Friday, 16 November 2012

Common Purpose versus News International

The Daily Mail has published an in-depth report (the printed edition is several pages long) into the way that front organizations for a group called "Common Purpose" have been seeking, not just to impose statutory regulation on the Press in the UK, but also to ensure that their own people would be the regulators. They also created a "non-profit" organisation, the "Centre for Investigative Journalism" which they intend one day to be funded by a levy (tax) on newspapers. In effect, they are proposing that the State should conduct all necessary investigative journalism. Needless to say, the CIJ's first major outing, to produce a report under contract to the BBC's Newsnight programme, managed to create a completely false impression that a senior conservative politician, Lord McAlpine, was a paedophile. Not just libeling him, but also creating a smokescreen and a great deal of covering fire for some other political figures, against whom such an accusation would be a great deal more supportable.

The Daily Mail's report is here.

However good and thorough this report is, and the investigative parts of it are indeed good, the Mail insists in interpreting the assault by Common Purpose on News International, as if the accusations against News International and the rest of the Murdoch Empire were as spurious and unfounded as the smear against Lord McAlpine. Unfortunately, it isn't all unfounded, and indeed is sometimes an understatement of the truth. (Especially when News International has pulled a stunt which is too close to home for Common Purpose to be safely exposed...)

Medawar has published several articles about News International, and especially its Israeli sister company NDS, involving multi-billion pound fraud and possible murder. (Too many to link, just search this blog for NDS and it'll get you started.)

Other bloggers have documented, carefully and at great length, numerous links between the operations of News International, the murder of Daniel Morgan, intimidation and smearing of some senior officers who tried to investigate this, and repeated and outstandingly successful efforts to pervert the course of justice in this case. That in turn links to alleged corrupt activities by the former senior police officer, Ray Adams, which links in turn to the notorious gangster, bullion-thief, money-launderer and murderer, Kenneth Noye.

See the Brown Moses blog, here.
(You will need to go through the archives, because many articles are about Syria at the moment.)
And the "Daniel Morgan Murder" blog here.

Medawar does not write either of the two above blogs and does not know the people who do. (Some of the contributors to Brown Moses do seem to be closely connected to past investigations into the corruption surrounding the Daniel Morgan case, and have useful information.)

Furthermore, the Mail is a Johnny Come Lately with regard to investigating "Common Purpose" and here is a source of deeply-researched information, upon which the Mail seems to have drawn without acknowledgement.Common Purpose seeks a communitarian state, and seeks to bring this about by almost any means other than open statement of their aims and the democratic process, which makes them subversive in the strictest definition of the word. Here is Medawar's view of communitarianism, from 2009.

The best way to describe the battle between "Common Purpose" and all its spurious pressure groups, and News International, is not a battle between good and evil, but a battle between two competing evils with the same objective: control of all news investigated and reported in the United Kingdom and beyond. In one case by political scheming, rigged regulators, bogus pressure groups and Common Purpose members planted in official positions, in the other case by abuse of a multi-media monopoly, itself built often by illegal means, such as the hacking campaign to eliminate On Digital as a rival to News International's BSkyB broadcasting arm.

Not Michael and his angels fighting in the sky with Satan and his angels, but Al Capone taking on Bugs Malone in an underground garage.




Friday, 19 October 2012

Evidence That Ray Adams Recruited Hackers In the Nineties

This link is to an article revealing interesting information about the role of former Chief Superintendent Ray Adams in the recruitment of hackers (the actual job title!) for the Murdoch company, NDS, based in Israel.

Readers who have read the Brown Moses blog article, might then want to re-read this article, from Medawar's Cornflakes. And then perhaps this article, too.

It is worth noting that Saad Al Hilli, too, was an expert in many technical subjects, including the rather specialist field of encryption of satellite communications, which is the very discipline for which Mr Adams was so busy recruiting hackers for NDS in the late nineties. This link is to a recent Daily Mail article about the brutal murder of Mr Al Hilli, his wife and mother-in-law, and the attempted murder of his older daughter. (Not to mention the ordeal suffered by his younger daughter, who spent hours hiding under her mother's dead body.)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Bringing The Dirty Tricks Home From Moscow

Medawar has written this article on behalf of the blog owner at "Victims of Organized Crime in Central Texas", who is currently being harassed very intensely, in part to stop her telling her story in public, but mainly to prevent her making effective preparations for what may be a crucial court hearing in the middle of October. The court hearing is part of a long-running attempt by a property developer and attorney in Fredericksburg, Texas, to deprive the blog owner of her home. Some of those assisting and advising on the harassment, are former Secret Service agents who live in houses provided for them, on very generous terms, by the same property developer. They are breaking not only State and Federal laws, but also their oaths, and they are doing so in order to deny an innocent and law-abiding citizen precisely the thing they have been rewarded with for their connivance: a home. Throughout their careers, they were paid a reasonable salary and they now enjoy pensions secured by the taxpayer (those who made their living in the private sector seldom have a completely secure pension fund...) A heavily subsidised house is a thick layer of icing on the cake for those who were already set for a much more comfortable retirement than most Americans can expect.

Some of the harassment which "VOCCT" suffers from, will be familiar to almost anyone who's found themselves in the way of a crooked property developer: tailgating, "brighting" and other forms of aggressive driving directed at them every time they drive to work, try and run essential errands, or simply visit family and friends. Constant intrusion onto the property and daily vandalism, too, will be family to those whose property is coveted by a developer, or whose homes happen to overlook the preferred pitch of the local drugs pusher. It's just that there's very big money at stake for this developer (less so for VOCCT, who merely aspires to live a blameless life in her own home) and he has, over his whole adult life, accumulated contacts, henchmen and favours, which he and his sons are now cashing in to make this everyday harassment as intense as it possibly could be. And then there is the extra special thing, the enhanced harassment only available to a crook who has ex Secret Servicemen, FBI Agents and even Texas Rangers, in his pocket.

When Medawar first made contact with VOCCT, she and her adult daughter were most worried by the fact that people they met in Fredericksburg, would pointedly refer to things they had done in conditions of strict privacy, such as the bathroom, or quiet, private conversations they had had in their kitchen. They believed that not only were the people harassing them extensively bugging the house, but that illegal video surveillance had been embedded in the structure of the house -and that choice images and footage from this was being made available to their neighbours and staff at businesses they frequented. Some of the individuals who appeared to have seen bathroom footage were clearly inclined towards sexual predation as well as voyeurism, and this added real fear of sexual violence to humiliation and embarrassment. (Anyone who has studied methods by which the KGB and STASI used to harass dissidents, will recognize this trick. And they will recognize one or two more before this article is done.)

Medawar provided VOCCT with a straightforward RF detector (which cost about £89 at the time) intended mainly for locating bugs and hidden cameras. It is essentially a low gain receiver, and the gain can be turned even lower, so that it only normally responds when it is within a couple of feet of a radio frequency transmitter, such as a bug, wireless webcam, or a more professional video bug. By then turning the gain down, the source can be located to within inches. This device allowed VOCCT to provide Medawar with a set of architect's plans of her house, with little coloured dots to show RF sources all over the house. Not only were these very numerous, with several in each bath or shower room, but there was an absolute Babel of transmission modes, transmission bands and other characteristics, suggesting that several technological generations of illegal surveillance devices were present, and still active, all over the house and its outbuildings. There also turned out to be covertly-performed structural modifications in the loft and elsewhere, apparently intended to allow intruders access to the loft from the porch roof, and from the loft to other spaces between rooms and behind fixtures, all over the upper floor.

