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British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged To Play In NSA's Data Pools 43

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "Britain's electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA's vast troves of private communications and sought 'unsupervised access' to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA's table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb."
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British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged To Play In NSA's Data Pools

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  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:28AM (#46887651)

    Sure but GCHQ is only part of the intelligence picture, MI6 is one of the single greatest HUMINT organisations in the world, putting the CIA to shame, and second only to perhaps the likes of Israel's Mossad.

    Britain's immigrant built cultural links with countries like Pakistan and previous laissez faire attitude to middle eastern and asian terrorist organisers living in exile has allowed it to build up impressive intelligence assets that many countries could only dream of. The equation changed slightly since al qaeda affiliates decided to bite the hand that fed it, but it's far from over. There's a reason groups like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is based in London and comes up with perhaps the most accurate analysis of casualties in the world in the conflict there. Although the likes of Mossad's tradecraft skills tend to outweigh those of MI6, the network of activists, and agents MI6 has contacts with and links to is pretty much unparalleled.

    This isn't to say the CIA hasn't made massive in-roads since 9/11, and didn't have areas of expertise before (like in Afghanistan, vs. the soviets - but guess who helped get the CIA in touch with the jihadis back then in Pakistan in the first place?).

    The foundations of MI6 and it's broad and pretty much unrivalled network can be put down to the idea that whilst Britain's empire involved a break up with other nations, it still made sure it never lost contact on the ground.

    Britain still has a lot of value to the US, the US would be far more prone to internal terrorist attacks without human intelligence from MI5, and MI6 through their broad network of contact with activists living in the UK. Part the reason that the Boston bombings were a succesful attack is because Chechnya is one of the few areas where Britain doesn't have such substantial ability to cooperate.

    Regarding GCHQ specifically though, the UK is a major global telecommunications hub, for the NSA programmes to be effective it needs support from major hubs in every continent. The UK is their European partner, they'd struggle to find another with both the willingness, resources, and telecommunications links. To have the European aspect of their global spying program go dark would be a massively crippling blow to the whole programme so even there there is still some hefty leverage.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.