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Reply with quote  #76 

The Times March 31, 2006

MI5 facing criticism over surveillance of 7/7 bomber

MI5 is to be criticised by a parliamentary committee for its decision to call off a surveillance operation on a British terrorist suspect who later became the leader of the July 7 suicide bombers.

The matter will be raised in a special report by the cross-party Intelligence and Security Committee.

The committee, which is chaired by Paul Murphy, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, and consists of eight MPs and one member of the House of Lords, has been investigating all the secret material relevant to the period leading up the July 7 bombings, which killed 52 people in London last year. Its report is due next month, but some details were leaked to the BBC yesterday.

The committee is not expected to blame any of the secret agencies for the failure to stop the suicide bombings. But it is understood to have underlined the intelligence gaps relating to Mohammad Sidique Khan, the Leeds-born primary school teaching assistant who was the ringleader of the four bombers.

Khan had come to MI5’s notice more than a year before the bombings, when he was spotted with other terrorist suspects. He was subjected to surveillance for a brief period but was not regarded as a significant player. At that stage he was not even identified but was just a blurred image on a surveillance tape. There were dozens of other potential suspects caught up in the same surveillance operation, but with a limited number of MI5 “watchers” available, the Security Service counter-terrorist branch decided to focus its efforts on the most serious “targets”. Those assessed to be on the periphery, such as Khan, were left alone.

MI5 is known to have told the committee that it identified the suspect on the earlier surveillance tapes only after the July 7 attacks.

According to the leaks on the BBC Radio Today programme, the committee asks in its report why Khan was not properly investigated, indicating that perhaps more was known about him in the lead-up to July 7 than has so far emerged in the public domain.

The committee is also said to be critical of the lack of intelligence-gathering against known British Islamic militants visiting Pakistan before the July 7 attacks. Both Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, another of the bombers, had visited known militants in Pakistan.

The committee, which operates in a “ring of secrecy”, has questioned all the key players during its investigation. Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, has given evidence, as have her most senior directors involved in counter-terrorism.

The committee, which will present its report to Tony Blair on his return from his trip abroad, is said to have recommended changes to the threat-alert definitions. The current definitions — “critical, severe (defined), severe (general), substantial, moderate, low, negligible” — were devised after the Bali bomb in 2002. A month before the July 7 bombings, the threat level was reduced from “severe general” to “substantial”.

Patrick Mercer, Conservative homeland security spokesman, said that whatever the committee recommended, it was still important for there to be a full independent (not public) inquiry. He said: “We want to know why the decision was made to lower the threat level. We’re not looking to apportion blame but lessons need to be learnt and we need to know whether the Government is providing enough resources to the intelligence services.”


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Reply with quote  #77 

Hi Magpie... thanks for your very interesting post on 'MI5 Facing Criticism Over Surveillance Of 7/7 Bomber'. 


Originally posted by Magpie:


The committee, which will present its report to Tony Blair on his return from his trip abroad, is said to have recommended changes to the threat-alert definitions. The current definitions — “critical, severe (defined), severe (general), substantial, moderate, low, negligible” — were devised after the Bali bomb in 2002. A month before the July 7 bombings, the threat level was reduced from “severe general” to “substantial”.


Patrick Mercer, Conservative homeland security spokesman, said that whatever the committee recommended, it was still important for there to be a full independent (not public) inquiry. He said: “We want to know why the decision was made to lower the threat level. We’re not looking to apportion blame but lessons need to be learnt and we need to know whether the Government is providing enough resources to the intelligence services.”


Indeed it will be interesting to  learn why the decision was made to lower the threat level, and moreso, what Tony Blair will make of the report on his return...





I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Reply with quote  #78 

The DARK FORCES will always get put in the spotlight at some stage but it is the LIGHT FORCES that should be doing more and more to help others who cannot help themselves.


MI5/MI6 and all other covert personnel work in SECRET and have been known to assassinate people and have powers that you and I thought were indeed the work of protecting the Nation.


I am sure there is a real need for SECRECY when dealing with a TERRORIST threat and no one in their right mind can argue with that but when they have a license to KILL its not James Bond we are talking about its the world of DARK DEEP SECRET executions and BUGGING peoples houses,cars,telephones,offices who are not TERRORISTS nor do they pose a threat to the Nation.


