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Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge.

A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality:

How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said “Nein” to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany’s own economy and bottom line.

But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous:

The White House has imposed visa restrictions on some Russian officials, and President Obama has issued an executive order enabling further sanctions. But Britain has already undermined any unified action by putting profit first.

It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine.

At this point, in standing with the ideological framework of the host media outlet, the author takes a detour into naive idealism – a world in which it is not money that talks, but a declining global superpower, whose hypocrisy has been exposed time and again, and where extinct words like “mission” and “moral” are used with reckless abandon:

Britain, open for business, no longer has a “mission.” Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh.Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money — even as Russian armored personnel carriers rumble around the streets of Sevastopol. But the establishment understands that, in the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks.

The Russians also understand this. They know that London is a center of Russian corruption, that their loot plunges into Britain’s empire of tax havens — from Gibraltar to Jersey, from the Cayman Islands to the British Virgin Islands — on which the sun never sets.

British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million). London lawyers in the Commercial Court now get 60 percent of their work from Russian and Eastern European clients. More than 50 Russia-based companies swell the trade at London’s Stock Exchange. The planning regulations have been scrapped, and along the Thames, up go spires of steel and glass for the hedge-funding class.

Britain’s bright young things now become consultants, art dealers, private banker and hedge funders. Or, to put it another way, the oligarchs’ valets.

Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gets it: you pay them, you own them. Mr. Putin was absolutely certain that Britain’s managers — shuttling through the revolving door between cabinet posts and financial boards — would never give up their fees and commissions from the oligarchs’ billions. He was right.

So, let us get this straight? It is great when the Russian oligrachs “invest” their stolen money in luxury London real estate, the FTSE100, and various other inflating assets which are mistaken for an improvement in the broader “economy”, but when the alarm clock of realpolitick rings, it was all bad?

What we are more stunned by is that while London has at least figured out the quid pro quo, the US, and its leader, so far seem completely incapable of doing so. Perhaps someone should explain to Obama that with the Fed tapering, the only incremental buyer of high end real estate are precisely the oligarchs from Russia, whom he will soon alienate, as well as those from China, which also may decide it is too risky to park “hot money” in New York triplexes, and instead once again, like in 2011, park it all in gold and other precious metals.

But going back to the NYT article, the author does make the following accurate observation: “This is Britain’s growth business today: laundering oligarchs’ dirty billions, laundering their dirty reputations.

His conclusion, too, is spot on:

The Shard encapsulates the new hierarchy of the city. On the top floors, “ultra high net worth individuals” entertain escorts in luxury apartments. By day, on floors below, investment bankers trade incomprehensible derivatives.

Come nightfall, the elevators are full of African cleaners, paid next to nothing and treated as nonexistent. The acres of glass windows are scrubbed by Polish laborers, who sleep four to a room in bedsit slums. And near the Shard are the immigrants from Lithuania and Romania, who broke their backs on construction sites, but are now destitute and whiling away their hours along the banks of the Thames.

The Shard is London, a symbol of a city where oligarchs are celebrated and migrants are exploited but that pretends to be a multicultural utopia. Here, in their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelings.

Still think Putin is ready to “blink”?

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge

Why London, Too, Will Balk At Sanctions Against Russia (And Putin Knows It) | Zero Hedge.

A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality:

How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said “Nein” to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany’s own economy and bottom line.

But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous:

The White House has imposed visa restrictions on some Russian officials, and President Obama has issued an executive order enabling further sanctions. But Britain has already undermined any unified action by putting profit first.

It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine.

At this point, in standing with the ideological framework of the host media outlet, the author takes a detour into naive idealism – a world in which it is not money that talks, but a declining global superpower, whose hypocrisy has been exposed time and again, and where extinct words like “mission” and “moral” are used with reckless abandon:

Britain, open for business, no longer has a “mission.” Any moralizing remnant of the British Empire is gone; it has turned back to the pirate England of Sir Walter Raleigh.Britain’s ruling class has decayed to the point where its first priority is protecting its cut of Russian money — even as Russian armored personnel carriers rumble around the streets of Sevastopol. But the establishment understands that, in the 21st century, what matters are banks, not tanks.

The Russians also understand this. They know that London is a center of Russian corruption, that their loot plunges into Britain’s empire of tax havens — from Gibraltar to Jersey, from the Cayman Islands to the British Virgin Islands — on which the sun never sets.

British residency is up for sale. “Investor visas” can be purchased, starting at £1 million ($1.6 million). London lawyers in the Commercial Court now get 60 percent of their work from Russian and Eastern European clients. More than 50 Russia-based companies swell the trade at London’s Stock Exchange. The planning regulations have been scrapped, and along the Thames, up go spires of steel and glass for the hedge-funding class.

