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United Kingdom Security

Lord Blair Calls for Laws To Stop 'Principled' Leaking of State Secrets 395

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the costs-of-party-membership dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from the Guardian: "Tougher laws are needed to prevent members of the public from revealing official secrets, former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Blair has said. ... The peer insisted there was material the state had to keep secret, and powers had to be in place to protect it. The intervention comes after police seized what they said were thousands of classified documents from David Miranda – the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been reporting leaks from the former US intelligence officer Edward Snowden. ... He warned there was a 'new threat which is not of somebody personally intending to aid terrorism, but of conduct which is likely to or capable of facilitating terrorism.' He cited the examples of information leaks related to Manning and WikiLeaks."
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Lord Blair Calls for Laws To Stop 'Principled' Leaking of State Secrets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:05PM (#44682761)
    No thanks, I'm more afraid of the Government than Terrorists.
    • by enigma32 (128601) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:14PM (#44682803)

      This. Exactly.
      Terrorists are a sometimes-maybe-sorta threat. Government is much more terrifying because it is always there protecting itself rather than its citizens.

      How do we fight this nonsense?
      It goes way beyond the role of groups like the EFF... What groups can I support to prevent nonsense like this?

      • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:27PM (#44682851) Journal

        The EFF is a good start, and maybe the ACLU. All Snowden and Manning did was tell the truth. We should be *very* careful about outlawing the truth in America.

        • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:37PM (#44682897) Journal

          By the way, "Lord Blair" is a top-ranking policeman, like our head of the FBI, and is not related to the ex-prime minister, AFAIK. In fact, a "lord" cannot be a prime minister. It's his job to beg for police rights to violate privacy, restrict citizens from video taping arrests, and of course punish anyone who would reveal police secrets. This isn't really news worthy. It's like saying the Queen is in favor of constitutional monarchies.

          • by whoever57 (658626)

            AFAIK. In fact, a "lord" cannot be a prime minister.

            Why would you think this? It is custom that the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Commons, but I don't think there is any legal restriction on it. Perhaps it is the same as the unwritten rule that a Catholic cannot be Prime Minister.

          • by grainofsand (548591) <grainofsand AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:42AM (#44683145)

            I understand the point you were trying to make, but British Prime Ministers are all in fact Lords.

            Historically, the title "prime minister" was not used (other than as an insult) and instead the most senior elected leader in the UK was known as The First Lord of the Treasury. Whilst that remains today, the title prime minister is widely and popularly used instead.

            Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first elected leader (1905) to popularly use the "prime minister" title.
             

            • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:11AM (#44683635) Journal

              I understand the point you were trying to make, but British Prime Ministers are all in fact Lords.

              What?

              As far as I know Mr Cameron has no peerage, and therefore no right to vote in the House of Lords.

              By tradition, every former prime minister, regardless of their affiliation and the affiliation of whoever is in power, is granted a peerage. They have to wait until they're ejected though.

              His job title has "lord" in it, but he's not a lord.

              • Not only does Mr Cameron not have a peerage but he wouldn't be allowed to sit in the house of commons if he did have a peerage.

                Tony Benn had to fight long and hard to renounce his (hereditary) peerage so he could be an MP.

          • by You're All Wrong (573825) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:06AM (#44683211)
            False. Things which were true in the past, but not now, are false. He is not a top ranking policeman any more than George Bush is the US president.

            For reference, he's the cunt who tried to prevent an investigation into the shooting of an innocent Brazillian electrician in cold blood by his poorly-trained (but apparently the best you've got) underlings who thought he was a middle-eastern terrorist bomber.

            Everything this man says about secrets is tainted. He's Captain Coverup.
          • by mitcheli (894743)
            It is important if the top-ranking policeman has sway on public policy.
            • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:56AM (#44685237) Homepage

              It is also news because it indicates how the People In Power are thinking. And it is disturbing.

              So what Lord Blair is saying is, paraphrased:
              "Oy, the government's actions are so sleazy that normal people no longer can sit aside and do nothing; they are ethically driven to release this information in hopes of forcing, through an informed populace, change in policy. Obviously then, the problem is people's principles and not the government actions that drove them to that extreme in the first place! We must put laws in place so people can not act on those principles!"

