Controversial British Intelligence Unit Engaged in Domestic Law Enforcement
Documents published by The Intercept on Monday reveal that a British spy unit purported by officials to be focused on foreign intelligence and counterterrorism — and notorious for using the “most controversial tactics of surveillance, online propaganda and deceit” — is heavily focused on political groups and other domestic matters.
Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman report at The Intercept:
Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG [Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group] quickly developed a distinctive profile in the public understanding, after documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in “dirty tricks” like deploying sexual “honey traps” designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online. …
While some of the unit’s activities are focused on the claimed areas, JTRIG also appears to be intimately involved in traditional law enforcement areas and UK-specific activity, as previously unpublished documents demonstrate. An August, 2009 JTRIG memo entitled “Operational Highlights” boasts of “GCHQ’s first serious crime effects operation” to shut down internet forums and to remove websites identifying police informants and members of a witness protection program. Another was “used to facilitate and execute online fraud.” The document also describes GCHQ advice provided “to assist the UK negotiating team on climate change.”
Particularly revealing is a fascinating 42-page document from 2011 detailing JTRIG’s activities. It provides the most comprehensive and sweeping insight to date into the scope of this unit’s extreme methods. Entitled “Behavioral Science Support for JTRIG’s Effects and Online Humint [Human Intelligence] Operations,” it describes the types of targets on which the unit focuses, the psychological and behavioral research it commissions and exploits, and its future organizational aspirations. It is authored by a psychologist, Mandeep K. Dhami.
Among other things, the document lays out the tactics the agency uses to manipulate public opinion, its scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced, and the broad range of targets that are traditionally the province of law enforcement rather than intelligence agencies.
Read more and see the documents here.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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