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How British Spy Agency GCHQ Scooped-up US and UK Journalists’ Private Emails

21st Century Wire says…

Edward Snowden, the gift that just keeps on giving.

What’s even more shocking than watching our ‘world leaders’ marching arm and arm for their big photo-op in Paris two weeks ago, supposedly in solidarity of ‘press freedom’ (‘nous sommes tous des hypocrites!’), is learning that our governments are actively running surveillance and stealing emails of journalists. Mind you, and not just a few emails. We’re talking in bulk.

1-CameronBoth David Cameron and Robert Hannigan, head of Britain’s GCHQ, should have to answer the following question in public.: why does their GCHQ information security assessment list “investigative journalists” as a threat, alongside ‘terrorists’ and hackers?

Are we dealing with a control-obsessed regime who views the press as a threat to their grip on power? Are those “British values” or “western democratic values”, about which we’re so often lectured by the likes of Cameron, or William Hague?

Cameron’s UN speech back in October would have arguably sent chills down George Orwell’s spine, as he tosses and turns in his grave. The British leader made his position clear in front of the world, and it wasn’t on the side of free speech and expression. In an attempt to cover every last base of dissent, Cameron blamed “non-violent extremism” for the existence of the terrorist group ISIS.

In the early 21st century, the state has already drifted way beyond the pale. So keen are politicians to look “tough on terror”, that they will sign over anything to the state’s mechanized departments. The obsession with security will eventually destroy and free society from within. As British author Peter Hitchens put it this week, “Now most legislators go weak at the knees like simpering teenage groupies whenever anyone from the ‘Security’ or ‘Intelligence’ services demands more power and more money.”

According to Snowden’s latest revelation, both GCHQ and NSA are able to routinely scoop-up vast volumes of private communications between members of society who have no connection at all to terrorism. Aside from investigative journalists, some of their biggest targets include human rights researchers and lawyers. It shouldn’t take a genius to figure out why that is. If you are even slightly compos mentis, you will have figured out by now that these agencies are not looking for terrorists as much as they are information or individuals who may potentially threaten the status quo of the new Secret State.

Normally, this kind of abusive governing would be unacceptable even to a petty dictator. Not today, unfortunately. Politicians know very well that in an atmosphere overwhelmed by ‘security concerns’ and general fear-mongering by state-run and corporate media institutions like BBC and CNN – they can achieve almost any level of violations of civil liberties and eviscerate any reasonable expectation of privacy.

If you want to know more about what GCHQ is up to in terms of sending out operatives to blend in with blogs and troll comment sections and social media, then this article should be required reading for you. If you are not disgusted already with this East German-style Stasi operation in the West, then you will be by the time you finish reading their online spooks training guide.

For a full guide on which governments are attacking which journalists and why, visit our guide to our world government’s faux ‘free freedom’ march in Paris here.

More from Washington…


PHOTO: ‘HEBDO HYPOCRITES’ – Press Freedom in the west seems to be a fungible concept, and in the Middle East it’s pure fantasy.

The Switch

Britain’s electronic spy agency gathered 70,000 e-mails of reporters from top U.S. and British media organizations in less than one day in November 2008 in an apparent effort to test a new data-mining tool, the Guardian has reported.

The e-mails were siphoned up in less than 10 minutes and included communications from The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC, Reuters, Le Monde and NBC, the newspaper reported, citing analysis of documents released by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

They e-mails were saved by GCHQ — the British equivalent of the National Security Agency — and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise, the Guardian reported.

GCHQ apparently obtained the data from one of its many taps on the fiber-optic cables that comprise the backbone of the Internet.

The disclosure comes as the United States and Britain face pressure to limit government snooping into the confidential communications of reporters. In Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. recently announced tighter guidelines for the use of subpoenas, court orders and search warrants to obtain information and records of journalists.

In Britain, senior editors and lawyers have called for the introduction of a freedom of expression law in response to growing concerns about police abuse of surveillance powers linked to Britain’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The communications gathered by GCHQ were sometimes innocuous mass e-mails sent to dozens of journalists by public relations firms, but also included correspondence between reporters and editors discussing stories.

There is nothing to indicate whether the journalists were intentionally targeted, the Guardian reported.

The e-mail collection apparently was part of the testing of a tool to strip irrelevant data out of the agency’s automated collection process, the newspaper reported.

More than 100 editors in Britain have signed a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron protesting recent cases of warrantless surveillance of journalists’ communications.

In the United States, news media and press freedom advocates were outraged two years ago over disclosures that Justice Department officials obtained records from more than 20 phone lines assigned to the Associated Press and its journalists as part of a leak investigation of a failed al-Qaeda plot. In a second leak investigation, a Fox News reporter was called a possible “co-conspirator” in a crime to obtain a search warrant for his records.

Under the new guidelines, federal investigators will need authorization from the attorney general if they want to seek information from journalists who used classified material or confidential sources. Previously, the department had insisted that that policy apply only to “ordinary newsgathering.”

The revelation comes in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris on a satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and on other targets that claimed 17 lives. Authorities in France and Britain have called for greater surveillance powers.

New evidence from other British intelligence documents obtained by Snowden, who worked as a contractor for the NSA, shows that a GCHQ information security assessment listed “investigative journalists” as a threat alongside terrorists or hackers…

(…) Press freedom activists said the disclosure raises questions. “At first glance, it doesn’t look like reporters were intentionally targeted, but we are concerned about whether under information-sharing agreements the United States has with Britain, a U.S. intelligence agency could have gotten ahold of this information,” said Hannah Bloch-Wehba, Stanton Foundation fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press…

Continue this story at The Switch

READ MORE SNOWDEN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Snowden Files



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