Britain’s bright young things now become consultants, art dealers, private banker and hedge funders. Or, to put it another way, the oligarchs’ valets.

Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, gets it: you pay them, you own them. Mr. Putin was absolutely certain that Britain’s managers — shuttling through the revolving door between cabinet posts and financial boards — would never give up their fees and commissions from the oligarchs’ billions. He was right.

So, let us get this straight? It is great when the Russian oligrachs “invest” their stolen money in luxury London real estate, the FTSE100, and various other inflating assets which are mistaken for an improvement in the broader “economy”, but when the alarm clock of realpolitick rings, it was all bad?

What we are more stunned by is that while London has at least figured out the quid pro quo, the US, and its leader, so far seem completely incapable of doing so. Perhaps someone should explain to Obama that with the Fed tapering, the only incremental buyer of high end real estate are precisely the oligarchs from Russia, whom he will soon alienate, as well as those from China, which also may decide it is too risky to park “hot money” in New York triplexes, and instead once again, like in 2011, park it all in gold and other precious metals.

But going back to the NYT article, the author does make the following accurate observation: “This is Britain’s growth business today: laundering oligarchs’ dirty billions, laundering their dirty reputations.

His conclusion, too, is spot on:

The Shard encapsulates the new hierarchy of the city. On the top floors, “ultra high net worth individuals” entertain escorts in luxury apartments. By day, on floors below, investment bankers trade incomprehensible derivatives.

Come nightfall, the elevators are full of African cleaners, paid next to nothing and treated as nonexistent. The acres of glass windows are scrubbed by Polish laborers, who sleep four to a room in bedsit slums. And near the Shard are the immigrants from Lithuania and Romania, who broke their backs on construction sites, but are now destitute and whiling away their hours along the banks of the Thames.

The Shard is London, a symbol of a city where oligarchs are celebrated and migrants are exploited but that pretends to be a multicultural utopia. Here, in their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelings.

Still think Putin is ready to “blink”?

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge.

With the UK rapidly backing away from sanctions against the Russians (and the Russians suggesting the confiscation of US and EU assets should sanctions occur), it appears President Obama is becoming increasingly isolated in his calls for sanctions. As the CEO of Siemens – Germany’s massive industrial conglomerate explains Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

Via WSJ,

The head of German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said he doesn’t expect European governments will press hard for sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s authorization to potentially deploy  troops into Ukraine.

Siemens President and Chief Executive Joe Kaeser was asked about the situation in Ukraine during an appearance at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas. He said it was important to remember that Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

“Maybe the American people or the government or whoever raises their eyebrows can say how could the Europeans be so moderate on the debate over sanctions. Guess what? You don’t want to sanction anyone you depend on,” Mr. Kaeser said.

...

Mr. Kaeser went on to say the U.S. is in a better position to consider economic sanctions against Russia because of its recent surge in oil and gas production.

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge.

With the UK rapidly backing away from sanctions against the Russians (and the Russians suggesting the confiscation of US and EU assets should sanctions occur), it appears President Obama is becoming increasingly isolated in his calls for sanctions. As the CEO of Siemens – Germany’s massive industrial conglomerate explains Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

Via WSJ,

The head of German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said he doesn’t expect European governments will press hard for sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s authorization to potentially deploy  troops into Ukraine.

Siemens President and Chief Executive Joe Kaeser was asked about the situation in Ukraine during an appearance at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas. He said it was important to remember that Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

“Maybe the American people or the government or whoever raises their eyebrows can say how could the Europeans be so moderate on the debate over sanctions. Guess what? You don’t want to sanction anyone you depend on,” Mr. Kaeser said.

...

Mr. Kaeser went on to say the U.S. is in a better position to consider economic sanctions against Russia because of its recent surge in oil and gas production.

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge.

While various organizations are scrambling to meet on short notice, or not so short if one is a European finance minister, the diplomatic fallout has begun with the summoning of the Russian Ambassador in Great Britain to the foreign office.

Russian Ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office over #Ukraine

— William Hague (@WilliamJHague) March 1, 2014

This was to be expected. More interest will be whether Russia will “summon” its ambassador to the US as the upper house of parliament has demanded of Putin:

Russia’s upper house of parliament will ask President Vladimir Putin to recall Moscow’s ambassador from the United States, the chamber’s speaker said on Saturday.

 

Valentina Matviyenko, the head of the Federation Council, asked the Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs to draw up a proposal setting out the demands to Putin.

