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Old 10-12-2013   #21
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Default MI5 Chief Security Brief

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...ty-speech.html

Quote:
I will focus on three things:

• the MI5 of 2013, and what guides and shapes it;
• the enduring and diversifying threat from Al Qaida and its imitators; and third
• the question of how in a world of accelerating technological change MI5 will continue to be able to get the information it needs to protect the UK.
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Old 10-12-2013   #22
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Default Nothing is simple, even if MI5 say it is

Bill,

Not unexpectedly the speech got extensive publicity and yesterday morning two "wise, old men" were on BBC radio commenting. One, Nigel Inkster, ex-No.2 at SIS:
Quote:
I sense that those most interested in the activities of the NSA and GCHQ have not been told very much they didn't know already or could have inferred.
Within a commentary:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...y-intelligence

The Security Service's Director-General has used RUSI as a venue before, but rightly others ask, as would I, when he remarks about the unnamed Snowden revelations - where is the GCHQ Director? See:http://www.spyblog.org.uk/

Then the Security Service's ex-legal adviser stated:
Quote:
Secrecy in this country is over-protected and under-regulated....The UK has signally failed to prepare itself for openness when dealing with politically sensitive issues such as terrorism or the involvement of their secret agencies in the gathering of information by secret means. We see only a fleeting and ephemeral face of the intelligence agencies chiefs; ministers glide over the threats, never explain their relationship with those agencies and are content to retain an obviously inadequate system for their supervision.

(Bickford said public scepticism was) ..made worse by the Communications Data Bill's proposal that the agencies themselves control their mining of communications data. Unless government takes this debate seriously, secrecy will be pierced by the needs of society and terrorism and organised crime will plunder our sovereignty.
Within a report on a speech by Hilary Clinton, in London:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...clinton-spying

Issues of accountability, damage and necessity pale in significance when it is alleged politicians had not authorised the GCHQ-NSA collaboration to conduct such extensive surveillance of the innocent. Then bizarrely, in the UK, ministers from the coalition and Labour had promoted legislation to undertake such surveillance.
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Old 10-15-2013   #23
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Default Landscape moving

The MI5 Director-General's speech has hardly calmed opinions and here are three different viewpoints.

First an extended comment by Nigel Inkster, ex-SIS, now IISS, entitled Surveillance and Counter-Terrorism:http://www.iiss.org/en/politics%20an...d-counter-c6f9

Then an article in The Guardian, by Ken McDonald, a top lawyer and formerly a Director of Public Prosecutions, who is usually worth reading:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...ing-technology

Incidentally an ex-GCHQ legal adviser is speaking next week @ Oxford University, at a cyber event and hopefully a transcript will appear. It is very rare for such luminaries, let alone anyone from GCHQ, to speak in public.

The third article is by a retired Conservative MP, known for being robust as a minister and backbencher. If he is being critical then the political assumptions on surveillance are changing:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...nce?CMP=twt_gu
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Old 11-20-2013   #24
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Default Inkster on Snowden – myths and misapprehension

Nigel Inkster, ex-No.2 at SIS, now at IISS, has written a commentary 'Snowden – myths and misapprehensions' and is worth a read:http://www.iiss.org/en/politics%20an...6/snowden-9dd1

He ends with:
Quote:
It seems that the revelations will continue for the foreseeable future and that, as they do, further myths and misapprehensions will take hold. For those who regard intelligence services as inherently illegitimate or take the view that the US is the world’s number-one rogue actor, no counter-narrative will ever be convincing. But for those who accept that covert capabilities of some kind are needed to combat the threats posed by an array of state and non-state actors – or who adopt the realist perspective that countries are entitled to use covert capabilities to secure national advantage, provided that this is subject to proper controls – there is scope for a more nuanced debate on how power can be responsibly exercised by governments in the cyber domain. That must start with an understanding of the issues based on facts rather than misapprehensions.
There is much I would agree with, but I do differ on whether the British accountability and oversight regime are today fit for public purpose, as distinct from the state's intended purpose.

Two additional UK stories, one 'Surveillance technology out of control, says Lord Ashdown'; he is an ex-Liberal-Democrat leader:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...ontrol-ashdown

The second by Simon Jenkins, a regular columnist in The Guardian, is 'The days of believing spy chiefs who say 'Trust us' are over'; a conclusion that is a moot point as the issues appear to have little public traction:http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...ver?CMP=twt_gu

There is a main SWC thread on the issues '"We are all honorary Muslims now" with PRISM?', which will absorb this thread one day.
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Old 07-08-2014   #25
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Default Ex-SIS Director talk 'Terrorism and National Security: Proportion or Distortion?'

