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Thread: GCHQ and the NSA

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Depressing reading and it just seems to be getting worse.

    I hope the revelations motivate us to make some changes but, as I mentioned to someone in a conversation the other day, does it really matter who you vote in these days? Obama's arrogance regarding the NSA situation has been awful, even by a politician's standards. Secret courts, the 'God' of 'National Security' being cited so you can't even discuss the letter that the government sends you with your own legal representatives. Cameron's web censorship plan 'for the children' stinks of New Labour at its most ideologically extreme too.

    Ugh! Rubbish!!! We let them get away with this - now what's the alternative, I wonder?

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by pollaxe View Post
    Ugh! Rubbish!!! We let them get away with this - now what's the alternative, I wonder?
    It is really shameful isn't it. What can we do?

    Labour make terrible law that strips humans of basic rights because terrorists!

    Lib Dems and Conservatives use it.

    The greens are just too bloody loony, and UKIP is erm, well a bit too much shall we say.
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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Surely the only thing you can do, is stand as an MP yourself and hope enough others agree with you. In the spirit of "if you can't beat them - join them".

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    ....

    Another new low. Using counter terrorism laws to detain a reporter's family. ....
    Are reporter's family, or anyone else, exempt from anti-terror laws? No. Nor should they be.

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    .... Who is quite plainly not a terrorist, ....
    First, the law does not require someone to be, nor does it require grounds to suspect that.

    Bear in mind, Schedule 7 ONLY applies at border areas, that is, essentially, ports and airports, for people getting on of off planes, boats, etc, or intending to do so.

    It is INTENDED to be broad-ranging, not least because it has to be because the alternative may well be to let a terrorist get on a plane, and blow it out of the sky, while the police are still worrying about whether they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect someone is a terrorist.

    Remember not just what this law permits police to do, but what it's introduction was a reaction to. It is an extreme measure, designed for an extreme situation.

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    .... not to mention he was denied counsel, .....
    Well, perhaps indeed it's best not to mention that, because according to the Met Police, not only was he not denied council but a solicitor was present.


    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    .... had all his electronics seized(disgusting when you consider he wasn't charged or even arrested) ....
    Erm, see the above point about blowing planes out of the sky.

    And all property must be returned within 7 days unless there is an on-going prosecution.

    Quote Originally Posted by chuckskull View Post
    .... and refusing to to co-operate(your classic "No comment.") is considered a crime in of itself during these interviews.

    .....
    Police have 9 hours to arrest and charge, or release, and this for people who are likely to immediately board a plane and leave the country.

    So, absent that provision, all that is going to happen with an actual terrorist is 9 hours of no comment, followed by departure.



    There is certainly a question-mark over whether anti-terror laws were appropriate inthis case, and that remains to be seen. We don't know why he was stopped. Maybe an over-zealous officer (police, security services, whatever) saw an opportunity. Maybe there was intelligence suggesting it was an appropriate case. And maybe even it was a setup designed to provoke a controversy, and journalistic outrage. I'd certainly suspect the first of those, but the fact remains, at this point, we just do not know.

    And personally, I'd rather see occasional cases of abuse of these laws, and someone suffering a few hours of questioning and inconvenience, than removing the laws altogether and seeing hundreds of people killed in a plane bomb. Again.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Are reporter's family, or anyone else, exempt from anti-terror laws? No. Nor should they be.
    People who are not suspected terrorists should be.

    First, the law does not require someone to be, nor does it require grounds to suspect that.

    Bear in mind, Schedule 7 ONLY applies at border areas, that is, essentially, ports and airports, for people getting on of off planes, boats, etc, or intending to do so.

    It is INTENDED to be broad-ranging, not least because it has to be because the alternative may well be to let a terrorist get on a plane, and blow it out of the sky, while the police are still worrying about whether they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect someone is a terrorist.

