UPDATE: HAS Rusbridger exposed thousands of GCHQ personnel?

rusbridger

UPDATE: Scroll down to see video of Rusbridger admitting that he gave the GCHQ files, unredacted, to Glenn Greenwald, files Glenn Greenwald did not already have. So that his claim to Parliament to have control of the files is false.

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It seems apparent that the information exchange wiki betrayed by the Guardian did not just include the odd name – the Guardian’s own descriptions imply that it included entire staff directories; which is logical as after all, this is exactly the sort of information GCWIKI would have been set up to share. We might be talking about many thousands of names. This could be a security disaster of unparalleled proportions.

Journalists have asked me on Twitter if I really want to see Alan Rusbridger arrested. Yes, I do; and here’s why.

It was always incredibly bad that he had exposed British intelligence agents to foreigners, willfully, having admitted that doing so would expose them. My prior blog below shows how he redacted all their names from the files he FedExed to ProPublica but then decided he couldn’t be arsed on the 25,000 files he sent unredacted to the NYT and Glenn Greenwald.

A comment was left on that last blog that I have to reproduce. It shows that every agent exposed by Rusbridger has had their career ruined for the duration of it; none of them can ever work in the field again. Furthermore, the writer makes the compelling case that the NSA-GCHQ wiki, which the New York Times published extracts from, and the directories of staff interests like gay and lesbian clubs, ghost hunting clubs etc, mean that Rusbridger has actually sent abroad not just a handful of names, as he claimed to Parliament “there were names on power points” but actually thousands of GCHQ names.

It is possible he has exposed the names of every person working at the agency. I checked this comment with Prof John Schindler, @20Committee on Twitter. Schindler is former NSA Top Secret plus cleared, a senior NSA officer, and currently a Professor at the Naval War college in Boston.

He says that my commenter is “very probably” right on the wiki and its directories. Here’s the comment:

As a total security imbecile, Rusbridger fails (or refuses) to grasp this basic concept: Any intelligence operative whose name is exposed to journalists, or put in a position where the likelihood of their identities being publically exposed is at greater risk, CAN NEVER BE DEPLOYED COVERTLY.
The issue here is not that ‘no names have been published’, it is that a) copying and trafficking them in a way that gives poor assurance over their long-term control and b) allowing such vast visibility of their names to unvetted journalists has had significant implications for those staff safety, deployability and careers. This also puts the Agencies operational effectiveness in peril – operational staff are difficult to recruit, train, retain and protect. To have even tens of staff blown could cause entire business areas to grind to a halt and lead to further attrocities on the streets of the UK.

Let’s take an example: we necessarily have a sizeable security presence in Northern Ireland. Therefore there were almost certainly named staff within those files who work in Northern Ireland or would have been required to do so at some point in their careers. If names were to hit wikileaks then there is a real and tangible prospect of those staff in such high risk environments being hunted down and killed. In this situation they would have to leave their homes within minutes of publication. With documents shipped extensively internationally, with hundreds of journalists given access does Rusbridger seriously think it would now be viable for such staff to remain in environments like Northern Ireland, does he think such staff who were already deployed there could remain regardless of whether the Guardian actually published the names? Is this a risk HMG can take? Of course not. This is why it is a criminal offence to communicate names and this is why HE HAS CAUSED GREAT DAMAGE.

Those staff may have been employed for another 40 years, can Rusbridger give any long-term assurances over control of those documents he shipped? Of course not.

It seems apparent that the information exchange wiki betrayed by the Guardian did not just include the odd name – the Guardian’s own descriptions imply that it included entire staff directories; which is logical as after all, this is exactly the sort of information GCWIKI would have been set up to share. We might be talking about many thousands of names. This could be a security disaster of unparalleled proportions.

In his Witness statement, Oliver Robbins stated that:

‘I am advised that information already obtained has had a direct impact on decisions taken in regards to staff deployments and is therefore impacting operational effectiveness’

So it sounds like this damage is already happening.