A short RUSI podcast (30 mins) of a lecture by Sir Richard Dearlove, former Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) till 2004:https://www.rusi.org/events/past/ref.../#.U7rENdzGvlJ

Two different commentaries. The title in The Guardian:
Quote:
Islamist terror threat to west blown out of proportion - former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove says extremists are now focused on Middle East and giving them publicity in west is counter-productive
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2...chard-dearlove

Or this headline in The Daily Telegraph:
Quote:
Islamist terror is little threat to the West, and Saudis are backing Iraqi jihad': is this former spy chief right?
Link:http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/sh...y-chief-right/

Those who have been 'C' rarely speak openly, so worth a listen IMHO.
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Old 10-11-2014   #26
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Default Doughnut boss gives interview

'The Doughnut' is the nickname for the HQ of GCHQ, the UK's SIGINT / COMINT organisation (similar to the NSA) and its Director is about to retire, so he gave an interview:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...n-our-own.html

His questioner, Charles Moore, gives him an "easy ride" IMHO and some phrases do jar.

I certainly don't recall this being public information:
Quote:
...a monument to colleagues who died on active service – five in Afghanistan.
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Old 10-22-2014   #27
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Default Doughnut boss adds and his critics respond

Yesterday Ian Lobban, GCHQ's retiring Director gave his official exit speech; choosing Churchill's WW2 Cabinet War Rooms in London. This is the official version:http://www.gchq.gov.uk/press_and_med...delivered.aspx

He ends with:
Quote:
My staff are the embodiment of British values, not a threat to them
One critical blogger has responded, with a passage by passage critique, which in my opinion is the better read:https://p10.secure.hostingprod.com/@...ry-speech.html

The anonymous author almost ends with:
Quote:
Most current GCHQ staff are probably not a threat to British values, but the automated infrastructure of snooping is a huge threat to us all, including such privileged insiders themselves.
A shorter response, on a US website, cites Professor Ross Anderson,, of Cambridge University, a critic:
Quote:
Presumably their definition of liberty is their liberty to do what they want.
Link:http://motherboard.vice.com/read/bri...s-surveillance
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Old 01-09-2015   #28
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Default MI5 Director's speech: the threat and response

Temporary stand-alone post for Max visibility.

Quote:
London (AFP) - The head of Britain's domestic spy agency MI5 warned on Thursday that militant Islamists in Syria were planning "mass casualty attacks" in the West and that intelligence services may be powerless to stop them.
http://news.yahoo.com/militants-plan...005654650.html

Moderator's Note

This thread was originally entitled 'Militants planning mass casualty attacks against West' and has now been renamed.
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Old 01-09-2015   #29
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Default MI5 Director's actual speech

The actual, full speech given yesterday by the British Security Service (MI5) has many, many points and reassurances on why:https://www.mi5.gov.uk/home/about-us...ntability.html

I have yet to read it fully and may comment later.
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Old 01-09-2015   #30
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For those with little time this commentary summarises the speech:http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/fraser-...sm-in-britain/

A wider article '....what are the implications of the Paris shootings for counterterrorism policy in Europe?' by two Kings College academics:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...in-Europe.html
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Old 01-14-2015   #31
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Default Two ex-MI5 Directors cast doubt on UK CT strategy

For two ex-Security Service directors to wonder aloud critically on the UK's CT strategy is unprecedented, even more so as the effects of Paris are in political and media foreground.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, who retired as Director in 2007, spoke in a House of Lords debate on the government's latest proposed CT law:
Quote:
It seems to me that Prevent is clearly not working. This is not altogether surprising because it is difficult. We do not really know what works. I retired nearly eight years ago. I know that a great deal of effort has gone into thinking about how to counter this toxic and murderous ideology. I believe that we must have a better understanding of the roots of terrorism than we used to, and a better understanding of how to divert people—particularly vulnerable young people who have, in some cases, been groomed and exploited—from their path.
Some of those who come back from Syria will not be terrorists; some need to be reintegrated. The Channel programme is obviously to be applauded, but I am still concerned that it is bound to be slow, even over the long term.
It is understandable that it will be slow, but we do not seem—I beg to be corrected by others who are more up to date than me—to be having much effect. We are told that 600 dangerous extremists who are British citizens have fought in Syria. That is a large number. If Prevent had been working for the past 10 years, we might not have seen so many going.
It follows that I rather doubt that the Government, however laudable their efforts, are well placed to counter this ideology. A lead on that has and is beginning to come from moderate, mainstream Islam, which has itself suffered so much from the distorted version of its faith propounded by terrorists. One of the most appalling scenes from Paris was that of the Muslim policeman on the pavement being executed brutally by one of the terrorists.
It also follows, therefore, that I am not convinced of the value of putting Prevent on a statutory footing. I am out of date. The Government may be able to convince me, but I cannot see how legislation can really govern hearts, minds and free speech.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...as-failed.html and her full speech is on:http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/...5-01-13a.750.0

