back to article Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files

Duncan Campbell has spent decades unmasking Britain's super-secretive GCHQ, its spying programmes, and its cosy relationship with America's NSA. Today, he retells his life's work exposing the government's over-reaching surveillance, and reveals documents from the leaked Snowden files confirming the history of the fearsome …

  1. Candy
    Thumb Up

    Fascinating.

    An excellent article. More like this, please.

    1. NoneSuch

      Re: Fascinating.

      The issue isn't heroes like this who speak up, it is the vast majority who are cowed into silence by jack booted tactics.

      Security, more often than not, covers up ineptitude, bureaucratic mismanagement and wasteful spending rather that state secrets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fascinating.

        "Security, more often than not, covers up ineptitude, bureaucratic mismanagement and wasteful spending rather that state secrets."

        Repeat a trillion times and it still won't be enough.

        There's more and more muck emerging re ongoing child abuse in or near Westminster.

        Today Ted Heath's name is back in the picture, indirectly. In his case and many much more recent ones, did the cops not know (in which case...) or did they not care because [?] (in which case...) or were they saving the information for a more important purpose (in which case...).

        Yes I'm angry.

        1. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Fascinating.

          "There's more and more muck emerging re ongoing child abuse in or near Westminster.

          Today Ted Heath's name is back in the picture, indirectly. In his case and many much more recent ones, did the cops not know (in which case...) or did they not care because [?] (in which case...) or were they saving the information for a more important purpose (in which case...).

          Yes I'm angry."

          This...this is one of the main types of reason I am and always have been dead set against any country wide "think of the children porn filter"...

          No way we'd get to hear about such things when governments can (and will) flick a switch at the drop of a hat and censor anything that they deem not to be in the public interest. It's why they fought so hard against the FOI requests about expenses.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fascinating.

          "did the cops not know"

          In case it's not obvious, "cops" here includes also the 'intelligence' services.

          Who remembers Jeremy Thorpe, and all the allegations that surrounded his activities?

          Widely respected BBC journalist Tom Mangold had a BBC Radio documentary on Thorpe, his clandestine activities, the involvement of police and intelligence services, and a conspiracy of silence protecting certain individuals, sometimes at the expense of others who were hung out to dry simply because they weren't "one of us".

          The BBC sat on the documentary until shortly after Thorpe's death, when the ready-made documentary went out on BBC Radio 4, with a handful of minor updates to reflect developments in the years it had been on the shelf:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04wz633

          These people are scum, as Duncan Campbell knows only too well. The more their activities come into the daylight, the better it is for the vast majority of us.

          Robin Cook, RIP. New Statesman? Not what it was. Sad.

          I can't help wondeering why this article is here, in what is (with greatest respect) a dark corner of the Intergeek, and not somewhere a bit more visible?

          Presumably the Guardian (who brought us the Snowden files) are no longer in serious contact with DC and GG?? Or maybe they're just finding their hands full with attempted character assassination in a certain leadership election?

          If not the Guardian, then is The Register really the best the UK has to offer?

          Still, thanks once again to Mr Campbell and those who have helped. Best of luck with whatever awaits you.

      2. Bob H

        Re: Fascinating. @ NoneSuch

        Hanlon's razor: "Never assume malice when stupidity is an equally probable explanation."

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Fascinating. @ NoneSuch

          >Hanlon's razor: "Never assume malice when stupidity is an equally probable explanation."

          asdf razor (ok sure someone else said before but): Often assume malice with extreme prejudice to cover up what can be attributed to either or both stupidity and malice.

        2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

          Re: Fascinating. @ NoneSuch

          "Never assume malice when stupidity is an equally probable explanation."

          s/equally probable/adequate/

        3. h4rm0ny

          Re: Fascinating. @ NoneSuch

          If it's "equally probable" then why assume one over the other. "Hanlon's razor" is just a humorous meme (though it's less humorous after the fortieth time you've heard it). There are plenty of idiots in government, but there are plenty of smart people too - civil servants, intelligence bureaucrats and directors, private industry associates who make LOTS of money from the deals arranged and yes, even politicians are not necessarily the idiots they sometimes appear to be. These people have worked their way up to seize a limited number of lucrative positions against the competition - why assume incompetence or idiocy. All too often it's simply the case that their goals aren't the same as your goals. You might think the RIPAA act is stupid because it's chances of combating terrorism as stated are near nil. But so what, it's lets the busybodies follow you around or watch you on the CCTV which is what they _really_ want. So are they idiots for proposing an anti-terrorist measure that wont catch terrorists? Of course not - they just lied to get what they want. Not the same thing at all.

          Hanlon's razor is a trite joke that some people appear to actually be thinking is some kind of real operating principle to work by. Here's a better operating principle: "Who benefits?" So long as the answer to that is 'someone' that's cause enough to suspect malice.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Fascinating. @ NoneSuch

            Robbed wholesale from Wikipedia:

            Cui bono (/kwiː ˈboʊnoʊ/), literally "to whose benefit?", is a Latin phrase which is still used.

            It is the key forensic question in legal and police investigation to find who has a motive for a crime.

            In other words; when the Police investigate a crime, the position to take is not that of Hanlon's Razor and assume incompetence, but to look at who benefits. The corollary to this, is to 'follow the money', particularly when examining the acts and habits of British politicians. The assume they are not up to something is a nice thought, but possibly a little naïve.

        4. Afernie

          Re: Fascinating. @ NoneSuch

          "Hanlon's razor: "Never assume malice when stupidity is an equally probable explanation.""

          Heinlein's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice"

      3. goldcd

        I always wonder

        about the ones who weren't cowed, but we've never heard of.

        Maybe nobody did get secretly caught and imprisoned though.. maybe.

        1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: I always wonder

          One had his wrists slashed. Nobody came up with the idea to CSI case the place the deadly deed was dun to see how fertile the ground had suddenly become. Wonder not for ever.

          "Yo, Tony, get rid of him and I'll make you a multimillionaire when it's over".

          Probably had to include an alcoholic in the contract, a potential whistle-blower with a photographic memory?

          What could anyone rate his chances?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I always wonder

            none of this bothers me if it's genuinely for national security

            It what conceivable sense can it "genuinely [be] for national security"? What kind of "security" can a nation offer to its citizens if it routinely oppresses them in secret?

            Beyond that foundational principle, what sort of threat model justifies the behaviors you describe? Some existential threat is held back only by a regime of secrecy so frail that anyone who pierces it must be silenced? That seems extraordinarily improbable - and since the various governments perpetuating those regimes refuse to offer any evidence or substantial arguments for them, it's the height of foolishness to take it on faith.

        3. Hans 1 Silver badge

          Re: I always wonder

          A great number of people have been secretly imprisoned, tortured, and killed over the years, usually at small airports or allied military bases. If they survive torture, they usually get trialed by a secret court, happens abroad aboard aircraft, or in small dark, wet rooms the NSA rents out in military bases. It has happened, is happening right now, and will be happening tomorrow - that is the daily task of several forces of the iiiii.

          There are countless reports of people being secretly withheld and tortured, some till death, happens mostly by the hands of US personnel in military bases in countries like Poland, Belgium, Germany for example - that is where most reports come from, at least.

          Some people are taken into "custody" because they wear a type of watch - you won't believe me, that is fine, read wikileaks, it is all in there.

        4. The Indomitable Gall

          @goldcd

          " Maybe nobody did get secretly caught and imprisoned though.. maybe. "

          Imprisonment isn't an effective means of silencing someone. I suspect that the collapse of the ABC case resulted in an increase in "suicides" among troublesome types....

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fascinating.

        The issue isn't heroes like this who speak up, it is the vast majority who are cowed into silence by jack booted tactics.

        Security, more often than not, covers up ineptitude, bureaucratic mismanagement and wasteful spending rather that state secrets.

        And of course you have the proofie-woofie to substantiate this! Jinkies that's good.

        1. Eponymous Cowherd

          Re: Fascinating.

          If it is a politician doing something, it is probably malicious as well as mind-blowingly stupid.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fascinating.

          "of course you have the proofie-woofie to substantiate this! Jinkies that's good."

          Where are you posting this from, geographically?

          In the UK this week we have the spectacle of a former prime minister's alleged sex offences being dragged out into the public domain. This was Ted Heath, PM 1970-1974. There have been unsubstantiated mutterings for a long time. Now it's starting to go public, and there is no way the police and intelligence services can come out of this smelling of roses, whatever the verdict on Heath turns out to be.

          Whatever was or wasn't going on around Westminster and very senior Westminster people, the 'Intelligence' services were fully aware of it, as also in due course were the Parliamentary Whips.

          Handy for the Whips in the case of a bit of potential dissent within the ranks. No need to let the criminal justice system in on the secret even where appropriate. Victims? Who cares, there are majorities at stake.

          Don't take my word for it. See (e.g.) from July 2014 when Newsnight conveniently cut off the important bit of an interview with a former Whip (interview first published 1995), and the papers published the missing bit:

          http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-whips-can-no-longer-maintain-westminsters-shroud-of-secrecy-9592971.html

          Whip, talking about MPs: “They’d say ‘Now listen, I’m in a jam, can you help?’ It might be debt, it might be scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which...”

          Newsnight stopped here.

