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

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the costs-of-party-membership dept.

United Kingdom 395

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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moo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682757)

fp?

Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682761)

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

Re: Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

enigma32 (128601) | about a year ago | (#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?

Re: Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#44682851)

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.

Re: Government vs terrorists (4, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year ago | (#44682897)

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.

Re: Government vs terrorists (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#44682957)

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.

Re: Government vs terrorists (3, Interesting)

grainofsand (548591) | about a year ago | (#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.
 

Re: Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

You're All Wrong (573825) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re: Government vs terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683111)

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.

Your SO reporting on how misshapen your genitalia is would be telling the truth.

No matter how interesting it is to us, it would be wrong for them to do that.
The right & wrong of it has nothing to do with how interesting you think someone else's secrets are

You have to be telling a secret far more valuable than merely 'interesting' to justify abusing your trust. Personally, I think both Manning and Snowden failed in that regard.

Re: Government vs terrorists (2, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44683163)

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 read German Navy communications. Some Germans suspected from time to time that their communications were compromised, but they were always mollified by the apparent strength of Enigma. When the truth was finally revealed in the 1970s, the Germans were stunned. Had that information been revealed during the war, it still would have been "the truth." But the revelation of that information during the war against the U-Boats would have enabled the Germans to take effective countermeasures quite easily since the ability of the Allies to decrypt Enigma codes always hung by a thread. If the German radio traffic with the U-Boats would have been unreadable, it is possible that the British Isles could have been starved into submission. That would have meant a much more difficult war than it already was, and possibly one with a different outcome.

You're right, America (and the UK) should be *very* careful about outlawing the truth. By the same token, great care needs to be taken regarding the handling of some types of truth, otherwise it may be your fleet on the bottom of the ocean in the future. Had war come with the Soviet Union in the 1970s to 1980s, that is probably where much of the US fleet would have ended up. John Walker and his spy ring gave the Soviet Union the means to read American naval codes. NATO would probably have been either forced to use nuclear weapons in Europe - which it was and is prepared to do, or surrender.

A man telling his wife or girlfriend that a pair of jeans make her butt look big is telling the truth too. Who is going to sign up for that? Improperly revealing national security secrets is far more dangerous than telling a wife or girlfriend her butt looks big in a pair of jeans. The feedback loop just tends to be longer, if you're lucky.

Iran Warns U.S. Against Syria Intervention, Revolutionary Guard General Predicts 'Severe Consequences' [huffingtonpost.com]
Syria crisis: UK and US move closer to intervention [theguardian.com]

Re: Government vs terrorists (4, Insightful)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re: Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

Imrik (148191) | about a year ago | (#44682979)

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

Re: Government vs terrorists (0)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44683027)

Quite.

Re: Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re: Government vs terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682913)

Maybe try and make more people aware of the issues?
If whistleblowing and media freedom is reduced, corruption will increase. Law enforcement will increasingly care only about getting a conviction, rather than finding the guilty parties.

Fliers or posters that list the issues and how to protest might be a help.
Give a reason for people to care about their privacy, like asking why they wear clothes.
Say that to protest, they can browse the web anonymously and encrypt their emails if they don't want to take it up with their government representative.
Help your friends and family increase their online security and online anonymity.

If spies are concerned about the ethics and morality of what they're required to do, it's time to push for a change to laws, starting with getting rid of terrorism legislation. Push for restoration of rule-of-law for everyone.
The way terrism legislation is being misused demonstrates how it can no longer be justified.

Re: Government vs terrorists (1)

You're All Wrong (573825) | about a year ago | (#44683183)

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

And have you compared their funding? Orders of magnitude difference. In addition, one of them throws you in prison if you *don't* fund them. More civilised than kneecapping, but ultimately not much different.

At some point you're going to realise that the "love it or leave it" loons are actually right, and you should leave it.

Re:Government vs terrorists (5, Informative)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#44682833)

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

Re:Government vs terrorists (5, Interesting)

suso (153703) | about a year ago | (#44682863)

Missing option: Answering this poll

Re:Government vs terrorists (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44682971)

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.

Re:Government vs terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683115)

gov

Re:Government vs terrorists (0, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44683221)

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

In essence that would be a self-negating poll. Many of the same people that would claim to be terrified of their government also cheer socialized medicine. Cognitive dissonance.

Re:Government vs terrorists (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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?

