07/11/2013 Newsnight


Can we trust the spy agencies? Testimony from Tamil rape victims in Sri Lanka. Is Twitter a business or a bubble? And is Kensington and Chelsea the new Monaco?

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Trust me I'm a spy. Put as baldly as that it may not carry the ring of


complete confidence, but that was in essence The pitch of the three most


senior officials today as they appeared before a group of


politicians. They say this man's revelations about


politicians. They say this man's a profit. Is it a business or a


bubble? As the Commonwealth RDZ itself to


meet in Sri Lanka, we hear from Tamil who is say they have been


raped and tortured by Sri Lankan authorities as recently as this


Kensington and Chelsea, welcome to some of the most real estate in


Britain. Are parts of this country like nothing so much now as another


country. Desbanker, banker, banker, and I can't tell them apart, they


have the wives that go like this and a motorcycle that they put their


children in. The skinny women! MI five and GCHQ testified thus


before a Parliamentary Committee today. We have to take their word


for what they say has occurred, which itself rather points up the


problem of trying to maintain political surveillance on


intelligence surveillance. We eavesdropped on it all. It has


taken a long journey out of the shadows to something like shadows.


Successive chiefs and DGs of MI6 and MI5, fought a rear guard action


against coming into the light. Clearly openness is something that


we're moving down the road on. It is now over 20 years that we have


we're moving down the road on. It is demonstration, I believe, of the


Government's commitment both to the need for the sort of intelligence


that we can provide and their confidence in the service as it now


is. The MI6 boss spoke on the record,


but off camera. I was at that press conference 20 years ago and


incidentally we journalists haven't had another chance to cross-examine


heads of MI6 and GCHQ on the record since then. But the thing that


really sticks in my mind about that meeting was the degree to which the


heads of those agencies thought they could limit their public exposure,


they didn't want to be photographed, and they thought that the new


commitmenty being established at that time, and which -- committee


being established at that time and that met again today could be kept


out of any scrutiny of their operations. Today


out of any scrutiny of their hindsight we were not configured in


2001 for the scale of the terrorist threat that this country faced after


9/11. Our people weren't trained for it, we didn't have the experience


for it or the resources for it. It took us some time to adapt to the


scale of the threat we faced. This committee was set up 20 years ago,


but its powers have expanded considerably. Even so there were


signs today that the recent disclosures about the extent of


electronic surveillance came as news to some members.


We weren't ware of the intricacies, whilst we appreciate a lot of this


is a very confidential nature and the co-operation that you have with


other -- aware with the intricacies, we appreciate a lot of this is very


confidential the co-operation you have with others. Can we have a


commitment that you will give us the e-mails of the vast majority,


that would not be proportional or legal we do not do it. It would be


nice if terrorists or criminals used a particular method of communication


and everybody else used something else. That is not the case. It would


be very nice if we knew who all the terrorists and serious criminals


were, but the Internet is a great way of making those anonymous. The


moves towards making MI5 more open, and were prepared to make occasional


speeches but not cross-examined. Secret organisations need to say


secret, even if we present an occasion public face as I am doing


today. Today they showed they also learned the value of a public


platform, launching attacks on those who had published Edward Snowden's


revelation, alleging grave damage to national security. The


lapping it up. We have seen terrorist groups in south Asia and


other places discussing the revelations in terms of the


communication packages they use and they wish to move to. There are


budgets to justify too, MI5 has twice the people it had at the end


of the Cold War, and justifies why it thinks that is right. Since 7/7


there have been 34 plots against this country at all sizes and


stages. I have referred publicly and my predecessors have that one or two


of those are major plots aimed at mass casualty that have been


attempted each year. The hearing ended with many feeling they heard


the start of a conversation that will now go on in closed session.


The accountability question likewise has


The accountability question likewise the word of the Intelligence


Services on trust? Well it is part of a democracy, and it is why it is


so important as I was saying in the Guardian earlier this week. That we


built trust in the system. Because once people lose that trust then


they are not just sceptical, which is healthy, but they become cynical,


which isn't, because then they would preclude the Security Services from


being able to develop the measures in taking on new technology and


rapid change in the use of new technology which will save us from


all sorts of threats including cyber.


