back to article Ex-GCHQ chief compares Iraq whistleblower to Soviet spy

The former director of GCHQ Sir David Pepper has for the first time spoken of his anger at a whistleblower in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, comparing her case to that of the traitor and paedophile Geoffrey Prime, who was jailed in the 1980s for passing secrets to the KGB. Pepper said the actions of Katharine Gun - a GCHQ …


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  1. TimLennon


    So we have 5,500 people in a big happy family who are all happy to ignore international law and basic moral values at the behest of their political masters. Thank heavens we're all in safe hands, eh?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Big family

    "Everyone at GCHQ is focused on doing the job and the thought that someone out of our family – and I don't think the word family is too strong, when you have 5,500 people there it becomes like a family – would break that trust was truly shocking."

    Anyone know of any other families with an active 5,500 members? Is it just me who must have been deprived and under-priviledged? Is it really that the more people you have, the more like a family you are?

    I would have thought that with 5,500 people there they would have problems remembering names, let alone birthdays, anniversaries etc.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    ...let get this straight, your comparing someone who decided that it was wrong to do something illegal, to someone that has sex with children and sells secrets to the "enemy".

    Well no we know why people have no confidence in this country anymore...

  4. Mike Street


    Look, moron, if you don't want to have the whistle blown on you, try not breaking the bloody law! To compare it to a KGB spy is simply ludicrous - it's supine civil servants like him who helped Blair and his sycophants take us into the illegal Iraq war.

    Still, he hasn't done too badly out of it, has he?


    P.S. Families are supposed to point out when you are doing something illegal.

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    Anyone that thinks we don't spend a lot of time spying on our allies, let alone countries that we don't consider "close friends", or that they don't spend just as much time spying on us, is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Even outside the political arena, governments are deeply involved in economic and industrial espionage. The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive reports to the US Congress on such matters and estimates it costs US businesses $100bn+ annually, with 50+% of "activity" being directly funded by foreign governments. The Septics are too polite to point fingers, but - off the record - they claim to have caught NATO allies doing the dirty. Technically, it's all illegal, let alone immoral, but that doesn't mean it's going to stop any time soon.

    As for Katharine Gun, I'm amazed at the failings in the system that allowed her to be employed at GCHQ in the first place. She is on record as saying such touching drivel as; "I'm just baffled that in the 21st century we as human beings are still dropping bombs on each other as a means to resolve issues." Whilst her heart is in the right place, it shows a marked lack of insight into the modern World.

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    Go forth and......

    "....when you have 5,500 people there it becomes like a family...."

    If he thinks 5,500 people are a family then presumably Viagra and fertility enhancing drugs are standard perks at GCHQ? I'd have applied for a job there had I known that "shagging like crazed rabbits" was part of the job spec. I suppose that's the sort of information you only get at the orgy^H^H^H^Hinterview.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not just

    Not just 5,500 members - but 5,500 amoral sociopaths. Lucky thing there was someone in there that thought spying on allies probably wasn't the smartest move in the world.

  8. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    What a twat!

    To get a job like that you'd have to be well educated. So how did this idiot get the job?

    It's behaviour you'd expect from some thick criminal when confronted with a grass. I'm sure that history will find the Iraq war to have been illegal (probably once Bush and Bliar have joined the choir invisibule) but twats like this will still be unrepentant. You'll note the usual implication that what mattered was that they were doing as they were told, not that what they were told to do was illegal. That orders matter more than laws or morals to these automata. What they need to remember is that they are not under fire on the front lines, even though they like to pretend otherwise.

    I think Gun was very sensible, had she gone to her superiors no doubt she would have found herself locked up on some invented charges until after the issue had blown over. Followed, of course, by the charges being dropped and it all being a misunderstanding or some other civil service bollocks.

  9. Will Shaw

    Let me get this straight...

    He's having a wobbler because he got rumbled doing something he shouldn't have been doing?

    My 4-year-old daughter uses a similar gambit on a daily basis. Mind you, she doesn't run a major intelligence establishment.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @substantial mechanisms for people that were having issues of conscience to air them

    Yeah, you can talk to anyone as long as they have all signed the Official Secrets Act and so it keeps the dirty linen aired in the family room.

    God forbid that anyone with a conscience would be allowed to exercise it when they work for the Government ... even though the Government MUST abide by the law, international or otherwise!

    It just shows that senior people in the MI#s or GCHQ or Government (local/national) cannot be trusted to abide by the law when it does not coincide with their underlying plans of world domination .... too strong? I don't think so.