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683005)

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (3, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about a year ago | (#44683155)

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. :-)

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (5, Insightful)

Clsid (564627) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Government vs terrorists (1)

thesupraman (179040) | about a year ago | (#44682987)

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

Re:Government vs terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683057)

A democratic civilized society has a lot more to fear from Lord Blair than a few terrorists.

Re:Government vs terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683077)

This is a lawless governance. They don't respect their own INTERNAL LAWS ANYMORE. Duplicate, secret court powers? Good night.

Laws to protect the rich and powerful (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Laws to protect the rich and powerful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683149)

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.

Where are these secrets? How many more truly mundane leaks do we need before the tin foil hat wearing crowd says "fuck it" and goes back to UFO sightings?

I'm sure the NEXT one will totally enrage the public, light us on fire, uh huh. No, it's impossible for you to be overreacting , we're just ignorant, that's it!

BUGGER (5, Insightful)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#44682773)

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683125)

'All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a 2011 BBC documentary series by filmmaker Adam Curtis. The series argues that computers have failed to liberate humanity and instead have "distorted and simplified our view of the world around us".` link [wikipedia.org]

Re:BUGGER (0, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44683195)

I would expect that the patrol routes for nuclear missile submarines might be considered something to keep quiet, along with encryption keys. Maybe one or two other things as well.

Definitions (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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!

How (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682781)

How does leaking the fact that the NSA spies on completely useless services such as Google, Facebook, Twitter facillitate terrorism? Spying on these services is just completely rediculous to begin with and no good terrorist worth his/her salt is going to use stupid ass social media to plan/organize attacks. Pro tip, watch zero dark thirty and get back to me when you realize how the pros do and why we still need real life investigation and intelligence to take place.

-- stoops

Re:How (2)

blavallee (729704) | about a year ago | (#44683033)

Knowing anywhere that the NSA is looking is a security risk.

Now that we know facebook can lower your credit score [slashdot.org] , some of us may change our behavior.
The same theory applies to the credit score of a terrorist.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter may have been considered secure through obscurity, TMI for the NSA to sift and sort through.
Some valuable information could have been obtained through social media, but we really do not know.

Re:How (3, Insightful)

Clsid (564627) | about a year ago | (#44683217)

As Matt Damon said, there should be a referendum to ask people if they want to trade civil liberties for security. I really think that a vast majority will choose the former.

Just let me get this straight (5, Informative)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#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

Re:Just let me get this straight (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44682907)

Don't be ridiculous! Picking your nose is unsightly, but hardly terrorism. OTOH, what the HELL, do you want that PRESSURE COOKER FOR! HUH?!

Re:Just let me get this straight (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#44682985)

I want to can some tuna, and no, that's not a code name for anything. ;)
(Ok, I don't actually can anything, but I've been known to help my mom with the canning since I was a little kid.)

Re:Just let me get this straight (4, Funny)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44683039)

Well then you won't mind if we bring your mom in for questioning, will you?

Re:Just let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683055)

Known terrorist affiliation... check.

Re:Just let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682927)

You forgot peaceful protests.

Re:Just let me get this straight (2)

Krishnoid (984597) | about a year ago | (#44683029)

Picking your nose: Terrorism

Oblig. Futurama: at least there's precedent for the last one [youtube.com] .

Re:Just let me get this straight (5, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#44683073)

you forgot Thinking: Terrorism

Re:Just let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683129)

Existing: Terrorism

Re:Just let me get this straight (3, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#44683189)

Obsession with Scotty Dogs: Terrierism

Oh good lord (4, Insightful)

techsoldaten (309296) | about a year ago | (#44682789)

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.

Re:Oh good lord (4, Insightful)

Starteck81 (917280) | about a year ago | (#44683133)

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

There are, but don't worry, the things that aren't covered by terrorism are covered under 'think of the children!'

Protection of Corruption Laws (5, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#44682797)

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.

Re:Protection of Corruption Laws (2)

countvlad (666933) | about a year ago | (#44682925)

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, right?) but the fact of the matter is both corporations and governments are corrupt because the people who own/run them are corrupt. And yes, that includes voters. Do you think everyone at your place of work would vote themselves a pay raise if they had the right? Do you honestly think your fellow voters are any different? Keep in mind 50% of them are likely dumber than you (or perhaps as dumb given your anti-corporate mouth frothing).

And if you think one side of political spectrum is more or less corrupt, you're still probably wrong. You could even make strong arguments for and against less government as a means of minimizing corruption, although in general I'll go out on a limb and say having less of something that can make it legal for you to be a slave is probably a Good Thing (TM).