This is where they help aid the POLICE with intelligence gathering that is both illegal and an infringement of our Human Rights!


The Police do not have the powers to do it (and often do it anyway with the help of the DARK ONES) and this practice is getting more and more common especially if you are highlighting cases of MASS POLICE CRIMINAL CONSPIRACIES!


We already know our phones,houses and cars are monitored so here is a message from us ALL here @ WILL NEVER GIVE UP THE FIGHT TO PROVE THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED THE PUBLIC AND IF THEY KNEW HALF OF WHAT WE KNEW YOUR ASSES WOULD BE OUT THE DOOR!


Secrecy to protect the Nation is one thing but to help the POLICE knowingly to hide and destroy vital evidence that would prove someones innocence or to disrupt an organisation that highlights these cases is nothing short of a sever abuse of power......................But we will continue no matter what!


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Reply with quote  #79 

INFORMATION is POWER and POWER breeds CONTEMPT! equally who is monitoring them or are they indeed a law unto themselves with a MINISTERIAL BLESSING?

The TRUTH is out there...........

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Reply with quote  #80 

Hey that shark has pretty teeth dear
and he shows 'em pearly white
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear
And he keeps it way out of site

When that shark bites with his teeth dear
Scarlet billows they begin to spread
Fancy white gloves has Macheath dear
So theres never, never a trace of red

On a sidewalk one Sunday morning
Lies a body oozing life
Someone's sneaking 'round that corner
Could that someone perhaps b'chance be Mack the Knife?

>From a tugboat on the river going slow
A cement bag is dropping down
You know that cement is for the weight dear
You can make a large bet that bum's in town (Ya he's in town)

My man Louie Miller he split the scene babe
After drawing out all the bread from his stash
Now Macheath spends like a sailor
Do you suppose this guy he did something rash?

'Ol satchmo Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin
They did this song nice lady Ella too
They all sang it with so much feeling
That 'ol blue eyes he ain't gonna add anything new (Oh yes you do)

But with this big fat band jumpin' behind me
Swingin hard Jack (Thats Jimmy Frank) I know I can't lose
When I tell you all about Mack the Knife babe
It's an offer you can never refuse

We've got Patrick Williams, Bill Miller playing that piano
And this wonderful great big band bringing up the rear
All these mad cats in this band now
they make the greatest sound your ever gonna hear

Oh Sukey Tawdry (Oh Sukey Tawdry), Jenny Diver (Jenny Diver)
Polly Peachum (I know her well) Mrs Lulu Brown
Ya the line forms on the right dear
Now that Macheath (Oh Macheath) Ya that bum is back (Oh that bum he's back)
And Im gonna tell you what the heck that you should do (What should I do?)
You better lock your door and call the law because Macheath he's come back to town

Get under the bed, hide, goto the clubs, or anyplace goto where he
cannot get you
Look out 'ol Mack he's back

Hey that shark has pretty teeth dear and he shows 'em pearly white.
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear And he keeps it way out of site.

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Reply with quote  #81 

Hi mactheknife is that the full lyrics as I Know the song but the words at the end seem different and very DARK as was your post in relation to the Official Secrets Act (Which I have pasted on this section..Very relevant to this particular section)




Censorship in the United Kingdom

Not many know that in the UK they have the Official Secrets Act. By that Act, the London government has the power, throughout the UK, to order that certain subjects are absolutely forbidden to be discussed. Currently, the forbidden subject is any discussion of possible foul play in the death of Princess Diana and her intended husband Dodi Fayed.

Further than that, any discussion is forbidden about how the Official Secrets Act exactly works. When there is a subject that an editor, publisher, or station manager believes would be covered by the Official Secrets Act, they must immediately inform the London government. And if the London government issues what they call a "D Notice," then these media outlets throughout the UK are not only forbidden to go forward with any story that they're working on; but also, the D Notice serves as a potential seizure: it authorizes the UK, through their various operatives, to immediately seize and close down any printing plant that is in the process of printing such a story, any radio station, or any radio or TV transmitter. They are immediately seized by the London government, closed down, and the publisher, the editor, and the key personnel (including the writer of the story) are immediately put under arrest.

