Why are MPs so scared to ask questions of our security services?


10:50 am - July 2nd 2013

by Septicisle    


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The Intelligence and Security Committee wants to be taken seriously. We know this because in its previous incarnation it was regarded as a bit of a joke, producing reports so ridiculously censored that its existence was a waste of everyone’s time.

It was lied to repeatedly by the intelligence agencies, and when it wasn’t being lied to it was more than happy to change the very meaning of words in order to clear those it was meant to be monitoring of any involvement in little things like extraordinary rendition.

When it then postpones the very first occasion on which it was meant to be questioning the heads of the security services because “it’s too busy”.

This means it almost certainly won’t be rescheduled until October once the summer recess is done and the party conferences are over. Firstly you smell a rat, and secondly it makes a mockery of the new powers it has received.

As the Guardian almost incredulously reports, surely Thursday would have been a great opportunity to question those who normally prefer the shadows – both on whether more could have been done to prevent the murder of Lee Rigby (there’s MI5 involvement with Michael Adebolajo) and on the revelations about GCHQ’s spying on the G20 meetings and alleged tapping of the country’s main fibre optic cables via Project Tempora.

Frankly, who knows whether it was the committee or the agencies that decided they simply couldn’t be quizzed on TV when interest would have been high.

No, far better to let everything calm down, the accusations against GCHQ to be pushed to the back of minds, and then allow John Sawers and Andrew Parker to be extremely lightly grilled at some point in the future.

Taking into account that the trial of Adebolajo and Adebowale has been set for the 18th of November, it wouldn’t surprise if the heads either refused to answer questions on the Woolwich murder in light of the trial, or if the session was pushed even further back.

Regardless of the reality, the ISC is hardly convincing that it is up to the job it’s been set, and that’s just the way that the spooks like it.

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About the author
'Septicisle' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He mostly blogs, poorly, over at Septicisle.info on politics and general media mendacity.
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Reader comments


1. ex-Labour voter

One reason might be fear of investigation themselves.
This was certainly a significant factor when J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI.

Considering the enormous damage that the banks inflicted on the British economy, I would be a tad more impressed if the security services had at least warned us about the failed regulation and the impending financial crisis.

With all the spying on e-mails and telephone conversations that we have been told has been going on, did the intelligence services not have any inkling that banks were acting in a way that put the nation’s economy in danger. Or does the financial world operate by way of whispered conversations in unbuggable areas?

I read somewhere that a left Labour MP — I think it was Ian Mikado — came across a fat file on him compiled by the Labour Party bureaucracy. He said that compared to the police files he’d seen, it was incredibly detailed and accurate. Big Brother was watching him!

That’s interesting. I’ve long felt that the odd change that happens to perfectly decent MPs when they join a government looks like the effect of someone taking them to one side and showing them a file that they’d rather didn’t exist.

6. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

Maybe they dont want any answers.
Speaks volumes about the kind of ‘democracy’ we have in this country.
I am still look forward to the report from that short enquiry (how many years ago???) by Chilcott into the Iraq War. Its being stopped by ,who’d have guessed it, Tony Blair.

7. Man on the Clapham Omnibus
8. Richard Carey

We all know the answer to the question posed by the OP. Because the intelligence services can destroy any politician they want, either politically or physically.

9. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

2. Bob B

Nice idea but the banking crisis and the secret state are just two sides of the coin.

The banking crisis was the result of the US expanding its ‘dollar zone’ through maintaining a domestic deficit which in turn increased foreign investment into low yeild US government bonds. This allowed domestic capital to invest in the dangerous high yeild ‘make believe’ stuff like CDO’s (and when they ran out of houses CDOs of CDOs) which resulted in the bubble economics of both the UK and the US.

The IMF and World bank helped the spread of the dollar by dismantling indivdual native enterprises/utilities etc by making sell offs (often at fire sale prices) to international corporations.Unable to develop their own economies thereafter 3rd world countries are then left at the mercy of the developed world to act as economic feeders suppling cheap goods and moonoculture crops often with workers earning less than a dollar a day.

All this comes at a price – internal social cohesion. As can been seen by the Greece experience being on the periphery of a common currency is not necessarily pretty.

