Thursday, 18 June 2015

Sunday Times 'Official government mouthpiece' - confirmed

Editor makes it clear

Craig Murray is a former member of the diplomatic corps. He knows of what he speaks. He was singularly unimpressed by the Sunday Times headline story about Snowden.

'Five Reasons the MI6 Story is a Lie
The Sunday Times has a story claiming that Snowden’s revelations have caused danger to MI6 and disrupted their operations. Here are five reasons it is a lie.
1) The alleged Downing Street source is quoted directly in italics. Yet the schoolboy mistake is made of confusing officers and agents. MI6 is staffed by officers. Their informants are agents. In real life, James Bond would not be a secret agent. He would be an MI6 officer. Those whose knowledge comes from fiction frequently confuse the two. Nobody really working with the intelligence services would do so, as the Sunday Times source does. The story is a lie.
2) The argument that MI6 officers are at danger of being killed by the Russians or Chinese is a nonsense. No MI6 officer has been killed by the Russians or Chinese for 50 years. The worst that could happen is they would be sent home. Agents’ – generally local people, as opposed to MI6 officers – identities would not be revealed in the Snowden documents. Rule No.1 in both the CIA and MI6 is that agents’ identities are never, ever written down, neither their names nor a description that would allow them to be identified. I once got very, very severely carpeted for adding an agents’ name to my copy of an intelligence report in handwriting, suggesting he was a useless gossip and MI6 should not be wasting their money on bribing him. And that was in post communist Poland, not a high risk situation. 
3) MI6 officers work under diplomatic cover 99% of the time. Their alias is as members of the British Embassy, or other diplomatic status mission. A portion are declared to the host country. The truth is that Embassies of different powers very quickly identify who are the spies in other missions. MI6 have huge dossiers on the members of the Russian security services – I have seen and handled them. The Russians have the same. In past mass expulsions, the British government has expelled 20 or 30 spies from the Russian Embassy in London. The Russians retaliated by expelling the same number of British diplomats from Moscow, all of whom were not spies! As a third of our “diplomats” in Russia are spies, this was not coincidence. This was deliberate to send the message that they knew precisely who the spies were, and they did not fear them.
4) This anti Snowden non-story – even the Sunday Times admits there is no evidence anybody has been harmed – is timed precisely to coincide with the government’s new Snooper’s Charter act, enabling the security services to access all our internet activity. Remember that GCHQ already has an archive of 800,000 perfectly innocent British people engaged in sex chats online.
5) The paper publishing the story is owned by Rupert Murdoch. It is sourced to the people who brought you the dossier on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, every single “fact” in which proved to be a fabrication. Why would you believe the liars now?
There you have five reasons the story is a lie.'
In a quite astounding development the article above was sent to the editor of the Sunday Times (Martin Ivers). This is his incredible response and Craig Murray's reaction.

'A gentleman called William Douglas sent my analysis to Mr Ivers, asking him for his views. Ivers replied:
"Dear Mr Douglas,
: I think you should address your remarks to
: 10 Downing St. If you think
: they have lied to us then so be it.
: Yours faithfully
: Martin" 
That really is it. The editor of a once great newspaper does not think it is any business of his whether he publishes lies or not. He does not consider that there was any responsibility on himself or his journalists to find out whether the story was true before they published it. They did not attempt to take any other views or do any checking. And now they claim that what the Sunday Times publishes is not the responsibility of the Sunday Times, but rather it is the responsibility of government.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Sunday Times is the new Pravda

Once a great campaigning paper under the editorship of Harold Evans, the latest debacle reflects how far the paper has fallen under Murdoch’s malevolent control. Far from telling truth to power, the S.T. now licks power’s boots.

The lead ‘story’ masquerading as journalism telling us that Snowden had done massive harm to our intelligence services turned out to have been based on a ‘government source in the Home Office’ and verified by yet another unnamed ‘government source’. No evidence. No challenging questions and full of lies and errors. Glen Greenwald has been all over the media excoriating the journalists for their gullibility and for acting as government stooges.