And the worst part of it is, the rest of the media is not even allowed to mention that these people have been arrested and their publishing and transmitting facilities seized. In other words, it is forbidden to discuss the D Notice and also forbidden to discuss the technical operation of the Official Secrets Act. So, there is censorship regarding the instruments of censorship.




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Reply with quote  #82 

Wednesday, 18 November, 1998, 17:27 GMT

Troubled history of Official Secrets Act
Clive Ponting
Landmark case: eventually Clive Ponting walked free
The UK Government's failure to get former MI5 agent David Shayler extradited from France is a blow to its efforts to keep Official Secrets secret.

It is the latest in a line of high-profile cases in which the government's will has been thwarted.

Clive Ponting

The 1985 Ponting case was in some ways the landmark Official Secrets case. Clive Ponting, who had worked at the Ministry of Defence, walked free from court after a jury cleared him of breaking the Official Secrets Act.

It was hailed as a victory for the jury system. The judge had indicated that the jury should convict him.

Ponting had been charged with leaking an internal MoD document concerning the General Belgrano, the Argentinian cruiser which British forces sank during the 1982 Falklands War, killing 360 people.

The government line had been that the Belgrano was threatening British lives when it was sunk. But the document leaked by Ponting indicated it was sailing out of the exclusion zone. Its publication was a huge embarrassment for Lady Thatcher's government.

Cathy Massiter

The Official Secrets Act was drawn into further controversy in 1985. Former MI5 officer Cathy Massiter told a Channel 4 television documentary that MI5 had been illegally bugging the telephones of politicians, human rights campaigners, and pressure groups like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Peter Wright and Spycatcher

Peter Wright
Peter Wright's allegations dated back to the 60s
The high water mark of Lady Thatcher's Official Secrets' battle came in 1987 with the publication of Spycatcher by former MI5 officer Peter Wright.

The book alleged that in the 1960s, MI5 conspired to discredit Labour prime minister Harold Wilson.

Lady Thatcher's government said Wright owed a life-long duty of confidentiality. However, Wright published his book in America and Australia, and despite the government's best efforts, copies came into the UK.

Wright, by this stage an old man, was living in Australia. There was another lengthy and high-profile court battle as the UK Government tried unsuccessfully to extradite him.

However, a House of Lords judgement in 1988 overturned a blanket injunction across all media outlets from reporting anything from former intelligence officers.

The Law Lords criticised the government's handling of the issue, which had cost an estimated £3m.

Shayler published some of Wright's allegations
Lord Goff said: "In a free society, there is a continuing public interest that the workings of government should be open to scrutiny and criticism."

The European Court of Human Rights later held that the UK's actions had violated the right to freedom of speech.

In a neat historical detail, David Shayler - then editor of the Durham University student newspaper - also published some of Wright's allegations.

Richard Tomlinson

Former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson was sentenced to a year in prison in 1997 for passing secrets to an Australian publisher.

He was released after six months and went to his native New Zealand.

Earlier this year he was arrested in Paris with David Shayler, but was released because of insufficient evidence.

An injunction was placed on Tomlinson preventing him from further breaching the Act. He says he intends to write a book on MI6 which would be a "much better read than Spycatcher".

Sarah Tisdall

However a rare success for government enforcement of the Official Secrets Act was the conviction of Sarah Tisdall. The young Foreign Office clerk leaked to The Guardian newspaper details of when controversial American cruise missiles would be arriving on British soil.

She was found guilty and sentenced to six months, although she only served three.


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Reply with quote  #83 

Spot on Magpie as I have read this book and thought it was rather interesting ...............until I ended up on you have hit the proverbial nail on the head again...............(Help Admin Magpie is after my job)





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Reply with quote  #84 

Hi Magpie... thanks for the excellent post with regards to 'Troubled History of Official Secrets Act' - very interesting reading, and naming & shaming - that's what I like to see.


So, MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson plans to write a book that will be better than 'Spycatcher'?  Having read the book, I doubt that would be very difficult, although let's see if Mr Tomlinson's book storms the charts like some other books that I could mention...



