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U.K. GOVERNMENT INTELLIGENCE

NATURE, COLLECTION, ASSESSMENT AND USE

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Secret intelligence is information acquired against the wishes and (generally) without the knowledge of the originators or possessors. Sources are kept secret from readers, as are the many different techniques used. Intelligence provides privileged insights not usually available openly. qqIntelligence, when collected, may by its nature be fragmentary or incomplete. It needs to be analysed in order to identify significant facts, and then evaluated in respect of the reliability of the source and the credibility of the information in order to allow a judgement to be made about the weight to be given to it before circulation either as single source reports or collated and integrated with other material as assessments.

SIS and GCHQ evaluate and circulate mainly single source intelligence. The Security Service also circulates single source intelligence although its primary product is assessed intelligence. Defence Intelligence produces mainly assessed reports on an all-source basis. The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre produces assessments both on short-term terrorist threats and on longer term trends relating to terrorism.

Assessment should put intelligence into a sensible real-world context and identify elements that can inform policy-making. Evaluation, analysis and assessment thus transform the raw material of intelligence so that it can be assimilated in the same way as other information provided to decision-makers at all levels of Government.

Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessments, the collective product of the UK intelligence community, are primarily intelligence-based but also include relevant information from other sources. They are not policy documents. JIC products are circulated to No. 10, Ministers and senior policy makers.

There are limitations, some inherent and some practical, on the scope of intelligence, which have to be recognised by its ultimate recipients if it is to be used wisely. The most important limitation is incompleteness. Much ingenuity and effort is spent on making secret information difficult to acquire and hard to analyse. Although the intelligence process may overcome such barriers, intelligence seldom acquires the full story. Even after analysis it may still be, at best, inferential.

Readers of intelligence need to bear these points in mind. They also need to mrecognise their own part in providing context. A picture that is drawn solely from secret intelligence will almost certainly be a more uncertain picture than one that incorporates other sources of information. Those undertaking assessments whether formally in a written piece or within their own minds when reading individual reports, need to put the intelligence in the context of wider knowledge available. That is why JIC assessments are “all source” assessments, drawing on both secret and overt sources of information. Those undertaking assessments also need to review past judgements and historic evidence. They need to try to understand, drawing on all the sources at their disposal, the motivations and thinking of the intelligence targets.

Where information is sparse or of questionable reliability readers or those undertaking assessments need to avoid falling into the trap of placing undue weight on that information and the need to be aware of the potential risk of being misled by deception or by sources intending to influence more than to inform. In addition readers and those undertaking assessments need to be careful not to give undue weight automatically to intelligence that reinforces earlier judgements or that conforms to others’ expectations.

If the intelligence machinery is to be optimally productive, readers should feedback their own comments on intelligence reports to the producers. In the case of human intelligence in particular, this is a crucial part of the evaluation process to which all sources continually need to be and are subjected.

 

THE UNITED KINGDOM INTELLIGENCE MACHINERY

 

The central intelligence machinery based in the Cabinet Office;

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), often called MI6;

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ);

The Security Service, often called MI5;

Defence Intelligence (DI), part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD); and

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).

Other parts of Government also contribute to intelligence collection and / or analysis and assessment.

The Agencies were not publicly acknowledged for much of their existence. The SIS and Security Service originated in 1909, while there has been an official codebreaker since the 16th century. Their low profile has led to the proliferation of many rumours, myths and false impressions about their work and roles. Since the late 1980s, however, all three of the Agencies have been publicly acknowledged. They are now more open and accountable than at any previous point in their histories.

 

THE AGENCIES

Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)

The principal function of SIS, often known as MI6, is the collection of secret foreign intelligence on issues concerning Britain’s vital interests in the fields of security, defence, and serious crime, foreign and economic policies.

The work of SIS is undertaken in accordance with requirements and priorities that are established by the Joint Intelligence Committee and approved by Ministers. SIS uses human and technical sources to meet these requirements, as well as liaison with a wide range of foreign intelligence and security services.

The role of SIS is governed by the Intelligence Services Act 1994, which placed SIS on a statutory basis for the first time. The Act formalised the Foreign Secretary’s responsibility for the work of SIS. It defined the functions of the Service and the responsibility of its Chief as well as establishing oversight arrangements. The Act directs SIS to obtain and provide information relating to the acts and intentions of persons overseas: qqThe principal function of SIS, often known as MI6, is the collection of secret foreign intelligence on issues concerning Britain’s vital interests in the fields of security, defence, and serious crime, foreign and economic policies.