The world situation is made worse by effectively declaring a hot war on Islamic resources or the PR Tony Blair is doing with the Asian torture states (Turkmenistan etc) to future enhance foriegn exploitation.

Unfortunately you cant go around blatently robbing people of their land ,liberty and resources without considerable disquiet. Thus whilst expanding its hegemony the US must ensure that any ‘condensation nuclei’ of dissent are physically and ideologicaly managed usually through the states judicial or military apparatus. Hence the secret state.

10. Richard Carey

@ 9 MOTCB,

“Nice idea but the banking crisis and the secret state are just two sides of the coin…”

Indeed.

Man on Clapham omnibus: “The banking crisis was the result of the US expanding its ‘dollar zone’ through maintaining a domestic deficit which in turn increased foreign investment into low yeild US government bonds.”

Nice try but I don’t buy that narrative for many reasons because it doesn’t take account of:

– Money laundering on a grand scale: in today’s news in the Guardian:

HSBC’s $1.9bn money laundering settlement approved by US judge – The agreement had resolved charges accusing the bank of having become a ‘preferred financial institution’ for drug cartels

– Insider trading by bankers: A City banker who amassed almost £600,000 through insider trading with his wife and a friend has been jailed for three years and four months. [BBC website 2 February 2011]

– Obstructing depositor compensation claims for mis-selling of PPI: Lloyds Banking Group forced to admit ‘issues’ with its PPI complaints procedure after claims it told staff to ignore possible fraud [Independent 11 June 2013]

– Lloyds Banking Group online security chief jailed for £2.5m fraud [Independent 22 September 2012]

– (Reuters): Britain’s financial regulator will on Thursday say capital holes at Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds by Banking Group and Barclays account for more than 90 percent of a 25 billion-pound ($39 billion) shortfall, the Financial Times said. [Reuters 19 June 2013]

Banks and bankers continue to be a threat to the stability of Britain’s economy – try Chris Giles in the FT on: Britain’s banks are still a danger to the economy
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4142db94-d831-11e2-9495-00144feab7de.html

On any rational assessment of the potential for harmimg our security and well-being, banks and bankers are as much a threat as terrorism and terrorists.

A recent issue of The Economist asked the right question: Why have so few bankers gone to jail?
http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/05/economist-explains-why-few-bankers-gone-to-jail

13. So Much For Subtlety

I would ask why LC threads on the security services always end up sounding like an unstructured, unsupervised Group Therapy session, but I think we all know the answer to that.

The British security services are a group of utterly ineffectual ex-public school boys who mainly interview tourists about what they have seen. At best. They are no more capable of threatening a grown adult that a labradoodle puppy.

Get a grip.

SMFS: “The British security services are a group of utterly ineffectual ex-public school boys who mainly interview tourists about what they have seen.”

Which doubtless explains how the German Enigma code was broken during WW2 with the aid of an innovative electronic computer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF48sl15OCg

It is an open secret that communications intercepts have been crucial in bringing many of the Jihadist terrorist cases to court in the last few years.

15. Dissident

Am I the only one who sincerely hopes GCHQ stasibots are rummaging around SMFS’s dirty online secrets….

Or is that why that blogger only talks unto power?

“The British security services are a group of utterly ineffectual ex-public school boys who mainly interview tourists about what they have seen. At best. They are no more capable of threatening a grown adult that a labradoodle puppy.”

What a convenient stereotype, with only James Bond to the rescue!

16. Dissident

“Which doubtless explains how the German Enigma code was broken during WW2 with the aid of an innovative electronic computer”

Shhh Bob B, don’t tell SMFS that….

In 1985, Oleg Gordievsky, a colonel in the KGB, was spirited out of Moscow to Britain when under KGB surveillance:

Gordievsky was suddenly ordered back to Moscow on 22 May 1985, taken to a KGB safehouse outside Moscow, drugged and interrogated by Soviet counterintelligence. Apparently the leak came from two sources, one of which might have been Aldrich Ames, an American Central Intelligence Agency officer who had been selling secrets to the KGB.

Gordievsky was questioned for about five hours. After that, he was released and told he would never work overseas again. Although he was suspected of espionage for a foreign power, for some reason his superiors decided to stall. In June 1985 he was joined by his wife and two children in Moscow.