At the same time, it became apparent that a crawl space into the basement had been engineered to allow intruders free rein there, below the ground floor and its fixtures, blank spaces and piping runs, too. But the most pertinent point in this instance is this: in late 2010 and early 2011, it was possible to pick all of these point RF sources out from the background: they did not trigger the detector unless it was fairly close and the gain turned up.

In the past couple of months, VOCCT has complained of failing health as well as intensified harassment, at home and everywhere she goes to earn her living or run errands. She also discovered a discarded instruction leaflet for some high-power Radio-related equipment on her land.

Medawar advised her to see if she could use her detector to trace any new radio signal to a possible point of origin. At which point, VOCCT discovered that the radio frequency environment inside her house and indeed throughout the surrounding property, had changed from lots of discrete, locatable low to medium power point sources, to an all-pervasive, very high amplitude field of radio frequency signals, which didn't seem to decline in strength on any side of the house, or, indeed, on any side of the pasture associated with it. This is very unusual indeed.

There is a cellphone tower not far away, but this was already there and fully operational when VOCCT mapped out all of the point sources, now completely blanketed by the new signal field, and in any case, the signal strength from the tower would be strongest on the near side and much weaker immediately in the lee of what is a large stonebuilt house. (When it was possible to map individual signals, the cellphone tower signals were detectable mainly in the loft and roofspace.) Such an all-pervasive and strong RF field has been seen before, in the United States Embassy in Moscow, between 1965, when various American intelligence agencies and the Secret Service first discovered it, and 1976, when they finally allowed a fuss to be made about it, at which point it disappeared as mysteriously as it had started.

Because they had no idea what the signals in the Embassy were meant to accomplish, the CIA and the Secret Service (who had to be consulted about the Ambassador's safety) actually shared their findings with pretty well all US Intelligence agencies and several allied ones, because they wanted to know if the same thing was happening in other Embassies, and whether anyone knew what it was.

As far as Medawar knows, the Canadians, West Germans, French, Australian and British intelligence agencies were told about the basic problem. Medawar doesn't think that such strong signals were found at the British Embassy. At the time, this was housed in a rather majestic town house overlooking the Kremlin, so if the signals were caused by the Russians, as seemed probable, and were considered harmful, one would expect a building overlooking the Kremlin to be exempt. If, however, as the US Intelligence community told their own Embassy staff, the signals were merely there to activate physically harmless listening devices, there was no special reason for them to be absent from the British Embassy.

As well as Britain's overseas intelligence agency the SIS aka "MI6", the CIA's James Anderton consulted Peter Wright, an acknowledged radio expert working for the domestic security agency, MI5. This seems to have been a matter of expertise rather than jurisdiction. There appeared to be several radio beams, from shortwave to microwave, entering the US Embassy from a number of neighbouring properties in all directions, and all converging on a then-unique-in-Moscow IBM golfball typewriter in the Ambassador's outer office.

Supposedly, this allowed the Russians to read any document that was typed on the IBM machine, but Wright could have accomplished this without transmitting any signal at the typewriter. (Indeed, he had already read text typed at equivalent machines at the French Embassy in London during negotiations over Britain's entry to the Common Market). When operating, this typewriter had quite a distinctive electromagnetic signature of its own, and it was known to be in the US Ambassador's outer office. (The golfball spins and thumps: the ratio of spin to thump tells you the possible characters, and once you've got one word right, the whole message will fall into place.)

This made it an easy aiming point: KGB or GRU technicians setting up transmitters for the various shortwave and microwave beams in neighbouring buildings, could line their equipment up on the EM signature of the only Golfball typewriter in Moscow and know they were aimed at the Ambassador's office. And, indeed, the Ambassador's office, where all the beams converged, had by far the strongest field strength in the Embassy.

There were intelligence rumours that this was a sort of "mind control" project, and despite the obvious "tin foil hat" lunacy of this theory, it couldn't be discounted because there were several senior GRU and KGB officers known to sponsor research into tin foil hat projects. So much so, that any KGB scientist or technician wanting to do serious work, had to think of a supposed mind control application to get funds, and make his real project a spin-off from that. It didn't take many years for the CIA's own research-funding pattern to take the same form.

It was decided to tell the Embassy staff a cover story: that it was just attempted surveillance (which for all they knew in 1965, it might have been) and then observe everyone closely over a few years to see what happened, whilst the radio fields were constantly measured and monitored.

The Ambassador, Walter J. Stoessel Jr and his staff showed no signs of being mind-controlled, even after several years, but he and several of his secretarial staff and senior colleagues (the people who were in his office the most) became very ill: initially with blood disorders and then with lymphoma in the Ambassador's case and other cancers in the case of his senior members of staff.

Whether it was ever intended to "control minds" or not, the strong multi-frequency radio field in the Ambassador's office caused general malaise and nausea quite quickly, and more life-threatening conditions over time.

The radio frequency environment at VOCCT's house in Fredericksburg seems, at the time of writing, to closely resemble that in the US Ambassador's office in the Moscow Embassy between 1965 and 1976. There are radio beams converging on the house from adjacent properties on all sides (some of which are unoccupied) and this results in there being no part of the property which offers any refuge or even much alleviation from the very strong field that results where these beams all meet. However, the field seems to be strongest in VOCCT's bedroom and bathroom.

Without going into detail, (some of the information must wait for legal proceedings) the developer wants to obtain the house and its associated pasture, for development. He does not want to pay VOCCT any money for this, despite it being her lawful property from the settlement when the developer's son divorced her. The developer's contractors had a hand in building the house, in the eighties, which may explain why its structure is riddled with features helpful to intruders and voyeurs. The developer's son, a doctor, had advance knowledge of (and some influence over) the nearby hospital's long term expansion plans, and this may be why the house was built on a site which the hospital would eventually need. The divorce, and the inevitable award of the house to VOCCT as part of the settlement, must have thrown a spanner in the works of any long-term plan to profit from advance knowledge of the hospital's future.

The developer has gone to great lengths to cultivate, and indeed, house, mainly at his own expense, former Secret Servicemen, FBI Agents and Texas Rangers. The former are likely to have had secondhand knowledge of the radio beams in the Moscow Embassy just by being in the Secret Service at the time, and some of them may well even have been part of the investigation. Every agent concerned with the safety of serving and former presidents, would have been fully briefed on the radio beams and their dangers, even if the Embassy Staff weren't told.

The developer has provided subsidised housing to a group of people who would have known all the details of the radio beam harassment which Ambassador Walter J. Stoessel Jr. was subjected to, and, as if my magic, his ex daughter-in-law and grand-daughter, who have legal title to a property he'd like to develop, are being subjected to what looks like almost identical radio harassment.

As a parting thought: The breakdown of the relationship between the developer's son, and VOCCT, appears to date from the weekend of the 23rd to the 26th of April, 1999, when the developer's son appeared to travel a long way from home at very short notice and then lied about where he'd been, and attempted to create a false impression and record of precisely when he'd come back to Fredericksburg. That weekend will mean nothing to American law enforcement, but it should mean a great deal to Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell and other senior officers of the Metropolitan Police Service at Scotland Yard.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

What Kind of a YOU Am I?

