Five Eyes Allies Do Spy on One Another
Wayne Madsen, Strategic Culture, Mar 28 2017
In a rare public announcement, GCHQ issued a rare public statement concerning a charge by Judge Napolitano on Fox that it conducted electronic surveillance of president-elect Donald Trump after his upset victory on Nov 8 2016. GCHQ stated:
Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.
Its public announcement belied the fact that GCHQ and its four Five Eyes partners have spied on each other’s citizens as a legal work-around to their national laws designed to prevent such domestic eavesdropping on citizens by their respective agencies. In Pindostan, domestic surveillance orders are issued by the FISA Court pursuant to the 1978 FISA. The other nations (Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) have similar restrictive laws in place. Such spying took place against two British Cabinet members by Canada’s SIGINT agency in 1983. Former Com Sec Establishment Canada (CSEC) officer Mike Frost said that Margaret Thatcher used the five-power global surveillance network to spy on two of her Cabinet members because she did not believe they were loyal in supporting Thatcher’s policies. Frost told CBS 60 Minutes:
My boss [Thatcher] had two ministers that she said weren’t onside … so my boss went to London and did intercept traffic from those two ministers.
Frost confirmed that the five countries could circumvent domestic laws against spying on citizens by asking another member of the alliance to do it for them. One of the British ministers spied upon and then fired by Thatcher after her resounding re-election in 1983 was Foreign Secretary Francis Pym, who ironically was also in charge of GCHQ and MI6. The other was Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw, who was moved to be Speaker of the House of Lords. In 1998, Margaret Newsham, a former Lockheed contractor for the NSA, revealed that GCHQ and NSA were involved in warrantless surveillance of Sen Strom Thurmond’s overseas phone calls. In the early 1970s, NSA and GCHQ reportedly cooperated in conducting warrantless eavesdropping on the communications in NYC of John Lennon, who was assassinated in 1980. The Canadian agency also eavesdropped the car phone of the Pindosi ambassador in Ottawa, with NSA liaison officers fully aware of the espionage. In the 1960s, when Pres de Gaulle made common cause with the independence movement of Quebec, the Canadians had the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish SIGINT agencies (THIRDPARTY members of the five-party SIGINT alliance) conduct surveillance of communications between Paris and the Parti Quebecois. During the 1980s, the Canadians were used by NSA to conduct “black bag” surveillance, including breaking and entering into the homes of Pindosi citizens believed to be working with the Soviets. It was a work-around designed to circumvent the lack of evidence, which made a court order from the FISC nearly impossible to obtain.
In the late 1990s, NSA eavesdropping devices were discovered in email routers located in the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels. Among the email being intercepted was that of British MEPs. In 2015, New Zealand’s then-PM John Key was placed under surveillance by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) in Canberra. The transcripts were not only passed on to Australia’s government and the NSA, but also to the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The Australian eavesdrops detailed Key’s negotiating stance with regard to Pharmac, the government’s drug purchasing agency, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. In Dec 2016, Key abruptly resigned as PM, for personal reasons. Asian trade negotiations also resulted in the ASD conducting surveillance of the Chicago-based law firm Mayer Brown on behalf of the NSA. In 2013, Mayer Brown was representing the government of Indonesia in trade talks with Pindostan. GCHQ also owes Pindostan a few favors. in 2007, the Pentagon, which oversees the NSA, confirmed that the NSA did “download Diana’s conversations” in the years before her death in 1997, but insisted it was only part of a security operation involving “other targets” (Dodi Fayed – RB). British law prohibited GCHQ from monitoring Diana, so the NSA gladly conducted the surveillance on behalf of its British counterpart. Legal work-around surveillance operations are detailed in a 2005 Secret NSA draft directive titled Collection, Processing and Dissemination of Allied Communications revealed by Edward Snowden. The draft states:
[The 1946 UKUSA] agreement has evolved to include a common understanding that both governments will not target each other’s citizens/ persons. However, when it is in the best interest of each nation, each reserved the right to conduct unilateral COMINT action against each other’s citizens/ persons … Under certain circumstances, it may be advisable and allowable to target second party persons and second party communications systems unilaterally when it is in the best interests of Pindostan and necessary for Pindosi national security … Such targeting must be performed exclusively within the direction, procedures and decision processes outlined in this directive … There are circumstances when targeting of second party persons and communications systems, with the full knowledge and co-operation of one or more second parties, is allowed when it is in the best interests of both nations. This targeting will conform to guidelines set forth in this directive.
