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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Menwith Hill
    being expanded to support real time U S military actions including drone attacks and those carried out by special operations forces What goes on inside the Menwith station is impossible to know for sure However according to a 2001 European Parliament report it is part of a surveillance network called ECHELON situated to intercept communications routed over the Indian and Atlantic oceans Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham who worked at Menwith Hill 20 years ago told CBS it monitored Russian and Chinese communications but on one occasion spied on U S Sen Strom Thurmond And the Federation of American Scientists has claimed it is capable of intercepting an astonishing two million communications an hour If these reported capabilities are correct it seems highly plausible that the base s satellites are today intercepting at least some communications from the Middle East which could help how the CIA picks its targets for drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan Yemen and Somalia It s also plausible that any intercepts gathered at Menwith play a crucial not just contributory role In April the Washington Post revealed that the White House had approved drone strikes in Yemen based solely on intelligence signatures These are defined according to the Post as patterns of behavior indicative of a plot against U S interests detected through signals intercepts human sources and aerial surveillance This brand of intelligence led warfare has already led Germany to limit information it shares with the United States The British government however does not take the same position and is contributing to the secrecy that surrounds drone operations Fabian Hamilton a member of the British Parliament asked the government earlier this month whether Menwith Hill plays a role in the planning and deployment of drones in Afghanistan Pakistan Yemen and Somalia The response

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/09/menwith-hill-drone-strikes-britain-secrecy.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Anniversary of Occupy
    of the population There are so many more people out there that need to get upset before a change is going to happen In England activists speak of the same frustration Occupy spread to London in October last year with a large encampment established outside St Paul s Cathedral near the city s stock exchange Small campsites eventually formed in a number of cities across Britain from Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland to Liverpool Manchester Birmingham and Sheffield in England But most of the camps were either evicted or slowly disbanded as the cold bite of winter set in and some protesters feel that they failed to agree on a coherent message across the different sites Even from London to the regions there was a huge difference in scope and aims says Daniel 34 an activist from Liverpool who spent time at Occupy protests in England and America I felt aspects I was experiencing at occupations abroad particularly in the US did not translate locally What we saw regionally was more a kind of nebulous protest and the camps ended up quite detached from the global movement Daniel says that he found Occupy in London to be quite brilliant and well organised An empty office block that was squatted by the activists in London s financial district and turned into a giant makeshift community centre called the Bank of Ideas also impressed him However in Liverpool he says groups including the Socialist Workers Party appeared intent on co opting while not overtly supporting the movement which was predictable and divisive And at some Occupy camps he visited the initial energy which had catalysed the movement became diluted Other protesters had similarly negative experiences of camps outside London In Birmingham activist Tom Holness said the camp had included people who believed in Jewish banking conspiracies and a member of the far right English Defence League which dissuaded new people from joining The Facebook pages were a mess of arguments and conspiracy theories and that put a lot of people off he says Yet despite its flaws Occupy as a movement is likely to persist in some form at least for the foreseeable future The issues driving it such as rising unemployment and a growing disparity between rich and poor have not been addressed And many activists though they are tired and frustrated are still intent on pushing for change In Spain the movement that preceded Occupy may offer a glimpse of what is to come Thousands took to the streets across the country last summer to protest against austerity measures corporate power and political corruption camping out in public squares and holding lengthy debates in a bid to find solutions to economic problems Calling themselves the Indignados the indignant they continue to organise demonstrations and political actions weary but energised by groups in other parts of the world It s been absolutely inspiring to see how some other movements have been out in the States and in London and everywhere says