          Whip continues: “ … in which, erm, er, a member seemed likely to be mixed up, they’d come and ask if we could help, and if we could we did. And we would do everything we can, because we would store up Brownie points... And if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons, because if we could get a chap out of trouble, then he will do as we ask for ever more.”

          And what the Whips knew, the intelligence services knew before them.

          Proof? How much do you want.

          1. Mark 65 Silver badge

            Re: Fascinating.

            Whatever was or wasn't going on around Westminster and very senior Westminster people, the 'Intelligence' services were fully aware of it, as also in due course were the Parliamentary Whips.

            Errrr, yep. It's called blackmail. If you work in the senior ranks of the police or the intelligence services then you always want to have some dry powder for the case when parliament is thinking of enacting something against your interests or wishes. At such point it may be intimated that you know things. Politics is a very dirty business indeed and I have no doubt that some absolutely disgraceful things have happened and been covered up, whether that be kiddy fiddling by grubby politicians, victims being ignored or silenced by the police or silent dirt-banking by the intelligence services. The good news is the internet. The internet sets all information free - it's why they're doing their level best to neuter it with various "because terrorists" laws.

        3. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Fascinating.

          >And of course you have the proofie-woofie to substantiate this! Jinkies that's good.

          Said like a true AC who in the end sucks the system's phallus and tells everyone how just things are because they got theirs and that is all that matters.

  2. moiety

    An excellent article.

    Problem is, everyone's doing it and to stop doing it would put you at a significant disadvantage, so it's not going to happen.

    I think that it's vitally important for it to remain illegal though. Sure we know that it's going to keep on happening (intensify if anything); and nobody is going to get prosecuted...but that's what spies do. If Theresa May gets her wish and makes it legal though; that opens the gates for some potentially horrifying futures.

    It's going to continue to happen -has to happen in a sense- but it is not, and never will be OK.

    1. Keef

      "It's going to continue to happen -has to happen in a sense- but it is not, and never will be OK."

      It may continue to happen.

      It does not have to happen.

      Experience shows mass surveillance results in a poor signal to noise ratio and the real targets, even if identified, are soon forgotten in the chase for more information.

      Targeted surveillance with judicial authority independent of politicians is in my view acceptable.

      I'm not exactly sure how you keep the idiots we elect out of the process, or even start the process of booting them out of the existing process, but it's worth aiming for.

      And I also would like to say that it is a fine article.

      You've got to brave, determined and clever to that kind of work, I take my hat off to those who did.

      1. moiety

        I sort of agree with you; but mass surveillance is an emerging field and may yet pay dividends. It might be possible to -for instance- analyse the shit out of events leading to and surrounding things like Boston Marathon, Charlie Hebdo and the like and find common denominators or warning signs that could be flagged up; to let the relevant departments know where to point resources.

        I like very much the idea of only targeted surveillance with judicial approval; but sometimes shit goes down too quickly for that.

        I'm not pro-spook, by any means. I know I'm not a paedo-terrorist; I resent every byte they steal and they can -separately and collectively- go and fuck themselves. But this is not a nice world to live in at times. There are dangerous people out there and somebody needs to keep an eye on them...ideally before the bullets start flying.

        1. Graham Marsden
          Thumb Down

          @moiety

          > I like very much the idea of only targeted surveillance with judicial approval; but sometimes shit goes down too quickly for that.

          And then, six months *after* the "shit goes down", we find out that the Security Services had the information all along, but it was buried in such a huge pile of other crap that it was overlooked or discounted.

          1. moiety

            Re: @moiety

            @Graham Marsden - Agreed. Like Charlie Hebdo where they called off monitoring 6 months before. But automated monitoring *could* become a powerful tool for good, if used properly. Could help relevant departments deploy warrants and resources where they are most needed.

            I'm not privy to any secrets; but I'm pretty sure that the technology is still being developed, so the potential is there to be able to identify possible problems before they happen. Privacy is largely fucked anyway...the spooks aren't doing anything that Google aren't. It is as it is. So I can at least hope for a couple of silk purses out of the deal.

            1. John H Woods Silver badge

              Re: @moiety

              "... but I'm pretty sure that the technology is still being developed ..." -- moeity

              Trouble is ... the maths is already developed, so it really doesn't matter what you do with the technology. There are too many people and too few terrorists, so if your false positive rate is anywhere near the realm of the possible you will have far too many leads to follow (a "99.99% accurate" test would give you 3,000 leads in the UK alone - it would take something like 30,000 field operatives --- and probably another 10,000 support staff --- to keep an eye on them 24x7).

              See base rate fallacy and/or paradox of the false positive

              1. phil dude
                Thumb Up

                Re: @moiety

                @John H Woods: Thanks for introducing some mathematics! (I highly recommend everyone should read the Bayesian treatment).

                El Reg, excellent article and makes me want to go and watch some Callan, Yes Minister, etc...

                P.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Callan, Yes Minister, etc...

                  "go and watch some Callan, Yes Minister, etc..."

                  In the current circumstances, you might find Channel 4's A Very British Coup particularly relevant. Book or TV series (apparently they don't quite match). Seems to be available at 4OD (as was) but registration required.

                  http://www.channel4.com/programmes/a-very-british-coup/on-demand

              2. Fat Northerner

                Re: @moiety

                " There are too many people and too few terrorists, so if your false positive rate is anywhere near the realm of the possible you will have far too many leads to follow (a "99.99% accurate" test would give you 3,000 leads in the UK alone - it would take something like 30,000 field operatives --- and probably another 10,000 support staff --- to keep an eye on them 24x7)."

                I heard that on a train in 1998, by some guy who thought he was clever. It was no more true then, than it is now.

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: @moiety

                  I heard that on a train in 1998, by some guy who thought he was clever. It was no more true then, than it is now.

                  I picture Fat Northerner as Homer Simpson: "Stupid math!"

                  It's no less true now, either. Which is to say completely.

                2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: @moiety

                  I heard that on a train in 1998, by some guy who thought he was clever. It was no more true then, than it is now.

                  Funny that, I first heard it in a blog by Bruce Schneier.

                  In case you don't know who he is, he is one of the world's most widely respected security experts (computer and otherwise). Who are you?

                  1. Fat Northerner

                    Re: @moiety

                    Your grandchildren will find out under the 100 year rule. Hahaha :-)

                    Joking aside, I'm a person who believes science rarely goes backwards, and I also believe, because I have a very lopsided brain I'm of the view that people who don't understand something think its impossible, because they just can't conceive it.

                    They usually don't take too kindly to being told that there's someone cleverer than them either. It comes in two forms, resentment, and attempts at job protection.

                    As you can see, I can't string two sentences together.

              3. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: @moiety

                Mr Woods

                a "99.99% accurate" test would give you 3,000 leads in the UK alone - it would take something like 30,000 field operatives

                To proactively monitor people in advance of an incident, I wholly agree with your statement.

                Where the maths works in the other direction though, is what happens after an incident and a terrorist is conclusively identified. The spying, for that is what it is, allows you to retrospectively get into their communications and start back tracking their lives. Provided the terrorist wasn't a lone wolf, you will have a significantly easier time identifying their handler or other associates.

                I'm not arguing in favour of the surveillance or against it: as far as I am concerned 'we' haven't had a reasoned and open debate about the issue sufficient for me to reach an objective conclusion. Perhaps I have not yet given it sufficient thought.

                I argue only that being able to backtrack communications (and therefore movements) after the fact is undeniably useful in identifying other terrorists and so preventing further incidents.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @moiety

              "But automated monitoring *could* become a powerful tool for good, if used properly."

              No, it couldn't. To be "used properly" you'd need somebody in a position of power who can be trusted. And that right there is the end of the discussion.

              I find myself wondering which agency you work for.

              Excellent article. A big thank you to all the whistleblowers and journalists who have the guts to bring the truth to light.

              1. moiety

                Re: @moiety

                "I find myself wondering which agency you work for."

                Hahaha. No.

                "you'd need somebody in a position of power who can be trusted"

                Good point.

              2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

                Re: @moiety

                @AC: you'd need somebody in a position of power who can be trusted

                You'd need to trust the vast majority of people in positions of power - enough to flush out and deal with those who abuse the trust, early. On top of that, you also need those in position of power to be unusually competent.

            3. Dave 15 Silver badge

              Re: @moiety.... google et al

              Google et al are probably even doing the spying directly for the nsa these days.

              Microsoft and Apple are there too...put all your data on a US server and then the US have the right to read it... stick it on an Irish server and the Americans think they also have the right because it is an Amercian company... basically put it on the cloud and then the Americans will read it easier than they can with their viruses and backdoors. What they do with it is anyones guess but there have been rumours of American companies profitting from knowledge about what other companies are doing.

            4. h4rm0ny

              Re: @moiety

              >>"I'm not privy to any secrets; but I'm pretty sure that the technology is still being developed, so the potential is there to be able to identify possible problems before they happen"

              Like the Algorithm in the Captain America: Winter Soldier movie, you mean? Absolutely the potential is there to identify problems before they happen, and by extension end them. The thing is, and one of the reasons you're probably getting so many downvotes, is the State's definition of problem is not necessarily the people's definition of problem and worse - the more power the state has of this kind, the increasing divergence between the two there will be. This latter is a fact.

