The war on whistleblowers and publishing of leaks

British prime minister David Cameron is threatening to take action against British newspapers like The Guardian for publishing the Snowden leaks. He used as his excuse for such an action a newspaper report in which an anonymous security source had said that the leaks had hampered their terrorist investigations.

Cameron’s threat was pretty explicit, warning newspapers that if they did not cooperate with the government they would face consequences.

Meanwhile in the US, the Director on National Intelligence James Clapper and the director of the NSA Keith Alexander testified before the House Intelligence Committee yesterday and gave the ‘everybody spies on everybody so what is all the fuss about?’ defense. They also took the tack of being brave defenders of freedom being unfairly persecuted for doing their duty.

“As Americans, we face an unending array of threats to our way of life. We need to sustain our ability to detect these threats,” he said.

Months of leaks from Snowden are already “affecting our ability to conduct intelligence and keep our country safe,” he said.

Alexander struck a similar note in his testimony.

“It is much more important for this county that we defend this country and take the beating than it for us to give up a program that would prevent this nation from being attacked,” he said.

Given that both of them have shown themselves to be either brazen liars or people who have made a fine art of twisting language to, in George Orwell’s memorable words, “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”, what point is there in asking them give testimony. Why even swear them in since there is no penalty for lying?

At some point, I would like someone to ask these people exactly how ‘our way of life’ is being threatened by the terrorist they are supposedly defending us from. What exactly are the things we normally do in our lives that are under threat and that we now are afraid to do?

On the other hand, many of us now feel the pressure to encrypt our communications and be wary of where we go and what we do on the internet. All these real changes to ‘our way of life’ are not because of the terrorists but because of the actions of these so-called defenders of it.

Comments

  1. Acolyte of Sagan says

    ..affecting our ability to conduct intelligence /blockquote>

    I always thought ‘Military / Government Intelligence’ was an oxymoron, but this is by far the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time, because without a qualifier such as ‘operations’ after ‘intelligence’, what he’s effectively saying is ‘Snowden is making us stupid’.
    We know he’s making them look stupid, but that admission was surely above and beyond.

  2. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Whoops. How to mess up a blockquote in one easy lesson – and in a post about intelligence, too :-)

  3. leni says

    As Americans, we face an unending array of threats to our way of life.

    The biggest threat against my “way of life” has routinely come from mostly white Christian Americans, several of whom are well-known politicians.

    I say we tap their phones and look through their Google histories first. You know, because I’m feeling threatened.

  4. rpjohnston says

    As Americans, we face an unending array of threats to our way of life.

    Like a government that spies on us amirite?

    Seriously, how is “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” terrifying but “I’m from the government and I’m watching you for…your safety” is reassuring? Why do people react with paranoia and suspicion to a government that tries to provide services as if it’s a trojan horse to corrupt their precious bodily fluids, but blithely let the same government “inspect” up their orifices as long as it croons it’s “keeping them safe”?

  5. Compuholic says

    If you are wondering whether you are on the wrong side you’d think that trying to silence the press would serve as a really big fucking clue.

  6. The Beautiful Void says

    If you are wondering whether you are on the wrong side you’d think that trying to silence the press would serve as a really big fucking clue.

    Compuholic, would you mind if I had this framed? It’s an amazingly pithy line.

  7. AsqJames says

    Also yesterday the Queen signed the new Royal Charter on regulating the press. So all round a good day for freedom in the UK!

    Months of leaks from Snowden are already “affecting our ability to conduct intelligence and keep our country safe,” he said.

    I imagine this is actually true in a way, but Clapper and his cronies should bear the blame rather than Snowden. There is a threat from terrorism, and part of combating it involves cooperation with allies. Once America made the decision to spy on its allies there was always a decent chance those programs would be made public and the reaction that has provoked can’t have come as too much of a surprise.

    Imagine for a moment that the NSA et al had only been doing targeted surveillance as previously claimed, first of all the chances of it leaking would be much reduced and even if details had emerged there’d have been little or no outrage.

    I was listening to (and getting very frustrated by) this debate last night. One of the participants (Professor Sir David Omand, former head of GCHQ and senior intelligence adviser to No.10) repeatedly asserted that the Snowden leaks had caused real damage and was repeatedly asked to give a single example of such damage. Needless to say he didn’t/couldn’t.

  8. AsqJames says

    Also yesterday the Queen signed the new Royal Charter on regulating the press. So all round a good day for freedom in the UK!

    Months of leaks from Snowden are already “affecting our ability to conduct intelligence and keep our country safe,” he said.

    I imagine this is actually true in a way, but Clapper and his cronies should bear the blame rather than Snowden. There is a threat from terrorism, and part of combating it involves cooperation with allies. Once America made the decision to spy on its allies there was always a decent chance those programs would be made public and the reaction that has provoked can’t have come as too much of a surprise.

    Imagine for a moment that the NSA et al had only been doing targeted surveillance as previously claimed, first of all the chances of it leaking would be much reduced and even if details had emerged there’d have been little or no outrage.

    I was listening to (and getting very frustrated by) this debate last night. One of the participants (Professor Sir David Omand, former head of GCHQ and senior intelligence adviser to No.10) repeatedly asserted that the Snowden leaks had caused real damage and was repeatedly asked to give a single example of such damage. Needless to say he didn’t/couldn’t.

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