back to article MI5 boss: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED TERRORISTS

MI5's newly appointed boss has suggested that his predecessor might have spoken too much about cyber-attacks rather than conventional terrorism in a speech attempting to justify controversial surveillance programs by GCHQ and the NSA. Andrew Parker, director general of the security service, made the remarks in a speech to the …


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  1. JimmyPage

    The problem is

    "terrorist" like "criminal", is whatever people want it to mean.

    And there's the rub.

    And we have a long and glorious list of examples of powers being given to the state "for extreme instances" only to discover them being abused*. Take the councils who used RIPA to investigate that heinous crime of putting bins out on the wrong day.

    *Why does a dog lick it's bollocks ? Because it can. Same logic with abusing powers.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The problem is

      He has a point, when i was a lad we had bombs blowing up city centres regularly and no internet surveillance. Now t'internet is monitored so comprehensively we only have the occasional IRA killing.

      I believe CCTV has reduced the incidence of viking raids by a similar amount

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Evan Essence

          Re: The problem is


        2. Miek

          Re: The problem is

          "The Teddy Bear is the target" ... "Is Honey Monster a bear?" ...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem is

          "The reason we don't have the IRA blowing up bombs is simple. We *negotiated* with them, and discovered that there was enough common ground to move forwards."

          No, the leadership (as opposed ot the thugs at the bottom) were ensnared with the promise of power sharing, and sucked into the foul bureaucracy that passes for democracy. And as a result c**ts who previously spent their days plotting to murder civilians now spend their time arguing about the minutes of the last meeting, and feeling slighted if non-attendees or a meeting don't send apologies.

          Let's not pretend this is about concensus. There is no common ground, but the outcome for those in Norn Iron who don't wish to murder or be murdered is a good one.

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: The problem is

            Terrorists are criminals and we don't negotiate with criminals.

            I have been crime-fighting for almost 20 years, my motto has always been the same: Stop Crime. I dance with a posse of fellow-minded badasses. It started off as an ordinary neighbourhood watch scheme in the 90s but a couple of us grew weary of the bureaucracy and splintered off to form our own organization. It wasn't long until the media turned against us, calling us "vigilantes", possibly at the behest of master criminals. Well shortly thereafter 9/11 happened and we were back in demand. I wouldn't call myself a hero, despite all the sacrifices I have made. Turns out it takes a lot more than being a hero to keep the streets of Swindon safe at night.

            During the day we patrol the buses and take mobile phones off kids to stop them accessing the internet. We convert the phones into cash to fund more crimefighting. We all have bandanas and different skills. Mick has a brown belt at judo, Tony knows what cannabis smells like and I am have access to a people carrier at the weekend.

            And yet despite our work the menace of crime looms tall under the shadow of the metropolis. The fight goes on.

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: The problem is

              Dogs lick their balls because they can't make a fist. You can't lick your balls, so you can make a fist. It is one of the many tradeoffs Nature makes to keep the world balanced.

              1. Dylan Fahey
                Paris Hilton

                Re: The problem is

                I'm so confused, You want me to make a fist around my balls. oh gawd that hurts...

                Hmm, Paris, what is this fisting you're speaking of ?

            2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: The problem is

              Do you wear your underpants over your trousers?

              1. Graham Marsden

                Re: The problem is

                "Do you wear your underpants over your trousers?"

                I thought he wore them on his head...

            3. Anonymous (Noel) Coward

              Re: The problem is

              Oh NomNumNom, yo' is mah HEEE-RO!

        4. squigbobble

          Re: The problem is

          We also sorted out (or the NI administration did) a lot of the original grievances of the Civil Rights movement in NI such as getting rid of NI's lightweight apartheid system which prevented Catholics from having various public sector jobs, amongst other restrictions. This helped to reduce their grassroots support (the diplomatic version of Mao's 'draining the sea to kill the fish') and the PIRA* themselves killed off a lot of their own support by inventing proxy bombing.

          *or whatever iteration of them it was

        5. Richard Taylor 2

          Re: The problem is

          Vikings my dear boy, Vikings. The correlation is clear and unambiguous

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Vikings my dear boy

            0-1000AD: no CCTV, lot of vikings

            1000-1999AD: invention of CCTV, reduction in viking raids

            2000AD- : widespread CCTV, no viking raids

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem is

        more to do with the fact there's been an IRA ceasefire in place for the past 15 years...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      *BOLLOCKS &*!@@!!!*

      That's my fear. Admin curiosity and the possibility of source code theft. Not every analyst employed by the NSA/GCHQ will be 100% honest. If like me, you have your own source code and don't want hundreds of NSA/GCHQ admins armed with USB mem sticks with access to it, but still need to work with GIT and in the cloud - check out Boxcryptor. Though the problem still remains it's difficult to know if any of these services are compromised.