              1. moiety

                Re: @moiety

                Yeah - analyse events in a "what the fuck happened there and is there anything that can be done to stop it happening again or even identify the conditions that can make it more likely?" sort of thing. Not seen the film, so can't say whether that's what I was thinking of. Definitely more forensic analysis with a side-order of "Welp. That's the problem. Do any solutions present themselves?" than pro-active Minority Report stuff.

                I was going on the theory that probably most of the awful things you can imagine governments doing with the data are probably happening already. In, I expect, insanely well-funded and luxurious departments. So might as well try for a couple of socially-productive spinoffs for the £billions we are being charged to have the piss taken.

                1. h4rm0ny

                  Re: @moiety

                  >>"I was going on the theory that probably most of the awful things you can imagine governments doing with the data are probably happening already."

                  Uh, no. Crack open a history book if you want to see how bad things can get. You don't even have to go for the obvious Adolf Hitler stuff. Take a look at the Stasi, at North Korea, China through the twentieth century, Qatar today and plenty of others. If you think most of the awful misuses of the data are already happening, you're gravely misinformed. It can get a lot worse and the more information that is collated and available the harder it is to fight such abuses. Significantly so.

          2. elDog Silver badge

            Re: @moiety

            Or that the uncovered information is well known would be "inconvenient" to disclose since there are ongoing operations...

            1. moiety

              Re: @moiety

              All true; but the phenomenon of everybody carrying round constantly broadcasting computers is relatively new.

              Throwing some Big Data at things may answer some interesting questions:

              What is the point at which someone ceases to be an internet blowhard and picks up a gun?

              Are there any common factors in the cases? Environment? Circle of friends? Personality type? Media?

              Is there any twiddling with environmental factors that would stop or lessen things building to a head?

              ...and so on.

              The data-rape is going to continue regardless. We're dealing with the sort of people who -when caught- come up with bollocks like this to make it retrospectively 'legal'. (My keyboard doesn't have sarcasm quotes that are sarcastic enough for the word legal...please imagine them luminous and blinking). So I might as well point out some not-wholly-evil things that might work.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Hollerith 1

          Marsden has hit nail on head

          The info about pretty much every atrocity committed on USA or UK soil is in the databases of the American or British spooks, but they never spot it. If we simply shut down these operations, what exactly would happen? What aspect national or international security would be crippled? There are some sweaty-palmed types that like to listen. They used to do it with a glass pressed to the wall (with one hand) and now they do it with a web of tentacles that reaches into every single device we own. The only ones profiting from that are them.

        3. Dave 15 Silver badge

          If...

          If any of this spying really did stop any bullets flying it might even be worth considering if it was valid. It isn't.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: If...

            "If any of this spying really did stop any bullets flying..."

            NO. The biggest fallacy of any and all discussions on the matter is the inevitable derailment into debating whether mass surveillance is effective at all - a fallacy because that's irrelevant. It would be wrong even if it could stop 100.0% of the things it is allegedly meant to stop - because it could also stop the other 1000% of stuff it never, ever should be able to stop. That's all.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: If...

              I fully agree with Dropbear. Pointing to attacks it stopped, or could have stopped is meaningless. More people die on the highways in the US and UK each year than have died from all terrorist attacks in both countries this century.

              If we lowered the speed limit to 10 mph and fully enforced that through mandatory speed limiters in cars, we'd save all those lives. Why are lives lost to terrorism so much more precious that we should want to give up so many rights to save them, but giving up a comparatively tiny bit of freedom by restricting the speed of travel to save even more is rightly seen by everyone as ridiculous?

              1. cyfahead
                Facepalm

                Re: If... DougS ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTION!!

                “Why are lives lost to terrorism so much more precious that we should want to give up so many rights to save them, but giving up a comparatively tiny bit of freedom by restricting the speed of travel to save even more is rightly seen by everyone as ridiculous?”

                Such a deeep question,,,but nobody sees it!!

                DougS is asking many secondary questions in the one he poses. They include, non-exhaustively...

                “Why.... do we have terrorism?”

                “Why.... are we all in such deep competition with each other?”

                “Why.... do we have secrets about what we do?”

                “Why.... would it be dangerous to us all if others knew about the things we actually do?”

                and ultimately he is asking:

                “Why do states need to secretly spy on each other now, and why have they done so for millenia?”

                The answer is simple … economic competition involves getting more for yourself than than the next guy gets and to do it by all means possible, because if you leave it to honest trading in a perfect, uncorrupted markets someone else will cheat, get richer than you and become more powerful than you and then openly come and steal from you by conquering and enslaving you. So you have to do it first and it has to be done secretly, to 'friends' and 'enemies' alike.

                And as my MP Mr Philip Dunne has written very recently... “The first duty of government is the defence of the realm”.... you students of Latin and etymology will quickly see that he is saying “the first duty of government is to protect 'government'”.. or the 'king...dom'. He goes on to explain, in his own handwriting, that his job is to 'represent his constituency' and not to be his constituents' delegate to the House of Commons.

                All this debate is just a consequence of clashing philosophies.... most on this forum display a belief in Socratean universality of human right and dignity, but our governing structures – both commercial and political – are dominated by a philosophy of utilitarian hedonism and economic liberalism developed vigorously since the 18th Century by such as Adam Smith, and Bentham who said in words reminiscent in meaning to those of my own MP “The community is a fictitious body composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interests of the community then is, what? The sum of the several members who compose it.”

                We forum contributors are not members, nor therefore constituents. Membership of the constituency which benefits from keeping their secrets from us non-members are the commercial interests and the political ones whose true constituents they are and who comprise 'the realm' Mr Dunne refers to. The economic system that benefited European countries in the 18th century was one of geographically defined, militarily imposed Empire, during the 20th century this evolved to that of geographically defined, commercially imposed Empire..... now in the 21st-century the 'members''s clubs are again evolving to being virtually defined, commercially imposed Empire.

                In the past it has been sufficient to physically watch troop movements and gather commercial intelligence through covert personal contacts in those few places where people who had something to say went to say it if they hoped to be heard. Now all communication and much trade has become electronic. For the members to continue pursuing their goals of personal hedonism and domination through Empire their focus of information gathering has to now be everything electronic and they must trawl through it all, bad signal:noise ratio or not..... The clubs are competing for the personal benefit of their members.

                You, and I, are NOT INVITED. You can only change this flow of history by replacing the neo-liberalism driving what you complain of with a hegemony that implements a humanitarian economic/commercial paradigm... start by understanding Confucius, Buddha and Socrates and also the unvarnished truth of human nature. You might then succeed in building a vision powerful enough to replace autocracy/plutocracy/oligarchy with what it is you have been, deceived into, believing all along to be what it is you already have in Westminster.

        4. James 51 Silver badge

          The moment 'big data' reveals everyone wearing brown shoes is a terrorist they'll start wearing black shoes.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          With all due respect....

          If you are talking about post-forensics, I see no issue with that. I do see an issue with people who believe in a minority report, thought-crime approach to a new world order. Very dangerous, very stupid, very double plus bad, so don't get sucked into it. Your kids will pay the price

        6. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Quite right

          The first thing Hitler did is compile a list. Stalin never bothered he just chose ratios of people depending on what mood he was in/how the trains were running. While it is always good to have a list it's just as good making it up as you go .

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Black Helicopters

          so

          except they are not so concerned about the bad guys, they want to watch you.

          What you haven't done anything wrong?

          never mind they can amend the law or its interpretation so that you have

          what no rerospective laws? - to protect the children of course there are and wlll be

          not much of a step for information to be manufactured to order either, and what can you prove they will have all your gear... and it will be all legal.

          Goodness this Tinfoil Hat is becoming more and more comfortable

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you are a government spook with toys

        You essentially have two choices:

        1) Monitor everyone (or try to)

        2) Target the surveillance, legally.

        The problem with 1) is that it appeals to idiots, war mongerors, fascists and other unsavory types as a system (sorry, am I being too harsh?)

        The problem with 2) is that it takes more effort and energy. Oh and did I forget, respect for people's civil rights within a democratic society?

        Until 2) becomes the preferred route (or something like it) we will always live in fear of our political and economic masters. So we need to fix this, really, before it gets out of hand.

      3. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        There are devoutly religious men who can't or won't be silenced. These will either have god's protection or there is no god. For how else will both Muslims and Christians obey the prophet/son of god when he said what you hear whispered in secret, shout from the mountain tops?

      4. Dave 15 Silver badge

        And how good is it anyway

        After all in ww2 the BBC sent a message in the news that alerted all the resistance to the dday invasion but the Germans missed it. Perhaps taking my auntie a cake just baked could mean taking a bomb to blow up the queen...

      5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Experience shows mass surveillance results in

        ... money and power to those conducting it, regardless of the utility of the information obtained. Thus it will not go away.

      6. Mark 65 Silver badge

        It may continue to happen.

        It does not have to happen.

        Experience shows mass surveillance results in a poor signal to noise ratio and the real targets, even if identified, are soon forgotten in the chase for more information.

        Yes, but show me the leader and party with so few skeletons in the closet that they are prepared to meet GCHQ and/or the police head on and shut this all down.

    2. relmasian

      Agree but ...

      I have to agree with what moiety posted:

      "Problem is, everyone's doing it and to stop doing it would put you at a significant disadvantage, so it's not going to happen."