    AC because these days no one can have public opinions on our lords and masters now can we?

    PS: MPs - pay ALL the expenses back, you never deserved them as you keep failing the public's KPI's ! Bank employees don't deserve bonuses for failure and neither should you.

  11. Hollerith 1

    I am angry...

    ...because I thought all my 5,500 employees loved me like a father and I didn't expect a daughter of mine to kick me in the shins and say I was breakign the law when I was.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Matt Bryant

    It seems to me that a guy who is shocked at someone blowing the whistle on a breach of international law is living in cloud cuckoo land. Even more so when he starts complaining that their internal mechanisms (no doubt carefully designed to stifle independent thought) weren't used.

    What planet is this guy from?

  13. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Dr Pepper's Thales dilemma?

    "Pepper retired as GCHQ director in October 2008. Earlier this month he took up a lobbying job at the defence giant Thales UK, which is bidding for a major cryptography contract from the MoD. " ..... In any world of increasing transparency with an inability/uncertain guaranteed ability to control the flow of/open source zeroday placement of information, is steganography the new cryptography which spooks have to master and/or compete against.

    A statement rather than a question?

  14. Danny 2

    Family as in Mafia

    GCHQ is a family in the same sense the Mafia are a family, except without the mafia code of honour. To manipulate and lie a nation into a genocidal war is the greatest crime of all and undermines democracy and the rule of law. This treacherous, petty and shameless little Gestapo kapo should be hunted down by the relatives of the squaddies he sent to die.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Soviet Britain

    In Soviet Britain GCHQ spies on you.

    If ever you need a clear example of why GCHQ's should not be allowed to spy on everyone uncontrolled, in secret, unchallenged, here it is.

  16. Desk Jockey
    Thumb Down


    She was a civil servant, paid for by the taxpayer. The taxpayer also voted in the government. The government, in their infinite wisdom, said that GCHQ should find out how the UN council members are going to vote. Parliament at that time also voted for the Iraq war to go ahead. The Attorney General said such a was would be legal. Thus ends the historical facts of what was happening at the time and any discussion that the war was illegal is irrellevant.

    Gun has signed on the piece of paper and she was paid to do her job on behalf of the public and due to the nature of the work it has to be kept secret. I don't have a problem with her conscience and she thinking it was wrong, I have a problem with her attitude that you can go and whinge to the media. If you don't agree with the policy, quit or ask to do something that you are fine with. Whatever criticism we want to throw at the government (and there are many) she was still there to do her job for the UK as instructed by an elected official and it is not her place to undermine the UK capabilities for personal reasons/gain. If you don't understand that principle, don't sign the Official Secrets Act and don't work for GCHQ. Become a journalist instead!

    What if a doctor, a devout Catholic, working in the NHS refused to give a woman an abortion even though she would die, on principle? Who is right, the doctor or the NHS policy and UK law which allows abortion? Civil servants implement the law and policy, not make it. If you don't like it, quit and go and campaign for the law to be changed. Welcome to democracy!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Issues of conscience"

    What, like finding one?

  18. lukewarmdog

    Poor man

    Catch him out once, shame on him. Catch him out twice.. and he was our top electronic spy? Doesn't say much for the electronic spying business in the UK.

  19. Big Dave 2

    You guys really have no idea what GCHQ actually do

    Really, you don't. None of you could comprehend the work they do. Don't get me wrong, I neither agree or disagree, but many of you here seem to think GCHQ is MI5 or MI6. Wrong!

  20. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    A British version of Sibel Edmonds?

    More like this please. People like that seem to be the last bulwark of freedom, democracy and all that.

  21. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: @Matt Bryant

    "It seems to me that a guy who is shocked at someone blowing the whistle on a breach of international law is living in cloud cuckoo land....." I am not surprised that some woolly-headed innocent blew the whistle, what I am surprised at is that she got into the position of authority where she got to know about the matter. Screening should have picked her out as unsuitable for the role. Amusing as your naivete is, you may wish to consider that 90% of what the British SIS gets up to could be construed as "illegal" in the majority of countries it operates in. Compared to such international bete-noires as the much-malligned CIA, which in reality is one of the most controlled and regulated (and some would say castrated) intelligence services in the World, the SIS is vastly under-regulated and operates largely unchecked. Deniability is the central plank of the UK Government's intelligence plan. Governments have a first duty to their own people before that of other countries, and they will use such means as they see fit (or that they can likely get away with) to ensure they achieve what they think is best in their own country's interests. Whilst Sir David was made the scapegoat for the affair, there is no doubt that the request had the approval of the Labour Government, which you probably voted for.