But you also suggested in that article that we needed a breath of


scepticism. What did you mean? I believe that we need to challenge as


ministers and in believe that we need to challenge as


you ever feel you were misled during your time at the Home Office? I felt


that there were times, I have to be very careful here there were times


when the enthusiasm for doing the job, the commitment, sometimes


overrode judgment which is why, although politicians are rarely


trusted, it is important to have politicians asking the kind of


questions that you would expect to ask yourself, Jeremy, and the public


would ask of themselves. And on many occasions we had robust discussions


and sometimes I was persuaded and on occasions I wasn't Do you think on


some occasions you might have been persuaded too easily? I think there


is danger when you come into a serious job like home or Foreign


Secretary, that you come in, serious job like home or Foreign


have had the case overstated to you or you have been misled. I think


there is always a danger in public life that case is overstated to make


a point. A case is overstated because people are so committed,


they are so carried away with what they know that they want you to


believe. We're all occasionally guilty of doing this. In something


as important as the security of our country you have to believe that


these people know what they are doing but something as important as


civil liberties and our rights, you have to be prepared to ask the


awkward question when it would be easier simply to go along with it.


Do you aDWREE with the head of MI six I6 that what -- MI6 that what


Edward Snowden disclosed will six I6 that what -- MI6 that what


example who it should be that makes the final judgment on such sensitive


material. Should it be even the most well informed and sensitive editor


of a newspaper or should we have a better system within the democratic


political agreen Take That allows -- arena that aLOETS that -- allows


that to take place. With people like you and the intelligence agencies,


the cards haven't been dealt evenly, there will be a point in the


conversation where they could say to you "you will just have to trust


us"? I think there will be occasions and when you err on the side of


caution and caution would be back to that preset that the first and most


fundamental that preset that the first and most


disposal. These are such difficult delicate issues that I think the


debate is a good one. But the solution has to be something better


than people stealing material and then presuming that they know best


in terms of what should be put in the public arena. David Blunkett,


thank you. With us now is Sir Francis Richard,


former director of GCHQ, the Guardian columnist, Simon Jenkins


and Hazel Blears, former counter terrorism minister. Francis


Richards, were you one of those whose enthusiasm and commitment


overrode your judgment? I didn't think so. There is no purpose to


having secret intelligence agencies if they don't tell the truth to


power. That is what they are there for. Ever come a point in a


conversation then certainly, I confessed. But you


were happy in principle to tell them virtually everything you knew about


your suspicions on the basis of your evidence? Yes, that is what we are


there for. Hazel Blears did you know, as a member of the


intelligence oversight committee did you know the extent of GCHQ


surveillance in Britain? Yes, I would say that the committee did


have a broad understanding of what the capabilities of GCHQ were. And


do you judge that was all right? We have been looking at them for threy,


we have been on several visits. We have had very confidential briefings


about what the capabilities were and obviously we were satisfied that


they were operating within our legal framework. The question I put to


Iain Lobban today was quite a tough question, I asked him to guarantee


that he wasn't conducting any operations that weren't covered by


the British legal framework and he gave


the British legal framework and he what they can do and what they were


doing, in terms of being able to select information. The point that


was made sod is they could collect that information but in order to go


further and look at content or data they have to have a target set of


people of interest. So the rest of the population are not people of


interest. You knew about Tempora then? We didn't know the names of


these projects and I'm sure the exact same situation applies in


America. In terms of broad capabilities we did. We also heard


that Iain Lobban confirm that when we are in private session and we


meet every single week in private session he certainly will go into


more detail both about the damage that has been done and also about


the broad capabilities as well. In that case you knew precisely how big


a sham the communications data bill was, didn't you? No, the


Communications Data Bill was about trying to put on a


keep the data you can't interrogate it. Do you think if the committee


knew what was going on why didn't they tell you? More to the point,


this is the biggest lapse in intelligence security of our


generation, since the war, it is a colossal lapse. That is not the


point, I'm asking about oversight? The claps was oversight, you would


assume someone would have said you distribute


assume someone would have said you Francis you at least accept had it


not been for Edward Snowden and those disclosures we wouldn't see


those three people before a Parliamentary Committee? I don't


think that is necessarily right, I don't think it would have happened


today but that is the direction which things are moving. The


position of the agencies has changed enormously in the last ten years, as


the chief security threats to this country have become covert. That


means that they have moved from the rear of the country's defences into


the front line. They cannot operate without trust and that trust is