      However, I disagree with moiety that "it's vitally important for it to remain illegal." Instead, what should be illegal is the use of the gathered information for anything but national security purposes. That way, the information can be gathered while private citizens can keep their private activities as secret as if the information had never been tapped, even if the private citizens were communicating moral failures, such as adultery, and even criminal behavior. Lawyers, medical doctors, psychologists, and other professionals already operate under similar aimed at protecting confidential client information. Spooks could operate under similar rules.

      1. moiety

        Re: Agree but ...

        @relmasian - That might work better than keeping the whole thing illegal - it's achievable and the spies wouldn't have to lose any toys.

        But even there and even if the spooks agreed to abide by the rules; is there anyone capable of believing them? They've been feeding us a bunch of massive porkies since the 1960s, at least.

        I don't believe the spooks are going to stop; become responsible; or limit their power in any way voluntarily. And before you all reach for the downvote button again (I took a bit of a panning up there) it's not because I approve of the fuckers, it's because of the nature of the beast. That's what they do - they break laws and lie about it afterwards.

        "So we can bitch about it on the internet until they realise the error of their ways and become good citizens". Doubt it.

        The only way to stop it is if we all habitually use enough encryption to make blanket surveillance uneconomic; but I doubt that'll happen either. Encryption is hard. And you only have to fuck up once and you're compromised...another of those "they only have to be lucky once whereas you have to be lucky all the time" things. In the absence of an easy-to-use encrypted comms package like in Cryptonomicon people just aren't going to bother.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Agree but ...

        Spooks could operate under similar rules.

        I find your abundance of faith disturbing.

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    David Owen

    "I eventually relented. But one of my reasons for doing so was that I was given an absolute promise that the case would be heard in camera"

    So he was uncomfortable about persecuting journalists openly but quite happy for it to happen secretly. The first purpose of the surveillance society is to keep such morally void gits in positions of "power" where they will meekly do as they are told, Any additional "security" that may accrue is an accidenal by-product.

  4. Blank-Reg

    A most excellent article and I can't give enough respect for being as tenacious and thorough as Duncan. Hero gets bandied about a lot these days, but I think Duncan qualifies for that. There's one thing that NSA, GCHQ and their ilk hates - attention. They hate being watched, questioned, investigated and debated. I can imagine the rage and frustration at every new Snowdon revelation and the recent revelations that aren't Snowdon's are probably introducing a little fear. Yes you shower, we're paying attention and watching for you now. See how you like it and, unlike us, you do have something to fear.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Marco Fontani

      Re: URL error?

      > I get blocked as "bot" by Cloudflare if I click on corrections.

      The pre-filled "mailto:" links? I'm very curious has to how this happens to you. Could you get more info and get in touch at webmaster@ ? Cheers!

  6. scrubber
    Holmes

    Foresight

    Those guys in the 60's knew there's be an existential threat to the west posed by Islamist extremists in 2015 so they set up a system of interception back then so it'd be perfected by now to protect us.

    Either that or they're using terrorism as a convenient excuse to keep doing what they've always done: spy on innocent civilians.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Foresight

      "The European Parliament then mandated extensive action against mass surveillance. Their recommendations were passed in full on 5 September, 2001.

      Six days later, the Twin Towers in New York came down. Any plans for limiting mass surveillance were buried with the victims of 9/11, and never formally published."

      One might almost say... too convenient.

    2. zhveurnq

      Re: Foresight

      > Those guys in the 60's knew there's be an existential threat to the west posed by Islamist extremists in > 2015 so they set up a system of interception back then so it'd be perfected by now to protect us.

      Because clearly the 60s were devoid of existential threats to .. er .. democracy, real or exaggerated.

  7. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Where are the OBEs?

    They knew the risks and slowly, carefully did their job to protect our freedom in a responsible way.

    Heroes.

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Where are the OBEs?

      Knighthoods surely.

      1. John G Imrie Silver badge

        Knighthoods

        In their position I wouldn't let any one in authority near me with a sword.

    2. Bob H

      Re: Where are the OBEs?

      There is a great episode in series one of Yes Minister about Honors that applies here...

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: Where are the OBEs?

      Labour and Tories each have their own quota of honours they can propose people for.

      Which do you think is going to propose someone who'd been a thorn in the flesh of both of them?

      The Lib Dems are about the only party who'd even think of it, and I don't know if they still even have a voice...

      1. Fat Northerner

        Re: Where are the OBEs?

        As far as I'm concerned the government uses the honours system to keep people quiet. It's bribery imo.

  8. Aoyagi Aichou
    Big Brother

    I don't even know anyore.

    So what's worse, (mega)corporations slurping every bit of data they can get their hands on to use it for profit and providing it to unknown third parties (which includes state bodies), or (multi)national associations doing unknown level of surveillance in the name of "security" with the potential for political abuse?

    I'm asking because I see a very notable imbalance in interest between the two.

    Obligatory BigB.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I don't even know anyore.

      They're merging so it seems. As corporates take over control, the likes of NSA and GHCQ will become merely redundant or possibly finding a new role using data fed to them from the corporates. Yes, I believe "freedom" as we know it is more restrictive than "freedom" as some of our ancestors knew it and will be something else down the road a bit.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: I don't even know anyore.

        They're both bad in different ways, but the spooks were getting data from Google et al before both with their cooperation and without their knowledge. They probably still get some via various means, and will constantly and continually seek access to more. Preventing Google and friends from gathering and storing so much information about us is important not just for its own sake, but for the sake of protecting us from others getting their hands on the data.

        Between my country and my country's "friends" like the UK having access to data about, corporations like Google having access to data about me, and less unfriendly or unfriendly countries like China and North Korea having access to data about me, I'd prefer the latter. North Korea can't do anything to me unless I visit there, but I have to live in the US and have visited and wish to continue visit the UK, so those countries definitely can do something to me.

        Some things I did as a teenager, had I been caught, would have at most had the cops over to talk to me to warn me to stop, and my parents grounding me for a while. If a teenager did them today he'd be arrested, expelled from school, and referred to the FBI as a potential terrorist. Had I been caught back then and got the proverbial slap on the wrist, I'd have something "on my record" that perhaps combined with writing posts like that critical of the status quo, would have resulted in me being put on a terrorist watch list (given that reports say over 1% of the US population is on some level of watch list, the bar must be pretty low)

        It used to be a joke when teachers warned "that will go on your permanent record" that no one ever had to worry about something they did in 7th grade following them around for the rest of their life. That is no longer true, and what's worse somethign you did in the past that was entirely legal could be viewed in a very different light by a future government that is less free (and let's face it, neither the US or the UK have been trending in anything but a "less free" direction) If you have a legal abortion today, but the religious right in the US was able to take control and enacted the Christian version of Sharia law in a few decades, that legal abortion might result in your execution.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't even know anyore.

      AES-256 everywhere, every purchase, every email, every phone call, every text, every everything. Make them work for it......

      1. hhhobbit

        Re: I don't even know anyore.

        AES-256? Everywhere? You are not going to get something that powerful in https. But ...

        gpg --edit-key C83946F0

        Command> showpref

        [ultimate] (1). Henry Hertz Hobbit (Legal David A Harvey) <hhhobbit@securemecca.net>

        Cipher: TWOFISH, CAMELLIA256, CAMELLIA192, CAMELLIA128, BLOWFISH, CAST5, 3DES

        Digest: SHA256, SHA512, SHA1, SHA384

        Compression: Uncompressed

        Features: MDC, Keyserver no-modify

        [ultimate] (2) Henry Hertz Hobbit (Legal David A Harvey) <hhhobbit@securemecca.com>

        Cipher: TWOFISH, CAMELLIA256, CAMELLIA192, CAMELLIA128, BLOWFISH, CAST5, 3DES

        Digest: SHA256, SHA512, SHA1, SHA384

        Compression: Uncompressed

        Features: MDC, Keyserver no-modify

        I do use AES-128 as part of 7zip but you should realize that it was actually better than AES-256 several years back because AES-256 didn't do enough loops. I think Camellia-256 (created by two Japanese companies) is a better second choice to Schneier's TwoFish. I cannot even get people to use enciphering for messages that contain malware host names and then they wonder why my combination IMSP / IWSP's SMTP server rejects their message. The killer was when somebody tried to mail me their program for handling hosts files on Windows 7 as an EXE. It didn't even make it to my IMSP's SMTP server because it got blocked on the sending end. Now he rars it with a password and it sails right on through. Couldn't he have just used ZIP with a password? I have no man page for rar / unrar. We are just avoiding SMTP issues and they still won't use encryption inless they absolutely must use it. NOBODY will use encryption with me. Well, my downloads are signed if they ever want to verify that they came from me. But you have a lot of trusting sheeple these days.

  9. Spasticus Autisticus
    Big Brother

    Menwith Hill Station

    I remember a Mark Thomas program where he found out that there was no no-fly zone over the Menwith Hill giant golf balls and organised a large number of hot-air balloons to over fly the station. Plod weren't very pleased - like a lot of things Mark does so brilliantly. I don't remember when the program aired but I'm fairly sure ECHELON was mentioned then too.

    1. Bob H

      Re: Menwith Hill Station

      To be fair though Mark Thomas is a bit of a knob (not Brian Cox's spelling). He once turned up at JFB Corsham demanding to be let in and shown the secret tunnels under it. A very nice press relations officer came to the gate and said something along the lines of "Mr Thomas, if you put in a formal request we'll gladly take you down there, but you can't just turn up unannounced", he then cried about them hiding things while she responded that they'd happily show him if he'd only get an appointment.