      This will take a few sentences to explain but I think is a good example of just how exposed we are even when being careful and just what an overhead this imposes on innocent people. Having considered the problems with government dragnets and feeling uncomfortable about the exposure of my businesses source code (read: Crown Jewels) to x number of unknown prying eyes. I recently updated my Passpack master password and all the key service passwords contained therein. Took bloody ages, is a bit fraught with the danger of getting something wrong and locking yourself out of a service (as can easily happen if you save a password on a device, the device fails to synch, but you then change the master password before the synch has completed). I then spent a couple of days getting used to my new memorised passwords feeling relatively safe (though who really can tell).

      Anyway, I use an app launcher called Alfred, and very good it is too and can typing and launch stuff without having to look at the screen or keyboard. So I have a print out and want to access one of my accounts, I type 1Pa (that's sufficient to always get 1Password launched) and once it's launched I can immediately type in the master password.

      Except when I look up, for some reason 1Password has (for whatever reason) failed to launch, and muscle memory has me typing my new master password in the address/search bar of my browser. Google, is parsing the text and giving me suggested searches.

      So now the NSA/GCHQ my ISP, and probably even local neighbourhood private eye have access to my master password.

      Worse, even if I change it quickly, it's no good because the GCHQ/NSA dragnet keep copies of everything on cloud services for some time, so can access old dropbox 1Password database (additionally and worse, dropbox keeps past file versions). So to remain secure I have to go through the whole damned process again changing all key passwords whilst all the time thinking "this is so much effort for something so low risk" but still I have to do it because the knowledge I have compromised myself will play on my mind.

      It occurs to me, the amount of times this must happen (typing or starting to type a password into Google), must be huge and probably very few people would bother to remedy it by doing what I have done. It's so easy to do. NSA/GCHQ can easily parse for Google queries that look like passwords.

      Google search suggestions are now (firmly) switched off (which means I lose the benefit of the top hit getting pre-loaded in the background - which is a nice performance gain). Just written this as (yet another) illustration of how difficult it is to stay secure and private in today's cloud based world. Despite the convenience I close to junking 1 password - it just introduces too much uncertainty and risk in the process. It's often said the only way to secure a computer is put it in a locked room with no connection to a network. This is yet another illustration of why.

      1. btrower

        Re: *BOLLOCKS &*!@@!!!*

        Re: " the only way to secure a computer is put it in a locked room with no connection to a network"

        We *used* to think that would secure a computer. These days you need to put bullets into the thing. A lot of bullets. Then you need to melt it down and distribute it in tiny droplets by plane.

        Just kidding. You can't secure a computer.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: The problem is

      I would second that.

      As long as UK government provides political assylum and protection for the mouthpieces and political leaders of "incidents" like Beslan I find it very difficult to believe in their definition of terrorism being the same as mine.

      Same goes for Al Qaeda computer specialists from Libya being given assylum.

      Same goes for support for a lot of "actors" from the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia

      Same goes for supporting Syrian jihaddist militias and so on.

      Same goes... The list goes on... Dunno... We probably have different definitions of terrorist I guess...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem is

      There are no terrorists. There are murderers and attempted murderers, people who cause explosions and people who conspire to do these things. There are laws against all those things, and the police have always powers to investigate them.

      The label "terrorist" just glorifies and somewhat legitimises what they do. It is also use by oppressive states to label dissidents and justify any crackdown against them.

      The actual impact of "terrorism" on our daily lives is immeasurable noise in the bigger picture of man-made and natural disasters, road accidents, disease and so on. And yet apparently it justifies the creation of a police state. If we wreck our society in this way, can they not see that the "terrorists" have achieved their aim by default?

      1. Champ

        Re: The problem is

        Every time I go through airport security, I think "the terrorists have won anyway".

  2. NinjasFTW

    "Far from being gratuitous harvesters of private information, in practice we focus our work very carefully and tightly against those who intend harm. The law requires it. All our internal controls, systems and authorisation levels are built accordingly and subject to independent inspection and oversight."

    how do they know which bits are interesting unless they grab it all and then analyse it?

    If all internal controls, systems and authorisation levels are built around focused searches then which ones are there to cover the drag nets ones they have been caught doing?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      First we shoot an innocent Brazilian student, then we hack their oil companies. Thank god somebody is protecting is from the imminent threat of Brazilian invasion

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Thank god somebody is protecting is from the imminent threat of Brazilian invasion"

        Too late for that. Every bird in London has a Brazilian, so that's about three and a half million.

    2. Suricou Raven

      The point of CCTV isn't to detect crime. It's to increase identification and conviction rates, thus providing a strong disincentive. People are less likely to commit crimes if they expect to be caught.

  3. Z-Eden

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

    1. JonP


      "I swear we never asked for any of this."

      1. Grant Mitchell

        Re: 225

        I would help you if I only knew how, but these things are a mystery to me too :(

  4. Mayhem

    Details please.

    >> Parker sought to explain how individuals known to MI5 have gone on to plan, or in some cases execute terrorist plots

    Name one. Go on, state When you learned they were plotting, What they were plotting, and How your evidence was what secured the country. You can avoid the exact specifics of the methods, but surely if these people were so bad, they were lawfully arrested for their crimes on our soil right?

