War On Journalism: London Edition

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Plasma Man » Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:19 pm UTC

So, if secrets are being leaked. Would you rather:
a) have this reported by a (fairly) responsible organisation, such as a newspaper, or
b) not know there's a leak until something terrible happens.

This proposed law seems to think that b is better than a, which doesn't seem quite right to me.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby addams » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:11 am UTC

Red Hal wrote:No. Blair is wrong. The way to stop people leaking for well-meaning reasons is not to do anything that a well-meaning person would construe as being against the public interest and therefore in need of leaking.

Amen.

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby K-R » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:41 am UTC

Red Hal wrote:No. Blair is wrong. The way to stop people leaking for well-meaning reasons is not to do anything that a well-meaning person would construe as being against the public interest and therefore in need of leakng.

"The Official Secrets Act isn't to protect secrets, it's to protect officials." - Humphrey Appleby

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:41 am UTC

Red Hal wrote:No. Blair is wrong. The way to stop people leaking for well-meaning reasons is not to do anything that a well-meaning person would construe as being against the public interest and therefore in need of leakng.


Well meaning people with no context to put the information they see in can leak things based on their own biases, without stopping to consider the bigger picture.

The Baghdad airstrikes, for instance, when taken in context and when the whole footage is viewed (rather than wikileak's heavily-edited version) are uncontroversial, at least if you accept that giving air cover to ground forces is uncontroversial.

The way to stop people leaking for well meaning reasons is to hire people with a sense of loyalty, and not give security clearance to disturbed individuals with a vendetta against the military.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Steax » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:18 am UTC

Way to skew the point by bringing up a completely unrelated incident (that, yes, Assange himself admitted was manipulated for "emotional impact").

The US government has also been trying to use those stories, like how their domestic spying managed to stop "dozens" of terrorist attacks... Though various news seems to be shooting down each story one at a time.

The way to stop people leaking is to actually by
a) not doing anything a well-meaning person would construe as being against the public interest and therefore in need of leaking
and
b) making the existing information public so leaks are not necessary to discuss and judge them fairly

Governments will continue to try pulling this "bigger picture" excuse for as long as they can, spout "don't worry, checks and balances and we're the good guys" reassurances at every turn and deny that there's been any misuse of their power. Then you get news like this one (and the fact that, yes, there has been intentional abuse of NSA spying powers on spouses and others).

"For the greater good" is a waterslide that goes way, way down...
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:18 pm UTC

Steax wrote:Way to skew the point by bringing up a completely unrelated incident (that, yes, Assange himself admitted was manipulated for "emotional impact").

The US government has also been trying to use those stories, like how their domestic spying managed to stop "dozens" of terrorist attacks... Though various news seems to be shooting down each story one at a time.


That incident is definately related to the topic of leaks. It's an example of the larger point that lots of things look unjustified in isolation.

Steax wrote:The way to stop people leaking is to actually by
a) not doing anything a well-meaning person would construe as being against the public interest and therefore in need of leaking
and
b) making the existing information public so leaks are not necessary to discuss and judge them fairly


They're literally both impossible.

The first because in order to operate securely different individuals need to be able to be granted different levels of clearance - but in order to be able to make the judgement call on whether something is against the public interest you need to be in posession of all of the facts.

The second because of the very nature of classified information. "Taliban leaders confirmed as being in location xyz, 20% chance of civillian collateral damage, lets hold a referendum on whether to strike" is silly for obvious reasons.

Steax wrote:Governments will continue to try pulling this "bigger picture" excuse for as long as they can, spout "don't worry, checks and balances and we're the good guys" reassurances at every turn and deny that there's been any misuse of their power. Then you get news like this one (and the fact that, yes, there has been intentional abuse of NSA spying powers on spouses and others).

"For the greater good" is a waterslide that goes way, way down...


I guess I'm more pessimistic - I don't see it being possible for a nation's security forces to protect it without getting it's hands dirty.

Please note, I'm distinguishing leaks of information with strategic value to hostile agents (Baghdad airstrikes, the intelligence assets Manning condemned, the information Miranda has) from programs like XKeyscore and PRISM, which I agree should be public and have civillian oversight.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Red Hal » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:58 pm UTC

Ormurinn, I understand that a government needs secrets. That is not the point at issue, nor did you raise it, but I felt it was worth stating as a premise of my argument. There is a case to be made for the Baghdad airstrikes being reasonable, but you'll have to accept a lot more premises than "CAS for ground troops." For example, one would also have to accept the following premises: "The provision of CAS for attacking ground forces led to fewer lives being lost", "There was significant resistance within the area that necessitated the unavoidable risk of killing civilians, including children" and "The presence of allied troops in Baghdad was lawful and justified". Of course that last one is a doozy, and I suspect you and I could argue back and forth over that to no avail, since I don't accept it.