I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Reply with quote  #85 

Dark Forces Trying To Suppress Distribution Of New Book?       You Decide......

It could be a coincidence, but it's starting to feel like 'somebody' doesn't want the general public getting their hands on The Ahriman Gate (Raiders News Update) - It started when commercial book printer Dickson's Press developed inexplicable problems with their equipment, causing an unexpected delay in shipment from their company to the warehouses.

Then came the hundreds and hundreds of emails from confused customers who had been told The Ahriman Gate would be available at Amazon on August 1, 2005. They went there by the thousands to buy the book, only to be told that (according to Amazon) the book WASN'T available yet, not even released, and wouldn't be until October. By the next day, top Amazon officials were working with Ingram and Faithworks distributors to figure out what was going on. "This isn't right," they had said. "This is a major release and we were supposed to have plenty of these books in stock!"

The CEO of VMI Publishers called his attorney. Heads were going to roll. Money he had anticipated making from the biggest title and marketing program of his 30-plus years of publishing--a whopping $200,000 dollars of investment--was slipping away.

Meanwhile at the popular online news service - - orders began pouring in by the hundreds... sometimes that many per hour! 

The staff could barely keep up. 

Then it got worse.

The Gremlins turned their cold steely eyes from Amazon onto RNU's machinery, and the news site's brand new, fully automated online store went haywire. Staff could enter any page, change any info, do anything they wanted, except in one place - the invoices pages where the shipping addresses were kept. Without being able to open this area to know where to send the product, orders began piling up as technicians at the gateway store were left scratching their heads. After two weeks, the techies finally gave up. "An invisible hand kept messing with things" one fumed. RNU was forced to quickly set up a different storefront with PayPal in order to continue filling orders.

The Gremlins weren't done

Now the publisher's legal enforcements were making the rounds and the president of Faithworks shot a defensive letter to Ahriman Gate authors Tom and Nita Horn. The president of the giant corporation was astonished. He had never seen anything like what was happening with this book. He started:

"As you may know, we are the largest Christian distributor in the world. We didn't get that way through incompetence and a lack of sales expertise. We are actually very good at what we do.

"...While working with Amazon on most books is a challenge, your book has been a nightmare. Normally, we submit all of our titles to Amazon and they are set up and ordered.... For some reason, which is totally unknown to me, no amount of prodding, pushing, shouting, foot stomping or breath holding has resulted in [a functioning order process]. And the darn thing is, [Amazon has committed to the orders and they just don't go through when made!]

[The Faithworks president then documents a series of emails with his usual buyer at Amazon. Finally he says to the Amazon Buyer]: "Here are some of the details on the book Ahriman Gate. I'm glad you reminded me that the product will be going to your 5 warehouses across America. Once we have your PO in hand, we can determine the best way to ship them to you."

[A few days later]: "Something peculiar is going on with these orders.... [and] we are really getting a lot of heat from our publisher on The Ahriman Gate. According to our records, we never received the units you said you were going to order. I see it is still ranked pretty high on your list. Ingram has had to reorder several times and seems to stay out of stock. If you can get that order to us quickly, we will get it to you as quickly as we can.

[Then the president of Faithworks concludes his letter to the Horn's]: "I'll be in Seattle on September 7th meeting with [the Amazon buyer]. Maybe I can get from him a decent explanation of what's [going on]... But frankly, I doubt a plausible explanation will be forthcoming."

From weird... to... well...

About the same time, August 4, 2005, Tom Horn was on the popular radio program, "The Q Files". The shows host, Stephen Quayle was so intrigued by what Tom was saying that he invited him to come back on a few days later. The problem was, it must have sounded to 'somebody' like Tom was preparing to give up a major piece of disclosure information. On the very next show things turned surreal, interrupted in ways I am not going to talk about here. [Trust me, I was with Tom when it happened, and if you heard the second show, you'll just have to read between the lines]. A few days after that, Tom was back on "The Q Files" again, this time unusually tight-lipped and only willing to say that "official disclosure will be made at the right time, and soon."