    Oh, the crimes are international. Or they were. So what did you actually do that was useful?

    Provide the mass public with a single tangible bit of evidence that ANY of this mass information gathering has been of specific benefit to the country. It can't be that hard to pull out one case that won't harm your sources.

    Or are we still talking about environmental activists, journalists, or friends and family of the above, all of whom have been stitched up by the various forces that don't like their behaviour. Or the bugging of political conferences so you can get an understanding of opposition views?

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: Details please.

      Exactly, like this bit here:

      "GCHQ intelligence has played a vital role in stopping many of the terrorist plots that MI5 and the police have tackled in the past decade. "

      MANY of the PLOTS - I only seem to be aware of at most a couple, the water on planes nonsense being that one. How many have been stopped? What about those without GCHQ input?

      We only ever seem to be trying to prevent the last terrorist attack, not the next.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Details please.

        "MANY of the PLOTS - I only seem to be aware of at most a couple"

        I wonder....

        Secret surveillance

        Secret courts

        Secret trials

        Secret prisons?

        After all, everything the yanks have, our 'leaders' want.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Details please.

          Shhhhhh! ----- Secret Squirrel.

    2. zb

      Re: Details please.

      OMG I just ticked the 'like' icon. Does that mean that they will be coming to get me?

    3. Miek
      Big Brother

      Re: Details please.

      ">> Parker sought to explain how individuals known to MI5 have gone on to plan, or in some cases execute terrorist plots

      Name one. Go on" -- I'll name two : Tony Blair and George Bush Jr.

  5. xyz

    new man in job tries to put the willies up punters.

    First rule of sales...if you can't convince the punter that he's gagging for your product, make him terrified of not having it. If you don't give me all your freedoms to protect, the bogeyman/criminal/ALIEN!/paedo/terrorist/dodgy bloke at no94/anyone with a hint of a tan.....

    will KILL YOU ALL!!!!

  6. Amorous Cowherder


    So Mr MI5 if you have no desire to look through the personal info of everyday bods, let me ask you one simple question. Why on earth do you need to collect it in the first bloody place?!

    I'll be honest Johnny lad, if you really want to know what my Aunt and cousins think of my photography skills on Facebook, help yourself! However as a seriously pissed-off tax-payer I think there are too many old people going cold, too many homeless kipping on street corners and too many mothers and kids being kicked about by abusive fathers for you to go squandering my money on this all this info gathering and achieving absolutely bugger all from it!

  7. Harry Stottle

    James Bamford told us almost everything Snowden has "exposed"

    apart from some of the program names (like PRISM), can someone please provide an example of any functionality or practice revealed by Snowden which we could not have picked up from James Bamford's "trilogy" (Puzzle Palace - 1983 , Body of Secrets - 2002 and Shadow Factory - 2009)

    I ask out of genuine interest, I was 2/3rds of the way through Shadow Factory when Snowden outed himself and, so far, nothing he revealed has come as a surprise.

    That being so, why aren't the authoritarians up in arms about Bamford's revelations? He's been at it long enough. Do they kid themselves that the "evildoers" wouldn't discover such sources?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: James Bamford told us almost everything Snowden has "exposed"

      It's always better when it comes straight from the Horse's Mouth in the form of PowerPoint presentations.

      Bamford may have been on to all this stuff but he was always in the orbit of the Plausibly Deniable memory blackhole.

      1. Harry Stottle

        SOME is Plausibly Deniable. But that's not the point...

        SOME of his stuff is Plausibly Deniable but quite a lot is sourced "on the record".

        But that's not the point. If the Parker (et al) complaint is based on revelations of tradecraft, they're either lying (about that) or ignorant - of the existence of Bamford's exposures; which we know is untrue because for many years it was actually illegal to sell Puzzle Palace in the UK. So they definitely know what he's putting in the public domain and it's always been a lot more detailed (and potentially useful to the evil ones) than anything we've seen in the Grauniad.

        Of course, Bamford isn't in the best seller lists, so I suppose they could have been counting on the old reliable: "security through obscurity"

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: SOME is Plausibly Deniable. But that's not the point...

          "Of course, Bamford isn't in the best seller lists, so I suppose they could have been counting on the old reliable: "security through obscurity""

          But it will be now.

  8. Miek
    Big Brother

    I'm not convinced, I cannot think of a single terror plot that has been mentioned anywhere that was foiled by MI5. Weren't the Pants and Shoe bombers caught by airport security and members of the public? If MI5 have foiled so many terrorist plots in the past decade there should be some news items or something, but, no, nothing that I can see. Unless of course the MI5 boss is referring to their sterling surveillance and identification of the Terrorist Electrician, Charles De-Menezes.

    Furthermore, if there have been terror plots foiled by MI5, where are the court cases that these suspected terrorists have been tried in ? Ah, I guess more secret courts, more secret proceedings and no-one finds out the fate of these individuals. I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed, in a similar vein to the extraordinary rendition of individuals, such as Binyam Mohamed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

      My money's on Rhyl.