As to your assertion that "Well meaning people with no context to put the information they see in can leak things based on their own biases, without stopping to consider the bigger picture."; that's pretty uncontroversial, and happens all the time, not just in the sphere of government covert work. When a girl tells her mother what her big sister was doing on facebook based on one picture she saw, or a well-meaning friend lets someone know that their partner is having an affair based on something they heard third-hand then you have the same situation, albeit different in scale.

It's worth remembering, however, that Chelsea Manning did have context, and so did Edward Snowden. They had the law of the land as their context. In the case of Snowden it was clear, incontrovertible evidence that the NSA had monitored and stored communications from U.S. citizens on U.S. soil in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. In the case of Manning it was the existence of Frago 242, which was in direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by the United States in 1994.

So Manning and Snowden were not lacking in context, or lacking in some material way knowledge of the bigger picture, what they had was incontrovertible evidence that the organisation employing them was breaking the laws of the land.

Which brings me to your last comment. Loyalty to one's country does not mean that one is a bellyfeel goodthinker. Correct me if I am wrong, but the pledge of allegiance is to the Flag of the United States of America, not to the government. The loyalty of any U.S. government employee should be directed toward the ideals of the United States, even if that means being at odds with the ideals and conduct of the organisation for which that individual works.

As an aside, are you implying that both Snowden and Manning are disturbed individuals with a vendetta against the military? If not then that's a reasonable statement to make since a disturbed (whatever that means) individual with a vendetta against the organisation proposing to employ them would most definitely not be on the list of top ten ideal employees. On the other hand if that was your intent then I strongly disagree.

-------

I notice you have posted while I was composing this. I note your distinction between specific information of tactical or strategic value and general surveillance programs, but I'd be interested in knowing how you became privy to knowledge about the contents of Miranda's laptop.

-------

Edit 2: As a thought, imagine if the entire population of the U.K. had access to all the information gathered by 5 and 6, and imagine if the same thing happened in the U.S. Yes, it would alert terrorists to the fact that we were on to them, but it would also lead to some very interesting situations, don't you think?
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Steax » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:43 pm UTC

(I'll concede the first point because, while I disagree and I find that to be generalization, it's something we can talk about.)

Ormurinn wrote:
Steax wrote:The way to stop people leaking is to actually by
a) not doing anything a well-meaning person would construe as being against the public interest and therefore in need of leaking
and
b) making the existing information public so leaks are not necessary to discuss and judge them fairly


They're literally both impossible.

The first because in order to operate securely different individuals need to be able to be granted different levels of clearance - but in order to be able to make the judgement call on whether something is against the public interest you need to be in posession of all of the facts.

The second because of the very nature of classified information. "Taliban leaders confirmed as being in location xyz, 20% chance of civillian collateral damage, lets hold a referendum on whether to strike" is silly for obvious reasons.


The first is entirely possible: decision makers simply have to follow the laws they adhere to (and by extension, the public interest). NSA domestic spying is against US law (it's even been brought up before, as recent revealings show). If the decision maker fails to adhere to law because of a lack of facts, then they can argue that in court, and they need to take appropriate responsibility. (Interesting aside: The US DoJ actually asked a court to grant immunity to responsible parties for Iraq war crimes. Huh.)

The second can come in hindsight. "Today we had to do an airstrike, but unfortunately collateral damage took place. Here are the details and numbers." Basically just give everything they usually tell after the information has been leaked. You can beat leaker bias by not letting them leak your information first. Besides, this is how governments want us to think, right? I've they've done nothing wrong, then they don't have anything to hide, and the public should be able to know about it (and not through leaks of Freedom of Information requests). The government, unlike individuals, actually have this responsibility.


Ormurinn wrote:
Steax wrote:Governments will continue to try pulling this "bigger picture" excuse for as long as they can, spout "don't worry, checks and balances and we're the good guys" reassurances at every turn and deny that there's been any misuse of their power. Then you get news like this one (and the fact that, yes, there has been intentional abuse of NSA spying powers on spouses and others).

"For the greater good" is a waterslide that goes way, way down...


I guess I'm more pessimistic - I don't see it being possible for a nation's security forces to protect it without getting it's hands dirty.

Please note, I'm distinguishing leaks of information with strategic value to hostile agents (Baghdad airstrikes, the intelligence assets Manning condemned, the information Miranda has) from programs like XKeyscore and PRISM, which I agree should be public and have civillian oversight.


How... How do you know what information Miranda has?

