Posts Tagged ‘snowden’

UK also following US instructions in detaining partner of the journalist linked to Snowden

August 19, 2013

The subservience of European security services to their US counterparts seems complete.

It was not so long ago that we had the story 

…. about France and Portugal and Austria kowtowing to demands made – no doubt – by US “intelligence” while forcing down the Bolivian President’s plane yesterday, suggests that this subservience of their European counterparts still continues. The quality of the US “intelligence” that Snowden was on the plane was clearly very “strain’d”. The “constraining” of intelligence” to suit a political purpose will be with us for a long time and the poodle-like behaviour of the European countries is sometimes embarrassing to observe.

It transpired later that Germany was also complicit in the massive US surveillance. Snowden has since been granted a years asylum in Russia and it is to be expected that US dissatisfaction and irritation is running high. And today we have the story of how the UK security services detained the partner of the journalist associated with Snowden while he was en route from Berlin to Brazil. He was detained, questioned for 9 hours, had his lap-top and memory sticks confiscated – all under powers available from terrorist legislation.  It does seem that the UK – like France and Portugal and Austria – was merely following instructions from across the Atlantic. One wonders what new revelations from Snowden’s material the US NSA is so paranoid about.

Reuters: 

British authorities used anti-terrorism powers on Sunday to detain the partner of a journalist with close links to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who has been granted asylum by Russia, as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport.

The 28-year-old David Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald who writes for Britain’s Guardian newspaper, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, a report on the Guardian website said.

A British Metropolitan Police Service spokesman said a 28-year-old male had been detained at Heathrow airport under provisions of the 2000 Terrorism Act. That law gives British border officials the right to question someone “to determine if that individual is a person concerned in the commission, preparation or execution of acts of terrorism.”

The invocation of terrorism legislation is more than a little far-fetched but was probably a quick, convenient way for the compliant UK security services to satisfy the US demands. I am just a little surprised that it did not just give rise to a case of “extraordinary rendition” with Miranda being hustled onto a plane bound for the US.

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Repression of the bulk of the people, by some of the people for the benefit of others of the people

July 24, 2013

How the political tables do turn.

It seems more than a little ironic – but quite delicious nevertheless – that a Democratic President in the White House is trying to block an amendment by a Republican in the House which aims to restrict the unbridled spying by the Government on the bulk of the people, on the grounds that the amendment is a ” blunt approach” which ” is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process”.  

Business InsiderIn a terse statement late Tuesday evening, the White House blasted the so-called “Amash Amendment” that would limit the National Security Agency’s ability to collect data on personal phone communications, calling the program crucial to national security. 

 “We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The amendment is one of several the House of Representatives will consider to the 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill. It was introduced by Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian Republican from Michigan, and has earned bipartisan backing from, among others, Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Conyers is a co-sponsor.

The amendment would “end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act,” as well as prevent the NSA from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, “including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215.” It is targeted at the first part of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in disclosures to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald.

Tuesday’s statement clearly shows that the White House is worried about it passing. The NSA is also worried — it held a “top secret” meeting with members of Congress to lobby against the amendment. 

Here’s the full statement from Carney:

In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens.  The Administration has taken various proactive steps to advance this debate including the President’s meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, his public statements on the disclosed programs, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s release of its own public statements, ODNI General Counsel Bob Litt’s speech at Brookings, and ODNI’s decision to declassify and disclose publicly that the Administration filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  We look forward to continuing to discuss these critical issues with the American people and the Congress.

However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.  This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.  We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.

It must be a little galling for President Obama that history will probably show a Democratic President as being more “repressive” of citizens than most Republican Presidents. But probably not as galling as having a US citizen who discloses his Administration’s repression of US citizens now receiving sanctuary and seeking asylum in Russia!

The quality of “intelligence” is not strain’d

July 3, 2013

“Intelligence” in the political sense is knowledge. But when “knowledge” is created or moulded or invented to suit a political purpose it loses its intelligence. Constrained intelligence is bad intelligence.

Following the Bard,

The quality of intelligence is not strain’d,
It may not be shaped or created or invented
to suit a man’s convenience. It is twice cursed:
It curses him who invents and curses the fool who believes.

The shameful subservience of European countries and their political classes to US “intelligence” when going to war in Iraq is now history. Of course Tony Blair was not merely subservient, he also helped to constrain the “intelligence” even further.

