By Richard J Aldrich
Reviewed by Duncan Campbell
The spying game
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is the largest intelligence agency in Britain, a rank it has held since its predecessor expanded to confront coming war in 1939. Its principal task is "sigint" (signals intelligence): providing clients with information derived from intercepting, or spying on, the communications of others. Every detail of GCHQ's size, mission and methods was unknown to the public, press and most of parliament for more than half of its 70 years so far. The agency's capabilities - and, importantly, the limitations of these capabilities - are little understood.
More difficult still to foresee is the role that the new surveillance behemoth inside GCHQ's doughnut-shaped headquarters in Cheltenham may come to play as our lives and social being migrate fully into electronic form. In Britain as in the United States, the physical means to tap, track, store and assess this data are already embedded in secretly spliced optical fibre cable connections that loop around national telecommunications systems, pulling every sort of communication into an unseen nebula of data warehouses. But is this activity merely a large and super-secret version of Facebook or Google, "a vast mirror [that] reflects the spirit of the age", as this book concludes?
Richard Aldrich, an accomplished cold war intelligence historian, has taken a decade to produce the first substantial account of what is known about the agency, and what can be gleaned from recently released official archive material. He charts how, by 1964, GCHQ's demands and hidden financial allocations exceeded the entire cost of the Foreign Office. Its managers lobbied for a string of ambitious and costly projects: a nuclear-powered, aircraft-carrier-sized spy ship (never built); a small force of sky-sweeping Nimrod spy planes (flying from Lincolnshire now); and a spy satellite, Zircon (which never left the ground).
After decades of darkness, "GCHQ was unmasked in the summer of 1976", the book acknowledges, by a "path-breaking" article entitled "The eavesdroppers", which I wrote for Time Out. The agency's unwilling transition to public awareness was consolidated by the subsequent "ABC" Official Secrets Act trial of 1978, directed at myself and two others. Aldrich continues: "together Duncan Campbell and James Bamford [who wrote the first book about GCHQ's American equivalent, the NSA] have confirmed a fundamental truth: that there are no secrets, only lazy researchers". That's very kind, but I can't agree. I'll come back to that.
Behind and in front of GCHQ, there are the collectors and the recipients. The collectors use dangerous, costly means of bringing in signal intercepts: reconnaissance aircraft, special submarines, covert and uncomfortable listening stations in embassies and diplomatic missions. The recipients are the select few with clearance to see the "sensitive compartmentalised information" that is generated.
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Monday, July 5, 2010
By Richard J Aldrich
By Tom Burghardt
Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote that "war is the continuation of politics by other means." A century later, radical French philosopher Michel Foucault turned Clausewitz on his head and declared that "politics is the continuation of war by other means."
In our topsy-turvy world where truth and lies coexist equally and sociopathic business elites reign supreme, it would hardly be a stretch to theorize that cyber war is the continuation of parapolitical crime by other means.
In Speed and Politics, cultural theorist Paul Virilio argued that "history progresses at the speed of its weapons systems." With electronic communications now blanketing the globe, it was only a matter of time before our political masters, (temporarily) outflanked by the subversive uses to which new media lend themselves, would deploy what Virilio called the "integral accident" (9/11 being one of many examples) and gin-up entirely new categories of threats, "Cyber Pearl Harbor" comes to mind, from which of course, they would "save us."
That the revolving door connecting the military and the corporations who service war making is a highly-profitable redoubt for those involved, has been analyzed here at great length. With new moves to tighten the screws on the immediate horizon, and as "Change" reveals itself for what it always was, an Orwellian exercise in public diplomacy, hitting the "kill switch" serves as an apt descriptor for the new, repressive growth sector that links technophilic fantasies of "net-centric" warfare to the burgeoning "homeland security" market.
Through the Wormhole
Back in March, Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel wrote that the "biggest threat to the open internet" isn't "Chinese hackers" or "greedy ISPs" but corporatist warriors like former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.