Jonathan Evans, who retired as Director in April 2013, in a maiden speech in the House of Lords, stated:
Quote:
....the “hesitancy” of the Government to “engage with the religious dimension of the threat we face” was making it harder to prevent young men becoming radicalised....events in Syria and Iraq had caused a “jolt of energy that has gone through the extremist networks in this country”, turning would-be jihadists into battle-hardened terrorists. A similar situation existed in Afghanistan before 9/11, he said, and: “Those circumstances led to a series of attacks internationally and over a long period. I fear we may be facing the same situation as we go forward today…
“Inadequate security will breed vulnerability and fear and that in turn will tend to limit people’s ability to contribute to civil society, will tend to provoke vigilantism and will tend to diminish people’s ability to exercise the very civil liberties and human rights that we wish to sustain.”
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...oss-warns.html and his entire speech is on:http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/...5-01-13a.690.0

'Prevent' is one of the four strands in 'Operation Contest', the UK national CT strategy; the other three strands are Pursue, Prepare and Protect.

'Prevent' has long been the weakest strand, both in its design, level of resourcing, public acceptance and credibility.

There are two main SWC threads on UK CT:
a) UK CT:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7768
b) Foreign Fighters: preventative action (UK mainly):http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=20549

Leaving aside the impact here I do wonder as the 'Contest' strategy has been widely copied elsewhere, will those nations think again. I include the USA, where CVE is the 'Prevent' equivalent.

Bizarrely Westminster-Whitehall have managed to think and now via this new law make counter-radicalisation extend to nursery schools! When six hundred people have reported left to fight in Syria, that does seem weird.

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Old 02-05-2015   #32
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Default Understanding digital intelligence from a British perspective

Professor Sir David Omand has written a short commentary, it reflects his years as an "insider" and his studies since. He remains a stalwart defender of what GCHQ in particular has been doing:http://strifeblog.org/2015/02/05/und...h-perspective/

I note his emphasis that:
Quote:
The issue is how we the public can be sure that under any future government these tools cannot be misused.
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Old 02-17-2015   #33
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Default We deal with the Russia we have, not the Russia we’d like to have

A phrase taken from Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6 (SIS), in his lecture @ Kings War Studies:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...ers-mi6-europe

Quote:
Ukrainians look to us to help them have their chance to embrace the order and values we enjoy here in modern Europe. We and they may end up with a new debilitating frozen conflict in Ukraine, well into the future. That is a wretched outcome for Ukrainians. But it may be the least bad attainable outcome.”


Sawers said efforts by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to restore calm deserved the west’s full support. He added: “Once we have calm – if we have calm – we’ll need a new approach to co-existence with president Putin’s Russia.

The convergence between Russia and the west which we had hoped for after the cold war won’t happen while he is in charge. We now know that. Any foreseeable change of power in Russia may well be for the worse. Managing relations with Russia will be the defining problem in European security for years to come.
The full speech is available:http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/department...F-SECURITY.pdf
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-14-2015 at 10:45 AM. Reason: Copied from the Ukraine non-military thread
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Old 02-17-2015   #34
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Default Values and Order: a spook speaks (MI6 / SIS)

Yesterday Sir John Sawers, the recently retired SIS (MI6) Chief, gave the annual Kings War Studies Lecture, he used the title The Limits of Security and a transcript is available:http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/department...F-SECURITY.pdf

Kings summary:
Quote:
Addressing a packed lecture theatre, Sir John offered a rare insight into decades of service for the British diplomatic and intelligence services, and the ongoing battle for ‘shared value and order’ in an increasingly unstable global landscape. He discussed the ideological conflicts currently faced in Europe, where despite initial glimmers of economic, social and political reform, he said Russia has ‘not confronted and overcome its past’, and the foundations on which a post-Cold War society led by President Putin could hope to prosper have been undermined by a lack of ‘serious moral reckoning, and no assertion of new healthy values.’ Sir John warned: ‘Russian politics have slipped back: rather less democratic and more autocratic. Managing relations with Russia will be the defining problem in European security for years to come’.
Curiously he cites and recommends Henry Kissinger's latest book. For many here Dr. K. is not admired, even if memories fade.

I am sure this has been said before:
Quote:
The test for any policy option is not so much “Is this the right next step?” The more important test is: “Where will we be in two years’ time if we follow this path?
Later he comments on the agents working for SIS:
Quote:
The secret agents who work for MI6 are mainly not British. Foreign nationals operating in their own countries, directly risking their own lives.They work for us for different reasons. But for many of them one reason comes first. They believe in the British approach to Order and Values.
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Old 02-17-2015   #35
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Thanks for sharing. I think he provides some deep insights to think about.