Now all eyes are focused on the White House. Or perhaps that should say on the nearby golf courses?

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge

Britain Summons Russian Ambassador; Russian Ambassador To US May Be Recalled | Zero Hedge.

While various organizations are scrambling to meet on short notice, or not so short if one is a European finance minister, the diplomatic fallout has begun with the summoning of the Russian Ambassador in Great Britain to the foreign office.

Russian Ambassador has been summoned to the Foreign Office over #Ukraine

— William Hague (@WilliamJHague) March 1, 2014

This was to be expected. More interest will be whether Russia will “summon” its ambassador to the US as the upper house of parliament has demanded of Putin:

Russia’s upper house of parliament will ask President Vladimir Putin to recall Moscow’s ambassador from the United States, the chamber’s speaker said on Saturday.

 

Valentina Matviyenko, the head of the Federation Council, asked the Council’s Committee on Foreign Affairs to draw up a proposal setting out the demands to Putin.

Now all eyes are focused on the White House. Or perhaps that should say on the nearby golf courses?

Brian Monteith: Separation may tear us to pieces – The Scotsman

Brian Monteith: Separation may tear us to pieces – The Scotsman.

Nelson, victorious at Trafalgar  and his fighting men were Scots. Picture: Getty

  • by BRIAN MONTEITH
 Published on the16February

Proud Scots have made Britain great, so we have nothing to fear from any continuation of the Union, writes Brian Monteith

The demand from Yes campaigners for the No campaign to be more positive and offer a positive vision of Scotland’s future has been repeated so often that it has now become a tiresome cliché. It is all the more ironic then that the greatest advocates of the positive case for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom are in fact Yes campaigners and politicians themselves.

We see it all the time by the way advocates of independence define what they mean. We shall retain the Queen as our head of state instead of being offered the choice to become a republic. We shall, they insist, remain members of the European Union instead of being offered the choice to be like Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and limit ourselves to being European trading partners. We shall apply to join Nato to have a mutually assured defence structure that will involve exercises with the RAF, Royal Navy and British Army regiments instead of being neutral and outside any military alliance.

We are still being told we shall have a currency union although it can now be seen that it is absolutely beyond the power of the SNP to deliver it formally. We are also told that we shall maintain our social union despite the fact that charging the thousands of English, Welsh and Northern Irish students for university fees is not only illegal within the EU but is also certain to create a significant grievance in the continuing UK if we do not charge Germans, Greeks or Spaniards the same fees.

So there we have it: being in the United Kingdom has given us many strong and positive advantages. We have a highly stable and well respected constitutional monarchy that provides a reassuring and unifying stability, while politicians come and go and fall in and out of fashion.

We have been members of the European Union for some 40 years and Nato for more than 60 – bringing openness, economic growth, democracy and security to which other nations have aspired and queued up to join.

Our own common currency provides a means of exchange redeemable throughout the land that suits us better than using a foreign coinage and gives us a flexibility in the world economy that is the envy of so many nations that made the mistake of joining the euro.

And we have a social union that after not just years or decades, but centuries of wars, battles, and bloody invasions (by either side), has encouraged us to migrate, intermingle, forge familial bonds and establish through perseverance and endeavour great successes in commerce, culture, science and politics. There are communities, even towns south of the Border, that are thought of as being essentially Scottish. The extent to which our social union became possible in the United Kingdom, despite further civil wars where Scots themselves were divided, is taken for granted nowadays, just as the huge role we played in establishing what was to become the British Empire and then latterly the Commonwealth is often forgotten.

Some intentionally provocative and disrespectful nationalists like to call the Union flag the butchers’ apron, conveniently avoiding the fact that if there were indeed any butchers, they were as likely to be Scots as anyone else. Key events in our British history, such as the Battle of Trafalgar, had a disproportionately large number of Scots while we all know the names of great Scots who helped shape the modern world.

The idea we are so subservient, passive and lacking in confidence within our great social union as to be unable to lead men to make the greatest of sacrifices, discover the unknown, develop new ideas, forge new enterprises, build lasting and enviable institutions – and yes, run our country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – because we are Scots and not born to do so is the worst example of the Scottish cringe.

Was I dreaming when that Scottish son of the manse, Gordon Brown, became British prime minister and was widely accepted at the time by an English-dominated Labour Party? Brown was hardly born to run the country.

Maybe I imagined that Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, that humble bungalow lad from Paisley Terrace nestling in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, became the Labour Party’s longest-serving prime minister and the only person to lead that party to three consecutive general election victories. He was hardly born to run the UK: the second son of Leo, an illegitimate child of two English actors who was adopted and raised by a Glaswegian shipyard worker James Blair. Such are the bloodlines of our social union that has seen Scotsmen and women go on through their own endeavour to achieve great things and be accepted north and south of the old Border.