Although he almost certainly remained under KGB surveillance, Gordievsky managed to send a covert signal to MI6 about his situation, and they reactivated an elaborate escape plan which had been in place for many years, ready for just such an emergency.

On 19 July 1985, Gordievsky went for his usual jog, but he instead managed to evade his KGB tails and boarded a train to the Finnish border, where he was met by British embassy cars and smuggled across the border into Finland, then flown to England via Norway.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Gordievsky

Especially for SMFS:

The Mitrokhin Archive is a collection of handwritten notes made secretly by KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin during his thirty years as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate. When he defected to the United Kingdom in 1992 he brought the archive with him.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitrokhin_Archive

“Aldrich Hazen Ames (born May 26, 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, who, in 1994, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. So far as is known, Ames compromised the second-largest number of CIA assets—fewer only to those betrayed by Robert Hanssen.” [Wikipedia entry]

19. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

11. Bob B

Yes I know the narrative that the 2008 banking crisis was all down to financial greed and consumer recklessness but whilst I accept that these were(are) integral components of the system there is the bigger picture of the global financial system.

It runs something along these lines (my understanding anyway)

The US balance of payments deficit supplied the ‘foriegn capital’ as foreign central banks recycle their dollars into US treasury securities. The bigger the US deficit the greater foreign investment in lower yeilding US bonds.

US business then started buying lucrative foriegn businesses the payment for which (in dollars) were then reinvested in US treasury bonds. With interest rates held low (because of bond demand from foreign govs.)more money went out the country in the forms of further foreign investment,military spending,foreign products and assets.
(ie Trillions of dollars worth) This contributed to worldwide inflation which domestically led to inflationary rises in US property and incomes (similarly in the UK and Europe). It was off the back of this inflation that the US citizenry/institutions felt they could speculate on buying property after property with some lenders cynically offering starter mortgages which they knew people could fund (eg a farm labourer of 15k getting a 750k loan).

Sure there were scumbags involved down the line. Goldman lent Standard and Poor their model for assessing CDOs pretty much knowing it was no good allegedly, but this is all small bear. As I say the dollar zone is now worldwide and everybody is pretty much linked in in the same way Greece is linked in to the euro. Look how much good that has done them. We are talking multiples of trillions in funny money not the billions you are talking about.

Moreover these interests,elites and the system that has created them needs lots of protection. I presume thats why the US bugged the Germans.

20. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

11. Bob B

PS the reason we are at so much risk from the bankers is we are an insolvent post industrialised bubble economy. Everybody just has to keep going and pretend until somebody doesnt then the whole lot will crash.

http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock

Take a look – its realtime

21. the a&e charge nurse

Why are MPs afraid – they are bit-part players – there is a much bigger picture here, ‘democracy has died behind closed doors’ according to our julian?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d6-danxzRg

20

Man on the Clapham omnibus: “The US balance of payments deficit supplied the ‘foriegn capital’ as foreign central banks recycle their dollars into US treasury securities. The bigger the US deficit the greater foreign investment in lower yeilding US bonds.”

That is true but it doesn’t explain or justify the scale of money laundering, the squalid insider trading, the mis-selling of PPI, the inability of some UK retail banks to meet the Basel III minimum capital requirements or how the head of security of the British bank with the largest number of high street branches got convicted on fraud charges. By reports in the news, the Lloyds Banking Group has already paid out more than £4billion in compensation to its depositors for mis-selling PPI.

All that wasn’t impelled by the US Balance of Payments deficit. The US balance of payments deficits only explains the motivation for creating the Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) to market sub-prime mortgages to satisfy the demand in Asia for US Dollar securities. For example:

“It’s becoming depressingly familiar: Bankers joke openly in emails about a toxic investment they’re creating. Bankers sell said toxic investment to clients while betting against it. Everybody loses money, nobody goes to jail. Rinse, repeat, crash the economy.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/morgan-stanley-cdo-emails_n_2535784.html

We really do need protection from Britain’s banks and the covert surveillance skills of Britain’s security services can help to provide that.

