. lotus49

          Re: TRAITORS

          Indeed it is not fair to lump The Daily Mail in with UKIP.

          One of these is only supported by people who are merely closet racists, the other by overt racists. Here are some examples.

          http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/28/ukip-councillor-sacked-newly-elected

          http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Outrage-prospective-MP-condemns-Islam-blog/story-12089789-detail/story.html#ixzz2KYhtrxjS

          http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/05/19/farage-ukip-tired_n_5349828.html

          http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/06/ukip-godfrey-bloom-bongo-bongo-land.

          http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2013/05/19/more-ukip-horror-as-investigation-exposes-racist-abuse

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2537834/UKIPs-vile-Mandela-slave-rant-exposed-New-racism-storm-following-remarks-former-South-African-President-murdered-teenager-Stephen-Lawrence.html

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/10828481/British-Asian-Ukip-youth-leader-quits-racist-and-terrifying-Ukip.html

          Shall I go on?

          Whatever your views on the EU, UKIP is a party of and for xenophobes, racists and bigots. It is the BNP with (slightly) better marketing.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TRAITORS

        Spying on you and me, is that an admission that you are a terrorist? I'll take that as a yes then, but do not include me in your rant. I am not a terrorist and even a casual review of my communications would bore the backside off a half reasonable intelligence officer. Mind you that may well be half of the problem, if Snowden is anything to go by getting even 1/10th reasonable officers is impossible these days.

        I have said it before if the best that vetting can come up with is feeble idiots like Snowden then all the operations are doomed. No doubt the Iranians and other 'friendly folks' will be lapping up all the stupid froth.

        Just think for a moment, with billions of communication every day, most of which are of the level of my wife's call about a supermarket order. This included an unordered item for which there was no charge; is that what intelligence people want?. What intelligence needs or wants is useful stuff not dross about supermarket order mistakes or what some dippy clot had for breakfast and posted on idiot book.

        But he-ho if it helps an idiot from Psychopaths for the Devil plan their next underground bombing trip or inspires them to do something stupid that they had only previously thought about, who cares? I do not use the underground and do not work in London either and have not done so for over 12 years. While I did work in that hell hole it was a different branch of Psychopaths for the Devil who were blowing things up, including a pub a few doors away from my office. So lest anyone think that this is aimed at one special group, I include all religious and political nut jobs who think the answer to anything is to blow people up.

        Frankly if anyone can stop them rather than encourage or inspire them that is A GOOD THING.

        Has Snowden done anything useful NO, No and once more NO, he is an irrelevant stupid fool who has only helped to increase the cost of keeping people who care about living alive. If you think that making that more of a challenge is a great achievement I am not going to agree with you any time soon.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          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.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            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.

      4. dr2chase

        Re: TRAITORS

        I agree with you completely, except on one point, and that is that these facilities could only be designed to spy on ordinary civilians because all the baddies are already encrypting anyway. I don't think most of them are. Based on some of the various terrorist exploits in the last dozen years, I think we need to keep in mind the Mr. Evil (as opposed to Dr. Evil) model of terrorists. A shoe bomb? An underwear bomb? A butt bomb? (it did go off, but failed to achieve its effect, mostly because it was shielded from its victims by the body of the terrorist) The guys who tried to attack an airport in Scotland failed utterly and got their asses kicked. The Madrid bombers, who did kill, were caught because they were reusing SIM cards in their throwaway phones. There may be some sharp and organized guys at the top of these organizations, but it is definitely not geniuses all the way down (not unlike any other organization).

    7. Psyx

      Re: TRAITORS

      "Disseminating this information puts us and government personnel in danger. You're as bad as that traitor Snowden and should be hung for treason."

      How?

      No it does not.

      The facility is fairly common knowledge in the region. Until this article the vast majority of people who knew about it either lived in the region or worked for the intelligence agencies of other nations. How precisely does letting the citizens of the nation who operates it create any operational danger?

      If you love your country so damn much you should be less ignorant about it.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: TRAITORS

        If you love your country so damn much you should be less ignorant about it.

        Which would, of course, include knowing that you can't be hanged (or hung, or hinged) for treason. Like all EU member states we have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TRAITORS

          Like all EU member states we have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

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

          1. kraut

            Re: TRAITORS

            50% of the population have an IQ below average.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: TRAITORS

              Mean, median or mode?

          2. BillG Silver badge
            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!

          3. Psyx

            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.

        2. RobHib

          Re: TRAITORS -- @AndrueC

          "Like all EU member states we have abolished the death penalty for all crimes."

          Just because it's the current status quo doesn't mean it will always be so. From time immemorial the death penalty was ever present in most countries until recently; with recent politics moving to the extreme right in many places, there's more than a possibility such laws could be reversed.

          Citizens' vigilance is essential to see they're not.

          1. kraut

            Re: TRAITORS -- @AndrueC

            Pardon me for not checking the details - but I was under the impression that getting rid of the death penalty permanently was a prerequisite to joining the ECHR and EU.

            No judicial system is perfect.

    8. Peter Simpson 1
      WTF?

      Re: TRAITORS

      You want to really blow lunch? Read "Blind Man's Bluff". Published ten or more years ago, it made very clear that the US had the ability to tap undersea cables.

      Anyone who did not have a strong feeling this was going on is living in a fantasy world. Nobody learns anything new from this article, except a bunch of code names and some hypothetical locations. And the data is still being gathered.

      If you want to get really ill, think of the amount of data being slurped, in Oman, where it arguably does some good, but also in the US and Great Britain. Yup, mate...that naughty email you sent to your wife or girlfriend, or both, is right now sitting on some GCHQ numpty's screen. That should loosen your lunch a bit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TRAITORS

        that naughty email you sent to your wife or girlfriend, or both, is right now sitting on some GCHQ numpty's screen. That should loosen your lunch a bit.

        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? Unless the initial comment came from an IP address flagged as somewhere like the Palace of Westminster, or other plave of interest, I doubt if the message even got noticed.

        1. Peter Simpson 1
          Facepalm

          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?... I doubt if the message even got noticed.

          Message? No.

          Selfies of wife/GF in reply? Definitely.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The trouble...

          Said philanderings will be noticed and used if a government agency finds it convenient to use them as a lever to exert pressure on the citizen in question, for whatever reason they see fit. Power corrupts, so what makes anyone think that THIS power won't corrupt and be misused?

          Think this is paranoid BS? Look up Hoover, J. Edgar, and Nixon, Richard Milhouse; consider what they would have got up to if they had unlimited access to everyone's communications...

        3. Les Matthew

          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?"

          No, but I bet that supercomputer they have in the basement scanned it for keywords.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: TRAITORS

            No, but I bet that supercomputer they have in the basement scanned it for keywords.

            In GCHQ that GCHQ case GCHQ I GCHQ hope GCHQ this AARDVARK wastes GCHQ a GCHQ few GCHQ processor GCHQ cycles.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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?"

          Some think Edward Snowden a traitor for stealing information, many will not agree on that, but we would all agree he took info and gave/sold it to someone/everyone else. How many other stealers of information might there be in GCHQ/NSA? What info might they steal on people and who for, criminals, big businesses, other govts?

          You might not fear the agencies, but they're crammed full of personal info and they're full of employees, human beings, with all their faults.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: TRAITORS

            You might not fear the agencies, but they're crammed full of personal info and they're full of employees, human beings, with all their faults.

            So's every HR department in the country. I'd be a lot more scared of their incompetence than GCHQ's malice.

            1. kraut

              Re: TRAITORS

              <quote>You might not fear the agencies, but they're crammed full of personal info and they're full of employees, human beings, with all their faults.

              So's every HR department in the country. I'd be a lot more scared of their incompetence than GCHQ's malice.</quote>

              Take the incompetence (and malice) of the average HR department. Give them everything you've ever done online.

              Multiply by 10^6.

              Still not worried?

        5. alun phillips
          Big Brother

          the problem in a nutshell

          Unless your email is explicit "Hey George w bush let's go an invade Iraq a week on Thursday I will supply the ground troops to soften up the palace guards, yours Tony Blair" it'll be missed completely unless the ip address is already flagged, in which case it would've been picked up anyway, data slurping of this magnitude will just overwhelm the system.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            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.

        6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Big Brother

          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? Unless the initial comment came from an IP address flagged as somewhere like the Palace of Westminster, or other plave of interest, I doubt if the message even got noticed."

          True.

          But I'll bet it got filed "just in case" that person turns into the 0.03% of the UK population who might be planning to commit a terrorist act (nail bomb set off at the houses of Parliament, egging Nigel Farage, who knows).

          1. Bloakey1

            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.

        7. Shaha Alam

          Re: TRAITORS

          if anything, the Snowden revelations have shown that:

          - the agencies *do not* notice important information

          - *do* probe information about spouses and lovers

        8. paulc

          Re: TRAITORS

          they don't actively look at all your emails, they just bulk store them, but if you ever pop up in their viewfinder, they can easily trawl the entire backlog looking for dirt to have you incriminated or destroyed with...

        9. Graham Cobb

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

        10. Ted Treen
          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?

    9. Morat

      Re: TRAITORS

      Clearly a GCHQ employee - how else did he get First Post?

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: TRAITORS

      Well trolled Luke....

      Clearly everyone fails to look up your name and see you are a ranty, shouty little child.

      Hats off.

    11. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: TRAITORS

      If you want to talk about treason and treacherousness, I would suggest that you consider whether wholesale and indiscriminate monitoring and data collection on communications by normal people strengthens or weakens security.

      Firstly, it depends on what you mean by security. If you mean the peace of mind one gets from the freedom from persecution, I would suggest that having unregulated agencies with no oversight spying on everyone and everything does not strengthen this, and in fact puts it at jeopardy.

      If you are talking about the freedom of said agencies to do whatever they like 'in our name', despite their lack of oversight, then I fail to see how this helps anyone other than them, whoever 'they' are.

      What we can deduce from this article, is that money from the UK treasury (collected from taxpayers), has been spent on building and maintaining a base conducting data collection activities, on foreign soil, in order to monitor other foreign nationals in a wholesale manner. it is questionable whether this even represents good value for money, let alone whether we should be doing it. Furthermore, we have learned that large sums of money from our treasury have also been paid to BT (and other companies) to maintain this capability. Without public oversight.

      Now, I don't know what your personal opinion of BT is, but I don't trust them one iota, since they were found doing something very similar with their customer's data (in the name of targeted advertising), for which they were conveniently never prosecuted despite being quite possibly in breach of several data protection laws. Only the nave would think that this was not also being fed to GCHQ for their purposes, and here we see another link between the (supposedly) non-governmental BT and the spooks.

      Personally, what disgusts me is the wasting of public money on something like this, at a time of 'austerity', where the cost of living is rising rapidly for normal people, and the funnelling of further public funds to a private enterprise.

      What is more, if you actually get the opinions of security experts, you will find that the consensus opinion is that this sort of monitoring does nothing to gather any useful information, as it is far too untargeted. The analogy is like trying to find a needle in a haystack by adding more hay.

      So, I will end by asking who the real 'traitors' are - people who wish to see this sort of thing reach the light of day, so we can know what our governments are doing in our name, and ensure that they do not draw more power to themselves (which is undoubtedly not in our interests), or those who would draw such power to themselves?

    12. hi_robb

      Re: TRAITORS

      And by reading the article, you Sir are as much a traitor as El Reg or I.

      Just how many hands is that horse of yours? Be careful you don't hurt yourself when you fall off.

      D

    13. corestore

      Re: TRAITORS

      You ARE Louise Mensch AICMFP

    14. Creamy-G00dness

      Re: TRAITORS

      I assume by your fervor that you will now be leaving the Reg membership?............shame

      Hang on, did someone mention Snowden?

      Just waiting for Matt Bryant to turn up in his helicopter made entirely of opinion.

    15. steward
      Devil

      Re: TRAITORS

      @Luke 11:

      "You make me want to be sick."

      But you're not sick. Perhaps this reveals some secret sympathy with Vulture Central that you don't even want to admit to yourself - because if you really believed what you said, you would be sick.

      Maybe a nice cuppa with a counselor or psychoanalyst could reveal what actually -does- make you sick, as opposed to what you think you wish you would be sick about.

    16. Alan Bourke

      Re: TRAITORS

      How about you FUCK OFF SPYING ON ME

    17. Adam T

      Re: TRAITORS

      I don't see what the problem is.

      It's obviously not *that* secret - it even has a nice big X to stand out all the better from Google Maps.

      And the rest...I can only second what everyone else has pointed out. It's hardly "hidden from view".

    18. Gnomalarta
      Big Brother

      Re: TRAITORS

      "You make me want to be sick."

      Pass him the gripe water, someone.

    19. Jim 59

      Re: TRAITORS

      Oh come on 'tards. Look, the opposing arguments are as follows, and both have some validity:

      A - The government engages in secret activities to spy on us which could threaten our democracy, and in the worst case, lead to tyranny in the UK. Not in the UK citizens' interests. Not acceptable.

      vs.

      B - The government engages in secret activities to spy on other nations and organisations, who could otherwise threaten our democracy and in the worst case, lead to tyranny in the UK. In the UK citizens' interests. Acceptable.

      El Reg and many 'tards believe A. I am with B (sorry). I see the (A) viewpoint. But even in a democracy there is an unhappy requirement for the government to carry out secret activity. If it didn't, it would be impossible to have a country in any recognisable form. Twas ever thus.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Jim 59 Re: TRAITORS

        The obvious problem with option A, that Big Brother is planning to impose tyranny, is asking why it hasn't happened yet? If the sheeple are so convinced that is the plan, what is Big Brother waiting for? After all, if they are gathering info on all of us they have been doing it for fifty-odd years, what's the hold up? Of course, the sheeple can't give an answer to that. At which their paranoid delusional fantasy collapses like the house of cards it is.

        1. kraut

          Re: Jim 59 TRAITORS

          <quote>The obvious problem with option A, that Big Brother is planning to impose tyranny, is asking why it hasn't happened yet? </quote>

          Who says it hasn't? Maybe you just didn't notice?

          I'm still trying to understand how being an offensive arse merits a longer sentence than GBH http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-26579717 ... or why making jokes about airports get you prosecuted.. or why we use "anti terrorism" legislation to prosecute people for dog muck (*) and trying to get their kids into decent schools.

          Slippery slope, opium of the masses, blah blah.. more people probably(***) voted for Eurovision and BGT than in the European elections....just because it doesn't look like a coup doesn't mean it isn't one.