Did Alistair Darling not follow Brown as chancellor, was the late Robin Cook not Foreign Secretary and did George Robertson and John Reid not hold high Cabinet rank along with many other Scots? Would John Smith – that Dunoon Grammar School lad – not have become prime minister but for his untimely death in 1994?

Then let us not forget Edinburgh’s George Watson’s boy Malcolm Rifkind, hewn from Jewish Lithuanian immigrant stock – hardly a traditional Scottish background – who rose to become Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary. Or how about John Cowperthwaite who, in the 1960s, made Hong Kong what it is today?

And it doesn’t just end there, for Scots in Britain are hardly shrinking violets in other fields – from Govan’s Alex Ferguson in sport, who managed possibly the best-known football team in the world, to Stonehaven’s John Reith, who built the BBC into the envy of the world. Neither they nor many others like them – the list is as inspiring as it is long – were born to run or shape British institutions, but they had the opportunity and the Union made it possible.

It is this social union that I fear for most. As we now see that the continuing UK can and will have different interests from Scots and Scotland – and has every right to pursue them – new grievances will tear us apart. What’s positive about that?

Mid-Century Heat Will Be Tough to Beat in U.K.,  Study Says – Bloomberg

Mid-Century Heat Will Be Tough to Beat in U.K.,  Study Says – Bloomberg.

By Eric Roston  Feb 5, 2014 6:34 PM ET
Photographer: Stefan Rousseau/Press Association via AP Images

Firefighters tackle a grass fire on the edge of Epping Forest near Wanstead in…Read More

Hot weather disruptions are projected to rise as decades pass — they already have — taking metropolitan areas dangerously past historic high temperatures, sometimes for days or weeks at a time.

A study of the U.K. this week in theJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health, sees a rising probability of dangerous heatwaves as the century progresses. Heat-related deaths could rise by more than 250 percent by mid-century, with some of the most dramatic increases occurring in London.

Researchers from two British institutions studied the relationship between weather and mortality between 1993 and 2006, then combined their findings with 21st century warming projections. The rising temperature and heightened variability, they conclude, “will be unprecedented since agricultural times, making it unlikely that future societal adaptation to hot weather will be as achievable as in the past.”

Heat-related deaths in London are projected to increase 39 percent by the 2020s, to 6.1 deaths for every 100,000 people. The estimate increases to 11.3 by the 2050s and 17.5 in the 2080s (assuming London hasn’t been evacuated by then to Norway or some kind of anti-heat syrum developed). Currently, about 2,000 people a year die from heat-related stress, and 41,000 from cold-related deaths.

There’s an upside to the coming heat bombs. Cold days were found to have a higher mortality rate than hot ones. The overall number of temperature-related deaths is projected to decline by the 2050s, as the increase in heat-stress deaths is offset by fewer lives lost in cold weather.

The study emphasizes that its projections occur “in the absence of any adaptation of the population” — an assumption already wearing away, as cities and companies reinvent themselves for a changing world.

Iran, Russia Ruffle US Feathers With Oil-Swap Deal | Zero Hedge

Iran, Russia Ruffle US Feathers With Oil-Swap Deal | Zero Hedge.

This morning’s apparent U-turn in US-Iran relations – when the US demanded the UN rescind Iran’s invite to the Syrian peace conference having somewhat instigated their invitation in the first place – is a little confusing for some. However, as OilPrice’s Joao Peixe points out, reports are emerging that Iran and Russia are in talks about a potential $1.5 billion oil-for-goods swap that is sure to upset the powers that be in Washington.

 

Submitted by Joao Peixe via OilPrice.com,

Reports are emerging that Iran and Russia are in talks about a potential $1.5 billion oil-for-goods swap that could boost Iranian oil exports, prompting harsh responses from Washington, which says such a deal could trigger new US sanctions.

 

So far, talks are progressing to the point that Russia could purchase up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goodsaccording to Reuters.

 

“We are concerned about these reports and Secretary (of State John) Kerry directly expressed this concern with (Russian) Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov…  If the reports are true, such a deal would raise serious concerns as it would be inconsistent with the terms of the P5+1 agreement with Iran and could potentially trigger US sanctions,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, told Reuters.

 

Russian purchases of 500,000 bpd of Iranian crude would lift Iran’s oil exports by 50% and infuse the struggling economy with some $1.5 billion a month, some sources say.