    "....Even more so when he starts complaining that their internal mechanisms (no doubt carefully designed to stifle independent thought) weren't used....." Seeing as you very obviously have no clue as to what those internal mechanisms were, your insistance that they were there just to "cover up" embarrassing events is just speculative and probably paranoid waffle. Interestingly, of the other 5000+ people working at GCHQ, none other felt the matter required a breach of the OSA.

    ".....What planet is this guy from?" It's called the real World. Whilst you live in a nice, cosy and insulated little bubble, made possible by the economic position of your country and your general ignorance, I have to tell you there are places in this World where things aren't all hippy love and brotherhood. At the time, the Government (rightly or wrongly) considered Saddam and his cronies a threat (if only to oil supply to Western countries), and felt it best that they got UN backing for kicking him out of office. Ironic that the drive to UN acceptance was meant to convey moral superiority, when in fact the UK and US governments were using any underhand method they could (aid bribes, promises of economic and military assistance, etc) to garner UN support, and spying on the swing voters.

    Just as an example, I had a friend that used to work in Iraq for a certain infamous company out of North Carolina. One of their jobs was securing UNDP facilities in Iraq, and that included regular bug sweeps of offices where discussions took place on the multi-million dollar contracts for post-war development. The listening equipment they regularly found was from a real mix of origins, but the majority were obviously planted by UN personnel spying on other UN personnel as they were the only other people with access to the offices. Amusingly, the bug sweeps were conducted at the request of the UN, which implies they didn't trust their own people. Reality's a bitch, ain't it?

  22. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Just following Orders

    "Mind you, she doesn't run a major intelligence establishment." ... By Will Shaw Posted Wednesday 14th October 2009 11:47 GMT

    I think it would be naive for anyone to imagine that Sir David Peeper ran one either.

  23. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    @Desk Jokey

    "Welcome to democracy"

    Modern democracy involves a system of checks and balances on the power of various branches of government, whistleblowers are democracy personified, and given the disdain the UK regime treated the public with in the run-up to the war in Iraq, you are a numpty for not agreeing. To be prosecuted under the OSA, leaking information must cause harm to the UK, not do them a great big fucking favour.

    By the way, "signing the piece of paper" has no statutory effect whatsoever, the OSA is a law, not a contract and you are as covered by it as Katherine Gun.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Matt, GCHQ as Supernanny!

    "Just as an example, I had a friend that used to work in Iraq for a certain infamous company out of North Carolina. One of their jobs was securing UNDP facilities in Iraq, and that included regular bug sweeps of offices where discussions took place on the multi-million dollar contracts for post-war development."

    God save us, another organisation that thinks it's some sort of super-nanny that knows better than the people it claims to be protecting.

    Blair supported the handing over of the SWIFT data, and I bet he also gave them a BACS feed. (GCHQ have access to the BACS data, and an info sharing agreement with NSA, so I bet BACS data feed is provided via GCHQ, just as SWIFT was provided to NSA, so your claim that GCHQ defends us from commercial spying by our allies is laughable!).

    Nanny knows best!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @Steen Hive

    "Whistleblowers are democracy personified"

    Just out of interest, how would you feel about this if she had leaked information that was harmful to the populace? Not too happy I'm guessing.

    The reality is whistleblowers sometimes are just out for themselves, and some are worse.

    She took the job, and must have known the requirements. She didn't even attempt to use the internal procedures to air her problems.

    You are correct in saying that the signing of the sheet has no effect OSA wise, but she has signed to say she understands it. In effect she has signed a contract with the Government and the Taxpayer saying that she will not release sensitive material in any form. It doesn't matter what it is, it is not up to the individual to make the decision about what is right and wrong. That's why we elect a government.

    To use an example

    I think Joe Bloggs down the road might be a pedo. Do I

    a) Report my concerns to the police

    b) Go and burn his house down?

    The only 'proof' that he might be, is something about him doesn't sit right on my conscience. Not many people would agree that I'd be right to jump straight to option B. there are rules and procedures in place, and they should be followed. If you don't like it, you shouldn't take the job!

  26. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: @Matt, GCHQ as Supernanny!