    Remember not just what this law permits police to do, but what it's introduction was a reaction to. It is an extreme measure, designed for an extreme situation.
    I'm familiar with those points of the law, that is the reason I object to them. I'm not saying this wasn't lawful I'm saying it was immoral. Extreme situation; Britain being bombed? Hardly. Frankly that's a mundane situation. There hasn't been a time for about 100 years wasn't actively being bomber or under threat of it and the current crop are the most ineffectual yet. Not to mention things more likely to kill you than a terrorist in this country include trousers, bathtubs, pets and doctors.

    Well, perhaps indeed it's best not to mention that, because according to the Met Police, not only was he not denied council but a solicitor was present.
    That's not what he said. He said the Met offered to provide one but he refused requesting his own. Also, a solicitor =/= his solicitor. To be denied his chosen counsel is to be denied counsel.

    And all property must be returned within 7 days unless there is an on-going prosecution.
    I fail to see how that makes it acceptable. It's still seizing the property of someone who has not been arrested and is not accused of any crime.

    Police have 9 hours to arrest and charge, or release, and this for people who are likely to immediately board a plane and leave the country.

    So, absent that provision, all that is going to happen with an actual terrorist is 9 hours of no comment, followed by departure.
    You have the right to remain silent*

    *Terms and conditions may apply. That really doesn't bother you?

    That kind of government coercion is not acceptable.

    And personally, I'd rather see occasional cases of abuse of these laws, and someone suffering a few hours of questioning and inconvenience, than removing the laws altogether and seeing hundreds of people killed in a plane bomb. Again.
    Not sure what this has to do with bombs on planes. in fact it wasn't needed in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing the only bombed plane in Britain that springs to mind. The only relevant bombing was of buses and trains, it killed 52 people and was not stopped by this law which had been in place 5 years at that time.

    You're arguing this law is effective, which is at very best debatable and more importantly not relevant. The Stasi were effective, that doesn't make them moral, acceptable or compatible with the principles of democracy, human rights and justice.
    Last edited by chuckskull; 20-08-2013 at 02:17 AM.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    What I find interesting is that the comments of people with an actual legal background (but without a vested interest in defending it) all seem to revolve around the theme that:

    -The legislation was almost certsinly misused
    -If what is alleged the stop was for is true, there already exist laws to handle that, but those have inconvenient protections attached which this procedure does an end run around and furthermore the alleged reason doesn't fit within the limitations of the act
    -That no matter if the stopping was 'correct' for 'moral' or similar reasons, the specific means used constitute a massive misuse of power due to the statutory rights it strips from people and /that's/ the real problem.


    I find it interesting the drafter of the legislation himself thinks it was on dodgy ground.

    I'd say 'time will tell' but....will it?

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by roachcoach View Post
    What I find interesting is that the comments of people with an actual legal background (but without a vested interest in defending it) all seem to revolve around the theme that:

    -The legislation was almost certsinly misused
    -If what is alleged the stop was for is true, there already exist laws to handle that, but those have inconvenient protections attached which this procedure does an end run around and furthermore the alleged reason doesn't fit within the limitations of the act
    -That no matter if the stopping was 'correct' for 'moral' or similar reasons, the specific means used constitute a massive misuse of power due to the statutory rights it strips from people and /that's/ the real problem.


    I find it interesting the drafter of the legislation himself thinks it was on dodgy ground.

    I'd say 'time will tell' but....will it?
    If by "drafter" you mean Falconer, then perhaps he needs to reread the Act. It might well be that what it says, and how it is now being interpreted, is not what he and others originally intended or had in mind, but if so, then the fault lies with sloppy drafting.

    The problem, if indeed that's what it is, is that the definition of "terrorist" and "terrorism" is quite broad. It most certainly is NOT limited to people who go about blowing things up or committing other similarly violent acts. It is explicitly designed to catch people doing non-violent things that lead to those acts. So it is designed, for instance, to include those supplying material, training manuals, etc.

    So, part of the definition is seeking to threaten or influence governments, for a political or ideological cause, where "a person's" life is "endangered".


    Quote Originally Posted by Terrorism Act 2000 s (1)
    1 Terrorism: interpretation.

    (1)In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—

    (a)the action falls within subsection (2),

    (b)the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and

    (c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.