Tom Harper was one of the co-authors of the ‘story.’ He appeared on CNN to defend it. Badly. shows the full horror.  

CNN “Were the files hacked or did Snowden hand them over?” 
Harper “We don’t know.”
“Were MI6 agents directly under threat?”   
“We don’t know”
“How did the government know what was in the files”
 “That’s not something we’re clear on”
“Can you substantiate the claims?” 

It is no coincidence that this garbage appeared immediately after a reasoned report into internet surveillance was published to general approval. David Anderson QC condemned the status quo under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) as “undemocratic, unnecessary and – in the long run – intolerable”, and advises it be replaced with a comprehensive new law that can be properly understood by people and parliamentarians.
“The recommendation is in glaring contrast to the Government’s repeated claims since 2013 that the current legislative framework provides effective safeguards to properly protect British people’s privacy.” Liberty

Telling truth to power or acting as power’s pawns?

The whole shabby tale reflects very badly on the government. Just as it wants us to accept extra snooping powers - the snooper's charter - it sinks to these desperate measures.

Trust us they say. No way.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Snoopers, spooks and accountability…

Who watches the watchers?  Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Tory MP David Davis  was on the radio this week making sense about the issue of surveillance and in particular the powers of the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary to approve the bugging of communications. He said that the number of applications from the security agencies run at between 5 and 6 a day. He thought it would be impossible to process each application fairly given time constraints and workload. Yet it now appears that each Minister will fight to retain their right to sign the papers. Why should we trust them?
He also said that whenever questions are asked in Parliament to Ministers about a security matter the reply is always ‘we do not comment on security matters!’ So much for Parliamentary accountability. 

Try this insight from the Guardian Comment pages written by someone who describes themselves as a former security official. 

“As someone who has been involved in the past, with both sides of security surveillance operations, I can hopefully understand to some extent the legitimate need for limited surveillance, which will always be required, but which must come with very strict requirements and responsibilities; this I can agree with. Unfortunately the present situation appears to be that just because it can be done, it must be done, hence the mass gathering of mostly useless information that does nothing to improve security either at a government or a personal level.
If this is the case why are governments so keen on mass surveillance of their populations, if it does not in any meaningful way increase security; which is the stated aim always given when new surveillance powers are proposed? Well the simple answer is that governments have always wanted to “control” their populations, by this I mean that they want to be the primary source of providing information, whether it is via the media of TV, newspapers or on-line. This used to be fairly difficult to do, especially in times of peace; when there are no overt restrictions in place, to manage (or control) information and it used to take some effort to feed stories to the media, in such a way that the primary source (i.e. the government) could be easily concealed.
Today, in our Smart phone generation it is very simple to both feed stories and to also manage the required outcome. This can be done for example by firstly creating a story and then using multiple pre-created Facebook or Twitter accounts (which are later deleted) to support the story and then stand back and watch the reaction, as genuine Facebook or Twitter accounts make comments, which very quickly gets the story noticed and commented on by the likes of the media. The original creator of the story (such as the government) can when questioned, either deny all knowledge, or more likely point to the public reaction to the story and use this for their own means. 
One simple example is to create fear in the general population of terrorism and use that fear to put in place new regulations and laws that promise to protect the public from acts of terrorism, but instead have the real objective of further controlling or managing the population. 
This is what is happening at the present time, where barely a day goes by without some story of an impending or immediate terror attack and how the authorities have prevented this happening. We hear about numbers of people being arrested for suspected involvement in terrorism, but what we don’t hear about is the number that are later released without charge. Terrorism, by its very nature, will never affect more than minuscule numbers of the general population, crossing the road is certainly more dangerous; but the overall impression given is that we are all under constant threat of mass terror acts. 
It used to be the government’s accepted approach to threats or even acts of terrorism, that the population should just go about its normal business, otherwise the terrorists have won. Now the opposite approach seems to be the norm, with the government seemingly quite happy to frighten the entire population into believing that they could be the victims of terrorism.” Iain Exile Scot

We seem to have Ministers in charge who are unable to see beyond the next tabloid headline. They fail to recognise the bigger picture. The government claims that in order to preserve our long held freedoms we must sacrifice our long held freedoms. 