    " your claim that GCHQ defends us from commercial spying by our allies is laughable!..." You misunderstood me completely. I believe that, amongst other activities, the UK Government uses the SIS and other means to pursue commercial and political espionage against our friends as well as our enemies, so you're laughing from complete miscomprehension. I have no doubt the US gets a BACS feed amongst other information, and I don't personally have a problem with that. If you have an objection then maybe you need to consider whether it is out of real worry or just a fashionable sense of antiestablimetarianism.

  27. Luther Blissett


    > is steganography the new cryptography which spooks have to master and/or compete against.

    In deedy doody. Luther has just been reading a review of an ex-insider's history of the NSA. Epic epic fails for Yankee Doodle Dandy due to nu techs. No surprise either where the ex-GCHQ chief is coming from - if he's got a mole, he knows he may be shortly in an information hole. Moles tho stay underground.

    But someone like Gun blows a hole in the metadata.for Tom, Dick and Harry to see. Gun effectively showed everyone just how crap GCHQ were at the job (at the time (but are they any better now?)). Now who would go spying on their friends at the lil ol' You Inn if they had other ways to get at the Intel?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wonderful entertainment..

    If you sign on for the job, you sign on for the job. You are entrusted with national secrets because you are assumed to have a functional brain. If you find something you don't like, leave (and continue to keep your mouth shut).

    I am positive that Kofi Annan knew jolly well just how much extra mikes were listening in and the matter must have caused more amusement than worry - it is a given in that job. I am also certain that operators of "competitive" services (i.e. other countries) must have fallen off their chairs laughing when this came out, as it meant that little Katherine had just blinded UK signals intelligence. *Not* a very smart move.

  29. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    At least they show their true attitude towards others for a change...

    @AC 11:36 : "Not just 5,500 members - but 5,500 amoral sociopaths"

    Which just goes to show why so many of their kind think its good to spy on everyone. Not just the UN Security Council but also everyone else in their own country.

    It also shows they spy so they can use it to manipulate others. They spy so they can out maneuver and side line any who may choose to oppose them.

    These are important lessons they show, because it shows how they seek to manipulate and out maneuver others who may choose to oppose them.

    Its also why automated data mining and profiling technology is such a danger in the longer term in the hands of people like this who show they want to spy to out maneuver any who want to oppose them. Automated data mining and profiling technology is going to make it ever easier to use spying to out maneuver and so manipulate entire populations just as they manipulate individuals. They simply lie to and manipulate the largest groups of people and don't care about the few they can't manipulate. Its a numbers game for the people who wish to have real power over countries as well as individuals. Plus with any opposing groups they use divide and conquer to break up any opponent groups to prevent them having the power to stand against them. Real political power is manipulating and influencing large numbers of people.

    Its why the push towards Big Brother is unstoppable all the time we are ruled by people who are self interested, manipulative, lying, greedy, power hungry, Narcissistic Personality Disorders (NPD) with no empathy to others.

    The irony is, the Narcissistic minority are the real danger all around the world. In every country, we all have to suffer this relentlessly self interested, power hungry minority of deeply twisted Narcissistic people lying, bullying and manipulating others, all the while so they can personally gain from their power.

    Also its extremely difficult to convince Narcissistic people they are wrong because they are so self centered. They don't want to listen to anyone telling them they are wrong, so they will never learn they are wrong and so just keep thinking they are right. (Its a closed minded feedback loop). Meanwhile they are looking for every opportunity they can to lie, so they can win over some trusting fool, which they think makes them brilliant. They don't care at all, as they have no empathy towards others. Worst still, they are actually very happy when their lies win over trusting people.

    Yet these people seek to lead us all. So its no wonder why we are all in such a mess worldwide and why it never improves, as we just get ever more of their kind getting into power over us all.

    To them trusting people are willing victims just waiting to be exploited and they convince themselves they are smarter and better for not being such willing victims. They are so deeply distrustful of others always fearing what plans they have against them. Ultimately they are driven by a fear of ever suffering an authoritarian control over them ever again the way they suffered as a child. Its why they always think in terms of seeking power over others (and fearing power over themselves) because as a child they had no power and they are forever filled with memories of this fearful lack of power and relentless control over them. They are broken people. Yet these are the people who take us into wars! They rule over us. They are our ruling elite! ... a relentless self interested Narcissistic Personality Disorder with no empathy to others endlessly seeking ways to lie and manipulate others just so they can hold onto power and then gain from having that power.