    (2)Action falls within this subsection if it—

    (a)involves serious violence against a person,

    (b)involves serious damage to property,

    (c)endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,

    (d)creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or

    (e)is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
    and the schedule 7 powers cover, given the above definition ....

    Quote Originally Posted by TA 2000, s40
    a person who has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism ....
    So .... the "terrorism" doesn't have to result in anyone actually losing their life, it is enough for ONE person to be endangered, IF the other criteria are met.

    Greenwald is publishing details of stolen, classified documents, the publication of which has to affect ongoing intelligence operations designed to stop people that actually do go around bombing, and so on. If that publishing results either in endangering intelligence operatives, or wrecks operations that could have saved, for instance, bombing victims, then that element has, at least arguably, been met.

    So, are governments being threatened, or an attempt to influence being made? Self-evidently, yes. You only have to read the Guardian, among others, to see the self-righteous condemnation of "intrusion" by, for example, PRISM. So, right or wrong, it's attempting to influence governments. Is it for political or ideological purposes? Well, as with the rest of this, it's for a court to decide, by it sure as hell looks at the very least political to me.

    And if so, we have the trifecta ...

    - seeking to influence governments
    - political motivation, and
    - life endangered.

    Given that, and given that we KNOW the Snowden data (or copies of it) have been physically moved by the Guardian, and that we KNOW (from Miranda's own words) that he was, and had previously, transferred data from wots-her-name to Greenwald, and that the Guardian stated Miranda's fare was paid by them, that he was carrying "journalistic materials" and that he was neither a journalist nor a Guardian employee, it's not much of a leap to conclude it may well have been Snowden files.

    After all, given what we know all (thanks to Snowden, Greenwald and the Guardian) now know about PRISM etc, you can see why the Guardian might not want to sent such material over the internet.

    So, if Falconer had a hand in drafting this, he may not have intended or foreseen this interpretation, but it is in the coverage of the Act.

    Whether it should be or not is another question. But so is whether a profit-oriented commercial organisation like the Guardian has ANY right to set itself up as judge and jury over what does or does not constitute national security, and to possess, handle and publish stolen, classified material for the sake of a good story.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by roachcoach View Post
    What I find interesting is that the comments of people with an actual legal background (but without a vested interest in defending it)
    Out of curiosity do you consider Jack of Kent to have a vested interest?
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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by TeePee View Post
    Where was Obama born ?

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Wasn't the old chap who heckled Tony Blair at the Labour conference removed/held on anti-terrorism grounds...?

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by pollaxe View Post
    Wasn't the old chap who heckled Tony Blair at the Labour conference removed/held on anti-terrorism grounds...?
    I thought it was Jack Straw he heckled. But yup, it was anti-terror laws that were used, just as it was anti-terror laws used to hassle all sorts of photographers, just because a terrorist "might" be taking recon photos. Some anti-terror laws have already been removed by the coalition, and at least parts of the TA2000 are currently already under "review".

    But there is always a balance to be struck with anti-terror laws, especially if you want to be able to do something about those facilitating, planning etc, as opposed to just catching a fanatic holding a ticking bomb.

    And part of prevention is inevitably going to involve security services snooping. They cannot possibly know the identity of everybody preparing a plot, unless they're doing some intrusive high-level surveillance.

    For instance, that plot a few years back where they knew of the plot, and snuck in and replaced the fertiliser mixture with something convincing but non-explosive. Then, sat back and gathered evidence.

    So, on the one extreme, with have a police state with them knowing what you're having for breakfast, while you're still cooking it. On the other extreme, we castrate intelligence services totally, and we end up with bombs all over the place.

    Somewhere in the middle is where we are, and somewhere in the middle is where we should be. How, though, do you, first, keep people as safe as reasonably practicable without gross intrusions, and second, how do you explain to people why what you're doing is essential for that safety (on many levels) without explaining to terrorists (and the worst of criminal elements) what you do, and therefore, how to avoid being caught by it.

    It's a conundrum, and may not have an answer, unless we the people are prepared to cut the security services some slack, and give some trust, that by and large, they're acting out of good intentions and CANNOT explain everything they do and still expect it to be effective.