              As opposed to:

              "Increasingly the citizens of democratically-elected nations are showing their dissatisfaction with government policy through non-violent methods such as releasing classified documents revealing the government's wrong-doing. We should crack down on the government agents who are abusing the trust of those citizens and hold true to the laws and ideals of the nation, which will also cure the symptom of 'principled leaks'."

              (which is idealistically what we want them to say)

              It is news because people in authority are increasingly willing and vocal about how they want to abuse their authority to hide the fact that they have been abusing the authority. Not only does it indicate a shift in the attitudes of government towards its role in our society but also - by the total lack of diplomatic idiom - their total disregard for what their own citizens think about the situation.

              I mean, at least call Snowden or Greenwald traitors so it looks as if they are the bad guys and the government is just fighting the good fight!

          • by mjwalshe (1680392) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:49AM (#44683743)
            No hes an ex met police chief who was sacked by Boris for being not up to the job. And given that the Met where involved in a major way corruptly giving secret information to the tabloids you would think that he should keep quiet. Also the private secret service the union for chief constables were running infiltrating protest groups is worrying.

            The uk has experimented with having police involved in CT before (head of MI5) it was a disaster and thats what the official history says.
          • by hughbar (579555) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @05:42AM (#44684135) Homepage
            Pretty lousy cop too: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/oct/02/ian.blair.resigns [theguardian.com] very political and not very coply [to use Jess Stone's lovely word].
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by cold fjord (826450)

          All Snowden and Manning did was tell the truth. We should be *very* careful about outlawing the truth in America.

          There were reporters that knew the date of the Normandy invasion, D-Day, in World War 2. They didn't reveal it. If they had revealed it, that would have been "telling the truth." It also would have likely turned the invasion into a disaster, and possibly resulted in a different outcome to the war.

          Great Britain was in danger of being starved into submission by the German U-Boats in World War 2. The U-Boat menace was brought under control because the Allies were able to break the Enigma code system and r

          • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:22AM (#44683263)
            And if we were at war with a technologically sophisticated enemy with a standing army embarked on a belligerent campaign, clearly distinct from civilian populations, then you would have a point. The problem is, when your enemy is indistinguishable (or difficult to isolate) from your population, you are no longer keeping information out of enemy hands so much of keeping your people in the dark. At some point, the loss of civilian oversight of the government becomes more deleterious than the depredations of the enemy.

            While I agree with your point that some obvious things should never be revealed publicly (eg. missile codes), a democratic government at peace should by principle minimise its secrecy so as to maximise its accountability to its populace. The fact that we seem to be in a perpetual state of war (even without a credible military threat) speaks volumes about the real politik.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cold fjord (826450)

              You have a great luxury in that the police and security services have been effective to date in keeping terrorism under control with a fairly regular series of arrests and convictions. That can change, just ask the Iraqis. They thought they had terrorism under control and now it may be spiraling out of control. At its height, there were probably tens of bombs going off daily around the country. Things are bad enough now they would like the US to come back.

              Iraq seeks help from US amid growing violence [stripes.com]

              • by lxs (131946) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:32AM (#44683497)

                The Iraqis had the same luxury under Saddam. Are you saying that you want a ruthless dictator in charge? Or are you saying that the luxury is that the infrastructure hasn't been wrecked by a foreign invasion?

              • by MrMickS (568778) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:24AM (#44683677) Homepage Journal

                You have a great luxury in that the police and security services have been effective to date in keeping terrorism under control with a fairly regular series of arrests and convictions. That can change, just ask the Iraqis. They thought they had terrorism under control and now it may be spiraling out of control. At its height, there were probably tens of bombs going off daily around the country. Things are bad enough now they would like the US to come back.

                Iraq seeks help from US amid growing violence [stripes.com]

                Have we? Who can say? Without information being open for public scrutiny we have only the police and security services word on this to know if they have in fact kept terrorism under control. With all of the powers in place they seemed to miss a fairly obvious suspect that was involved in the Boston Marathon bombing. Was this an aberration or about par for the course? We just don't know.

                By all means keep currently operational information secret but allow review of past operations, both successes and failures. It would increase public support and security. The idea that things have to be kept secret so as not to reveal operational information to terrorists is security through obscurity, such a thing only protects against the ignorant. I suggest that terrorist organisations, rather than individuals, already know how they were caught before and will update their procedures accordingly.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rubycodez (864176)

                "have been effective to date"....yes, numerous cases where the FBI and DHS have found a mentally retarded person, courted them for a time filling their minds with violent thoughts and doctrine, and then arranged for them to take delivery of a paperweight, and then swooping in with SWAT team to "capture the dangerous terrorist", with congratulations and back patting and mutual congratulatory cock sucking all around.