    When people finally realize what these people are, its truly terrifying that they have such power over us all ... but its even more terrifying, when you then also add in their relentless and ever growing state spying plans to spy on us all, just so they can gain ever more power to control us all. Their relentless need for power to allow them to control everyone else is central to their thinking. They are like a collective swarm of Narcissistic people each seeking power and each adding ever more ways to increase their power. Collectively tightening their control over us all.

  30. Casper Orillian


    Is luther the new amanfrom?

  31. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Prime Assets being Totally Wasted and all for the Want of an Overall Strategy Supremo?!.

    "the SIS is vastly under-regulated and operates largely unchecked." .... By Matt Bryant Posted Wednesday 14th October 2009 13:43 GMT

    And that is indicative of a lack and failure of leadership, Matt

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    through the looking glass

    Her Majesties Government conspires with a foreign intelligence organization to spy on the US security council. They also conspire with the same to concoct a bogus report on WMDs in Iraq. Later on when found out, hound to his death one of the weapons inspectors, Dr. David Kelly. Why isn't this equally "profoundly shocking". I half suspect they tarred Prime with paedophile to shut him up. Why aren't you people in jail and when did this country become a fascist client state of the US?

  33. James 55
    Big Brother


    Like a Mafia family? or a Cult?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Spies and Paedophiles!

    It seems a disproportionate of spies also turn out to posses paedophilia tendencies. Or else its a quick way of discrediting someone and getting them locked up quickly. I understand some foreign intelligence services were given to activities such as sexual blackmail or honey potting as it was known, or even assassinations. Can we even believe people and who's going to protect us from you?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We don't need soviet spies...

    ...when we have places like GCHQ, who have strayed much nearer to treason against the people, in any real sense, than Ms Gun ever did.

    Mr Pepper is the kind of self-serving creep that has an excuse for everything, including lying to the British people and helping to propel us into a war few of us wanted and fewer still support. That such people always seem to fall on their financial feet, while injured soldiers fight for a square deal, is one of the obscenities of our society.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Death of the West

    Re. Danny 2's comment "To manipulate and lie a nation into a genocidal war is the greatest crime of all and undermines democracy and the rule of law."

    Well the KGB manipulated the West into genocidal self-loathing for decades, by putting unpatriotic cultural marxist ideas into the soft-minds of future leaders and educators. The process is called ideological subversion. Go search for the works of Soviet defectors like Yuri Bezmenov if you want to learn the truth.

  37. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Be a Liar and you will Grimly Reap what you Sow ..... It is only Natural Nowadays

    "If you sign on for the job, you sign on for the job. You are entrusted with national secrets because you are assumed to have a functional brain. If you find something you don't like, leave (and continue to keep your mouth shut)." .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 14th October 2009 16:51 GMT

    If that is the expected and accepted calibre of agent, rather than a fully functional secret being capable of fixing something which is not liked, then is it no wonder that Chaos plagues Order and Extraordinarily Renders them both Sub Prime Delusional and Perverse Entertainment.

    "Mr Pepper is the kind of self-serving creep that has an excuse for everything, including lying to the British people and helping to propel us into a war few of us wanted and fewer still support. That such people always seem to fall on their financial feet, while injured soldiers fight for a square deal, is one of the obscenities of our society." ...... By John 186 Posted Wednesday 14th October 2009 19:14 GMT

    Creating so many traumatised, battle-hardened and justifiably angry occasional psychopaths has all such self-serving control freaks and sycophantic creeps always looking over their shoulder for their payback/just desserts.

  38. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    International law?

    It's against international law to spy on ally diplomats? Whose stupid idea was that then to make it illegal?

    But I suppose that if the secret revealed was that SIS (MI6) is keeping paedophile agents discreetly supplied with mute trafficked child prostitutes - and would that surprise anyone? - the breach of trust and of secrecy and loyalty to Britain would be similarly condemned.

    The main business of national "intelligence" services is killing people. I've seen James Bond films, I know. We hear what the CIA gets up to. And seizing the oil reserves for Britain - and not for the first time - was one of the cleaner reasons for going to war against Iraq. And frankly I'm glad it didn't work because it was a wicked thing to do. As, of course, is cutting out children's tongues and teeth to turn them into sex slaves, I'm not overthinking this am I?

  39. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: amanfromMars 1

    "......And that is indicative of a lack and failure of leadership, Matt" Hmmmm, is someone ripping off AMFM's tag?

    /lecture mode on!