What Tom and host Stephen Quayle didn't know until after that third interview was that during the show over 13,000 government and military computers, including the Pentagon, NASA, Southcom, Northcom and every branch of the military locked on to hear what Tom Horn was going to say.

Below is the actual Domain Drilldown list. Some of these government and military institutions had nearly 500 computers connected to the show at the same time. When Stephen Quayle was asked by Tom Horn after the program if this was extraordinary, Quayle admitted this type phenomenon had never happened before to his knowledge.

As one formerly above-top-secret security clearance government employee who worked undercover for the FBI said, here is "Tom Horn's Mates."

Hey that shark has pretty teeth dear and he shows 'em pearly white.
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear And he keeps it way out of site.

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Reply with quote  #86 

Hi mactheknife... thanks for the excellent post with regards to the alleged banning of the book 'The Ahriman Gate'.  Very informative indeed, and as for it going from bad to worse, I couldn't help but allow myself a giggle at the radio interview, where it appeared that the whole of the dark side had tuned in to see what this guy had to say.  Great links too


In this day and age, we should be allowed to SAY what we want, and READ what we want, so what is it with the Dark Forces allegedly trying to ban books, which quite frankly, even if they are controversial to some degree, can also be informative and educational.


It is of Admin's opinion that the Dark Forces should get a life.  Or better still, a REAL job.



I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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Reply with quote  #87 

ferrisconspiracy : UPDATE




Bush ‘allowed leak of prewar intelligence’
A former top aide of Dick Cheney, the US vice president, has told prosecutors that George W Bush authorised the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed in a CIA leak case.

The TRUTH is out there...........

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Posts: 9,111
Reply with quote  #88 
Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


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Reply with quote  #89 

12.The Art of Spying

 An essay in our second oldest profession
Reference is made to my article: ‘Once a spook; always a spook


In a democracy the answer to that recurrent question:
‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?’
is you.

This is a general introduction essay into the world of espionage. Some of what you read below may shock or offend you but I believe you have a right to consider.


Spying and espionage is often seen purely as a function of government, this is a great misnomer.


A baby’s monitor can constitute a listening device which in other circumstances will be perceived as a bug.


Moving up the scale to the private detective (hired to observe a possible errant partner) is another low level instance in the spying profession.


Neither the baby, nor private detective will form a substantive part of this essay; instead I propose to discuss organisational spying or espionage whether the organisation is a government; a terrorist or freedom group; a political party or more often a commercial company with a GNP greater than that of many small countries.

I have divided this essay into a number of parts:

Introduction:  Definitions and where spying fits into the intelligence activity.

History:  An overview from a global and British perspective.

Current Status. What is happening now, taken from U.K. & world viewpoints.
A practical guide. In two parts:
(1) impact of individual surveillance;
(2) how terrorists operate.

My own modus operandi.
An explanation of how I function.
Some short studies as to how I have operated.
The ability to act upon information. 

Throughout the essay additional emphasis may be obtained via the linked articles displayed in blue.


I particularly recommend the general reader to listen to the BBC radio 4 broadcast ‘BeingBugged’ which can be accessed from this link.  [NB Link to the broadcast requires Real Player and may change]

For the more serious scholar I include a brief summary upon the lives and works of Sun Tzu, The Art of War, and Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince. If you want to be successful in any vocation, you must be willing to spend your time gathering current, hard information.


People have a tendency to want to rely on past experience, general theory, or old information rather than doing the work necessary to keep themselves well informed. Sun Tzu warns about these mistakes and tells you what you must do.


Machiavelli elaborates upon the policies you need to follow to reach your goal.

The essence of espionage is to be found within these works, should you wish to understand how the minds of our spymasters think; a careful study of these works will give you the answer. The essay below is a palimpsest to them.


Spying is seen as the act of obtaining information clandestinely. The term applies particularly to the covert act of collecting military, industrial, and political data about one nation for the benefit of another.


In truth the majority of the information collected is not that ‘secret’ but often the interpretation of the synergism is. Espionage is defined as the practice of spying or the using of spies.

Spying and espionage is a part of intelligence activity, which is also concerned with analysis of diplomatic reports, newspapers, periodicals, technical publications, commercial statistics, and radio and television broadcasts.