      1. Mtech25

        I Vote Slough... what do you mean that's in the uk

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Every heard of Diego Garcia?

          The UK threw the population off the island at gunpoint to make it a "base" which are belong to "us".

      2. Rukario

        "I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

        My money's on Rhyl Portmeirion.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        "I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

        My money's on Rhyl.


        Didn't you suggest this for the Chiness/American Kepler meeting as well?

        You've really got it in for Rhyl, haven't you?

    2. Intractable Potsherd


      Ah, Miek, you have put your finger on the tragedy of spying. Your successes can never be told because to tell reveals your techniques, and aids the enemy. A spy's lot is not a happy one ...


      1. P. Lee

        Re: @Miek

        > A spy's lot is not a happy one ...

        Actually I think that's probably correct. But that doesn't stop the cure being worse than the disease.

    3. Uncle Slacky

      MI5 have never successfully managed to independently foil anything on their own:

  9. MrXavia

    He doesn't get it...

    Its not that they CAN intercept its that they don't need court orders to do so that I think most of us are against.. so little black boxes that store everything are bad...

    We all know that our calls are logged and the location data of our mobiles is stored, BUT we also expect a judge to make a decision before releasing it..

    To me THAT is the problem, the free access to the data, not the data being there..

    and if you really want to intercept someones communication, you will find a way to do it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: He doesn't get it...

      While free access to the data is deeply concerning, the mere presence of vast amounts of such data means that it is there for exploitation in the future by whoever is in a position to do so. It makes no difference whether the people that do this are psycopathic politicians who have a massive ego trip and think that they can rule over their minions or that they are criminals who can search through the databases and use it as a means to blackmail people and hold their misdeeds or predilections over them.

      If the data is not stored in bulk and for long periods of time then neither of these threats can come to pass.

      If the price of detecting people who will be lucky to kill as many people as die on the roads in a week is so high then I'd prefer to take my chances rather than have the certainty that everything I have ever done is held somewhere that it could be misappropriated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: He doesn't get it...

        Indeed, the threat is not that he can find out who has visited the Rape Crisis UK website, it's that he's left a list of visitors to the Rape Crisis UK website where malefactors can find it.

        I don't believe our national security justifies giving organised crime access to lists of rape victims. Maybe I'm in the minority, I don't know.

  10. Circadian

    Mandy Rice Davies...

    ..."He would, wouldn't he?"

    Rev. Spooner (unattributed) - "Cucking Funt."

  11. Anonymous Bastard

    For now ignore the cost to our freedoms.

    What is the monetary cost of all this surveillance and how many lives has it saved? MI5's state this year's budget was £1991M ( They don't say which plots they have prevented so let's imagine a worst case scenario was stopped, one 9/11 type attack, the last of which accounted for 2996 deaths. This means counter-terrorism is costing us £644.5K per head!

    Now compare that to the benefit of shelters for the homeless and abused, drug rehabilitation clinics, basic sanitation, flu vaccines, sexual health awareness, community policing, street lights (similarly more cost effective than CCTV), children's rights, ambulances and nuclear disarmament.

  12. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I don't understand something...

    The US intelligence knew and watched the perps of the 9/11 attack. Our intelligence knew about and monitored the 7/7 perps. The Boston bombers were flagged as a risk (by none other than the Russian intelligence). The killers of Lee Rigby were known to the UK intelligence, who even tried to recruit one of them as an informer.

    They already knew enough, yet the attacks happened, what's the point in them knowing more?

    Why do they claim they need more information? How would them watching selfies exchanged by teenagers add to the security of this country? How would them knowing what my wife orders on Amazon help to stop terrorists in their tracks? Why do they need to know what my favourite pr0n site is in order to prevent an attack?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I don't understand something...

      They didn't stop them because nobody can predict the future or the actions of any terrorist. The odds of a terrorist attack are unbelievably low to begin with and when you toss in the random loon factor you've got a situation that absolutely cannot be predicted.

      Even if 'they' could read your mind, the chances of preventing a crazy attack (all terrorism is crazy as evidenced by the displacement/misdirection of rage onto an imagined enemy instead of the actual enemy) are astronomically low, and the authorities know it. They know they are powerless but are desperate to be seen doing something. They'd have better luck and save a lot if money if they tried to control the weather.

      1. btrower

        Re: I don't understand something...

        @Don Jefe:

        Re: "They'd have better luck and save a lot if money if they tried to control the weather."

        That is not their department, but no worries; plenty of budget is going to the project to control the weather.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: I don't understand something...

      That's the problem with such widespread surveillance.

      If you have every Muslim and Catholic in the country listed as a potential terrorist and every Chinese/Russian listed as a potential spy then inevitably whenever anything happens you will have been "watching them" and missed the signs. And so you need more surveillance.

      You could of course just round up everybody of the appropriate religion and put them in camps - but I think that was patented.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't understand something...