    Actually, quite the opposite. Post-war British governments have used a very sneaky strategy to maintain a position on the World stage way above what the UK should have, with considerable economic reward, where the SIS and SAS have been used to pursue official Government policy "by other means". Despite the quick and often chaotic manner in which the Empire collapsed, Britain still carries unusual wieght and influence in areas such as the Middle East. In a large part that is due to the activities of the SIS, which has run several mini wars in the region, such as the campaigns in the Oman, in such a manner as to allow the Government to deny most activities whilst garnering the maximum results from neighbouring Gulf states. An example of this is that the Iranians will call the Americans "the Great Devils", but they will admit the people they fear and trust least are "the devious English."

    The Saudi Al Yamamah arms deals were simply one of many in a long chain that Gulf states gave to the UK because they saw the effectiveness of both the UK special forces (SAS) and the SIS. Not many people know that the SAS actually made the UK a large profit from the '60s onwards through selling training services for bodyguards, counter-terrorism and regular army training throughout Africa and the Middle East. Many of those deals were made in secret by the SIS. Even countries that had fought against British rule, such as Kenya, quickly turned to Britain for training and assistance, some of it publicly and much clandestinely.

    Meanwhile, the CIA was finding it hard to even give such training away. Those looking for bodyguard training were most unimpressed by the Kennedy assassination - why should they trust the Americans to guard their heads of state when they couldn't even guard their own president? - which gave the market to the UK for many years after. Whilst the US was failing in Vietnam, the UK could point to successful anti-insurgency campaigns in Malaya and Borneo. The SAS could point to the success of the Iranian Embassy siege whilst the American copy, Delta Force, had the embarassment of the politically-fudged Eagle Claw failure to rescue the US hostages from Tehran. Amusingly, given the crippling oversight that US politicians began to exact on the CIA, it often had to ask the SIS to undertake tasks the US politicians wouldn't let them do themselves, such as the initial training of the Mujahadin to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. One recent example of this was that, after the fall of Saddam, the CIA buildings in Baghdad were guarded by a British security company, mainly ex-Paras, in a deal rumoured to have been set up by the SIS and run by Tim Spicer (of Sandline infamy).

    Sometimes it's quite hard to spot the point where official UK Government policy and the actions of so-called "independent" security companies (modern, private, mercenary armies) meet or diverge. The Sandline affair is one example where some of the details got out, but little is mentioned of the SIS involvement in Sierra Leone. Even then, the fall-out is minimal compared to such self-inflicted political shockers as Ollie North and the Iran-Contra arms mess.

    So, you may wish to reconsider the effectivenes of the SIS and the strategy of denial. Many, many thousands of UK nationals have worked in the SIS and associated bodies such as GCHQ, with very few "leakers", despite the massed press attention such leakers get (and no doubt crave). I know there are plenty here that will point out that GCHQ reports to the JIC and is supposedly not part of the clandestine SIS, but then that's becasue it has to be largely overt. After all, it's kinda hard to hide a great, big, SIGINT complex. But where do you think all the data collected goes...?

  40. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re: IT is only Natural Nowadays

    "The promises of science have not been kept. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. We are a fractured and frantic species . . . moving down a path of destruction.” ..... Dan Brown ... Angels and Demons

    The camerlegno's view.

  41. wv9e

    Traitor... no ifs ands or buts....

    Jail is too easy.... the US should have it's own Siberia for scum like her.

  42. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    @Desk Jockey

    The Nuremburg Defence; "I was only obeying orders."

    Didn't hold water then, and doesn't hold water now.

  43. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: wv9e

    "Jail is too easy.... the US should have it's own Siberia for scum like her."

    Ermm..... Katherine Gun was employed by the British GCHQ and was in breach of the British Official Secrets Act and her employment contract. Nothing to do with the Yanks.

    Or was that a poor attempt at sarcasm, maybe a slanted dig at Gitmo? Ain't it awful that ol' Obumbler's promise to close Gitmo looks like just another "hope'n'change" promise destiend to be broken?

  44. Desk Jockey

    Bah! Let the masses live in ignorance, life is nicer that way!

    GCHQ is not an evil, want to control the world organisation. If you believe that they are, you can go and join the conspiracy theorists and I am not going to bother to try to persuade you otherwise. They collect intel and distribute it to those who want to know. They also advise people on how to protect their intel. What people do with the information, is a different story. If you don't like the policies that tells GCHQ which information they should collect, stop voting for politicians that support those policies!