I take it you agree with the British excuse of "that information could be helpful to terrorists", since you mentioned "strategic value to hostile agents". Question: How exactly does, say, information on PRISM/XKeyscore (the primary piece of information that Snowden/The Guardian has been leaking) or whatever explicitly "help" terrorists? Do you think it helps terrorists more than it informs US citizens that the NSA has overreaching powers and that their communication/individuals/tech companies are being spied on?
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:40 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:I guess I'm more pessimistic - I don't see it being possible for a nation's security forces to protect it without getting it's hands dirty.
While I agree that this is true, I find myself deeply troubled by the additional idea that it's also necessary for us to hide the fact that we're getting our hands dirty. There's an old joke I like, except it's really not a joke at all: 'I'd tell you what we're doing, but that's classified. I'd tell you why it's classified, but that's also classified.'

Also, I'm somewhat surprised you're arguing what you're arguing, considering your previous stance regarding the government. I don't mean to imply you're being hypocritical; I just find it unusual that you're taking the stance you're taking here.

EDIT: There are ways to be more transparent about our government without endangering our military operations -- but using the label of "It's Classified" to keep your butt out of the fire is a time-honored tradition. Part of government resistance against leaks is because they don't want to endanger operations -- but part of it is because governments know that if their citizens were aware of half the shit they pulled, they'd have a lot of explaining to do.

To put it another way: There's a big difference between information that's classified because it's sensitive information that could be used by our enemies -- and information that's classified because if people knew about it, they'd get pissed as fuck. Governments aren't good at telling the difference between those two types of 'classified' information. In fact, they're always trying to sell us on the idea that there's no difference at all.

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:46 am UTC

Related:

A Muslim woman who says she was stopped at an airport "without reasonable suspicion" is awaiting a court ruling on whether her rights were breached.

Sylvie Beghal was held at East Midlands Airport under anti-terrorism laws. Police did not suspect her of terrorism but wanted to speak to her about "possible involvement", judges heard.

She has asked the High Court to rule on whether Terrorism Act powers for police and border guards breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mrs Beghal, a French National living in the UK, was stopped by UK Border Agency staff in January 2011 after arriving on a flight from Paris. She was then questioned by police using powers conferred by Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, but refused to answer some questions until her lawyer arrived. People held under Schedule 7 "must give the examining officer any information in his [or her] possession which the officer requests", and Mrs Beghal was charged with failing to comply.

She pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates' Court and was given a 12-month conditional discharge. But she later took the case to the High Court on the grounds that stopping and questioning people without reasonable suspicion breached the European Convention.

The Crown Prosecution Service disputed Mrs Beghal's claim and argued her rights had not been breached.

Schedule 7 is the same power used to stop David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, at Heathrow Airport earlier this month. It only applies at ports and airports, and gives officers power to detain people for up to nine hours.

According to the Home Office's code of practice on using Schedule 7 the powers it confers are to be used "solely for the purpose of ascertaining if the person examined is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism"


link

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Angua » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:16 am UTC

She wasn't allowed a lawyer??? Madness. I wish her luck in court against this.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby addams » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:21 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:I guess I'm more pessimistic - I don't see it being possible for a nation's security forces to protect it without getting it's hands dirty.
While I agree that this is true, I find myself deeply troubled by the additional idea that it's also necessary for us to hide the fact that we're getting our hands dirty. There's an old joke I like, except it's really not a joke at all: 'I'd tell you what we're doing, but that's classified. I'd tell you why it's classified, but that's also classified.'

Also, I'm somewhat surprised you're arguing what you're arguing, considering your previous stance regarding the government. I don't mean to imply you're being hypocritical; I just find it unusual that you're taking the stance you're taking here.

EDIT: There are ways to be more transparent about our government without endangering our military operations -- but using the label of "It's Classified" to keep your butt out of the fire is a time-honored tradition. Part of government resistance against leaks is because they don't want to endanger operations -- but part of it is because governments know that if their citizens were aware of half the shit they pulled, they'd have a lot of explaining to do.

To put it another way: There's a big difference between information that's classified because it's sensitive information that could be used by our enemies -- and information that's classified because if people knew about it, they'd get pissed as fuck. Governments aren't good at telling the difference between those two types of 'classified' information. In fact, they're always trying to sell us on the idea that there's no difference at all.

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ok. The Terrorists have won.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:52 am UTC

Angua wrote:She wasn't allowed a lawyer??? Madness. I wish her luck in court against this.
Worse than that; she's been prosecuted for having the audacity to ask for one.

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Steax » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:31 am UTC

elasto wrote:Sylvie Beghal was held at East Midlands Airport under anti-terrorism laws. Police did not suspect her of terrorism but wanted to speak to her about "possible involvement", judges heard.
link


Looks like the governments aren't afraid of using completely vague statements now. Literally fucking anyone can be snatched up with "possible involvement in terrorism". It is literally one of the most vague and blanketing statements you can make. "Possible" can be justified with pretty much anything. "Involvement" is extremely unclear; and by Miranda's case, being a passive SO of a person who was a contact with a person who leaked probably-unlawful-in-that-country information belonging to another state counts. And we all know that "terrorism" is just slowly turning into "enemies of the state" at this point.