In 1673, when William Kiffin (who was very wealthy, but also respected, not least by Bunyan, as a Christian gentleman) declined to discuss one of the controversies of the day with John Bunyan, "because of my low descent among men, stigmatising me for being a person of THAT rank, who needed not to be heeded or attended upon", John Bunyan made the following response:

What need you, before you have showed one syllable of a reasonable argument in opposition to what I assert, thus trample my person, my gifts and graces, have I any, so disdainfully under your feet? What kind of a YOU am I? And why is MY rank so mean, that the most gracious and godly amongst you may not duly and soberly consider of what I have said?

This isn't the first occasion on which Medawar has made reference to that particular protest of John Bunyan. To put it in a little bit of context: This statue is within a few minute's walk of where John Bunyan was tried, where he was imprisoned, and only a couple of minutes more walk from St John's Parish Church, where he was for a while a Pastor within the Church of England. He was, by 1673, a nationally recognised writer and preacher and by no means the lowliest person in post civil war society, though he was always humble. If Bunyan was treated with disdain by those who held wealth and power after a civil war in which thousands of common men had died for the rights of Parliament, and not, as it turned out, themselves, the difficulty of any genuinely common man making his voice heard through any means other than a riot, is obvious.

Which brings us to David Cameron, his ministers, friends and advisors, and the present day. It also brings us to the "Comment is Free" threads on The Guardian website. In short, the present day William Kiffins -and something much worse, which expresses hatred as carelessly as Kiffin expressed disdain.




Friday, 20 July 2012

Slavery, Unexplained Deaths and Unidentifiable Victims






This picture (Copyright Hertfordshire Constabulary via BBC News Website) is a forensic artist's reconstruction of a man whose body was found in Puttock Hill Woods, near Welwyn, Hertfordshire, on the 27th of March 1994. He was wearing blue overalls and had no identification, or meaningful personal effects, on him. He had died of heart disease, so his death didn't seem to be suspicious, and he had presumably been working with contractors who were doing some management and brush-clearance work on the woods. However, none of the contractors appeared to know who he was. (They simply cheerfully accepted that a stranger was willing to work alongside them, for no pay, until he dropped dead?)

Exhaustive inquires and television appeals by Hertfordshire Constabulary failed to identify this man, although they did have some success identifying the deceased in some other cold-case unexplained deaths.

In the light of the recent slavery case in Leighton Buzzard, and another similar one in Hampshire, where homeless, mentally-ill and mentally-handicapped men were abducted, held prisoner (sometimes for years) and forced to perform often back-breaking manual labour as their captors acted as construction site "groundworking contractors" as well as offering tarmacking and paving services to householders, not only in Beds, Bucks and Herts, but also, it appears in Skane and possibly other parts of Sweden, it's quite likely that the contractors who police spoke to, knew a lot more than they admitted to. However, since the man seemed to have suffered from nothing more than hard work, there was no particular reason, at the time, for police to be suspicious.

There is, now, a lot of reason to be suspicious, because apart from offences involved with servitude, not reporting a death and not ensuring the proper health and safety of a worker, the work regime and diet that we now know these slaves were subjected to, for very periods of time, coupled with denial of the freedom to seek medical care and advice, would give a slave with a normally treatable heart condition almost no chance of long-term survival. A jury might find that to be manslaughter, culpable homicide or even murder (if the denial of freedom and forced labour was so reckless of the man's well-being that any reasonable person would have expected it to lead to his death.) It would certainly be grounds to review whether judges should have life sentences available to them in servitude cases!

Men rescued from the Greenacres traveller's site by Bedfordshire Police, related that they had been threatened with violence and death if they attempted to escape, and that they were taunted by being told that the body of at least one former slave was buried in a nearby field. In that context, it's pretty obvious that a sick man would be taken somewhere where no-one would ask him reasonable questions with very awkward answers, and that a dead man might be buried, or left propped against a tree with no means of identification.

And since the police appeals to potential relatives were all about "a man working in outdoor trades" and this may well not have been what the victim was doing the last time his family heard about him, it's not totally surprising that the police television appeals drew a blank.

And a further body:




The skeletal remains of a man were found in Cardington lock a few years ago, following flood conditions on the river Great Ouse that required the lock gates to be opened at both ends to supplement the normal flood gates and spillway, which almost certainly mean that the body didn't actually start off where it was eventually found, and had been in the river, somewhere further upstream for months or years. (Pictures taken around the time of discovery, of side-channel just upstream of Penstock Weir and at Cardington Lock itself.) This man has never been identified, either, but the location is a mile or so downstream from a regular, if illegal, traveller's pitch in a riverside meadow near the Oasis Swimming Pool. A dead traveller is laid to rest with great ceremony and a great deal of emotion, quite possibly any forced labour travelling with them is treated with a good deal less gentle love and respect when they expire. Preventing a decent burial is a serious criminal offence in England, regardless of to what extent the accused contributed to the death.

NB: all navigation locks on the river Great Ouse have a steel visor gate on the upstream side and canal-type swing-gates on the downstream side. The latter are normally swung closed by any great flow of water, but provision is made for chaining them open during extreme flow conditions, allowing the visor gate to be raised and very high volumes of water to be discharged via the navigation channel. It is quite evident from the author's pictures what the chances are, of a sunken body staying where it was sunk once Cardington Lock has been opened to discharge water rather than for navigation purposes.


The final picture, above, shows that even the torrent coming through Cardington Lock was just a  small fraction of the total in the river at the time, this is the junction between the spillway channel to the right and the (normally idle) canoe slalom course, to the left, which doubles as an emergency flood relief channel. There are two further big discharge gates at "Cardington Sluice" and Penstock weir feeds water into a purpose-built flood relief channel, the "New Cut". A linking channel connects the top of the New Cut at Penstock, with the main river and navigation channel close to the meadows beside the Oasis pool. There's the force there to move a dead body a mile or two, not so much "over time" as quite suddenly in extreme flow and not at all in more normal conditions.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Servitude and Leighton Buzzard

The Greenacres Slavery case has reached a verdict on some of the charges, although the jury couldn't agree a verdict for a couple of dozen other charges, some of which will be retried. This means that Medawar isn't totally free to comment on every aspect of the case.

This link and this one give a pretty fair impression of the basic news and journalistic reaction, so far.

However, there are two aspects arising from the charges that have been dealt with, upon which it is permissible and necessary to comment. Both, really, a product of the fact that when Parliament passed the current servitude legislation, it didn't really know the gravity and extent of the practices it was attempting to outlaw. This is nobody's fault; it's a product of shining a light into a very dark hidden corner, that something much worse than expected may crawl out.

One of those convicted was given an eleven year sentence, out of what Medawar believes is an absolute maximum of fourteen years. Until the facts of the Leighton Buzzard case were examined in court, eleven to fourteen years must have seemed adequate or even harsh, because the laws were really introduced to prevent the sort of abuse of foreign workers which immigration authorities and the gangmaster licensing authority, knew about prior to 2010. That included unlawful detention, poor housing, excessive work, no pay, coercion and inadequate provision of food and minimal care and concern for safety. But it was envisaged that these unacceptable things were happening over a period of weeks or months.