 

Since sanctions were slapped on Iran in July 2012, exports have fallen by half and Iran is losing up to $5 billion per moth is revenues.

 

In the meantime, a nuclear agreement reached in November with Iran and world powers is in the process of being finalized, and the news of the potential Russian-Iranian oil swap deal plays to the hands of Iran hawks in Washington who are keen to seen the November agreement collapse.

 

The November agreement is a six-month deal to lift some trade sanctions if Tehran curtailed its nuclear program. Technical talks on the agreement began last week.

Under the terms of the tentative November nuclear agreement, Iran will be allowed to export only 1 million barrels of oil per day.

 

In mid-December, Iranian oil officials indicated that they hoped to resume previous production and export levels and would hold talks with international companies to that end.

 

This announcement sparked an immediate reaction from US Congress, which has threatened oil companies with “severe financial penalties” if they resume business with Iran “prematurely” following the six-month agreement reached in Geneva.

 

There are plenty of figures in Congress—Republican and Democratic alike—who are opposed to the deal. The key “Iran hawk” in US Congress, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, has described the deal as “so far away from what the end game should look like”, which should be to “stop enrichment”.

 

The opposition in this case believes any talk between Tehran and Western oil companies is premature because they are convinced that we won’t see a comprehensive resolution after the six-month period, and that sanctions will be laid on stronger than ever before.

Yet again, it would seem, Iran is another proxy pissing match between the US and Russia… and remember, nothing lasts forever...

 

Alan Rusbridger: Westminster is hoping Snowden revelations go away | Media | theguardian.com

Alan Rusbridger: Westminster is hoping Snowden revelations go away | Media | theguardian.com.

Alan Rusbridger

Alan Rusbridger told the BBC both the main political parties felt compromised by the surveillance revelations. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Britain’s political class has been closing its eyes and hoping the revelations from Edward Snowden go away rather than tackle important issues over mass surveillance that have provoked such heated debate in America, the editor in chief of the Guardian has said.

Alan Rusbridger accused Westminster of “complacency” about the revelations from Snowden, which have been published in the Guardianover the past six months.

Speaking to the BBC hours before the US president, Barack Obama, was due to give details about reforms to the US spy headquarters, the National Security Agency (NSA), Rusbridger said: “I think one of the problems is that both of the main political parties feel compromised about this. Labour is not keen to get involved because a lot of this stuff was done on their watch.”

He added: “I think there is a degree of complacency here. There has been barely a whisper from Westminster. I think they are closing their eyes and hoping that it goes away. But it won’t go away because it’s impossible to reform the NSA without having a deep knock-on effect on what our own intelligence services do.”

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Rusbridger said the oversight mechanisms that were supposed to review the work of Britain’s intelligence agencies had proved to be “laughable”. He said the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, even with the extra money it had received recently, was not up to the job. “I just don’t think they have the technical expertise or the resources,” he said.

Rusbridger added: “What is unprecedented in the last 15 years is the advance of technology. It is completely different from anything that has existed in humankind before.”

Earlier in the programme, William Hague, the foreign secretary, reaffirmed his belief that Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, had acted within the law when it looked at the content of intercepted messages.

He refused to comment on the Guardian’s latest story from the Snowden files – which shows GCHQ has access to “unwarranted” text messagescollected by the NSA in a programme codenamed Dishfire.

“I am not going to comment on allegations or leaks. I can’t possibly do that,” said Hague.

“But I can say [we have] a very strong system of checks and balances of warrants being required from me or the home secretary to intercept the content of the communications.

“That system is not breached. I have not seen anything to suggest that system has been breached. We have probably the strongest system in the world. Not only do I and the home secretary oversee these things, but we have commissioners who oversee our work and report to the prime minister. No country has a stronger system than that.”

But Rusbridger said Hague had sidestepped the main issue.

Dishfire collects so-called “metadata”, which can be analysed with fewer legal restraints. Yet expert after expert had admitted metadata was as valuable as content to intelligence analysts, said Rusbridger, because it allows analysts to build up a picture of your whereabouts and your relationships.

“There is not much distinction between metadata and content,” he said.

“[Hague] talked about being within the law on content. This isn’t content. This is metadata, which politicians make out as very harmless. This is not just billing data. The world has moved on. What people can tell through metadata is almost everything about you.

“Contrary to what William Hague said the documents say, the NSA likes working here because of the light legal regime here.”

Rusbridger also questioned the claims of Britain’s security chiefs that the Guardian’s revelations had undermined national security and – in the words of the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers – left al-Qaida rubbing its hands in glee.

Rusbridger said the claim was “theatrical … but there was no evidence attached”.

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