THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER BULLETIN
Released 13 February, 2003
On the shuttle from the Dulles International Airport terminal to its midfield gates in August, 2001, the FBI arrested former US Air Force master sergeant and intelligence analyst, Brian Patrick Regan, a 40-year-old father of four from Bowie, before he boarded a plane to Germany. On Monday, 13 January, in Alexandria, Virginia, he was put on trial for espionage in the first case in nearly 50 years that could end in a death sentence. Deeply in debt, he allegedly decided to sell satellite secrets to Iraq, Libya and China, for more than $13 million in Swiss currency. The Justice Department nearly always negotiates a plea agreement, even in cases where espionage has resulted in the deaths of America's foreign agents. Defense lawyers have indicated they would introduce evidence about Regan's mental health, during any penalty phase, to help him escape a death sentence. As jury selection began, US District Judge, Gerald Bruce Lee, warned potential jurors that the trial probably would last until the end of February or even later, with opening arguments tentatively set for 27 January, the date of the US decision on Iraq. Although a plea arrangement is still possible, even after a jury ultimately is selected, many experts said they would be surprised if the Bush government would agree to a deal in the present "war with Iraq" atmosphere. Regan has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted espionage and one count of gathering national defense information. Much of the pretrial wrangling has focused not on the substance of the case, but on the decision to seek the death penalty when it has not been sought in seemingly more harmful spy cases.
On 14 January, in Lubbock, Texas, there were reports that from Texas Tech University that "35 vials of Bubonic Plague" had turned up missing from a Health Sciences laboratory. Few official details were available concerning the absence of the material, but local and state police and the FBI were all said to be involved in an investigation of its whereabouts. There was no inference that the material had been stolen, only that it is missing from the university inventory. An FBI statement was expected at a 15 January news conference in the afternoon concerning the report. At the press conference, the FBI announced that all of the vials of plague reported missing had been accounted for. Lupe Gonzalez, the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, stated: "We have determined that there is no danger to the public." Federal, state, and local officials were continuing to investigate the incident.
The next day, the FBI announced that a Texas Tech professor, who had allegedly told university authorities that 30 vials of plague were missing when he knew they had been destroyed, had been arrested. Dr Thomas Butler, 61, headed a research program at Texas Tech University Health Center to develop antibiotics to cure the disease. He is reportedly charged with making false statements to the FBI which had been called in as part of a major security alert after university officials supposedly discovered that between 30 and 35 vials were unaccounted for. At the time, officials had stated that they were unsure if the vials had been stolen or merely misplaced. The White House was informed, and experts from the Centers for Disease Control were called in immediately to join the investigation, together with dozens of FBI agents.
On 29 December, the FBI issued the following "BOLO: Men Wanted For Questioning". "The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the public's assistance in determining the whereabouts of the following individuals:
"The above identified individuals, whose names and dates of birth may be fictitious, are believed to have entered the United States illegally on or about December 24, 2002. Although the FBI has no specific information that these individuals are connected to any potential terrorist activities, but based upon information developed in the course of on-going investigations, the FBI would like to locate and question these persons."
"The FBI has been working with Homeland Security Agencies (U.S. Customs, INS, TSA) to locate these individuals. The above information has also been disseminated to the appropriate law enforcement agencies around the United States and throughout the world. Anyone with any information pertaining to these individuals is asked to contact their nearest FBI office. Photographs of the these individuals can be found on the FBI's web site at www.FBI.gov."
The US and world press duly picked up the story and "ran with it", giving, for example, in the "Los Angeles Times (30 December), "FBI seeking 5 men tied to terror probe - They may have entered US from Canada", and the "Chicago Tribune", "FBI Seeks 5 Who May Be in U.S. Illegally", CNN that reported that the men may have entered the US through the border with Canada. Dan Kane, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), stated that the agency had "implemented additional measures to look for these individuals."