One of the slaves who was freed by Bedfordshire police from the Greenacres Traveller's site, had been held there for fifteen years: more than the maximum sentence available to judges for punishing those holding him there. He was held in conditions unquestionably worse than those in any English jail, and subject to threats of violence and abuse of a kind which would be extraordinary in any context, even inside jail. This does not mean that the practice of abducting and keeping homeless and mentally-ill men as slaves started fifteen years before the police raid: there's some evidence that it had been going on for something more like thirty years. This takes us back pretty well exactly to the period when the Thatcher government repealed previous anti-slavery legislation, mainly in surrender to European pressure to get rid of any remaining English and Scottish laws still carrying the death penalty. As far as one can tell, and it's not a subject on which those directly responsible are ever likely to enlighten us, the practice of some Irish Traveller clans using homeless men as forced labour started immediately it ceased to be a potentially capital offence to do so.

In the light of severity and sheer duration of the cruelty inflicted via Greenacres, there needs to be an urgent modification to the sentences available to judges in forced servitude cases. Not necessarily to increase the amount of time actually served in jail, but in order to alter the legal basis on which they are released, having served it. And it does seem possible that if this is how bad it looks on what is only the third or fourth occasion a servitude case has come to court under the new laws, that we're going to see even worse, perhaps quite soon. Judges are going to have trouble responding properly to the very worst cases.

The solution is to make life sentences available. The crucial difference between a life sentence with an eleven year tariff, and an eleven year sentence, is that release from prison from a life sentence, is only ever done on licence. The licence can be revoked at any time and the offender recalled to prison if there appears to be any likelihood of a further offence. And release from a life sentence does not happen in the first place, if the offender appears to be unrepentant.

The second problem with the servitude laws as they stand is this:
More particularly in connection with another case, involving offenders with the same family name as those from Leighton Buzzard and tried in Luton, but officially unconnected and tried in Hampshire, evidence and testimony emerged of individuals abducted from the streets and dole queues and used as forced labour, were traded and sold between different individuals and between different branches of the same family living and working from different sites.

Men were trafficked and sold within England. There is also a body of authoritative and officially-published evidence that men seized for the purposes of forced labour in England, have been taken to and from the Skane region of Sweden.

The servitude laws do not really address the sale and trafficking of forced labourers, and this kind of trade is only vigorously pursued by the police and customs if it involves sexual offences and/or children.

This needs to change: trading in slaves was outlawed by Parliament a whole generation before keeping slaves was outlawed. Largely because it was in the trade and transport of slaves that the worst cruelty and abuse was perceived, by Georgian society, to be happening.

There need to be specific offences of trading in forced labour and profiting from servitude, because it's possible that those profiting most from the practice of forced labour, may be far removed from the day-to-day administration of it. As things stand, someone who puts up the capital or resources in kind for someone to set up in the forced labour trade, is going to be exceptionally difficult to prosecute, even though the offence simply would not be happening without their, distant, involvement.

It must be made more straightforward to prosecute those who provide the capital, sites vehicles and equipment for acts of servitude. It must also be possible, where appropriate, to prosecute those who award contracts to gangmasters or "subcontractors" using forced labour. And that prosecution must be a significant charge with a severe penalty, and not something that can be viewed as an administrative risk or expense.

The final issue is this: 
All the media reports and political debate uses terms like "virtual slavery" and "slavery-like conditions" to describe something which meets any reasonable, let alone dictionary, definition of slavery. It is fairly obvious that the sole reason for doing this, is that white journalists are afraid that the black community will take them to task for implying that there's any connection between what happened to white people at Greenacres and what happened to Afro-Caribbean communities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

There is a connection: it is the same thing. We need to use the same word, or we devalue the language, we mitigate the guilt of the modern slaver, and we betray all those who suffered in previous centuries, including those Cornishmen kidnapped as slaves by Barbary pirates and those from so many countries and cultures who was taken as slaves to Rome, by letting it happen again.

Taking men by a mixture of trickery and force, keeping them by pure force and threats of death, making them work the same way and maintaining this oppression and exploitation, year in, year out, is slavery pure and simple and to pretend otherwise, or demand some other weaseling form of words, is both dishonest and complicit.

Anyone who will not call a slave a slave, is ultimately making life easier for the slave-master.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Security Breach Waiting to Happen: Serving Officers as Consultants

Last week, Sam Hallam was acquitted by the Court of Appeal, after serving eight years in prison for a murder he couldn't have committed. Counsel for the Crown seems only to have read the full case files about halfway through the hearing, because that was the point where the Crown suddenly withdrew its opposition to the appeal without any public explanation. Interestingly, Mr Hallam uses his first major interview, with the Mail on Sunday, to express, not merely his indignation at the way he was treated by an inquiry team led by then-Chief-Inspector Michael Broster, but also his concern that the conduct of the now-Superintendent Broster in the Gareth Williams case may have fatally compromised what is now and always should have been, a murder inquiry. See several articles in this blog about the Williams case, below.

Mr Hallam rightly observes that the Gareth Williams case was "really important" and mistakes were unacceptable, let alone near duplicates of the kind of mistake which led to his own wrongful conviction and the escape from justice of the real killer. (Broster and his team ignored compelling evidence against one Tyrone Isaacs even as they ignored compelling evidence supporting Mr Hallam's claim to innocence.)

Above all, Broster failed to keep a  "policy book" which is a document designed to allow their superiors or any future inquiry team, or those working on a parallel case, to understand their reasons for taking specific actions, interpreting evidence in a particular way or why they should have pursued one line of inquiry whilst abandoning others. Without a policy book, other records reveal almost nothing about why an investigation went wrong. The only time anyone benefits from a policy book not being kept, is when the reason why an investigation went wrong is itself unacceptable: i.e: something more sinister than a mistake.

The action which, above all others, cries out for explanation, is why Broster's team actually gave back a stick that had been taken from Tyrone Isaacs as a potential murder weapon. It's simply impossible to see why an essentially valueless possession should be returned when it might still have yielded forensic evidence of value if subjected to the most modern techniques. It's almost as if Mr Isaacs had a kindly sponsor.

Medawar isn't going to draw the reader's attention to the ways in which all of this is an exact parallel with the ways in which Superintendent Broster and his SO15 colleagues systematically derailed the murder investigation in the Williams case, because they are quite obvious to anyone comparing the details of the two cases.

Medawar would like, instead, to draw the reader's attention to the ways in which Superintendent Broster's career trajectory parallels that of two former executives of "News Data Services", a News Corporation company which has been thoroughly implicated in a global hacking fraud designed to drive competitors to News Corp broadcasters, (On Digital, for example) out of business, causing News Corp to profit by billions of pounds and gain considerable global political power for its principals.

Superintendent (latterly "Commander") Ray Adams was the head of Scotland Yard's Criminal Intelligence Branch, SO11, and Reuven Hasak was a former deputy Chairman of the Shin Bet, Israel's security service. Like SO15, SO11 officers have a very high security clearance, which the unscrupulous can exploit to prevent other officers questioning or even knowing about, their activities, whether properly sanctioned or not. Especially not. The same goes for Shin Bet officers in general, let alone the deputy chairman.

In recent years, the high security clearance of SO11 and SO15 officers has led to their being given exclusive access to classified material, so that any senior investigating officer needing access to classified material, secure premises or military and intelligence personnel in order to solve a murder (or multi-billion pound fraud), have to channel all their requests via SO15 and simply accept whatever they are given or told, without question. Somewhere in the mind of successive Home Secretaries, this arrangement "serves national security". In practice, of course, it does the opposite:

Exclusive access to privileged information gives officers a very high market value. And being effectively beyond being questioned by their colleagues gives those officers the opportunity to exploit that market value for all it's worth.