Lives and careers put at risk and families uprooted for Mr Rusbridger’s convenience? It is difficult to conceive of a more treacherous, reckless act.

Do I think that Rusbridger would have sent the files over if he had realised the wikis contained directories with thousands of names? No – I don’t think him as bad as that. Or that he deliberately scorched the careers of every intel officer named in the files? Again, no. I can’t think so ill of the man as that. But it’s the smugness of thinking he knows better, that he is, as he has said many times, above the law – didn’t want “judges” getting hold of the story – and the determination to secure for his financially failing paper some online traffic that led him to do this wicked thing. Time and again Rusbridger has been shown not to understand the basics of intel. He kept the files in a “secure room” with floor to ceiling windows covered with blinds, ideal for laser mikes. They could pick up any detail of conversations about those files in that room. This had to be pointed out to him by civil servants and was one reason he agreed to destroy his hard copy of the files (and this is by his own account).

He has cited this wholly false, fake figure of 850k people having access to the GCHQ documents – which is the total number of US personnel cleared Top Secret. Intelligence doesn’t work like that, there is compartmentalisation, it’s on a need to know basis only. As Prof Schindler has said he was given the topmost NSA security clearance and he did not see, have access to or know about these files.

Rusbridger is a journalist; he doesn’t know what’s safe and what’s not, or how intel works. As my commenter says (and my commenter is not using his real name) this is precisely why it is a criminal offence to communicate names. I will be writing today to Commander Cressida Dick at the Metropolitan Police to put in a complaint of a criminal offence based on this, as she has said anyone can do yesterday in Parliament. It is to be hoped that other journalists will hold Rusbridger to account on what he has done, but there is a massive amount of establishment clubbery going on. We must rely on the police not to be intimidated by a very powerful press axis. A free press under the law means just that, and it’s why hacking trials are now proceeding.

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UPDATE: I had not seen the video of the brilliant Mark Reckless MP, a barrister, questioning Rusbridger. He forced him to admit that he communicated names, and that was the headline on Twitter, but I was struck by something further. In this video, Reckless gets Rusbridger to admit that he handed the GCHQ files unredacted to Greenwald (he flew them via James Ball to Rio after Ball couried the files to the NYT).

Greenwald is an insane lunatic, and has provided all kinds of GCHQ stories that even the NYT would not touch to outlets around the world. Rusbridger likely misled Parliament when he said he had not lost control of the files, as in no way whatever can he vouch for Glenn Greenwald, who played him for a total fool by dumping him and the Guardian for a $250m “new media” outlet as soon as he got the GCHQ files. Greenwald did not originally have the GCHQ files from Snowden – that is why Poitras was trying to courier them to him using Miranda at the Guardian’s expense – but Alan Rusbridger handed them to him. It is impossible to imagine anything more reckless and disgusting.

Remember, Greenwald tweeted that he didn’t have all the files, and that only the Guardian had the GCHQ files. Now he does have all the files. Because the genius of “kept control” Rusbridger handed them over.

Why did Rusbridger do it? Well, we know from Miranda’s Buzzfeed story that the Guardian published a story on command, by 5pm, when Greenwald threatened to resign. Most likely Greenwald, who was unhappy that Rusbridger sent files to the times, threatened again to resign if Rusbridger didn’t hand him the files via James Ball. Rusbridger didn’t have NSA files – only GCHQ ones. So he did the deal with Greenwald in order to have access to Greenwald’s NSA data.

Shoddy. Appalling. Something else for the police to consider. That Espresso Italy story on  the GCHQ base? Rusbridger’s responsibilty, for shipping these files to the maniac Greenwald. What a craven coward, bowing to Greenwald’s blackmail in that way. I cannot help but have a slight tinge of admiration in Greenwald’s hoodwinking him so easily and taking his GCHQ files straight to a for-profit French billionaire.

http://markreckless.com/2013/12/04/video-mark-reckless-mp-quizzes-the-guardians-alan-rusbridger/

37 thoughts on “UPDATE: HAS Rusbridger exposed thousands of GCHQ personnel?”

