Russian Spy Professor Praised Corbyn’s Nukes Policy

A Bath university professor exposed as a Russian spy wrote an article praising Jeremy Corbyn’s declaration that he “would not push the nuclear button”. Timo Kivimaki, a professor of international relations at Bath, was found guilty and jailed for passing information to Russian ‘diplomats’ in Denmark in 2012. In 2015, when Corbyn said he would never use nuclear weapons if he became PM, Professor Kivimaki wrote an article for Bath university’s website agreeing with the Labour leader and arguing that Britain’s nuclear deterrent is unethical, not credible and “an unconvincing foundation for the country’s security”.

“Jeremy Corbyn is right that the prospect of a second strike cannot safeguard the country against well hidden terrorists…

Is it… ethically possible for the United Kingdom to base its strategic thinking on a doctrine of nuclear deterrence that targets civilians in order to influence UK’s enemies. Given the ethical restrictions is the strategy of nuclear deterrent credible even when the prime minister is someone else than Jeremy Corbyn? 

In addition to moral dilemmas nuclear deterrence poses also practical dilemmas. Is the strategy of second strike credible any longer?… 

The foundation of British strategic security requires ideas and assumptions that we can no longer be sure of. Regardless of what the opposition leader says, on the long run nuclear deterrence seems an unconvincing foundation for the country’s security. While material foundations might remain the same, ideas that give them meanings change and this is a reality that was not born in the recent speech by Jeremy Corbyn.”

Hiding in plain sight…

GCHQ Can Snoop on Politicians

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The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the only judicial body with the power to investigate MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, has ruled today that it’s completely fine for spooks to snoop on the communications of MPs. The ruling lays firmly to rest any pretence that the Wilson Doctrine – the principle that MPs’ and peers’ phones should not be tapped, holds any water with GCHQ. If it ever really did…

“We do not accept that the Wilson Doctrine was ever absolute. The policy or general policy of which Mr Wilson spoke was one of not tapping the telephones of Members of Parliament. It seems unlikely to us that such policy, particularly once RIPA was passed by Parliament, with its statutory justification for warrants by reference to the necessity for the interests of national security or the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime etc , was intended to rule out any tapping of such telephones or other similar direct surveillance and certainly not any incidental interception. It is difficult to see how there could be an absolute policy which would rule out interception of any communications with parliamentarians, as opposed to a policy relating to those involving confidential communications with constituents etc.”

Maybe MPs will be more interested now they know all their calls, texts and emails are being logged…

GCHQ Overfill Their Doughnut

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There are so many new spooks flooding into GCHQ’s iconic doughnut building in Cheltenham that the intelligence agency is applying to build a new temporary block to put them in. It’s only 12 years since GCHQ moved into their shiny headquarters, yet they are applying to lump a 4,500 square meter building on their car park and to tarmac over a nearby field in order to lay down hundreds of parking spaces.

The new building will somewhat negate the raison d’être of the doughnut that was designed to facilitate talking among staff, with a circular walkway that means staff are never more than a 5 minute walk away from each other. They’ll have to start using the phone

GCHQ Guilty of Unauthorised Spying – On Itself

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GCHQ was rapped last year by the Intelligence Services Commissioner Sir Mark Waller for excessive spying on its own staff. The revelation is made today in Sir Mark’s annual report which describes the over-zealous internal monitoring at GCHQ as an “error” caused by a lack of understanding:

“In 2014, GCHQ reported one error to me which happened when an internal monitoring system of some staff communications was found to be capturing more information than it was authorised to. I followed up on this error during my May inspection and the team explained that because of a lack of understanding of the systems’ full capability more data than had been authorised had been collected.

It was clear to me that this was a technical error and not deliberate. Following the discovery of the error GCHQ deleted the captured data and reconfigured the system to ensure that it only collected the information that it was authorised to collect.”