On 6 January, ABC News and CNN reported that the FBI had concluded that the information which led to a hunt for the five men was fabricated by an informant, Michael John Hamdani. He had been arrested in Canada and his lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, made up a story about 19 men who sought false passports in an attempt to get his client off the hook on criminal charges he was facing in the US. According to US press reports, the FBI discovered that the information about the men was a hoax during an interrogation of one of the members of the document ring in Pakistan.
The "real story" is even less flattering to the FBI since it apparently was not the Bureau that discovered the mistake but a Pakistani jeweler in Lahore, Mohammad Asghar, who was surprised to find his photo in a local newspaper as a person wanted by the FBI. He told the FBI who he is and straightened out the Bureau. Nonetheless, another great US "anti-terrorist" authority had "swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker": George Bush, who had personally authorized the FBI to send out its terrorism alert and maintain the "High" level of alert for the entire United States, all this on the gossip of one individual and without any verification or cross-checking. On the other hand, the FBI will get to roll up a passport and traveler check forgery business.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 415, 20 January, 2003, p. 11. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 13 February, 2003
Over the past 60 days, the CIA has released several reports and extensive documentation on the CIA which have also been declassified. On 13 December, the National Security Archive announced the release of "US Propaganda Activities in the Middle East - The Early Years", published on the World Wide Web. The documents are concerned with an early Cold War campaign to win "hearts and minds" in the Middle East, launched 50 years before current efforts to achieve United States "public diplomacy" goals in the region.
As in the case of the FBI, the CIA has claimed recent successes in the fight against terrorism (1215, AFP). On 11 December, during a presentation at the Nixon Center in Washington, CIA Director, George Tenet, stated that more than 3,000 members or associates of al Qaida have been apprehended in over 100 countries. "Half of our successes have come in the last few months. This global attack on al Qaida has without a doubt disorganized its operations", according to Tenet.
On 15 December, the "New York Times" headlined "Bush Has Widened Authority of CIA to Kill Terrorists" (by James Risan and David Johnston). The Bush administration had prepared a list of terrorist leaders the CIA is authorized to kill, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be minimized. The previously undisclosed CIA list includes key Qaida leaders like Osama Bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from al Qaida and affiliated terrorist groups. The names of about two dozen terrorist leaders have recently been on the lethal-force list, called "the worst of the worst."
Besides the new CIA "hit list", other documents and reports below cover CIA "Stress and Duress" Tactics - commonly referred to as "torture" -- in Afghanistan and the CIA's annual proliferation report.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 415, 20 January, 2003, p. 12. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 13 February, 2003
The top intelligence topics in "politics" over the last month include UPI's article on eventual Mossad murders in the US, NASA's failure in addressing contradictors, possible MIT cover- up of anti-missile system fraud, and Kissinger's abandoning the chairmanship of the 11 September 2001 investigation, among other stories.
On 15 January, UPI's Richard Sale published "Mossad To Begin Targeted Murders On American Soil", claiming that Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries, according to former Israeli intelligence officials. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had supposedly forbidden the practice until now. The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen US foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with UPI. With the appointment of Meir "The Gun" Dagan as Mossad director, Sharon was preparing "a huge budget" increase for the spy agency as part of "a tougher stance in fighting global jihad," one Israeli official said. A former Israeli military intelligence source agreed: "What Sharon wants is a much more extensive and tough approach to global terrorism, and this includes greater operational maneuverability." Does this mean assassinations on the soil of allies? "It does," he said.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 415, 20 January, 2003, p. 13. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 13 February, 2003
The British Assistant Chief Constable of the National Crime Squad (NCS), Jim Gamble, told a parliamentary committee of inquiry, currently examining communication surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), that the provisions under the legislation, which was passed in 2000, would be unlikely to withstand a legal challenge under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Gamble, who is also head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) data communications group, told MPs, on 18 December, that the law enforcement agencies were uncertain about what was permitted, and that telecom and ISP companies were "exposed to civil action."