          (*) which they absolutely SHOULD be prosecuted for. And littering. But not using "terrorism" legislation (**)

          (**) and there should be a &%&%&^!" warrant.

          (***) Even I can't be arsed to check. Pretty sure that some "reality" TV shows top the abysmal electoral participation in the UK. (****)

          (****) As a pure conjecture, disqualifying anyone who's voted in some "reality" TV show in the previous 18 months from voting in real elections might give us more sensible results. OTOH, introducing a voting system that doesn't disenfranchise the majority of the populace (PR, if you can't look it up) would be even better.

        2. Shaha Alam

          Re: Jim 59 TRAITORS

          you're expecting that big brother will implement the sort of tyranny where jackboots press down on your neck and you have to show your 'papers' to an 'official' every time you walk down the street.

          not all tyrannies are like that.

          maybe ours is the sort where people no longer question why so much of our lives is spent "working" and so little "playing". in that sense, Big Brother has thoroughly done his job.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            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.

      2. kraut

        Re: TRAITORS

        You forgot about

        C - The government engages in secret activities to spy on other nations and organisations, and mass-monitors millions of citizens, blatantly breaking even the ludicrously generous laws (RIPA etc) that the last Junta passed. Wasting huge amounts of money, to remarkably little actual security improvements (*), but nevertheless threatening democracy. The government also introduces backdoors in systems, and sabotages hard encryption, thus weakening everyone's online security even further.

        The point is, simply, governments have to act within the law. And it's the job of the press and the public to make sure that they do, and that the laws aren't bad.

        (*) Even the NSA, who are perfectly happy to lie to their Congress, weren't bold enough to point to any evidence their surveillance had actually uncovered any real plots

      3. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: TRAITORS

        @ Jim59

        B, especially in view of the facts (1) that there seems to be no supporting evidence presented that the secret activities spawned actions to threaten the current largely democratic regime; and (2) the government has plenty of local actors available if they choose to become tyrannical and in consequence have little need or use for internal signals intelligence.

    20. Maty

      Re: TRAITORS

      Luke 11?

      Okay looking up Luke 11.9&10 gives us

      'Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.'

      Spookily relevant to tapping data channels ...

    21. RobHib

      Re: TRAITORS - @ Luke 11

      " TRAITORS... ...You people absolutely disgust me.

      Perhaps it's real democracy at work! At the time of my reading, the votes were to the tune of 14/193. That's almost 14:1 against your view!

      With numbers like that, it's little wonder our supposed democracies have to keep even the very existence of such surveillance secret.

    22. Mike Smith
      Thumb Up

      Re: TRAITORS

      Hey Luke,

      Looking at the downvote rate, you'll be in with a chance of winning a vacuum cleaner by Friday!

    23. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: TRAITORS

      What? Do you honestly think for one moment that your country is the only one who does this? Oh.. and besides the USA? I daresay that every country of any size is engaged in this type of operation. And yes, they spy not only on each other but also on their own citizens. It's not just about national security anymore otherwise they wouldn't spy on their own citizens. It's about power.

      As for traitors... I think you need to look around at some of the more "patriotic" types and what they are doing with their power.

    24. David 45

      Re: TRAITORS

      Satire, sarcasm - or what? Difficult to tell.

    25. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TRAITORS

      you mean that you knew all of this long before it was published...and you didn't tell me, and me being a taxpayer and all, a pensioner to boot, who can't get proper social welfare or a decent pension. Don't you think that calling the Reg a traitor is like yourself looking in mirror?

    26. ian 22

      Re: TRAITORS

      But, but, but, we're the good'uns!

    27. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TRAITORS

      Some might argue that you should be first up against the wall for supporting secret wide ranging government orders and other extrajudicial activities against their citizens. Governments act on behalf of and are accountable to their citizens. How can the citizens make an informed decision if the government acts against the entire population in secret?

      Don't you think it's strange that other law enforcement seems to operate effectively with transparency and an open judicial process?

      I don't think it's unreasonable or detrimental for the government to tell their citizens they want to intercept all of their domestic or foreign communications for the specific reasons, then let the public decide what they want in the due course of the normal electoral process.

      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? Why not include murder investigations or even petty crimes? The US has the situation where it's reached the point of the government secretly intercepting communications, using the information in court without disclosure or the rigours of the established legal process.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        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.

    28. RTX1138

      Re: TRAITORS

      Agree completely. This is appalling. Snowden is a traitor, end of story. Nonetheless, he at least was acting based on his principles, however misguided and naive. This article, in contrast, is just treachery for titillation. And for the titillation of whom? Answer: the ethical retards who unfortunately seem to make up the bulk of Register readership.

      I had a high opinion of The Register's editorial maturity prior to this article but no more.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: TRAITORS

        "I had a high opinion of The Register's editorial maturity"

        Maturity? Christ, I need to try harder with the headline innuendo.

        C.

        1. Vic

          Re: TRAITORS

          > I need to try harder with the headline innuendo.

          Always a good idea to check a poster's registration date before getting too worked up about negative feedback...

          Vic.

    29. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      I can foresee a problem...

      If the Adult video industry ever gets around to naming their performers with keywords such as "Plutonium", then all the world's adult entertainment, making up 75% of the world's traffic, will be redirected through the spooks' servers and sent for human Analyst review. At that point the entire iSpy system will simply collapse.

    30. b0hem1us
      Linux

      Re: TRAITORS

      You are sick already so no need to try fool.

    31. 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.

    32. This post has been deleted by its author

    33. Uncle_Sam

      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.

    34. WatAWorld

      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.

    35. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    36. Infosec Guy

      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.

    37. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: TRAITORS

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

  2. 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..?)

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    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.

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      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

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Dissapointed

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

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dissapointed

        The aliens are the government.

    2. bigtimehustler

      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.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    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!

    1. MrXavia

      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?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Britain's got secrets

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

        1. alun phillips

          Watching too much Yes. Minister

          Maybe he's watched the ruinous retread

    2. Psyx

      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.

    3. Emperor Zarg

      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.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        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.

        1. RobHib

          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).

      3. TheOtherHobbes

        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.

    4. Christoph Silver badge

      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.

      1. Bloakey1

        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.

      2. Trainee grumpy old ****
        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.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      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?

    6. Ben Norris

      Re: Britain's got secrets

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

    7. asiaseen

      Re: Britain's got secrets

      "...At what level are things really kept secret?"

      At a national level "Eyes only" - meaning UK eyes only - is close to the top but I believe there more above that.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the spooks can monitor international fibre.. and they have to have a warrant? and they are not allowed to store every communication? sounds reasonable powers to me...

    Oh, but David Miliband basically gave the carte blanche to do what they want?

    I am perfectly happy with the capability to exist for monitoring, as long as there are courts in place that decide whether a 'tap' is valid!

    1. kraut

      One of the many points is that thanks to #Labour's authoritarian #RIPA, no judicial oversight is required.

      Magna Carta? She died in vain.

      Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband - they essentially gave any "authorised person" (Senior Scotland Yard Counter-Terrorism officer, Senior Police Officer, Local Authority Dog Muck Warden!) - the legal right to snoop on all your electronic communication.

      Without

      so

      much

      as

      the

      mention

      of

      any

      legal

      f*cking

      process

      Not

      even

      a

      tame

      judge,

      Nope.

      You read that right.

      No

      Legal

      Oversight

      Whatsoever.

      So wake up. There is *NO* judicial oversight as to whether a "tap" is valid. Labour essentially passed an enablement act that means whatever *any* authority taps into is legal.

      Didn't complain at the time? Voted Labour? Gee, you only have yourself to blame.

      Oh, if you really want to get into the infamy of #RIPA - see what happens with encryption keys..and if you were to disclose that you had to hand them over. I'm sure the money launderers and terrorists are quaking in their boots, while civil society and democracy (and online security) won't be affected at all.

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        "Magna Carta? She died in vain."

        That brave Hungarian peasant girl who forced King John to sign the pledge at Runnymede and close the boozers at half past ten.

  6. EvanPyle

    I'm getting stuck on the code names trying to figure out if they form some kind of joke.

    1. Psyx

      "I'm getting stuck on the code names trying to figure out if they form some kind of joke."

      No, because they're randomly assigned.

      Only absolute idiots give projects code-names which are a hint at the intention, or puns. If you call your listening project 'big ear', it's a bit of a give-away.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        NOT "random"

        When GW Bush inserted his foot into his mouth by originally calling operation "Enduring Freedom" "Crusade", there was a lively discussion in the UK media about how operational codenames are assigned. Someone from the MOD said that whilst there should be no connection between a codename and the nature of the operation, names were vetted so that in the event of the operation going wrong, there could be no unintentional humour attached to the operation. They also try to avoid incremental alphabetical codenames (cf hurricane naming) as that could tip of the enemy about the scale or pace of operations.

        1. Psyx

          Re: NOT "random"

          Random, then vetted, if we're splitting hairs.

          Although the US has been known to use a bit of marketing in the case of more widely known codewords and operational names in order to sex them up for the public.

      2. Bloakey1

        <snip>

        "Only absolute idiots give projects code-names which are a hint at the intention, or puns. If you call your listening project 'big ear', it's a bit of a give-away."

        Agreed. No one would ever use names like Operation Desert Storm, Operation Crescent Wind or Operation Rolling Thunder to name but a few.

        1. Psyx
          FAIL

          "Agreed. No one would ever use names like Operation Desert Storm, Operation Crescent Wind or Operation Rolling Thunder to name but a few."

          If you bothered to keep reading, you'll note:

          "Although the US has been known to use a bit of marketing in the case of more widely known codewords and operational names in order to sex them up for the public."

          Additionally, operational names are not the same thing as code names. You're trying to be clever while comparing apples and oranges.

          btw, UK Forces didn't use 'Op Desert Shield/Storm', we used 'Operation Granby'.

          1. Bloakey1

            "If you bothered to keep reading, you'll note:"

            <snip>

            I did old chap but I thought that your caveat did not do ample justice to the stunningly obvious names that the merkins give to things.

            On a more interesting note Lewis will have signed the OSA a few times as have I. As a Marine he can probably claim insanity but if he had been a para then the case would have been more clear cut.

            1. That Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

              Marine!? Splutter

              How dare you sir. Actually I was RN (clearance diver by trade, insert your comment on relative insanity vis-a-vis paras, bootnecks etc here). But I did have the fulfilling experience of doing the all-arms course at one point, complete with fluffy bunny murder.

              1. Bloakey1

                Re: Marine!? Splutter

                "How dare you sir"

                <snip>

                Ahhh, I do apologise as I did not know you were a member of the golden rivet club. I for my sins was a cheese eating surrender monkey, cough, err, I mean a Legionnaire and prior to that a British SF signaller. Did a bit of clearance and beach recon using Draegers etc. Now I am a plastic Paddy with a PADI licence, so I am licensed to trill. Did a few degrees on leaving so am now edumacated in I.T. and Info Sec.

                Death to all bunnies as we know they are enemies of the one true faith and must be exterminated root and branch.

  7. Knoydart
    Black Helicopters

    Black helicopters galore

    Well if you guys didn't have your card marked before today, the black helicopters will be circling vulture central shortly. The revelations are not surprising sadly, but the scale of commercial tie in is impressive. To build a facility or two does not coffee cheap, so the uk tax payer hopefully will get some decent return on their investment cough cough. I wonder if gchq gets a good discount at the local b&b in Bude when they go to check on their installation?

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Black helicopters galore

      Heh. Old news in the US:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

  8. dan1980

    Hi guys - any insight into why you decided to publish this?

    1. That Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

      Why did we publish this?

      The government have made it plain that in their view not only foreign powers (ie probably Russia and others) have full access to the Snowden leaks, but quite possibly "non state actors" also. In other words the only people who don't know this are the general public.

      And given the colossal automated penetration that NSA/GCHQ are achieving worldwide without anybody being much the wiser, it seemed to us that the public should know - as there's no further intelligence hit for UK.gov to take, by its own analysis.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Why did we publish this?

        Thanks Lewis - I appreciate the response.

        What a surprise that 'we the people' (substitute local equivalent) are the last to know about all this.

        1. Roo

          Re: Why did we publish this?

          "What a surprise that 'we the people' (substitute local equivalent) are the last to know about all this."

          If you have a relative that takes the Official Secrets Act seriously this will be business as usual. I found out more about what my Grandfather got up to at his funeral than he let on in the ~18 years I knew him. :)

          1. glen waverley
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Why did we publish this?

            And what did your grandfather get up to at his funeral?

            Seriously, have to agree with (the meaning of) yr comment. I found out some things that my late da did in ww2 at his brothers funeral. Which was in 2009, 50 yrs after dad's funeral.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: Why did we publish this?

              I'm actually more interested in the steps the Gov. took to keep this information out of the public eye - were they legal? Is the media complicit by responding to a 'we'd rather you didn't let on old chap' message?

        2. Paul_Murphy

          Re: Why did we publish this?

          And of course we are the ones paying for it.

      2. Omniaural

        Re: Why did we publish this?

        If I'm honest, I'd rather know about these things than not, but I'm unsure of the value of being so specific in locating the installation.

        I want to put the brakes on this whole blanket surveillance program as much as most people on El Reg, however, this is could be a step too far.

        I don't think it puts the installation in danger, as such, if it is indeed based within a 'friendly' country, but what about that country's standing in the local region now that it is known to be collaborating in spying on them on behalf of western powers?

        It may prompt Oman to publicly cut ties and force the base to close?

        One thing is for sure, I really hope this is picked up on in the mainstream and properly debated, but somehow doubt it will be allowed.

        You've done a brave thing El Reg, I just hope it doesn't backfire!

        1. asiaseen

          Re: Why did we publish this?

          "It may prompt Oman to publicly cut ties and force the base to close?"

          Unlikely, the ties go very deep particularly with the UK - and even the US (recall the abortion of the Teheran hostages rescue was mounted from Oman). BT has been well established since at least the mid-1980s to my knowledge. MI6 used to run the euphemistically-named Oman Research Department and probably still does.

      3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Why did we publish this?

        Bravo Lewis - lets hope that escape and evasion training isnt needed...... (did you do that in the bomb squad?)

        Congrats on the size of yours and Duncans cojones.

        1. That Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: Why did we publish this?

          Never did proper E&E complete with resistance-to-interrogation training, no, but we did get a cut down version of it on the commando course. Hopefully not super useful in this situation: the main thing I can remember is the procedure for making a tasty dinner out of a live rabbit.