        Yes, by the British against members of the Dutch Reform Church during the Boer War.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most members of the IRA are on ceasefire. However, dissident splinter groups emerged as some Provisionals thought the Good Friday Agreement was a betrayal. So they continued bomb & gun attacks. These are more sporadic, but there are still regular security alerts & attempts to kill members of the police & army. It helps the security situation that they are fragmented & heavily infiltrated by informers, but they still exist. Also the Irish Republic has seen a sharp rise in the use of IEDs in criminal feuds- some thanks to ex-members of the IRA putting their knowledge to "good" use.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      True - but how many of these are planned on facebook?

      How does the GCHQ havign a list of which library books I take out or which netflix movies I watch, stop the PIRA?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe if the government stopped closing Coastguard stations and fixed our leaky borders it would prevent terrorists. They would probably sell it to Serco, jobs for the boys an' all that

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Andrew Parker

    Stop spying on us, you little scaremongering turd!

    You work for the NSA, Snoopers Charter is not law, neither was its forrunner, the 'Internet Moderisation program" you are working ILLEGALLY, you are a spy for a foreign power. You hid that from Parliament, you hid it from the Cabinet too it turns out.

    You should be in a dungeon in the tower and your attacks new on journalists and attempted scaremongering do not work.

    Just because the NSA feeds you talking points, doesn't mean you have to say them!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Andy, mate, don't you realise that we're all just giggling like little girls at everything you have to say?

    Well I know I am.

    The NSA, MI5, MI6, GCHQ, you've lost all credibility with the general public. Your speeches are such a load of old twaddle, we just don't believe a friggin' word you say.

    It is painfully obvious that you don't know what on earth you're doing, and you're spending a ton of cash to do it.

    Do us all a favour and do something that makes money, rather than just pissing it down the drain please?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "do something that makes money"

      Well, what do you think the drug trade is for ?

  17. JP19

    "We only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against"

    "We only apply intrusive tools and capabilities against terrorists and others threatening national security"

    Well if he knows who these people are why doesn't he just have them locked up?

    He left out the word SUSPECTED which means his intrusive tools and capabilities get applied to all of us.

  18. NomNomNom

    i worry where my data and intelligence are going. is nothing private anymore? a photo of a child's smile, notes about a disturbing breakfast, the sound of mirrors shrieking in the abyssal zone. Are all these things now deemed fare for the eyes of MI5? Then I simply won't upload them.

  19. Kit-Fox

    How about all these stasi wannabe types understand one thing;

    All of these surveillance programs & 'enhanced' spying capabilities damage the very ideals of Democracy; Privacy; Freedom; Innocence; Rule of Law & every Civilized society in the world, including the one all of these agencies claim to be protecting.

    or to put it more bluntly;

    Not in my sodding name, now would all of you bloody spooks & legalised criminals please sod off & die

  20. Katz

    Yes because those terrorists out there would have had no idea that they might be being watched, nor would they have ever thought that their internet activity could/would be monitored. Statements like that just absolutely p*ss me off and insult people's intelligence.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In recent times there's been many incidents where the perpetrators were known to the authorities. They were considered low risk and therefore nothing was done.

    So it seems to me they have too much information to deal with and not enough people to track suspects in real life.

  22. Wanda Lust

    Internet's not for ter'sts

    The terrorists don't need real time communications and tweets and books of faces.

    They just need to send a little group of sleepers off somewhere to blend in with the locals, or even stick out like an amiable foreigner to the locals, before the sleepers execute their intended act.

    No VPN's, no TOR, no emails, maybe just a post card from Great Uncle whatyamacallhim in Whatzistan at the end.

    The ones pratting around on the Internet are just creating noise to fool the likes of this new boy at the top (and, of course, the Americans).

  23. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I'll take my chances

    So the (supposed) choice is between 1) Risk of terrorists or 2) A secretive organization* that runs amok with no accountability and no checks and balances, because they can say every aspect of their operation is secret -- and still a risk of terrorists. I'd rather take my chances with #1.

    *Well, really, several; GCHQ, NSA, and Australia and Germany's counterparts, at least, since they seem to closely cooperate.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I'll take my chances

      That's the whole thing, the chances of being in a terrorist attack are unbelievably low. Like being crushed by a walrus that's fallen from a zeppelin low.

      It is arguable everything that's being done now is only putting everyone in more danger. We are acquiescing to the terrorists will every time something is done in the name of 'anti-terror' or safety. All of our current actions were previously understood to play into the hands of terrorists and that hasn't changed. What has changed is that people have lost the ability to assess risk.

      1. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Like being crushed by a walrus that's fallen from a zeppelin low."

        Can we have this as an new Reg measure of 'not likely to happen'?


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WAAAAAAAH! We got caught with our hands in the till and don't like it when people do it to us. WAAAAAAAAAAH!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    James Clapper, Keith Alexander, and now...Andrew Parker

    The first one lied under oath to Congress. The second one was very "economical with the truth".

    And now there's Andrew Parker.