      Having visited JFB Corsham myself and having met people who have been down there I see he was making a fuss about nothing. The tunnels under Corsham have been abandoned and neglected for many years since they were a Cold War bolt-hole. Mark Thomas went down in my estimation after that, and I was also unimpressed by his giving detailed instructions on how to attack the UK's strategic fuel pipelines, even if that wasn't a major threat it was inconsiderate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Menwith Hill Station

      The golf balls haven't been in use for over twenty years which is well before the program. Local plod wouldn't have cared.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Menwith Hill Station

      Mark Thomas Comedy Product, Series 3 Episode 7, Menwith Hil, 1999. 25 minutes.

      You know where to look.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fascinating, Terrifying and, farcical in equal part.

    The fact that it's so farcical at times may make it all the more terrifying.

  11. Little Mouse

    It works even better with John Cleese and Graham Chapman voices....

    JC: Is that the name of your unit?

    GC: I cannot answer that question, that is a secret.

    JC: Is that the board which passersby on the main road see outside your unit's base?

    GC: Yes.

    JC: Read it out to the jury, please.

    GC: I cannot do that. It is a secret.

    You couldn't make it up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It does sound farcical, however there is a reasonable explanation. If he was told not to reveal which organisation he worked for by his bosses. Then the above conversation when taken in context is perfectly correct. Because if he read it out it would then be in "open record" and he'd get a bollocking.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        there is a reasonable explanation

        ... for sufficiently small values of "reasonable".

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          This is a Major Major Major Major moment!

  12. Snowy

    Nice article...

    [quote]The European Parliament then mandated extensive action against mass surveillance. Their recommendations were passed in full on 5 September, 2001.

    Six days later, the Twin Towers in New York came down. Any plans for limiting mass surveillance were buried with the victims of 9/11, and never formally published. But proof of ECHELON become available.[/quote]

    The timing of that looks rather hmmm interesting

    1. Identity
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Nice Article (9/11)

      One could, perhaps, be forgiven for branding me a conspiracy theorist (though after this article, you have to wonder). I would suggest the anyone interested look for the film "Loose Change," which is available free (and virally) online. Pay particular attention to "Operation Northstar,' which dates from when all this began.

      1. phil dude
        Joke

        Re: Nice Article (9/11)

        @Identity You are Ricky Gervais and I claim my $5.

        P.

    2. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: Nice article...

      Nice tinfoil hattery, but 9-11 was not about the WTC, other than as a symbol of "US Decadence". The Pentagon was targeted, and hit as well, and there's one case of death-defying classic heroism that prevented either the White House, Congress/Senate or for that matter anything else in that vicinity of symbolic importance to be hit as well.

      As an almost offhanded remark the utter irony and sarcasm of that short sentence : "Six days later, the Twin Towers in New York came down." probably passes you by, which is a shame, really, but let me spell it out for you:

      Despite the massive surveillance, and the known entity of a home-grown terrorist organisation ( never forget that Al-Queda is the abortive bastard child of the US/CIA meddling in that part of the world..) , all "intelligence agencies" completely missed the planning and execution of the most massive "act-of-war" operation to date. The spotting of which those agencies were specifically called into being for to begin with.

      Meanwhile, as the article shows, those agencies were quite capable and willing to harrass a civilian domestic journalist who happened to threaten their Status Quo, so it isn't that they could not spot and track anyone they were interested in.

      So you end up with a massive breach of civil liberty and fundamental law, under a system that has proven ineffective several times over at performing its mandated duty, while showing clear and undisputed evidence of being used for unmandated and unlawful activities.

      And yes, this should be Questioned.

      1. theOtherJT

        Re: Nice article...

        @Grikath

        A person only slightly more cynical than me might suggest that they did know, and saw an opportunity to be exploited where any non sociopath would see a disaster to be averted.

        I still don't believe that's the case, but for every day that passes I'm more and more concerned that the reason for this is more that I don't want to live in a world where that sort of thing is true, and less that it's ridiculous and utterly implausible.

        1. Grikath Silver badge

          Re: Nice article... @theOtherJT

          It depends, really. When it comes to 9-11 , enough relatively non-biased information is out there to put the blame for that one squarely at interdepartmental infighting and Hubris.

          The individual pieces of information about what was going on were there. Them being gathered by old-fashioned legwork, and part coming from non-UK Europe made important people either dismmiss the info, or the bits were, at the moment of "impact", still circulating in the System, waiting for Assessment. So when it comes to the human drama of what happened on that day, you're actually looking at human incompetence. The System has become more important than the Job. That that System (still) incorporates the Fossils from the Cold War era well entrenched into the upper echelons who seem to be unable to live with the fact that the damned thing is over does not help, but those peeps would not allow anything To Touch Sacred US Soil. Too much of their reputation depends on it. In that sense they're the US version of the Brit Nobby Circuit.

          And really, if you look carefully at the article, the dissatisfaction about the Rot in the System that caused Snowden to go public is nothing new. The article spans decades of like-frustrated people willing to address the same issue publicly. It's simply that they could not get the exposure the modern internet allows these things since, ultimately, just the past decade. They were limited to print. Snowden had the Internet.

    3. Tridac

      Re: Nice article...

      One has to ask, if they monitored and thus knew everything, why were they not aware that 9/11 was about to happen ?. Cynic might say that perhaps they didn't want to, in the same way that Churchill might not have shared intel, that then brought the US into WWII. International politics can be a dirty business and not for the faint hearted. It's no use wringing hands and bleating about the rules, if the opponent ignores then to advantage.

      Some monitoring is obviously necessary, with ISIS and other groups at the gates of Europe. Some of them will eventually get through. As for the data, if you want to see the size of the task, just look up the data flow per hour on the internet worldwide. I doubt if they could monitor more than a small fraction of that, much of which will be encrypted anyway. Targetted intercept is the only way it can work and I doubt if they are really that interested in the colour of your other half's shorts :-)...

      1. Fat Northerner

        Re: Nice article...

        The science had been invented to allow them to establish it would happen.

        There's been documentary after documentary which has clarified this.

        I think the most pertinent one contains a line, I paraphrase, "We knew everything about these guys, names, dob, history, allegiances etc. What we didn't know was that they were on the US soil at the time."

        The people that protect us, (and despite me never having worked for any of them, I still believe that they are there for that, despite having the view of several miscarriages of justice which were necessary for the bigger picture,) had in the previous two years asked if they could test new developments in mathematics, because they were finding it very difficult to identify IT aware nutters using conventional means.

        The US senate refused permission in 1999. This was on the BBC. The US Senate was full of the same kinds of people who populate most parliaments, e.g. non scientific, ego centricists, but they did do their job of protecting civil liberties.

        It was an inevitable consequence of an IT aware Al Queda, that sooner or later the senate's refusal to allow exclusion based geo-locint, would result in a catastrophe, and the whole Big Data science has been a state sponsored attempt to harness the world's brains to find nutters, in my opinion.

        I will go to my grave, hopefully a long time from now, still supporting these people, despite terrible miscarriages of justice, because the cost benefit analysis shows we are better off with them, especially if they have to justify themselves.

        There have been dozens of documentaries which reference the Senate's refusal to allow geo-loc analysis on nutters, largely because had they done it, they'd have found them.

  13. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    Meh.

    Look, hate to break it to you but for most of the world, the governments do spy (surveillance) their own citizens on a regular basis. Not a real shocker is it?

    The issue is what do they do with the information that they gathered.

    That's the key issue.

    Secondary is why are they have someone under surveillance in the first place.

    The larger irony in today's world is that many of the posters who feign outrage forget how much of their personal life they freely give to corporations who can do much more than what any government could do while restricted by law.

    Think about that for a while.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Meh.

      Yes, there are people who give up their personal life to corporations, however there is an enormous difference : they do it by their own choice.

      They use their freedom to conduct their lives as they see fit. Misguidedly, perhaps, but it is their freedom to do so.

      Comparing that silliness, which is and always has been public knowledge, with the Stasi-like efforts of paranoid "security" organisations that slurp everything without consent and are one step away from blindfolding and shooting behind the shed anyone who has the courage to speak up is utterly ridiculous.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        @Pascal Re: Meh.

        Choice?

        That's debatable.

        There was a joke back in the 80's. Before the wall came down.

        An Amerikan biz man goes to Russia. (Brings two suitcases. One with some magazines and blue jeans, another with his work clothes. )

        He gets to his hotel room.

        He talks loudly that this place is crap, the heater isn't working.

        5 min later... a man shows up with a work order to fix the heater. ;-)

        Again while many may excuse corporate America for spying on us as saying we allow it, that's not quite true. I don't use Google and my Friend's company uses a google vanity domain for their company.

        Now Google knows me.

        You don't take steps to block some of the invasive tech... Facebook.net on a web site... maybe here. So even if I don't have a FB account, they are capturing data about me. I have to go to NoScript and turn scripts on and off. The point is that you have less control.

        The irony is that the Feds have more restrictions on what they can do with the data, how they must treat the data, and how they can join the data... breaking these rules can lead to jail time.