          1. Psyx

            Re: Why did we publish this?

            No happy memories of Parachute Regiment search teams putting the boot in a bit on the way to interrogation, then?

          2. Bloakey1

            Re: Why did we publish this?

            Lewis page wrote:

            <snip>

            Well done that man. I did my E and E in Mont Louis, with a particularly fine wine, a hint of garlic and a green beret that dropped to the left and not the right.

            Should you need to do an impression of Jason Bourne I have a secret HQ in the sun where you could pull up a sandbag and swing a lamp. They are currently digging up some wasteland not a million miles away ;)

          3. Mr Anonymous

            Re: Why did we publish this?

            "I can remember is the procedure for making a tasty dinner out of a live rabbit."

            I find it tastier when dead, preferably in a pot with veg and wine, oh, and more wine on the side.

          4. Blitheringeejit
            Coat

            re: E&E

            > the main thing I can remember is the procedure for making a tasty dinner out of a live rabbit.

            One hopes that this process began with putting the dear little bunny out of its misery? Or does this recipe come from the Ozzy Osbourne guide to bush tucker?

            (OK, OK, I know he never really did the bat thing. Coat...)

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Why did we publish this?

          Well done.

          Unfortunately you do realise that you'll be forced to use Windows 8 as punishment for stepping out of line. You might have your asset management life cycle forcibly cut short. The Guardian had the heavies coming round and smashing up computers for publishing less.

      4. dogged

        Re: Why did we publish this?

        > The government have made it plain that in their view not only foreign powers (ie probably Russia and others) have full access to the Snowden leaks, but quite possibly "non state actors" also.

        Presumably everyone who routinely reads Glen Greenwald's email knows so that's China, Russia, France and probably Syria for starters. ECHELON nations already presumably already knew, barring bureaucratic buggerups.

    2. OrsonX
      Alert

      September 11, 2001

      El Reg, you were wrong to publish this and I am one, of seemingly a minority here, that think Edward Snowden is a traitor.

      For me the only justification needed for any of this is September 11, 2001. Do you remember what happened or have you forgotten already?

      Things are secret for a reason. GCHQ doesn't care about your sexts or e-mails to your mistress, they are not looking for you.

      But they are looking for a few people, and you have just helped them.

      1. Robin Bradshaw

        Re: September 11, 2001

        @OrsonX Actually GCHQ do care about your sexts:

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/27/gchq_optic_nerve/

      2. Snapper
        Black Helicopters

        Re: September 11, 2001

        Dear OrsonX

        Considering the overwhelming amount of scientific, architectural and video evidence supporting the contrary view of who was responsible, perhaps you might like to review who had most to gain by instigating the 'War On Terror', and how that has affected the life of everyone on the planet in the last 13 years.

        War is good for big business.

        Wasn't the first, and certainly won't be the last time the puppet masters yanked a few strings.

        Historical fact: Most historians now accept that Pearl Harbour was known about by the high-ups in the American and UK Governments before the attack. In fact, you have to ask yourself why the Japanese attacked in the first place, especially when they were so short of fuel oil and manufacturing capability that they could not hope to win a war of attrition. Also strange how the only American ships to be damaged were the almost useless battleships, but the really powerful ships, the aircraft carriers, were out of town on that Sunday morning. Gave the USA a huge reason/excuse to mobilise and eventually become the super-power to beat, didn't it? Think that by accident?

        Historical fact: Elizabeth the First made her famous Tilbury speech several days AFTER the Armada was badly damaged in the Channel, and then left the sailors to starve to death on ships anchored out at sea so the government wouldn't have to pay them.

        Do some research before you parrot the government/media line.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Snapper Re: September 11, 2001

          ".....Most historians now accept that Pearl Harbour was known about by the high-ups in the American and UK Governments before the attack....." Partially correct - they had warnings but no concrete proof of the time or place of the attack. The British, Dutch and US had an a agreement to share intelligence from decoding Japanese communications and knew the Japanese planned an attack as early as 1940. The UK sent a first specific warning in 1941 after being tipped of by the Russians. An NKVD spy, Richard Sorge, had heard a rumour of Japanese plans and gave the correct month and the likely US target as early as June 1941, but when MI6 sent the news to the US it went to Hoover at the FBI. Hoover had not heard anything through his own sources (which included thousands of line-taps on Japanese-Americans) and had an inherent distrust of "the Commies", so he did not accept the warning. Ironically, Sorge had also earlier sent Stalin warning of the German attack on Russia and Stalin had ignored him! Unfortunately, Sorge was arrested in October 1941 before he could supply actual proof. MI6 followed up with their own spies and were able to get much more detail which Winston Churchill himself sent to Roosevelt. The theory is that many in Congress would not support a war, being isolationist, and would insist the British warning was a ruse to force the US into the War on the side of the Allies, meaning Roosevelt was unwilling to mobilise US forces without proper evidence. Roosevelt's policy was that America could not make the first move in a Pacific war, nor give the Japanese the excuse by mobilising forces. Thus only a warning of "possible attack" was sent to US bases including Pearl. The actual concrete proof, given by the breaking of the Japanese diplomatic "Purple Code" did not come until too late, and even then did not mention Japanese targets.

          ".....Also strange how the only American ships to be damaged were the almost useless battleships, but the really powerful ships, the aircraft carriers, were out of town on that Sunday morning....." A fave musing with conspiracy nuts that totally avoids the fact that US Navy strategy was built around the use of battleships, with the carriers more as providing support to the battlegroup and protecting them from land-based bombers. Royal Naval actions in the Med against the Italians (especially the Battle of Cape Matapan) had reinforced the belief that the battleship was still the primary means of sinking enemy warships. Ironically, it was the RN use of carriers at Taranto to sink Italian battleships that directly influenced the Japanese plan for Pearl, but the primary target was always the USN's battleships. Indeed, the loss of the battleships at Pearl forced the USN into quickly forming a novel strategy around the use of carriers as the main striking force. As it turned out, it was a superior strategy, but it was anathema to the many admirals that had planned their war against Japan on the basis of battleship actions.

          ".....you have to ask yourself why the Japanese attacked in the first place, especially when they were so short of fuel oil and manufacturing capability that they could not hope to win a war of attrition...." Imperial Japan needed to expand, particularly into China, to secure the resources it needed. The US was particularly upset about the move into China (they really didn't give a fudge about the Japs moving on British, French or Dutch colonies). There was also a Japanese belief that a quick, overwhelming attack would force America to withdraw from the Pacific to defend the US mainland, and that isolationist American politicians would then be amenable to a peace settlement in Japan's favour. In short, the Japs misunderstood the US as much as the US misunderstood Japan.

          "....Elizabeth the First .... left the sailors to starve to death on ships anchored out at sea so the government wouldn't have to pay them....." Not true. Whilst the Royal Navy had driven the Armada out of the Channel ports and into the North Sea, it still represented a striking force far larger than the RN, and could still swing round and resume picking up the Spanish armies from France. Liz kept the Fleet at sea so as to guard against any further Spanish attempts at invasion. In the event, the Spanish tried to take their remaining ships round Scotland and most were wrecked in storms, leaving the survivors little option but to return to Spain.

          ".....Do some research before you parrot the government/media line." Petard moment.

        2. Lars Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: September 11, 2001

          "Most historians now accept". Most "historians" also accept that Kennedy was shot by Oswald or Oswald plus pal or Castro or US Cubans or Russia or the CIA or the FBI or Connally or the driver or Johnson or Nixon or his own brother or Warren or the mob or .... Must have forgotten some. just pick your historian.

      3. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: September 11, 2001

        The best way to defeat terrorism isn't declaring war on everyone you don't like. It's not turning the country into a police state either.

        The best way to defeat terrorism is to stand true to your principles.

        The principles of the West used to be all about freedom and due process.

        By turning the US and the UK into a Stasi wet dream, our governments have lost the "War on Terror"

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: September 11, 2001

          <snip>

          "By turning the US and the UK into a Stasi wet dream, our governments have lost the "War on Terror""

          I agree with you. The West effectively lost the war on terror and ceded Osama a victory when they reacted as they have done. The US for example has adopted the Israeli mode for targeted assassinations with no concern for 'colateral damage' when chasing a primary target.

          All of our lives have changed in negative ways. The Blitz never caused the UK to flinch, the IRA never caused the UK to flinch. A few Western funded Al Qaueda types have made the system go ape and a lot of people have followed.

          I get annoyed that Gurkhas can join the British army, Irishmen and Scots can join the British army, we can all join the Foreign Legion if good enough, British ex soldiers can become contractors in Iraq why even Jewish people can serve in Sahal. Why can't Syrians go home and fight Assad? it is against the law apparently.

          We are slowly but surely losing our civil liberties and paranoia and instability is being fed by the state and its organs.

  9. Seabhcan

    2008: undersea cables cut

    Anyone remember the mysterious cut fiber cables in the middle east in 2008? 8 cables were cut in a series of random accidents. I wonder if there is a connection.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_submarine_cable_disruption

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: 2008: undersea cables cut

      Hmmmm

      In 1914, just before it all kicked off, the UK cut Germanys undersea telegraph cables, forcing them to route all international traffic through their London embassy, which - surprise surprise - military intelligence had already compromised.

      Very good site here

    2. Havin_it
      FAIL

      Re: 2008: undersea cables cut

      Typical, bloody OpenReach.

  10. David 110
    Holmes

    Bit of explanation please

    So why has the Register decided to publish this information today? According to your article other media outfits have sat on this info and not published it either by choice or by pressure. Why have you guys decided to publish it and why now?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Bit of explanation please

      See above post by Lewis, Reg global editor.

      C.

  11. Lionel Baden
    Joke

    Well F That

    So this is why my line took so long to put in !!!

    Bloody engineers swanning about in the middle east, That's one hell of a commute !!!

  12. Pigpen

    Who will publish BOFH now that El Reg is about to have 'an accident'?

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Explains why Dabbsy is "off sick" :)

  13. Callam McMillan

    "one report states, the tapping connections were installed in an undisclosed UK location and “backhauled” to Bude, in the technical language of the communications industry."

    I can't imagine the tapping is done entirely without the knowledge of the cables owners. As I understand it, a TDR scan should identify the location of the tap. If I was the cable owner, I would then be making a massive public fuss over the tapping, plus, if it was tapped from a manhole somewhere... Sending staff armed with some wirecutters to do some snipping.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IF I was cable owners, I would be ensuring that all data down the pipes is heavily encrypted!

      THIS is why we need quantum entangled links, to ensure the links cannot be tapped...

      I see BT loosing business customers over this, I know as soon as my companies contract is up, I'll be looking at an alternative, not matter the extra cost!

    2. Rob
      Black Helicopters

      I can...

      ... pressure can be brought to bear on anyone who doesn't do as they are told, let's face it we are talking about an organisation that can operate well above or below the law as it sees fit, sounds like too much of a conspiracy, but then so did rendition flights but they happened.

      I'm not saying they do this of course, I'm just saying don't rule anything out when talking about GCHQ and pals, they have a lot of resources available to them.

      1. Callam McMillan

        Re: I can...

        Hence why I said it's unlikely that they have no knowledge. A phone call "Mr. CEO. We're tapping your lines here. Your staff don't tell anybody about it, you don't touch it, and if you do... Unfortunate things may happen" is still having knowledge...

    3. GreyWolf

      " If I was the cable owner,"

      Callam, sorry lad, you don't know how this stuff works. The cable owner does not "make a massive public fuss", he/she/it contacts the Powers-That-Be and says "My knighthood seems to have got mislaid. It will be arriving tomorrow first post, will it?". No "massive public fuss" required, just a word in the right ear.

    4. Tom_

      If you know your enemy is listening to your communications it's much more advantageous to feed them false information than to make a fuss about it.

      1. Fr. Ted Crilly

        Hmmm, but sadly these days, my bank login details, your bank login details, discussions with your financial advisors etc etc etc are lumped in there for the delight of whom ever

    5. Peter Simpson 1

      As I understand it, a TDR scan should identify the location of the tap. If I was the cable owner...

      Ahhh! That's where the real magic takes place. The techniques for tapping the cables *without* making the tap visible to OTDR are the real classified secrets.

      GCHQ, NSA...I'm torn between righteous outrage at their activities and an overwhelming desire to join their engineering team...

  14. Warm Braw Silver badge

    How security makes you safer and is a job for life

    FOREIGN OFFICE

    1/ Engineer foreign countries to ensure dicatorship by "friendly" governments

    2/ Observe that foreign citzens become "unfriendly" as a result

    3/ Become dependent on foreign dictatorships' collaboration in monitoring their unfriendly citizenry and those of their neighbours.

    4/ Observe your "friends" now have the upper hand

    5/ Engineer new dictators

    6/ Go to 2

    HOME OFFICE

    1/ Observe that your government's policies are not universally popular

    2/ Conflate your government's interests with the national interest

    3/ Conclude that everyone who disagrees with you is acting against the national interest

    4/ Monitor and persecute everyone who is acting againt the national interest

    5/ Details of 20-year-old monitoring and persecution come to light

    6/ Make token policy change

    7/ Goto 1

    CABINET OFFICE

    1/ It's legal so it must be OK

    2/ Think of the children

    3/ Goto 1

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: How security makes you safer and is a job for life

      "2/ Conflate your government's interests with the national interest"

      That's already official as a result of the Clive Ponting case. The "national interest" is the personal and political interest of whatever bunch of politicians is currently in power.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ECHELON

    I can understand why people are feeling jumpy about this, when the details about ECHELON were starting to come out I mentioned it to a friend of mine that works for GCHQ.

    He went mental. How did I know this etc. etc. and actually reported our conversation to his managers.

    Lord knows what he'll say when I try to put all the code words into my next natter with him!

    AC, FWIW.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: ECHELON

      For extra sh*ts and giggles record his reaction and put it on YouTube.

      What do you mean your allergic to waterboarding?

  16. Omniaural

    X marks the spot

    Does that one building in the bottom right of the pic not give away, from a cursory aerial surveillance point of view, that there is something to be dug up here?

    Did the particular architect for this site try and work some kind of nudge, nudge, wink, wink factor into all his designs? Perhaps the government should review his other blueprints and maybe they'll notice that their super secret buildings are shaped like arrows, bullseyes or spell out 'SPY'?