Both Ray Adams and Reuven Hasak had top jobs at NDS within weeks of leaving public service, and it's simply impossible for them to have been up and running so quickly without overlap: they must have been briefed into their new roles, and had an idea of the (criminal, as it happens) large-scale enterprise they would be engaged in, even while between them they still had access to the most secret and sensitive files of both the UK's police and security services and those of Israel.

And since neither of them is exactly an ace programmer or experienced financier, what was it that made them ideal candidates for senior roles in News Corp's software arm, if it wasn't their security clearances and unfettered access to national secrets?

Now we learn that Superintendent Broster is due to leave the Metropolitan Police, later this year. But he is already advertising and presumably selling, his services as a "security consultant". This is precisely the same highly questionable overlap, which does not so much open the door to corruption as send hawkers round the streets, seeking out corruption and issuing invitations.

How in the world is this system more secure than simply allowing a senior investigating officer, whose investigation touches on military or intelligence matters, to go and talk to the relevant agencies and their officers on her or his own account? They would be in a much better position than SO15 or SO11 to judge what evidence was actually pertinent, and they would almost certainly occupy the attention of military and intelligence officers for less time in consequence. Not having a privileged "elite" position, their conduct could be scrutinised and any "mistakes" rectified. They could also benefit from the advice of peers and superiors in a way that "elite" officers never seem to.

Moreover, it wouldn't be possible for a foreign power or major criminal gang to predict which officers would end up having access to classified material, and when they did have access, it would indeed be limited to that pertinent to a single inquiry at a time. By reducing both the opportunity and the payoff for anyone corrupting an officer, in whatever way, national security -and the rule of law- would be strengthened.

Above all, allowing serving officers, with high security clearances, to enter private practice and advertise their services, is a suicidal practice in terms of national security and should be replaced with something like the quarantine period imposed on former ministers. Senior police officers have generous pensions, precisely to compensate them for all the opportunities for personal enrichment which they supposedly forgo in the public interest. So how come they need to be allowed to flaunt their security clearances on the internet and around City boardrooms -as if they were standing in a doorway in Soho with a set of  doorkeys in their hands and a look of bored acceptance, if not enticement, on their faces?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Stairway to Hell

The Westminster Coroner has given a narrative verdict in the unexplained death of Gareth Williams. This link is to the Daily Mail article; Medawar has had trouble finding a link to the original narrative itself, which would be far more useful, but this link, to the Guardian's report, contains more of the narrative and less speculation. Dr Wilcox did say, very clearly, that Gareth Williams was not gay, not a cross dresser, not actively interested in bondage, and that all the "leaks" (via News Corporation media in almost every case) to the effect that he was, may well have been an attempt to manipulate perceptions of the evidence. This vindicates Medawar's position on this from the earliest days of the investigation. Even if, by some strange quirk, this were not a murder, the crime of perverting the course of justice has still been committed, on a very large scale. But, as Dr Wilcox has determined, the overwhelming probability is that this was an unlawful killing, and where these involve the concealment or manipulation of evidence and deliberate non-reporting of the death, they generally are murders and not negligent manslaughters or culpable homicides.

The truth about his interest in women's fashions, so far as it matters, is that Gareth Williams was heterosexual and also admired women as objects of beauty, which can be how some gay men see them. He delighted, not in wearing women's clothes, but in putting beautiful clothes on the women he loved. He seemed to be taking steps to acquire the skills needed for fashion design, and this would have been a remarkably suitable creative hobby for him to adopt. Especially as his day job was so secret, and presumably quite stressful. A bit of recognition for his fashion ideas would have compensated for the necessary secrecy of his work, and would not have been a security risk in the slightest. It would certainly have been more rational and less risky than some of the recreational activities attributed to his erstwhile colleagues at MI6. (Such as racing sports cars through the Swinehead tunnel!)

The BBC reports last night were of the general disparaging tone that Dr Wilcox's narrative would allow "conspiracy theorists" to weave elaborate theories. We have a murder and manipulation of evidence and public perceptions of evidence. In such circumstances, it is completely irrational to believe in anything other than a conspiracy! However, care must be taken to avoid fastening on the obvious and slow-moving target of MI6, because the evidence and perceptions of it have indeed been manipulated, probably by an individual or small group with an eye to letting MI6 take all the flak. And it's always best to avoid elaborate conspiracy theories, because conspiracies that involve murder tend to be brutally simple when the truth is finally known.

Various articles below detail Medawar's view that the motives for the murder of Gareth Williams are most likely to be found in the late nineties, while he was a Phd student at Manchester and before he was recruited by GCHQ during further studies at Cambridge. GCHQ were by no means the first entity to recognise his skills: it is known that a News Corporation company, NDS, was recruiting hackers and computer-games experts from 1996 onwards, for what turned out to be completely illegal work. Articles below name two suspects, with the capability (and experience) to do all that Dr Wilcox suspects was probably done, including the manipulating of evidence and perceptions of evidence. For what follows, though, we'll leave their names where they are, because this is about how Gareth Williams could have been murdered, regardless of whether Medawar's suspicions about those two senior NDS employees are right or not.

Mr Williams' top floor flat in number 36 Alderney Street was not "highly secure", in that there were only fairly ordinary locks (the letting agent had a key) and no high technology entry system to log every visitor and keep strangers at bay. However, it was eminently defensible, and that is important, because it means that a surprise attack would have been necessary and there was probably only one circumstance tn which an unusually fit and agile occupant, such as Gareth Williams, could have been taken by surprise with any degree of certainty:

The front door to his top floor flat was actually on the floor below, opening onto a narrow staircase up to the main living area of the flat. This is defensible in the same way that many areas of Skipton Castle were designed to be defended: a strong man at the top of narrow stairs can hold off several men trying to get up the stairs. Even if the adversaries have firearms, it's still not a straightforward thing to get up such a flight of stairs if someone at the top is determined to resist. It's certainly not a thing which could be done without alerting every other resident of the building to a battle in progress! Chairs and tables would have been hurled down, the first face to poke its way round the top of the stairs would have collected Mr Williams' fist or his foot, on arrival. A kick in the head from a champion cross country cyclist ought to fell the toughest of men.

And although the door to those stairs could be fairly easily opened, it wouldn't be possible to force, unlock or pick-lock that door, and ascend the stairs, without a person in the living area of the flat knowing that someone was on their way up. The only place in that flat from where a covert entry could not be immediately detected and countered, would be the bathroom. Especially if the occupant was standing in the bath to have a shower. (There is a full height transparent shower screen at one end of the bath, rather than a separate shower cubicle.) The screen, and the bathroom door, would have partially shielded Mr Williams from any noises at his front door or on that flight of stairs, and if the shower was running, he would have heard nothing.

Timing an invasion to coincide with Gareth Williams taking a shower would probably have required a certain amount of stalking beforehand, but experienced men who knew what they needed to know and weren't too bothered about other things, could have done this without raising too many suspicions. Although, some lady friends of Mr Williams (there do seem to have been rather more of these than the smear campaign suggested) have reported that he claimed that he was being followed. Stalking to determine his habits would only have been sufficient to insert a couple of men into the building at the right sort of time. They would have needed confirmation that he was indeed using the shower, or taking a bath, before tackling the flat's front door and sneaking up the final flight of stairs into the living area of the flat.