    1. And the wonderful job they did of gathering intelligence which enabled us to send troops to Afghanistan hoping they would come home again ‘without firing a shot’

  1. Louise, that comment did not “show how every agent exposed by Rusbridger has had their career ruined”, it argued, or hypothesized it.

    Secondly, the professor did not say it “very probably” occured, but “very possibly”. Sloppy, and possibly defamatory.

    1. I await the denial from the Guardian. None will come, because I am right. People told me it was defamatory to say Rusbridger muled CGHQ names abroad, but you have to have some guts in journalism. I knew I was right and I kept saying it.

      1. “None will come, because I am right”. Smugness is so unattractive, as you rightly point out. But please, stop throwing stones in that particular glass house.

  2. yes, in her excitement to denounce the Guardian she got creative with the truth. ‘possibly’ to ‘probably’ without so much as a blink.

  3. Dear Anonymous, Talking about getting creative with the truth: the suggestion that the NSA itself exposed the files and Snowden simply helped himself to cookies from the jar. Wow! Your ilk has come up with creative brilliance.
    Keep downplaying the gravity of damage and pray nothing catastrophic happens, because if the tide turns against you, the days of comfy glibness will be over.

    It’s just tense drama right now, you’d better hope for everyone’s sake, most notably Snowden, Greenwald and their lemmings, that this is as bad as it gets.

  4. You started out some time ago hyperventilating about names of GCHQ “agents” whose lives – and the lives of their families – were endangered.
    Now you have “thousands of GCHQ employees” whose secret undercover (underdesk) work is blown.
    At “thousands” we are probably talking about canteen staff – who are now in mortal danger from the bad guys as their names might possibly – although not probably – get into the hands of terrorists.
    Quick search for common names in the UK…
    700,000 or so Smiths – How many John Smiths I wonder?
    If one or more John Smiths are included in the “thousands of GCHQ employees”, then there could be many hundreds of John Smiths in the UK – and more world-wide – who now might possibly need protection should terrorists learn of the John Smith(s) amongst the thousands.

    Let’s go for less common names in the “thousands of names”.
    Say the tea lady is named Daiyanissa Smythe-Collingsworth. That’s possibly fairly unique. She’ll be a prime target. She’s going to need round-the-clock armed guards if her name gets out.
    The damage to National Security is that the security precautions might interfere with her usual work, resulting in various desk-jockeys not getting their tea and buns at the proper times.
    She’s an “agent” after all. You’ve been screaming the house down about “agents” names being muled/trafficked/smuggled to foreign people – and “foreign” is a damming indictment of anybody.

    If “thousands” of names are now probably being gossiped about by (as you had in your last post) “hundreds of bloggers, journalists and all their friends and contacts”, a reasonable question arises.
    Why did the GCHQ make these names available to the NSA – who then allowed a private contractor to walk out the door with that information and more?
    .

    Intelligence doesn’t work like that, there is compartmentalisation, it’s on a need to know basis only.

    The NSA had a need to know the name of the tea lady and similar “agents”.?
    According to your previous post, it is “highly probable” that the information on these “agents” included “names of members of their families, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, Skype accounts and other contact details”.
    Who has a need to know these details on thousands of GCHQ employees?

    This “need to know thing” …
    Manning – an army private – sitting in a tent in Iraq – had access to diplomatic cables and a bunch of other classified info without having the remotest need to know.

    If the GCHQ wiki had both sensitive information and the fixture list for the darts team, then this would be akin to the sloppy standard of US security – which is largely driven by the over-classification of everything.
    Some 4 million-ish souls have US Classified clearance and getting on for 1 million have US Top Secret clearance. A significant number of those are itinerant employees of private contracting companies.
    Their clearance is meant to be reviewed every 3 or 5 years -depending. This does not actually happen because of the sheer numbers involved and because budget cuts can not cover the cost of the private contractors who would do the reviews.
    That’s one gigantic leaky tank of “secrets” ranging from the details of picnics to actually sensitive stuff.
    .