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/09/occupy-wall-street-anniversary-indignados.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Bank of Ideas
    and we can create stuff we can do what we want we can have our say Today Green who plans to release an album called When Words Fail Music Speaks early next year has brought his friend and fellow musician Coffey to the Bank of Ideas for the first time A rising star on London s hip hop circuit under the name Agrow Coffey is impressed by what he has seen I m glad I came because I ve met some magnificent people he says I came here just to see what s going on I wanted to appreciate the vibes of people trying to make a positive change for the world rather than a negative change to pull us all down Outside the art workshop the rest of the office block is lively with activity A large group gathers near the kitchen for a discussion on squatting while up a flight of stairs in a calm room designated for meditation a green haired woman in her early 60s Corina Flamma shares an extraordinary story Born in Liberia she came to England in the 1950s as a child with her father who was then the West African nation s consul general to the UK Aged 20 she sang in an all girl pop group the Flamma Sherman Sisters who secured a publishing deal with the Beatles Apple Records in the late 1960s Earlier this year Flamma was made homeless after her North London flat was repossessed She now lives at the Bank of Ideas along with her daughter Zo on a mattress in a disused meeting room Occupy is an alternative socio economic provider complimenting the government she says It s providing housing it s providing food I see it as a vehicle to recycle wasted buildings wasted resources wasted people and wasted skills It s a very important principle that doesn t end with the loss of this building Before she came to the Bank of Ideas Flamma a qualified architect was sleeping on a friend s sofa I was not joyful she says But the blinkers are now off my eyes I see England in a totally new way I had given up with this country until I came to Occupy There are many in the building like Flamma who face difficult circumstances Yet despite this a sense of optimism prevails With an average of around eight workshops every day on a wide array of topics there are opportunities to learn discuss share and build This process has led the participants to feel they are part of a something positive and important a global protest community that has flourished in 2011 and continues to grow The fact is a tiny proportion of the population has this disproportionate control says Janos Abel a 74 year old retired engineer who frequently visits the Bank of Ideas to participate in discussion groups The 99 per cent has to wake up as to how they are so powerless And that s what

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/01/bank-of-ideas.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Inside the Spanish Revolution
    from a children s nursery and a library to a kitchen offering free food donated by local businesses In the space of a few days they had created separate working commissions to form proposals for change to current government policy A social and migration commission would look at immigration policy the health commission would focus on how to deprivatise health care services Other commissions were formed to handle politics education the economy and the environment Among the camp s immediate demands were calls for electoral reform the dissolution of the Spanish parliament s second chamber and an end to a much despised policy of salaries for life for politicians The movement itself has no single leader or figurehead all decisions are made by consensus at general assemblies held twice daily Hundreds sometimes thousands attend the meetings and no decision is taken until every single person is in agreement The meetings are long and laborious occasionally lasting more than four hours at a time but seem so far to have been successful The leadership is our assembly where the decisions are taken by consensus says Nadia Moreno 29 Many people think that this doesn t work the reality is we are where we are after six days because of this consensus Although the movement is driven by highly political young people between the ages of roughly 20 and 35 a large cross section of Spanish society appears to support the occupation of the square There is a festive atmosphere with families music and workshops of every kind imaginable taking place throughout the day Everyone who attends is encouraged to submit suggestions using ballot boxes to each of the commissions All of these are later scrutinised tabled and debated The organisers say that they think the huge success of the camp which has since spread to more than 60 other Spanish cities stems in part from what has taken place in Tunisia and Egypt Egypt and Tunisia was a very important catalyst for the movement in Spain says Beatriz Pérez a 29 year old spokeswoman for the movement who also acknowledges the influence of the recent UK student protests I think the people are in the street because they have hope that s the most important thing The feeling of hope is such that many at the camp believe it could be the start of a social and political revolution It is the first sign they say that the uprisings across the Arab world are about to spread across Europe Manuel Ferreira a 66 year old retired engineer says the scenes at Puerta del Sol remind him of the student protests in France during the summer of 1968 It s the same war against capital against power against politicians against the establishment and so on he explains It the Puerta del Sol protest is more significant because through Facebook and the internet this movement is worldwide I think I am living a new world order The start of the demonstrations coincided with