going to demand a much closer relationship both for them and the


oversight with the public. The reason why I stayed and did this,


Edward Snowden was not a disloyal enemy of security, the reason he did


it is he simply saw his bosses lying to Congress over and over again. The


monitoring system to Congress over and over again. The


unbelievably lucky that he didn't put it all on the Internet or give


it to an enemy. He gave it to a newspaper and they have published


less than 1% of the material. You are perfectly happy that a newspaper


editor is competent to judge what may or may not be safely made


public? In this case, every story is matter of trust on the part of the


editor. In this case a tiny percentage of it was considered in


the public interest, it was all shown to security officials before


it was published, a lot was deDAKTed as a result of that. It was as


precise an exercise as you could have performed. What is your


analysis? I think Edward Snowden has placed the information in places


where it was inevitable. It has been given wider circulation by those


capable of accessing it. Do you think the newspapers acted


responsibly in this case? Can I think the newspapers acted


the act. For the first time we have powers to go into the agencies and


look at their documents and see primary intelligence materials.


Oversight is never going to be perfect, but actually it is an awful


lot more stringent than it used to be.


GCHQ were boasting in their own documents that they had an easier


life as they were concerned than the Americans were having. That is what


they call the unique selling proposition of GCHQ service, they


were selling to NSA, they were utterly insecure. It is insecure.


Francis Richards how worried were you by Edward Snowden's disclosures?


Very worried. Intelligence only works if you can do things that your


targets, those who threaten national security don't know you can do. If


you put out a huge quantity of what you have


you put out a huge quantity of what never going to leak? I'm not


responsible for American oversight and nor is the Intelligence and


Security Committee. I don't think we are talking about that. All of your


material was accessible to NSA, they had access to the material and were


clearly unable to keep it safe. That in my mind is the security threat?


We are talking about British oversight here, not about American.


How secure is this information that you have not in the Guardian


disclosed? It is locked in a room. It is locked in a room is it? It is


not in the keeping of Glenn Greenwald. No, it is locked in a


room. Where? In America. Are you certain? Yeah. Why is Mr Greenwald's


partner flying around the world with a computer


partner flying around the world with catastrophe, not the Guardian's


fault. Given a good story I think we did the most responsible thing we


did given a good story is to work out which was in the public


interest. Which is what we did do. You have this information, it is


your problem? To that extent you are right. And you are asking us to


trust you that you will make a sensible judgment in the best


interests of people w are the sworn enemies of others to whom this will


be used? We are safer custodians of it than GCHQ and NSA were. Almost a


million people had access to this material, the wicky leaks has access


for -- Wikileaks has access to it. A man flying around the world with a


computer full of the most secret information that there is to have,


with password on a piece information that there is to have,


effect en Clair. What do you make of the judgment, many would say the


Guardian did act responsibly in deciding not to release everything?


You heard from Iain Lobban today that he has evidence, direct


evidence of groups of terrorists who would seek to harm our country, now


discussing the specific revelations and how they might change their


operating techniques to evade scrutiny in the future. He has


promised in a private session he will give us more information about,


that the actual evidence we can see, and I very much look forward to


being able to drill down into that. I think this is matter of major


concern for the country, if groups are seeking to evade our scrutiny


then that could result in harm. This is a cat and mouse game all the time


with the technology, the terrorists with the technology, the terrorists


changing the way they behave. I wasn't very surprised, it shows GCHQ


is doing its job. Were you worried, distressed? It seemed to confirm


what the most alarmist reports indicated? It confirmed what one


already knew to be the case. It would be very surprising if, given


the scale of the revelations that have been made, our enemies were not


making arrangements to use more secure methods of communication that


they don't think we can access. Do you think, Simon, we are ever going


to get to a point where you can have and we can get beyond saying you are


just going to have to trust me on this? It is like a haystack, we


just going to have to trust me on want your society to surrender all


its PRIFies and freedoms in the interests -- PRIF sees, and in the


interests of stopping not that many terrorists. How many lives do you


think it is worth? It is not world war that could break out? It could


be a very serious terrorist incident? It is not a world war that


will break out a very serious terrorist incident? It is not a


world war that will break out. Ruby Wax rubbishes the neighbours. It is


a cat and mouse game, how rich are you? Represents of the Governments


of the Commonwealth meet next week in Sri Lanka to discuss good


governance, democracy and mutual aid. Those worthy values seem to


many of those aid. Those worthy values seem to


distressing images and some of the interviewees names have been changed


NIER protection. This is what the Sri Lankan Government wants you to


see, an Indian Ocean paradise recovering from decades of war.