    So far, the only unintended leak has originated within the NSA.
    You seem to have a fixation about files going from the Guardian in London to the US.
    Hello. They are *copies* of what came out of the USA. They took a plane to Hong Kong. Then *more copies* went to Brazil and Germany.
    *Copies* of those files were on a world tour long before *yet another copy* got to London.

  5. I’m puzzled – your commenter says the “basic concept” is that anyone whose name is exposed to journalists can never be deployed covertly.

    I am not claiming to be in any position to argue with this. But once Alan Rusbriger, who as you note in the final paragraph is a journalist, had seen the files would that not mean none of those mentioned in them could be deployed covertly.

    So what exactly changed when another journalist and another newspaper also received the files, rather than just one?

      1. Sadly that seems to be true. It seems such a huge flaw in this article that I hoped it was just my misunderstanding and Louise would explain.

      2. The flaw is even deeper than “But once Alan Rusbriger, who as you note in the final paragraph is a journalist, had seen the files ….”
        Rusbridger was not the first to see them. Greenwald and Poitras had them from Snowden in Hong Kong at the outset.
        According to Louise’s logic, from that moment in Hong Kong, all of the information became accessible by “hundreds of bloggers, journalists and all their friends and contacts”.
        Moral: Don’t ever tell Louise a secret.
        .

        Louise seems to have a blind spot when it comes to how Rusbridger got his copy.

        I did come up with alternative methods for Rusbridger to get the files just for himself alone.
        1. When Snowden first met Greenwald and Poitras in Hong Kong he carried a Rubik’s Cube so as to identify himself to them. That Rubik’s Cube had been hacked and bugged by Rusbridger – who had learnt of the plan – somehow. Snowden refused to give the GCHQ section of the data to Greenwald or Poitras, even though Greenwald begged for it.
        When Rusbridger – listening in secretly from a nearby pizza house – heard that Snowden was holding back info, he commanded the Rubik’s Cube to hack into Snowden’s machines and lift a copy of the all the data including the GCHQ data. This cost an unbudgeted small fortune in roaming data charges.
        Or
        2. Rusbridger drove to Cheltenham and parked near the GCHQ building. He threw a few Rubick’s Cubes into the staff car park in the hopes that an employee would pick one up and bring it close to a computer terminal. Sure enough, one of them did and Rusbridger was IN!!!
        Or …… this is probably more reasonable than the ‘Rusbridger is the Chuck Norris of hackers’ options……
        3. Snowden never had the GCHQ data. C’mon – why on earth in the strictly- compartmentalised intelligence world would the NSA ( foreigners the lot of ‘em) have access to “names of members of their families, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, Skype accounts and other contact details” of “thousands of GCHQ employees”? Do the NSA ring up thousands of GCHQ staff in their homes for a chat?
        Rusbridger has a mole in GCHQ. That’s how he was the only unauthorised person in the world to have the GCHQ data. It’s bleedin’ obvious! Right?

  6. Arrest Rusbridger means you want him jailed??

    So whats good for satisfying your ego after you’ve laid your charge? 20 years in jail without parole? 40 years? Life without parole? Solitary for life lest he be in contact with others and share more secrets?

    As you proffer yourself as a criminal law expert through your ‘analysis’ of his alleged crime, please tell us what jail term would be good for you.

    You will of course be aware you are proposing setting a jail-them-all precedent which will kill all investigative journalism that affects inter alia reports on civil rights or abuse of power.

    Louise: history will judge you VERY harshly for wanting to jail Rusbridger, ever more so when/if it happens because of the criminal charge you say you will lay.

    Goebels, Stalin, Pinochet, Ahmadinejad, Mensch. Just saying.

    Go ahead though: make your day.

    1. It would, as with any criminal offence, be a matter for the law to take its course; an arrest, a decision to charge or not, a jury trial, and sentencing. Unlike Mr. Rusbridger I do not think I am above British judges or the law. An arrest is not a conviction.

      1. Nicely deflected in your answer, as usual.

        But its still a non-answer to the question. You wrote you wanted him arrested? Surely you know that people who are arrested are locked up, even for a short time at first until they apply for bail? And if convicted, they may spend a long time in jail.