    I don't believe a word any of them say....and nor should you. All of this surveillance is self-serving for the Andrew Parkers of this world, and a huge bonus to the other animals feeding at the technology trough....IBM, ORACLE, Microsoft, CSC, Accenture, etc. etc. etc.

  26. Don Jefe


    I didn't realize they had pressure cookers in the UK too.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: WMD's

      It's the secret of British Cuisine.

      You can't trust vegetables - the only way to be sure is to pressure cook them for a week.

  27. btrower

    The State is going to its fallback position

    How do you know when a politician is lying? His lips are moving.

    How do you know that he is telling a real *whopper* of a lie? He starts advertising his message.

    They consider us the terrorists.

    Corporations and the states that now serve them are evil robots. They are not human. They are corporate entities and as such have no conscience, no moral compass and as we can see, not even a shred of human decency.

    These guys do not represent me and I submit the do not represent you either. They don't even represent themselves. They are the instruments of a remorseless State that understands one thing and one thing only: Power. The State and its corporate fellow travelers have it, you and I don't.

    The power belongs to us. We have lost control of it, but it still belongs to us. The State has no legitimacy to exercise power except as a proxy for our wishes. To the extent that it strays too far we have not only a right, but a duty to bring it back under control. To the extent that the State undertakes illegal activities or even activities that are clearly in conflict with the informed will of the people, its activities are illegitimate and functionaries committing these crimes should expect to be eventually held accountable. Everything the people sentenced at Nuremberg did was sanctioned by the Nazi State. They were prosecuted anyway because we recognize that some orders are not legitimate regardless of what the people running the apparatus of the state say.

    The 'national security' states -- at least the U.S. and the U.K. -- have strayed well beyond any reasonable boundaries to the point that they and their minions no longer understand boundaries at all. The U.S. State, we know, has illegally invaded its citizen's privacy, illegally searched and seized property, illegally detained people against their will without charges or representation. They have tortured people and in hundreds of incidents they have illegally executed, without due process or any real process at all, *thousands* of people, many of them innocent of wrongdoing. Well, without due process, all of them were innocent at the time they died. The current execution of people being carried out by executive fiat has no support in law. It is contrary to the U.S. Constitution, The Canadian Constitution and the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The Canadian State allowed one of its citizens to be illegally detained and tortured. The Supreme Court declared this to be contrary to law. Their last decision on the matter contained this text:

    "The deprivation of [Khadr's] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects."

    The Supreme Court stopped short of ordering the Government of Canada to bring him home, but only because this would be an improper extension of its own powers. It cannot dictate things beyond the reach of its mandate. The next line of defense is us. We need to bring our Government back under control.

    1. Nanners

      Re: The State is going to its fallback position

      I'm not going to read that. This is the comments section of an Internet site. Not a literary class.

      1. btrower

        Re: The State is going to its fallback position

        Re: "I'm not going to read that. This is the comments section of an Internet site. Not a literary class."

        I up-voted you for that. I thought it was funny. The voters here can be a tough crowd.

  28. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    What I find 'terrifying' is that there are large numbers of people out there that swallow this crap whole.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To quote Mandy Rice-Davies

    'He would, wouldn't he?'

    If the head of GCHQ said Snowden's revelation of the scale of their unsupervised interceptions had no consequences whatsoever, he'd be hard pressed to explain why it is necessary to continue.

  30. Nanners


    Absolutely zip, zero, nada, goose egg came from these leaks. If you didn't know this was going on before the leaks you where/are stupid. Nothing changed.

  31. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    East Germany?

    East Germany?

    How old and up to date is this MI5 geezer?

    And isn't it a bit like the burglar saying if you had not caught me I'd have got away with it?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In some quarters there seems to be a vague notion that we monitor everyone and all their communications, browsing at will through people's private lives for anything that looks interesting. That is, of course, utter nonsense."

    In order to find the interesting stuff don't you have to go looking for it in the first place?

  33. calumg

    A free society?

    Ironic how he talks about protecting our free society, then advocates total state surveillance. What part of freedom does he not understand?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bureaucratic shroud waving by an arch bureaucrat.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats wrong with surveillance

    If you ask me, everyone should have to hand over their PC, laptop, smart phone etc to the plod for "routine checks" when asked. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    1. Uncle Slacky

      Re: Whats wrong with surveillance

      Says the anonymous coward...

      1. Russell Clarke

        Re: Whats wrong with surveillance

        ...And isn't it weird how 'plod' never hands over his PCs, phones and so on to us... after all shirley 'plod' have nothing to hide...? Oh wait....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whats wrong with surveillance

          > ...And isn't it weird how 'plod' never hands over his PCs, phones and so on to us...

          Nor should they have to, of course. It'd just be useful if they weren't hiding their badges when clubbing protestors at perfectly legal demonstrations. -->

  36. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Top Spookocrat "You're in danger. We need more powers and less oversight"


    Because we do

    What's that?

    £500m/yr to save £150m/year (how?) and (maybe) the number of people that die on UK farm accidents a year.