Having retreated to his old haunt as a senior vice president with the ultra-spooky firm Booz Allen Hamilton (a post he held for a decade before joining the Bush administration), McConnell stands to make millions as Booz Allen's parent company, the secretive private equity powerhouse, The Carlyle Group, plans to take the firm public and sell some $300 million worth of shares, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
"With its deep ties to the defense establishment" the Journal notes, "Booz Allen has become embedded in a range of military operations such as planning war games and intelligence initiatives." That Carlyle Group investors have made out like proverbial bandits during the endless "War on Terror" goes without saying. With "relatively low debt levels for a leveraged buyout," the investment "has been a successful one for Carlyle, which has benefited from the U.S. government's increasing reliance on outsourcing in defense."
And with 15,000 employees in the Washington area, most with coveted top secret and above security clearances, Booz Allen's clients include a panoply of secret state agencies such as the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, NSA and the U.S. Air Force. With tentacles enlacing virtually all facets of the secretive world of outsourced intelligence, the firm has emerged as one of the major players in the cybersecurity niche market.
While McConnell and his minions may not know much about "SQL injection hacks," Singel points out that what makes this spook's spook dangerous (after all, he was NSA Director under Clinton) "is that he knows about social engineering. ... And now he says we need to re-engineer the internet."
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According to two independent sources and a CIA document, the NSA is pursuing 'spooky' spying.
(STARpod.org) -- Following the confirmation of National Security Agency involvement with the paranormal -- which was confirmed in an article published by CIA's internal journal Studies in Intelligence -- STARstream Research is re-examining a report provided to us by investigative author Gus Russo.
Russo is the credited reporter for PBS Frontline's "Who was Lee Harvey Oswald?" -- and is the author of numerous books about the JFK assassination.
In 2007, while researching a new book, Russo met with an established source who provided information about an alleged clandestine NSA psychic spy project. Although declassified government documents had identified NSA interest in paranormal phenomena in the 1970s and 1980s, it had been assumed that the shutdown of the STAR GATE psychic program by the CIA in 1995 had ended government involvement with the paranormal.
According to Russo, his source claimed to know a psychic spy "remote viewer" who was involved with NSA's paranormal projects.
Russo wrote to us, "NSA considers remote viewing a valid SIGINT tool. The program was relocated from CIA and is one of the most highly classified at NSA."
A second, independent source, already known for providing psychic data to MI5 and other British authorities, confirmed the NSA program. According to this second source, NSA stepped up their psychic spy activities following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
In 2007, Russo advised to us that his source told him the NSA program was "definitely ongoing at NSA," later adding, "The source says the program encountered problems when targets were being blocked by an extraterrestrial source that has never been identified."
Recently, I asked Russo to clarify his understanding about the extraterrestrial source.
Russo replied, "Interference from space, either from intelligent sources or some sort of natural phenomenon. My impression was they didn't know which."
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Some call him Stanley the Fixer, Catherine Austin Fitts for one, a former high level government and Wall Street insider, now editor of Solari.com and running Solari, Inc., an ethical online investment firm specializing in preserving family wealth. Besides on her own firm and a wealth of information on important topics, her site provides extensive coverage of Sporkin, including unanswered questions about him.
On September 5, 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that BP hired him as ombudsman "to hear worker complaints from Alaska and elsewhere in the US," a move to quiet criticism about company operations, given its history of safety and environmental violations, and long record as a serial scofflaw, making daily headlines for the past two months and sure for much longer, keeping Sporkin hyperactive on the job.
"I'll report them as I see them," he said when appointed. "My mandate is to do whatever is necessary to ascertain the facts about and identify solutions for problems that exist today as well as those likely to become issues in the future."
According to Kim Eisler in his Washingtonian.com July 16, 2007 article headlined, "Stanley Sporkin Does Things His Way:"
Sporkin "landed a very big client, BP America, and has been seen around town with (its then) president Bob Malone in tow....attempting to guide (him) through a maze of Capital Hill hearings and state inquests (concerning investigation(s about the company) over everything from Alaska pipeline failures to refinery fires and lost....worldwide CEO in a scandal."
Sporkin calls his job troubleshooting, "leading a team of investigators through the charges and countercharges," using his longtime fixer influence. While his compensation isn't known, "it's said to be substantial - more than (he) ever made during his years as a judge or at the CIA and SEC."
Who then is Sporkin, and what about his dark side? More on the latter below.