This could have been provided by an external observer, who wouldn't necessarily have needed to be able to see in any of the windows. Line of sight to a boiler flue, bathroom extractor fan, or the bathroom waste water pipes, would have been enough. Especially if a Thermal Imaging camera or even just a laser thermometer were available. (These are not exactly James Bond devices and are widely available at modest cost.) Any steady flow of steamy air out of a bathroom vent, or warm water down a pipe, would have been proof of showering.) The Russian emigre who spotted Russian Embassy cars in the general vicinity reported one of them in a multi-storey car park directly behind Mr Williams' building, which sounds like an excellent vantage point for this kind of surveillance, against not only his flat, but quite a few others owned by MI6 as well.

The observer might have communicated by some means other than a mobile phone call or text message, to avoid leaving evidence. A cheap set of walkie-talkies (no licence required) and a couple of syllables would have been enough. The two men in the building would have opened the door, by whatever means (it's not impossible they could have copied the letting agency key) and quickly gone up the last flight of stairs. One would have concealed himself by the bathroom door, the other would have waited in a more visible position to occupy Mr Williams' attention when he emerged, in his bathrobe. (If the relevant pipes are inside the building, it's entirely possible that two men in the building could have managed without an external observer. Might the place where the pipes run also offer concealment while they waited?)

Any confrontation with a man unexpectedly in direct view when he came out of the shower, would have been swiftly terminated by one who hid, and some incapacitant applied. This could have been a Taser, but the dart-firing variety also distribute tiny little tags with the serial number of the cartridge on. A chemical incapacitant or a direct-contact electronic stun gun would be more likely. Mr Williams would have collapsed on the carpeted living area floor, rather than the tiled bathroom floor, pretty much where his discarded bathrobe was found. That space, and that forgiving surface, would have made it relatively easy to get him into the holdall he was found in, without damaging the bag.  Two men could have lifted the holdall with him in it, straight back into the bathroom. 

It is undetermined whether the holdall his body was found in, belonged to him or was brought to the scene by his killers. He did own a similar one if a different colour which he used to store items beneath his desk at the MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross, and some images taken inside his flat show another bag from the same maker on a sofa. If it was one of his own holdalls, the odds are there was something in it when his killers entered the flat, and this may account for the various items neatly laid out on the table and bed.

All this could have been accomplished within a few minutes. If there are any traces (or by-products) of chemical incapacitant left, the most likely places would be the carpet near the bathroom door, and the bathrobe. If a Taser was used, the little tags would most likely be in the same places.

Turning the heating on, in August, not only accelerated the decomposition of the body (which may or may not have been intentional) and would certainly have accelerated the evaporation and/or oxidisation of any chemical incapacitant.

Traces of GHB were found in the body, and if sprayed in the face, this would be an incapacitant. However, given the strength and fitness of the victim, something much more instant and decisive might have been used. High pressure spray cans (like MACE or Pepper Spray cans) of Fentanyl have been on the market in other EU countries, and have figured in some murder attempts and many more kidnaps, rapes and robberies. If planning to employ such a weapon, indoors, the two killers would have certainly worn some kind of mask to prevent inhaling the incapacitant themselves, and this would have helped minimise the amount of forensic evidence they left behind them, too. But were they ever to be found, the filters of any such masks would be a goldmine of forensic evidence, of many kinds.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Well Schooled in the Black Arts?


One of Ray Adams' colleagues at NDS, during the company's worldwide pay-TV hacking campaign (circa 1997 to 2002) was Reuven Hasak, former deputy chairman of the Israeli Security Service, the Shin Bet. (Mr Adams was head of criminal intelligence at the Metropolitan Police Service, which makes them close colleagues even before they took the Murdoch shilling, assuming that Mr Murdoch was not paying them anything while they were both on the public payroll, which does seem to be an assumption that Surrey Police at least are willing to question!)

See post below, about the possible links between the Gareth Williams murder and NDS. And this post, about how the killer may have planned to remove the body from the flat, once forensic evidence had been destroyed by decomposition.

There's apparently a law against publishing photographs of Israeli intelligence chiefs. So here's an oil painting, of the three founding directors of an Israeli security consultancy, including Reuvan Hasak, Medawar assumes that Mr Hasak is front centre, but would be interested if anyone is able to offer (possibly anonymous) correction.

Residents of Alderney Street, or friends and colleagues of Mr Gareth Williams, might want to scrutinize this magnificent group portrait and see if it jogs their memory at all.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Irene Silverman: Another Murder Victim in a Bag


There are two sides to the fact that the body of Gareth Williams was found in a large sports holdall, in the bath of his flat in Alderney Street in London. (Picture source: Daily Mail.)

There is a consensus that being placed in the bag was probably involved with the cause of death: slow suffocation either by CO2 buildup, or by the cramped position preventing Mr Williams from being able to breathe properly, which is like a crucifixion in reverse: the chest cannot move because of a compressed position rather than an extended one: the same slow death results.

However, it's also believed that the killer's plan was to leave the body in the holdall, in the bath, until it had decayed enough to obliterate any forensics inside the bag, the outside being easily washable. Then, of course, the body could have been removed in the bag without looking too much like a body. (If a body is not to look like a body, it really needs to be folded up before rigor mortis sets in, and that's obviously the case if the body is folded into the foetal position before death.) The flat heating was turned on, despite warm weather, to accelerate the composting of evidence.

There is a precedent for this: a wealthy former ballerina, Irene Silverman, had converted her multi-storey townhouse in New York City into a residential hotel, where tenants would rent rooms, usually for an extended period. The fraudster and murderess, Sante Kimes and her son, Kenneth, moved in, with the intent of defrauding Ms Silverman of the entire property and anything else of value that she might have had. (They had committed similar crimes in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and possibly Louisiana, too.)

This article contains the gist of Kenneth Kimes' description of how he and his mother bashed and strangled Ms Silverman to death, wrapped her in several plastic rubbish bags, and then placed her in a large duffle bag. It omits a telling detail, reported in the TV Documentary "Couples who Kill" that Kenneth Kimes then used a two-wheel sack trolley to get Ms Silverman down to the lobby of a quite tall building, and along the pavement to his car, under the gaze of several other residents and passers-by, without any of them noticing anything odd.

The main difference between Ms Silverman's murder and that of Mr Williams, was that in his case the holdall was of a rubberised material rather than heavy canvas, and therefore there was no need for plastic bags to contain odours and body fluids. The handles of a sports holdall would also make it easier for two men to share the load than would be the case with a duffle bag, especially as the body was was going to have to be lifted out of the bath.

It is probable that if the alarm had not been raised about Mr Williams when it was, his already meticulously clean flat would not have contained a body, and with all remaining forensic traces confined to the bath, the final stage of the cleanup would have taken a few minutes and a few squirts of "Flash" or "Mr Muscle." A sack trolley might have left a pressed track over the carpet, but so would the shoes of men carrying him. Probably, a small cordless vacuum cleaner would have been used to suck the carpet back into pristine shape by whoever was last out of the door.

The ultimate aim must have been to leave the flat looking as if Mr Williams had simply left without any clues, because otherwise it's very strange to remove all forensic clues- -except a dead body in a large holdall! As one of the least scrupulous defence attorneys in Texas has boasted in his cups, it's so much easier to successfully defend a client who manages to make the victim's body disappear!

The thing is, with decay inside and the outside washable, the holdall effectively became a sealed and removable crime scene in a bag.