                Here's a clue for you, that is a "false flag attack", the Nazis had great luck with that, and

          • by BoberFett (127537) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:36AM (#44683297)

            If governments want to retain the right to declare things secrets, they should be more choosy about what they classify as secrets. When it turns out that the things they called secrets were corruption, that tends to make the citizenry not trust anything else they've declared secret either.

        • by Apothem (1921856) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:16AM (#44683241)

          The EFF is a good start, and maybe the ACLU. All Snowden and Manning did was tell the truth. We should be *very* careful about outlawing the truth in America.

          Little late for that.....

      • by Capsaicin (412918) * on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:39PM (#44682901)

        Government is much more terrifying because it is always there protecting itself rather than its citizens.

        There is no need to be terrified of a government where there is democracy and a public that is well informed of its activities.

        • by Imrik (148191) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:59PM (#44682979) Homepage

          If we were well informed of its activities this wouldn't be an issue in the first place.

        • by EzInKy (115248) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:53AM (#44683179)

          There is no need to be terrified of a government where there is democracy and a public that is well informed of its activities.

          Unless, of coure, the majority of the public doesn't like the minority to which you belong. In many countries, for example, you still can become a criminal for ingesting a substance that the majority doesn't approve of.

          • by Capsaicin (412918) * on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:27AM (#44683277)

            Unless, of coure, the majority of the public doesn't like the minority to which you belong.

            Well yes, that's a problem with majoritarian democracy per se, hopefully counterbalanced by a powerful and independent judiciary. We hope to overcome this by the observation that each of us is, in some way, in a minority; and that laws protecting the rights of minorities qua minorities protect us all. Unfortunately, I'm not sure a majority of people see it that way yet.

            My intention was actually to highlight how important it is to a functioning democracy what Snowden, Manning, Assange and others have done for us.

            The other, imho more pertinent, consideration is an informed majority's willingness to act upon the information. OP asked "How do we fight this nonsense?" Well so long as most of us are locked into party tribalism, and can't consider voting against our tribe and for the tribe we hate even though they may be offering to end this stuff ... not fucking much. But being informed of what is being done in our name is the necessary precondition for any action.

            [Y]ou still can become a criminal for ingesting a substance that the majority doesn't approve of.

            Well that's not really a minority issue. That's because you are foolish enough to ingest a substance that is dangerous to you and that we have to intervene for your own good. Which is obviously best achieved by relieving you of your freedom and locking you in a confined space with HiV infested serial rapists ... no wait.

        • > There is no need to be terrified of a government where there is democracy and a public that is well informed of its activities.

          So you feel that Manning's and Snowden's behavior fostered a well justified fear of the US government, because of the illegal activities they exposed? Especially behavior that was illegal both in US law and was vioaltions of UN treaties which the US signed?

          • by Capsaicin (412918) *

            I wouldn't put it exactly like that, but that's basically what I'm getting at, yes. But is should NOT foster fear, it should foster outrage!

            Manning and Snowden exposed to the public activities, for which there was generally little excuse to invoke state secrecy, (which must in a democratic polity be an exception and not the norm). For instance, it may be that meta-data collection is a necessary protection of the population against terrorism. And the contents of such collected data would necessarily be c

            • by malkavian (9512)

              Very few Americans know their history.. A lot remember the revisionist rewrites.. But very few know the histories that were written at the time..

    • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:21PM (#44682833)

      Next /. poll:
      Who are you most afraid of?
      -Terrorists
      -My government
      -The voices in my head
      -CowboyNeal

      • by suso (153703) * on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:29PM (#44682863) Homepage Journal

        Missing option: Answering this poll

      • by Kjella (173770) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:58PM (#44682971) Homepage

        Missing option: The general public, because one thing is if the government can chip away my privacy through defective democracy but what would be even worse is a government with the people at its back saying "if you got nothing to hide, you got nothing to fear". I'm really starting to think privacy peaked 1991-2001 as the Cold War has ended and nobody saw terrorists around every corner and in every bush, since then it's been going downhill at an alarming pace.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:46PM (#44682937)

      This is true in the US at least.

