20 November 2013, 14:27

The USA would dearly like to get its hands around Snowden's neck – Mike Smith

The USA would dearly like to get its hands around Snowden's neck – Mike Smith
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According to the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) due to the weak surveillance laws and regulations in the UK the GCHQ is in a good position to help the US National Security Agency (NSA) find information that the NSA is restricted from spying on. As part of a worldwide spying operation called "Five Eyes" (FVEY) a spying alliance of Anglo countries (UKUSA,) has established electronic listening posts on their embassies around the world and are able to interceptor almost every kind of electronic communication known to man. The spying on ordinary citizens is illegal and thus anyone who plays a role in revealing this and other illegality, such as Edward Snowden (who the US will not stop in pursuing) face open-ended persecution and the full weight of the US security state. Michael John Smith spoke on these issues and more with the Voice of Russia's John Robles.

Part 1

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Robles: You are listening to Part 2 of an interview with Michael John Smith, he is an intelligence specialist and the last person convicted of spying for the Soviet Union in the world. 

This interview is in progress.

Smith: Simon Jenkins actually made the point that Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian were safer custodians of this information than the NSA.

Robles: It hasn't got out, has it?

Smith: No, well that … the point he was making was that the Guardian has carefully vetted everything, it's even got the GCHQ to check it and make sure there is nothing that shouldn't be released in the public domain, so it's being done very, very carefully by the Guardian.

Robles: Well, Wikileaks was doing the same thing with all the Afghanistan files and the Bradley Manning revelations. I mean they were going through very carefully making sure that no source was actually damaged or anyone's life was at risk. So you could make the same argument there too.

Smith: That's right. That's the idea, If you are coming back to what the security services say in many cases, is that you can't reveal a … you can't say anything about sources, because that might put them at risk, it might damage somebody's security, and that is what they are really afraid of in revealing the truth, that's being used in arguments where, say, terrorists might go to court, and they don't put the terrorist in court because they say "if we put him in court, we will have to bring out evidence that might reveal our sources, it might show that we've got some guy high up in Al-Qaeda or somewhere, who we are trying to protect, because if that source gets found out, he might be assassinated, be removed, we will lose that source. So, it is better to let this terrorist stay on the streets".

So, they don't use any intercept evidence in court. And all that sort of argument; it's been going on for years.

Now, in a way, this is all redundant, because they'll say: "If they're spying on everybody, does it really matter, does it really matter who is the source because it could have come from anywhere?"

They have actually so many millions, billions of e-mails and telephone calls that how could anybody say where the information came from."

Robles: I see. But, I mean, backing up just a bit, sir, you were saying that the Guardian (and, I guess, WikiLeaks, right?) they are better guardians of secret information than the government is?

Smith: Yeah, yeah.

Robles: Both in the UK and, particularly, in the US, I guess?

Smith: Another right-damaging thing from the GCHQ's point of view is that one of the documents revealed by Snowden has GCHQ actually describing themselves as being able to help the NSA, because they said the weaknesses of British surveillance laws and the regulation regime is such that it's a good selling point for the Americans. Because they can help the Americans to find stuff, find information that the NSA can't do itself because they are more restricted by oversight than what the British are.

So it's almost making a selling point of this fact that GCHQ are more free to get away with this sort of thing.

Robles: On those lines can I ask you a couple of questions? John McCain, I'm sure you know who he is, he made a several statements to the Der Spiegel yesterday. One was that Obama should apologize to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for spying by the NSA and apparently GCHQ was involved in spying on Germans. He also said that NSA head General Keith Alexander should step down. And McCain also mentioned that the NSA had been spying on at least 35 foreign leaders, they were spying on I think about 38 countries' embassies in the US and he also said, I believe it was him who said, that the NSA, even though they are able to spy on "everything" they should reign themselves in.

Smith: Well, I think so, John. I think that this has gone too far, they need to apologize, they need to sort things out and get themselves on a better footing.

The last few days the Head of the German Parliament's Intelligence Committee has called for an enquiry into spying from British Embassy in Berlin.