    1. Saigua
      Joke

      Re: X marks the spot

      Clearly an Airtight Garage reference. Otherwise hey, let's make a building in the mideast with lots of surface area, making openly stilted meeting bits in the core, group 5 who mine literally (on their break hours,) and freaking aircondition it, or just paint it white for temperature stability anyways, and then we can have an easybake oven for our new thermophile overlords. Who will...vote for us during the Zombie Radio4 reading of all 4 books of Capital plus 1Q84 or something.

      Or: It is a stealth unit. That is the Starbucks they visit. Local colors. It looks like Bauhaus gone lurid but those are bedouin tents all the way down. Huge bsd and hgf fans fan the swag by hand.

  17. Bladeforce

    Well i got 3 months

    ..on my contract with BT just enough time for this to become open enough as to implicate other tech companies so i can make a good alternative choice

    1. Callam McMillan

      Re: Well i got 3 months

      ...There is no alternative choice. You have Virgin Media, which runs over the co-ax network they already have in their pocket. Then you have every other ISP who lease the wires in the ground from BT... Who they have in their pocket.

  18. atrevers

    Honestly BT, you can do all this work to harvest terabyte upon terabyte of data in Oman, but you still can't get me a download bandwidth of 1MB in a village less than 10 miles from a major midlands city. Shame on you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try paying them a few million pound...

      as an incentive - it seems to work for GCHQ!

  19. Ian 45

    Official Secrets Act?

    As you've just disclosed national secrets I'm guessing you have broken the law. As such please expect a visit.

    1. Moktu

      Re: Official Secrets Act?

      But don't worry.

      We'll bake you a cake with a file in it.

      Your grateful readership.

      1. Christoph Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Official Secrets Act?

        "We'll bake you a cake with a file in it."

        GCHQ have already read the contents of that file.

    2. Valeyard

      Re: Official Secrets Act?

      It's as if you have no idea what the press is for

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Official Secrets Act?

      Yes, because I am absolutely sure that all journalists are signatories to the OSA.

      What's that? Mmmph mmble mmmph? Pull down your pants so I can make out what you're saying better.

      1. Tom Wood

        Re: Loyal Commenter

        You don't have to have "signed the Official Secrets Act" for it to apply to you.

        The bit of paper they make you sign before giving you access to protectively marked information is just a reminder of your responsibilities under the Act. The Act still applies to everyone.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Secrets_Act#United_Kingdom

        1. localzuk

          Re: Loyal Commenter

          Slight issue - the OSA only applies to "persons who, as the case may be, are or have been crown servants, government contractors, or members of the security and intelligence services".

          So, unless The Reg works for the government, OSA doesn't apply...

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: Re: Loyal Commenter

            "OSA doesn't apply"

            I'm advised the OSA applies to all – it's a law not a contract so "individuals are bound by it whether or not they have signed it".

            C.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Loyal Commenter

              If you are aware of information which you believe is confidential and do not inform the authorities you have broken the OSA.

              1. localzuk

                Re: Loyal Commenter

                Forgot to mention, if you are referring to Section 5, it doesn't apply either, as it wasn't disclosed initially by a British Citizen or in the UK - it was disclosed by Snowden outside the UK, and the Reg is simply re-publishing what has already been disclosed.

      2. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Official Secrets Act?

        Everyone is covered by the OSA, whether they've signed it or not.

        1. Vic

          Re: Official Secrets Act?

          > Everyone is covered by the OSA, whether they've signed it or not.

          ...By *some* of the OSA. Not all of it.

          Specifically S5 and S6 seem to apply to everyone, whether they have signed or not. Much of the rest of it is specific to Crown Servants, Intelligence Service personnel, Armed Forces personnel, or people who have been specifically notified that they are subject to the Provisions.

          The Official Secrets Act 1989 can be found here.

          Vic.

    4. Steven Raith

      Re: Official Secrets Act?

      As the information is already in the public domain everywhere other than the UK, I'd suspect the chances of an OSA prosecution would best be described as 'pissing in the wind'.

      Context is important.

    5. Matt Fowler
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Official Secrets Act?

      For anyone not aware of Duncan Campbell's history in this area, he's been arrested under the Official Secrets Act before - and he ultimately walked out of court a free man. (See wikipedia "ABC trial", and deeper coverage on his own DuncanCampbell.org site)

      Then after that, there was the Zircon satellite affair in 1987 (again, google and youtube it).

      Duncan Campbell does not fear the British state. The British state fears having their monstrous unregulated surveillance machines exposed to the populace.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are you publishing this?

    Have you thought through the consequences of your actions?

  21. Valeyard

    And the scariest thing

    Is that 90% of the population doesn't care and not much will change

    There was a bigger fuss over poll tax

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There was a bigger fuss over poll tax

      So ?

      Well over a million people physically marched through London to stop an illegal war, which happened anyway.

      Most people who "don't care" do so (or do not do so ;) ) because they realise there's no point in caring - the government will just do what it wants anyway. Instead people just ape the government and just do what they want to anyway. Sometimes it'll end in jail, yes. But it just adds to the general malaise which feels an awful lot like we'll end up with a guillotine on the steps of Whitehall.

  22. YetAnotherLocksmith

    This is Bollocks Telecom all over.

    As someone else said, they'll spend hundreds of millions putting fibre in 3rd world countries by hook or by crook, but won't help the UK out by sorting out decent connectivity for the UK? Not even when paid millions by a government scheme that specifically requests that!

    Hang on - or was the UK countryside broadband thing actually just a way to hide the money in the accounts? After all, it is quite possible no-one specified *which* countryside internet they had to speed up!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just my views.

    In 1999 the government wanted every ISP to install a server in their data centres but there was widespread distaste by the IT administrators all against the government having a foothold inside their data centres because it would of cost any one of them a lot of customers if the customers found out,

    Then they went for the router and switch people and they said that they would lose customers if their customers found out,

    Next was the Heatbleed bug, left in the wild for years and abused by anyone who knew about it.

    Now people are finding out that they can intercept all trafic coming via international cables and only one person has the balls to say anything and to me it looks like the spooks are winning because we now distrust every communication we send via any digital telephone call, video message, facebook selfie and internet browsing.

    Moral of the story is dont do anything illegal and keep your data in your own home or business Never use the cloud (the cloud is still a server doh) and be responsible for spending money on IT technicians who know a lot of different technologies like generalists who can do a lot more than many of the muppets I speak to daily at ISP`s nowadays.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Moral of the story is dont do anything illegal [...]"

      Impossible. The last government alone passed some 3000 new laws to make you a criminal - to which the current lot have added many more. Ignorance of a law is no defence when arrested/prosecuted for allegedly breaking it.

      What they have fostered is an general attitude that the Law and its enforcing agencies are effectively arbitrary. It is a case of "J'accuse" and you are sunk - your actual guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant for the purpose of the political statistics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exactly, we have strict liability crimes and some 'catch all' crimes where its down to the judgement of the police officer.

        But at least we're still mostly in a society where unless its specifically forbidden its legal, which is why its hard to find out if something IS legal to do sometimes, because unless its a crime there is likely to be no reference...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "[...] unless its specifically forbidden its legal [...]"

          Unfortunately many laws now have vague threshold criteria. The lazy drafting idea seems to be to let the Appeal Courts rule on which nuances apply or not.

          Which doesn't stop the Police arresting people on those nuances subsequently - or even the CPS prosecuting. That causes people to avoid anything in that area in case they are thought to have intended to break the law. So effectively that law ends up with far more draconian limits than the legislation had promised.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "[...]"some 'catch all' crimes [...]"

          A retired police officer was commenting on the low threshold of evidence in the 2003 consultation paper on "indecent exposure". It had removed the need to prove a motive of "with intent" - and postulated that the "victim" would automatically be considered as a hypothetically "most vulnerable" person - even if no one was actually there. Almost a zen situation.

          He said it was the sort of law the Police liked - a "Martini Law" - anyone, anytime, any place.

      2. RobHib
        Thumb Up

        Re "Impossible. The last government alone passed some 3000 new laws" - - @ AC

        "Impossible. The last government alone passed some 3000 new laws".

        Absolutely correct! Long before Dreyfus and Zola, 'that ignorance of the law is no defence', was a fundamental conundrum for democracy (and, more than ever, it still is).

        No one in a democracy has a hope in Hades of being knowledgeable about all its laws. Thus, by definition (through logical argument) the 'democratic' state is both intimidatory and not democratic (at least in my understanding of the word).

        Any true law-abiding citizen would have to end up schizophrenic or do absolutely nothing for fear of breaking the law. The only other option is to put oneself in jeopardy and act without knowledge of the law—thus the conundrum. There is, of course, that other option which is for one to deliberately act unlawfully.

        This reasoning is as is old as the hills, it goes back to the Ancient Greeks/Pythagoras who was attributed with saying "No man is free who cannot command himself." Millennia later, [1762] in Book I, Chapter I of the The Social Contract Rousseau develops the idea with is famous statement:

        "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they." (p49 in my now very-yellowed Penguin Classic paperback—having just checked it.)

        Whilst Rousseau and his contemporary, Diderot, had the noble intention of pointing out that citizens were better off submitting to the The General Will of [all] the population than to be subservient to the will of more powerful individuals, it did nothing to stop the French Revolution of 1789 and The Terror which followed—albeit that The Social Contract was published over a quarter century earlier. In fact, The Social Contract is often attributed with contributing, even causing, the Revolution by fuelling the discontent.

        What I find so concerning is that so few citizens actually find this seeming paradox disturbing (i.e.: of there being no excuse for violating laws that cannot be substantially let alone fully known). In truth, it's definitely no paradox but a very unpalatable anomaly in our 'supposed' democracies that's used to keep the citizenry in check. Even though several centuries have passed—not to mention the many intervening wars and revolutions—since those famous words in The Social Contract, it seems, from prevailing attitudes, that little hindsight has been gained (and that history is again repeating itself).

        With a moment's thought, its consequences are clear: (a) most citizens never extend their freedom to the full extent for fear of 'unknown' law, (b) the bold and unlawful ignore such constraints and thus are often more successful in life than their law-abiding brethren, and (c) those in power exploit the anomaly to both the The State's and their own advantage (à la 'Yes Minister' and even more sinister—such as sending young soldiers off to war to be killed in the name of non-existent WMDs for instance).

        Remember, the more The State allows those to obfuscate in its name—no matter what the excuse—the fewer freedoms citizens have. Overwhelming citizens with tens of thousands of laws which they can never expect to fully understand is obfuscation, and every new law that's passed further restricts a citizen's freedom.

      3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        J'accuse

        May I just point out that the reference to "J'accuse" hardly fits the context? ;-)

        1. RobHib

          Re: J'accuse -- @ T. F. M. Reader

          I assume you are referring to AC's comments and not my reply to him. I'll comment anyway.

          Whether it's relevant depends on one's worldview. As I see it, Zola's accusation of the French Govt. centres around the breaking of the covenant that existed between it and the citizenry and concerned matters of fidelity and (dis)honesty, etc. It's an archetypal case over a century old, it's well known and studied.

          (Moreover, in a dictatorship, what happened to Dreyfus would have just been another case of in justice; however in the French Republic where Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité were (and are) a big deal and taken seriously, what the Government did to Dreyfus was not only a mistake but also a disingenuous breach of the covenant—the Government was caught out doing what it thought convenient which was not right, its actions were unacceptable and its bigotry was exposed. Democracy was put under strain.)

          As with Dreyfus, current government spying etc. involves government(s) breaking covenants of trust (etc.) with their citizens, and the recent Snowden exposures have shown that, at minimum, they've been overly-secretive, disingenuous and distrustful to a point well above and beyond that which functional (operational) necessity would have dictated.

          Again, whether one holds my—and from these posts, a seemingly common view—or those of the NSA or GCHQ depends on one worldview. [Some of] Those in the French Government who read Zola's accusations on the front page of L'Aurore in 1898, considered Zola a traitor, he spilt the beans and blew the Dreyfus case wide open. Zola was a whistleblower par excellence.

          Irrespective of the position one takes in this case, the parallels/similarities between Zola's actions and those of Snowden are nothing but striking; it's very difficult to conclude otherwise.

          As with Zola, history will ultimately judge these actions.

  24. Ivan Headache

    I'm wondering how

    an interception point in Seeb monitors coms entering the Red Sea.

  25. Frederic Bloggs
    Headmaster

    History is sometimes useful (or at least informative)

    The really interesting thing is that anyone is surprised - given that the UK has something like a century and a half of form in the "clandestine" submarine cable tapping business. The UK controlled every commercially useful submarine cable in the world up until (at least) the first World War. The official rationale being that the cables were there as a result of building, and to control, the British Empire. They were tapping away for 50 odd years before anyone either twigged or at least were in a position to get uppity about it. Is it any wonder that they continue doing it, and on any satellite links they can get hold of as well?

    As the UK is about to have yet another war anniversary orgasm (sigh), El Reg's readers might like to research some of the antagonism that the US had for the UK's wire tapping activities - and the use that the information gleaned therefrom was used for - against what the US saw as its interests. And how that coloured the US's attitude toward the UK during the 20th Century and since.

    So save the feigned anger. It's pointless and won't change anything. You should all know what to do, to obtain a measure of privacy, go ye forth and do it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I dont understand why everyone is acting so surprised that this is going on

    perhaps sig-int grows on trees like spaghetti....

    I am sure other nations have their own intercepts too, unless they are just tapping ours of course....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I dont understand why everyone is acting so surprised that this is going on

      That GCHQ would bother spying on potential enemies in a part of the world that has more than its fair share of wars.

      Rather than its proper job of making sure it has dirt on any potential opponents of the current government, local council or PTA.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am So Proud

    Despite some people's perception of our security services as bumbling idiots we seem to have a rather world class spying and surveillance network out there. Good on them I say...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am So Proud

      Not that world class if we found out about them, were they?

    2. RobHib

      Re: I am So Proud -- @ AC

      "...we seem to have a rather world class spying and surveillance network out there."

      No one is doubting that, even its strong detractors would openly acknowledge that. GCHQ has its lineage in a long line of spies that go back many centuries.

      Take the case of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. In 1585/6, during the ongoing struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism, Elizabeth's secretary, Francis Walsingham successfully spied on Mary which led to her execution.

      Walsingham was the master spy of Elizabethan England, GCHQ's lineage goes back at least that far.

      Walsingham's well worth a read (scroll down to 'Espionage' and 'Entrapment of Mary, Queen of Scots'):

      Francis Walsingham

  28. Lionel Baden

    Question to the Mods

    Who approved Luke's post and How much did you giggle knowing what was going to happen :D

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foreign Secretary David Miliband to sign a new warrant legalising what they wished to do

    he really is an unspeakable little shit.