Re:Protection of Corruption Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683047)

Politicians bought and paid for by corporations run with most ads (paid for by corporations) - once in office, they create the laws that benefit their sponsors (ie the corporations) - that must be hidden behind more laws to cover their own corrupt asses.

So yes, the GP's post is mostly accurate.

Both corrupt political parties are in on the action - The Republicants and the Democraps are both guilty of far-reaching corruption, greed, cronyism, the levels of which have never been higher.

As opposed to? (2)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#44682799)

As opposed to the laws created to intentionally hide criminals and corruption?

Official Secrets Act? (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44682801)

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

Re:Official Secrets Act? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44683071)

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 the UK gov thought was lost to the back pages years ago....also quoting the documents....
The Official Secrets Act is a one way legal invite into the establishment for cleared staff not a catch all for the press, its just way too public.
It always was too messy to use in reality after leaking even during the cold war.
Lost pensions, finding other crimes or a person no longer working on a story are much more permanent and have great historic legal standing in the UK.
So now you have the legal race to find a South American/East European legal tool to shut down both ends of the whistleblowing equation.
No legal disclosure or embarrassment or expert witnesses ever been called, no press, no public and no rights.

Re: Official Secrets Act? (1)

nickco3 (220146) | about a year ago | (#44683215)

OSA only applies to government employees. What is being argued for here is an extension of that scope (to everyone).

Not state secrets (5, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Not state secrets (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44682917)

I hate to say it but ... This!

Re:Not state secrets (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#44682991)

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 branch and again broke constitutional law, especially when that trial was already a direct challenge to free speech under the constitution. The military also blatantly exceeded the limits of the eight amendment in abusing Manning in order to achieve a more compliant and malleable defendant.

That freedom of speech amendment is the first and as such takes precedence over all over amendments and certainly takes precedence over any laws that were enacted 'under' the constitution. Which is why the US military pushed for aiding and abetting the enemy but when they couldn't prove that and dropped that part of the prosecution ie the lost the constitutional elements of treason charges which are in the core of the document and take precedence over the amendments their whole case should have fallen apart. Of course as they were already operating outside the separation of powers requirements of the constitution and now blatantly breaking constitutional law, the kangaroo court just keep going.

Most of those secrecy laws, whether government and criminal or corporate and civil are really just a means by which to punish people for as long as possible through the court system until they make it to the highest court, years and years latter, and fail under challenge because the disclosure did not incorporate treason and the reality was secrets should never have been secrets and those crimes exposed should have been prosecuted as well as those who covered up those crimes.

Re:Not state secrets (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44683093)

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 staff promoted.

facilitating (5, Funny)

coma_bug (830669) | about a year ago | (#44682813)

conduct which is likely to or capable of facilitating terrorism

like, say, building roads?

Re:facilitating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682843)

or, building runways?

or, manufacturing pressure cookers?

Re:facilitating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683079)

Making tubes.

Re:facilitating (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#44683141)

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

Principles? Illegal! (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Punish the source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683131)

But if there is a audit trail, it would be possible to track when the government is accessing/using this information illegally :)

Re:Punish the source (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44683165)

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 to offer their real world, life saving skills 'now'.
In the past you would get a real world look at your schooling, family, extended family, political connections, lovers, faith, any connections to that "old" country, cash flow, sports, subscriptions, web use.... blackmail issues.
Now some fancy private contractor runs your name on a few federal and some state database and your 'in' based on past work.
East Germany had a great way to deal with "why the data is needed" - split the data up and go in person/writting to each boss as to why you needed to put the parts together. Slow but no more walk outs.
The UK and USA are sold on the private Cloud and any hints from the MI6/CIA as to real examples as to why its great fun for "foreign spies" seems to have been long lost a generation ago.
Now we have the court fix for local press and a dream for any embassy staff hunting the gov workers with unfettered access :)

And I call for laws against secrets (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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?

This is what I like about the UK (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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".

Re:This is what I like about the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682895)

Being Lord doesn't imply being a God. Lord has always been a title of a high ranking noblemen or official.

Leaks happen for a reason (5, Insightful)

wickerprints (1094741) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Leaks happen for a reason (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44683205)

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 'clean' for people who felt accountability, oversight where important.
Govs got the best of both worlds, they could attract the best staff, keep them and not fear crisis of conscience/low pay leaks.

nonsense ! (4, Insightful)

drknowster (946686) | about a year ago | (#44682853)

wikileaks is right the best secrets are no secrets

Nobody is buying what your selling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682869)

Just checking to make sure I understand...