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2011/05/inside-spanish-revolution.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Drone Future
    ongoing role conducting drone attacks in conflict zones Last month it was revealed that British pilots had flown drones over Libya during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi contradicting previous government claims that the RAF had only flown them in Afghanistan This has raised questions about whether the Ministry of Defence MoD has been candid about the full extent of its involvement in drone strikes This is one of the most important ethical and legal questions of our time with regard to militarism and the armed forces how drones are changing the nature of warfare Cole says The problem is they are not being very transparent about the use of drones The public interest in this issue is so important but the data about how drones are being used is not being disclosed by the MoD Pressure on the government to release information about how it uses drones in warzones is likely to heighten in the months ahead Pilots of a fleet of ten Reaper drones that the RAF uses to conduct attacks in Afghanistan are to be relocated to England for the first time later this year The pilots currently based in Nevada will relocate to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire where they will pilot the drones using joystick like controls from behind large monitor screens Already anti war activists have held demonstrations at the base to protest 74 year old veteran campaigner Helen John has set up a pre emptive peace camp vowing to stay indefinitely in total defiance over what she calls murder by remote control Having lived through WWII I witnessed the destruction of my grandmother s house cut in two by a V2 rocket John says I feel deeply ashamed that in the 21st century we are bringing in a new generation of murderous technology to blight the future Since 2007 the MoD s Reaper drones have fired more than 280 missiles and flown for 30 000 hours above Afghanistan the equivalent of having flown from London to Sydney over 500 times The government has been hesitant to release figures showing casualties inflicted by British drones However in December 2010 David Cameron said 124 insurgents had been killed in British drone strikes while in April 2011 it emerged that four Afghan civilians were killed and two others injured in an attack by an RAF drone in Afghanistan s Helmand province The MoD has accepted there is a wider debate to be had about issues around the deployment of drones It is also keen to distance itself from the style of drone attacks perpetrated by the United States which take place covertly in multiple countries outside established laws of war I wouldn t want you to confuse the way we operate drones with the way the Americans operate drones says Lex Oliver an MoD spokesman They use them for wholly different missions The UK s rules of engagement for using a drone are exactly the same as for using a manned aircraft They re still operated by a

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/08/drone-future.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Scandale (2).doc
    take drastic measures to clean their computers before they passed on the file to security experts to analyze What the experts believe they found was they said very advanced something out of the ordinary The scandale 2 doc file was a fake disguising a separate hidden file that was designed to download a Trojan that could secretly take screenshots intercept e mail record Skype chats and covertly capture data using a computer s microphone and webcam all while bypassing virus detection Christened a variety of names by researchers like Crisis and Morcut the spy tool would first detect which operating system the targeted computer was running before attempting to infect it with either a Mac or Windows version Once installed the Trojan tried to connect to an IP address that was traced to a U S hosting company Linode which provides virtual private servers that host files but help mask their origin Linode says using its servers for such purposes violate its terms of service and confirmed the IP address in question was no longer active The use of Linode was a clear attempt to make the Trojan hard to track according to Lysa Myers a malware researcher who analyzed it But there were a couple of clues The Trojan s code repeatedly referenced the acronym RCS alongside occasional mentions of the Italian name Guido This pointed straight to an Italian company called Hacking Team one of the leading providers of spyware style tools to governments and law enforcement agencies worldwide Hacking Team s flagship product is called Remote Control Systems a Trojan it describes as eavesdropping software which hides itself inside the target devices RCS can spy on Skype chats log keystrokes take webcam snapshots identical to the Trojan used to target the Moroccans It can also be tailored to infect a computer via opening a document file according to marketing materials and can monitor from a few and up to hundreds of thousands of targets Hacking Team did not respond to repeated requests by phone and email for comment Notably however during an interview last October the company s co founder David Vincenzetti told me that RCS had since 2004 been sold to approximately 50 clients in 30 countries on all five continents Most people today consider there to be seven continents Africa Antarctica Asia Australia Oceania Europe North America and South America but in parts of Europe it used to be taught that there were only five Africa America Asia Australia and Europe So while it s not possible to say for sure whether Moroccan authorities are using RCS it s certainly being deployed by countries in that region of the world by Vincenzetti s own admission The Moroccan case is not isolated and it s likely we ll hear more about such attacks in the future Last month a number of Bahraini activists were targeted with a Trojan tool purportedly designed by a British spy tech company Gamma Group which is one of Hacking Team s