At a meeting of Five Eyes agencies at GCHQ on Apr 22-23 2008, it was agreed that the five agencies would share their intercepted bulk data with one another, even if it includes their own citizens. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) showed the least concern about its citizens being caught up in bulk data sharing. They also appeared willing to share intercepted data with non-intelligence agencies, for example the Australian Federal Police. The targeting of other Five Eyes partners was carried out by the CSEC during the G20 summit in London in 2009. Members of the delegations of Canada, Pindostan and Australia saw their cell phone and email communications intercepted by CSEC eavesdroppers who conducted their operations on British soil. A document classified TOP SECRET STRAP 1 states the inter-Five Eyes eavesdropping was conducted by CSEC on behalf of GCHQ with the following aim:
Ensure that intelligence relevant to HMG’s desired outcomes for its presidency of the G20 reaches customers at the right time and in a form which allows them to make full use of it.
A similar legal work-around occurred during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Toronto. There, a special NSA surveillance operation conducted at the Pindo embassy in Ottawa targeted the communications of members of the Canadian, British and Australian delegations. At the same, from its headquarters in Leitrim outside of Ottawa, CSEC intercepted the communications of Pindosi, British, and Australian delegates. Technically, no laws were broken. GCHQ and the British government have cried foul over reports they surveilled Trump’s transition team on behalf of the Obama administration, but there is a wealth of historical information on such cooperation between the Five Eyes. The fact that GCHQ squawked publicly about being implicated in political eavesdropping makes it more likely that it was caught red-handed. GCHQ and its partners have come a long way from simply offering no comment to such press accounts.
GCHQ: You Read It Here First
J G Jatras, Strategic Cutlure, Mar 23 2017
This is a fast-moving story, so there’s a chance that more may have happened by the time you read it. On Mar 9, SC published my commentary about Wikileaks’ release of its «Vault 7» of CIA documents. It concluded with the following speculation as to who might have spied on the incoming team of Donald Trump on behalf of his predecessor Barack Obama and elements of the Deep State still effectively working for him:
Vault 7 should be scrubbed for evidence of coordination between Pindosi agencies and those of the other “Five Eyes” Anglosphere countries with which Pindostan closely shares intelligence: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Why? There’s a
saying in Faschingsteinquotation from Claud Cockburn: never believe anything until it’s been officially denied. Obama has been lawyerly definitive in his denials of ever ordering taps on Trump and his team or on any Pindo citizen. More precise in his language has been DNI Clapper, who states: “There was no wiretap against Trump Tower during the campaign conducted by any part of the national intelligence community.” This begs the question of whether Trump was tapped not by a Pindosi national agency but by one of the Five Eyes sister agencies, which then passed the information back to their Pindo colleagues, a ploy to avoid legal prohibitions on domestic spying or even a pro forma warrant requirement. A former Pindo intelligence official familiar with the practice tells me that such a maneuver is not only a possible means for espionage against Trump but probable. The most likely agency to have carried out the task is GCHQ, formal counterpart of the Pindo NSA and its virtual satellite.
As far as I know, no one else had conjectured in print specifically about GCHQ’s possible role. Keep in mind, it was only a theory. I didn’t have then, and I don’t have now, any hard evidence to back it up. I simply said: here’s a place the specialists might want to look for evidence. As might be expected, my comments attracted no further attention of which I’m aware. Several days later, on Mar 13, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a long-time widely-respected legal commentator on Fox News closely followed by the White House, stated that he had three intelligence sources independently confirm to him that in fact GCHQ had spied on Trump:
Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that Pres Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the DoJ … He used GCHQ.