Anyone remember the Americans flattening Vietnamese villages to ‘pacify them’?

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Coulson Cleared of Perjury

‘Not every lie amounts to perjury’

Tommy Sheridan maintained the core of his defence in his perjury trial in 2010 was that the News of the World had engaged in a conspiracy to bring him down. Central to that accusation was that the News of the World had hacked Sheridan’s phone. This had been put to Andy Coulson when he appeared as a witness in the case. He had denied on oath having any knowledge of hacking. Three former colleagues stated in the recent case that this was untrue - they claimed he knew full well that the paper used hacking to get stories. Last week the jury were sent home as legal arguments were put before the judge. Yesterday the result of those arguments became clear. The perjury case against Coulson collapsed. 

In a quite remarkable ruling the judge, Lord Burns, said: "Not every lie amounts to perjury.” Apparently under Scottish law for a lie to be classed as perjury, the lie must have had a significant bearing on the outcome of the case. The judge felt the lies had not been relevant to Sheridan’s conviction.

Coulson emerged triumphantly from the courtroom and claimed he had been vindicated and that he had not lied. Not so Mr Coulson. Cleared of perjury but not of lying. After thanking the judge Coulson thanked his “brilliant legal team”.  You bet he did. Whoever persuaded a judge to accept that lying in court was somehow acceptable deserves every squillion coming their way.

Coulson now goes down in history as the man who lied in court yet walked away Scot free. 

He joins other paragons such as Ernest Saunders. He was convicted in 1990 in the Guinness share trading fraud case. Among his convicted colleagues was property developer Gerald Ronson. He claimed in his book ‘Leading From the Front’ that it was him who suggested the Alzheimer’s defence when they were in an open prison together. 

"I joked, 'Make out that you're mentally ill. It wouldn't be difficult for you because besides being a psychotic liar, you are mentally deranged ... If you made out you've got Alzheimer's, nobody could ever prove it, because if they looked inside your head, what are they going to find?' "
Mr Saunders replied that he liked the idea. When he left, Mr Ronson remarked to his cellmate: "I bet he'll do that, tricky bastard that he is."

In an appeal, the judge reduced Mr Saunders' sentence to two and a half years, after hearing evidence that Mr Saunders was suffering from pre-senile dementia. With parole, Mr Saunders qualified for almost immediate release, having served just 10 months. As soon as the former Guinness chairman was free, Mr Ronson recalls, "Saunders miraculously 'recovered', apparently the first person in medical history ever to do so.” Independent 6/6/2009

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


The US Senate have just passed the Freedom Act - a withdrawal from the catch-all activities of the notorious Patriot Act passed after 9/11. The Snowden revelations about the amount of state snooping has raised genuine alarm in the good old US of A. Compare and contrast with the increase in state snooping here in the Mother of Parliaments ….the UK. 

Not only do our new leaders want to increase state snooping, they also want to do away with fundamental protections enshrined in the Human Rights Act. Fancy that. Theresa 'Manic' May also wants TV programmes censored for ‘extremism.’ Would that include programmes commenting on the fact that we have a government with a majority in the Commons despite only getting the support of 1 in 4 of the electorate? 

Perhaps this view of the future from ‘Bullingdonmorons’ commenting on the Guardian website may wake some people up. 