But there is also dark side to this beautiful island. Four years after


the conflict ended terrible things are still going on. I have now


collected compelling evidence from 12 people, both men and women who


say they have been raped in decontinuation by members of the Sri


Lankan security forces this year. It is impossible toor rob rate every


detail of each person's story, but I have spoken to doctor, seen medical


reports and in some cases people have been granted asylum in Europe


on the In 2009 the Sri Lankan army slushed


-- army crushed the Tamil Tigers. They used child soldiers and


assassinated prime ministers and Presidents. The United Nations


accused the Government and tigers of committing war crimes and crimes


against humanity in the final months of the war. Acoring to the UN, up to


70 thou civilians were killed, the majority


70 thou civilians were killed, the photographs, believed to have been


taken by Government soldiers at the end of the war appear to show dead


Tamil women. The UN said these images demonstrated a strong


inference that rape or sexual violence may have occurred either


prior to or after execution. It is rare for Tamil women to talk about


sexual abuse. But with no hope of justice, some women are now starting


to speak out in the hope of stopping this happening to others. To our


knowledge this is the first Tamil rape survivor to recount her ordeal


in public. Nandini says she was abducted and raped this year. But it


is not just women who talk of sexual abuse. Ravi says he was forced to


join the Tamil Tiger rebels for the last six months of the war. Before


being detained for nearly four years last six months of the war. Before


ex-rebels. Stories like these are only emerging now, because it has


taken years for former Tamil Tigers, like Ravi to escape abroad and be


able to speak out. We found six Tamils in the UK who also alleged


torture in the rehabilitation programme. Four of them have


Government documentation to prove they were in the camps and


independent medical reports establishing torture. This British


doctor has seen many Sri Lankans branded


doctor has seen many Sri Lankans former rebel was detained and badly


tortured, right in the heart of the capital. He has official documents


to prove where and when he was held. His doctor says he will never fully


recover. Seva himself despairs of ever getting justice. We shared the


evidence in this film of on going rape and torture with a leading


British lawyer. The cases you have gathered are striking in that they


have common features in relation to how the victims are picked up, what


happens to them, particularly there is evidence of cigarettes being used


to burn the victims in order to get compliance. And basically to carry


out torture. The use of cigarettes has long been held to be within the


definition of torture. So there is absolutely no dispute upon that.


definition of torture. So there is looking at them being referred to


the International Criminal Court for further investigation. We asked the


Sri Lankan Government for a response. The High Commision in


London said it was not fair to expect them to respond fully to


allegations contained in anonymous testimony. Their written statements


suggested our interviewees could have been paid to discredit Sri


Lanka or even tortured in the past by the Tamil Tigers


Next week Prince Charles, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary


will be in Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth meeting. Canada is the


lone voice of dissent, its leaders boycotting because they say they are


not in the business of accommodating evil.


In a statement to the BBC evil.


on the BBC News channel this weekend on Saturday and Sunday evening at


9.30pm. Twitter shares put on sale, market goes nuts, there in 140


characters is the story of what happened on the New York Stock


Exchange today. It often seems everybody is on it, Twitter has yet


to make a profit. That didn't put off buyers, and soon the cost of a


single share had getting on for doubled its price. Don't anyone


mention the dotcom bubble or the Dutch TU little mania of 1637.


Gillian Tett won't or she might. Can you understand it? I think many


people would think what happened today is completely bonkers.


Basically Twitters' shares have doubled. The market cap is bigger


than Yahoo, Time doubled. The market cap is bigger


global equity markets awash with cash from central banks and you


don't actually have that many companies who have a good growth


story to tell. The story of Twitter is incredible. Not only do so many


people use it, it is a story of a bunch of scrappy entrepeneur, who


used innovation and came back from failure to build a great story, it


is a kind of story that American investors love to look at. That is a


fable, it is not a profit base? It is a future Hollywood film I'm sure.


Can these returns ever be justified? Well the Twitter team, the current


CEO said he's looking at acquisitions and getting very savvy.


Using advertising to try to build a revenue stream. One of the big


questions is are people who use Twitter going to accept having


advertising coming into their messages or not?


bubble? I think the more important parallel is actually with the IT


bubble. The DT combubble? -- the dotcom bubble? You had a lot of


shares growing rapidly and there was hype and excitement, many companies


later suffered badly. More recently though you can look to companies


like Linkedin and they have had a good run and cop TRAS with Groupon


and Zing who had excitement at the start and didn't deliver. It is


whether people will be willing to let advertisers use their data for


those on Twitter. Would you? Only time will tell. I won't answer that


question! Thank you very much. Now a story from one of this country's


ghettos, it has been revealed that the poor, and that is undoubtedly


the wrong world, the poor people of the borrowing of Kensington and


Chelsea are -- the borrowing of Kensington and


tax may not bother the natives and Russian royal barons of the borough.