Government abuses anti-terror law to detain/interrogate someone who was not suspected of terrorism.

Government then seeks more powers to "protect" people from "principled" leaks that "help" scary terrorists.

There is some sort of change that comes with so many people using networked communications... Sure there are a lot of fools and people running their mouth more than their brains myself especially. I can't shake the feeling on balance the cat is out of the bag and government pushback against accountability and transparency is ultimatly a loosing proposition.

At the very time trust and legitimacy in western governments is low they are only handicapping themselves by validating the need to reign in existing overeach by going on the offensive.

I Dunno LB... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#44682889)

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's going to take, we can always bury the idea under a manufactured cricket controversy!

Course of course (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682893)

Send "Lord" Blair to gitmo.

What we need to do is boot him and others out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682915)

This fear mongering is treasonous and why I don't support democracy. The masses are the puppets of the few.

Make things ethical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44682921)

Another solution is to make things more ethical.

The unethical part about programs such as PRISM, ECHELON and TIA is the lack of transparency. Without transparency, people can't be sure that there are suitable measures in place to prevent people from abusing those programs. Such abuse include actions made by corrupt politicians, some future government (if the legitimate government is overthrown, the new government have all old tools available), irresponsible employees and so on. Since the system can, as far as the public knows, easily be abused, the entire system becomes unethical.

If one were to add more transparency, it would become possible to verify that the system is not abused. It would also be possible to keep a constructive dialogue about what such a system should look for. It is possible to achieve secrecy and transparency at the same time. Of course it would be quite difficult to make such systems more transparent (and hence more ethical) but the only other alternative is to shut them down, and that would be even worse.

The same thing goes for other unethical practices. It is both easy and profitable to be unethical, but that is no excuse. If you don't even try then you need to be shut down. If you try, but it takes a long time, then reallocate resources or hire more people. I am sure that most people who work there would love more transparency, and would therefore love to work towards increasing transparency. They take pride in their work and they do it for the people in their country, and keeping secrets from people you care about (both the citizens and their own families) is not fun at all.

This is not the same as leaking documents, though leaks are an efficient way to start a debate about it. The goal is to set up a plan for how to transform the practices, and then follow through and implement that plan in a responsible manner (with regards to operational security etc).

Also, having General Alexander say things on BlackHat that are _technically_ true is a prime example of this. As Jean-Luc Picard put it:

The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based! And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform!

Peerage (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | about a year ago | (#44682949)

I suggest there be a law to remove Lord Blair's Peerage. if Lord Blair is so adamant that " 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.'", then I'd like to introduce Lord Blair to the concept known as the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org] and the point that the internet is like a pool--once information is in there, it's in there*. It seems clear then that any action to highlight any "conduct which is likely to or capable of facilitating terrorism" would itself be "conduct which is likely to or capable of facilitating terrorism". Ergo, Lord Blair is calling for a law to make his own acts illegal. It only stands to reason he would consider himself not worthy of his Peerage, and if he cannot or will not revoke his Peerage, a law should be written to do so. And yes, I'm rather serious.

*Technically, this is not absolutely true. But coupled with the Streisand Effect, it's almost certainly true. The real caveat is that the information may not be available on a web site, may not be available 24/7, and it may be password protected or otherwise not publicly available. The last part is the real kicker, of course, since that's the very current rub of the insurance file. It's also one reason why I can only imagine that free speech is the next largest target of people like Lord Blair, as certainly any word or phrase (or hash/known algorithm of said word or phrase) could be the password. To grant any person arrested who might know a password for a "time bomb" like an insurance file free speech would allow "sleepers" to undermine, well, the whole twisted system that Lord Blair seemingly supports. And the sad truth, I think, is free speech rights in the west for hundreds of years have shown us that the truth when exposed rarely has the damaging effect imagined, not only in the "bad" that Lord Blair would like to quiet but also in the "good" that would revoke privileges to people clearly unworthy of their position.

So, no good deed goes unpunished. But the principled ones will continue on. And that's why we would call them hero, not Lord.

I actually agree with him (1)

Quick Reply (688867) | about a year ago | (#44682967)

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 working pretty well for the enemies of the government.

Note - Being an enemy of the government doesn't necessarily mean you have done anything wrong, it just mean that you don't agree with the governments actions. For example, the EFF is an enemy of the government, even though they are not doing anything wrong.

