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Context of 'Late January 2003: British Officials Order Translators and Analysts to Work with US Spy Operation Targeting UN Members'

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British Foreign Minister Jack Straw tells the BBC that prior to using force against Iraq, there should be a second Security Council resolution. He also says that there should be “a substantive vote in the House of Commons before action takes place.” (Schemann 1/15/2003)

Britain’s GCHQ.Britain’s GCHQ. [Source: BBC]British officials order translators and analysts working at the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to cooperate with a US surveillance operation (see January 31, 2003) that is targeting diplomats from the “swing nations” on the Security Council—Chile, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Angola, Guinea, and Pakistan. China, too, is likely a target of the mission. The espionage campaign is “designed to help smooth the way for a second UN resolution authorizing war in Iraq.” (Bright and Beaumont 2/8/2004 Sources: Unnamed sources close to the intelligence services) The operation is likely known to the director-general of GCHQ, David Pepper, and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, “who has overall responsibility for GCHQ.” (Bright and Beaumont 2/8/2004) The operation reportedly causes “significant disquiet in the intelligence community on both sides of the Atlantic.” (Bright and Beaumont 2/8/2004)

The Mexican government sends a series of diplomatic letters to British Foreign Minister Jack Straw asking the minister if the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had spied on UN Security Council member states prior to the US-British invasion of Iraq. (Reuters 2/14/2004; Bright, Beaumont, and Tuckman 2/15/2004) To date, no response has been received. Nor has the British Foreign Office responded to inquiries from the press.


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