If only we had taken heed of this warning in 2003 about derivatives from Warren Buffett:

“The rapidly growing trade in derivatives poses a ‘mega-catastrophic risk’ for the economy and most shares are still ‘too expensive’, legendary investor Warren Buffett has warned.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2817995.stm

24. Dissident

@ 22

You do have valid points about the endemic fraud within finance sector. Unfortunately the age old adage of ‘who will watch the watchmen’ springs to my mind about how pervasive this kind of monitoring is. It would be nice to monitor x,y,z for malfeasance in all it’s forms. However you also need to have some genuine democratic accountability there. It is all too easy for this technology to be used against people who campaign against (say) the endemic corruption within finance. How do you prevent it from becoming just another tool for the rich to abuse us all with?

25. So Much For Subtlety

14. Bob B

Which doubtless explains how the German Enigma code was broken during WW2 with the aid of an innovative electronic computer

Well British mathematicians and engineers were world class. How many of the people involved in Enigma were professional spies? However Enigma is mainly PR. It was not that hard to break. The real work was done by Poles. It played no part in the war whatsoever because the British never managed to use the information.

It is an open secret that communications intercepts have been crucial in bringing many of the Jihadist terrorist cases to court in the last few years.

The police have been able to wire tap people for 100 years.

Dissident

Am I the only one who sincerely hopes GCHQ stasibots are rummaging around SMFS’s dirty online secrets….

They can ask. I am happy to share with GCHQ if they have nothing better to do.

What a convenient stereotype, with only James Bond to the rescue!

Except James Bond is the stereotype. Johnny English is closer to the reality.

Bob B

On 19 July 1985, Gordievsky went for his usual jog, but he instead managed to evade his KGB tails and boarded a train to the Finnish border, where he was met by British embassy cars and smuggled across the border into Finland, then flown to England via Norway.

So you’re holding up as a great example of British spying excellence, the fact that they managed to drive someone over the border, presumably in an official car that the KGB border guards were not allowed to search?

Notice what they didn’t do – anything. They did not give him a warning of arrest, they did not get him out of Moscow before he was questioned. They did not even manage to get him out of Moscow. All they did was drive him over the border.

As I said, completely ineffectual. Lucky for this man, the KGB was not much better.

26. Dissident

“They can ask. I am happy to share with GCHQ if they have nothing better to do.”

That’s just it, they will never ask, and you will never know, even talking unto power will be suspect if it is convenient for ‘them’. You will only know when ‘they’ decide you are no longer someone who is free to be ignored. Even then you will never know the full extent of the information that will be misused against you. What was it described as? Ah yes room 101. The modern word is rendered.

Even if they really are as stereotypically inept as you claim, there will be a guarantee of a quota of suspects, especially manufactured ones, and every now and then someone will always conveniently slip through the net, and actually commit a terrorist outrage – otherwise what is the point of those stasibots?

As ever, always entertaining…

27. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

22. Bob B
24. Dissident
cc GCHQ

I dont disagree with the fact that liberal laws in the financial industry has led to malpractice but I dont accept that my proposition in anyway excludes that. That is a totally different issue and one that had nothing to do with the structural prerequsites of the crash.

With the meltdown in 2008 I think people need to be careful about really how this happend. My view is that economic conditions ,ie low interest rates,real estate inflation were the principal reasons why the assett could be and was exploited. It stands to reason that if an asset isnt growing then you cant bet on it or indeed manipulate it for money making.

I think the role of crooks thereafter is misconcieved. The basic fact was that the majority of financial institutions didnt understand the implications of extending a totally laughdable approach to lowering insurance overheads for those attempting to get on the housing market. Whilst this
was introduced by Freddy Mac/Fannie Mae under the Clinton regime it did not become toxic until the private sector decide to create CDO’s involving Caravans which like cars devalue at the point of sale (ie never in a million years would make money. It was at this point together with offering mortgages to anybody regardless of financial status. The point missed by virtually everyone at the time was that spreading the risk through CDO’s which they regarded as its strength became its weakness. No-one at the time ever believed that the whole housing market would collapse at the same time and therefore the CDO offered sufficient spread to mitigate any overall impact. An additional aspect was that when they ran out property to keep the market for CDOs going they created CDOs of CDO’s but similarly (maybe) felt it had the safety of numbers.
As long as everything added up to 615 (the metric used by Standard and Poor via a model provided by Goldman Sachs everything was OK(ie AAA rated). Clearly the model didnt show the distribution of risk,which became significant,and so allowed B- stock to toxify A rated stock.
No one cottoned on to the monster they had created until very late in the day. A few guys did and made a load through CDS’s but the majority didnt. This included the head real estate trader that brought down Bear Stearnes and the CEO who at a press conference literally spoke gibberish – he really didnt know what had hit him.