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/08/scandale-2doc.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Surveillance Proof
    information His willingness to question the constitutionality of the secret letter at the time put him at odds with most major telecoms providers which have a poor track record when it comes to protecting customer privacy In 2005 and 2006 a number of companies were revealed to have handed over troves of customer data and opened up wiretaps to the National Security Agency sometimes without a warrant Today Merrill admits prospective funders of his latest project have expressed concerns that it could lead to a confrontation with powerful actors It s challenging to go up against some of the forces that are trying to open up all communications to wiretapping he says But he is trying to address this by showing that government and law enforcement agencies could themselves benefit from his technology Cybersecurity and privacy are part of the same problem but framed differently he believes Both could be addressed at once by ubiquitous encryption of communications and data transfer protecting user privacy while also helping prevent malicious hackers from stealing information Some establishment figures have already been won over by Merrill s argument The advisory board of his nonprofit research institute Calyx which is developing the technology includes a former NSA technical director and a former federal prosecutor who is also ex CIA Whether he can get the backing of current members of the U S law enforcement community though is another matter altogether Merrill s technology could be seen as creating extra barriers for law enforcement and the authorities would likely oppose it for that reason Existing U S wiretapping law called CALEA states that telecom providers shall not be responsible for decrypting communications if they don t possess the information necessary to decrypt But that may change under reforms proposed by the FBI which is actively

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/07/surveillance-proof.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Web of Deceit
    rendition continue to be felt In March Poland became the first EU country to indict one of its officials over CIA renditions with the country s prime minister promising an end to under the table deals It is alleged that a military garrison in the north east of the Poland was used as a CIA black site where terror suspects were interrogated and subjected to waterboarding a kind of torture that makes a person feel as if they are drowning Some details about the rendition programme like the names of the terror suspects involved are difficult to establish as they remain classified But more revelations may soon emerge as part of a major new academic effort to pull together all of the information that has so far been published about extraordinary rendition Launched by University of Kent academic Dr Ruth Blakeley in May the Rendition Project is studying reams of court documents and flight logs collating data about hundreds of victims of rendition and secret detention since 2001 It hopes to chronicle the 45 countries 6500 flights and 140 aircraft allegedly connected to the CIA renditions programme I don t think the world is very well informed about the types of things that governments in the US and UK do Blakeley says explaining her motivation for starting the project On both sides of the pond current governments don t really want to carry out investigations into rendition because their own records are not that squeaky clean either Prior to coming in to office in 2008 US president Barack Obama condemned many of his predecessor s more aggressive counter terror policies He barred waterboarding and signed an executive order entitled Ensuring Lawful Interrogations designed to increase oversight But he didn t outlaw extraordinary renditions Obama has also significantly heighted the use of unmanned military drones remotely controlled aircraft that are used to bomb suspected militants in places such as Pakistan and Yemen Some argue that to avoid using the costly and controversial rendition method Obama has favoured drone strikes killing rather than capturing It s expensive to detain people in prison Blakeley says A lot of people say drone attacks are Obama s preference because you just get rid of the people and you don t have all the messy stuff afterwards to deal with It avoids the public outcry around rendition London based human rights group Cage Prisoners founded by Birmingham born Moazzam Begg a former Guantánamo detainee believes rendition is still happening today but on a lesser scale The group which campaigns to raise awareness about individuals held extra judicially as part of the so called War on Terror argues public inquiries into extraordinary rendition are the only way to redress the abuses of international law that became commonplace after 2001 There s no way that we can adequately compensate those who had these things happen to them says Asim Qureshi executive director at Cage Prisoners In the grand scheme of things for those people inquiries mean nothing because

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2012/07/web-of-deceit.html (2016-02-16)
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