        As to why... there really are bad people who want to kill you because you are different than them. I for one enjoy a multi-cultural community where everyone is equal until they prove themselves to be an A hole. ;-)

        Sorry, but when you have people blowing themselves up and killing people... I'll accept limited snooping if it means I can sleep safe and bomb free.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: @Pascal Meh.

          Americans have little choice in the matter, because there is virtually no privacy protection as a consumer. We are better protected from our own government's spying. Even though the government has often been revealed as breaking or skirting the law, at least there are laws. The US has nothing like the equivalent of the EU data protection laws.

          It is supposed that we can choose the companies we do business with based on this, since they are forced to disclose privacy policies with those they do business with. Those privacy policies often say they'll collect and share "relevant" personal data to "various" third parties they do business with. Basically they mean nothing, and say anything they can get their hands on (which you can't get a list of) they'll collect and they'll share with anyone they have a business relationship with (and you can't get a list of them either) When Google Street View cars were found to be sniffing wifi SSIDs and passwords and logging them against addresses people were outraged, and Google quickly backtracked and made excuses, but that only happened because the public found out this was happening. If they hadn't, that information would undoubtedly still be collected today.

          Somehow over a billion people now trust that same company to have closed source components on a device they carry with them nearly everywhere they go. I'm sure if it was revealed exactly what all Android collects and reports back to Google, there would be greater outrages, but so long as Google can keep the worst abuses secret, they are following their stated privacy policy and no one can complain about what they don't know!

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: I'll accept limited snooping if it means I can sleep safe and bomb free

          One of your own said it better than I ever will be able to :

          "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"

          But hey, personal comfort is more important than freedom, eh ?

          Don't worry, you're getting exactly what you deserve.

        3. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: @Pascal Meh.

          "Sorry, but when you have people blowing themselves up and killing people... I'll accept limited snooping if it means I can sleep safe and bomb free." -- Ian Michael Gumby

          We have pretty much established that limited snooping does not mean you can sleep safe and bomb free, so your statement isn't really very useful. Do you mean you would accept vastly more snooping, i.e., the amount that would allow you to sleep safe and bomb free? I think the amount of snooping required to achieve that is effectively unlimited. Or do you mean that you won't accept any snooping at all if it doesn't allow you to sleep safe and bomb free? Both positions seem ridiculous, but if you don't hold either of them your conditional statement is effectively content free.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        Re: Meh.

        "Yes, there are people who give up their personal life to corporations, however there is an enormous difference : they do it by their own choice."

        No, not always.

        You send a friend an email to his gmail account. Now Google has you on their radar.

        Facebook? A friend posts a photo of you and your face gets tagged. Now Facebook starts to track you even though you don't have an account. Don't disable scripts on the webpage and they embed a facebook script... they now track you, just like google.

        As to the government... they have a duty to protect you. And you could always move away...

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Meh.

      "

      The larger irony in today's world is that many of the posters who feign outrage forget how much of their personal life they freely give to corporations who can do much more than what any government could do while restricted by law.

      Think about that for a while.

      "

      OK, I've thought about it. As an analogy: If you were to decide to stay indoors and not leave your house for a week, that would be perfectly OK. If your neighbour were to imprison you in your house for a week, that would not be OK. It is a real pity that so many people cannot see any difference between the two scenarios, but consider only that because the person's actual situation is the same in both cases they must be equivalent.

    3. Stork Bronze badge

      Re: Meh.

      Look, I hate to break it to you but in most of the western World there are actually rules (e.g. US constitution) against that sort of thing. If you want to open letters or bug phone lines, you need a warrant.

      I am in principle ok with that; with a general data slurp, not so much.

      One problem is that even if (a big if) the current slurpers are ok, who says the next ones are? To give you an example:

      In the 30es, the Danish secret police had kept registers over members of the (legal) communist party. By then perhaps not unreasonable, as the declared aims of the communists were not much aligned with the Danish constitution.

      As you may know, in 1940 the political situation changed and the secret police brought the register as a welcome present to Gestapo, who found it very useful. 22 died in a concentration camp.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        @Stork ... Re: Meh.

        There are laws, but its not necessarily to do with the snooping but with what they do with the data.

        At the same time... there are holes in the laws... capturing pen data (the data surrounding the phone call) is legal. There are SCOTUS cases which explain why there is no expectation of privacy.

        The mass collection is a bit grey, but it falls on this side of the legal line.

        Merging the data with other sources of PII would be illegal. The NSA locked the data down for this reason.

    4. Fat Northerner

      Re: Meh.

      I agree completely.

      My government can know everything about me, (and it does.)

      It's what it does with the information that's important.

  14. arctic_haze Silver badge

    ECHELON and 9/11

    ECHELON did nothing to stop 9/11 not because of some absurd conspiracy. I believe the reason was rather the combination of low tech / paranoid terrorists and complacent intelligence agencies which listened to every international phone call instead of infiltrating the group which already once tried to blow up the WTC.

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: ECHELON and 9/11

      I agree... sort of. I mean, I agree about incompetent spooks and paranoid terrorists and the implausibility of conspiricy. I can't yet bring myself to believe that the state - either ours or the Americans - would be complicit in that monstrosity.

      But... but... what would they be complicit in? Assisting to cover up child abuse because it puts a powerful person in their pocket for life? I'm pretty sure I could believe they'd do that. What about arresting Journalists and holding them without trial if they threaten to expose things that might weaken their powers? Is that impossible? Do we think they might be prepared to try people in secret courts on charges they can't possibly defend themselves against because they are also secret? Are we at a point where that could happen; where that has happened?

      No, I don't believe the NSA brought down the twin towers. I am positively terrified that if they're not controlled now, some descendent of that agency might be prepared to do something like it in the future... and I'm terrified of all the little baby steps they might take on their way there.

    2. Fat Northerner

      Re: ECHELON and 9/11

      As was said before, on a BBC documentary... They were listening to their calls, they just didn't know they were already in the US.

  15. batfink
    Black Helicopters

    Wrong targets

    I also get angry each time I read some blithe statement from the pollies or securocrats which starts on the basis that anti-terrorism is the be-all and end-all of the state.

    By some logic which I fail to follow, it seems acceptable to throw billions of £ and introduce mass surveillance "because terrorism". Despite the best efforts of the lunatics out there who carry out the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the like, very few people in the west are killed by terrorism. Yes, it's terrible for the victims and their families, but why is this regarded as worthy of the current over-reaction, when things that actually kill a lot more people (such as road accidents) get almost no attention or money? I'm sure the families of those killed on the roads are equally as bereft and traumatised as those who have lost loved ones in terrorist attacks.

    So, why are we told that it's ok to bring in mass surveilance for one problem, but not for more serious ones? I can imagine the reaction if the gummint proposed to track every driver on the road...

    1. clanger9

      Re: Wrong targets

      > So, why are we told that it's ok to bring in mass surveilance for one problem, but not for more serious ones?

      Simple. Terrorism threatens politicians' well-being. Car accidents threaten yours.

  16. bullsballs

    Put a stop to it...

    If we were to start broadcasting false info with the target words and terror threat to the government,

    you can bet the bomb that the auto detect software could start linking your name to those threats.

    Just like this website asks for your email then asks if you wish to post anonymously, it is such a joke, that is why you have several false email accounts to spread your dissent to those running the government.

    For those who still believe voting matters, look to the American system. You can see the pattern over and over, where those in power are voted out, and the new party comes in and continues the same path as the opposition before were pursuing.

    Until we can terminate those in power with extreme prejudice, and ensure those replacing the corrupt politicians will face the same threats, we will never see the end of corruption.

    Copy and paste messages like this every time you make an email and cell phone call, will plug up the system and neuter those seeking to data mine the communications networks. Make it take thousands of operatives to trace one flow of misinformation.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Put a stop to it...

      Until we can terminate those in power with extreme prejudice, and ensure those replacing the corrupt politicians will face the same threats, we will never see the end of corruption.

      Doesn't work.

      The Russians did it in 1917, and within a generation they had corruption on a scale the Tsar had never dreamed of. The French did it in 1789, and found a similar result. More recently we've seen it happen in Uganda, Zimbabwe...

      The more "extreme prejudice" you apply to the old regime, the more devious the new ones will be. For all its faults, voting is the only way that has any chance of working.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Put a stop to it...

      Copy and paste messages like this every time you make an email and cell phone call, will plug up the system and neuter those seeking to data mine the communications networks.

      Ah. something like this.

      There used to be an Emacs plugin for Usenet posting back when the two Kevins were a thing, but I can't remember (ruffles around in Phrack magazine archive... dissociated press? no that's not it)

      Well, I didn't find it but I found this in 1996

      Catching glimpses of shadowy enemies at every turn, (crying CIA guy) Deutch characterized them (hackers) as operating from the deep cover of classified programs in pariah states. Truck bombs aimed at the telephone company, electronic assaults by "paid hackers" are likely to be part of the arsenal of anyone from the Lebanese Hezbollah to "nameless . . . cells of international terrorists such as those who attacked the World Trade Center." ... Restated, intelligence director Deutch pronounced in June there was classified evidence that hackers are in league with Libya and Iran and that countries around the world are plotting plots to attack the U.S. through information warfare. But the classified data is and was, at best, anecdotal gossip -- hearsay, bullshit -- assembled by perhaps a handful of individuals working haphazardly inside the labyrinth of the intelligence community. There is no real threat assessment to back up the Deutch claims. Can anyone say _bomber gap_?