Even the original Schedule is clearer:

"solely for the purpose of ascertaining if the person examined is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism"


But the police are picking the vaguer term "involvement" since that casts a much, much larger excuse net.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby leady » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:39 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Angua wrote:She wasn't allowed a lawyer??? Madness. I wish her luck in court against this.
Worse than that; she's been prosecuted for having the audacity to ask for one.


You haven't heard the UK equivalent of arrest rights then :)

its less "right to remain silent", more "you must answer questions and can't withhold information from the police"

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby D.B. » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:53 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Angua wrote:She wasn't allowed a lawyer??? Madness. I wish her luck in court against this.
Worse than that; she's been prosecuted for having the audacity to ask for one.

We've not really had any right to silence since the Criminal Justice and Public Order act ("...You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court..."). This is just another step along the road.

Edit: ninja'd.

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Red Hal » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:49 am UTC

You still have the right to silence, that phrase allows the court to derive a negative inference from your silence. While it's true that C11 Schedule 7 of the Act doesn't mention the right to silence, it doesn't explicitly deny it either. The majority of the regulations regarding treatment of detained persons are contained within Schedule 8. Also, informing someone of your detention can only be delayed if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that it would prejudice the investigation. An example being sending a message to someone so they have time to hide evidence from a subsequent investigation. Access to a solicitor, again, can only be delayed if there are reasonable grounds as laid out in Schedule 8. The law is different in Scotland, where a solicitor as well as an interested person must be informed of your detention.

Where the right to silence is being eroded is the specific offence of refusing to hand over encryption pass(words|phrases). To put it another way, supposing you have an encrypted file that contains otherwise innocuous information - let's say it's a spreadsheet of your charitable donations - refusing to hand over the password to decrypt that spreadsheet is an offence punishable by imprisonment. In theory you can be detained indefinitely, as you can be asked for the password again upon your release and then re-arrested.

I'm no great lover of the way the British Government has been acting over this, but if we're going to make specific statements and inferences, let's do so with regard to the facts.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby D.B. » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:47 am UTC

Eh, I was phrasing it in an offhand manner. Having a right directly pertaining to how you may behave when arrested, which a court can then specifically use against you when evaluating evidence later, really isn't very much of a right in my opinion. But no, you are correct, in the normal course of things remaining silent when arrested isn't an offence in and off itself.

And RIPA is indeed much worse.

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby leady » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:55 am UTC

yes you can remain silent, but the intent is quite cynical because as the wording infers, silence implies guilt in the minds of others (when objectively nothing can be inferred from silence).

The UK justice system is a wierd murky set of trade offs that work, well mostly...

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Red Hal » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:42 pm UTC

D.B. My point was general rather than specifically aimed at you. I apologise if it came across that way.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby leady » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:53 pm UTC

mine too, just elaborating for our american bretheren who may think the motherland would have had the time to tidy up this sort of thing:)

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby D.B. » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:07 pm UTC

Red Hal wrote:D.B. My point was general rather than specifically aimed at you. I apologise if it came across that way.

leady wrote:mine too, just elaborating for our american bretheren who may think the motherland would have had the time to tidy up this sort of thing:)

Oh don't worry about it. It's good to have these things clearly laid out :)

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby elasto » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:53 pm UTC

Sylvie Beghal has lost her court case. The judge said the stops were "neither arbitrary nor disproportionate".

Her lawyers are expected to appeal and try to take the case to the Supreme Court.

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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby Plasma Man » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:19 pm UTC

Surprise surprise - a government advisor has claimed that the files David Miranda was carrying could risk the lives of intelligence officers. I'm guessing this is similar to saying that a chemistry textbook could be used to help trrrsts make bombs. In my view, it still doesn't justify using anti-terrorism legislation to detain Miranda and confiscate (and search) the stuff he was carrying. There's a very big difference between a journalist obtaining information with a view to writing an article, and a terrorist obtaining information with the aim of using it to help kill people.
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Re: War On Journalism: London Edition

Postby gnutrino » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:07 pm UTC

Red Hal wrote:You still have the right to silence, that phrase allows the court to derive a negative inference from your silence. While it's true that C11 Schedule 7 of the Act doesn't mention the right to silence, it doesn't explicitly deny it either.


I'm not sure this is strictly true in light of this case, paragraph 5(a) of Schedule 7 does indeed state that "A person who is questioned under paragraph 2 or 3 must give the examining officer any information in his possession which the officer requests". I would have expected that this would apply only to actual physical information (documents, computer files etc.) but if the article elasto linked is acurate someone has been prosecuted and convicted under it for simply refusing to answer questions without a lawyer present. This seems like an explicit denial of the right to silence to me...


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