      A US citizen is more likely to be murdered by the government than by terrorists and it's been that way for decades.

      In fact, more US soldiers have died from suicide than from enemy fire over the entire course of the war.

      When questioned, the number one reason enemy combatants give for attacking us, is that we killed a family member of theirs.

      The US built Iran's nuclear reactor, not Russia. The US built North Korea's nuclear reactor, not China. The CIA trained Osama to fight the USSR. The Pentagon supplied Saddam to fight Iran while the CIA supplied Iran to fight Iraq. It turns out even the USSR was propped up by endless loans and food supplies from the US - from the 70s - long before Reagan's Evil Empire speech, he knew they were a paper mache devil.

      Does a global global anti-government organization even exist or is it all a fabrication ala Stakeknife and Operation Northwoods?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:07AM (#44683005)
        The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt.
        • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:46AM (#44683155) Homepage Journal

          I am not on the side of the US government, but I will politely disagree with this statement. Yes, there is corruption (currently I'm thinking more about police here). However, I am over 50 years old and I have yet to run into a situation dealing with the government (at any level) where I actually had to pay bribes to get them to do their jobs.

          Yes, eternal vigilance is good, but stating things in a hyperbolic manner out of frustration weakens your reputation for the next go around. But stay vigilant! I like that. :-)

          • by Clsid (564627) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:06AM (#44683209)

            That they do not do petty corruption is one thing, but what is lobbying exactly if not a nice term for legalized corruption. The ability of individuals or corporations to pressure the government into changing laws by the sheer strength of the mighty dollar has nothing to do with democracy, justice or any other moral guidelines a government should have.

          • by Jawnn (445279)

            I am not on the side of the US government, but I will politely disagree with this statement. Yes, there is corruption (currently I'm thinking more about police here). However, I am over 50 years old and I have yet to run into a situation dealing with the government (at any level) where I actually had to pay bribes to get them to do their jobs.

            Not true! Corporate America pays some very handsome bribes in order to have their bidding done. Your petty needs are easy to meet, at least insofar as it makes you feel like you are being adequately served.

    • Just take his quotes and replace the word 'terrorist' with 'voter' as required and it will be decoded for you.

    • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:41AM (#44683311)

      You are arrogantly assuming they give two shits about your opinion on the matter or are even asking. They are not.

      Notice that the reaction around the world to being caught out on spying has been to...

      - shut the CIA declassification department
      - Make the illegal spying legal (e.g. NZ)
      - Make it clear whistle blowing is not ok and hunt whistle blowers and call them criminals
      - torture existing whistle blowers
      - Lie about the extent of spying in THEIR country while condemning it in others (e.g. europe)

      Face it. The noose has tightened. The sheep are in the fields blissfully unaware for the most part.

      Its the new world phenom! Its trending baby! Yeah!

    • No thanks, I'm more afraid of the Government than Terrorists.

      Of course you are, just look at the statistics: Number of people killed by terrorists each year vs. number of people killed by governments each year.
      It is like comparing marijuana to cigarettes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:06PM (#44682765)

    To hide their dirty work, to keep secret the things that would outrage the public if they knew. This has got nothing to do with enabling or even potentially enabling terrorism. Only protecting the established status quo which some perceive to be at risk of the serfs are properly informed.

  • Definitions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:08PM (#44682775)

    So they're hoping to redefine this in a way to ensure that future Mannings / Snowdens face harsher consequences for exposing criminal behavior. They couldn't get Manning seated in the electric chair, so let's make the definition of leaking == aiding the enemy even when there is no intent.

    So the new political calculus: Intentionally kill innocent civilians, get a promotion, expose those illegal killings, get hunted down like a rabid dog. Yep, it all adds up!

    • Re:Definitions (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lucky_Norseman (682487) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @03:47AM (#44683737)
      If this should in any way be termed fair, an additional requirement should be that any attempt to classify a document to conceal a crime should be considered High Treason and be punished as such, Also any attempt to classify a document that does not require confidentiality should be considered Treason and punished as such.
  • by paiute (550198) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:10PM (#44682783)
    Flying your jet into a building: Terrorism
    Blowing up yourself in a marketplace: Terrorism
    Leaking information about government crimes: Terrorism
    Google "where to buy a pressure cooker": Terrorism
    Picking your nose: Terrorism
  • Oh good lord (Score:5, Insightful)

    by techsoldaten (309296) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:11PM (#44682789) Journal

    Is there anything that cannot be justified by appeals over terrorism?