The work of SIS is undertaken in accordance with requirements and priorities that are established by the Joint Intelligence Committee and approved by Ministers. SIS uses human and technical sources to meet these requirements, as well as liaison with a wide range of foreign intelligence and security services.

The role of SIS is governed by the Intelligence Services Act 1994, which placed SIS on a statutory basis for the first time. The Act formalised the Foreign Secretary’s responsibility for the work of SIS. It defined the functions of the Service and the responsibility of its Chief as well as establishing oversight arrangements. The Act directs SIS to obtain and provide information relating to the acts and intentions of persons overseas: in the fields of national security and with particular reference to the Government’s defence and foreign policies; in the interests of the economic well-being of the UK; and in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime.

The Foreign Secretary is answerable to Parliament for the work of SIS. qqSIS was established in 1909 as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau under the leadership of Naval Commander (later Captain Sir) Mansfield Cumming.

The Foreign Section was responsible for gathering intelligence overseas. It grew steadily and by 1920 had become a separate service increasingly referred to as SIS. Cumming signed himself ‘C’. His successors have done so ever since.

SIS is based at Vauxhall Cross in central London.

 

HM GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS HEADQUARTERS

GCHQ has two main missions: gathering intelligence through the interception of communications (known as Signals Intelligence, or SIGINT) and providing services and advice as the UK’s national technical authority for Information Assurance.

GCHQ’s SIGINT work provides intelligence in support of Government decision-making in the fields of national security, military operations and law enforcement. It provides essential intelligence in the battle against terrorism and also contributes to the prevention of serious crime.

Information Assurance helps to keep Government communication and information systems safe. It also helps those responsible for the UK’s critical national infrastructure (power, water, communications etc.), to keep their networks safe from interference and disruption. GCHQ works closely with the Security Service, other Government departments and industry to ensure that sensitive information in such systems is properly protected for the national good.

GCHQ was placed on a statutory basis by the Intelligence Services Act 1994. This Act and subsequent legislation defines the boundaries for GCHQ’s activities. Within these boundaries, the choice of what to intercept and report to qqGovernment departments and military commands is, as for SIS, based on requirements and priorities established by the Joint Intelligence Committee and approved by Ministers.

The Foreign Secretary is answerable to Parliament for the work of GCHQ.

GCHQ was established in 1919 as the Government Code and Cypher School and adopted its present name in 1946. Its successes during the Second World War, when its headquarters were at Bletchley Park, are now well known.

GCHQ has been based in Cheltenham since 1952.

 

THE SECURITY SERVICE

The Security Service, also known as MI5, is responsible for protecting the UK against covertly organised threats to national security. These include terrorism, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It also provides security advice to a range of other organisations.

Its role is defined by the Security Service Act 1989, which put the Service onto a statutory footing for the first time. The Act formalised the Home Secretary’s responsibility for the work of the Security Service, defines the Service’s functions and sets out the responsibilities of its Director General. In summary, the Service’s functions are:

To protect national security, and in particular protect against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the agents of foreign powers, and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means;

To safeguard the economic well-being of the UK against threats posed by the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands;

To act in support of police and other law enforcement agencies in the prevention and protection of serious crime.

To fulfil these functions, the Security Service:

Investigates threats by gathering, analysing and assessing intelligence;

Counters the sources of threats; advises Government and others on the nature of the threat, and on relevant protective security measures.

The Security Service was established in 1909 as the domestic arm of the Secret Service Bureau, under Army Captain (later Major General Sir) Vernon Kell, tasked with countering German espionage. It became formally known as the Security Service (and theoretically stopped being called MI5) in 1931. At the same time, it assumed wider responsibility for assessing threats to national security, which included communist and fascist subversion as well as espionage by hostile foreign powers. The Service’s role changed significantly with the rise of terrorism and the end of the Cold War. Most of its resources now go into counter-terrorist work. Since 1992 it has been the lead agency for national security work in Great Britain, and took on this role fully in Northern Ireland from 2007.

Although the Security Service works very closely with law enforcement organisations, its staff has no executive powers. Cases likely to result in prosecution are co-ordinated closely with other bodies such as the police, who take any necessary action in accordance with their own responsibilities. The Security Service is based at Thames House in central London.

 

DEFENCE INTELLIGENCE

DI is an essential element of the national intelligence machinery, but differs in a number of important ways from the Agencies. It is not a stand-alone organisation but is a constituent part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It brings together expertise from all three Armed Forces as well as civilian staff. It is funded from within the Defence budget.

