Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Princess Diana Blogging

Rare feature, this, but the Observer has news: the Stevens report says, apparently, that the US National Security Agency was monitoring her phone calls the night of her death. A couple of questions: didn't they have anyone better to bug? And, more importantly, what was the French government's position on this?

The Obscurer makes the point that this, and especially the fact that MI6 wasn't informed, raises some difficult questions about the so-called "intelligence special relationship". Well, it's not as if there wasn't plenty to be getting on with in terms of scrutiny there - CAZAB, UKUSA and the rest being the world's most highly secret treaties. But it's hard to see the direct relevance - bugging the French phone system would have needed access to it, or else the use of some super-fancy platform like Rivet Joint, and the chances of the French permitting that are between zero and zero.

Else, there would have had to be folk physically on the ground, or some special arrangement with France Telecom, and presumably with the DST or SDECE. Still, we can always blame the French for this one, so no chance of anyone learning anything there.

Update: 1900 16/12/06: The Obscurer was sold a furphy. Spyblog explains, having read the 782 page report.


Watching Them, Watching Us said...

The Observer article is very vague.

Who exactly is briefing them with details of this as yet unpublished Stevens Inquiry report ?

The article could imply physical tapping of the extensions or switchboard of the Ritz Hotel.

That sort of surveillance might not necessarily have been aimed specifically at Princess Diana, just a general surveillance trawl to try pick up intelligence on rich guests and their business deals.

The bit about MI6 not being informed may be true, but it seems irrelevant.

If they were involved in an intelligence operation involving Princess Diana or her entourage, then they would have been physically tapping the phones themselves, or getting GCHQ or the NSA to intercept the international traffic.

It seems unlikely that the French authorities would allow foreign, even allied intelligence agencies to bug the Ritz Hotel, without doing so first themselves.

John Montague said...

Is this the beginning of another Echelon rumpus? Or can such goings-on at the Ritz be dismissed by waving the simple sword of truth ?

Alex said...

Me, I'm backing the cancer of bent and twisted journalism.

It probably isn't another Echelon rumpus, 'cos I can't see the relevance of Echelon to this. You can be damn sure, though, that Arnaud Montebourg won't say a word about the French spooks letting the yanks run riot.

BTW, this is the alternate comments thread.

Watching Them, Watching Us said...

The sensational claims in the Observer seem to be without foundation in the actual Operation Paget report.

The NSA admitted to 39 transcripts bin a FOI request made by Mohamed AL Fayed, rather than by the Operation Paget team, who did get this confirmed later.

The NSA claims not to have deliberately targeted Princess Diana's communications.

There is no statement about which country, let alone which times and dates the interceptions actually took place.

The Operation Paget team did not get access to these transcripts, for the usual reasons.

Nobody seems to have asked GCHQ to confirm, or more likely, to deny their involvement, either.

The Operation Paget Report names 2 alleged MI6 agents on the diplomatic staff at the Embassy in Paris, and another alleged agent amongst the paparazzi.

A DA-Notice memo was sent to the British press about this, but obviously not to bloggers.

c.f. Operation Paget report on the death of Princess Diana and intelligence agencies

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