    I am not advocating the Nuremburg defence. If you don't want to obey the orders, leave the organisation. No one is holding a gun to your head. Undermining the ability of GCHQ to listen to the Iranians plan world domination however is a treasonous crime and does long term harm. For all you know, the mikes that bugged the UN, could have also picked up such theoretical plans. And yes by the way, I am using that example to take the piss, but the point it makes does stand. Maybe a better example would be that those mikes might in theory pick up some tinpot African President planning to commit genocide and should we ever change the shambles that is our legal system, one day the tape of that conversation could be used to prosecute that nasty bastard in the Hague. Gun did her best to prevent that capability from being used. What can be used for good can also be used for evil, get used to that concept because its life.

  45. MarkW

    Let's bomb 'em all?


    ''She is on record as saying such touching drivel as; "I'm just baffled that in the 21st century we as human beings are still dropping bombs on each other as a means to resolve issues." Whilst her heart is in the right place, it shows a marked lack of insight into the modern World.''

    And how is that 'drivel'?

    The UK certainly got a lot out of bombing Iraq, didn't it?

    Look at all those non-existent WMDs kept out of harm's way.

    (And please, don't say, 'everyone believed they were there', because that's just not true).

    Had there been a few more Katherine Gunns, Elizabeth Wilmshursts and Downing Street memo whistle blowers about, a lot of lives would have been saved, including British lives.

    But when did the British political elites ever care about poor squaddies, tube passengers or Johnny Foreigners getting blown to smithereens?

  46. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: Let's bomb 'em all?

    Oh dear, I detect a desire to swerve completely off-tangent to the comfort areas where you feel you can form an argument by merely repeating popularist bleatings. This should be fun!

    "....And how is that 'drivel'?..." I would have thought it patently obvious that, whilst you may believe Western societies have "evolved" to the point where "civilised discourse" should solve all problems, the truth is that we're all just as bad as our Third World bretheren. The original League of Nations was set up after WW1 because everyone had the heartfelf belief that humanity could never repeat the horrors of that war. Inside thirty years we had kicked off a new one, solely between modern, educated, and white "civilisations", that eclipsed the horrors of WW1 with frightening ease. The former Yugoslavia spiralled into one of the worst, genocidal, civil-wars in recent history, all fought by educated, white peoples. Just because you'd like to think that we are at the point where we can solve all our problems just by sitting down and talking nicely to each other, the reality seems to be that people just don't work that way. Until we do reach that utopia, we will need and we will use armed force to secure political objectives. Fortunately for you, whilst modern society does let you whimper and whine, the majority of us aren't as naive as you.

    ".....The UK certainly got a lot out of bombing Iraq, didn't it?..." Yes, and your point is? Oh, you don't have a point, you just thought it sounded good. Maybe you think we should just send our troops to fight with sharpened sticks? If we hadn't used aerial bombing we would have sustained more troop casualties, so are you arguing that more dead allied troops would have been a good thing? But then you claim that more leakers would have saved allied lives. Looks to me like you actually don't have a clue what you're arguing, a common failing amongst those just repeating the popularist mantra rather than doing their own research and forming their own conclusions.

    "...Look at all those non-existent WMDs kept out of harm's way...." Whilst the number of WMD finds were small, to pretend they didn't exist at all is, frankly, childish. There's the problem that the allies simply didn't have enough forces to guard or even search the majority of Iraqi sites in the aftermath in 2003, which led to large amounts of conventional weapons being looted (where do you think all those IEDs came from?), so there's no telling what else disappeared. By the time the ISG was assembled to search, they had the added problem of trying to do so whilst under attack from the insurgents, which car-bombed several ISG convoys and made some areas too dangerous to inspect.

    There are plenty of indicators that such weapons did exist. Many new, empty chemical mortar rounds were found, along with the facilities to make and load them with Sarin and mustard gas, but the usual anti-WMD crowd said empty rounds weren't good enough, they demanded actual loaded rounds before they would agree there was even a chance of there being WMDs. Then they conveniently ignored the fact the ISG found a Sarin-loaded mortar round being used as a roadside IED. The local insurgents later admitted they had seen many similar rounds - they didn't know how to distinguish an HE from chemical martar round - so there is no telling how many simply got hidden away by the insurgents. I'm betting these facts were never told to you by the people that have been spoon-feeding you your views.

