...from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
How seriously can this be taken I do not know. Medial allegations against security agencies are easy to make, and if they happen to be dignified with a denial, any such denial is ignored. After all, lying is what the journalists and spies do for living. The Daily Mail article, in its usual gasp-gasp style, therefore has to be taken with a grain of salt. Somehow I feel that “bugs”, if indeed any, in the mobile phone chargers were just red herrings, and the real bugs were, are possibly still are, in something more sophisticated, like an endangered insect.
“Security chiefs have thwarted an audacious attempt by Russian spies to steal information from the heart of Downing Street.
Mobile phone chargers and USB drives given to David Cameron’s staff as well as other foreign delegates at the G20 summit in Russia were ‘Trojan horses’ capable of sending data back to the Kremlin.”
The mythical Trojan horse, strictly speaking, was a Greek wooden horse, containing armed Greeks, and Odysseus inside was not wasting time sending any data to anybody. Instead, when Trojans dragged the horse in without checking its intestines, the Greeks killed them and raped their women. Of course, one does not expect a journalist, especially a British one, to know that.
“The devices contained bugs that could apparently capture valuable data from phones and computers.
Downing Street confirmed last night that intelligence advisers warned No 10 staff not to use the gadgets because they suspected a plot by Russian security services.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman denied that Mr Cameron was given one of the items, but senior sources confirmed that they were handed to his aides.
According to reports in the Italian press, the German secret services discovered that the gadgets, given to delegates at the meeting of world leaders in St Petersburg last month, were able to retrieve data for use by the Russian secret services.”
One would expect that by now MI6 managed to find amongst its politically correct, work place security conversant and by affirmative action feminised personnel someone capable of operating a screwdriver. Relying on the German technical prowess seems to be so gauche.
“The G20 conference took place in a climate of great diplomatic tension between Russia and the West. Only weeks before, the Kremlin had granted asylum to fugitive Edward Snowden, wanted for leaking security information about US surveillance to the Guardian.
At the same time, the US and France were at loggerheads with Russia over intervention in Syria.
The alarm was apparently first raised by EU President Herman Van Rompuy, who was suspicious of the Russians’ gifts. All participating governments were urged to ‘take every possible precaution’.”
If true, this would mean that M. Van Rompuy is not yet just another ugly dull bureaucratic face, but at least an occasional reader of spy stories. Or perhaps bugging in the high echelons of the European Union is so prevalent that he expects a bug in a handshake.
Mr Cameron’s spokesman said: ‘My understanding is that the Prime Minister didn’t receive a USB drive.’
But a senior Whitehall source said: ‘No one is naïve about gifts that are handed out like this. We’re not going to go around publicly accusing the Russians of spying but no one who was given one of these devices will have used it. ‘No 10 staff get routine security briefings before summits like this and are warned to be alive to attempts to access their phones.’
Downing Street staff are ordered not to take their personal mobile phones and iPhones on foreign trips. Instead, they are issued with specially encrypted BlackBerrys.
This paragraph seems to contradict the one immediately preceding. Perhaps No 10 staff routinely ignore their routine security briefings.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for a review of all spying programs after world leaders found out they were subject to NSA protocols.
I originally intended to edit out this, obviously throwaway, line but Feinstein name rang a bell. The eldest serving Senator (Democrat from California) exhibited abysmal ignorance of firearms shortly after the Sandy Hook murders, which would be hilarious if not for the fact that she is an United States law maker, and in fact the author of the Federal Assault Weapons Act 1994. She married, in turn, a lawyer, a neurosurgeon and an investment banker and her financial disclosure statement runs to 347 pages. In 2005 her net worth was estimated between $43 million and $99 million. All in all, she is your typical American lawgiver, a champion of downtrodden working class. No wonder she intends to emasculate NSA to protect her comrade-in-hypocrisy, Barrack Hussein Obama.
The plot was the most brazen by a foreign power since Chinese intelligence targeted Michael Jacobs, a climate change adviser to Gordon Brown, with a ‘honey trap’ during a trip to China in 2008.
A climate change adviser to be suborned? Obviously Chinese pull out no stops to destroy the UK economy and take nothing for granted.
After receiving the attentions of a glamorous female intelligence operative in a nightclub, Mr Jacobs realised he had lost his BlackBerry.
Is that all? What would have The Daily Mail made of our ex-Prime Minister, who lost his trousers in a nightclub in Memphis, Tennessee?
‘Early analysis showed the USB drive and mobile phone charging cables gifted by the Russians to be Trojan horses – instruments capable of capturing data from computers and mobile phones,’ sources told Corriere della Sera.
Russia’s spymasters have already benefited from global secrets pouring in from Western whistleblowers.
Over the past five years, material such as the WikiLeaks cache including 250,000 leaked embassy cables and nearly 500,000 Pentagon documents, and now the Snowden leaks, have exposed techniques used to keep the UK safe and put the lives of security services operatives and their families at risk.
Australia had some spy excitements in the past: the names Vladimir Petrov, Herbert Evatt, Valery Ivanov, David Combe spring to mind; and others whom would not be safe to mention. One day, maybe…