    But surely you know you can't put a price on human life.

  37. Lostintranslation


    "This evening I am majoring on terrorism".


    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Majoring???

      It's hard to get in the program though. It takes a very special type of person to terrorize your fellow citizens by directing your nations top military intelligence resources at them. Most people stand a better chance of winning a lottery prize than they do of getting accepted into the Terrorize Your Countrymen graduate program.

  38. Yes Me Silver badge

    Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED STUPID TERRORISTS

    The ones who aren't stupid, presumably the most effective ones, have surely known for years that Five Eyes were reading their traffic. If they didn't know it before Rumsfeld talked about "chatter in the system", they certainly knew it then. But I presume they already used strong cryptography long before.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED STUPID TERRORISTS

      or didn't use any electronic comms at all ...

  39. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    A Simple Enough Question it would be Surely Absurdly Stupid to Avoid Answering ....

    ..... in these Accelerating Technology Times/Spaces

    "We are facing an international threat …. " ….. Andrew Parker, director general of the security service [MI5]

    Everyone is confronted by a flexible fabless friend, and/or fearless fearsome foe which be both APT and ACT in ITs Ethereal Existentialist Phorms whenever badly phished and pharmed for Exclusive Singular Profit and Inequitable Executive Advantage, rather than gracing global stages with more fabulous edutainments which deliver constant creative content with mutually satisfying benefits.

    Does MI5 have the virtual means and memes wherewithall to engage constructively with such a novel future derivative development with AI in CyberIntelAIgent Fields and Greater Games Theory ….. or are they reliant on and/or vulnerable to that being provided by seconded intelligence supply from GCHQ and/or private pirate renegade rouge parties into Advanced Internet Mastering and Astute Artful Active Anonymous Autonomous Mentoring …… AAA++ NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just drumming up 'sizzle' for the spy industry

    He is just getting the message out there.

    There's nothing these guys enjoy more than the odd 'terrah' incident.

    It gives them a chance to wear special sun glasses, that dark suit and turn on the flashing lights.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Just drumming up 'sizzle' for the spy industry

      Not to say demand increased funding from the Government...

  41. Lapun Mankimasta

    Of course it aids terrorists - first define "terrorist"

    Well, I suppose Andrew Parker's got the soapbox, though he had to steal it off that down-and-out guy on the street corner.

    Facetiously, he's talking about stacking up data on everybody everywhere ... using tools that we've learnt are seriously compromised by the NSA. Now how is he going to stop anybody smarter than his zoo of tools, cracking that "security" and gaining access to all that data? It's extremely valuable, as a quick glance at Google's balance sheet will testify. It's the quickest way to conquer - and Iain M Banks got it right way back in the 90s with Consider Phlebas.

    That both the NSA and the GCHQ are doing this - plus of course the Aust ASIO and the NZ GCSB and whatever the Canadian spooks call themselves - indicates that the West is serious about losing.

    1. oolor

      Re: Of course it aids terrorists - first define "terrorist"

      >whatever the Canadian spooks call themselves

      CSEC: Communications Security Establishment Canada

      Though, they are just the signals and IT guys much like the counterparts, the real dirty work is done by CSIS (Canadian CIA or MI5+MI6 equivalent).

      As for the data sifting, I think it is well beyond unreasonable and likely absolutely stupid from a cost/benefit basis simply based on money without even considering the inconveniences to liberty. The terrorists have won in a way they could never imagine, comprehend or benefit from.

      This searching of the electronic haystack of random noise is attempting to predict where the needle will be in the future, utter madness. This is not ad serving where a confidence interval is good enough, it has to be true, not truthy, not infinite sigma, but 1 exactly. When people are paid to look for something, they will start seeing it where it isn't particularly when it is something rare.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Without understanding, more can be less

    "Knowing of an individual does not equate to knowing everything about them. Being on our radar does not necessarily mean being under our microscope. The reality of intelligence work in practice is that we only focus the most intense intrusive attention on a small number of cases at any one time."

    Reminds me of a story Jorge Luis Borges told my parents. Under chronic suspicion as a potentially subversive person under the Peron regime in Argentina, he was perpetually shadowed by the secret police. One day, things came to a head: he was ordered to report in person to a senior secret police officer at national HQ in Buenos Aires.

    Seating Borges in the classic low, uncomfortable chair, the secret policeman ranted on for some time on the theme of "you have no privacy, and all your secrets are ours". He knew what Borges had for breakfast, he said; the contents of his letters and phone calls; everyone he met; everywhere he went; etc., etc.

    Finally, the interview came to an end, leaving Borges to leave the building with one puzzling conclusion: the one thing that the secret police did NOT know about him was that he was a famous novelist.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Another bureaucrat spinning the truth to protect his patch...

    Except this one can have you ruined, imprisoned or possibly even killed if you actually pose a threat to his quasi-fascist empire. "We collect all your information, but its for your own good and we don't think you're significant enough to really bother with--yet."