Currently, British companies in the communication industry are required to store customer data only as long as they feel it is necessary for billing and marketing purposes. Police have to be able to legally demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence that a person, or a specific group, is involved in criminal activity to have access to confidential customer data. Under RIPA provisions, both ISP and Telecom companies must retain data for long periods and all law enforcement agencies can access the information upon request, without the need for a judicial or executive warrant. These powers, however, have been "suspended" after MPs demanded clarification following reports in the "Guardian" that dozens of non-law enforcement agencies, organizations and quangos would have unlimited "snooping powers" to access confidential data. There was further confusion, following the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, when revised UK anti-terrorist legislation included the stipulation that data, held for long periods by the communications industry as required by RIPA, could only be accessed in cases of national security. Gamble, in his complaint to the Mps committee, claims that this restricts the police involved in serious and organized crime investigations which have no national security or terrorist links. His submission -- perhaps not surprisingly -- has in itself caused a "difference of opinion" among both legislators and opponents of intrusive powers.
Ian Brown, director of the Foundation for Information Police Research, which monitors Internet legislation and freedom of information issues, believes the police chiefs are now telling MPs that they want access to even more information despite Gamble admitting that they have been "illegally gathering information on telephone and Internet users for many years." The liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Richard Allan, MP, deputy chairman of the inquiry panel, believes Gamble's submission "reflects a climate of change within the Home Office and the police" which now realizes it is of major public interest "to strike a better balance between catching criminals and protecting the privacy of innocent citizens." This optimistic assessment is not reflected in the response from the Home Office which rejected criticism that RIPA provisions were incompatible with post-11 September anti-terror legislation: "We do not accept that RIPA and the anti-terrorism act are not compliant with human rights law. It is time to stop whining and come together to work through the solutions."
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 415, 20 January, 2003, p. 14. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
In a written statement, released in London in early February, the junior defence minister, Lewis Moonie, confirmed that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had abandoned the search for 20 British-manufactured "live" Swing Fire missile warheads which "fell off a ship" near St. Thomas Head, in the Bristol Channel, south west England.
According to Mr. Moonie, six Royal Navy divers, using metal detectors, spent four days searching the area where the pallet -- which also contained eight mines, eight plastic explosive devices, boosters and detonating cord -- slipped into the sea, but only found eight unexploded WW II bombs and two tons of scrap. The minister claimed that the "presence on the range of so much scrap and shrapnel would make further clearance operations protracted and expensive." The search concluded that the missing pallet is no longer within the area of the range was searched. Surveying and clearance conditions throughout the range are particularly difficult due to extensive areas of very soft mud and sand, rocky outcrops, heavily covered areas of seaweed patches and the tidal streams." The MoD has also produced an internal report on the embarrassing loss of the Swing Fire warheads which have a tank armor piercing range of four kilometers and are used extensively by Middle East defense forces. But the report has been classified to the annoyance of many MPs who believe there's something more to this affair than missing ordnance.
The junior minister's detailed description of the composition of the sea-bed beneath the Bristol Channel was intended to convey the impression that the warheads had sunk without trace and would never see the light of day again, ignoring the fact that munitions have been washed ashore from selected sea-bed chasms in the Irish Sea. The detailed description failed to impress Tory MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, who described the MoD's decision as "ridiculous and irresponsible" given the number of "vulnerable targets in the Bristol Channel, including oil refineries" and the large number of container ships which use the route. He also claimed the public would be in danger "if the pallet was washed up on a beach" and that the MoD had made only a "cursory attempt" to locate the cargo. The MP also asked that the MoD's secret report should be made public, or at least be made available to parliamentary representatives from the region North Devon to South Wales.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 3. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
Despite a month-long intensive poster and publicity campaign in Ireland and the UK, backed by a $1 million reward for information leading to arrest, there is still no progress in the international manhunt for James "Whitey" Bulger, wanted in the US in connection with 21 murders, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.