In the last fifty years espionage activity has been greatly supplemented by technological advances, especially in the areas of radio signal interception and high-altitude photography. Surveillance with high-technology equipment on the ground or from high-altitude planes and satellites has become an important espionage technique (i.e. Cuban missile crisis). Code making and code breaking (cryptography) have become computerized and very effective.


The threat of foreign espionage is used as an excuse for internal suppression and the suspension of civil rights in many countries.


Espionage is a very important part of guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency. The defensive side of intelligence activity, i.e., preventing another nation from gaining such information, is known as counterespionage. Under international law, intelligence activities are not illegal; however, every nation has laws against espionage conducted against it.


Beginnings through the Nineteenth Century

The importance of espionage in military affairs has been recognized since the beginning of recorded history. The Egyptians had a well-developed secret service, and spying and subversion are mentioned in the ‘Iliad’ and in the ‘Bible’.


The ancient Chinese treatise (c.500 B.C.) on the Art of War (see Sun Tzu) devotes much attention to deception and intelligence gathering, arguing that all war is based on deception.


Whilst Sun Tzu was unknown to Niccolo Machiavelli many of his concepts found new vigour within Machiavelli’s writings. In the Middle Ages, political espionage became important.


Joan of Arc was betrayed by Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvais, a spy in the pay of the English, and Sir Francis Walsingham developed an efficient political spy system for Elizabeth I. (See also Francis Walsingham’s acolytes Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon) With the growth of the modern national state, systematized espionage became a fundamental part of government in most countries.


Joseph Fouché is credited with developing the first modern political espionage system, and Frederick II of Prussia is regarded as the founder of modern military espionage. During the American Revolution, Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold achieved fame as spies, and there was considerable use of spies on both sides during the U.S.


Civil War; though it was not until the Second World War that the USA convincingly took to espionage. (‘Pearl Harbour’ was the product of the spymasters failure to collect, analyse and then act.)

In the Twentieth Century

By World War I, all the great powers except the United States had elaborate civilian espionage systems and all national military establishments had intelligence units. To protect the country against foreign agents, the U.S. Congress passed the Espionage Statute of 1917.


Germany and Japan established elaborate espionage nets in the years preceding World War II. In 1942 the Office of Strategic Services was founded by Gen. William J. Donovan. However, the British system was the keystone of Allied intelligence, and the fount in which USA intelligence was baptised.

Since World War II, espionage activity has enlarged considerably, much of it growing out of the cold war between the United States and the former USSR.


Russia and the Soviet Union have had a long tradition of espionage ranging from the Czar’s Okhrana to the Committee for State Security (the KGB), which also acted as a secret police force.


In the United States the 1947 National Security Act created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to coordinate intelligence and the National Security Agency for research into codes and electronic communication. In addition to these, the United States has nine other intelligence gathering agencies to which the old adage ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ appears to apply equally well to espionage.

Famous cold war espionage cases include Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers and the Rosenberg Case. In 1952 the Communist Chinese captured two CIA agents, and in 1960 Francis Gary Powers, flying a U-2 reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union for the CIA, was shot down and captured.


During the cold war, many Soviet intelligence officials defected to the West, including Gen. Walter Krivitsky, Victor Kravchenko, Vladimir Petrov, Peter Deriabin Pawel Monat, and Oleg Penkovsky, of the GRU (Soviet military intelligence).


Among Western officials who defected to the Soviet Union are Guy F. Burgess and Donald D. Maclean of Great Britain in 1951, Otto John of West Germany in 1954, William H. Martin and Bernon F. Mitchell, U.S. cryptographers, in 1960, and Harold (Kim) Philby of Great Britain in 1962. U.S. acknowledgment of its U-2 flights and the exchange of Francis Gary Powers for Rudolf Abel in 1962 implied the legitimacy of some espionage as an arm of foreign policy.

China has a very cost-effective intelligence program that is especially effective in monitoring neighbouring countries. Smaller countries can also mount effective and focused espionage efforts.


