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article imageSnowden: NSA paid $150m in secret funding to UK's GCHQ

By Anne Sewell     Aug 2, 2013 in World
Bude - The latest release from Edward Snowden's collection of damning evidence against the NSA shows that the agency has made secret payments of at least $150 million to the UK's GCHQ spying agency over three years.
This was to influence British intelligence gathering operations, according to the latest leaks published by The Guardian.
What the released documents show is that the National Security Agency (NSA) expects the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), to act in its interests. The Guardian stresses that the NSA expects a return on the investment.
Reportedly the NSA paid for development of GCHQ's site at Bude in England, costing over $20 million. What this site does is to intercept information from transatlantic cables carrying Internet and communications information.
Interestly, these revelations contradict previous denials by British government ministers that the GCHQ does the NSA’s “dirty work.” In fact, they show that it does indeed.
The document cited by the Guardian dates back to 2010 and also reveals how UK surveillance operations could be a “selling point” for the US. It further “raised a number of issues with regards to meeting NSA's minimum expectations” by stating that GCHQ “still remains short of the full NSA ask.”
What the documents do declare is the intent and extent by which GCHQ wants to harvest Internet traffic and phone data, and that they were aiming to “exploit any phone, anywhere, any time.”
The document also shows the sheer volume of data the UK has gradually gained access to and that over the past five years, the quantity of available mobile and Internet traffic has increased by a huge 7,000 per cent. Despite this, 60 per cent of the UK's intelligence is still provided by the NSA.
According to Snowden, when handing over these documents, “It’s not just a US problem” and he stated that, in fact, GCHQ is “worse than the US.”
According to the report, the UK spy agency repeatedly blamed China and Russia for most of the cyber attacks against the UK, and stated that they are developing new technologies together with the NSA to increase their cyber warfare capability.
On the monetary aspect, documents show that the NSA gave GCHQ $34.8 million in 2009 and $60 million in 2010. The 2010 amount also including $6 million in GCHQ support for NATO forces in Afghanistan. The NSA paid a further $52.8 to GCHQ in 2011/12.
According to the leaks, the UK fears that “US perceptions of the… partnership [could] diminish, leading to loss of access, and/or reduction in investment… to the UK.”
The leaks further show that GCHQ has tapped into the global network of communications, storing Facebook posts, internet histories and phone calls and how this data was shared with the NSA.
Reportedly, when the GCHQ does supply valuable intelligence to the US, the agency boasts about it. In fact, they boasted that the agency had supplied "unique contributions" to the NSA during its investigation of the US citizen responsible for an attempted car bomb attack in Times Square, New York City, in 2010. This boast brings to light the possibility that GCHQ may have been spying on a US citizen, in the US, which the NSA itself is prohibited from doing by US Law.
A Cabinet Office spokesman, when asked about the payments by the NSA, stated:
"In a 60-year alliance it is entirely unsurprising that there are joint projects in which resources and expertise are pooled, but the benefits flow in both directions."
To which a senior security source in Whitehall added:
"The fact is there is a close intelligence relationship between the UK and US and a number of other countries including Australia and Canada. There's no automaticity, not everything is shared. A sentient human being takes decisions."
The Telegraph quotes British Foreign Minister William Hague, who in a recent visit to the GCHQ stated that its staff acted “in full accordance with our laws and values.”
Adding that: “It’s easy to forget that a safe and secure Olympics didn’t happen last year by accident. Our intelligence, security and law enforcement community made a decisive difference and continues to do so. GCHQ’s world-class capabilities and trade craft are fundamental to this.”
As reported by Digital Journal on Thursday, Snowden has finally been able to leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after being granted temporary asylum in Russia. He has been holed up in the transit area of the airport since June 23 after fleeing Hong Kong.
More revelations can be expected from Snowden's releases in the near future.
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