British Signals intelligence — Uncensored

British Signals intelligence - Uncensored
Richard Aldrich (Richard Aldrich) — one of the largest security services professionals in academic circles in Britain, creator of several books, including «The Hidden Hand. Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence »to combat intelligence during the war Cool. Eldritch has just published a book about the history of Russian electronic intelligence «GCHQ. The uncensored story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency »(GCHQ. uncensored history of the most covert intelligence England). Dr. Eldritch spoke with Andrei Soldatov about his own recent book:

— How much time you wrote this book?

— Research and actually writing the book took me nine years.

— Many books about the history of the British intelligence services, who came in soon, have been approved by the secret services. Have you received a similar approval from GCHQ?

— No, this is not an authorized book. GCHQ considered the possibility of authorization, but later abandoned it because it would require a lot of much time, resources, and money. In addition, the problem with electronic intelligence is that quite a lot of equipment remains hidden for a very long time. And they decided that it would be difficult to write such a book authorized without putting at risk ongoing operations at the moment.

When I read a Russian spices in the listening area, they know what they in fact technique can not be hidden — a secret may be just the place and time of the operation. Well, taking into account that the operations carried out on the terrain and other states from time to time there used equipment can be completely hidden.

— I am very taken aback to read in your book that eminent Bletchley Park, a place where hacked German ciphers during World War II, was bought by the head of British intelligence at his own expense. It is a tribute to amateur approach of the 30s?

I think this is a very excellent example reflects the approach that has been the intelligence services before the second world war, the extent depending on the personalities, which was then for their peculiar. Intelligence agencies then were very small, were somewhat personal nature. This approach continued even after the war. After the war and MI6, and GCHQ needed a factory to create secret equipment — ciphering machines for MI6 and bugs. Again, the chief technical operations management bought a factory at his own expense! In other words, it lasted even in the 1950s. It was a factory MI6 and at the same time private ownership. And when the British Treasury has found out about this, they said «it is very amazing, it breaks all the rules.»

— Question a little to the side, in his book you christened memories Philby purposefully distort reality. What exactly are its purposefully distorted?

— Not a lot of that in these memoirs is not true. But what did Philby, he is very selective about the facts put British intelligence, and chose only those facts that showed the weakness and incompetence of intelligence. He did not write any heresy, he simply chose the facts that came under his version of events to show the security services of England in the worst possible light.

— Return to the main plot of your book — I am very taken aback to read that during the Falklands War, the French were the main allies of the British and the best, not the Americans. Taking into account all these stories about «Echelon», it looks pretty amazing.

— Yes, I think it’s amazing. During the Falklands War the British secret services intensively supported several European countries — the French and Dutch first Argentine who intercepted encrypted messages. I have tried to show that the relationship between the British and the Yankees — it’s not the Allies, it is more reminiscent of the case of business partners. This is not the case on the basis of love or a common ideology — it is a coincidence of interests. And from time to time, this cooperation went well, especially in the exchange of information on Russian intercepted traffic. But there were other parts of the world where politics was different. For example, if it was a competition for oil in the Middle East. Of course, from time to time the British and Americans were fighting for the same contracts. Or if we are talking about selling guns Saudi Arabia. It seems to me that there is an illusion — GCHQ often read to the British government, for example, when there was talk about Iraq — we gave the Yankees all that we have, but I do not think it was true. And the British government often find that there are parts of the world where the «Echelon» does not share intelligence information. Since there were Americans and British competitors. Or if we take another country — for example China, very many years the British and Americans differently looked at what to do with China. As a result, they do not share information on China. And this, of course, very surprising.

— If we talk about the present, the war on terrorism, of your book comes out, that the British are very active in the field, and you have written a lot about how to operate units interception in Afghanistan — but it is more about tactical intelligence than strategic. But how can you understand the main challenge electric exploration now — that most of the traffic went to the fiber-optic network, and this information can not be intercepted by means of radio coverage. As the British responded to this new challenge?

— Naturally, the last 20 years we have beheld some huge challenges classical electrical exploration. First, it’s like you said fiber-optic cables. Of course, at the moment there is a technique to remove the information from these cables, but it is still very difficult, the second call — this explosive growth of traffic. For example, in 1990 the NSA and GCHQ considered the main danger that ordinary people with ordinary computer will have access to sverhtehnologichnym encryption facilities, such as PGP, and begins to encrypt their e-mails. But in fact, at the moment, very few take advantage of this, and the real problem was the increase in traffic, the same number of e-mails. In the world sent about 2-and a half million e-mails per second. Even if you can catch all of these millions, the question — what to do with them, how to systematize them? It’s just too much. It was the second call.

And the third challenge, I think it’s a task to support military operations during the 2-various wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I’d said that out of the 3 calls 3rd — support troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a better solution GCHQ. For example, what we beheld during the Falklands War — we beheld the classical scheme when intelligence was brought to the attention of only the most senior officers. For example, I write in his book that the commander of ground forces in the Falklands was not allowed to disk imaging GCHQ. And so it was during the first Gulf War in 1991. And only in the mid-’90s British made the newest system, whose task was to pull information SIGINT (ELINT) down to the level of officers in the field. And by 2003, the system worked quite well already. It has worked well in Sierra Leone in the midst of the 1990s.

It was a really big step forward, because during the war in Cool GCHQ believed that their information may be aware of only a very high-ranking military. It was a revolution, we can say it was the democratization SUGINT — this information made available not only to the generals, and for colonels, captains and even corporals.