Number two on the FBI's "most wanted" list behind Osama Bin Laden, the 73-year-old Irish-American crime boss, described by the bureau as "one of the most dangerous mobsters in the world", has been on the run since the mid-1990s. Last September, the FBI found a safety box belonging to Bulger. It contained information and documents which indicated that the elusive mobster had traveled widely in Europe prior to being placed on the FBI's list, including several visits to Ireland and the UK, planning his life as a fugitive by leaving cash and false identity papers in safety deposit boxes in many major cities. There were also alleged sightings of Bulger in the British midlands, according to Edward Cogswell, a Washington-based spokesman for the FBI, raising the possibility that he may be hiding among the large Irish community in Birmingham.
In December, Scotland Yard officers, working with FBI agents, discovered another safety deposit box belonging to Bulger at a bank in London. Inside they found a key identifying a safety deposit box at a Dublin-based bank by the Irish Gardai. Also found was paperwork confirming Bulger's meticulous planning. The FBI special agent in charge of the manhunt, the appropriately-named Bill Chase, describes Whitey Bulger -- who likes to visit libraries and historical sites -- as a "charming and intelligent" man with a "vicious temper" who always carries a knife.
"He's not your typical fugitive", Chase told the London "Observer", "most people on the run get caught because they do something stupid which makes them stand out, like getting a speeding ticket. Bulger is much cleverer than that. He's a very smart guy and does things in order not to attract attention to himself. He is very well financed and very well disciplined."
Born in 1929 to Irish parents in Boston, Bulger has been jailed only once -- for armed robbery in the 1950s -- in a criminal career which spans more than half a century. Having served "hard time", he set about making his fortune as a ruthless gang boss in the city, involved in racketeering, prostitution, drug trafficking and extortion. He also gained a well-earned reputation for hardcore violence. According to Boston sources, the key to Bulger's success was his relationship with John Connolly, an FBI special agent in the bureau's Boston office, whom he met in 1973. Connolly, also of Irish parentage, who had grown up in the same neighborhood as Bulger, suggested that the mobster become an FBI informant and "use his friends in law enforcement" to protect his criminal empire. Subsequently, Bulger provided information which helped the FBI roll-up the Italian-American crime syndicate, headed by Gennaro Angiulo, who had also used his Boston PD friends to have his enemies busted.
In return for Bulger's help, Connolly and his supervisor, John Morris, provided him with information about ongoing FBI investigations into his criminal activities, including details of surveillance operations, bugging and telephone taps. He was also given the names of three rival gangsters who were prepared to talk to the FBI about Bulger's illegal activities. All three were executed, allegedly by Bulger, according to the FBI charge sheet. Last September, coinciding with the safety box discovery, John Connolly was sentenced to ten years in prison, and faces further charges in relation to the mob killings after admitting supplying the names of the three potential supergrasses.
An account of the relationship between the Irish-American godfather and the FBI special agent, is contained in "Black Mass - The Irish Mob, the FBI and a Devil's Deal", by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 4. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
The next director of the British government's Cheltenham-based electronic eavesdropping center, GCHQ, will be a 55-year-old Oxford graduate, David Pepper. His appointment, approved by Prime Minister Tony Blair, was confirmed by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, on 31 January.
Mr. Pepper joined GCHQ in 1972 after obtaining a degree in theoretical physics from St. John's College. With more than twenty years experience in SIGINT and ELINT analysis and operations and middle-level management, he joined the GCHQ board in 1995 as director of personnel. In 1998, he was seconded to the Home Office as director of corporate development, where he was responsible, according to a GCHQ press statement, for "corporate change management, IT services and accommodation, gaining practical experience of delivering large PFI [Private Finance Initiative] projects." In mid-2000, he returned to Cheltenham to take charge of finance and planning.