    This is just getting ridiculous. I am not used to politicans from the UK making no sense, even Thatcher was usually coherent.

    But this... is just plain absurd.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:13PM (#44682797) Homepage

    Basically corrupt conservative 'er' exploiters governments, are looking to implement laws to hide corruption at all levels of government. Of course never to forget sheer incompetence. So basically it's all about creating a raft of laws to bury corruption and incompetence in government under national security.

    You know what's really funny about this, this is exactly what corporations try to do with NDA's. Of course who is doing the corrupting of governments, why it's the multi-national corporations, where else do you think the incompetent corrupt fuckers in government got the idea from. Expose the corruption in government and you'll expose the corporations behind it. Hmm, not so funny after all.

    • by countvlad (666933)

      So your logic is...

      Government is corrupt -> corporations own the government -> corporations are corrupt

      Did you miss the steps where politicians are elected to run the government and corporations are owned and run by people?

      I counter with

      Governments are made of people -> people are corrupt
      Corporations are made of people -> people are corrupt

      So yeah, it's cute that you rather naively think everything boils down to corporations being evil (you do know corrupt governments existed before corporations

      • by Windwraith (932426) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:45AM (#44683325)

        I didn't vote for the corrupt president of my country, Spain, but he's there anyway. Blaming voters means you are also blaming me, but I didn't vote for the thievering retard running the place.
        Besides, in this country it's not unlikely to see dead men voting for the winning party. I once found my late grandfather listed in such a list. So what's the real value of a vote?

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:45AM (#44683545) Homepage

        Corporations are corrupt. Democratic governments are not 'made up' they are elected. The electorate votes for those person they believe will represent them. This belief is based upon the information provide to, not just any information by the dominant most repeated information. The information channel has been corrupted by corrupt corporations and money defines what information is the most repeated and the truth full ness of that information is not a measure of it's value, the only measure is how much is spent spreading and repeating it. So corrupt individuals get elected and this is paid for by corrupt corporations.

        Just because some people are corrupt does not make all people corrupt. Just because psychopaths know they are corrupt, does not mean that self image is validly applied to others no matter how psychopaths view others. Reality check, not all people are the same, some are born psychopaths.

        It's cute that psychopaths still think the old lies hold. I know psychopaths view every else to be corrupt as themselves, will at least they routinely express that but reality is psychopaths recognise each other and scheme and plot together but only for as long as it advantages them both.

        Honestly and if course logically, yes normal people will routinely work together for the common good, the evidence of that is staring you in the face (they must be in by far the majority, else the society collapses). I also know that psychopaths specifically and narcissists less so, do not. They are destructive parasites that will destroy society to favour themselves, psychopaths far more than narcissist. I don't think I need to give a hint of the kind of person who sees everyone as being as greedy and selfish as them self, do I?

  • by meerling (1487879) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:13PM (#44682799)
    As opposed to the laws created to intentionally hide criminals and corruption?
  • by cold fjord (826450) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:14PM (#44682801)

    How is the Official Secrets Act [wikipedia.org] not adequate to cover this?

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      You have to be "in" on it cold... not really good for the random press or the new fad of citizen journalism. Then your back to Nixon, the press and the Pentagon papers questions for the UK courts.... every time on each cases merits
      Seal the court for a lazy blogger linking to the documents? Seal the court for some paid worker doing real "journalism" quoting the documents? Seal the court for an author collecting 20-30 years of open/historic/released gov paper but putting it together in a coherent way that
  • Not state secrets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoKaOi (1415755) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:15PM (#44682807)

    A state secret is something that needs to be secret in order to protect the lives of the citizens of that state (yeah, I know that's not how the law/precedent words it, but that's the fundamental idea of it). These are not state secrets. These are coverups of illegal activity that are labeled as "state secrets" in order to perpetuate the cover-up and not get power-abusers in trouble.

    • by Capsaicin (412918) *

      I hate to say it but ... This!

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Those laws are also meant to never allow crimes to go unreported. However in regard to constitutional challenges secrecy acts do run into severe trouble with regard to free speech.

