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A Lower Form Of Life

21 Aug

In my father’s day, NSA officials competed to be boring, nondescript, effectively invisible. My father could have been the “invisible man”. He censored his own speech in public, where he controlled who he encountered. I guess that discipline is no longer the case in today’s intelligence community. “You’ve had your fun,” is pretty ominous and adolescent, especially coming from GCHQ “technicians” smashing hard drives on the floor when they knew such heavy-handed chest-thumping is pointless – the information on all that hardware exists in the cloud and is backed up on our equipment in other places. It’s as if Tommy Lee Jones’ parody of a man in black has now become the model. “We Can Call Off The Black Helicopters” is another demented example of this arrogance.

A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”

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There Can Be Only One

19 Aug

Those naughty Europeans!

During the negotiations, EADS, the manufacturer of the Eurofighter, had agreed to several requests made by DAPA. DAPA had asked that 15 of the 60 total jets be two-seaters and that R&D work be done for weapons system integration so that the South Korean air force could use the fighter weapons it already has.

But the DAPA later discovered that EADS had subsequently made the arbitrary decision to decrease the number of two-seaters from 15 to 6 and had excluded the R&D cost from the final bidding price.

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Disturbing Questions Arise In Miranda Detention

19 Aug

Unlike the U.S., Britain obviously still has an opposition party.

Labour has called for an urgent investigation into the use of anti-terror powers to detain David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist who interviewed US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said ministers must find out whether anti-terror laws had been “misused”, after Miranda was held for nine hours by authorities at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act.

His detention has caused “considerable consternation” and the Home Office must explain how this can be justified as appropriate and proportionate, she said.

Another MP raised the pertinent question.

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