Reading this story about France and Portugal and Austria kowtowing to demands made – no doubt – by US “intelligence” while forcing down the Bolivian President’s plane yesterday, suggests that this subservience of their European counterparts still continues. The quality of the US “intelligence” that Snowden was on the plane was clearly very “strain’d”. The “constraining” of intelligence” to suit a political purpose will be with us for a long time and the poodle-like behaviour of the European countries is sometimes embarrassing to observe.

BBCBolivian President Evo Morales’s plane had to be diverted to Austria amid suspicion that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on board, the Bolivian foreign minister has said.

Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said Mr Snowden was not on the plane.

France and Portugal reportedly refused to allow the Bolivia-bound flight to cross their airspace. Mr Snowden is reportedly seeking asylum in Bolivia and 20 other countries to avoid extradition to the US. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca told reporters on Tuesday that France and Portugal had closed their airspace over the “huge lie” that Mr Snowden, 30, was on board.

“We don’t know who invented this lie, but we want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales,” he said.

Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg said Mr Snowden was not on board the Bolivian leader’s aircraft. The Bolivian defence minister, also on the flight, pilloried the US after the unscheduled landing. “This is a hostile act by the United States state department which has used various European governments,” Ruben Saavedra said.

The Falcon aircraft was reportedly allowed to refuel in Spain before the jet went on to Vienna. President Morales was said to be at the airport in Vienna discussing his return route to Bolivia early on Wednesday.

 

Snowden and religious teachings

June 28, 2013

Security agencies must dread the fanatics and even those just religiously inclined.

I heard this quote from the Bible on radio today!

  1. Beware you of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 
  2. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 
  3. Therefore whatever you have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which you have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Luke 12: 1-3

For “Pharisees” read “the US Government and the UK Government”.

How very apt and it could be the anthem of the whistle-blowers. But it is probably of little comfort to them as they are universally and invariably denounced by the keepers of secrets.

Not that I think that Snowden is particularly religious.

Herrings galore in l’affaire Snowden

June 27, 2013

Some level of state surveillance is no doubt necessary though it has probably gone too far in the US. To have blanket eavesdropping and entrapment and agents provocateur is not so unlike the Stasi or the KGB. I am not too concerned if the NSA has been reading my emails – much good it may do them! I have no strong opinions as to whether Snowden is a hero or a villain but I would be more than a little surprised if he has been sitting quietly in the transit lounge of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for the last 3 days.

I am pretty sure that all the reports coming out about his possible movements or non-movements are largely disinformation. I am very suspicious when Foreign Ministers and Heads of State make statements about his whereabouts or where he is not. I suspect that technically none of them have lied outright – but I am fairly certain that  they know much more than they are letting on. The lone individual bravely evading the far-flung resources of the most powerful nation in the world is the stuff of Baroness Orczy and of urban legends to come.

So my guesses as to where he might be are:

  1. He is being debriefed by Russia. It would be child’s play for the Russians to have whisked him into a private and  “safe part” of the transit area and to return him to the public area after a suitable period. I see no reason for the official Russian line to have been jeopardised since he would not technically have gone through immigration control. When Ecuador says they need time to consider his asylum request, I wonder if it is the Russians who need time to debrief him – willingly or unwillingly.
  2. He is in the transit area of another Russian airport and to get to St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport – for example – would have been easy for the Russians to arrange.
  3. The trip to Havana was just for disinformation and he actually flew to Hanoi and is now hidden within the entourage surrounding Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino.
  4. He has already reached and is holed up in Havana (and the Cubans therefore are not saying anything), or
  5. He is in the transit area of a country friendly to Russia (Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan….)

With the heavy US presence in Reykjavik, it is unlikely that Iceland was ever a serious destination.

Given the resources that the US and the world’s media must be bringing to bear to find him, it can only be a matter of time …

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Yankies seek him everywhere.

But the US establishment has some egg on its face. John Kerry’s blustering against China and Russia and now threats of a trade war against Ecuador come across as heavy-handed and hypocritical. It is only Snowden who gains and Obama and Kerry who lose in the PR stakes for every day that he continues to remain undiscovered.

View of the US after Snowden

June 26, 2013

The Snowden affaire allows many to now point fingers at the apparent hypocrisy of the US supporting civil rights in other countries but not at home.

This from the China Daily of 13th June by Luo Jie:

China_statue_of_liberty_cartoon


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