Listening In to Killings – and Everything Else

It was intriguing that the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 was apparently recorded in some fashion. The BBC reported that “A Turkish security source has confirmed to BBC Arabic the existence of an audio and a video recording. What is not clear is if anyone other than Turkish officials has seen or heard them. One source is cited by the Washington Post saying men can be heard beating Mr Khashoggi; it adds that the recordings show he was killed and dismembered.”

It seemed pretty much an open-and-shut case. There was evidence that the despotic regime of Saudi monarchy, as always regarding themselves as being above decency, law and civilisation in general, had been so annoyed with a Saudi journalist that they killed him. It was an amateur operation, and Mossad (for example) would have done a better and more discreet job (although their assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai was a bit botched), but it achieved the Saudis’ objective and sent the message round the world that any of their nationals daring to speak out against the Trump-supported boy dictator in Riyadh, the ruthless Mohammed bin Salman, would pay the ultimate price.

But then the story about a recording of the torture and killing of Jamal Khashoggi underwent modification. Perhaps there wasn’t a Turkish audio and video recording, after all. CNBC broadcast that “The Turkish newspaper Sabah reported that Khashoggi recorded audio of the alleged killing using an app on his Apple Watch and was able to upload the recording to his iPhone and iCloud account,” but the conclusion was that “It would have been nearly impossible for Khashoggi to record audio and upload it to his iPhone or the internet, and it raises questions as to how Turkish officials obtained the audio and video evidence of the alleged killing.”

It was apparent that the Turkish authorities were trying to disguise the fact that they had the Saudi consulate well and truly bugged, and saw and heard almost every hideous development in the course of Khashoggi’s torture, slaughter and dismemberment.

But there’s no sense in the Turks trying to deny that they are spying on everyone they can possibly spy on, be they friends, allies or enemies. After all, it’s done all around the world by some countries who try to maintain an international posture of moral ascendancy.

Britain is a prime example of that sort of humbug.

We should remember that in 2013 the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that “When diplomats travel to international summits, consultations and negotiations on behalf of governments, they generally tend to spend the night at high-end hotels. When they check-in, in addition to a comfortable room, they sometimes get a very unique form of room service that they did not order : a thorough monitoring by the British Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ in short . . . GCHQ has had a system to automatically monitor hotel bookings of at least 350 upscale hotels around the world in order to target, search and analyse reservations to detect diplomats and government officials.”

In order to spread instruction about the best means of eavesdropping on diplomats and other representatives of foreign governments, be they friendly, allied or otherwise, GCHQ prepared a briefing on its hotel monitoring and surveillance program, and in a splendid flight of whimsical grubbiness titled one of its Royal Concierge presentations “Tales from the Wild, Wild West of GCHQ Operational Datamining.”

Royal Concierge and countless other British and American clandestine programs aimed at supposedly allied countries were and continue to be part of a pattern of illegal and sometimes crassly disloyal spookery that might be thought to be out of control were it not for the fact that the US and British governments approve, direct and regulate every type and detail of surveillance — including (perhaps especially?) those that might have commercial connotations.

Europe’s Airbus, for example, has evidence of US industrial espionage. But as declared by the then Director of US National Intelligence, the liar, James R Clapper, “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”

That’s preposterous rubbish, because there are no rules in intelligence gathering.

The US National Security Agency spied on the Brazilian oil form Petrobras, the World Bank, and the European Commission’s antitrust office, among scores of other firms and agencies involved in commerce, trade and other international financial arrangements. Do the NSA and Britain’s legions of government-directed techno-dweebs really expect people to believe their silly denials? The NSA claims that when they intercept a juicy item, such as a contract bid that Airbus are putting in to counter and most probably beat a Boeing offer, then they aren’t going to inform Boeing. GCHQ is saying they expect us to believe that if they found out that Britain was bribing Saudi Arabia, as approved by Prime Minister Tony Blair, then of course they would take the moral stance and insist that this be exposed in spite of the fact that the “bottom line” of profit would then disappear.

Please stop laughing.

These US-UK immoral antics are not funny, and where money is concerned, the sky’s no limit and moral gutters have no depths. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t insist that they were entitled to saintly halos.

As reported by Fox News, on September 18 the Pentagon released an unclassified version of its future cybersecurity strategy, which noted that “Russia has used cyber-enabled information operations to influence our population and challenge our democratic processes,” and China “has sought to steal sensitive information from the American government and private sector institutions.” This was greeted by yawns and amusement, as it has been obvious for very many years that this is exactly what was being done by the US and Britain all round the world.

In 2014 NBC News revealed that official documents it had obtained “describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications.” The British have not denied this report. Well they couldn’t, because they’re up to their snooping ears in techno-thuggery.

The presentations covered details of cyber attacks and propaganda operations, and NBC noted that “JTRIG also uses ‘false flag’ operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries.”

It’s all very murky, and it makes the unprovable allegations about Russian “interference” in US elections look a trifle inconsequential.

Anyway, who needs to interfere in American elections from outside the country?


By Brian Cloughley
Source: Strategic Culture


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