  30. FuzzyTheBear
    Black Helicopters

    Biting the hand ..

    that feeds IT is spot on for that article .. We HAVE to bite back. This has gone on long enough , we pay for that shit , whether in Canada UK USA we're all targets , files made on us not only by governments but commercial entities that feed em everything they got . Look at one point we have to take a side and start fighting back. We're living in open air prisons. The walls are electronic. Cameras , mics , policemen wearing cameras shooting everything , all the communications and connections tapped and harvested.

    The surveillance is total , now , today , this minute , the prison is real. Leaks gave everyone a feeling of uneasyness , we all live under the " oh .. if you express your views of dissent the government will know who you are and put it in your file " .. look , it's worse than we think . So .. what's the reality ?

    We do not need speculation , we need hard facts. The publication today of those informations is helpfull to the People who's Governments constantly dismiss laws and constitution and give go aheads to acts that are AGAINST it's own People. The People are part of the real targets . The Governments are out of order and their agencies are the outlaws , not us. Who needs walls when you control electronically every aspect of their lives and can " go get " anyone because they got their cells on with location available at the press of a button ? If i had said this 10 years ago , i'd have been a loonie ..nowadays , can we dismiss the discourse and not find it to be an accurate representation of what the Goverment is doing ?

    The electronic noose around our necks is real. The walls around us are real and they're almost complete. We surpass Orwell's worst nightmare by a landslide . Is it not time to bite back ?

    We have a choice , we start to voice WAY stronger voices , we start getting in the streets and force changes , or we let the final bricks be laid and kiss the illusion of freedom we got left goodbye ?

    My mind is well balanced and what i see ahead scares the shit out of me . I see the next brick .

    Frankly , i think it's already too late.

    Imagine if all they accumulated on everyone is being put to use to lay criminal charges ..

    " hey Paul .. i got a new batch of pot " < set of handcuffs >

    " hey ma .. my driver's license is expired .. < geolocation > < ticket >

    " i give you the job , ill pay cash so we don't pay taxes " < similar set of handcuffs >

    See what i am driving at ? What they pretend is to try to fight spying etc can be put to use to convict people that normally would not have been. The game for our freedom is on. It's up to you to fight for your rights. Just hope it aint too late. Trusting the Governments ? You got to be kidding .

    1. OrsonX

      "the prison is real."

      The guy sitting next to you on the plane with a bomb instead of a battery in his iPad is also real.

      I know which I'd rather.

      1. Vic

        Re: "the prison is real."

        The guy sitting next to you on the plane with a bomb instead of a battery in his iPad is also real

        No he isn't. You just made him up.

        I know which I'd rather.

        I'd rather have Santa Claus visit every day. But as he's fictional as well, that doesn't make for a particularly useful discussion.

        Vic.

        1. OrsonX

          @Vic Re: the prison is real

          Well, let me see.

          There was the shoe bomber.

          There was the underpants bomber.

          There was the Lockerbie bomber.

          Mine was an EXAMPLE, do you know what that word means?

          Your contribution doesn't make for a useful discussion either does it?

          1. asiaseen

            Re: @Vic the prison is real

            There was the shoe bomber.

            There was the underpants bomber.

            Well, they were both failures of airport security so that doesn't make for a useful contribution either.

          2. Bloakey1

            Re: @Vic the prison is real

            <snip>

            "There was the Lockerbie bomber."

            <snip>

            Who was nothing directly to do with Libya!!! This has been known for years but Ghadaffi was the US' bug bear 'de jour' and he got blamed.

            A clue:

            US Vincennes - Iranian Airbus = Iran+PFLP+George Habash - Pan Am Flight 103

            They could not even release the truth on that one and its been known about for years, even a lot of the victims kith and kin refuse to follow the Libyan line.

  31. I Am Spartacus
    Paris Hilton

    The bigger question

    The bigger question is not whether el Reg should publish this (yes, because it seems we are the only buggers who don't know it) but if it is THAT secret how the hell did Snowden come to have a copy of it?

    Seems to me that some US agency have been pretty damn open with our countries secrets. What did Snowden need this data collection details for? He was a contract analyst. There is a lot going on in my company that I don't tell the person sitting next to me about, let alone a contractor. Likewise, I only get told things when I have a need to know.

    So who told Snowden? And Why?

    Now that's a question I would like the answer to.

    Paris, because she is not a black helicopter and, well, she tells everybody.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The bigger question

      Perhaps it's belated revenge for Burgess, McLean and Philby?

      It does seem odd that this stuff was supposedly gleaned from an open wiki style site, and yet is supposed to be above top secret. As I understand it, there's loads of stuff above top secret, but it's supposed to be shown to people cleared on a more individual basis.

      Given how many people are likely to have known about these bases, I'd have thought they'd be below top secret, as the FCO, MOD, SIS and GCHQ would know, not to mention BT and Cable & Wireless (or whoever owns them now).

      1. Psyx

        Re: The bigger question

        "It does seem odd that this stuff was supposedly gleaned from an open wiki style site, and yet is supposed to be above top secret."

        Wiki-style intelligence assets came about in the wake of a few epic screw-ups which were due to over-compartmentalisation of information and lack of information sharing in the intelligence community. They are classified in nature, but obviously not very well compartmentalised.

        The problem is that it's only as secure as the weakest link and puts an awful lot of information in the weakest link's hands. It was deemed worth the risk. Manning obtained his data in a similar fashion: A pool of information.

        Governments shout a lot about the damage that the leaks have done, but essentially it came down to bad screening on their own behalf, as Manning was a clear and obvious risk and should have had access revoked at the first sign of trouble.

        "Given how many people are likely to have known about these bases, I'd have thought they'd be below top secret, as the FCO, MOD, SIS and GCHQ would know, not to mention BT and Cable & Wireless (or whoever owns them now)."

        Details will be highly secret. Generalities might not be (ie the media -El Reg included- could be putting a lot of spin on this). And plenty of highly classified projects are known about in more general terms by those who work in the vicinity: They just don't know details. Knowing that a building exists is not the same as knowing what goes on inside it.

    2. Psyx

      Re: The bigger question

      "What did Snowden need this data collection details for? He was a contract analyst. There is a lot going on in my company that I don't tell the person sitting next to me about, let alone a contractor. Likewise, I only get told things when I have a need to know.

      So who told Snowden? And Why?"

      Without wishing to sound sarcastic, you might want to start by Googling 'how did Snowdon get his information'. It's all out there. It was not information that he was supposed ot have access to, but he used his position to gain access.

      The short answer is of course "Because he was a sys admin, and sys admins can get pretty much anything out of their network that they want".

  32. joeW

    Hmmmm

    "Among the cables specifically identified in one document as currently being intercepted or “on cover” are an Irish connection"

    Nothing about that in the media over here yet. Surprising, there's nothing like a bit of "Look what the Brits are up to now!!" to shift papers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmmm

      Well considering the past and present activities of the IRA and related groups, there should be no surprise at all about that one.

      1. joeW

        Re: Hmmmm

        > the past and present activities of the IRA and related groups

        ...gives the UK government the right to blanket-intercept all data coming from Ireland? Come off it.

        The provos did what they did without using the Internet at all.

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: Hmmmm

      The Irish intelligence services are some of the most secretive and active in the world.

      I was "strolling" through Beirut in 83 and bumped into a load of them, same goes for a little wander through Chad on Epervier and guess what? the boys were there with a few Rangers as a security det.

      1. Emperor Zarg

        Re: Hmmmm

        Are you sure that the ARW det wasn't just standard security for Irish citizens visiting Beirut back then? They were probably just tourists.

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: Hmmmm

          "Are you sure that the ARW det wasn't just standard security for Irish citizens visiting Beirut back then? They were probably just tourists."

          Nahh. They were interested in my FAMAS as they were looking at getting the AUG at the time. We had a good chat and I met up with some of them in a place called Ballyshannon when I was on leave.

          Anyway, in 83 there were very few tourists Irish or otherwise in them parts.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmm

        From talking to members of the then 16/5 Lancers who did a tour of Beiruit in 1983 the Irish military were embarrassingly useless. When the IDF drove up to their (Irish) check point they opened the gates and waved them thru'.

        Maybe the Brit's would have done the same, but they were never put in that position.

        1. G.Y.

          Re: Hmmmm

          '1983' should by 1982

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: AC Re: Hmmmm

          ".....in 1983 the Irish military were embarrassingly useless. When the IDF drove up to their (Irish) check point they opened the gates and waved them thru'....." More than a bit unfair. Apart from the futility of the tiny Irish contingent trying to stop the whole Israeli Army, the UN had issued orders not to get involved in fighting. It is a simple UN oxymoron - peacekeeping only works when both sides want their to be peace, so when both sides are itching to kill each other there is not much the UN can do other than stand aside, make notes and issue "strongly worded letters".

        3. Bloakey1

          Re: Hmmmm

          "From talking to members of the then 16/5 Lancers who did a tour of Beiruit in 1983 the Irish military were embarrassingly useless. When the IDF drove up to their (Irish) check point they opened the gates and waved them thru'.

          Maybe the Brit's would have done the same, but they were never put in that position"

          That never happened in Beirut and I strongly suspect it did not happen in Tibnine even under a UN mandate! The bulk of the Irish were deep in the South at Tibnine and the few 16/5th Lancers that were around were in Beirut. The Irish Army did very well down there and were liked by all, they often had fire fights with the Christian Militia, Hezbollah and the Israeli's.

          Likewise there were no Israeli's 'en masse' in Beirut, they surrounded it yes, they sent members of Sin Bet in to Sabra Chatilla with the Christian Militia yes but no not in Beirut 'en masse' or in a position to go into any barracks at will.

          I was there in 83 and there was heavy fighting, the Brits had about 100 troops in total and we did not see them on the street when the excrement hit the helical device. There was not enough of them anyway and political considerations hindered them further.

  33. NomNomNom

    most interesting thing for me will be to see if the rest of the media pick up on this and which ones don't

    1. Fibbles

      Here's my guess: none of them.

      Maybe the Guardian will mention it in passing. Since it's no longer an 'EXCLUSIVE!!!' I can't see them being too motivated though.

  34. The Man Himself Silver badge
    Coat

    Oh, the irony

    I can't help but smile at the irony of BT being referred to as REMEDY....in my experience they have always been the cause of problems, never the remedy

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Oh, the irony

      Probably just a reference to the tickets GCHQ have to raise.

      P1 ; Remedy Ticket 1984: GCHQ request copy of everything, everywhere.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is this a surprise?

    Why are any of you surprised by this? We all work in IT and have at least a vague idea of what might be technically feasible to achieve. Every country has domestic, overseas and Sig Int intelligence agencies like MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. What was it you thought they all did, if not this? No-one gave up and went home after the Cold War finished, they all refocused on the new threats, whilst keeping an eye on the stuff that never went away. I'm not saying they should all have carte blanche to do what they like, but they all operate with a modicum of oversight, doing the stuff you don't really want to know about, but just want to know gets done somewhere, by someone, just in case. If they didn't do it, there'd be plenty of people wise after the event asking why not after the next big incident. Everything, everywhere has always had the potential to be monitored. The only difference is the means of doing it. I'm sure there's still rooms somewhere full of people steaming open other people's letters. Our enemy's enemy has always been our friend, even when they end up becoming the next enemy a bit later on, or had been the previous one a bit earlier.

    When I was a student, twenty-odd years ago, when email was relatively new, there was already a long running joke about the Americans doing key word matching, so if you put "PRESIDENT" in your email footer, it'd end up in an ever-increasing pile of email that some poor sod in the States would eventually have to read, and that was pre-9/11 and the Iraq debacle.

    Common sense would suggest that a country's intelligence budget would be in rough proportion to its defence budget, unless they were trying to substitute one for the other. Given that we have one of the biggest defence budgets in the Western world, our intelligence budget is probably equally chunky. Wouldn't you rather they spent that cash with a UK-based firm, even one as ropey as BT?

    AC as I might need a security clearance on my next job!

    1. Valeyard

      Re: Why is this a surprise?

      It's technically feasible for me to get mugged on the way home by a cop for my phone then return to my house to find it's been done over too in a massive search just in case

      That doesn't mean I wouldn't be angry if it did in fact happen

      they can do a lot of stuff, and you have to hope they don't (thought everyone living in the cold war under threat of nuclear strikes)

      1. WatAWorld

        Re: Why is this a surprise?

        <snip>

        "AC as I might need a security clearance on my next job!"

        Gee, and you posted on websites that publish articles hostile to the bureaucracy.

        Your IP address corresponds to an IP address that messaged a forum that was messaged by someone who messaged a forum that Snowden visited.

        Your sunk by the very traitors we're all against.

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: Why is this a surprise?

      <snip>

      "AC as I might need a security clearance on my next job!"

      Denied as you were complicit in disseminating this article and your positive vetting indicates you have a predilection towards under aged gerbils and macaques.

      Go to the foreign office son, you will among your own kind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is this a surprise?

        "your positive vetting indicates you have a predilection towards under aged gerbils and macaques."

        Shirley no problem for positive vetting? It's your predilections that they DON'T know about that will concern them.

    3. Emperor Zarg

      Re: Why is this a surprise?

      "What was it you thought they all did, if not this? No-one gave up and went home after the Cold War finished, they all refocused on the new threats, whilst keeping an eye on the stuff that never went away."

      That's just it though, they didn't refocus on the new threats. Instead, they've been hoovering up everything almost globally, on the basis that it might come in useful sometime. A bit like all those old cables and hardware odds and ends we all keep.

      What I, and probably most people, expected them to do was targeted, directed surveillance of known or likely persons of interest. Not facilitating an Orwellian wet dream, bordering on totalitarian.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British representative

    In Geneva, the very first meeting of the Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Network (CCIRN) was in May 1988. This committee was the first attempt to harmonize the inter-regional operation of the emerging world-wide research network.

    The second meeting took place in October 1988 at a summer resort in Western Virginia, sad and grey this particular autumn. The Americans turned up in force. Bill Bostwick, from the Department of Energy was the Chairman, Barry Leiner from the Department of Defense and Vint Cerf were present. The European representatives were thin on the ground: a German and British representative plus Francois Flückiger.

    In 1991, 80% of the internet capacity in Europe for international traffic was installed at CERN, in building 513.

  37. Magnus_Pym

    Now Trident makes sense.

