UK to Brit Hacks: Shut Up
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Warning follows exposé of UK cooperation in massive warrantless US government electronic spying
Defence Ministry Warns Against Leaks on Joint US-Brit Spying
Defiance of the advisory could make British journalists vulnerable to prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
The June 7 "DA-Notice," or Defence Advisory Notice, which was itself confidential, accepted that the U.S. National Security Agency was sharing information gleaned from the surveillance programs with its British counterparts, and said UK intelligence organizations were worried about revelations of their own roles in the programs.
"There have been a number of articles?recently in connection with some of the?ways in which the UK?Intelligence Services obtain information from foreign sources," said the notice issued by the Defence Advisory Committee, a joint body with media organizations.
"Although none of these recent?articles has contravened any of the guidelines contained within the?Defence Advisory Notice System, the?intelligence services are concerned that further developments of?this same theme may begin to jeopardize both national security and possibly UK personnel," it said.
The notice itself was marked "Private and Confidential: Not for publication, broadcast or use on social media."
It warned British media not to publish information on "specific covert operations, sources and methods of the security services, SIS and GCHQ [the NSA's British counterpart], Defence Intelligence Units, Special Forces and those involved with them, the application of those methods, including the interception of communications and their targets; the same applies to those engaged on counter-terrorist operations."
British news organizations are concerned about the tenor of the advance warning.
"They're sending out a notice saying nothing's been published that damages national security but we're concerned the press might (and on the back of developments in the US, no less)," said a media source.
The worry is that British authorities may be preparing to pursue reporters through the courts if they publish details on UK participation in the massive US electronic surveillance programs, code-named "PRISM" and "BLARNEY," according to a report in The Washington Post.
The NSA collects "directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple," the Post reported.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the NSA has been sharing intelligence from the same internet companies with GCHQ.
President Obama on Friday defended the spying programs, which access every Americans' email and Internet searches, saying "a whole bunch of safeguards [are] involved" to protect privacy.
Jeff Stein, Intelligence Columnist : [ Click here to
contact Jeff directly ] Bronze Star recipient, author, and investigative reporter, specializing in U.S. intelligence, defense, and foreign policy, Jeff Stein. Stein was born in Philadelphia but grew up in New England, moving with his family to Maine in 1954. After attending school in Providence, Rhode Island, he moved to Hingham, Massachusetts, where he graduated from high school in 1962. Following high school, he... (more...)