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GCHQ effectively prostituting itself to NSA

Annie Machon
Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, inter­na­tional tour and event organ­iser, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She is also now the Dir­ector of LEAP, Europe. She has a rare per­spect­ive both on the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments, intel­li­gence agen­cies and the media, as well as the wider implic­a­tions for the need for increased open­ness and account­ab­il­ity in both pub­lic and private sectors.
The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has been engaged with American intelligence for decades, serving as “a field office for the US intelligence infrastructure,” former MI5 agent Annie Machon has told RT.

The former intelligence officer says that UK agencies need US help to broaden the coverage range, while the US spy agencies rely on Britain to circumvent legal issues.

RT:What's all the fuss about - surely close allies should be working close together?

Annie Machon: Absolutely, and they have been for decades. One thing that people tend to forget is there is an old program of mutual assistance that was called the “Echelon” which was exposed in the 1980s and then fed into the European parliament in the 1990s which led to a report that said Europe should develop its own, standalone internet infrastructure not to depend on US infrastructure. Of course this came out just before 9/11 and has been lost in the security panic that happened afterwards.

So, this sort assistance has been going on for decades, let’s not have doubt about that. And it’s also a good way for NSA and GCHQ to circumvent domestic laws and domestic warrant requirements so they can spy on each other and then feed each other the same information they needed back without going through the courts. So it has always been kind of a corrupt relationship. 

Reuters / Steve Marcus 

However I think, these revelations that came out in the Guardian, take it to a whole new level. We are now looking at GCHQ effectively prostituting itself to the NSA. They are saying, we can get around some of the laws, we can help you. We would go to any degree to help you, give us your money.

RT:But why? Because you said earlier that they are mutually benefiting each other, yet at the same time there’s talk that UK is doing the US’s dirty work, but surely both are helping each other here?

AM: The GCHQ always benefited more from the relationship, because the NSA coverage was far wider and they are desperate to keep that toehold influence over Americans. And that is why we see these quotes coming out saying, they need to seem to be doing everything that they can to help the Americans. That is a problem. It certainly shows asymmetric relationship between two agencies. We have become effectively in UK a field office for the US intelligence infrastructure. And it is sort of ironic, because at the moment I’m in the Netherlands at a hacker festival called OHM2013. I’m here doing lots of talking on whistleblowing and surveillance and Big Brother states with a number of key whistleblowers from the US and this is a common theme that comes up and have we just agreed to award Edward Snowden something called Sam Adams Award for integrity and intelligence. The fact that he has gone public with all this stuff, the fact that he is showing this growing and endemic corruption between the US and UK intelligence agencies, needs recognition and we need to be able to give it to him soon.

RT:But has he achieved anything apart from getting that award you’ve just mentioned? Even US Congress said that surveillance will continue…

AM: Well unfortunately it’s unlikely, but I think he is the most significant modern whistleblower, even greater than Daniel Ellsberg, because he has shown that we’re all globally under surveillance. We are moving rapidly into isotopic Big Brother surveillance society, and it’s not just the Americans. All of us are subject to that. He has done the world’s population a huge service and I hope world’s population will do him a huge service by supporting him and fighting for him.



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