    I always wondered why successive governments threatened to cancel Trident then backed down when they got read into the official secrets. I reckon Trident doesn't exist, at least not as advertised, but is a useful cover for grabbing huge amounts of tax pounds for these sort of projects.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Now Trident makes sense.

      Well, if it comes to all out nuclear war then the UK actually having nuclear weapons isn't really going to make any difference to the outcome. They're best used as a deterrent. If a foreign country is sure the UK have nuclear weapons, then they are just as effective a deterrent regardless of whether or not they actually exist in our arsenal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now Trident makes sense.

        "They're best used as a deterrent. If a foreign country is sure the UK have nuclear weapons, then they are just as effective a deterrent regardless of whether or not they actually exist in our arsenal."

        Tell that to Sadam. The excuse of being able to deploy in 30mins was the prime public reason for the Iraq war. It was bollocks then as it is now.

        1. WatAWorld

          Re: Now Trident makes sense.

          That Saddam had nukes was the excuse given to us.

          Blair and Cheney knew Saddam didn't have nukes and the proof is that if he did we wouldn't have invaded without first neutralizing them. And if we'd neutralized them there'd be physical proof they existed.

  38. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Power of Paper Money is in What/Who it can Buy/Fund* to Command and Control Media and IT

    the intelligence agency annually pays selected companies tens of millions of pounds to run secret teams which install hidden connections which copy customers' data and messages to the spooks’ processing centres.

    Strap +4 levels of systems operation …. Invariably always way above TS/SCI graded pay levels and where payment of hundreds of millions of pounds/dollars/euros/rubles/yen/renminbi/rupee to select customers directly providing processing centres with spook information and smarter autonomous intelligence. And so ridiculously able and enabled as to be considered as unlikely as impossible and thus easily plausibly denied to aid cover and stealth progress in programmming and projects ….. which at exalted levels are one and the same and different in applications for Global Operating Devices.

    GCHQ doing ITs Bletchley Park HutXSSXXXX/Per Ardua Adastral Park thing extremely successfully? Or do you think the intelligence Government uses and pays through the nose for, is crap/bullshit?

    * A sort of Lend/Lease clone/drone

  39. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    The propaganda is strong with this one

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2645347/Edward-Snowden-left-Britain-wide-open-attack-revealing-GCHQ-spies-Al-Qaeda.html

    Astonishing amounts of bullshit. I thought the inclusion of the blown up bus was particularly ironic since GCHQ have been slurping data forever yet managed to completely not stop it.

    I'm also not quite sure how it is Snowden's fault that the terrorists are taking steps to hide their communications.

    If GCHQ et.al hadn't decided to completely undermine the tenets of democracy then no-one would have been upset, and the motivation for revealing the details would not have precipitated.

    As it is they overreached themselves, got caught red handed and are now trying to blame the messenger for a situation they created.

    I just wish I weren't aware of how many people are too ignorant and lazy to give a shit that they are effectively slaves. Their apathy is what is encouraging the spooks to keep pushing the boundaries - so ultimately they are to blame.

    I occasionally try to educate people in a non-tin-hattery and non frothy kind of way the extent to which their lives are circumscribed by the state, but all I get back is 'eh?'. Cunts.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Ah, spies...

      What are they good for?

      ********** *******!

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Ah, spies...

        Well, for one thing they found the Panzer divisions lying across the path of the ground forces advance route chosen for Market-Garden and gave early warning.

        Of course, nobody listened because they were Dutch.

        Personally, I'll never forgive Karla for the damage done to the Circus by that swine Bill Heydon.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: The propaganda is strong with this one

      If GCHQ et.al hadn't decided to completely undermine the tenets of democracy then no-one would have been upset, and the motivation for revealing the details would not have precipitated.

      As it is they overreached themselves, got caught red handed and are now trying to blame the messenger for a situation they created.

      I just wish I weren't aware of how many people are too ignorant and lazy to give a shit that they are effectively slaves. Their apathy is what is encouraging the spooks to keep pushing the boundaries - so ultimately they are to blame.

      I occasionally try to educate people in a non-tin-hattery and non frothy kind of way the extent to which their lives are circumscribed by the state, but all I get back is 'eh?'. Cunts. … Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir Runcible Spoon, Howdy Doody,

      The apathy of spooky hunters in not targeting slave drivers and corrupt renegade rogue government players in perverse cabineted offices encourages all boundary layers and hierarchies to both explode and implode with just the simple sharing of sensitive information in a form and phorms which be both edutaining and disturbing and not too difficult for most folk reasonably expected to be possessed of at least half an apparently working brain.

      But nature abhors a void, and the systemic failure of special intelligence supply servers to provide what is needed to prevent further ignorance surviving intact and uncorrected, with simple short programs highlighting relevant details for global targeting attention ……. Short Videos which Teach …… are Secret Intelligence Servers righting the wrong virtually autonomously and relatively anonymously.?!

      And just perfect for the likes of a DARPA into jousting with Great White Knights in Deep and Dark Webs with their IT and Virtual Terrain Team Cyber Grand Challenges ….. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/03/darpa_wants_to_build_human_free_defence_systems/

      [Now if I were paranoid, I would be thinking the non appearance of these few words which were posted a couple of hours ago (circa 1707hrs) was more than just an odd forum glitch and nothing at all to be concerned about :-) Life is a Great AI Game. Play IT well and prosper unbelievably :-)

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: The propaganda is strong with this one

        [quote][Now if I were paranoid, I would be thinking the non appearance of these few words which were posted a couple of hours ago (circa 1707hrs) was more than just an odd forum glitch and nothing at all to be concerned about :-) [/quote]

        I posted around the same time, presumable El Reg decided to turn on full moderation for this thread - can't imagine why :)

    3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: The propaganda is strong with this one

      If GCHQ et.al hadn't decided to completely undermine the tenets of democracy then no-one would have been upset, and the motivation for revealing the details would not have precipitated.

      As it is they overreached themselves, got caught red handed and are now trying to blame the messenger for a situation they created.

      I just wish I weren't aware of how many people are too ignorant and lazy to give a shit that they are effectively slaves. Their apathy is what is encouraging the spooks to keep pushing the boundaries - so ultimately they are to blame.

      I occasionally try to educate people in a non-tin-hattery and non frothy kind of way the extent to which their lives are circumscribed by the state, but all I get back is 'eh?'. Cunts. … Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir Runcible Spoon, Howdy Doody,

      The apathy of spooky hunters in not targeting slave drivers and corrupt renegade rogue government players in perverse cabineted offices encourages all boundary layers and hierarchies to both explode and implode with just the simple sharing of sensitive information in a form and phorms which be both edutaining and disturbing and not too difficult for most folk reasonably expected to be possessed of at least half an apparently working brain.

      But nature abhors a void, and the systemic failure of special intelligence supply servers to provide what is needed to prevent further ignorance surviving intact and uncorrected, with simple short programs highlighting relevant details for global targeting attention ……. “http://www.amanfrommars.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/140603-short-videos-which-teach.html …… are Secret Intelligence Servers righting the wrong virtually autonomously and relatively anonymously.

      And just perfect for the likes of a DARPA into jousting with Great White Knights in Deep and Dark Webs with their IT and Virtual Terrain Team Cyber Grand Challenges ….. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/03/darpa_wants_to_build_human_free_defence_systems/

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On The Other Hand

    I still keep getting the idea that all this Snowden Revelations, whistleblowing stuff isn't just a devious plot.

    Reducing trust and faith to the point where people have to throw in the towel or go mad. Because they can't trust anyone or anything anymore.

    Or maybe it's just the case that they don't care whether we know what they're doing. Because they know people won't do anything about it, other than express rightful indignation on the internet.

    It's a miserable outlook for for the future of so called civilisation either way.

  41. steward
    Facepalm

    I'm not sure...

    whether or not this entire article is an out-of-season April Fool's joke.

    Just look at the codenames, like "Circuit". This from the nation that gave the world Alan Turing?

    Either British spying has gotten so incompetent that it's obvious to anyone they're spying... or the writers at Vulture Central are having a good belly laugh today!

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Just look at the codenames

      Yes. Anyone who has read Charles Stross' "Laundry" novels knows that codenames are two word phrases like "PURPLE EGGNOG" or "HORSE PHONEVOICE".

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: steward Re: I'm not sure...

      ".....Just look at the codenames, like "Circuit"....." In order to stop the enemy guessing what certain operations or projects pertain to, after WW2 the Brits started using randomly generated lists of words for projects, missions and operations. Each new mission or project gets a word from one of the lists, maybe two in some cases. The best known examples are the Rainbow Codes used for British high-tech projects which gave us such wonderful code names as Blue Steel, Red Cabbage and Purple Possum. This can lead to some interesting co-incidental names, such as the story that does the rounds of one SAS mission in Roman Catholic Ireland having been dubbed "Operation Condom".

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: steward I'm not sure...

        <snip>

        "such as the story that does the rounds of one SAS mission in Roman Catholic Ireland having been dubbed "Operation Condom""

        And operation Coffin. The poor SF blokes did not know whether they were coming or going.

  42. Lars Silver badge
    Coat

    Top secret

    I remember Intel had the text "Top Secret" pre-printed on every sheet of paper in their copying machines (Inside Intel by Tim Jackson). Companies and Government will call as much as possible secret as they want to feel protected and very important. It would surprise me if governments around the world did not know all about the wiretapping by other Governments. What they might not want us to know is how much it costs and that they also spy on their own population. I suppose it would also be embarrassing if it came out that they knew very well that there where no WMDs in Iraq and that perhaps the only reason was that Iraq had started to do oil business in Euro. I suppose it would also be embarrassing if they know everything about the money held in tax heavens but are doing nothing about it as their own people are deeply involved.

    In other words, no deep secrets where revealed nor by Snowden or the Register.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Top secret

      [as many secrets as possible]

      Staff canteen menus in some dull locations are Restricted or Confidential. Clearly that information needs to be kept from prying eyes - and not because there is caviar, lobster and truffles on offer.

  43. P0l0nium

    Don't blame Snowden... Blame the nerds that put all this stuff in a place where Snowden could access it ... OR DID THEY???

    The whole thing is too ludicrous to pass the sniff test... Snowden and Assange have GOT to be stooges. GCHQ's parents are the people who ran "double cross" FFS, give them some credit.

  44. Flyberius

    Yawn

    Are we still harping on about this?

    Get over yourselves.

    Spies are doing their jobs. Trust them to show some discretion and to keep their house in order. Do not assume that they will do ANYTHING a politician asks them to do.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Yawn

      The problem appears to be that spooks are not proving themselves to be smart enough to lead politicians to programs which don't target them and render them to the perception of the general population as incompetent idiots and ugly media muppets.

      Politics is showbusiness for ugly people

      Come on, spooks, get your fcuking act together or be rendered a problem which the system has to re-engineer in another manner.

    2. WatAWorld

      Re: Yawned but found it interesting enough to be the one thing today he commented on

      Yawn, old news, but new enough and important enough that it was the article you chose to comment on today.

      What gets commented on gets further stories -- even when those comments say "yawn". Kardasians are a prime example.

  45. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Old news again.

    The Imperial Iranian Air Force used to intercept (and sink) dhows carrying arms to rebels fighting the old Sultan of Oman back in 1975. Rumours amongst the ex-pats in Muscat then was that the RAF at Seeb were directing the Iranian Phantoms using telephone intercepts of Saudi phone calls. Which suggests the Sultan has a very good knowledge of what goes on at Seeb and, given the current Shia-Sunni turmoil in the Middle East, a good reason to be thankful it is still there. Once again, Snowjob and chums are simply rehashing old news.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Old news again.

      "Snowjob and chums are simply rehashing old news"

      Which obviously explains why the government has been leaning on the media to not say anything about it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Old news again.

      A few errors there Matt. The old Sultan went in to exile in 1970 when Sultan Qaboos took control.

      I was at Seeb in 1976 and there were no RAF there except for a few secondee officers helping to run SOAF (Sultan of Oman's Air Force). and fly. As far as I can remember, the RAF left Masirah island in 1974 (thereabouts) and similarly Salalah at about the same time.

      The only Iranian aircraft I ever saw were C130s bringing in support for the rather lacklustre ground forces that the Iranians were providing to assist in fighting the Yemeni insurgents in Dhofar. None of my contemporary military history books of the time indicate that Iranian Interceptors (Phantoms) were ever used against the adoo, but the RAF secondees certainly were with the Strikemasters. That may be an omission on behalf of the writers to big up the Brits but as none of them mention Phantoms......

      Again in Salalah from 1976 there were no RAF personnel to my recollection but the the NAAFI and BFPO were still there as there was still a significant (but largely unseen) Army presence. It was a training ground for the SAS.

      There was a slight increase in the number of RAF pilots on secondment when the Jaguar aircraft arrived in 1977.

      Things changed dramatically when the Gulf War happened - but by then I was long gone.

  46. Derek Kingscote

    Re TRAITORS

    Luke 11

    There was a great article in the Guardian last Thursday by Eben Moglen

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/27/-sp-privacy-under-attack-nsa-files-revealed-new-threats-democracy

    I didn't see the article the previous Tuesday [which is the first part of this link] and the paper is now recycled.

    The Thursday article starts below the picture of one of four server rooms at the Facebook data centre in North Carolina.

    Extracts below:

    Edward Snowden has revealed problems for which we need solutions. The vast surveillance-industrial state that has grown up since 2001 could not have been constructed without government contractors and the data-mining industry.

    In this context, we must remember that privacy is about our social environment, not about isolated transactions we individually make with others. When we decide to give away our personal information, we are also undermining the privacy of other people.

    Many people take money from you by concealing this distinction. They offer you free email service, for example. In return, they want you to let them read all the mail. Their stated purpose is advertising to you. It's just a transaction between two parties. Or, they offer you free web hosting for your social communications, and then they watch everybody looking at everything.

    This is convenient, for them, but fraudulent. If you accept this supposedly bilateral offer, to provide email service to you for free as long as it can all be read, then everybody who corresponds with you is subjected to this bargain. If your family contains somebody who receives mail at Gmail, then Google gets a copy of all correspondence in your family. If another member of your family receives mail at Yahoo, then Yahoo receives a copy of all the correspondence in your family as well.

    The same will be true if you decide to live your social life on a website where the creep who runs it monitors every social interaction, keeping a copy of everything said, and also watching everybody watch everybody else. If you bring new "friends" to the service, you are attracting them to the creepy inspection, forcing them to undergo it with you.