      Look at the Manning case, free speech is protected under the constitution and the constitution takes precedence over all laws created 'under' it. The US constitution also demands the separation of powers and the Judiciary has strict control of the courts. The Manning case was tried by the military under control of the executive

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Yes the other option is to get a cleared lawyer and work your way up the system.
        Your put (exposed) on special pay, protected from any retaliation and your boss has to listen for "real" with your lawyer and outside departments "helping".
        Even if you win, you have lost your next job/advancment, are at the mercy of ex staff or contractors.
        Any anything found to be naughty is just laundered via another section/department/base/contractor. The public knows nothing and all internal errors might get clean up and
  • by coma_bug (830669) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:15PM (#44682813)

    conduct which is likely to or capable of facilitating terrorism

    like, say, building roads?

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      I was thinking of flight schools myself. Those definitely should be banned, as they directly helped the 9/11 attackers.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:16PM (#44682815)

    Good people do not have a need for rules. They have integrity -- they know what they stand for, and they know their right from their wrong. If a law gets in the way of that, it's a bad law.

    I wonder why he needs so many rules...

  • Punish the source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:20PM (#44682831)

    If the government wants to pass ineffectual laws that have no hope at stopping what they are aimed at, then how about passing a law that punishes those that are supposed to be protecting our "secret" data? Why could a low level analyst working for a contractor in Hawaii have so much unfettered access to classified data that he could download thousands of documents and walk the data out of the facility with no one being aware.

    There are plenty of ways that this could have been prevented with better access controls and auditing -- even the server admins shouldn't be able to bypass the audit system, and the audit system should have raised alarms when it saw so many docs being downloaded.

    It adds cost and complexity to the system (like it means that an agent can't follow up leads on his own, but has to submit a request for access to records, while documenting why the data is needed), but it not only helps keep the secret data away from whistle blowers and curious agents that want to look up their ex-gf's, but also against foreign spies that have infiltrated the agency.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re The unfettered access in the USA seems to be your basic private contractor getting ever more legal status in the past 10 years or so.
      The US gov needed languages and computer experts fast, you had a super aggressive, politically connected contractor lobby and a lot of new mil/gov financing waiting.
      Access controls and auditing would slow down real world cloud efforts (read profits).
      The US gov did not want to block new firms with say a cleared boss and staff waiting for "final" clearance not been able t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:24PM (#44682837)

    There should be a very small set of fine grained categories under which government data can be kept secret. Secrecy for government programs, and the content of said programs needs to be white listed, and the list of categories needs to be public.

    If we are going to have a secret court, I want to at least know there is such a court, or know that some system with the authority to create it exists so I can object if appropriate. Every secret should classified under one (or more) of the categories in the white list, and each category should have some eventual schedule for disclosure and process for oversight.

    There needs to be a public system for adding and removing categories (via laws from congress I guess).

    This is a democracy: if the people don't know what the government is doing, how can it possibly work in the people's favor?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:24PM (#44682839)

    In the USA, you have to surmise that somebody is an elitist douche who fancies himself to be God. In the UK, they do us the courtesy of labeling themselves, "Lord".

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:25PM (#44682845)

    Generally, leaks by the public happen not because such individuals wish to do harm, but because they feel it is in the public's interest to know such information. Therefore, in order to stop such leaks from occurring, it is the government's responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner so as to permit accountability and oversight by those who presumably elected them.

    In short, if you don't want leaks of "sensitive" information, then don't do business in a way that creates such secrets to begin with. We aren't talking about corporate espionage, or nuclear missile launch codes. We are talking about actions at the behest of some government entity that purports to serve the public, but that same public has not even the slightest degree of oversight with respect to determining whether such actions are in fact legitimate.