It is also true that sewing a victim into a canvas bag, to slowly suffocate, was a means of exemplary execution for dissenting Nazi party members. And this may have informed the murderer about the refinement of using the holdall as the murder weapon as well as a forensically hygienic means of body removal. The modus operandi in the Williams case is an intriguing combination of Kenneth Kimes and Adolf Hitler.

PS: if the cleanup operation missed any forensic evidence, anywhere, then the gap between the toilet pedestal and the bath would be it.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Money, Global Power and Gareth Williams


After a preliminary hearing by the Westminster Coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, to prepare for this month's inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, a mathematician and GCHQ technician on secondment to MI6, Counsel for the Williams family said that they feared he had been murdered by someone "schooled in the black arts", possibly MI6 or some other intelligence service.

It's beyond question that not only was the scene of death systematically cleaned of evidence, possibly over a period of days, but also that the subsequent police investigation, and those of any newspapers showing a non-prurient interest, was systematically and very persistently subverted amidst a barrage of smears about the deceased and his supposed lifestyle. The smears were not trivial things: investigating officers were following theories based on Mr Williams being a gay bondage fetishist, when in fact he had a girlfriend. They managed not to be aware of the girlfriend, because in the course of recording evidence and statements volunteered by witnesses, including the girlfriend, other officers had mis-recorded her name, so she seemed to the coroner to be three different people, and also mis-recorded and evidently mis-represented what she had said. Strangely enough, this interference helps Medawar part the mists on who is behind the cover-up, and who, therefore, might reasonably be a suspect in Mr Williams' murder, for that is almost certainly what his death was.

Just like serial killers, individuals who organise a succession of cover-ups and miscarriages of justice, develop a signature. A highly distinctive signature in the matter of the cover-up would tend to suggest someone whose mastery of the black arts is self-taught, perhaps over many years, with increasing sophistication mingling with one or two tell-tale bad habits.

The first thing to note when analysing the cover-up, is that the Russian intelligence services, the FSB and the SVR, usually kill people in order to frighten others into line, and a cover-up would be self-defeating. They try not to leave evidence that would implicate any individual operative, but they usually like the world to know it was their work, hence the frequent employment of high-technology methods of murder not available to anybody else. There is evidence of a Russian surveillance operation around Mr William's flat in Alderney street. However, Mr Williams died in the interval between an SVR general going missing whilst swimming near Tartrus in Syria, and his body being found on a beach in Turkey. The building that Mr Williams' flat is in, is owned by an apparent MI6 front company "Rodinia" registered in the Caribbean, and whilst the SVR general was officially "missing", the SVR and FSB would have been watching anxiously in case he appeared at some such species of MI6 safehouse. They might even have been relieved when his death was confirmed.

The cover-up was also very well-informed, not just in the black arts of murder, but in the methods used by the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate murder. Many aspects, such as mis-recording the girlfriend's name and her testimony, required ongoing access to the police inquiry, from within the police rather than from outside or above. This would have been very problematic for the FSB and SVR, in terms of political and diplomatic risk as well as operational difficulty. It would have been tricky for MI6 and MI5, too: Medawar would expect them to try and get a target to go to a foreign country before doing them in, rather than have to risk dabbling in an UK police investigation with the power to arrest even their respective directors general. Investigations with a genuine national security aspect tend to be suppressed with D Notices and Public Interest Immunity Certificates (signed by Secretaries of State), rather than subverted, too.

Systematic mis-recording and mis-filing of evidence, witnesses statements and even the names and address of volunteering witnesses, is precisely what happened to make the Stephen Lawerence murder inquiry go so badly wrong. It's also what happened to allow the gangster Kenneth Noye, to get away with a plea of self-defence after he'd killed the police officer, John Fordham, who was investigating Noye's part in the Brinks-Mat bullion robbery. (The police simply couldn't give prosecutors enough properly-correlated evidence to rebut Noye's claim, despite the obvious convenience to Noye of killing an officer, in self-defence, who was trying to discover where Noye had hidden millions of pounds worth of gold.) Interestingly, Kenneth Noye was a friend and colleague of gangster Clifford Norris, the father of one of those very belatedly convicted for the murder of Stephen Lawerence.

Much, much more of the same technique was used to frustrate successive police investigations into the murder of the private investigator, Daniel Morgan, culminating in the collapse of the prosecution of former police officer, Jonathan Rees, and others, for this murder. Key evidence, which should have been shown to the defence (but was not necessarily of any value to the defence) went missing, and this allowed the defendants to claim they could not have a fair trial. Since they seemed to know a lot more about the missing evidence than the prosecution did, one wonders precisely by what agency did it disappear? (A remarkably similar thing happened at the trial, in Cardiff, of several former police officers accused of perverting the course of justice, leading to the false conviction of three men for the murder of a prostitute. Within weeks of their acquittal, the "destroyed" evidence was found to be safe and well in a police evidence room, but by then it was too late.)

Throughout the investigation into the death of Gareth Williams, every bit of progress, appeal for information, or even newspaper stories taking his death seriously, have provoked a tide of defamation against Mr Williams, all suggesting that his death was the direct result of bizarre and demeaning sexual perversions on his part. These smears have been launched predominantly through the Rupert-Murdoch-owned News International Group newspapers, and have all been attributed to "senior" police sources. They have also caused great anger and frustration to those senior police officers actually on the inquiry team.

A very similar thing has happened throughout the quarter of a century-long investigation into the disappearance and probable murder of Miss Suzy Lamplugh. Every time anyone tries to actually solve this, the "senior police source" dines with a News International Journalist and suddenly we're being told that Miss Lamplugh "may have had an affair with the sex-killer and gangster John Canaan" or some other fairy story, usually involving a burial site on the opposite side of the country to where she was last seen. Why the senior police source would not want her abduction to be solved is a matter of speculation, but might be similar to why a senior police source wouldn't want the Stephen Lawerence murder to be solved.

The commonality here, is a senior police officer, or perhaps a now-retired senior officer with a lot of loyal stooges still within the MPS, who has certain tried and trusted methods of frustrating a murder inquiry, and links to the sort of gangster who might want this to happen, and to the sort of media organization which might cheerfully publish the necessary smears and disinformation.

Now let us go on a completely different journey, and see if we end up anywhere near the same place...

What was it that made GCHQ technician turned MI6 officer, Gareth Williams, worth murdering? Obviously, most would think, his top-secret work for the intelligence agencies.

Except that, for nearly all of his intelligence work, he was a junior-middle ranking part of a team. He had, supposedly, started to take the lead on some matters, but however "brainy" he might seem to tabloid journalists, he does not seem to have been an exceptional talent by GCHQ standards. In addition, the technical experts at GCHQ and MI6 are not very visible at all to anyone outside the organizations. He had some recent contact with American counterparts, who tend to underestimate the importance and worth of any British person they meet. It's possible that a foriegn agency, such as the FSB or SVR, formed a higher opinion of him, but Medawar would expect him to disappear rather than die, if that had happened. His most recent assignments seemed to be to do with cyber crime, rather than actual intelligence work.

Since Mr Williams was recruited by GCHQ, he would seem to have been too invisible to become a murder target for the sort of seriously-determined party that could have carried off the cover-up and smear campaign. But, young as he was, his life did not start when Gareth Williams was recruited in 2000.