A sad tale indeed but this does not detract from my initial point that the US deficit was instrumental in creating the conditions for it to happen. It appears chinese imports caught out administration on both sides of the pond creating the conditions for runaway growth.

The other aspect to this is the US deficit has allowed for the extension of the dollar as the de facto currency in the world which affords obvious advantage to the US strategically. I suspect thats why Germany is being bugged so heavily. More oppertunities for the dollar zone to expand if the euro fails.

28. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

26. Dissident

Just copy them in as per item above 27

29. the a&e charge nurse

OK, so GQHQ’s avowed intent is to ‘master the internet’.
Just one questions, do citizens have the right to opt out of ‘tempora’?
Do any of them actually know most are unwilling, or at least unknowing participants?
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-06/24/gchq-tempora-101

At least we can rest assured that none of this information will ever be used to advance the interests of power elites – even so John ‘slugger’ Prescott referred the issue to the Council of Europe’s Commissioner on Human Rights (Nils Muiznieks).
Muizniek said: “Privacy is a fundamental human right which is essential if we wish to live in dignity and security. It cannot be forfeited so easily.”

Germany has written to the Coalition expressing its concern that what the UK and US are doing is illegal but it’s hard to see how the technological equivalent to earlier land grabs can now be reversed.

Man on the Clapham omnibus: “I dont disagree with the fact that liberal laws in the financial industry has led to malpractice but I dont accept that my proposition in anyway excludes that. That is a totally different issue and one that had nothing to do with the structural prerequsites of the crash.”

The thread focus is about questions for the security services. I’m saying the scale of damage inflicted on Britain’s economy by the banks and bankers is in the same league as terrorism and terrorists so covert surveillance by the security services of financial service institutions and markets would be a welcome addition to the new regulation framework to deter malpractices flourishing. Heaven knows, something more is needed to put fear of detection into bankers.

Sure, the US trade deficit with China and Japan motivated the creation of Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs) to satisfy the demand in Asia for US Dollar securities by bundling together and packaging sub-prime mortgages. No one is disputing that but the banking scandals were far more extensive than the creation of opaque derivatives, like the CDOs, which Warren Buffett had warned us about in 2003: see link @23.

In addition to the banking issues sketched out @11, there was also the manipulation of LIBOR – hence this FT news report on 21 June 2013: First banker to be charged over LIBOR faces court in UK

The US trade deficit didn’t impell bankers to manipulate LIBOR. For a briefing on that scandal, try the entry in Wikipedia for: “LIBOR scandal”. Quote: “This dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets” Prof Andrew Lo, MIT.

Btw in today’s FT: John Gapper on: Regulators are finally closing in on banks.

31. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

29. the a&e charge nurse

Answer is it wont be reversed and will grow as a function of the price of storage and the capacity for smart software to read the data.

In many ways the gloves are off and there is no way back to mend the compact between elected representatives and those that elect. Basically you can either have the wealth to be in the club or not in the club. A huge crisis in democracy which will continually ooze through the national pysche.

I suspect as things progress, the notion of who are enemies of the state will also develop. Which state could be an issue (no trips to Disney please). Enemies would probably include anybody who had an interest in politics,membership of union positions,intellectuals,academics,teachers and so on.Pretty much anyone with a brain and a moral compass! I am expecting the Guardian to be shut down next and a few of its staff to get whacked.

At the very least the security forces will increasing discredit those whom it does not favor to promote its long term interests. (The Dominic Strauss Khan syndrome maybe)

Now that international rules are basically torn up ,such that a head of State can be ‘kidnapped’ at the beheast of the US over European airspace I suspect no-one in power
will give a second thought to mopping up the ‘small fry’ in
their local jurisdictions.

It is a shame! Once upon at time we were a proud nation fighting against injustice. Now we are controlled by liars and charlatans at the behest of a rather tawdry bunch of Americans

32. Richard Carey

@ Bob b,

“We really do need protection from Britain’s banks and the covert surveillance skills of Britain’s security services can help to provide that.”