    Similarly, 122mm rockets found near Babylon, loaded with mustard gas, were dismissed as "not a viable offensive weapon" by the anti-WMD crowd (the majority of whom have no military or enginerring experience to be able to decide such a thing), or described as being left-overs from the Iran-Iraq war, like this somehow made them any less deadly. 80% of Saddams' artillery stock dated from the Iran war.

    Ignoring Saddam's own production facilities, he was able to import 75,000 empty chemical rocket and artillery rounds from Italy before the First Gulf War. Not even a third of those rounds have been accounted for, even though the ISG found copious and complete records of the number of chemical rounds used by Iraq during it's war with Iran, and how many UNSCOM found post-1991. That means, even ignoring Saddam's own production facilities, there are potentially 50,000+ chemical rounds hidden somewhere in Iraq. Or do you like to pretend those rounds just magically ceased to exist sometime between 1990 and 2003?

    Amongst other findings, the ISG did find traces of Polonium-210 in 2004, which suggested a larger amount was stored and then removed before their arrival. The Iraqis had admitted to making it, with the assistance of the Russians (we'll come back to them in a minute), in a "research reactor" after the Bashir reactor was bombed by the Israelis. The Iraqis needed Polonium-210 for initiators, which are the bits that make nuke warheads go bang rather than just fizzing. The Iraqis were also supposed to have given all undestroyed Polonium-210 to UNSCOM after the First Gulf War. The anti-WMD crowd have never managed a convincing explanation as to why Saddam was hiding away Po-210. That's when they weren't too busy ignoring the question.

    And then we also know that Saddam sent large amounts of his weapons to Iran (including lots of his jets), hoping that he could keep them out of harm's way whilst he got a truce with the UN. Unfortuantely for him, the allies weren't interested in a truce. The Iranians have never comprehensively reported all the items they received from Iraq, not even the jets which the allies tracked on radar flying to Iran. And we have no means of knowing what Saddam shipped to Syria before the invasion, or what Baathist-backed insurgents sent over afterwards. I'm guessing you never thought of those points because you just don't want to think there were any WMDs ever in Iraq becasue it suits your political beliefs.

    "....Had there been a few more Katherine Gunns, Elizabeth Wilmshursts and Downing Street memo whistle blowers about, a lot of lives would have been saved, including British lives....." No there wouldn't. The allies already had enough grounds under existing UN mandates to attack Saddam, the push for a new mandate from the UN was simply political window-dressing. Bush and Cheney have previously admitted they wanted an UN resolution but were prepared to act without it. The leakers just showed to the World how our leaders were determined to gain UN approval when they could have saved a lot of time, effort and trouble if they just told the UN to go get stuffed and did the job anyway. What were the UN going to do, write them a nasty letter? You may want to wonder why large numbers of the UN were alarmed by the idea, but that may be because large numbers of them are despotic regimes with human rights records as bad as Saddam's, and many of them took diplomatic bribes from Saddam in order to vote against any action. Now, I'm guessing you like to think they all objected because they are just all such sweet and caring people.

    Similarly, many UN nations took bribes from Saddam to vote to lift the UN sanctions that were stopping Saddam pursuing development of long-range missiles and nucleur weapons. These were distinct and different sanctions from those restricting the shipment of medicines or other goods, and there was no humanitarian reason to lift them, only a military one. Or, I suppose you'd like to believe it was again becasue they are sweet and caring people.

    Do I think the WMD dossier was "sexed up"? Yes, by civil servants that wanted to get a new UN resolution at all costs. Do I think all the information in the dossier was false? No. For example, one source was Dr. Khidhir Hamza, the director of the Iraqi Nuclear Program up until 1994. He supplied, amongst other info, details on Iraqi front companies operating in Russia and trying to buy nucleur materials in breach of the UN sanctions. Many of those front companies were not investigated or closed by the Russians and were still sourcing Saddam with Soviet weapons (in breach of the sanctions) right up to the invasion. The Russian FSB has not explained why it never acted against the majority of those companies, probably because they were originally established in co-operation with the old KGB. Do I really need to supply details to tell you on how the KGB weren't sweet and caring people?

    "....But when did the British political elites ever care about poor squaddies, tube passengers or Johnny Foreigners getting blown to smithereens?" Sorry to spoil your little class war, but the people in power at the time in the UK were Labour, still stuffed with plenty of the old unions-huggers and ex-CND hippies. You also may want to consider that a large proportion of the officers that faced exactly the same risks in Iraq were drawn from families amongst the so-called elite. Maybe you should stop reading Weekly Worker and try something with more modern relevance.

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