4 March 2006. A writes:
From the UK "Satirical" periodical Private Eye, No. 1150, 20 Jan - 2 Feb 2006:
BBC Monitoring, the Caversham-based service that scrutinizes thousands of foreign radio broadcasts on behalf of the BBC, the Ministry of Defence, British intelligence services and the CIA, has had its funding reviewed by its new master, the Cabinet Office.
Formerly run by the Foreign Office, Caversham provided "open source intelligence" in the war against terror -- information that was highly prized for its rawness and lack of Downing Street spin.
Despite howls of protests from desk officers and analysts at the FO and MI6, Caversham's budget has now been cut by £2m, losing 80 posts and ending the monitoring of radio broadcasts from boring places where nothing of interest happens -- such as the former Soviet Union and the whole of Africa.
Monitoring's partner, the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, with an office in Caversham, is also under financial review. The CIA's secrecy requirements make it impossible for it to admit that the FBIS is also facing cuts, but staff at Caversham have told the /Eye/ that they are no longer able to have access to FBIS translations because they are no longer being made.
4 March 2006. S writes:
The BBC Monitoring Employee category on the FBIS site is because BBC Monitoring is not the BBC in the way you understand it. This is the British equivalent of the FBIS, it is a holdover from the early history of the BBC that it is still called BBC Monitoring. This is an independent arm of the company, funded by government and there are moves to make it part of the home office (like your state department). It is not part of BBC news.
Thus, BBC Monitoring is an intelligence operation, like FBIS which was long sponsored by the CIA and perhaps still is. Curious that BBC allows the use of its moniker by the spies, unless The Beeb too is an intelligence operation, although that would not be surprising given its HMG sponsorship.
Still, it is repugnant that the Open Source Center is not accessible to the public when its product ostensibly comes from open sources. Asymmetrical infowar that, in step with the terrorism-mongerers' classification obsession.
3 March 2006. Add message from Mark on BBC and FBIS cooperation.
3 March 2006
|Inquiry sent by John Young 3 March 2006, 5:15 PM EST via:
Press and Media Inquiries
Inquiry Subject: BBC Privilege at US Intelligence Web Site
The US Directorate of National Intelligence Open Source Center
(http://www.fbis.gov) lists as a category
of those who may request access to it, "BBC Monitoring Employee," the sole
listing of a news organization, and no listing at all for public access.
Could you explain why BBC has singular "monitoring" privilege at this website
and how this was arranged?
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Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 22:30:19 -0000
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Earlier today Cryptome requested an Open Source Center account under the category of "Foreign Liaison with US Government," providing a real US address, phone number and e-mail address, and picking the United States as the foreign government. An email arrived shortly:
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 17:50:15 +0000 (GMT+00:00)
Subject: ACTION REQUIRED: FBIS.gov Account Application Verification
We have received your request for a FBIS.gov account. To proceed with the application process, please click the hyperlink below to validate your email. If you are unable to click the hyperlink, please copy and paste the complete link into a browser.
If you should have any questions about the application process, please email us at OSCinfo@rccb.osis.gov
FBIS Systems Operations Center
Then tried to log in several times without success, receiving a message that the account was blocked.
Another email arrived soon after the last log-in attempt:
From: "OSCINFO" <OSCINFO@rccb.osis.gov>
Sender: "FBISINFO" <OSCINFO@rccb.osis.gov>
Subject: FBIS.gov Account Registration
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 20:56:34 +0000
John, thanks for requesting an account. What sort of organization is Cryptome?
Open Source Customer Center
Cryptome.org publishes documents on freedom of information, communications security, intelligence, national security and governmental affairs. It was begun in 1996 and currently offers about 30,000 files on its site. We have periodically published FBIS documents sent by others but have not had access to the service.
Why does BBC have access but not other news organizations, nor as far as I can see from the subscriber categories, the public? FBIS reports are excellent and it would be a public service for them to be widely available, as indeed would would the full Open Source Center.
The reason that "BBC staff" have access to the US FBIS is that they been cooperating with "BBC Caversham" (now called "BBC Monitoring") since World War 2.
help provide foreign language news and translations of foreign radio and tv and media , partly for the BBC World Service news and features, and partly as a Governmental and now private sector open information source.
Watch on the world
When the global media talk, BBC Caversham listens. Then its experts transcribe and translate broadcasts from front line countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Maggie Brown sits in
Monday October 1, 2001
"Caversham Park is the workplace for a united nations of 400 people, who quickly, efficiently and systematically distil the essence of what the world's media - radio, television, press and the internet - are reporting. They trawl 3,000 sources, all open. Its role is "reporting foreign news media comprehensively and accurately without bias or comment".
This is a global duty shared with its US sister service, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service: a plaque marking the first 50 years of partnership (1941-91) sits on the waiting room wall, and celebrates the "ever-increasing flow of timely information". Caversham was put on a firm footing as the second world war started, famously listening in to Nazi radio broadcasts. The FBIS has some staff on the site."
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