I think you’re wasting your time expecting SIS to bring bankers to justice. They’re all in it together. The Great Game continues. Remember BCCI, the bank of drug lords, terrorists, and spies. Who protected it? The Bank of England.

33. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

32. Richard Carey

and still protect it. I believe the report into is still undisclosed

Richard Carey: “I think you’re wasting your time expecting SIS to bring bankers to justice. They’re all in it together”

“BCCI came under the scrutiny of numerous financial regulators and intelligence agencies in the 1980s due to concerns that it was poorly regulated. . . BCCI became the focus of a massive regulatory battle in 1991 and on 5 July of that year customs and bank regulators in seven countries raided and locked down records of its branch offices ” [Wikipedia]

Robin Leigh-Pemberton (Eton and Oxford) was Governor of the Bank of England 1983-1993. He was previously Chairman of the National Westminster Bank.

“The [NatWest’s] expansion strategy hit trouble with the stock market crash of 1987 and involvement in the financial scandal surrounding the collapse of Blue Arrow. The Department of Trade and Industry report on the affair was critical of the bank’s management and resulted in the resignation of several members of the board, including then chairman Lord Boardman” [Wikipedia]

The NatWest Bank duly became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group [RBS] in 2000. RBS had to be bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 and is now about 82pc owned by taxpayers.

So much for those claims by bankers here in previous threads that we need real bankers as Governors of the Bank of England, not mere academics like Mervyn King.

The SIS has a track record for honest reporting and speaking “Truth unto Power”. Try this leaked Memo marked Secret dated 23 July 2002:

“C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”
http://downingstreetmemo.com/memos.html

“C” is the traditional name of the head of the SIS.

Suggest checking out my posts @17, @18. Remember Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen of the CIA?

35. Richard Carey

@ Bob B,

“So much for those claims by bankers here in previous threads that we need real bankers as Governors of the Bank of England, not mere academics like Mervyn King”

Not a claim I would make. The banks do not need regulation, they need to be held accountable under the law. The regulations are what protects them from the general prohibitions against fraud and embezzlement. This is, however, OT.

“The SIS has a track record for honest reporting and speaking “Truth unto Power”.”

They also have a track record of destablising foreign governments, engineering coups etc. What we are allowed to know about their activities is only the tip of the iceberg.

Richard Carey: “The banks do not need regulation, they need to be held accountable under the law.”

That’s nonsense IMO. The independent Bank of England has been charged by statute to decide on policies for maintaining macroprudential stability.

For example, there is a strong case for changing the minimum reserve requirements of banks contra-cyclically – meaning that reserve requirements could be raised in boom times to curb lending and reduced in times when the economy is depressed. And there is certainly a case for monitoring investment risks of banks and to see whether bankers’ bonuses are prompting banks to take on excessive investment risk in pursuit of bonuses. Recall that RBS was brought down by its board’s foolish decision to make an acquisition bid for ABN Amro:

“Regulator should have stopped RBS from buying ABN Amro, say MPs” [Guardian 19 October 2013]

“On 20 January 2011, RBS were fined £28.58 million for anti-competitive practices that were enacted with Barclays in relation to the pricing of loan products for large professional services firms. Also in 2011, RBS prevented Basic Account holders from using the ATMs of most rival banks (although they could still use those of Natwest, Tesco, Morrisons and the Post Office).” [Wikipedia]

As Mervyn King put it: “People have ‘every right to be angry’ with banks for the UK’s financial crisis, the outgoing Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King says.”

For interest, try the ranking in this league table of the top 10 intelligence services of 2013:
http://www.toptensworld.com/2013/06/10/top-10-intelligence-agencies-of-2013/

38. Charlieman

@37. Bob B: “For interest, try the ranking in this league table of the top 10 intelligence services of 2013.”

The first problem with that table is that it ranks Pakistan’s ISI as number one, but many of us don’t know which “side” the ISI represents.

Charlieman: “The first problem with that table is that it ranks Pakistan’s ISI as number one, but many of us don’t know which ‘side’ the ISI represents.”

Which only goes to show how diabolically clever the leadership of the ISI is.