The Vietnamese Communists, for example, had consistently superior intelligence during the Vietnam War. Israel, size for size probably has the most efficient espionage establishment in the world. Some of the Muslim countries, especially Libya, Iran, and Syria, have highly developed operations as well. Iran’s Savak was particularly feared by Iranian dissidents before the Iranian Revolution.

In the Twenty First Century

The 1990s saw the end of the cold war. 9/11 began with a failure of intelligence. No amount of defence can compensate for poor intelligence. In the 1990s espionage via the use of the spy on the street went backwards.


Active front line spying was perceived as a cost saving benefit occasioned by the conclusion of the cold war. Intelligence systems had lost its human touch to the application of technical intelligence; information like how many missiles China has pointed at Taiwan was available, but less information was to hand as to whether or not China intended to fire them.


Now there is a return to human intelligence. The ability to develop foreign agents, get inside information from those who know about terrorism, and to be in a position to understand the terrorist’s mindset to anticipate their next moves. Spies on the ground are needed who possess the language and expertise to get inside terrorist organisations.


What needs to happen to fight terrorism is to re-create a level of human talent, a spy. Then we need a new generation of intelligence professionals who understand how to operate human agents and the technical systems in a seamless way. In short, to defeat terrorism in the twenty first century we must return back to the basics as preached by Sun Tzu and Machiavelli. 

Britain’s secret history

Britain has a murky record of official secrecy which stretches continuously back to the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I was obsessed that Spanish-backed Catholic plotters, loyal to her half-sister Mary, were attempting to overthrow her. The Virgin Queen's spymaster, Francis Walsingham, famously trapped Mary into making a move against Elizabeth through a series of faked letters from her supporters.


Many secret documents were disguised as business transactions. A letter to Sir Robert Cecil in 1591 about a cargo of wines was actually a coded description of the Spanish fleet. English and then British espionage grew during the next two hundred years. Indeed, part of the success of the Duke of Wellington's often heavily outnumbered army against Napoleon was down to a network of spies and codebreakers, especially during the Peninsula Campaign.

The growth of the mass media and increasing literacy throughout the 19th Century meant information was potentially far more damaging once it had been leaked by civil servants. The British government usually resorted to the civil courts to pursue the media as there was no legislation with which to prosecute the leakers. Even when a young draughtsman named Terry Young was suspected of selling warship designs to the French in 1887, there was no law under which to prosecute him.

The modern age of British government secrecy began with the wide ranging Official Secrets Act of 1911. Born of fears of increasing German military power, the act did not differentiate between secrets and made it an offence to reveal any government information.


Government officials joked at the time that even the menu in the Civil Service canteen was secret - and in fact it was under the act, which remained on the statute books until 1989.


During the inter-war period the government began to use the secret services as an important tool, not only to protect itself against espionage by foreign powers but also against political groups it saw as a threat.

The British establishment, shaken by the fate of the Russian royal family at the hands of the Bolsheviks, targeted left-wing groups. The ‘Zinoviev letter’, which purported to reveal links between the Labour Party and the Soviet Union, was alleged to have been circulated by MI6 to newspapers to discredit Labour on the eve of the 1924 general election. The letter was later revealed to have been a forgery.

The secret service was strengthened during World War II by an enthusiastic Winston Churchill.  The successes of the Bletchley Park codebreakers, who cracked the German Enigma code, led to the founding of GCHQ, which began intercepting communications from around the world.

During the 1950s the government began to recognise that the public wanted access to government documents and introduced the Public Records Act of 1958. But people interested in government secrets would have to wait 50 years before the documents were released to the public. (The equivalent is 100 years in Scotland as is noted in the Dunblane Enquiry) The act was reviewed in 1967 and the waiting time was reduced to 30 years.


Despite this government secrecy around the development of its nuclear programme was particularly tight during the Cold War. D notices, which the government used to prevent the press from revealing military and other secrets, were widely issued. In 1979 all Cabinet papers on atomic energy were made exempt from disclosure under the 30-year rule.

In 1993 the D notice system was replaced with standing Defence Advisory (DA) notices, which cover five areas - military operations and plans; nuclear weapons; ciphers and codes; installations and home addresses; and the intelligence services and Special Forces.