    If you have a Facebook account, Facebook is surveilling every single moment you spend there. Moreover, much more importantly, every web page you touch that has a Facebook "like" button on it which, whether you click the button or not, will report your reading of that page to Facebook.

    If the newspaper you read every day has Facebook "like" buttons or similar services' buttons on those pages, then Facebook or the other service watches you read the newspaper: it knows which stories you read and how long you spent on them.

    Every time you tweet a URL, Twitter is shortening the URL for you. But it is also arranging that anybody who clicks on that URL will be monitored by Twitter as they read. You are not only helping people know what's on the web, but also helping Twitter read over everybody's shoulder everything you recommend.

    This isn't transactional, this is ecological. This is an environmental destruction of other people's freedom to read. Your activity is designed to help them find things they want to read. Twitter's activity is to disguise the surveillance of the resulting reading from everybody.

    Commercial surveillance then attracts government attention, with two results that Snowden has documented for us: complicity and outright thievery.

    The article is quite long so you probably won't bother to read it.

    If you have a Google or Yahoo email account, use Twitter or Facebook are you happy with what they do with your data?

    1. Carl W

      Re: Re TRAITORS

      The Onion covered this a while back http://www.theonion.com/video/cias-facebook-program-dramatically-cut-agencys-cos,19753/

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Luke 11:1 GCHQ, Hallowed be Thy Name

    Your Kingdom Come,

    Give Us Each Day Our Daily Feed.

    Forget our profiles,

    For we also forget everyone's profiles.

  48. This Side Up

    It's about time

    that intercept evidence was allowed in court, since how it's obtained is hardly a secret any more.

  49. Jim 59

    BP considered unfair

    Sir, I wish to complain about this so called "Bletchley Park" and the way is it so secretive especially from 1939-45. They have these ariels everywhere it is a cover up, what with this Doctor Tourer or whatever you call him is listening in to us all, when we are innocently watching Gogglebox with the kiddies and---

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: BP considered unfair

      History is not my strongest subject, but AFAIK Turing wasn't involved in mass surveillance on his own country or other countries the UK wasn't at war with.

  50. Tom 11

    faith

    Lost. In you www.theregister.co.uk. Under the belt, cutting off your nose etc etc

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Derek Kingscote, who downvotes posts like yours?

  52. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    Funny.

    Its one thing to assume that you are being watched and your communications are being monitored.

    Its another to actually have proof that it is.

    Its a third thing to actually believe that anyone really cares how much internet porn you watch on your own PC at home, or the contents of your emails.

    Its definitely no secret that governments spy. Yet its poor form to violate your country's security laws.

  53. Jim 59

    UK Govt implicated in massive cover up

    A massive conspiracy has come to light involving the US, UK, Australian and other governments. The public was cynically duped on a scale barely to be believed. Yes, there was far too much secrecy around this so called "D Day" thing, and it is disgusting the the vast majority of-

    1. WatAWorld

      GCHQ, the NSA, CSEC, in a D-Day scenario they'd be on the side being invaded.

      D-Day was launched against our enemies, a bunch of dictatorships that spied on their own civilians and the civilians of their allies.

      What GCHQ, NSA, and CSEC are doing is against our own people and against democratic movements.

      GCHQ, the NSA, CSEC, in a D-Day scenario they'd be on the side being invaded.

  54. Chris G Silver badge

    Late to the party

    I read the article this morning at work but have had no time to comment until now. All I can say is WELL DONE EL REG!

    Most of the positive comments are excellent, as for Luke the Super Troll, Jim 59 and like minded thinkers; GET A SPINE then you can stand up for yourselves instead of relying on governments and their agencies that have only their own interests and those of their corporate backers at heart not yours.

  55. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    WASPy Spookbots? ...... Vainly Trying to Keep What Safe for Who and from Whom .....

    ..... and for Why and Vice Versa is the Question?

    And 42 is not the right answer and wrong question?

    Here be a real and present danger which only the fool would not realise is an elephantine trap to not fall into if and when tasking protection of the indefensible and inequitable..... Eric Holder Announces Task Force To Focus On "Domestic Terrorists"

    One hopes and trusts in Global Operating Devices and Networks InterNetworking JOINT Applications that Blighty IntelAIgents and GCHQ are Astutely Actively Aware of the Enigmatic Dilemma that Riddles All Such Solutions with Massive Vulnerabilities for Catastrophically Disruptive and/or Creatively Communicative Exploitation ........ Unprecedented Unpresidented Change.

    WASP ...... Wickedly Astute Stealthily Programmed

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    26.368629, 56.359364

    Tympani?

  57. corestore

    I'm not surprised about BT being in serious cahoots...

    I used to be a senior field guy for a large computer company I won't name (DEC).

    I worked on systems in GCHQ. No drama apart from getting searched, and not taking parts offsite, especially hard drives!

    I worked on special branch systems; those were built-in to safes in secure rooms at the back of police stations. But no drama.

    But when I went to work on a system at one of the... more dodgy bits of the BT facility at Martlesham Heath, they wouldn't even let me anywhere near the server installation; they eventually wheeled it out to reception and had me work on it there.

    1. Truth4u

      Re: I'm not surprised about BT being in serious cahoots...

      Well that doesn't sound very secure does it? Build a secure location and move the computers outside when people need to use them?

  58. AndyFl

    Just down the road from me

    The red dot in Seeb is about 1km from where I live, will have to eyeball the place. This area is a good one to land fibre and it is near to the expensive area called The Wave where expats are actually allowed to own property. I may have been standing next to a GCHQ spy in Costa Coffee there :p

    Good on TheRegister in posting this story, I'm sure that the (so called) intellegence community know all about the place so publishing the story doesn't change anything security related but at least now the public have the possibiity of asking questions about cost and whether the place should exist.

    Andy

  59. Jim 59

    Dear Sir I wish to complain about the undue secrecy surrounding the identities of the Bothan spies. I demand their names be published forthwith because they are probably just ripping us all off and...

  60. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    Wow. 1 warrant to cover *everything* on a whole undersee cable.

    This would be "Operation Fishing Trip"

    Due process? Just cause? WTF is that?

  61. R69

    TRAITORS Pt2

    Couldnt agree more with the original poster of the TRAITORS comment.

    Lets all give China, Russia, North Korea, Iran etc all the propaganda they need eh - FFS you idiots, to sustain democracy you unfortunately have to fight fire with fire - merely taking the high ground im afraid just opens a vacuum into which those who want to disrupt your way of life will very quickly step in and begine to overwhelm you.

    This ultimately is the law of nature - eat or be eaten. If you dont want our government to spend the money on it, start surrendering your rights to freedom as we know it now.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Oh dear, oh dear...

      You forgot one small but very important thing - short of a full-on invasion by China-Russia-North Korea it is our government that is the only one capable of taking away our rights to freedom. Consequently, if you want to protect your freedoms you must watch what your government is doing, not those scary exotic Sino-Russo-Norky incarnations of evil.

  62. Big_Boomer

    US vs THEM: The Human Condition

    We all subscribe to the US vs THEM system. It doesn't really matter who THEM are as they can range from your neighbours or the driver in front of you, to the Premier of PsychoDictatorLand. Because we want to be protected from THEM we hand ridiculous powers to certain people, powers to control us, to snoop and poke and ferret in our name. But we don't want to know what our proxies are doing in our name because then we are tarred with the same brush. So, when someone exposes some of it, it's "La La La,.. I can't hear you" or Outraged from Sometown ranting about how the someone has endangered lives when he's actually scared that the PDL Premier is gonna use him as a condom. The upshot is that we elected the Pollys, they appointed the Civil (sic) Servants so it is OUR action, our responsibility and we are ALL GUILTY! Which means I am a spy! Cool! :-)

  63. Rastus

    Snowden insists he only wants to inform people about what is going on. He has done that; he has achieved his goal. Now we all know. What he is doing now is nothing more than grandstanding, name-making, and destruction.

    He WAS an informant. He is NOW a traitor. I hope he gets what is coming to him.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      don't you have more important things to do than posting here, Mr President?

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Oh dear oh dear...

    Seeing as the UK Government were actually caught issuing classified patents (google "Invention Secrecy Act", its entirely possible that there are hundreds if not thousands of people in the UK who are living under virtual house arrest because their ideas happened to infringe on a classified patent through no fault of their own.

    I am actually working on a device that could revolutionize transportation, and have run into this first hand with intercepted and damaged mail (verified, even managed to speak to someone) and even discovered that some asshat had installed spying software on my router that was interfering with very specific energy related searches and causing DSL dropouts and other random issues.

    Only discovered by accident that this was the case, as soon as it was replaced and the router locked down like Alcatraz all the unexplained problems went away.

    The problem it seems is that it only takes one asshat at CQHG or other TLA to decide that someone is a "Person of Interest" and they can ruin their life by blacklisting them, denying loans or employment, tampering with their internet and other nefarious activities.

    Also relevant, it seems that many innocent people have had their internet tampered with in this way because I tried to do the very same searches with the same parameters on a colleagues PC and found the same pattern. Yup, same model of router and again replacing it (it just broke one day) fixed the problem.

    Don't believe me, I have evidence in the form of firmware dumps of said router(s) proving the existence of customized firmware that detects and reports back searches to a variable address meeting particular criteria.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear oh dear...

      Anonymous router person, email me. cwilliams@theregister.co.uk - PGP public key.

      C.

    2. tybalt

      Re: Re. Oh dear oh dear...

      Not quite sure what you mean by "caught issuing classified patents". The relevant statute is s22 UK Patents Act 1979, and it states that if a patent application includes information that might be prejudicial to national security, it should not be published. It will not grant until after the order is lifted.

      You can read more http://www.ipo.gov.uk/downloads/practice-manual.pdf under section 22 if you really want to understand how it works.

  65. smartypants

    I wish I had read this on 'The Verge'

    - mainly because of the insight offered by the commentards there...

    "Euuuuh"

    "That is so gay"

    "This"

    "Iphone 6"

    "troll harder"

    "no you troll harder"

    etc..

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SigInt might have casued the Iraq war

    One theory is that Saddam's weapons researchers knew that Saddam might easily execute them if they did not make progress. They thus started a flurry of activity, memos, e-mails, meetings etc, so that if questioned they could say they had done something. Sanctions meant that little real progress could be made. The acitivity created a lot of signals that were picked up by GCHQ & NSA and mistaken for real progress. This false positive from signals intellegence gave Blair his excuse for war.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: AC Re: SigInt might have casued the Iraq war

      ".....Sanctions meant that little real progress could be made....." Yeah, the "WMD was a myth" myth. People that peddle that claptrap have no idea what Saddam's busy scientists had already achieved, or how much still has not been accounted for:

      http://www.iraqwatch.org/profiles/nuclear.html

  67. Jim 59

    Congrats

    Once again congratulations to The Register for putting the secret information into the hands of those who really need it. Sure those guys may not like us and our democratic ways, and sure there may be some explosions on Channel 4 news down the line but, whatever.

    And I am sure members of our armed forces would salute you for this brave stand, which can only make their jobs more eventful. Likewise the people at the locations mentioned, they must be terrified so excited !

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: Congrats

      Jim, this sort of thing is only secret from us taxpayers, our enemies know all about it.

      It is kept secret from us because it can be and is used against us, against our democracy, by our own government employees -- government bureaucrats in and out of uniform -- pond scum whose loyalty to their unit trumps any thought of loyalty to the nation and its people.

  68. Yugguy

    Next week - The Machine

    So, I'm looking forward to next week's expose of The Machine.

    After all, what's the point of amassing all this data if you can't analyse and use it?

    As to that silly child's post, I doubt there was a serious rival intelligence anywhere who didn't already know it was there.

  69. Roj Blake Silver badge

    No Need to Worry

    If they relied on BT to do stuff, they're probably still waiting for the engineer to visit.

    1. Glostermeteor

      Re: No Need to Worry

      Or its the other way around, we wait so long for a BT engineer because they are all off on GCHQ funded missions.

  70. Glostermeteor

    We have a right to know what is being done, but perhaps a little too much detail?

    I absolutely support our right to know what is being done in our name. We are paying for all of this, they have absolutely no democratic legitimacy to do any of this kind of tapping they are doing, and they have lied to us time and time again for decades. Government is a law unto itself, and needs to be brought back under control by its shareholders (i.e. us).

    HOWEVER, is it really necessary to publish the exact locations of these monitoring sites? Saying GCHQ has a listening station in Oman would have been enough without putting people at risk directly.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: We have a right to know what is being done, but perhaps a little too much detail?

      About the only people who didn't already know the location were the British public.

    2. WatAWorld

      Re: We have a right to know what is being done, but perhaps a little too much detail?

      The people in Oman don't need sophisticated equipment to look out their car windows as they driver past.

      This was only secret from us.

  71. Otto is a bear.

    Said it before

    Just exactly what do you expect out intelligence services to do? How do you expect them to do it?

    They really can't monitor every single communication in the world, they are looking for the needles in the haystack, not the straw.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Re: Said it before

      Just exactly what do you expect out intelligence services to do? How do you expect them to do it?

      I expect them to stop mass and untargetted surveillance. Surveillance within the UK should require a warrant, issued by a court not a politician, and be limited to a named target person. Surveillance of our allies should be exceptional -- it should require authorisation from the Prime Minister (who would bear responsibility for authorising it when it eventually came out, as all secrets do). Surveillance of non-allies would be more routine and would not require warrants but it should still be limited and focused on specific targets or purposes: there should be a robust and effective programme for making sure that non-relevant data is destroyed, not archived and certainly not shared with others (so that, for example, the CIA cannot use this to get round their own government's restrictions). All of the above policies should be publically debated and published, with oversight from parliament.

      Unfortunately, it is unlikely we can directly enforce these restrictions. They should be in place, with very visible punishments for senior management when they are inevitably ignored (on the basis that whistleblowers will expose some proportion of abuse). However, the only real lever we, the people through parliament, have is money: GCHQ and MI5/6 budgets need to be cut substantially as a public response to the Snowden revelations, and there needs to be continuous effective oversight of their budgets. BT & Vodafone will not work for free, and other MoD agencies will be unkeen on hiding spy budgets within their budgets, so there is an opportunity to limit their activities at least in some way through money.

      The budget, and the activities, of the intelligence services should be proportionate to the real threat and very focused on the most critical threats to public safety. It certainly doesn't include "serious financial fraud"!

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tapping cables is old news ... move on ...