DI conducts all-source intelligence analysis from both overt and covert sources. It provides intelligence assessments in support of policy-making, crisis management and the generation of military capability. These are used by the MOD, military commands and deployed forces, as well as other Government departments and to support the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

In addition to such assessments, DI collects intelligence in direct support of military operations, as well as in support of the operations of the Agencies. DI also provides a wide range of geospatial services, including mapping and charting, and a selection of intelligence-related training activities at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre.

DI was created in 1964 by the amalgamation of all three Armed Services’ intelligence staffs and the civilian Joint Intelligence Bureau.

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THE FIVE EYES AGREEMENT

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The Five Eyes agreement began as a ten-page 1943 UK-U.S. Communication Intelligence Agreement – BRUSA – that connected the signal intercept networks of the UK GCHQ and the US NSA at the beginning of the Cold War. The document was signed on 05 03 1946, by Cnl. Patrick Marr-Johnson for the UK’s London Signals Intelligence Board and Lt. General Hoyt Vandenberg for the US Army-Navy Communication Intelligence Board. The full text of the agreement was released to the public on 25 06 2010.

The Five Eyes term has its origins as a shorthand for a; United Kingdom-Australia-Canada-New Zealand-United States EYES ONLY classification level.

During the Cold War era. 1950s–1960s

Under the agreement, GCHQ and the NSA shared intelligence on the USSR, the People’s Republic of China, and several eastern European countries. The network was expanded in the 1960s into the Echelon collection and analysis network.

The treaty was extended to include Canada (1948), Australia (1956) and New Zealand (1956). In 1955, the agreement was updated to designate Canada, Australia and New Zealand as; UK/USA-collaborating Commonwealth countries. Other countries that joined as third parties were Norway (1952), Denmark (1954) and West Germany (1955).

The emergence of the several intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes can be revealed, as follows:

1970s

In Canada, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

1975

In the United States, the National Security Agency (NSA).

1976

In the UK, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

1977

In Australia, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD).

1980

In New Zealand, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

In 1999, the Australian government acknowledged that it does co-operate with counterpart signals intelligence organisations overseas under the UK/USA relationship.

The existence of the UK/USA Agreement, was not publicly revealed until 2005. The contents of the agreement were officially disclosed to the public on 25 06 2010. Four days later, the agreement was described in certain media as being one of the most important documents in the history of the Cold War.

Security

Although the UK/USA alliance is often associated with the ECHELON system, processed intelligence is reliant on multiple sources of information and the intelligence shared is not restricted to SIGINT. The following table provides an overview of the government agencies involved and their respective responsibilities within the Five Eyes community;

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Nation Signals Intelligence Defence Intelligence Security Intelligence HUMINT
 United Kingdom Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Defence Intelligence (DI) Security Service (MI5) Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)
 United States National Security Agency (NSA) Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
 Australia Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)
 Canada Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
 New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security (DDIS) New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS)

 

Global penetration – Global surveillance

Precise assignments are classified. Note. It is knowledge of open source, that each member of the UK/USA alliance takes lead responsibility for intelligence collection and analysis in different parts of the globe.

Five Eyes

The Five Eyes, abbreviated as FVEY, refers to an intelligence alliance comprising; The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UK/USA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in SIGINT.

United Kingdom

Europe, European Russia, Middle East, and Hong Kong.

Australia

Australia monitors South Asia and East Asia.

Canada

Canada’s geographical proximity to the Soviet Union provided considerable eavesdropping advantages during the Cold War. Canada continues to monitor the Russian and Chinese interior while managing intelligence assets in Latin America.

New Zealand

The Waihopai Valley Facility – base of the New Zealand branch of the ECHELON Program.

In addition to Southeast Asia, New Zealand is responsible for the western Pacific, and maintains listening posts in the South Island at Waihopai Valley, south-west of Blenheim, and on the North Island at Tangimoana.

United States

The US is focused on the Middle East, China, and Russia, in addition to the Caribbean and Africa.

Nine Eyes, Fourteen Eyes, and third parties

The diagram above shows the relationship between the US NSA and second parties, which comprises the UK/USA community, and the third parties comprised of members of NATO, and other Western allies; NSA and second parties – Extensive mutual sharing of signals intelligence NSA and third parties – Signals intelligence is funneled to the NSA in exchange for surveillance technology.

The Five Eyes community is part of an extensive alliance of Western countries sharing SIGINT with each other. These allied countries include NATO members, other European countries such as Sweden, and allies in the Pacific, in particular Singapore and South Korea.

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Addendum

US Intelligence Community Structure

 

 

 

U.K. GOVERNMENT INTELLIGENCE

INFORMATION

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Room No. 15

Secret Intelligence Service

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Adversitate. Custodi. Per Verum

 

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Above Photograph : RAF Menwith Hill, during winter months

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