Thursday, August 22, 2013

Surveillance theatre

Given the sheer pointlessness of :
1) destroying the Guardian copy of Snowden hard drive data after being informed there were two other copies in existence elsewhere anyway, and 
2) detaining Greenwald's partner Miranda for 9 hours under a terrorism statute when they knew he isn't a terrorist
we are reliably inclined to view this as a clear intent to intimidate the Guardian and Greenwald, as well as any other media with the audacity not to equate journalism with terrorism. 

But there may be another possibility.

In this Guardian article published earlier this month based on Edward Snowden's cache of docs, we learned the USA has supplemented the GCHQ's budget to the tune of 
"£100m over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes" 
It contains a number of quotes from GCHQ officials wittering on about whether they were "seen to be pulling their weight" and doing enough to keep the NSA happyThe US is apparently pleased with the GCHQ's "selling point" as a "light oversight regime compared to the US", and also presumably with the UK's laws of prior restraint, not available in the US, to muzzle the British press. However the US had 
"raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA's minimum expectations". It said GCHQ "still remains short of the full NSA ask".
UK's biggest fear is that "US perceptions of the … partnership diminish, leading to loss of access, and/or reduction in investment … to the UK" 
GCHQ said that by 2013 it hoped to have "exploited to the full our unique selling points of geography, partnerships [and] the UK's legal regime" 
So as successful as the seemingly pointless tactics against Greenwald and the Guardian may yet prove to be as intimidation, it's possible the actual intent here was two acts of detain and destroy surveillance theatre designed to display GCHQ loyalty and usefulness to their heavy maintenance NSA investors. 


West End Bob said...

So the big question is whether GCHQ has passed muster or if they're still short of obtaining their NSA Good Conduct Medal.

Guess history - or barry's Director of National Intelligence and serial liar james clapper - will be the judge . . . .

Boris said...

Colony. Proxy. HOW is it that the worst of us always manage to float to the top?

Anonymous said...

A superb bit of sleuthing there, Creekside.
If true, I wonder if Rasbridger knew this - he has access to Snowden's data after all - and this perhaps explains his very lowkey paragraph 9 release of the info about destroying his hard drives. He knew it was theatre and more or less presented it as such.

Anonymous said...

btw have you read D├ęcary's new report on CSEC?

Alison said...

Anon : I went to sleep reading Decary last night - will give it another shot later. POGGE has a post up ; nothing from Lux Ex Umbra as yet.

Rasbridger. Yes. As you say, if true, that para 9 placing gave it exactly the prominence he felt it warranted but then it went viral so he ran with it.

Boris : Don't despair! "Floaters" eventually get exactly the moral authority they deserve. ;-)
Notable that even the WSJ is doing its own Snowdenless investigation now. Momentum.

Bob : Shorter Clapper : They hate us for our freedoms so if we just get rid of them, everything will be cool again.
So, Bob, yo'll know this - where did I read about Barry trying to get Bush immunity for doing the things Barry now does so much better?

Anonymous said...

In The Loop got there before GCHQ

xo, waterbaby


West End Bob said...

Not sure 'bout barry givin' george w. surveillance immunity, but did you see what his stellar Dept. of Justice did today?

"Ain't a dime's worth of difference between the democrats and the republicans." George C. Wallace . . . .

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the inept youtube posting. Here's one you can cut and paste:

And here's an interesting statement from the White House about their role in the theatre of the absurd:

"Meanwhile, on Monday, the White House confirmed it was notified before Miranda was taken into custody. This is White House Deputy Secretary Josh Earnest.
DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: There was a heads-up that was provided by the British government. So this—again, this is something that we had an indication was likely to occur, but it’s not something that we’ve requested. And it’s something that was done specifically by the—by the British law enforcement officials there. The United States was not involved in that decision or in that action, so if you have questions about—if you have questions about it, then I would refer you to the British government."

Alison said...


Ok, don't make me go over there, Waterbaby, coz then it lead to best of followed up by an evening of deleted scenes from The Thick of It..

And Her Majesty's Government replies:
"A spokesman for Clegg made clear that Heywood was acting on the authority of both the prime minister and his deputy.
On the specific issue of records held by the Guardian, the deputy prime minister thought it was reasonable for the cabinet secretary to request that the Guardian destroyed data that would represent a serious threat to national security if it was to fall into the wrong hands.

"The deputy prime minister felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action. He was keen to protect the Guardian's freedom to publish, whilst taking the necessary steps to safeguard security.

"It was agreed to on the understanding that the purpose of the destruction of the material would not impinge on the Guardian's ability to publish articles about the issue, but would help as a precautionary measure to protect lives and security."

...despite there being at least two other copies. Well OK then.

Bob : Thanks. I'll bet that was what I was misremembering - immunity for war crimes, not surveillance crimes.

West End Bob said...

No, thank you, M'Lady!

Now, about that pizza . . . . ;-)

Boris said...

"...felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action."

And when that didn't work their version of "legal action" involved the questionable application of a questionable anti-terror law to create an international incident? Seriously, did anyone tell these folks that Thick and Loop are not instructional films?

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