    The first few chapters of "COLOSSUS : Bletchley Park's Greatest Secret" by Paul Gannon talks about intercepting cables traffic etc. since before the WW1. This was predominantly done by ... the British because London was the main hub for such traffic.

    So should anyone be even faintly surprised that similar surveillance continues to be done to this day?

    1. WatAWorld

      It was new enough news that you took time out of your busy day to comment on it.

      It was new enough news that you took time out of your busy day to comment on it.

      How many other news articles were that important today?

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been going on for years....

    This sort of thing has been going on for years......take a look at this photo. It shows White Lund mid way between Lancaster and Morecambe.

    http://i636.photobucket.com/albums/uu84/trevnhil/MORECAMBE%20AREA/Fullscreencapture29082009200001.jpg

    See the WWII H-blocks in the centre just above the road / rail intersection? That was a top-secret branch of the Post Office Research Labs dedicated to phone / wire / cable tapping. Lots of local people worked there, but no-one ever talked about it. If you ask any of the locals, none of them knew about it. Ironic that something like that still remains secret, yet newer sites are known and discussed.

    The site has gone now - replaced by housing and a school, but remained in use until the early 1980's. Nice and close to the BT cable and microwave links to Ireland, with - according to Peter Laurie - a microwave link to Menwith Hill from the tower at Heysham

    T

    1. WatAWorld

      Red Herring Re: Been going on for years....

      There is spying on foreign militaries, spying on hostile governments and so on. Yes been going on for years.

      But that is a red herring. This is not about that.

      This is about the new type of spying we're doing where we capture all traffic, all civilian conversations, it is spying on the process of democracy, spying on peaceful political discussion.

      This new type of spying we're doing is incompatible with democracy at home and abroad.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Machiavellian twist?

    Firstly you must accept that governments will always have their secrets, they always have and always will. I hold no particular view on the rights or otherwise of these people. Once you accept that everyone is doing it there can be no excuse for allowing any data to be lost unless you want it to be disseminated.

    What I find most surprising in all this and other "exposes" is the apparent ease with which this information is obtained. If this is truly the case then govt must apply some proper security that prevents the access in the first place and they should also thank these people which has at times included some bright teenagers for highlighting the weaknesses in their systems. Of course, once each weakness is identified it should be remediated, to not do so is a failing on the part of the government and their competency should be called into question. I suggest that rather than trying to imprson the leakers they should be employed as they appear to be outsmarting their peers.

    Then you should be very careful about who you vote for at elections. As the saying goes ' The people get the government they vote for' or don't...assuming they have a vote and live in a democracy which thankfully some of us. Let's hope this all ends well for all of us.

    FYI - I'm anonymous because it is clear that those that can will know who I am and I understand that. For the rest of you I don't want the fame or glory as this is just my opinion.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please

    Could those of you that swear please desist. It detracts from your point, also it's so boring. The only way to make an impact and change something you don't like is to think clearly and honestly.

    1. bpfh Bronze badge

      Re: Please

      > Could those of you that swear please desist.

      You must be new here....

  76. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Smart Man and Women or Virtual Machine*

    The budget, and the activities, of the intelligence services should be proportionate to the real threat and very focused on the most critical threats to public safety. It certainly doesn't include "serious financial fraud”! … Graham Cobb

    I think you might like to consider, GC, although to either uncover or discover proof positive and extortionate will be very unlikely given the foe and competition and opposition, that the smarter intelligence services are budgeted and active in proportion to the real threat and very focused on the most critical threats to public safety and it certainly does include serious financial fraud and quantitatively eased fund man management.

    And every public safety/national security/private government attempt to maintain and retain a status quo steering stranglehold on the fiscal slavery entity which servers discriminately both the useful tool and useless fool their paper wealth and virtual treasure, outs another vector and sector of vulnerability to exploit with the prime excess extreme choices being to either aid or attack/reinforce and strengthen security or overwhelm catastrophically and destroy completely in a series of flash zeroday events/secretively programmed sorties for stealthy alternative missions command and control.

    And in this day and age, whenever that is a natural expected default position and ability of both the unusual and traditionally secret and sinister national and internetional intelligence services, for the likes of Big Brother Blighty Boys and Gals at GCHQ/CESG/MI5/MI6/BT not to be proactive and leading in all major fields, would be a colossus failing and a guarantee of swift western based influence decline.

    A simple question of the supposedly in charge government minister and foreign secretary to be either vaguely answered or be plausibly denied by Mr Hague, would clear up any ambiguity about colossus intelligence defence failings and/or losses which can adversely catastrophically impact upon established order positions/hierarchies/Projects for the New American Century

    And 10/10 to El Reg and Duncan Campbell for creating this haystack of sharp needles for Big Brother Blighty Boys and Gals at GCHQ/CESG/MI5/MI6/BT to find mentors in.

    * In Commendable Command and EMPowering Control Worlds with Quantum Communications [No Specific Attributable Base] is the Live Sexual Human/Programmable Virtual Machine into AI, a convenient and convivial Singularity which brings to Life and Reality and Virtual Reality Programming and Projects, all of the Huge Benefits that can be imagined in a Conflict Free Zone of Infinite Variety and Immaculate Provision ….. Delivery Lines and Supply Roots and Routes to Proprietary Intellectual Property of Definite Vision.

  77. Javapapa

    Anyone know what this is?

    23.671402, 58.117301

    Located southwest of GHQC compound.

    1. Big_Boomer

      Re: Anyone know what this is?

      Looks like an antenna array to me. Probably switchable/directional.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Big_Boomer Re: Anyone know what this is?

        "Looks like an antenna array to me....." Real listening kit will be hidden, from before the point of installation. Like the arrays 'discovered' on the British Embassy roof in Germany, they will be inside domes or covers that stop people simply looking at them to guess wavelengths and transmitter/receiver power. Dummy domes may even be built to lead spies into thinking listening gear is more widespread than it really is or to distract those that might seek to attack the listening gear. Allegedly, the gear could be in any 'building' on site as any of the buildings could actually be a fake constructed of wire and plastic or cloth panels, so it looks from a satellite shot or to some guy in the road like a hangar or garage, when in reality it is just a cover for the real array.

        But, in this case, Snowjob talks about submarine cable taps, so there is no need for an array anyway. Which means the array openly displayed probably has a quite harmless ATC or communications role.

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: Anyone know what this is?

      There appears to be a feed to it from the compound so at a rough guess I would say that it is a very interesting looking antenna array.

  78. WatAWorld

    Good work. Being patriots to your country often involves going against bureaucrats.

    Patriots to your country.

    The sad thing is that too many in government and military service put loyalty to unit, division, department or ministry ahead of loyalty to the nation and its people.

    That makes those officers, soldiers and civil servants traitors against the country and its people.

  79. WatAWorld

    Spying destroys democracy - an act of 'international treason' against democracy.

    The people who have most to fear from GCHQ are honest loyal Britons and their loyal allies.

    Enemy security agencies and terrorists know they're targets of spying and take precautions, where as our allies do not expect us to spy on them in return for them not spying on us.

    That is why the Guardian reports that at G7 conferences GCHQ is successful at spying on everyone but the Russians (and the other 2 five eyes there, US and Canada).

    If enemies are encrypting their data who is being spied upon?

    To what end are the hundreds and billions of pounds being spent on?

    The answer is to fight foreign commercial interests and to fight democratic movements.

    Fighting democracy at home and abroad by keeping track of grassroots movements and sabotaging them.

    Sabotaging opposition parties.

    Why was Tony Blair re-elected so many times? Were the British public that stupid?

    Or did the Americans ensure the other parties could not select an effect leader to run against him?

    We won't know for 35 years, maybe 100 years.

    How does the pond scum at these agencies sleep at night?

    Spying on enemy militaries and enemy governments, spying on enemy arms makers, that is their appropriate job -- a good decent job.

    But spying on people's political discussions, spying on peaceful political discussion and decent -- that is an act of 'international treason' against democracy.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Writing to my MP?

    I'm tempted to write to my MP.

    Not because it's likely to change anything, more for amusement value.

    I'm open to suggestions as to what needs to be said.

    Then maybe 38degrees, for a more receptive audience (so to speak).

    Please retweet (or whatever the trendy thing to do is).

  81. Trooper_ID
    Thumb Down

    Common Sense? It seems not

    way to improve the security of our Nation. Kinda thought the Register had a bit more common sense about them. Interestingly if Duncan claims he got this from Snowden, doesn’t that tend to imply that Snowden lied about not having shared the [stolen] data beyond those who we know handled his existing disclosures?

  82. briesmith

    Maturity

    We are used to these days indulging our "fuck you" attitude and glorying in our freedom to be anarchic. We doff our (baseball) caps to no man; bend the knee to absolutely no fucker whatsoever. And it's all so modern, so exciting, so "dude, you're the man and so the fuck, yeah, am I!"

    But sometimes, children, things in life are serious; have serious consequences. I think over the coming years the more mature amongst will recognise that our government has to do this shit so that we can continue to live our "fuck you all" lives, with no nasty Mr Putin arriving to tell is that we can't.

    We will slowly come to agree that you can't yell "Fire!" in a theatre and you can't steal your country's secrets and publicise them because you're pissed off at the world, God, Tony Blair, David Cameron, your hair stylist or whoever.

    It's all so far "Mum's out, Dad's out, let's be rude" sort of stuff but we need to wise up a little, get ourselves under control and be a little more mature. Snowden has undoubtedly caused the loss of a lot of US/UK taxpayers' treasure and, sadly, probably some lives as well.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Maturity

      But sometimes, children, things in life are serious; have serious consequences. I think over the coming years the more mature amongst will recognise that our government has to do this shit so that we can continue to live our "fuck you all" lives, with no nasty Mr Putin arriving to tell is that we can't......... briesmith

      You may like to ponder on the fact, which incidentally, designedly and very conveniently can always at any prime and sub-prime time of its future drivers' choosing morph into and masquerade required and/or desired proaction and HyperRadioProActive IT as an absolutely fabulous fabless fiction, that the more mature realise that practically all governments, including our government, which I am assuming you would be calling UKGBNI and all their attendant supply and security, defense and attack forces and services, haven't a clue about the shit that they should be doing for a better life for all in peace and harmony, rather than their continued doing of the shit that they do be doing to continue their living their "fuck you all" lives.

      And as for your two final paragraphs ......

      We will slowly come to agree that you can't yell "Fire!" in a theatre and you can't steal your country's secrets and publicise them because you're pissed off at the world, God, Tony Blair, David Cameron, your hair stylist or whoever.

      It's all so far "Mum's out, Dad's out, let's be rude" sort of stuff but we need to wise up a little, get ourselves under control and be a little more mature. Snowden has undoubtedly caused the loss of a lot of US/UK taxpayers' treasure and, sadly, probably some lives as well.

      ..... well, of course anyone can do the first paragraph if they so choose to do so and/but there are likely to be both personal and wider public consequences, both known and fully expected, and unknown and unintended or not planned for because they were never considered/realised/thought possible.

      As for the dig at Snowden,...... how much of a loss of US/UK taxpayers' treasure and, sadly, probably some lives as well, do you reckon the warrior interventions and immature political adventures into foreign lands and alien theatres of engagement have cost ........ and is the resultant live world view for all improved, and enhanced and moved up and along to any number of higher levels? Or has the destruction and degradation been quite epic on a criminal scale?

  83. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Sub-Prime Dummies in Charge of Prime Operating Systems ..... A Recipe for Programmed Disaster

    All your information belongs to US [but maybe not also shared with GCHQ?] ....... http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2014-06-08/nsa-whistleblower-snowden-never-had-access-juiciest-documents ....... and still the system can't get anything to work right and seamlessly well. Problems are always as a result of failure in top tier levels and compartments of leadership/monitoring mentorship.

    Speaking Truth unto Power delivers Commandeering Control and ..... "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." -Voltaire ....... supplies only those who have lost rule and reign over you and are most probably quite rightfully fearful for their continued safety and security protection.

  84. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Baby Boomer Damp Squibs from the Lands of the Vampire Squid

    To believe or not to believe what is spin and hype, that is the question that delivers alternate virtual realities and defines and identifies which media moguls are more of a creative dynamic force for greater good or worse bad.

    "Looks like an antenna array to me....." Real listening kit will be hidden, from before the point of installation. Like the arrays 'discovered' on the British Embassy roof in Germany, they will be inside domes or covers that stop people simply looking at them to guess wavelengths and transmitter/receiver power. Dummy domes may even be built to lead spies into thinking listening gear is more widespread than it really is or to distract those that might seek to attack the listening gear. Allegedly, the gear could be in any 'building' on site as any of the buildings could actually be a fake constructed of wire and plastic or cloth panels, so it looks from a satellite shot or to some guy in the road like a hangar or garage, when in reality it is just a cover for the real array.

    But, in this case, Snowjob talks about submarine cable taps, so there is no need for an array anyway. Which means the array openly displayed probably has a quite harmless ATC or communications role. … Matt Bryant

    Talking of snowjobs, Matt Bryant, both pharmaceutical and metaphorical, here be something which isn't and delivers a perfect storming tempest, both real and virtually protected by CyberIntelAIgent Security Services ....... Universal Virtual Forces with Immaculately Resourced Assets

    After all, if you're a NSA official and you've built this superb spying apparatus, you've got a problem if no one knows about it. It's fine to spy on millions – billions – but part of the program, an important part, is intimidation. If you want to control populations and make them fearful, they have to know they are being acted upon.

    That is as may be, DB*, and part of the master machismo/fascisti plan, but whenever you be doing something that you could reasonably expect the system to need to be seriously interested in, and making a house call on primary actors because of what it would be claiming to be able to do and to be able to further enable and either constructively disrupt and create or catastrophically compromise, degrade and destroy, and that doesn’t happen in a timely manner, then are the pimped systems security and protection values and abilities and intimidations exposed and proven to be ineffective vapourware and a toxic and self-destructive confidence trick which fools no one but fools with useless cyber tools and a very revealing lack of necessary virtual national, international and internetional intelligence to tackle future command and control power issues.

    Those wannabe emperor systems admins are wearing no clothes.

    If you don't wanna play a great rigged game, play a more attractive and intimately addictive great game changer. And more Holywood than Hollywood would assure adventure capital was not to be wasted on Max Factor actor and Wall Street hood nose candy ...... which be another snowjob of note.

    * Daily Bell .....http://thedailybell.com/news-analysis/35375/ResetTheNet-Versus-Deeper-Change/

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