Look how many years Osama Ben Ladin managed to hide out in Abbottabad and try this in the news:

‘Pakistan controls Taliban’ – Afghan army chief
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23159095

My guess is that the primary focus of the ISI is promoting its own self-serving interests. As best I can tell, the Indian government couldn’t pin the Mumbai atrocity of 2008 on the ISI despite its suspicions and best intelligence gathering efforts.

40. Charlieman

@39. Bob B

If we take the ISI as a representative model of intelligence services, we can try to answer some national identity questions.

What is a British/UK interest? — whatever MI6 defines it to be.

What is British/UK nationality? — whatever MI6 defines it to be.

What is the British/UK sense of humour? — undefined because MI6 doesn’t think it matters.

Charlieman: “If we take the ISI as a representative model of intelligence services, we can try to answer some national identity questions.”

I surely hope we can’t take the ISI as representative of intelligence agencies, not least because the context in which the ISI operates is (fortunately) unique and Pakistan has had little continuous experience of elected, representative government.

“What is a British/UK interest? — whatever MI6 defines it to be.”

C’mon. The Foreign Secretary – presently William Hague – is accountable to Parliament for what the SIS gets up to or fails to do and for its spending and there are both additional administrative and Parliamentary checks and balances.

“The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is the part of the British Cabinet Office responsible for directing the national intelligence organisations of the United Kingdom on behalf of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and providing advice to the Cabinet related to security, defence and foreign affairs.” [Wikipedia]

There is also the HoC Intelligence and Security Committee:

“The committee’s formal responsibilities are to examine the expenditure, administration and policies of the security and intelligence agencies as laid down in statute; the Secret Intelligence Service, the Security Service and Government Communications Headquarters. It has however extended its oversight responsibilities to include the Defence Intelligence Staff and the Joint Intelligence Committee.” [Wikipedia]

The leaked “Secret” Memo, dated 22 July 2002, from the SIS on the proposed invasion of Iraq, quoted @34, demonstrates that the SIS can make a completely detached and objective assessment of what was an extremely sensitive situation. The memo plainly stated that: “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” That could hardly have been put more plainly.

Btw contrast that leaked Secret Memo from the SIS of 22 July 2002, about the proposed invasion of Iraq, with the BBC report of what Tony Blair said when attending the G8 Summit in June 2003, following the invasion of Iraq starting on 20 March 2003:

Tony Blair has rejected calls for an official inquiry into the government’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking at the G8 summit in Evian, Mr Blair said he stood “100%” by the evidence shown to the public about Iraq’s alleged weapons programmes.

“Frankly, the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45-minute capability for delivering weapons of mass destruction is completely and totally false,” he said.

Calls for an inquiry were made after ex-cabinet minister Clare Short said Prime Minister Tony Blair had “duped” the country into going to war.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2955036.stm

43. Richard Carey

@ 41 Bob B,

“C’mon. The Foreign Secretary – presently William Hague – is accountable to Parliament for what the SIS gets up to or fails to do and for its spending and there are both additional administrative and Parliamentary checks and balances.”

As we, the public, are not informed as to what it is doing, except possibly 50 or 100 years afterwards, there is no way of holding it to account for its actions. Hague is a babe in the wood and knows only what he is told. It wasn’t that long ago when the government refused to admit that there was an SIS. The part they now admit, which they like to represent as just another boring civil service job, is only one leg of the octopus.

We seem to have forgotten all about these previous convictions relating to Jihadist terrorism:

Five men have been jailed for a bomb plot linked to al-Qaeda that could have killed hundreds of people in Britain. [BBC website April 2007]

Three guilty of airline bomb plot bigger than 9/11 [Telegraph September 2009]

Britain’s largest and longest running terrorist investigation has come to an end with the conviction of three British Muslims for planning to become suicide bombers in an al-Qaeda plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners. [Telegraph July 2010]

A gang of Muslim extremists inspired to launch a deadly UK terror campaign by hate preacher Anjem Choudary were jailed for a total of nearly 95 years today. [Telegraph February 2012]

Three would-be suicide bombers who plotted to carry out an attack to rival the 7 July and 9/11 atrocities have been found guilty of terrorism charges. [BBC website February 2013]

For further details, try googling the quotes from mainstream media sources. I can’t prove it but I suspect the security services, including GCHQ, were involved in the detection, arrests and convictions of those cases. On the reported evidence presented at the trials, countless lives have been saved.


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