    Are they perfect? Nope. Nor are the police. But just because some are bent, or outright thugs, doesn't mean the majority aren't sincere, and acting to protect us, the vast majority of the time.

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    Herr Doktor Oetker, ja!!! pollaxe's Avatar
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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    I thought it was Jack Straw he heckled.
    Ah, yes, that was it - my mistake - the old chap was called Wolfgang (or something like that.)

    A state needs secrets and, to some extent, has a right to secrecy but there also needs to be sufficient oversight, checks and remits in place. Anyone with a background in security will know what a challenging job some of the agencies face and also the severity and complexity of some of the threats which are being formulated. I am not unsympathetic to those factors.

    However, I'm not so sure we're somewhere in the middle now, I think we've gone too far and are wandering into Patriot Act territory. David Davis (a chap with an interesting background who is actually qualified to comment on matters of security) has noted that the legal frameworks currently in place are completely useless. Nor do I wholly buy the line that revealing this sort of information has been of much use to 'terrorists' as anyone with any degree of sophistication (whether they be criminal or terrorist, although there is an argument to be made that they are one and the same, or foreign governmental organisations) has long assumed that their electronic communications were susceptible to interception by the intelligence services. It's also an old military maxim to assume that your enemy is at least as good, if not much better, than yourself when it comes to planning and execution.

    There will be other revelations, I'm sure, in the coming weeks about the scope, depth and nature of some of the programs that are out there but at least the U.S. public seems to have been rattled by the unconstitutional actions that have been happening and there seems to be more debate over there than here.

    I fully agree it's a question of balance but I feel we've swung away from equilibrium.

    Just my ha'peth.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Quote Originally Posted by pollaxe View Post
    Ah, yes, that was it - my mistake - the old chap was called Wolfgang (or something like that.)
    Yup, Walter Wolfgang.

    Quicks facts (thanks Wikipedia) ..

    - now aged 90
    - incident was Sept 2005, Labour conference
    - less than a year later, Walter was elected to Labour's National Executive Committee.
    - was a Labour parliamentary candidate about 50 years ago (1959)
    - is VP of CND.

    For me, that manhandling incident at the Labour concerence was shocking, not because it was done under the umbrella of anti-terror, though that was dodgy enough, but that ANY person of his years could be physically treated like that by ANY bouncers at ANY event, let alone a political party. And I'd bet the party leaders, including Jack Straw and Blair, were both embarrassed as can be and furious as hell when they saw that night's news.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Agreed on the rest of the post, Chuck.

    But we do get a range of reactions. And, certainly for the US, there are several levels of oversight, not least, Senate committees. Here too, we have Commons Select Committees. And, as with the US, courts.

    But there will always be those (typically prominently featuring on Newsnight) for whom civil liberties are everything, and unless everything is in the public domain, any level of secrecy and oversight is simply part of the conspiracy, the government cover-up.

    Of course, government's don't help themselves, because we know, for a cold, hard fact, that governments and governmental agencies, including police, are not above a wide-spread cover-up. Take the disgraceful activities over Hillsborough, for example.

    If the people don't trust governmenrs, it's at least partly because governments regularly demonstrate, by their actions, that they are not entirely trustworthy.

    Which leaves us stuck up the top of a gum tree, half-way down poop creek, without a decent paddle.



    EDIT - I've had a line of Latin as my sig for years. Before the current one, I used "Qui custodiet ipsos custodes" for a long time. It has been an entirely genuine concern for a very long time. I just don't think, despite their name, tbe Guardian newspaper, or any other newspaper, has any right assuming the role when stolen and classified material is involved. Nor do self-important publicity-seeking intelligence contractors or naive and callow 19 year old army privates.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    I'm not a civil liberties nutter or conspiracy theorist, in fact people will know from my posts here I'm generally pro law enforcement, but I do have some absolutes which are not only being compromised but increasingly so. The most alarming thing about the latest revelations is the word latest. We never seem to be far from the next new low on this path.

