two points on Snowden in the UK

Just a couple of points about the British wing of Snowden. First of all, what function does it serve to go begging to the Americans for sums of money that aren’t especially big in the context of a £1.8bn single intelligence budget?

Well, the money is a costly-signal that UK cooperation is valuable to the Americans. This legitimises the “NSA ask” in return. And in turn, the “ask” can be used to lobby the rest of government. We must have X, Y, and perhaps even Z because otherwise we’d displease the NSA and they’d pull their contribution…which you would have to replace!

Second, it’s interesting the way the government likes to re-use acronyms. According to Richard Aldrich, GCHQ’s budget line-item for fundamental research in cryptography and computing was called “Methods to Improve” throughout the coldwar. It’s no surprise, then, that “Mastering the Internet” has the same acronym, and probably a fair guess that the new name meant much the same thing but with Internet awesomesauce to impress notorious e-mail printer, Tony Blair.

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