Although Whitehall officials have emphasized his IT proficiency as a key factor in his appointment, there's no doubt his management skills and PFI experience are an important and practical consideration. The agency's annual budget of œ700 million is approximately two-thirds of what is spent each year by the UK's three security and intelligence services, and the ELINT center's new HQ, costing an estimated œ350 million, and due to be completed by the end of this year, is itself a PFI project. The premises, referred to locally as the "Doughnut" because of its shape, are being built by a private consortium under a œ1.1 billion, 30-year management contract, which the government claims will be 20 percent less expensive, over three decades, than maintaining the existing buildings on two separate sites in Cheltenham.
David Pepper will take over from Sir Francis Richards in April. Sir Francis, who has been in charge since 1998, has been appointed governor of Gibraltar.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 5. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
Sign of the times: the CIA has publicly recognized the recent death of one of its officers in Afghanistan while the press reported two others captured or killed in Colombia. The CIA, along with the FBI and the DIA, has presented its annual worldwide threat briefing to the Senate and been caught in a drug-trafficking political scandal in Philadelphia. It, of course, has been deeply implicated in the Bush administration's "Rush to War" in Iraq and is currently being accused of hindering UN weapons inspectors in Iraq.
In mid-February, in "Agents Win Suit Vs. Pa. Attorney General", by Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press reported that a Philadelphia federal jury awarded $1.5 million to two narcotics agents who claimed the Pennsylvania attorney general retaliated against them because they uncovered a drug-trafficking ring they said diverted profits to a CIA-backed Dominican presidential candidate, Jose Francisco Pena Gomez.
John McLaughlin and Charles Micewski sued over their transfer from the Philadelphia office of the state Bureau of Narcotics Investigation in 1996. Current Attorney General, Mike Fisher, said he will appeal the decision which concerns his predecessor, Tom Corbett, who transferred the agents.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 7. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
On 21 February, "Insight" reported "Clinton problems linger at Secret Service - Bush appointment of new director meant to send message. Brian Stafford, who was appointed in 1999, quietly announced his resignation in December following articles in "US News & World Report" and "Insight" about Secret Service morale and problems with a new White House access-control system pushed through in the final months of the Clinton administration.
The Bush administration's choice for Secret Service director is W. Ralph Basham, who, unlike previous directors, was not promoted from within. He had retired from the Secret Service in 1998 and became director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. In January 2002, he was named chief of staff for the new Transportation Security Administration before he was sworn in to head the Secret Service on 217 January.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 9. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
Inderjit Singh Reyat, one of three Sikh activists charged with first-degree murder in the destruction of an Air India Boeing 747 in the mid-1980s, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter and of aiding in the construction of a bomb at British Columbia's Supreme Court, in Vancouver.
The Air India Flight 182, from Montreal to New Delhi, exploded over the Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland on 23 June 1985, killing 329 passengers and crew. The incident was the deadliest act of aviation sabotage prior to the 11 September 2001 New York and Washington attacks and is the worse case of mass murder in Canadian legal history.
In an "agreed statement of facts" submitted to Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Brenner, the court accepted that in May and June 1985, in the province of British Columbia, Mr. Reyat, an automotive electrician with Canadian citizenship: "...acquired various materials for the purpose of aiding others in the making of the explosive devices. Mr. Reyat was told and believed that the explosive devices would be transported to India to blow up property, such as a car, a bridge or something heavy. Although Mr. Reyat acquired materials for this purpose, he did not make or arm an explosive device on an airplane, nor does he know who did or did not do so. At no time did Mr. Reyat intend by his actions to cause death to any person or believe that such consequences were likely to occur. However, unbeknownst to Mr. Reyat, the items he acquired were used by other person or persons to help make an explosive device..." which destroyed the Air India plane.
Chief Justice Brenner, sentencing Reyat to what he described as a "fit and proper" five-year prison term -- with the possibility of parole within 18 months -- accepted the defendant's claim, suggested in the statement of facts, that he was unaware of the consequences of his actions, which Justice Brenner described as "tragic almost beyond description."