‘One day, in the not so far off future, I shall be awoken by the alarm in my bedroom shouting at me it is time to get up. I shall prepare myself for the day whilst listening to the radio as it barks out the Governments latest ‘austerity’ measures and anti-terrorist legislation.
The camera outside my front door will record my time of departure, whilst the street camera/microphones will pick up my muted ‘hello’ to the neighbour. I will drive to the rail station, passing beneath the numerous number plate recognition camera’s, my entire journey being recorded for posterity. At the station, the chip in my arm will register my arrival, opening the gate to admit me. I shall find a seat amongst the impassive passengers, all sitting in silence, ear phones in place.
The posters on the carriage walls tell us that all activity is filmed and recorded.
For our own safety, of course.
As I leave the train, the chip in my arm will record the destination and automatically deduct the cost of my journey from my bank account. I look up at the CCTV cameras that follow my every move. On entering my place of work, the chip releases the security doors and I am scanned, to make sure I carry no weapons, so they say. I then sit down at my computer. 7 turgid hours will pass, because all e-mail, conversation and time away from desk are monitored.
All conversation must be work based, any other topic is a sack-able offence.
Several e-mails remain unseen, because they are accompanied by a message, ‘ This mail has been blocked for your own protection’, and you while away the day wondering what monstrous evil they contained, so bad that I am not allowed to view them.
At the end of my shift, I shall return home, once more in silence, eat a revolting meal of processed shit and then watch several hours of mindless television, consisting of celebrity game shows, a sealed house harbouring 20 people in straight-jackets who keep trying to head butt each other, and ‘documentaries’ about multi millionaires leading empty, vacuous lives.
The news will inform me of how the latest Government anti-terrorist legislation has led to yet another terrorist plot being foiled, will inform me that there is yet another faceless enemy from a middle eastern country who threatens our very way of life and so must be destroyed, and finally they will release the latest results from the Governments ‘happiness’ survey, telling us how wonderful our lives are.
Then, just as I get up to retire for the night, I will tell the camera that is built into the set to go “f**k itself”.

I shall then go to bed, and cry myself to sleep, saying ‘How did we ever let them do this to us?’

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Charlie Kennedy RIP

For an insight into a rare decent politician - not a phrase much used these days - try this from his old friend Craig Murray.

“I have known Charlie since about 1979. He was, and always remained, a brilliant, witty and very gentle man. His weaknesses were of the gregarious kind, one of many things we had in common. We first met on the universities debating circuit and in student politics. He became President of Glasgow University Union and I of Dundee University Students Association. As we both ran as Liberal Democrats that was uncommon. By one of life’s quirks, a generation later he was Rector of Glasgow University and I was Rector of Dundee University. We both shared a horror of the marketization of universities and an urgent desire to return to the old Scottish tradition of democratic governance, and we worked together with other Rectors to institute regular Rectors’ meetings and try to make the office of Rector relevant.
Charlie had come under the most enormous pressure not to oppose the Iraq war. The entire force of the British establishment bore down on him, including from former party leaders and from Ming Campbell, though he denies it now. Charlie showed tremendous courage and spirit in resisting the pressures to which almost everybody in authority in the Westminster power structure caved in.
Charlie told me the story of how, as party leader, he was invited by Blair to Downing Street to be shown the original key evidence on Iraqi WMD. Charlie was really worried as he walked there, that there really would be compelling evidence as Blair said, and he would then be unable to maintain the party line against the war. When he saw the actual intelligence on which the dodgy dossier was based, he was astounded. It was incredibly weak and “totally unconvincing”. Blair was not present while Charlie saw the reports, but he saw him afterwards and told Blair he was quite astonished by the paucity of the evidence. Blair went white and looked really rattled, and resorted to a plea for patriotic solidarity. He then reminded Charlie he was not allowed to reveal what he had seen. Charlie felt bound by good faith – he had been shown the intelligence in confidence – not to publish this. Not I think his best moral judgement. (My emphasis)
Charlie was very definitely not an enthusiastic supporter of the coalition and, though a federalist not a nationalist, generally kept his distance from the Better Together campaign. He seemed to me to have lost self-confidence through the exposure of his struggles with alcohol, and probably underrated his influence. Charlie was consistent in both his faults and his principles. As President of Glasgow University Union, he was inclined to hands off sybaritism; his expenses and use of taxis became an issue, and that epicurean streak never left him. In his presence I always felt an inferior talent, and those of us who knew him 35 years ago I think all expected him to rise even higher than he did. But he never had the sociopathic streak that makes a dominant political career, and he was at base a very decent and kind man. That is how I shall remember him.”

How many current front line politicians merit the description ‘decent and kind’ ?