— But if we are talking about the first call (fiber optic networks), I figured out your answer, the British use a different approach from the South American is good, there is no penetration of groups, for example, in tunnels with communication cables somewhere in Kazakhstan …

— First, there are already developed tools that allow you to capture the fiber. By the way, is an English invention, and I think from time to time GCHQ regret it. This technology was invented in the ’80s, in other words we had 25 years to work with the problem of fiber. And various techniques were invented to intercept.

If we talk about the dilemma prayvasi, you write that at this point the boundary between the interception of communications within the country and abroad has become very dim. At the same time you write that GCHQ very reluctantly uses the results of the interception of the English courts. And for me it looks so that GCHQ intercepts very sensitive information, but tries not to use it for punishment of offenders (those same terrorists). And I do not really understand how GCHQ fails within the country to explain why this special service is needed more and more resources and opportunities.

— Many countries in Europe support and have always supported the barrier between intelligence gathering within the country and abroad. Domestic intelligence gathering was always aggressive handling, first in order to protect civilian rights. I can not say that it was always done very well, but usually if you want to open someone’s mail or listen to someone’s phone, you must have a warrant. At the same time, no one sought to regulate foreign intelligence activities. As a result, there are limitations for MI5, MI6 for them in fact. And as GCHQ has always been perceived as the outer intelligence service, which nibudt-related burglary codes of other countries, they are also not very limited. The problem is now that there is a big difference between local and international communications. If I send e-mail to someone in London, a letter can go straight to London, and can pass through and China. And no one really knows. And how is it adjusted? We have at the moment a lot of threats, such as organized crime, which from time to time based in England, from time to time abroad, we are terrorists … is globalization.

— With all of this special issue — the introduction of this disk imaging in the courts. I can realize arguments intelligence agencies — they are afraid of compromising sources and techniques, but then hard to realize that in fact did they do and how it perfectly. And you write in the book that Americans use a different approach and use these hooks in the courts is very extensive.

Yes, it is a fascinating question. Forced to announce that all the countries that participated in the program «Echelon» (Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, some European countries) — they all used the code to intercept telephone conversations, and the British — no. And it has always been very surprising.

— This is partly because the British have what we call adversarial system — in other words, very active defense lawyers in court — and they can ask very many questions on confirmations. And if the prosecutor provide any interceptions of telephone conversations, which show that the defendant is guilty, a lawyer can claim to provide protection of hundreds of thousands of other interceptions that can testify in favor of the defendant not guilty. Then the government will have to provide these hours and hours of negotiations in the tribunal, and it will be very expensive and difficult. In addition, offenders are then able to recognize which technique is used. For example, when in the 80s operatives Irina got to the tribunal, they listened very closely the part where provided confirmation to realize what technique was used against their security services. Later to take protective measures.

— But maybe it’s inevitable thing, the inevitable conflict between the security services and attempt to control them? And maybe still control more important. Yes, completely. And I do not think that control over security services in England is pretty strong.

— In fact, at the end of your book you make a very fundamental statement — you write that England decided last years severe effort to convince European governments to remove some legal restrictions on listening to its own population.

— Yes.

— Create memories that now England — is the main force that is trying to make European surveillance state — government huge brother.

— Well, in fact the British government is trying to do is to shift some of the cost to audition for the providers. Question is not so much the content of the interception of telephone conversations as the interception billing — someone who called. And the British government is trying to force the operators to store the data during all the years and all. So that if someone interested in the secret service, she could come to the provider list and raise his contacts in the past, say 6 years. And it is very useful for security services. Especially in this era of globalization.

— For example, to determine the sources of journalists.

— Yes. It is very comfortable, and it is very expensive. Because in 2006, the European Alliance ordered telecommunications providers to store this data for years, and England played an important role in this decision.

— What nibudt will change in this area after the arrival of a new government?

— I think the main value to the governments of all European countries now — it’s not to spend excess funds. And it is very crucial for SIGINT — sverhtehnologichny this region, and that they often happens: you agree had spent money on new systems, new headquarters station interception, and then the cost is almost always multiplied and multiplied threefold. Because at this point the government will spend not very much money on these applets. Recent history has taught that you always spend three times more than he intended. In addition, it also often does not work. For example, the British secret services had spent a great means to make the system frisky exchange of information between services, but nothing happened. And they’re all still arguing and trying to get some funds back from computer companies — contractors.

— Richard, what was the reaction to the book when it was posted?

— It’s a fascinating story. First, the law in the field of publishing disk imaging GCHQ in England is still very tough. It is much tougher than in the United States. As a result, for example, I could not do interviews with employees — both current and former. Since it could bring a book beyond the law. I had to go by the district: Cool after the war, the British government passed new legislation on the security services — Act of intelligence services in 1994, and was promised that some of the documents will be declassified. Initially, we do not really believe it, but in fact happened was that in 1994 a huge amount of material was declassified. Since government departments have different standards about rassekrechiniya, there are many of information. As a result, not much that GCHQ declassified, but other departments with which cooperated GCHQ, for example, the Cabinet of the Foreign Ministry of Defense, Treasury, Air Force, very many declassified documents. And in their dossier was very many disk imaging GCHQ. If you wish, it was such a back door in the history of this intelligence. And the most important information was in the files of the Treasury. Since whenever GCHQ needed more funds, and they were necessary to explain it all. Another of weird thing is that we have a rule in England 30 years, but some departments do not even comply with this rule. And they began to declassify more documents freshest. The result was perhaps gain access to documents about GCHQ twenty years ago, for example. But of course, a huge obstacle that I could not do the interview. We have all the same very longish story bans books on GCHQ. But I have to announce that in the end GCHQ rather loyal attitude to the book. They even invited me to their headquarters for a coffee.


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