I tire of security discussions when they focus on existential threats, it is a hangover we can't seem to cure from the Cold War Era. This transcript addresses the possibility that the risk of nuclear annihilation remains, but looks beyond that and discusses the importance of order and values. He correctly identifies that China and the U.S. concepts of order and values diverge, and the risks that poses.

Quote:
A Chinese minister was asked recently about Ukraine. He said, very aptly,
Quote:
Ukraine has lost Crimea.
Russia has lost Ukraine.
The United States has lost Russia
We have all lost stability
Stability. Order. Values. It’s easy to pose dilemmas. Sometimes there aren’t good answers
We did not simply focus on existential threats during the Cold War. We also postured large ground forces to oppose a potential USSR invasion of Western Europe. In the purest sense of the definition of existential threat, the loss of Western Europe was not an existential threats to the U.S., but leaders realized the importance of enforcing an international order and promoting certain values (as stated in the paper, you can't have order without values) contributed to national security and prosperity. The world has never policed, and disorder in one location promotes disorder and rule breakers in others that eventually threaten our collective security. We should continue to defend and promote values and an order that benefits our collective security and prosperity with a big BUT,

Quote:
Vast regions of the World never shared in the Western concept of order, they only acquiesced in it. These reservations are becoming explicit, for example in Ukraine and the South China Sea
Quote:
Our new century is looking rather different. Long-standing ideas of Order and Values are being challenged, in many different ways. Building new understandings for Order and Values is the central task of our time for political leaders and diplomats. And, yes, intelligence agencies.
The U.S. needs to adapt to the 21st Century, there are new voices and new power that also have increasingly critical roles in defining and maintaining the world order. Unfortunately, while the U.S. may be the most powerful country in the world, but we're a divided nation politically, which in many ways either nullifies our power to shape the world, or results in episodes where we wield it clumsily resulting in less than desired outcomes. There are drawbacks to democracy, especially in today's hyper-interconnected world. Politicians striving to maintain their personal power make decisions based on perceived popularity versus wisdom and the greater good, so at a minimum it makes progress towards to a new world order that may be sustainable difficult.

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Old 02-18-2015   #36
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It has always been about "values" the entire Cold War was fought on "values" and the Ukrainian events are also about Russian perceived values over riding what they perceive to be the "false/fake" western liberal democratic and economic values.

Why the attack on "perceived western liberal and economic values" -- they are a truly serious threat to a country that has a far poorer economic system due to oligarchic corruption to the tune of literally billions and a political system bordering on fascism.
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Old 02-18-2015   #37
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ISIL/ISIS/IS also practices fascism. It seems the End of History is no where in sight after all.

U.S. leadership is absent on the world stage, and it should be clear by now no other country will step up and lead in our absence. However, a lot of bad actors will take advantage of the leadership void.
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Old 02-19-2015   #38
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After WWII, when the US still led by example and stood upon the fundamental principles that we ourselves were founded upon, revolutionary people around the world with diverse cultures, such as the Muslim Berbers in Algeria, and the communist rebels led by Ho in Indochina, turned to the US with copies of our universal declaration of independence in hand and cried out, "us too!!"

But we turned our backs on them, and we turned our backs on our principles as well. To exercise a system of control over half the world due to a largely irrational fear of Russia and the decision to lay siege to Russia via containment as a strategy, had made our principles inconvenient - so we watered them down and qualified them with values.

FDR died with a vision of promoting the "four freedoms" (of religion and speech, from fear and want); the end of colonialism; the right to self determination; and a vision of the four emerging powers (US, UK, Russia and China) working together as a new global security partnership to replace the failed league of nations.

But we let our own exaggerated fears drive us to a values based system of directed leadership - and today we still live with the good and bad of that decision.

The neocons are as lost as are the social engineers wishing to conform everyone to our current (certainly not "enduring" or "universal" as arrogantly packaged in the past 2 or 3 National Security Strategies) values.

I for one am not afraid of our founding principles, and believe it is long overdue for the US to assume the risk necessary to be the principled leader by example we believe ourselves to be, and to finally abandon the directive leadership relying upon sloganed "values" that we have actually been employing for the past several decades.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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Old 02-19-2015   #39
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Quote:
But we let our own exaggerated fears drive us to a values based system of directed leadership
Sir, could you expand on that and what you mean by directed leadership?
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Old 02-19-2015   #40
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Begin with our picking and then protecting governance for a dozen countries that was what we thought would be best for us, over the express, and often violent protest of what those who lived in those places hoped to self determine for themselves. Vietnam, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan being four painful examples. Two of those in direct support of former colonial powers.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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