Thatcher was warned about CIA activities in Britain, files show

Margaret ThatcherBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was warned in 1984 that American intelligence carried out operations in the United Kingdom without London’s consent. Although she dismissed the warnings, she authorized British counterintelligence to investigate the matter. A secret file from the British Foreign Office, which was declassified last month, shows that concerns about alleged American spy activity in the UK were communicated to the Tory Prime Minister by Paddy Ashdown —now Lord Ashdown— a Member of Parliament for Britain’s Liberal Party. In November of 1984, Ashdown notified Thatcher that he was concerned about a series of “clandestine activities” carried out by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aimed at preventing communist countries from acquiring advanced computer technology developed by companies based in Britain. The written warning stated that CIA operatives had made “clandestine approaches” targetting individuals employed by leading British computer firms, inquiring about technology transfers to the Soviet Bloc. Ashdown added that the American intelligence agency had failed to provide the British government with advance notice of these activities, as was customary between the two allies. In his letter to Thatcher, the Liberal Party MP concluded that, based on his personal investigation into the matter, he was convinced the CIA operation was “still continuing”. The Prime Minister responded to Ashdown with an official letter explaining that there was “no evidence of improper activity by the CIA” or that British espionage laws had been violated by American intelligence personnel. She added that there was “close cooperation” between London and Washington on enforcing multilaterally agreed export controls, which included computer technology, and concluded that saw no need for an inquiry at that time. But London-based newspaper The Guardian, which accessed the declassified files on the case, said that Whitehall ordered the Foreign Office to investigate Ashdown’s allegations. The Foreign Office then tasked the Security Service (MI5) to find out whether the US had broken an agreement between the two countries to refrain from clandestine operations on each other’s territory unless the latter were authorized by both nations. Read more of this post

About these ads

Soviets used civilian airliners to gather intelligence, documents show

Soviet Aeroflot airlinerBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Soviet spy agencies routinely used civilian airplanes to collect aerial intelligence over Western military installations, according to newly declassified documents. The revelation is contained in British government files from 1982 that were declassified on Friday, following the expiration of the United Kingdom’s 30-year classification rule. According to Bloomberg’s Robet Hutton and Thomas Penny, who accessed the files, they include a detailed memorandum addressed to Conservative Party politician Margaret Thatcher, who was serving as Britain’s Prime Minister at the time. The memorandum, which was authored by then Secretary of State for Defence, John Nott, informed Mrs. Thatcher that the airborne behavior of airliners belonging to Aeroflot, the Soviet Union’s state-owned civilian air carrier, appeared suspicious. Secretary Nott wrote in the memo that Britain’s Royal Air Force had “established that some [Soviet] aircraft deviated from their flight-plan routes” when flying over Western military bases. He goes on to describe an “incident of particular interest”, in which an Aeroflot Ilyushin IL62 airplane descended without authorization from 35,000 feet to 10,000 feet right above the village of Boulmer. Located in Northumberland, England, Boulmer is adjacent to a Royal Air Force base, which at the time featured a newly modernized radar system. The same Aeroflot airplane behaved in similar fashion while flying over a United States Navy base in Groton, Connecticut, which at the time hosted the first US submarine equipped with Trident Ballistic Missiles. The memorandum states that the circumstances surrounding the flight patterns of Aeroflot airliners had led the Royal Air Force to assume that the Soviet airplanes “were gathering intelligence” on Western military targets. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #660

Margaret ThatcherBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Taiwan President accused of spying on political opponents. Taiwan’s opposition challenger for the presidency, Tsai Ing-wen, has accused intelligence services under the control of incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of tracking her campaign events for political advantage. The allegations – unproven and denied by Ma – conjure up memories of Taiwan’s one-party past when Ma’s party, the Nationalists, used their total control of the state apparatus to persecute opponents.
►►Analysis: Has Israeli-Australian spy relationship been restored? Intelligence sharing between Israel and Australia was halted this time last year, when a Mossad hit squad with forged Australian passports assassinated senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in in Dubai. But Australian newspaper The Age reports that “the flow of top secret intelligence between the two countries has now been restored”, in a move apparently initiated by the Australian side.
►►Thatcher threatened to ban BBC program on MI5 and MI6. The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher threatened to “veto” a BBC investigative program about British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, because it would reveal details about how they operated and question their public accountability. In a letter marked “top secret and personal”, cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong, recommended that Margaret Thatcher consider invoking the rarely used power, saying that “the government has the power to ban any program”. Thatcher wrote on the note: “I would be prepared to use the veto”.

Secret UK envoy convinced Iran Shah to stay away in 1979

Sir Denis Wright

Sir Denis Wright

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The British government sent a former diplomat, disguised as an old friend of the Iranian Shah, to convince the deposed monarch to stay away from the UK, after he was forced to abandon Iran in 1979. The information has been made available in a series of official government documents recently declassified by Britain’s Foreign Office. Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the US-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, abandoned his throne and ended up in the Bahamas, a former British colony which had gained its independence in 1973. But Britain’s Labour government feared that the deposed monarch aimed to live in England, something that Prime Minister James Callaghan considered a potentially damaging decision by “an immensely controversial figure in Iran”. Read more of this post

Thatcher’s son was informant for South African spy service

Sir Mark Thathcer

Sir Mark Thathcer

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The son of Britain’s former Prime Minister, Margaret (now Baroness) Thatcher, has admitted turning informer to a South African intelligence agency, in connection to a coup plot in central-west Africa which he was accused of having helped finance. In 2004, Sir Mark Thatcher was arrested by members of an elite anticorruption squad in South Africa, for his alleged role in a failed coup against Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longtime dictator of energy-rich Equatorial Guinea. Several South African and European mercenaries, including Simon Mann, a British former Special Forces officer, and Nick du Toit, a South African arms dealer, were arrested in Zimbabwe during the planning stages of the failed coup. It soon became understood that the plotters wanted to replace Obiang with exiled opposition leader Severo Moto Nsa, probably in return for access to lucrative oil contracts. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0135

  • More revelations in “unprecedented” book on MI5 history. More revelations in Christopher Andrew’s In Defense of the Realm include the disclosure that Margaret Thatcher tried to get MI5 to spy on British trade union activists when she was Prime Minister (MI5 refused). Meanwhile, Professor Andrew has begun serializing selected chapters of the book in The London Times, here and here.
  • Court lets Canadian spies snoop on targets overseas. A court ruling has permitted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Communications Security Establishment to eavesdrop on Canadian nationals traveling overseas. Until now, the two agencies could spy on Canadians so long as they were within the country’s borders.
  • CIA endorses cloud computing. The CIA is emerging as one of the US government’s strongest advocates of cloud computing, even though “cloud computing as a term really didn’t hit our vocabulary until a year ago”, according to Jill Tummler Singer, the CIA’s deputy Chief Intelligence Officer. This article, however, fails to mention that the NSA is also moving to cloud computing in a big way.

Bookmark and Share

Cambridge spy ring member’s memoir reveals motives behind actions

Anthony Blunt

Anthony Blunt

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The British Library kept its promise and released yesterday the closely guarded, incomplete autobiographical manuscript of Anthony Blunt, fourth member of the Cambridge spy ring. The group of British spies, which worked secretly for the Soviet Union from the 1930s until the 1960s, included Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and H.A.R. “Kim” Philby, all of whom eventually defected to the Soviet Union. In his 30,000-word memoir, Blunt, an art history professor who in 1945 became Surveyor of the King’s Pictures and was knighted in 1954, describes his recruitment to spy for the Soviets as “the most important decision of my life”. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 712 other followers