      Oh yeah. T'was ever thus. And China was not yet on the USAsian map ...

  17. nilfs2
    Big Brother

    The main purpose of mass surveillance is not security

    Information is power, and power is money.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: The main purpose of mass surveillance is not security

      Power is power. That's good enough.

      I find powerful operators also grabbing the millions as a side-dish just disgusting.

  18. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Instead of spending money on combatting terrorism, we could *save* a load of money by not waging war on countries that are no threat to us, and thus most of the anti-UK terror groups would never be formed in the first place. Not that I believe that the "anti-terror" justification for the surveillance has anything to do with the truth. My guess is that the primary purpose is to gather *financial* information so that the economy can be better manipulated for the benefit of those in power.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @Cynic...

      I suggest you look at the isolationist policies of the US in the 1930's.

      Then consider the fact that Radical Islam doesn't care about you wanting to live your life in peace. They want a world dominated by their views on Islam and are willing to enslave you, kill you for not believing or converting to their beliefs.

      Do you need a refresher of the word in 1936-1945?

      There's more, but I don't want to upset you with the fact that yes, there are people who want to harm you because you look different, think different and have different beliefs. And its not just Radical Islam.

      1. Uffish

        Re: @Cynic...

        I just downvoted you because I think you are indulging in a bit of irrelevant rabble rousing.

        Mass surveillance won't reliably find terrorists , for the reasons admirably explained in an earlier post. Mass surveillance does work for other purposes than protecting you and me from assassins (for example, it works for Google et al). That is the reason to be very wary of uncontrolled mass surveillance.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Fascinating and chilling article.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Chilling indeed

      This is not about Soviet Russia, nor Nazi Germany.

      This happened in a country priding itself in being a beacon of civilization, a bastion of good education. In the end, totalitarianism starts with well-intentioned people who are given too much leeway to decide what can be done about something.

      It is frightening to think that the courage that these three people demonstrated would never had been known if the true nature of State Security went its logical course : a bullet in the head in some dark, bricked basement. All in the name of National Security, of course.

      The watchers need to be watched a lot better.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fylindales

    This is the listening station in North Yorkshire: the 'golf balls' on the moors.

    These were, we were told, to listen to the Russians and that was a story that we all believed until some local once told me that the reason for the golf ball shaped covers was so that we couldn't see which direction the radars were really pointing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fylindales

      You really are that simple minded.

      Do you even know what type of radar was in place? What it actually looked Like?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fylindales

      You don't mean the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) at Fylingdales do you? The system up there isn't for mass surveillance and if had actually read the article you'd have some clue as to where in Yorkshire you should be talking about.

      Reminds me of the prosecution of two of the Menwith Hill protesters where BT were called to give evidence. BT did give evidence but only for one day as they sent another lawyer (I think they already had two in court) the next day to talk to the judge about the national security implications of allowing more revelations. The judge then had to tell Mr Morris, who at the time was BT's head of emergency planning, not to give any more evidence about what cables went into Menwith Hill. The evidence that was already in the public domain was already let out of the bag and the judge was not pleased with BT.

      Evidence that was released included the capacity of the cables running to and from the base etc.

  21. wyatt

    I'll never forget as a child my dad telling me what Flyingdales was for, that was in the 80's! I'm amazed it has taken so long for eveything to become known, what else dont we know??

    1. BobRocket

      @wyatt - 'what else dont we know??'

      Lots of stuff about Northern Ireland including state sponsored terrorism, corruption (financial and political), systemic paedophilia.

      It is less than 30 years since Good Friday, the bodies are still warm.

  22. Zmodem

    it was confirmed in 1999 by the austrialian government and in 2000 by the us

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

  23. EL Vark

    Thank You

    There are times, too many times, I fear, when I'm prepared to write off El Reg as yet another quasi-reactionary e-rag; from the apparently endless attacks on climate science (far from merely pointing out flaws and malfeasance) to the too frequent virtually Objectivist articles on economics. Were it not for Simon Travaglia, I might have jumped ship some time back. Then you stiffen both knees and upper lip and run a masterpiece by Duncan Campbell. Well done.

  24. JimboSmith Silver badge

    Good article!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Related news

    This story and Duncan Campbell are inspiring.

    Another recent and fairly well-written bit, linked following, seems generally apropos given the audience and the topic here - http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/31/julian-assange-the-untold-story-of-an-epic-struggle-for-justice/ - I know, I know - take it as you will.

    Posting anon simply because I'm not in the mood (or too tired/lazy) to deal with the possible blow back in comments.

  26. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Dumb and Dumber Still Do as Stupid Does

    Is the Wilson Doctrine being adhered to by the police and security services and still expected to be by executive Parliamentary systems administrations? If it is then are they all surely undoubtedly guilty to being actively passive accessories both before and after the fact in a conspiracy to subvert and pervert the course of justice, law and order?

    And surely you aren't still thinking y'all are partaking of a democracy. ... https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/30/jimmy-carter-u-s-oligarchy-unlimited-political-bribery/ That would be so quaint and naive and really dumb and stupid of y'all too if the truth was told.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dumb and Dumber Still Do as Stupid Does

      "Is the Wilson Doctrine being adhered to by the police and security services and still expected to be by executive Parliamentary systems administrations?"

      Have you been away recently?

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/24/the_wilson_doctrine_is_dead_your_mps_must_be_spied_on_says_qc/

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Dumb and Dumber Still Do as Stupid Does @AC

        And this is recently reported on the matter too, AC ....... New Rules, There are No Rules…… answering the question adequately enough.

    2. Fat Northerner

      Re: Dumb and Dumber Still Do as Stupid Does

      "Is the Wilson Doctrine being adhered to by the police and security services and still expected to be by executive Parliamentary systems administrations?"

      Hahahahaha!

  27. tom dial Silver badge

    An anonymous coward suggested above that there are two fundamental alternatives in the context of signals surveillance:

    "1) Monitor everyone (or try to)

    2) Target the surveillance, legally."

    A question that has occurred to me from time to time is this: In an environment in which a very large amount of communication occurs within the internet infrastructure, is there an operational definition of (2) that would distinguish it from (1)? Put differently, is it possible to accomplish the second without also effectively configuring for and to a very large degree doing the first?

    For example, if the FBI has a warrant issued by a US court in, say, Manhattan, that gives them the authority to target the communication of a US national thought to be planning a terrorist attack in, say, Washington, DC, how much communication traffic will they need to access, examine (programmatically or by hand), and filter to track the individual's cell phone, email, and land line communications if he or she is in the United States? If a targeted person travels to the West coast or abroad, how much additional traffic will need to be examined and filtered to attain the goals of the warrant? If a few hundreds or thousands of such individual targets are subject to collection, for the sake of argument all based on properly justified and issued warrants, the required collection and filtering structure is likely to begin to resemble XKEYSCORE and related downstream analytic programs. What if it is, in addition, a collaborative arrangement built up to support similar warrant execution requirements levied on the other Five Eyes agencies by their governments and designed to adapt to a set of targets that varies over time?

    Terrorism surveillance, however, is not the only and probably not the largest goal of the signals intelligence agencies. We know, or certainly should, that foreign intelligence agencies seek a wide variety of information about many subjects of interest in formulating foreign and military policy, and that they target officials of foreign governments with little restraint to obtain it. They do so by various means that include electronic and other eavesdropping that are legal according to the laws under which they operate, although often quite illegal under the laws of the targeted country. The methods, procedures, and technical arrangements used for foreign intelligence electronic data collection are essentially indistinguishable from those used for execution of warrants against individuals.

    I won't argue about whether such activities are morally correct, a question about which there is an enormous range of opinion when it gets down to details; under the laws of the country that does them, however, they probably are legal. My point is that either of the basic alternatives described seems to lead to the same result: a capability to gain access to a large part of the internet data stream together with processes to filter and select the data of interest out of it.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Enigma 2 Codebreakers .... are Artificial Intelligence Workers?

      The bottom line, tom dial, for all into maintaining command and control of systems in administration, and you can accept all interpretations of what that, systems in administration, implies and reveals, is that the search for truths must be policed and mentored and monitored so that the virtual reality of situations and events are not compromised and upstaged by those who and/or that which offers an alternative and more compelling comprehensive view which cannot be denied or evidenced not to exist.

      Catch 22 Lives and Rules Reigns in CyberSpace? Yes, and IT does it extremely well too.

  28. web_bod
    Facepalm

    Why endure such a hard life?

    If he'd named and abandoned his sources then he could have retired to a comfy couch in the Ecuadorian embassy and have people venerate his name.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great article

    Probably the most fascinating read in a while.

    Whilst I'm well aware of what apparently goes on today I had little knowledge of the beginning.

    Well done.

  30. Eponymous Cowherd
    Big Brother

    Great insight

    This gives a great insight into the mindset of those who desire wholesale surveillance of the entire population's Internet activity.

    We (IT pros) all know that the whole "snoopers' charter" thing is a huge expensive white elephant that just, plain, will not do anything to "protect" us from the terrorists. Irrespective of any civil liberties and/or human rights issues, it is a pointless waste of money.