  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the leaks mean that Al Qaeda can attack us at will as he claims, then presumably if there are no terrorist atrocities in the next six months he will admit that they're not actually much of a threat?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this sort of stuff boils my blood

    They are doing this all for your safety ? invasion of all of our privacy vs our safety which was comprimsed because ?

    What caused us to be unsafe ?

    What was done to trigger all this wild accusations and threats ?

    Lets start the book from the beginning

    How much is all this invasion of privacy costing us all ?

    The west has no money for the poor, the ill the disabled and yet they seem to have all the money in the world to spend on snopping on what you and I do at home

    There is something seriously wrong with the bankers and the political system of the west

    I really think the only way we as civilians can fix this issue is to all stop voting

    Since no votes = lots of questions as to what has really gone wrong, why does the public not like the sleazy politicians who only come out once every 4 years to try to gain their votes

  46. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "that is why we must keep secrets secret"

    Keep your bloody secrets, we're not interested in them.

    Just let us keep our privacy, which you had no right to take in the first place.

    Protecting the people is NOT done by watching their every move.

  47. JaitcH

    Anything this man says about GCHQ is worthless, he is not in GCHQ.

    Could be he is talking about the MI techs who are employed directly by MI: I know one, since he was in the Army, and whilst he never discussed operational activities we sure discussed technology, just as much as members of other professions do.

    This stuffed shirt could lie his face off about GCHQ and then say, oops, my mistake, and do a CLAPPER.

    If you want a 'look see' into present day technologies, keep an eye on patent filings! A real treasure trove of information. University people love 'publishing', they publish masses of things on arcane things but there is gold to be had there, too.

    Secondly, this mouthpiece was reading from a really well edited script. Delivering a message. And misleading casual listeners.

    The point is the public (unwittingly) trusted the politicians and government agencies to look out for our interests, silly us, and they have abused this trust. They shot their load, and now they want another go round?

    And the politicians were complicit in these dealings or asleep in their seats.

    THIS IS HOW THESE ABUSES ARE PASSED INTO LAW. Hey, but who cares, I don't see any protests so the MPs will just support the rules without even considering the implications.

    These agencies should be headed by people outside the business. Parker's viewpoint is myopic, he can't see the bigger picture. If heads from other walks of life were in charge, they would likely have different perspectives than people like Parker.

    All legislation should have sunset clauses so when coming up for renewal, new technologies can be considered.


  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Al Qaida is the brotherhood. We are told all evil ppl on the planet join this criminal organization and plan terrorist attacks ... A terrorist ? Mandela, Gandhi, and the French resistance were all called terrorists at some point.

    BTW, this speaker is a backdoor orifice in saying they only spy on terrorists ... Have him tell that in person to the Airbus CEO who lost good bonus money because of all this shit.

  49. teebie

    "With greater resources since 7/7 we have worked very hard to identify as many as possible of the people in the country who are active in some way in support of terrorism"

    I think "in support of terrorism" was an accidental addition - the sentence is still accurate without it.

  50. Brent Beach

    The assumptions/claims the NSA/GCHQ use to justify their excesses:

    - there is an unlimited number of terrorists out there.

    - surveillance has already stopped a huge number of attacks.

    But, what if they are wrong? What if just about all the people who would perform a successful terrorist attack have already done so? What if they have all been caught?

    The few "terrorists" caught in sting operations may have done nothing unless spurred on by the police sponsors. Grumpy folks who have a grievance that would, if not supported by a police informer, simply fizzle out.

    So, few actual terrorists, none of whom have actually been caught before the fact.

    Can we admit we cannot prevent most attacks but can catch the guys who do it and just dump all this NSA/GCHQ surveillance of the world?

    Our heroic world leaders are simply terrified by the NSA/GCHQ boggyman threats. World leaders? Nah. Timid children, afraid of the dark.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Call me a pessemistic cynic if you like, but I really think that nothing will change. Ever. The cat is well and truely out of the bag, in terms of the ability to store and transmit digital information en mass by anyone and the ability to intercept and view (even when encrypted) that information. That will never go away.

    Even if tomorrow we have a Glorious People's Popular Revolution followed by a Bonfire of the Servers it won't last. Give it a few years and the same surveilance systems will be back in place in order to Safeguard the New Order.

    To be honest, I - like the vast majority of the public - don't care anymore. I have much more pressing concerns, such as job security and the ability to pay my mortgage, spend time with my loved ones etc. then whether someone in GCHQ / NSA is looking at my Facebook posts. If I was a real tinfoil hatter, I'd suggest that this is deliberate.


  52. w lutchman

    Umbrella man?

    He is putting up a very large all encompassing umbrella, pre-empting the next (inevitable?) failure / screw up in his department.

    Let's face it, there is no such thing as guaranteed security, even with 100% intrusion.

    When it happens, he'll be wailing to the masses "Told you so! - Snowden caused this."

  53. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    ... and right on time...

    The police have arrested 4 suspected of a terrorist plot. Betcha we never hear what the plot is/was.

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