Mass surveillance: 10 key questions for UK intelligence agency chiefs

The directors of GCHQ, MI6 and MI5 are to face questions from a parliamentary committee. Here’s what they should be asked – Published on The Guardian, by Nick Hopkins, Nov 6, 2013.

The heads of Britain’s three intelligence agencies – whose identities were once regarded as top secret – will on Thursday give evidence before a parliamentary committee for the first time.

Sir Iain Lobban, the director of Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ, the MI6 (foreign intelligence) chief, Sir John Sawers, and the director general of MI5 (UK’s domestic counter-intelligence), Andrew Parker, will face questions from the intelligence and security committee in a 90-minute session … //

… Only a handful of officials and journalists have been invited into the room to hear the evidence. The session will also be broadcast on parliament TV – subject to a two-minute delay because of fears that secrets might be inadvertently revealed. Critics fear the members of the committee will be too deferential. Here are 10 questions they could ask to ensure they are not:

1. Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, and David Omand, the former director of GCHQ, have said it is time for Britain’s intelligence agencies to be more transparent so the public can have greater confidence in their work. Do you agree, and how will you achieve this?

2. Former minister Chris Huhne said the existence of some of GCHQ’s mass surveillance programmes were kept from the cabinet – and from members of the National Security Council. Why weren’t ministers allowed to know about the programmes – particularly when they were relevant to discussions about data retention set out in the so-called snooper’s charter?

3. Privacy campaigners, former cabinet ministers and even a former chair of the ISC, Lord King, have called in recent weeks for the laws that govern Britain’s intelligence agencies to be overhauled. The agencies have argued against any changes. Why? What do the agencies have to fear from having more up-to-date laws?

4. Edward Snowden was one of 850,000 employees and contractors who had access to the secret material he leaked to the Guardian and others. Did the chiefs know that so many people outside the UK had access to British secrets? What has been done to reduce the numbers who can see this material? … //

… (full text).


Polonium-210: the hard-to-detect poison that killed Alexander Litvinenko, on The Guardian, by Luke Harding and Ian Sample, November 6, 2013: Just a few milligrams of the highly radioactive isotope found in Yasser Arafat’s body is a lethal dose;

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko (4 December 1962 by father’s account)[4] – 23 November 2006) on en.wikipedia: was an officer of the Russian FSB fugitive secret service who specialized in tackling organized crime.[1][5] In November 1998, Litvinenko and several other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding the authority of his position. He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. He fled with his family to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he worked as a journalist, writer and consultant for the British intelligence services …;

Anna Politkovskaya on en.wikipedia with it’s External Links.

Comments are closed.