    To talk about needing more laws and more restrictions to hide government secrets in the name of "security" is the height of sophistry and hubris. It is Machiavellian and Orwellian reasoning, and it is the very thing that achieves what the actual terrorists intend. No sovereign nation will be brought to its knees by the direct loss of life and safety through sporadic murders, bombings, and violent mayhem. Nations fall for two reasons: conquest by another nation's military, or because the governments that rule over its citizens become so egregiously corrupt that a revolution occurs from within. The essential aim of terrorism is to achieve such a collapse through the latter means, because terrorists are aware that they lack the resources to do the former. It makes no difference whether the draconian behavior of a government is well-intentioned. The loss of basic democratic freedoms, in any form, is a win for terrorists.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The GCHQ and some US gov groups did just that in the 1970-90's. Great pay, constant 'free' academic advancement, clear legal and professional boundaries.
      The best staff felt part of a team, could see their work saving lives of spies/mil/informants and their nation.
      The need for junta support, death squads and a degree of deniability over assassinations/coups still had to be factored in.
      The trick seems to be to off load any "issues" to other groups/departments/mil/contractors and keep the crypto side 'clea
  • nonsense ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drknowster (946686) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:28PM (#44682853)
    wikileaks is right the best secrets are no secrets
  • Would they work better than the current laws that are supposed to stop that? Oh, you're talking about suppressing press freedoms? Yeah, the colonies got a bit touchy about that a while back. Now that they've been embarrassed a couple times, their leaders might be more amenable to it. I don't know if it's really worth probably looking like their... what do they call it again? "President"? His sock puppet over the subject. Feel free to run it up the flag and see who salutes, though. If it doesn't look like it
  • Well Yes and No.
    No - I don't agree that the subject matter that has been actually leaked was right for governments to have done in the first place. eg: The deliberate killing of innocent civilians in Iraq. That is wrong.

    Yes - I do agree that leaking information is harmful to government and beneficial to enemies, because the enemies can use what the government did wrong as a recruiting tool to gain support against them. With all the negativity against governments having all this data, I would say that it is

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @01:08AM (#44683223)

      Well Yes and No. No - I don't agree that the subject matter that has been actually leaked was right for governments to have done in the first place. eg: The deliberate killing of innocent civilians in Iraq. That is wrong.

      Yes - I do agree that leaking information is harmful to government and beneficial to enemies,

      but... what if the "enemies" didn't really exist? What if the people of the countries were just like you and me and didn't want to fight us? What if the most secret secret is that the "enemies" are fabrications of the governments, and without any secrets allowed at all they couldn't trick us into fighting each other?

      Take Syria for example. The folks on the front line on each side just want peace, and Assad's forces are monitored and fed only state media and kept from communicating with the enemy... Why? If the enemy were evil, wouldn't they still be shouting evil things? Oh, it's to prevent traitors? But if they were traitors they wouldn't be fighting on the front line...

      What sort of "wrong things" do you propose the government stop doing? Perhaps their real enemy is you?

      BOO! now SHHH! we can't tell you why they're the enemy, that's a secret. [pbs.org]

  • by thereitis (2355426) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:08AM (#44683013) Journal
    1) Criminals or potential criminals. People not to be entrusted with information regarding important dangers the country faces.

    2) Brave men and women who fight in wars and give their lives for their country.

    1 and 2 are the same people, viewed at different angles for different purposes. I find it sad that people who are expected to give their lives for their country if need be are not deemed worthy of knowing more about the inner workings of their country. Instead they are spied upon and, under a magnifying glass, treated as insignificant. We should all have the right to understand the inner workings of our country and take part in shaping its security and its future.

  • Wait let met get this straigt. You want to take half of my salary (yes all the taxes you pay together). An not tell me what you do with it.

    In a democratic society you work for me! You better tell me what you do with my money !

    The only reason to keep something secret is because you are doing something illegal either from international law or local law.

    Why do you want to monitor everything I do ? I'm not a child I'm supposed to be free !!!

    With democracy come responsibility, to hide things from me is wrong. Ye

  • What is being seen in recent days, more openly than before, is not government "corruption". Corruption implies that the system is being manipulated to function other than intended. All talk of government corruption, or incompetence, or the inefficiency of the state, these views all spring from a misunderstanding of intent. If one assumes, for example, not that the state is an organization which exists to protect the members of society, both collectively and individually, from the actions of predatory, amora
  • by Ziest (143204) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @12:22AM (#44683069) Homepage

    It's sad that the British and the Americans spent 40 years and billions if not trillions defeating the Soviet Union and now that it is gone they are rushing to become what they once fought against. The FBI, CIA, NSA and the DEA should just get it over with, stop pretending and merge & rename themselves the Stasi. The really sad part is the average American, if they even notice at all, will start chanting "USA! USA!" I think it was Ambrose "Bitter" Bierce once said that the Americans will get the government they deserve.

  • I thought that they were weeding the weak-minded out of the House of Lords.