As later published by Napolitano in print by Fox:
Enter James Bond. Sources have told me that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls. The NSA has given GCHQ full 24/7 access to its computers so GCHQ, a foreign intelligence agency that like the NSA operates outside our constitutional norms, has the digital versions of all electronic communications made in Pindostan in 2016, including Trump’s. So by bypassing all Pindosi intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints. Thus, when senior Pindo intelligence officials denied that their agencies knew about this, they were probably being truthful. Adding to this ominous scenario is the fact that three days after Trump’s inauguration, the head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, abruptly resigned, stating that he wished to spend more time with his family.
There’s no reason to think that Napolitano was in any way basing his claim on what I had written. It’s also perhaps of note that while he claimed three sources on the air on Mar 13, he claimed only unnumbered ‘sources’ later in print. As one might expect, GCHQ on Mar 14 denied the accuracy of the judge’s claim through an unnamed security official, calling it “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd.” That itself is unusual. Intelligence agencies usually prefer the formula of neither confirm nor deny, and avoid getting pulled into definitive statements of fact that could prove problematic later.
As we say in Faschingstein, As Cockburn said, never believe anything until it’s been officially denied. I would apply the same rule in London. The row kicked up again on Mar 16, when Sean Spicer quoted at length from Napolitano’s comments. He stated clearly that he was simply quoting, not making the assertion himself. Spicer’s comments prompted further outraged howls from Britain, including calls to the White House from the British Embassy in Faschingstein on Mar 17. That same day, National Security Adviser Lt-Gen H R McMaster was reported as having given the British assurances that the claims about GCHQ would not be repeated, prompting debates as to whether or not Pindostan had apologized. As reported by the militantly anti-Trump WaPo:
At a news briefing Friday, a spokesman for British PM Theresa May said: “We have received assurances from the White House that these allegations would not be repeated.” The spokesman would not confirm reports in the British media that the White House had apologized to Britain. “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” GCHQ said in a statement.
But later that same day, Mar 17, Trump himself went right back to the same allegations during a frosty joint press conference with Angela Merkel. Trump said when asked about the former judge’s claims regarding GCHQ:
We said nothing. I didn’t make an opinion on it. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox, and so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.
Trump’s comments prompted Fox News host Shepard Smith to deny it had information validating Napolitano’s claims, saying:
Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-POTUS was surveilled at any time in any way. Full stop.
On Mar 20, media reported that Fox News had indefinitely dropped Napolitano’s appearances on the network as a legal analyst. End of story, right? Napolitano was wrong and got the sack. Not so fast! On Mar 21:
A longtime friend of Trump’s, (Roger) Stone told the Daily Mail: “Despite the quick denials, Judge Napolitano is correct. My own sources high up in the Tory government, who are quite powerful, assured me that there was surveillance by the Brits. Of course they deny it. That’s their job to deny it.” Stone believes that Trump was under surveillance during both Bush 43’s and Barack Obama’s presidencies. He says: “We know from the government’s database that was leaked by CIA, veteran CIA operatives, who had realized the extra-constitutional nature of this program and spilled the beans, who became whistleblowers’ that Trump’s New York apartment and Palm Beach residence were monitored, as well as several of his resorts, his cell phone and so on.”
The information cited by Stone appeared Monday on Infowars.com, which says the information it received from law enforcement suggests that both Trump and Alex Jones “were under illegal, unauthorized government monitoring” from 2004 to 2010. Stone said Monday evening of Trump:
So was he monitored this fall? I believe he was.
One late-breaking piece to the puzzle: Paul Mulshine of the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, Napolitano’s home state, suggests that Fox News threw the judge under the bus knowing full well that no less than the NYT had on Mar 1 reported British and Dutch agencies spying on Trump, based on what may be the same three sources Napolitano referred to (Fox News or Weasel News? Why did the network scapegoat Andrew Napolitano?):
Pindosi vassals including the British and the Dutch had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials and others close to Putin and associates of Trump, according to three former Pindo officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence.
At this point, it’s hard to know what the truth is. But I’m willing to guess there’s more to come on this story which, remember, you saw here first.