Thing is, before becoming a secret spy, Gareth Williams was actually famous within a small band of online games enthusiasts and an over-lapping circle of hackers. He had a reputation for being "unbeatable" at certain games and, apparently, at certain types of recreational hacking and amateur codebreaking. The crucial period in his life was between finishing a degree course at the university of Bangor in North Wales in 1996, and his recruitment by GCHQ in 2000. Because he did his first degree whilst still of school age, he was still living with his parents whilst studying at Bangor. He then went on to do a Phd at the University of Manchester, and then started, but did not complete, an advanced maths course at St Catherine's College, Cambridge.

His Phd dissertation was centered around computer games, but was not as trivial as that might sound. A lot of high-powered maths is connected to "game theory" and games are one way of determing what things are, and are not, mathematically possible. Some of the applications are of very immediate interest to organized crime, too.

With hindsight, and in the light of the BBC Panorama investigation into the activities of the News Corporation electronic security company "NDS", it would seem that Mr Williams was in greater danger of contact with "serious players" between 1997 and 2000, than at any time during his service within the protected environment of GHCQ and the (less well protected) world of MI6.

The BBC discovered that NDS (mostly through the NDS offices in Haifa) had been part of a systematic operation to drive out of business, all rivals to pay-TV satellite broadcasters owned, or associated with, their parent company, News Corporation. The BBC focused on the main UK rival to News Corporation's "BSkyB", On Digital, which was relaunched as ITV Digital, before going bust with losses of £1bn. But several other European and global broadcasters were driven from the market by similar campaigns.

In 1996 to 1997, NDS, represented by a former MPS Chief Superintendent, Ray Adams, went round all of the most active and talented "famous" hackers in Europe, seeking recruits for an operation that was to crack, and keep cracking, the encryption methods by which On Digital and others ensured that only paying customers could view their service. Up until the service finally went bust, leaving BSkyB with an effective monopoly, NDS kept refreshing a hacker's website "THOIC" with up to date codes for breaking the encryption used by On Digital and other potential competitors. In the end, tens of thousands of fake smartcards using the codes were sold by hackers in pubs and at car boot sales (and through online auctions), and it was often said that On Digital had more non-paying customers than ones who paid the full whack to the proper party.

Given that Mr Williams was famous within that circle of talent, at precisely that time, it's unlikely that Mr Adams neglected to try him out, However, because Mr Williams doesn't appear to have been a greedy man at all, he might not have been as receptive to the offers being made as some of the others evidently were.

At the time, NDS and Mr Adams might simply have thought they were helping the Murdoch Empire put one over on the competition, but over the subsequent decade, it would have become apparent that the pay-TV hacking campaign against News Corporation's competitors had done far more than drive On Digital out of business with a billion pound loss.

That hacking campaign had made News Corporation a major world power. Fox News had some control of the news agenda in North America (by no means unchallenged) but in the UK, Sky News and News International between them were openly mulling over who they would support, politically, and who would win general elections: they had considerable influence over who came to power and what they would do when they did. In Italy, control of Pay-TV and especially sports channels, directly determined who was the government.

In Asia, it was News Corporation who ruled the roost and determined how the emerging powers of China and Malaysia would relate to the rest of the world.

The NDS hacking campaign ended up changing the distribution of money, and power, all around the world, more dramatically than any British Intelligence operation in the same period, or frankly, since the Second World War. Moreover, it's a much narrower field, in which Mr Williams must have seemed much more important than he did in the general run of national intelligence.
And, strangely, it changed that distribution of money and power conclusively in favour of News Corporation and its many subsidiaries.

And because Mr Williams also appeared to be the only one in that field not eager to accept large amounts of cash to perform extremely dodgy actions, he might well have seemed to be dangerous, especially when some of the key players found themselves increasingly under suspicion for other crimes and cover-ups. (In reality, it was a German hacker who'd been quite happy to take their money, who was equally happy to betray all that they had done, to the BBC.)

Isn't it strange that by taking a completely different journey, Medawar finds himself looking once again at a Chief Superintendent who left the Metropolitan Police Service in 1996?

Update:
More emerges about NDS and the global political and economic impact of its multiple illegal hacking campaigns. See this link. Interestingly, this particular newspaper started to investigate the issue four years ago, which means that Mr Williams was murdered about the same time that Ray Adams might have realized the game could be up.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

America's Forgotten Anti-Gangstalking Law: USC 18 Section 241

Many of Medawar's fellow bloggers are calling for laws in the USA, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom against "gangstalking" and "proxy stalking" which could both collectively be called organized stalking. And certainly in Canada and Australia, some legislative action is imperative. But it's long been Medawar's view that in the United Kingdom (both England and Scotland; unlike the Berlin Wall, Hadrian's Wall has never fallen in the legal sense) all forms of organized stalking were breaking several laws already and the problem was recognition of that fact by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service and action by the police.

In the USA, there already is a highly specific law, under which it is pretty well impossible for any two or more persons to carry out a stalking campaign against a citizen, without conspiring to deny that citizen their legal and constitutional rights. Under USC18 section 241, this is an offence normally punishable by a fine and/or up to ten years imprisonment. But if the conspiracy leads to a loss of life, and the usual qualifications of premeditated murder are not specified (because murder is not a Federal offence and would be dealt with under county or state law if it had happened) then the penalty can be life imprisonment, or death.

So, if somebody is harassed and deprived of their legal and constitutional rights to the point where they commit suicide, or become ill and expire as some other consequence of the conspiracy to deny them their rights, then a capital crime has been committed. For example: if a conspiracy to harass a citizen restricted his ability to earn money to keep himself properly fed and housed and he were to die as a result of living rough, the conspirators have committed a capital crime, just as they would have done had they conspired to prevent him receiving proper medical treatment for an illness. Or, if they conspired to restrict his freedom of movement and he was unable to flee a natural disaster, they would have committed a capital crime that could be investigated by Federal Agents and tried in a Federal Court.

The possibility of life imprisonment or capital punishment also applies if the citizen is kidnapped, sexually assaulted, or there is an intent to sexually assault, or an attempt to kill.

These are extreme examples to demonstrate the circumstances in which organized stalking is a capital crime under US Federal Law. But not so extreme that there are no stalking groups currently risking such a charge. In fact, the threat and fact of sexual assault is pretty common.

In the less extreme case, whereby a citizen is not harried to his death, merely prevented from living the normal life of an American citizen, it is still a felony, punishable by a longer prison term than many burglaries, assaults and contraband offences. And nearly ALL stalking activity involving two or more persons acting together, commits this felony.

Even if a lone stalker enlists the help of another for a single part of his stalking campaign against a citizen, a conspiracy to deny that citizen his rights has probably taken place.

The relevant legal text is a lot shorter than this post and is reproduced, below.

       If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or
  intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth,
  Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any
  right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of
  the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;
  or
    If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the
  premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free
  exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured -
    They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
  ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in
  violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an
  attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit
  aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined
  under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life,
  or both, or may be sentenced to death.
The second paragraph makes it obvious that the Congress had the Ku Klux Klan very much in mind when drafting this law; anyone who thinks that they are stalking in a more noble cause, should think again: if you resort to the Klan's methods, your cause is incapable of nobility and you fully deserve to be tarred with precisely the same brush. It is legally impossible to stalk in a good cause. This title is not an anti-racism law: it is a law against denying a citizen his constitutional and legal rights on any pretext whatsoever.

Update:
Four police officers in New Haven, Connecticut, have been indicted and arrested under this very law.

Further update:
Judge, Sheriff and Prosecutor from Mingo County, West Virginia, all jailed under this law and a few others. See also this link.