He's been a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in its Washington, DC office, involved in corporate governance, other litigation matters, arbitration and mediation services. He's also a member of the Gavel Consulting Group with other former judges and senior government officials, and served as counsel to Wall Street Management & Capital, Inc.
Earlier, he served 20 years with the SEC, the last seven as Director of Enforcement, another five years as CIA General Counsel (under William Casey during the Iran-Contra years - more on that below), and 14 years as a US federal judge for the District of Columbia. He's also a CPA and consummate fixer, given his high-level insider connections, now BP's ombudsman representing its interests, not workers or what benefits them. That's cover for his real job.
Serving Wealth and Power Interests
Sporkin made his reputation doing it, including judicially harming Hamilton Securities, approving its takeover, locking out its staff, and seizing its software and databases - its innovative system to save taxpayers billions of dollars in government-guaranteed mortgage loans, what might have prevented the housing crisis and mortgage fraud, what profiteers engineered collaboratively with Washington, as well as the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, likely to way surpass it before recovery.
A Case History of Sporkin Shenanigans
Catherine Austin Fitts founded and was president of The Hamilton Securities Group, a Washington DC-based investment bank and financial software firm. She explained its establishment as follows:
While serving as Assistant Housing Secretary and FHA Commissioner at HUD (under GHW Bush), she "tried (in vain) on numerous occasions to persuade (HUD Secretary) Jack Kemp and his staff not to propose new policies that would result in the abrogation of government contracts or contractual obligations with respect to financial assets."
Had she succeeded, it might have prevented the housing bubble, mortgage fraud, and spillover financial crisis, destroying the wealth, jobs, home ownership, and futures of millions of Americans, what didn't happen by chance, what was engineered and implemented over years to let Wall Street and other profiteers earn billions at the public's expense.
In 1990, Fitts left HUD to found Hamilton months later, several years afterward winning a competitive bid to serve as the Federal Housing Insurance Administration's financial advisor, executing, from 1994 - 1997, $10 billion in mortgage loan sales as well as strategic services for the agency's $500 billion mortgage and mortgage insurance portfolio, using revolutionary techniques greatly benefitting HUD and millions of taxpayers. On Solari.com, she then explained what happened, saying:
"One day I was a wealthy entrepreneur with a beautiful home, a successful business and money in the bank....The next day I was hunted, living through 18 audits and investigations and a smear campaign directed not just at me but also members of my family, colleagues and friends who helped me."
She believes it "originated at the highest levels," putting her through more than two years of "serious physical harassment, and surveillance, (including) burglary, stalking, having house guests followed, and (finding) dead animals left on (her) doormat."
What most people think can't happen in America, in fact, does, to anyone challenging corporate or government power - trashing the rule of law for their own interests, cleverly manipulating the public not catch on, or when it does, it's too late.
In Fitts' case, Hamilton's business and future opportunities were systematically wiped out, what led her to found Solari.com, focused on ethical investment, to help individuals and families protect their assets by understanding how dark Wall Street/Washington forces collaboratively drain investors and communities.
Hamilton Securities Litigation - Enter Sporkin
By trying to prevent the housing bubble and mortgage fraud, Hamilton was targeted by numerous lawsuits, including Ervin relator for United States v. Hamilton Securities (Qui Tam).
In March 1998, through his appointed Special Master trustee, then US District Court Judge Sporkin approved the court's takeover of Hamilton, and seizure of its software and databases.
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A plan is afoot to bring genetically modified crops – mostly resisted for a decade – into Europe's fields.
Currently, European Union countries opposed to GM crops use a voting system that can delay a variety from being grown anywhere in Europe even after it's been cleared of posing any risks to human health or the environment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which vets all applications for Europe-wide approval of crops for growth and human consumption.
The result of years of deadlock is that Europe's farmers are allowed to grow only two GM crops at present – a type of maize called MON863 and a potato called Amflora – compared with the dozens of varieties grown elsewhere in the world.
On 13 July, the 27 member states of the EU will vote on a plan to overhaul the current regulations, but there are concerns that the proposed solution will compromise Europe's current obligation to judge GM crops solely on science. As part of the solution, individual countries will be allowed to give socio-economic or cultural reasons for banning cultivation of GM crops.