    On those absolutes; All my correspondence(because I only use phone and internet, apart from anything still required in writing which is next to nothing for me) is now subject to surveillance by my government and foreign governments in collusion with them. I don't care about how it's used, misused, automated, eventually deleted or overseen. Because I find it fundamentally unacceptable. I think if everyone in the country was having their mail read the public reaction would be very different. Tangentially, it also annoys me greatly that when I read back a line like that I sound like deluded conspiracy theorist when I'm actually discussing things they acknowledge doing.

    I have the right to remain silent for any reason I choose without prejudice against me. We covered that.

    Indefinite detention without trial and torture. Dropped from the headlines and forgotten nowadays but British citizens are still held and have been tortured by an allied power with the full knowledge, implicit support and alleged collusion of the government . Some for as little as having the wrong name. I can't understand how anyone can put habeas corpus on the 'negotiable' pile in good conscience.

    These are non-negotiable regardless of the threat and this is a threat with all respect to those lost, is laughable frankly and blown out of all proportion. Near flattening every major city and half starving us didn't defeat us, so bus bombs and setting yourself on fire in Glasgow Airport is hardly going to bring us to our knee's. Even if they were bombing us at a rate that would make the Luftwaffe envious I wouldn't change my opinion.

    The loss of these rights and principles from our society would be a far greater loss than the damage of any bomb or campaign. There's a lot of focus on the blood of terrorist victims, only natural it's closer in time, but for every drop they spilt, there are pints gladly spilt by others for the rights we cast away in panic at the tragedies of the day.

    On whistle blowing I think there's a place for it. From what I've seen of Snowden I quite respect the way he's gone about it, actually. He got a far harder time in the press than Manning, even though I don't disagree with you about him, he went to far. Snowden was the focus of the press reports even though that was exactly what he tried to avoid, i think in part because most reporters couldn't make head nor tails of what he was telling them.

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    Re: GCHQ and the NSA

    Agree with a lot of that, Chuck .... but not all.

    For a start, you don't have a right to remain silent without prejudice. Haven't for some years. It us a common law principle, but there are exceptions, and terrorism investigations is one area where there are limits, SFO investigations is another. Code C of PACE generated another, as evidenced by a standard police caution ....
    ... I am arresting you on suspicion of <insert alleged offence>. You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence."
    So .... if you're questioned, you have several options, including :-

    1) Say nothing.
    2) Say some things, but not others.
    3) Answer as fully as you can.

    If you opt for 2), a jury may well find themselves entitled to infer the reason why you failed to mention something, like an alibi, that you later claim. One such inference is that, at that early point, you hadn't dreamt up your alibi, or yet get people to lie for you.

    In MOST situations, you cannot be compelled to talk, but it certainly can be prejudicial if you don't.

    My suggestion, by the way, would generally be option 4 ...

    4) I will answer any question as fully as I can, once I've consulted with my legal advisor, and in accordance with his advice.

    But, that common law generally accepted right to silence hasn't fully existed for getting on for 20 years now. You can usually, but not always, keep silent, without being explicitly punished for doing so. But it may well be prejudicial.

    Whether that should be the case is another matter, but it is.

    Oh, and as an aside, it was the Tories that put paid to no inference being drawn from silence, and Labour that made it criminal not to cooperate in terrorist cases. It was, and generally still is, not a common law duty to help the police with anything, but terrorism us, as we've seen, can be exception to that, where there is a statutory duty to cooperate.

    And yes, it's creeping infringement of civil liberties, whether right or wrong, and whether we like it or not. But isn't that the nature of the beast? It's what governments do. And not just, by any means, on civil liberties.

    Governments are VERY good at creating new laws, new offences, new things we have to obey or be punished, whether we know of them or not because, after all, "ignorance of the law is no excuse". I mean, the tax code doubled in a few years from 5000 pages to some 11000. Last time I looked, there was about three or four THOUSAND laws only company directors could break. And Parliament is churning out new stuff like an overloaded sewage plant.

    Small blooming wonder civil liberties are being nibbled away at, constantly. It's the nature of a large, and largely moribund, state, and one where any sense of actual democratic accountability is illusory, a conjuring trick.

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