Several media organisations were reminded of these standing notices recently, during the Iraq conflict, especially with regard to the operations of the SAS and SBS. In 2000 a media blackout was agreed to prevent rebels in Sierra Leone learning about a pending SAS operation which eventually freed a group of captured British soldiers.

As our lives have come under increased scrutiny from the government so the campaign for access to that information has intensified. The Campaign for Freedom of Information, Liberty and Charter 88 have successfully lobbied government for the right of individuals to access the data held on them by government and private companies.

The Official Secrets Act of 1989, while de-classifying a great deal of government information, was seen as a backwards step by campaigners as it introduced drastic new controls on the media, including powers to prevent publication. The government had been worried by the 1985 Spycatcher affair, in which retired MI5 agent Peter Wright published memoirs containing embarrassing revelations about the security services.


More recently the case of David Shayler has revealed the lengths the government will go to protect its secrets. Labour came to power in 1997, having committed itself to introducing Freedom of Information legislation. When the Freedom of Information Bill was actually presented to the Commons in 2000, ministers retained significant powers to withhold information at their discretion and the bill was criticised for maintaining the culture of secrecy many believe still exists within the corridors of Whitehall.

The current status

What is happening now, taken from the U.K. citizen’s viewpoint. The five articles below are taken from the BBC News Online. Whilst the articles are now somewhat dated the gist is good.

Collectively these articles present a good layman’s guide to the UK information availability. These articles focus on the inward perspective. 

The next four articles below are taken from assorted papers. Whilst the articles are now somewhat dated the gist is good. You may appreciate that from a world perspective the U.K. is not seen as a ‘good guy’

Collectively these articles present a good layman’s guide to the UK information availability. These articles focus on the outward perspective. For a more detailed appraisal of current thinking both the articles below will stimulate the scholar.

Echelon interception system  - download the (PDF) file

A Revolution in Intelligence Affairs - download the (PDF) file

Hubris is a quality of people
Under the influence of being right.
Beware of power wielded in a cause
Restrained by nothing more than higher laws,
Intent on doing good through measured might.
So do righteous rulers' reigns turn lethal.

Hey that shark has pretty teeth dear and he shows 'em pearly white.
Just a jackknife has Macheath dear And he keeps it way out of site.

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Guardian wins key secrecy case

Stuart Millar and Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday January 24, 2003
The Guardian

The Guardian yesterday won a landmark legal victory when two senior judges upheld its unprecedented challenge to a blanket rule dictating that every hearing of the government's surveillance watchdog be held in secret.

Meeting in public yesterday for the first time, the investigatory powers tribunal quashed rules made by the home secretary that prevented any public access to or reporting of the tribunal's business, even when there was no threat to national security.

The tribunal is responsible for hearing complaints from members of the public who believe they have been the target of unlawful surveillance by police, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, customs or the Inland Revenue. Since 1985, every case has been held entirely in secret and no complaint has been upheld.

But in their 85-page judgment, the judges ruled that parts of cases where no sensitive information would be disclosed should be held in public.

They said the challenge to the rules was "the most significant case ever to come before the tribunal", and their ruling would have important consequences for future complaints.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, said: "Today's ruling is a significant victory for those who campaign for open justice, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial."

The Guardian's challenge related to two cases brought by the human rights group Liberty, which also challenged the secrecy rule. One case involves an east London businessman, Malcolm Kennedy, who said police had continually interfered with his communications after he complained about them during a criminal case in 1984 in which he was convicted of manslaughter.

In the second case, Liberty, British-Irish Rights Watch and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties allege that telephone calls between them in the UK and Ireland were routinely intercepted by GCHQ.

In the Guardian's submission to the tribunal last July, Michael Tugendhat QC argued that the absolute blanket ban on any public access or reporting was incompatible with the principles of open justice and freedom of expression enshrined in common law and the Human Rights Act. The tribunal agreed.

The judges also voiced anxiety that the tribunal's rulings could not be appealed.

Despite yesterday's decision, much of the tribunal's work will remain secret. Only procedural issues will be public. Complainants will still have no automatic right to hear or see the evidence or allegations against them from the agency they are complaining about.

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