    But the spooks and their Civil Servant bosses are so used to being able to snoop on who they like, when they like, with no Judicial oversight, that they cannot bear to lose that power. The trouble is that freely available strong encryption seriously puts a spanner in their works., and the great unwashed are now more aware than ever about the way Governments spy on them and how encryption can protect them from this. Hence Cameron's latest turd-spurt regarding getting it banned / regulated ( despite that being akin to trying to ban farting in public ).

    The article also makes it precisely clear who are the bosses and who are the minions and neatly explains why successive governments and home secretaries all go down the illiberal Big Brother route as soon as they get into power. They are merely doing what they are told do to like good little boys and girls.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Great insight

      The article also makes it precisely clear who are the bosses and who are the minions and neatly explains why successive governments and home secretaries all go down the illiberal Big Brother route as soon as they get into power. They are merely doing what they are told do to like good little boys and girls. .... Eponymous Cowherd

      They are merely doing what they are told to do by whom and/or what, Eponymous Cowherd? Care to hazard a likely guess?

      And if intelligence doesn't rule and reign over everyone and everything, what does? But,more to the point would the right question be ...... why ever would intelligence tolerate something else providing future events and lead in chaos? Such would suggest frauds in high profile places of surveillance, command and control, methinks.

      And presents myriad opportunities for exploitation of an inviting vulnerability to those and or that discovered or discovering themselves to be more than just able.

  31. Fat Northerner

    Unlucky for Terrorists.

    I personally couldn't be bothered in the slightest, about plug sockets that are listening devices, phones that are tracking devices/bugs/ etc... or even enormous databases that hold all kinds of data on everyone and allow all kinds of experimental algorithmic mining to find out what everyone's motivations, hopes, wishes, and fetishes are.

    I'd even help them come up with the maths if I could.

    What does bother me is the entire concept of what they are able to then do, to people who only want best for their country, because they may have politically different, or critical views, simply because it advances their career or personal interests, with no visibility or compensation for loss.

    It is simply wrong. Not least when you see how well off, people who've basically committed child rape and murder by other people, and they've been protected too.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buy a clue

    Doesn't everyone know every country spies on other countries? Geesh.

  33. the future is back!

    this is for history books

    I think this is indeed historical - and fated to be forgotten and overlooked by many.

  34. The Dude

    Had enough yet?

    Vote Libertarian.

  35. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Pint

    A patriot,

    Duncan is. Thanks for a lifetime of heroic investigation and reporting.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "FROSTING’s two sub-programs were TRANSIENT, for all efforts against Soviet satellite targets, and..."

    Ah, Snowden and Transient may explain a lot of the reasons why certain groups were so angry over the cause of events that followed the leak. Things seem to have been rotten for a long time, and now got worse.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Citation Needed

    Dear Reg,

    So we have a big headline - "ECHELON confirmed ... by ... Snowden files" and apparently six pages discussing this juicy claim.

    Only we don't. The first four pages are yet another rehash of Mr Campbell's ABC trial experiences in the 70s and his zircon allegations from the 80s. Only then do we get two pages covering Mr C's equally well-worn echelon claims. All of this is well known to anyone with an interest in this area.

    But it's different this time - the latter claims are confirmed by Snowden, you tell us. Except, where are the links to the confirmations? The Snowden claims were extensively reported by a number of well-known media outlets but you have no links into that established body of Snowden material to confirm the quotes claimed in the article. All you have is one link at the end of the article to a blog with a copy of this article and some links to documents on a cloud sharing site that could have come from anywhere. It's hardly the same as links into the Guardian/Der Spiegel/Washington Post.

    Big claims need decent sourcing, without which you haven't got a one page story, never mind a six page story.

    no love,

    Disappointed Conspiracy Theorist

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Citation Needed

      Err, Hi, Disappointed Conspiracy Theorist and Anonymous Coward,

      Regarding your observations on the El Reg ECHELON confirmed tale, isn't that the way that the system like stories to be told to be believed.

      You'll find though that you are not alone in being disappointed with all that sort of nonsense, for it fools nobody but the fool and the puppet, and they be no danger to anyone spinning tall tales for them to follow blindly in the full glory of ignorance.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Citation Needed

      Disappointed Conspiracy Theorist

      You can go to The Intercept, there are links at the article end. For what it's worth.

      You can now go back to watching NAVY CSI arsehattery.

      The history of Yakima in an NSA historiographical newsletter? Come on NSA; just publish a book already.

      1. phil dude
        Coat

        Re: Citation Needed

        It's a shame more news media did not have citations included....

        P.

  38. Jimbo in Thailand
    Alert

    Excellent article!!! WTF was ECHELON doing on or about 9/11?

    I had no idea that illegal spying on all of us - both sides of the Atlantic - has been going on for half a century. The realization that shadow governments in both Britain and the US were already in place and mature so long ago is even more damning. I had naively thought that the 9/11 attacks had triggered most of the national-security-pro-mass-surveillance governmental paranoia/hysteria. Now we learn that this cancer had already been put in place since the1960s... OMFG!!! And what a concept that both the US and Britain's shadow governments have always worked together as butt-phucking anti-citizen's-rights partners - ignoring all laws - to spy on all of us.

    Back to the BIG question... WTF was ECHELON doing on or about 9/11? How is it even remotely possible that NSA and GCHQ, along with Adolf Netanyahoo's Unit 8200 surveillance network, were completely impotent in detecting, hence preventing, the World Trade Center attacks? The "inconvenient truth" is it's impossible that they didn't know, just like it's impossible that the creation and early existence of ISIS somehow fell under NSA/GCHQ's radar.

    The really damming revelation is that these heinous unlawful governmental mass-surveillance programs have repeatedly proven to be - totally ineffective at deadly threat detection - were never created to protect us, the lowly citizens. The real questions is: Who do they actually represent and for what purpose?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Excellent article!!! WTF was ECHELON doing on or about 9/11?

      1) Since at least Nixon (book review, book review etc.) we knew that we were up shit creek without a paddle.

      2) The paranoia of The X Files for example was not generated from thin air; it was an expression of the general feeling that there were things going on in deep state that were not kosher at all. The bizarre wheelings and dealings and civil liberty infringements of the Clinton years were like a rash slowly breaking out.

      3) I don't know whether ECHELON was involved into 9/11 but there definitely was failure of TLAs to "connect the dots" apparently more due to careerism and internal interference running than anything else. But there was also bizarre distraction noise generated by Israeli services just prior to 9/11, and we would like to read the 28 pages indeed.

      4) The "regime change in Syria" omnishambles is typical for modern governmental action. Plus currently the US is playing Al Qaeda's airforce in Yemen (for the Saudi friends) while NATO-alley Turkey is supporting ISIS to "abrade" the Kurds. It will get worse. Don't get me started on the Ukraine direct-to-video bullshit.

      Nuke icon because that's we are moving towards.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Excellent article!!! WTF was ECHELON doing on or about 9/11? .... @Jimbo in Thailand

      Sawadee krap, Jimbo in Thailand,

      Does the following audiovisual ..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsRm8M-qOjQ .... answer more than just that question?

      The much bigger question now being asked of the likes of supposed intelligent suppliers of sublime intelligence services and security and GCHQ type operations, is what do they imagine they need now to be doing better and differently in the light of everyone beginning to know how things are done/stage managed/produced and directed?

      1. Jimbo in Thailand

        @amanfrom Mars 1

        'wah-dee krup khun amanfrom Mars 1 - I agree with you and the video (thanks for the link, BTW) and the thousands of engineers and architects worldwide who believe that 9/11, like so many others, was indeed a false-flag event. Of course, that specific false flag is proof that the NSA was:

        A. either completely incompetent.

        B. somehow complicit in the attacks.

        C. Both A and B

        Then there's Israel. Obviously Israel's Mossad knew of the impending attacks since some Mossad agents were in the vicinity and observed high-fiving each other in glee - in public no less - atop a plain white van when the first jetliner struck the WTC North tower. Of course they were easily tracked down in the monster traffic jams that followed and subsequently arrested for questioning. Since Israel knew and that rogue state shares at least some info with its puppet states, the US and Britain, it follows that GCHQ also must have known. Of course the big question is WHO was really behind the attacks? That's one bit of info I wish Mr. Edward Snowden had run across and informed us all. Sadly we'll probably never know the truth. Meanwhile Echelon is alive and well.

  39. johnnygeneric

    Well, it's pretty clear that ECHELON has been a utter failure. I look back at all of the surprises that have popped up. The Iraq invasion of Kuwait is a classic example of something no one foresaw. The 9/11 disaster is another one. The bus bombings in London is another one. Should I go on?

    As usual, governments with entrenched bureaucracies are incapable of functioning properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I know - we need a market place of competing security agencies which can then be eliminated on the basis that they fail to eliminate the threats. Or something else in with the logic of "the police are imperfect therefore we need vigilantes".

  40. Tubz

    Nazis Gestapo and Stalin's NKVD would be proud !

  41. BornToWin

    Time to wake up and smell the coffee

    Is this actually news to anyone? If so you must live under a rock.

  42. hhhobbit

    Snowden reconsidered?

    <facetious> Does this mean that if Edward Snowden shows up in the UK that he won't be stoned? Even Hillary Clinton is sharpening up that machete on both the grindstone and whetstone in the USA. It cannot be authenticated but there are rumors that flakes of blood come off the blade as she is sharpening it. </facetious>

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