Let’s hope the spooks don’t make any “technical errors” while they’ve hoovering up the public’s personal data…

Spooky: Mark Pritchard Rape Arrest Spy Angle Non Denial

Mark Pritchard has refused to comment on speculation that he had tried to recruit the woman who accused him of rape to the British security services. “I do not discuss matters relating to our intelligence agencies,” Pritchard said in a curt statement as Guido reported the chatter in yesterday’s Sun. The 48 year-old single Tory sits on Parliament’s Joint Committee for National Security Strategy and that is not a denial…

Spooks Investigated Woolwich Terrorists SEVEN TimesIntelligence and Security Committee Report Key Findings+++”Gov counter-terrorism programmes are not working”+++

This is fresh from the Cabinet Office:

  • The two men appeared, between them, in seven different Agency investigations – for the most part as low-level Subjects of Interest. There were errors in these operations, where processes were not followed, decisions not recorded, or delays encountered.
  • However we do not consider that any of these errors, taken individually, were significant enough to have made a difference.
  • We have also considered whether, taken together, these errors may have affected the outcome. We have concluded that, given what the Agencies knew at the time, they were not in a position to prevent the murder of Fusilier Rigby.
  • Michael Adebolajo was a high priority for MI5 during two operations: they put significant effort into investigating him and employed a broad range of intrusive techniques. None of these revealed any evidence of attack planning.
  • By contrast, Michael Adebowale was never more than a low level SoI and the Agencies took appropriate action based on the rigorous threshold set down in law: they had not received any intelligence that Adebowale was planning an attack and, based on that evidence, more intrusive action would not have been justified.

To put these investigations into perspective, it should be borne in mind that at any one time MI5 is investigating several thousand individuals who are linked to Islamic extremist activities in the UK.

The one issue which we have learned of which, in our view, could have been decisive only came to light after the attack. This was an online exchange in December 2012 between Adebowale and an extremist overseas, in which Adebowale expressed his intent to murder a soldier in the most graphic and emotive manner. This was highly significant. Had MI5 had access to this exchange at the time, Adebowale would have become a top priority. There is then a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack.

We have examined whether the Agencies could have discovered this intelligence before the attack, had they had cause to do so: it is highly unlikely. What is clear is that the one party which could have made a difference was the company on whose system the exchange took place. However, this company does not regard themselves as under any obligation to ensure that they identify such threats, or to report them to the authorities. We find this unacceptable: however unintentionally, they are providing a safe haven for terrorists.

Our Report considers the wider relationship between law enforcement authorities and Communications Service Providers. None of the major US companies we approached proactively monitor and review suspicious content on their systems, largely relying on users to notify them of offensive or suspicious content. We also found that none of them regard themselves as compelled to comply with UK warrants obtained under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Therefore, even if MI5 had sought information – under a warrant – before the attack, the company might not have responded. They appear to accept no responsibility for the services they provide. This is of very serious concern: the capability of the Agencies to access the communications of their targets is essential to their ability to detect and prevent terrorist threats in the UK.

We note that the Government has already started to take action on these issues, through the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 and the appointment of the Special Envoy on intelligence and law enforcement data sharing. However, the problem is acute: until it is resolved the British public are exposed to a higher level of threat.

Whilst this is the major issue in our Report, we have also identified a number of lessons which the Agencies must learn. These are listed in the Report in detail. However, I wish to draw attention to two of them today, as they are particularly relevant to the current threats faced by the UK:

  1. i) We have seen in recent months the numbers of young British men and women who have travelled to Syria and Iraq to engage in terrorism. The scale of the problem indicates that the Government‟s counter-terrorism programmes are not working. Successfully diverting individuals from the radicalisation path is essential, yet Prevent programmes have not been given sufficient priority. We strongly urge our colleagues on the Home Affairs or Communities Select Committees to consider this issue as a matter of urgency, given the threat our country currently faces.
  1. ii) In the same context, we have also considered SIS‟s work to disrupt the link between UK extremists and terrorist organisations overseas. In the case of Adebolajo – a British citizen arrested overseas and suspected of trying to join a terrorist organisation – SIS‟s response was inadequate. They considered deportation (or voluntary departure) to be a sufficient solution; they failed to investigate his allegations of mistreatment; and neither they nor MI5 accorded him sufficient priority upon his return to the UK. Given the current situation in Syria and Iraq, we have very significant concerns in this regard.”

 Worrying.

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Quote of the Day

Responding to Corbyn’s statement that the US should have arrested ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, John Mann bluntly tweeted:

Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide belt. An arrest might have been slightly difficult in these circumstances.”

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