But as we discovered the property market in London has created an


extraordinary neighbourhood. Hings like tax may not bother the natives


and Russian royal barons of the borough. But as we discovered the


property market in London has created an extraordinary


neighbourhood. Welcome to Britain's very own Monoco. This is the London


Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, home to some of the richest people


in the world. More likely second, third or fourth home. Many of them,


like in Monaco, pay very little tax. They mix with each other but they


don't engage much with the wider society around them. And here in


Knightsbridge property prices at ?2400 per square foot have caught up


with Monaco. The average price of ?2400 per square foot have caught up


take was bigger than Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the


north-east, the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber put


together. There has been a massive influx of intnational buyers, they


are coming from all over the place, the breath of the range of different


-- breadth and range of nationalities is greater than it has


ever been. Property prices are so high in this part of London it has


become become hollowed out, only the very rich or council houses are


moving in. The ones who aren't super-rich are those who have lived


there a long time. This is the new Beverly Hills, who would have thunk.


It started off as coach house, there is no eccentrics now, they got rid


of those, it is banker, banker, banker, I can't tell them apart.


They have the wives with the hair that goes like this


They have the wives with the hair annual income in the borough ?128


,000 is the highest in the country. Here in Notting Hill in the north of


the borough, it used to be full of bohemium and artistic types, now it


is choc full of bankers and the shops that service them. You can


spend ?3 on a loaf of bred here. You can buy it cheaper round the corner


in Portabello Market and the stall holders there remember the area the


way it used to be. This was a real poor area, real poor. People were


fighting in them days to get out of this I can't remember. Now they are


fighting to get into this I can't remember. I was born 100 yard up the


road from here in the little mews. And mum and dad and my sister we


used to live in a little mews flat there. Dad used to pay


their fruit on-line and they are in a fruit market. There is no


community now. Where there is a shortage of space and lots of demand


people have to build. In Monaco they are building up in ever-higher


skyscrapers to the fury of many locals.


# Down Down # Deeper and down Here in Kensington


and Chelsea they are digging down, creating huge basement, sometimes on


many levels. I have been given a sneak preview of this house in one


of the swankyist squares in Knightsbridge, on the market for ?11


million. The owner has dug a sub-basement below the existing one


to house another sitting room and what estate agents now like to call


"a media room". But some people what estate agents now like to call


should contain into a small, narrow London terraced home. Some of these


are called "icebergs" because they have more below ground than above.


Under another house in the same square they are digging a huge


sub-basement. The hole is so big you can see it on Google Earth. As in


Monaco the neighbours of the basement diggers are incanned


desSANT, the endless drilling, the dust the lorries are driving them


mad. I only know drill, I have had silicone implants not to hear the


drilling. It is a competition who can build low Er. It is about --


lower. It is how rich are you, some are hitting the crust of the earth.


More than half of residents were born


More than half of residents were -- to London, the capital has low


taxes on expensive house, less than half of New York's and a third of


Hong Kong's. And some of these houses are barely lived in, their


owners see them as investments. Even if they do live here full-time, a


lot of them don't have much stake in society. They tend to avoid state


schools and the NHS and public transport. Some of them even club


together and hire private security guards to patrol their streets. It


is as if they are living in a bubble separate from the rest of us and


only mixing with other extremely rich people. So what affect does


this have on the the area they live in. Dorling is a doing fee -- Danny


Dorling is a goingy prove yes, sir SOR and has been studying that. The


rich don't see much back for their taxes so don't like to pay them. The


rich don't see much back for their just social, the area has been


hollowed out physically too, with all the giant sub-basements being


dug, there is a honeycomb of holes under the clay under Kensington and


Chelsea's seats. You can almost imagine the disaster movie ending as


the borough collapses into a sink hole of its own making.


That's it for tonight, the short list for the least wanted writing


award, the Literary Review's Bad Sex Award was announced today. Unlike


last year when our late Economics Editor was gutted not to win for his


depiction of bonking on horse back. Not even Mark Urban have been


nominated. We are tipping this book. Not even Mark Urban have been


with mine remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and Solar


System, we dive through shoals of atomic nuclei, in our breakthrough


to the fourth star statisticians across the universe rejoice.