        So whats the point of wanting him arrested? A perp-walk photo-op to boost your mate Cameron? Is this a game for you, to boost your ego and blog page views?

        So please answer the question seeing you have through your polemic entered the arena of trite legal analysis of British laws: do you think that the ‘imbecile’ Rusbridger should be jailed for publishing GCHQ info and (allegedly) sending it abroad?

        A simple yes or no would assist. Thanks so much!

        (Bonus: I promise to help you boost your page views by tweeting your Yes or No answer along with a link to your answer in your blog. And Big Bonus: that ‘insane lunatic’ Greenwald may even retweet it to his 300,000+ followers!)

  7. “anyone whose name is exposed to journalists can never be deployed covertly.”

    No need for puzzlement. It’s really very simple.

    The names “John Smith” and “Daiyanissa Smythe-Collingsworth” are seen by a few journalists. Arising from this, the names are accessible to ““hundreds of bloggers, journalists and all their friends and contacts”. Eventually these names get to the terrorists.

    Back at GCHQ, a problem arises. Age-old tried and tested traditional intelligence-gathering by electronuic means such as intecepting Internet traffic, hacking into telcos by shooting malware at their engineers, etc, etc. are not actually producing results. In the US for example, only one “terrorist incident” with a ‘nexus’ to the Homeland has been foiled as a direct result of mass surveillance. A taxi-driver in San Francisco was prevented from sending some money to Yemen. This is not impressive after spending years and many billions of dollars!
    So John Smith – lately out of University with a degree in Maths and Geeky stuff will have to be deployed to the Middle East , where he can listen at keyholes.
    This is somewhat problematic:
    1) He more inclined to spending his days at a desk, doing ducedly clever stuff and playing games. Day being done, he is accustomed to going home for his tea, pint with mates, and so on.
    2) He has a pale skin that might get badly sun-burnt in the ME
    3) He’s really into geeky stuff and finds cloak-and-dagger a bit boring unless it’s just for a quick session in a video game or a decent movie. He’s really not going to be able to remember at all times that his ‘listening at keyholes’ deep cover name is Mohammed Smith, and not John Smith. He probably won’t even be able to spell “Mohammed” if challenged. I know that I can’t.
    As soon as the terrorists all around him suspect that his real name is John, he’s blown.
    4) He’s still going to need his tea and buns.
    Clearly there is then the question of cover for Daiyanissa Smythe-Collingsworth as she takes her tea-trolley around the various John Smiths in the ME. She could go under a name like “Mary Miller” – which would be sure to outwit any terrorist looking out for a Daiyanissa Smythe-Collingsworth. That deep cover is going to be blown should the geeky John (eh. Mohammed – sorry) Smith say something like “Thanks Daiyanissa”.

    The sad truth is that geeky John Smith will have to stay in his nice office with desk and ‘puter. Daiyanissa will never get an opportunity to push her trolley through the sand – or at least not under her real name.
    This is all assuming that terrorists get to learn of their real names, and that they would be deployed into dangerous locations using those names.

  8. If theres a maniac here, its Louise Mensch. Her faux concern for ‘our agents’ masks a huge agenda to damage the Guardian and furnish her own profile/ego. I wonder if Rupert, her boss, has chatted with her about this? The Guardian is the newspaper after all who exposed the criminality at the heart of the News of the World. Whatever, she is becoming increasingly hysterical, and dare I say it seems a bit unhinged.

    1. Oh, Anon – Unhinged. I couldn’t agree more.

      That this faux moralist tweets on an hourly basis how many page views her blog has reveals a huge ego wrapped in an insecure bubble. In fact, I can hear her insecurities screaming in her head as she presses the refresh button on her blog page every 60 seconds throughout the day: “Please please let me have more page views than that ‘insane lunatic’ Greenwald’s blog. P.L.E.A.S.E.”