The proposed solution has come out of the EU's executive body, the European Commission. Consumer protection commissioner John Dalli argues that nations opposed to GM crops should be free to ban them from cultivation on non-scientific grounds.
The hoped-for payback is that those same nations end their current tactic of stalling the approval process for each submission to grow GM crops in the European Union. The existing Europe-wide process for approving GM crops would carry on as it is, with the EFSA having the final say on whether crops are harmless enough to human health and the environment to be safely grown anywhere in Europe.
Ways around science
This pre-eminence of science in the Europe-wide approval process is the main reason why member states will have to be given other reasons to introduce bans on their own territories. "It would have to be on non-scientific grounds, as it is the EFSA's very role to take the science into account when doing its safety assessments of new genetically modified organisms," says Alexander Stein, an independent consultant in Seville, Spain, who formerly worked at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in the same city.
"Therefore, grounds for banning a GM crop by individual member states can only be socio-economic or cultural ones," he says.
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MPs on the information communication technology committee (ICT) have disagreed over the Interception of communication Bill.
Committee chairperson Nathan Nabeta (NRM) submitted a detailed report on Thursday, after an earlier one was rejected for being shallow.
The Bill seeks to make provisions for the lawful interception and monitoring of certain communications. It also seeks to empower the security minister to issue warrants to intercept communication in case of crimes against the State.
It also empowers security agencies to intercept terrorism-related postal letters and monetary payments.
The committee, in its report, recommends that the Bill be passed into law, subject to some changes. “Rampant human sacrifice that have frequently targeted innocent children are facilitated by efficient communication.
With this Bill, the Government will be able to keep up with the criminals,” Nabeta said.
However, opposition MPs Isha Otto (UPC) and Alex Oceng Penytoo (FDC) opposed the report, saying the restrictions in the Bill were a threat to human rights.
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Rumours about Lady GaGa's supposed ties to the Illuminati cult have been around for a while now.
Lady G has revealed that a bizarre dream was the cause of all of this. GaGa claims that her weird dress sense and stage shows are in fact inspired by an Illuminati dream.
She told Rolling Stone Magazine: “I have this recurring dream sometimes where there's a phantom in my home. He takes me into a room, and there's a blond girl with ropes tied to all four of her limbs. And she's got my shoes on from the Grammys. Go figure - pyscho. And the ropes are pulling her apart.”
“So I looked up the dream, and I couldn't find anything about it anywhere. And my mother goes, 'Isn't that an illuminati ritual?' And I was like, 'Oh, my God!'
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A Colombian court on Tuesday handed down the first prison sentences to leaders of the illegal far-right militias that demobilized under a peace pact with President Alvaro Uribe's government.
Edward Cobos, better known as "Diego Vecino," and Uber Banquez, alias "Juancho Dique," each received the maximum of eight years in prison dictated by the Justice and Peace law under which they surrendered.
They were also ordered to pay $385,000 each in restitution to relatives of their victims.
By submitting to the Justice and Peace process and confessing to their crimes, the two were able to avoid far harsher sentences of 40 years each for crimes that included ordering massacres, kidnapping and driving people off their land.
Reading the sentence, Judge Uldi Teresa Jimenez said Cobos and Banquez had committed "serious violations of international humanitarian law, attacking civilians, displacing them from their land, taking the lives of non-combatants and looting their property."
Cobos and Banquez are among some 50 warlords and 31,000 "paramilitary" foot soldiers who demobilized between 2003 and 2006. Among those, 4,100 have cooperated with the Justice and Peace process.
Despite the surrender deal, Colombia's provinces continue to be plagued by criminal bands composed in large part of former paramilitaries who profit from drug trafficking, extorting businesses and forcibly taking land from poor peasants.
The far-right groups arose when wealthy landowners and ranchers formed "self-defense" militias in the 1980s to combat kidnappings and extortion by leftist rebels.
But the militias evolved into autonomous criminal bands that coopted regional politicians and national lawmakers and infiltrated the DAS domestic security agency. Prosecutors say paramilitaries have confessed to more than 25,000 killings.
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