Tuesday, August 07, 2007

7 August 2007: Facts

As I begin to squeeze my way between the surprisingly dense prose of Mr Gibsons's spy-related latest publication, McDougal points out that governments are notoriously bad at keeping secrets and that civil servants are notoriously bad at doing anything at all. Which leads me to consider the question: why do I (and others) conclude that these 'numbers stations' are, in fact, government-operated or at least government-driven?

To answer this question, we need to consider the known facts and then the circumstantial evidence.

FACT 1: These stations do exist, and have existed for some decades.
- A fact, incidentally, that is neither confirmed nor denied by any government: they do not acknowledge the existence of these stations. However, they clearly do exist, and from this we determine that somebody, somewhere is wanting to broadcast them and somebody, somewhere is wanting to receive these broadcasts; the broadcasts are spread widely enough over geography and history that they cannot be a single hoax.

FACT 2: These stations are illegal.
- The international airwaves are governed by a surprisingly strict set of global regulations requiring registrations, call-signs, identification etc at regular intervals. Pirate radio is not only frowned upon, it is hunted down and taken off the air. These stations are unregistered and do not meet on-air identification requirements. Meaning that, at the very least, governments and radio enforcement bodies will have investigated them if they're not running them themselves, leading to the third fact...

FACT 3: Governments do know what they are and why they are there
- Even if these are rogue pirate broadcasts or a massive global inter-generational hoax, they will have been investigated by governments and radio authorities who will, provided the broadcasts originate from this planet, find out what they are, why they're there and (for whatever reason) let them carry on. So when in the 1998 Telegraph article the government official said "they are what you think they are", he said that because he was in a position to say that: he was able to make a statement concerning the nature of these stations.

The we get to conjecture, and although some of it is very strong, it can't be established as sheer fact, but provides major circumstantial evidence:
  • These stations broadcast what you'd expect a spy-station to broadcast. One-time pads are a known, established feature of international espionage, and this is what you'd send to people with one-time pads. A whole bunch of numbers. It's how they work.
  • The government response is exactly what you'd expect too. NCND ("neither confirm nor deny") is the normal response to any questions about MI6, CIA or anything else. Governments consistently neither confirm nor deny even the existence of these stations, which is pretty crazy considering fact number one. But that's exactly what you'd expect.
  • The stations are deliberately, cleverly enigmatic: the Lincolnshire Poacher broadcasts the same way every single day, 200 five-number sets, whether there's nothing going on in the world or whether it's 9/11. Always the same, no reference to human events other than the invention of numbers and short-wave broadcasting. Even within the code, who's to say which bits are dummy and which bits are genuine? It's even more complex than a baseball manager relaying signals. ("Hit - the - ball"). This stuff is smart, and is very very careful not to give even a single clue.
And then beyond that there's the small evidence that does leak out from time to time - Radio Havana sometimes being relayed on 'Atencion'; jamming signals traceable to 'enemy' regimes; signals themselves traceable by directional finders to, for example, that RAF base in Cyprus; not to mention the major drop-off in stations since the end of the Cold War. And as I discovered yesterday, many overseas BBC employees are actually not BBC employees at all but technically work for the Foreign Office, a spill-over from the BBC initially being a state broadcasting service. Put all this together with the facts as stated above and it's pretty clear what we're talking about.

I guess it's just safe to say that it's not your normal government department civil servant who works for MI6. I'd put money on them not using Stellent, or if they do, they use it really really well.

Now, back to Gibson's book, wonder if there'll be any Cuban number stations broadcasting to Tito and Alejandro?

one, nine, five, eight, six!
three, five, five, seven, nine!


Anonymous said...

Illegal radio broadcasts are legal in switzerland, as legal as toblerone. Secret mountain bases are also legal but are secret and nobody knows about them except me and everybody else.

Everything here is either mandatory or forbidden. Things that aren't mandatory may be secret but are not forbidden, unless of course they are forbidden. There is a rule book somewhere but it's secret, and mandatory... also forbidden.

Today, as I sit at my desk in Geneva (which can be neither confirmed or denied) Switzerland is a neutral country, thats why there are more semi automatic weapons in circulation than members of population and they have more F-18s per head of population than the UK... we of course have none.

If a wheel fell off of a passing F18 and landed in Switzerland they'd have more than we do. We don't need these overrated toys - we've got the red arrows and their bright red (no need for stealth sir when you have red white and blue smoke coming out of your engine) BAe Hawk fighters.

It isn't a secret that each Hawk comes with two catapults 50 stones, a pea shooter and a bag of green giant.

eat that osama.


Anonymous said...

"six", "one", "three", "eleventy-one"

McDougal (damn it the spooks will suss out who I am...)

Anonymous said...

on another note...

"Gareth Bale, Chris Baird and Pele were all sold and on Monday the Championship side crashed out of the Carling Cup at the hands of League Two's Peterborough."

Burley admitting that he had a fire sale this summer just to avoid administration, what's happened to the place.