  • by Urkki (668283)

    I wonder when 1984 will become a forbidden book. It is, after all, a terrorism guidebook in disguise!

  • Since when have terrorists needed government documents to blow people up?

    Blair is talking out of his ass here.

    -jcr

  • It doesn't sound very good when a "Lord," proposes further restricting individual rights.

    Don't think I'll be swearing fealty to that guy anytime soon.

  • The governments are the ones aiding the terrorists. They are the ones running secret campaigns outside the realms of democracy with no oversight, no accountability, and it's the people in whose name they are doing it who suffer the reprecussions of terrorism. Really, stop overthrowing governments, aiding in assassinations, toturing people, and causing havoc throughtout the world. And mostly, stop lying about it. What you are doing is illegal and immoral.
  • ..is paved with good intentions.

    Is it just me, or is it getting hotter and hotter every year?
  • by xenobyte (446878) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @02:07AM (#44683415)

    That's him. Obsolete school actually.

    Everybody else knows that security-by-obscurity does not work. It may slow some less skilled attackers down but the really dangerous attacker is not affected.

    Any state that feels the need to hide important stuff from its own citizens obviously has something to hide, meaning that it gets far too easy to break laws in a systematic manner and keep it from the public. The terrorists cannot use the fact that a US gunship helicopter gunned down a group of unarmed civilians, including journalists, clearly aware that they were unarmed and not any kind of threat. The public on the other hand can use this to prosecute the people responsible, but if it wasn't for the Bradly Manning leaks, these genocidal murderers would have gone free.

    If this guy actually thinks the by hiding the ways we protect ourselves, the people under suspicion and so on, we are one up on the terrorists - he's severely mistaken. Any terrorist worth fearing knows all this no matter how hard the government try to hide it. Like any other cold war style stand-off they have people on the inside, just like the government has informants inside the terrorist cells. All the general stuff is well known. Trust me, the relevant people in Al-Queda has known for a long time which weaknesses exist in airport scanners, in the Internet monitoring systems (PRISM?) and so on. Osama Bin Laden for instance used a very simple technique to send and receive emails. Do everything offline and have couriers transport the USB drives with it on foot, bikes, camels whatever that doesn't offer any way of tracking to random Internet cafe's. That kept him effectively hidden for years despite the massive reward on his head. So much for Echelon, PRISM and whatever else they threw at the task of correlating patterns and everything in other to locate him. All these systems failed completely. Bin Laden was in the end betrayed by a servant.

    No, government secrecy has only one real purpose and that is to protect those in power from their enemies, which quite obviously include the people who pays their wages. It is a sick system and it needs to be broken down and replaced by transparency and open control. Sure, there are a few things that needs to be kept secret but not the massive amounts they hide today. Any wrong-doings for instance must be made public right away, possibly redacted slightly in order to protect assets not involved. A conservative guess would be that 98% of the stuff currently classified shouldn't be, and from the recent leaks it is obvious that among all this we'll find countless incidents where laws have been seriously broken mostly because they knew they could get away with it because of the secrecy.

  • by Tom (822) on Tuesday August 27, 2013 @08:20AM (#44684883) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately for both him and us, the information that helps citizen decide if their government is working in their interest or corrupt, or working at all and the information that outside forces need to evaluate possible holes in the governments security efforts can overlap quite a bit.

    So yes, many leaks that are in the interest of the public will also serve the evil terrorist-pedophile-foreigner-evildoers (interesting idea: Take a publication from the height of the Cold War and replace "communist" with "terrorist" - my guess is you could publish a good part of them with that change today and nobody would notice they were written 30 years ago).

    Anyways - there are two lessons here that politicians have not and never will understand, because few people who work outside the security industry do, even if you repeat it to them a hundred times:

    One, security through obscurity isn't security. There are some secrets that really are secrets - almost always, they are very specific details, such as names, dates and locations. Anything that is not such a specific detail very likely falls under obscurity, and not security. If terrorists are aided by knowing that you monitor all Internet traffic, then frankly, they were idiots before and your security sucks badly if that knowledge makes such a difference.

    Two, security or accountability, pick one. Only a totalitarian government can keep secrets, a democracy is accountable to its citizen. So either you turn the country into a tryranny, or you tell your citzen what the fuck you're doing with their taxpayer money.

When you don't know what you are doing, do it neatly.

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