About how it is common for British Embassies to act as covert listening stations around the world. And interestingingly, there is a cylindrical structure on the roof of the UK Berlin's embassy, which is some sort of a listening post and Edward Snowden has said that GCHQ has been setting up bogus accounts on the social media site LinkedIn to spy on Belgium state-owned Belgacom Telecommunications Company and the Vienna headquarters of OPEC. As you said, the NSA is also spying on associate embassies in Washington, has been now revealed.

Robles: And you just mentioned embassies, I mean there were reports not long ago that the US embassy here in Moscow, they have NSA spy servers right in the embassy and that this is pretty normal now in embassies all over the world.

Smith: Yeah. We know that the US embassy in Berlin which is the base of the NSA to spy on Angels Merkel.

There is also a story I've seen that the US embassy was being used as a base in Moscow for an NSA server, to be used to spy on Russia.

In relation there are a number of mysterious white boxes have appeared on the roofs of the various US embassies around the world, including those in Berlin and Moscow. And as the British cylindrical white thing on its roof we think that there is a probably some sort of listening devices.

Robles: How big are these? Have you seen them?

Smith: Yeah. If you go around and do Internet search for 'white boxes on the US embassy', you will find several photographs of these things.

We don't know for sure what they are, but it seems hardly likely they contain some sort of secret listening aerials or some devices of that sort.

Robles: In your opinion, is this normal? Do you think that's acceptable? Are there rules against it?

I mean. It's normal for a country, of course, to want to know what another government is doing but allowing one country to spy on the innocent civilians of another country?

Smith: I think in the cases like Germany, I mean that these are considered allies of the US, so it does seem very strange that you would spy on your own allies.

I think that's why Angela Merkel was particularly upset about it, because she considered, that her country was an ally of the US. So, why would you spy on your ally?

Robles: For the US they are all just "foreigners".

Smith: Yeah. And that what it seems to be. The US has a mind of its own and it will do what it wants to do. And it's very much pretty the same for the UK. UK is working collaboration with the NSA to spy on countries around the world.

Robles: Aren't the English people or people in the UK upset, that the NSA and the CIA who have been helped by GCHQ and the military intelligence bodies to spy on British citizens?

Smith: I think they must be and there is a lot of discussion about that on various web sites and forums. People are very upset about it.

And how much will it be clamped down on? Because already we've got an announcement that the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger will give evidence in December to another Parliamentary Committee called the Home of Affairs Select Committee, over the Guardian involvement with the Snowden leaks.

So they are not giving up here, they will still like to dearly get their hands on …that the USA would dearly like to get its hands around Snowden's neck and grab him back to the USA to face a trial. So, they are not going to give up.

But it will be mass interest from the public I think, that will make claims challenge these rulings and try to stop governments doing this and not prosecute Snowden and people who are whistleblowers. Because the whistleblowers are doing us a favor I think in putting this out there in the public domain.

Otherwise we wouldn't know about it. This is a on-going matter, I think. It's not going to stop this instant it will go on for years. We constantly have to hold these secret services to account. And that there is proper oversight of them by government bodies, so they can't get away with this in future spying on ordinary citizens.

Robles: And they should have proper evidence and proper cause to follow, convict and spy on people I believe.

Smith: That's right. Because why are they spying on innocent people who have done nothing wrong?

Robles: For the same reason they prosecute innocent people who have done nothing wrong.

Smith: That's right, it's unacceptable.

Robles: They've got to justify their own existence, I guess.

Smith: They have a big budget here in the UK, it's 2 billion pounds a year –they have a budget I believe for intelligence services. And they are getting a lot more money from the NSA for helping them.

So, there are thousands of people working in these organizations and they are all busy it seems spying on innocent people.

Robles: Well, if they don't have terrorists to spy on, they either have to create the terrorists or they can get creative and spy on everyone I guess, I don't know.

Smith: In most cases, the terrorists don't get caught by these people. They claim they are stopping terrorism, but when the terrorist act occurs, they didn't know about it or they conveniently didn't have the evidence.

Robles: Thanks a lot, Michael. I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Smith: Ok, John, any time.

Robles: Take care, have a good week.

You were listening to an interview with Michael John Smith, an intelligence specialist and the last person convicted of spying for the Soviet Union in the world, he is also a regular contributor for the Voice of Russia.

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