Mr. Reyat's co-accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, and Vancouver multi-millionaire businessman, Ripudaman Singh Malik, are due to appear in court on 31 March on first-degree murder charges, the final drama in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigation which cost $32 million. The Crown Attorney, Robert Wright, will tell the Supreme Court that the bombing of the Boeing 747 was carried out in revenge for the storming of the Golden Temple in the Punjab in 1984, and the damage caused to one of the holiest shrines by the Indian Army. The prosecution will introduce more than 2,000 pieces of evidence and intends to call more than 1,000 witnesses for the trial which was expected to last at least two years. However, it may now be less time consuming following Mr. Reyat's unexpected manslaughter plea, despite the fact that he's not expected to be subpoenaed, since the Supreme Court has already accepted that he does not know "who did or did not" build the bomb and placed it on the plane. Giving evidence against Bagri and Malik was not part of the deal, according to Reyat's lawyer, David Gibbons, who stated "just the opposite is true. I was careful not to come to that arrangement."
While the trial will focus on the destruction of Flight 182, some information is likely to emerge about an explosion at Narita Airport, in Japan, which occurred on the same day as the Air India crash, and which killed two baggage handlers while luggage was being unloaded from a Canadair flight from Vancouver to Tokyo. Mr. Reyat has already served ten years after pleading guilty to manslaughter in relation to that attack.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 10. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
Released 14 March, 2003
An all-party committee of MPs, referred to by colleagues in the House of Commons as the "Internet group", has rejected a Home Office proposal requiring telecom and ISP companies to retain customer records for long periods to facilitate the fight against serious crime and terrorism. The Home Office wanted the data -- usually retained for billing purposes by the private sector -- to be made available on request to the police and intelligence agencies. However, the MPs concluded that the proposal -- already rejected by the government-appointed, privacy "watchdog", the information commissioner, and the major players in the communications industry -- was "unworkable and probably illegal", adding," fundamentally, we do not believe that it is practical to retain all communications data on the off-chance that it might be useful one day."
In the latest annual report on the interception of communications for 2001 -- covering the period following the 11 September 2001 WTC and Pentagon attacks -- the interception commissioner, a senior judge acting under the 1985 Interception of Communications Act, and responsible for the retrospective review of monitoring communications surveillance, the number of warrants issued to the police forces in England and Wales, and MI5, allowing the interception of telephone calls, email and post, had fallen from 1,900 to 1,445. However, the London-based, civil-liberties magazine, "Statewatch", in a report published at the end of January, claims that the official figures are inaccurate, and that warrants have risen from 1,734 in 1999 to 3,427 in 2001. According to the editor, Tony Bunyan, the "new method of issuing warrants and changes to them (...) makes life easier for officials, but at the same time it hides from public view the true extent of surveillance."
Changes in the method of counting warrants since Labour came to power, according to Statewatch, do not take into account modifications such as the target's change of address or telephone number, and this means that the actual total of intercepts is "much, much greater" than the official figures -- which also do not include warrants issued by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (PSNI and MI5) and those issued by the Foreign Secretary (MI6 and GCHQ).
If intercept warrants are up, logging crime convictions are down, according to a leaked Home Office report obtained by the BBC, which reveals that police forces in England and Wales are taking longer to update criminal records on the National Police Computer (NPC) than they are required to. New convictions are supposed to be added to the NPC database within seven days, but the average among the 42 metropolitan and regional forces is 70 days. In the Cleveland Police Force, 90 percent of the data took an average of 419 days to enter, while the London Met figure was 248 days.
The Palmer Press subscribes to Intelligence, a world-wide bi-weekly commercial data bank serving researchers and the intelligence community. This article is indexed by Intelligence at N. 417, 24 February 2003, p. 13. Visit the INTELLIGENCE website.
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