Friday, August 02, 2013

He who pays the piper calls the tune

Today's NSA leak: the NSA are secretly funding Britain's GCHQ by over £30 million a year:

The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.

The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. "GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight," a GCHQ strategy briefing said.


In one revealing document from 2010, GCHQ acknowledged that the US had "raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA's minimum expectations". It said GCHQ "still remains short of the full NSA ask".

Ministers have denied that GCHQ does the NSA's "dirty work", but in the documents GCHQ describes Britain's surveillance laws and regulatory regime as a "selling point" for the Americans.

What they're paying for here is the ability to bypass American law on domestic surveillance by getting a foreign ally to do it for them. But it raises some unpleasant questions about who is really directing UK intelligence operations and policy: elected politicians or the foreign paymaster. There is an unpleasant word for people who take money from foreigners to provide intelligence for them: they're called traitors. And it looks like GCHQ are the biggest bunch of traitors in the UK.

This also raises questions about whether this is happening in New Zealand. Is the NSA part-funding the GCSB? If so, what do they expect in return from their "investment"? Unfortunately, the GCSB's budget, even the appropriation saying what services Parliament expects of it, are secret. Which gives our politicians total impunity to lie to us about who "our" spies are really working for.