      Her obvious insecurities aside, and bar her oft-tweeted revisionist fantasy in her blog and tweets shes been trading off in the twittersphere that Snowden somehow personally gave Rusbridger – and NOT Greenwald/Potrais – the FULL set of available NSA leak documents, her latest posts show obvious deflection and severe inconsistency in her ALWAYS-BE-LAWFUL thesis she dogmatically, and with added ad hominem venom, applies to the “imbecile” Rusbridger, the Brazilian “terrorist” Miranda and the “treasonous” Guardian.

      For example, although she’s now apparently a US resident who proudly tweets pictures of cabs on Park Ave and Xmas decorations, she somehow is not calling for Clapper to be arrested for admitting to lying to congress; nor for Alexander to resign for overseeing an NSA internal systems with clearly high-school grade opsec that allowed NSA, GCHQ & all 5 eyes docs to live indefinitely on the internet; nor for there to be urgent reforms as Feinstein et al have said are needed for an NSA clearly breaking the law in a number of countries through its hacking; nor for the editor of the Washington Post; and NY Times to be prosecuted.

      Can you spell and understand the word C.O.N.S.I.S.T.E.N.C,Y, Mrs Mensch? (If you cant, Google it in between pressing the refresh button on your blog page. You should reach 1,000,000+ blog page views by the time you finally understand its meaning).

      Its just her irrational shoot-the-messenger hate-fest against Rusbridger & Greenwald.

      Sad really. Or unhinged.

      1. Well put. Can I add to that….lying. Her source says ‘very possibly’ which she changes to ‘very probably’. The two words obviously have different meanings. In her race to throw the kitchen sink at the Guardian she has resorted to embellishing the truth.

  9. I wrote earlier: “Can you spell and understand the word C.O.N.S.I.S.T.E.N.C.Y?”

    But wait, there’s more:

    “Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian has come up with the biggest scoop since Watergate in exposing the extent, breadth, depth and overreach of the PRISM programme. He must win a Pulitzer prize, there can be no doubt about that whatsoever.” – LM, July 2013

    So, from GGs biggest ‘Pulitzer’ fan in July 2013, to ‘insane lunatic’ who deserves to be jailed in December 2013.

    And similarly from ‘overreach’ to ‘national security.’

    And then from describing Snowden as a ‘genuine patriot’ to ‘traitor’.

    Oh dearie me. How this woman is fickle. Quite the swinger.

    I wonder how her mate and uber-source of her wisdom @20committee feels about this.

    Pray tell, LM.

    1. I was a big @ggreenwald fan until @sibeledmonds got in2 the fray. Now @louisemensch is pointing out the obvious, these all have figured out a cool way 2 circumvent rule of law. Our violation of privacy is a breach of law but then selling docs is a no no too. As typical, we sheeple have fallen for the script. David Miranda is the anti-hero, we’re all rooting for him to leak the docs, not realizing that we’re just fueling the fire. Also, @ioerror is big behind Tor. Tor is a joke, it has a backdoor that the CIA can access. This whole drama is a joke. Well, I’m slowly waking up. Think I’ll go for a walk now.

  10. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    Benjamin Franklin
    I am free, I owe nothing other than tax as an obligation to the state. The state, in all its forms is in place to serve, serve us, the people. It has no legitimate right to view, listen to or read my communications and conversations unless it has reasonable suspicion that i am carrying out criminal activities. Rusbridger, Greenwald, Snowden et al. have exposed an amoral, privacy breaching collection of state agencies that have no respect for the law/state that they purport to protect.
    Your incessant and desperate recycling of the fact that there “might “have been names in a file that was already accessible to 100s of 1000s of people across the globe does you and your reputation little good. Instead, it is making you appear more, and more as a publicity hungry aspirant Dacre with a pout.
    Arrest Rusbridger ? Your willful ignorance of the central matter, the core of the problem would be funny if it wasn’t the case that until recently you had a viable career in politics.

  11. You should change the name of this blog. It’s basically a political blog. Nothing wrong with that – but it’s no longer what it launched as – namely lazy girls guide to gloss. The name doesn’t fit at all.

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