Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Seminar 3 Position Statement: Tony Bunyan (journalist and Director of Statewatch since 1991)

Tony Bunyan
(journalist and Director of Statewatch since 1991)

Quote from Intelligence Services Commissioner:
“I oversee how the intelligence services store and use bulk personal data (BPD). There is no statutory definition of BPD, but in essence BPD refers to data belonging to a range of individuals acquired by or held on one or more analytical systems in the intelligence services. The majority of these individuals are unlikely to be of intelligence interest.” (Intelligence Services Commissioner, 2014 report, June 2015)

1. We need to understand the complete “chain”

At the moment much of researchers/journalists’ attention is in the:
NSA, GCHQ, “Five Eyes” and to an extent on EU Member State INTEL: these are the “intelligence-gathering” agencies who have alliances and multilateral agreement through NATO and bilaterals with almost every EU state
But then we have the second level:
“users” of the data/intelligence
CIA, FBI, DEA, DHS in USA and MI5, MI6, DIS, Special Branch & specialist police units who act against “targets” to either bring them to trial or to disrupt or destabilise (including the use of undercover agents, CHIS etc)
The third level is:
“the suppliers”
The multinational companies who make vast profits from their own, commercial, intelligence-gathering on their customers/consumers AND make further vast profits through the production of the technologies for gathering data for the agencies and the technologies of enforcement (for SECINT and LEAs - from “Smart Borders” to “Smart urban cities”).
Fourth there is the:
“embedded nexus”
Where the “gatherers”, “users” and “suppliers’” meet in a myriad of meetings with EU officials and from the Member States for the mutual benefit of all – see Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex by Ben Hayes (Statewatch, over 900,000 copies downloaded).
And finally we have:
“the targets”
The First target is suspected terrorists a) legitimate targets concerning criminal activity and b) where the net widens to cover “sympathisers”. Ideologically, PM Cameron spelt this out recently: it is not enough to be law-abiding, people have to espouse “British values”.
A good example of “function creep” are the EU Conclusions on “Radical Messages” (“soft”, enabling law) which is a 70 question format to report individuals or groups. Its Scope is:
“Extreme right/left, Islamists, nationalists, anti-globalisation etc”

The Second target is refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing from war, poverty and persecution - in the Med and around EU land borders a new more sophisticated “Fortress Europe” is under construction – one that is also prepared to go to “war” to stop the flow of migrants.

The Third target is migrant communities targeted for surveillance, infiltration. Trying to recruit informers, The PREVENT programme has fuelled racism and contaminated the social and political lives of these communities.

The Fourth target is domestic political activity: The definition of UK “domestic extremism” includes:
“the activity of groups or individuals who commit or plan serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint”
HMIC have advised the government to delete this section from the definition – they have declined to do so.

The Fifth is as old as capitalism: the targeting of inner city/”sink estates” where the preclariat, skilled but no chance of meaningful work, and the underclass with no skills and no hope, tend to riot occasionally.

The Sixth target is EU cross-border protests:
- extensive pre-planning across 28 Member States, the appointment of “spotters” who track “ring-leaders”
- undercover police
- kettling, dispensing justice on the streets
- use of para-military police units, tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon drones
- proposed database on “trouble-makers”

The Seventh target is everyone living in the EU:
- surveillance of all communications (Mandatory data retention, declared unlawful by the CJEU in April 2014 but the practice continues.
- the surveillance of travel, EU-PNR

2. The EU state
To understand all the above development, to put the policing and security state and the surveillance society in context a concept of the state is central.
We are I believe nearing a “tipping” point where “state-building” will show the EU state is in place – for all those who want to see it: My adaptation of a well-known Gramscian perspective:
“The EU state arbitrates in the interests of capital as a whole (both economically and politically) resolving/”harmonising” differences between competing individual capitalists and the competing interests of the Member States to advance a neo-liberal agenda and to contain overt opposition. While the repressive and surveillance capacities of the EU are being built up the EU state and its power elites use their power and influence to shape the perceptions of the people as to the legitimacy of the EU and the futility of resistance.”
Also see excellent article in latest Race & Class: “Transnational capital and the technology of domination and desire" by Jerry Harris:
“The National Security Agency would argue that such a world is all for our safety, to make us more secure and comfortable as we partake in our daily liberties that it protects. It seeks our consent to approve the coercion of those who get out of line. But just what defines a violation is in the hands of the data masters, and so their threat becomes universal.”
“The Gramscian dialectic of consent and coercion is at work when surveillance is sold as transparency, and transparency is presented as democratic access.”

3. The UK state

The above point mirrors what I say in talks about UK/GCHQ/MI5 etc:
Where before the existence of GCHQ and 5 & 6 was officially secret we now know they exist, see their ads for jobs in the papers, their Heads are named and even appear before Select Committees – real transparency, so nothing more to fear. The fact that the content and targets of their operations are as secret as ever is forgotten.
The agreed definition of extremism, which the Home Office will use to decide who to blacklist, is this:
The vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also regard calls for the death of members of our armed forces as extremist.
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone',” he said.
“It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today, however, the Home Secretary Theresa May said that tolerance and rule of law were ‘British values’.
“The measures are part of a bigger picture, a strategy which will also have as a key part of it actually promoting our British values, our values of democracy, rule of law, tolerance and acceptance of different faiths,” she said.

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