TL;DR - Governments should stop doing things wrong instead of hiding what they do wrong, because it is what they do in the first place that was leaked which is aiding the 'enemy' (anyone who disagrees with the government) recruit other people against the government (anyone who supports Leaking of coverups), rather than the act of leaking in itself.

Re:I actually agree with him (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#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]

The dual purpose of common people (4, Insightful)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year ago | (#44683013)

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.

TAX and secrets (2)

morbingoodkid (562128) | about a year ago | (#44683045)

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. Yes we understand that we want to hide some information from criminals but I'm not a criminal !

Why do you change incent until proven guilty into guilty purely by being part of society. Keeping things things secret is the easy way out. Like when you are a child and you hide things from your parents because you are guilty.

If you want to hide stuff do not come and moan at me when you get caugh out. Take responsibility and CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOUR

Re:TAX and secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683121)

The USA was never democratic, it was always a Republic. In a republic, they work for us for certain but they refuse to wisely use our tax dollars for our benefits. The fact that most people pay about 60% of their income into taxes says something. There's no such democracy that exist anymore, it's a kingdom and we're ruled by a king. Europe has always been this way but the US was meant to be different, but instead it found its way to its European roots. Although this corruption thing isn't anything new, it's just getting the light of day thanks to the power of the internet. I'd say this kind of corruption has existed for over a hundred years, gradually changing america bit by bit and introducing something new with each new generation. Today's youth sees nothing wrong with the government, and they don't see why socialism is not okay, but I suppose their teachers tend to preach about this quite often as I remembered my teachers preaching about their political beliefs long ago. Train them young and you have them hooked for life.

Ought we good citizens be allowed to know what the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683051)

They know full well when a drone strike kills some innocent kids and they are labelled "militants" by virtue of proximity to the blast radius. Heck, this kind of thing is why they sign up in the first place isn't it?
It is we, dear voter, that they do not want to know.

He's simply asking for laws to protect government from the horrors of transparency and the terrors of accountability.

Stop calling it corruption (1)

dark_requiem (806308) | about a year ago | (#44683061)

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, amoral people, but rather that the state exists as the enabler of the wildest dreams of the most predatory and amoral among us, then every action undertaken by every modern goverment makes perfect sense. It is not "corruption" we need fear from government, it is the possibility of government actually acheiving its true purpose which we should find deeply disturbing.

Sad (2)

Ziest (143204) | about a year ago | (#44683069)

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.

How about instead we ban assholes like this Blair. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683089)

Fuck this asshole "Lord Blair" and his fascist bullshit. Good men
died in WWII so shit like this could not happen, and now scum
like this Blair character want to make it happen anyway.

If the ghosts of soldiers who died fighting Germany in WWII could
live again, they would bayonet this scumbag and then consider they
had done good and necessary work.

House of Lords (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#44683099)

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

1984 (1)

Urkki (668283) | about a year ago | (#44683103)

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

What utter tripe. (1)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#44683109)

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

Blair is talking out of his ass here.

-jcr

Reason cf. assertion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683117)

So has anyone made a reasoned connection between data leaks and enabling terrorism? (I.e. in contrast to the assertions of Blair.)

Apologies if common knowledge but I've long since given up on this he-said she-said "national security" fiasco. Disclaimer: did not RTFA.

Time to Disrobe Some Lords (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about a year ago | (#44683127)

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.

Alternative Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683151)

Have any of these government entities or the journalists covering them suggested good behavior as a potential solution?

Sometimes it is true what they say: everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten...

The real enemies are the governments (1)

troll -1 (956834) | about a year ago | (#44683159)

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.

Facilitating terrorism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683199)

It isn't unknown for nation states, including your own to engage in 'facilitating terrorism' by arming, training or through a proxy. The purpose being, to discredit the terrorists and enthusiasm the natives to not support them. The victims of your policies already know about about it. All you seek to do here is keep your actions a secret from your own people. If the cost of such protection is to live in an armed panopticon, then I for one will take my chances with the terrorists.

'It is a far graver threat in terms of civilians than either the Cold War or the Second World War,' he said. 'It's a much graver threat than that posed by Irish Republican terrorism' link [theguardian.com]

THE ROAD TO HELL.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#44683203)

..is paved with good intentions.

Is it just me, or is it getting hotter and hotter every year?

To be exepected from a hi-level government crony. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44683225)

The government cult members seek to expand their powers and seem to be able to do so without any opposition to their massive expansion of power over the people they believe they rule over with impunity.

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