The Guardian-Edward Snowden Case: Guess Who Believes in Surveillance?
Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the UK's main leftist/'progressive' newspaper, the Guardian, will face questioning over his newspaper's publication of Edward Snowden's leaked documents, which were taken from the UK and U.S. security services. Rusbridger will give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in December.
In terms of detail, the Guardian published information about how British security agencies monitor communications. The Guardian has of course said that the information it published is for the public good. It has also claimed that it is fighting against the 'surveillance society' and the British Government's abuse of power. That is mainly hyperbolic rubbish. The Guardian, or at least most of its journalists, actually believe in state-surveillance if the right people are being surveyed; just as it believes in censorship if the right people are being censored. (It also believes in the restriction of free speech if the right people are being restricted.) In this instance, the wrong people -- the ones being monitored by the UK's security services -- were Muslims and, perhaps, a handful of Leftist activists.
So this isn't an argument either for or against the state's secret monitoring: the Guardian itself is not against such a thing. Given the right kind of government (a socialist/progressive one), and the right kind of people to be monitored (the 'far right', 'Islamophobes', people who commit 'hate crimes', people like Anders Breivik, the EDL, BNP, etc.), then the Guardian simply wouldn't have a problem. It's also about the fact that it is the wrong kind of government (a supposedly right-wing one) monitoring the wrong kinds of people (Muslims and some Leftists) which makes the Guardian fake its outrage.
(This piece isn't at all concerned with Edward Snowden's own political motivations; which seem less clear-cut than the Guardian's. [In fact Snowden has been classed as a 'patriot' by some in the U.S.] Similarly, my comments are on British security services and their concerns, not on what might have concerned Edward Snowden back in the USA.)
What has got the goat of the Guardian was that various government agencies were able to tap into the internet communications of Muslim terrorists -- and perhaps some Leftist activists -- through the GCHQ's Tempora programme. Now it may also be the case that GCHQ can also tap into everyone's (i.e., yours and mine) internet communications too. That would largely -- though not entirely -- depend on whether we are planning to blow up civilians or not. Despite saying that, I'm more than happy to admit that GCHQ may well abuse its power. In fact, all security services -- especially those of Leftist/progressive regimes -- have done so throughout the ages.
It may also be said that the authorities are overstressing the very real terrorist threat from a substantial amount of Muslims here in the UK (as, for example, Will Self claimed on the BBC's "Question Time"). But considering the mindset of Leftists/progressives (as well as their condescension of Muslims and support of Islamist causes), the Guardian will claim that they are also concerned with everyone's freedom from unwarranted surveillance, not specifically with the freedom of Muslims (or Leftist activists).
Nonetheless, MI6 chief, Sir John Sawers, said that "our adversaries were rubbing their hands with glee" over Snowden's disclosures to the Guardian and that "al-Qaeda is lapping up". In fact various Islamic terror groups have admitted as much.
Sir John Sawers also said that the "leaks from Snowden have been very damaging" and that "they've put our operations at risk."
In addition, the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, said -- in response to the Guardian's political rhetoric and its various defenses -- that that our security services defend rather than undermine freedom. Many Guardianistas (apparently they're all very sophisticated and highly-moral beings) will no doubt laugh at this because it sounds a little naïve. However, it's the Guardian responses and defensive moves which are truly naïve. Andrew Parker is not saying that our security services never abuse their position and never do things that have nothing at all to do with protecting our freedom and security. He is simply saying that the security services are designed to defend our freedom and security (amongst other things). This doesn't discount personal corruption, government duplicity or anything like that. As I said, every nation state has required security services and every security service has been to a lesser or greater degree corrupt or politically duplicitous.
But none of that is at the heart of the Guardian's problem. At the heart of the Guardian's problem is that it is the wrong kind of state (a capitalist/right-wing state led by a Conservative government) doing the wrong kinds of surveillance (of Muslims and sometimes Leftists/progressives). In actual fact I would say that the security services monitor the Far Right (even when it ain't Far Right) far more than they do the Far Left; though I would also say that they monitor Muslim groups and individuals more than they do either the Far Left or Far Right -- and understandably so!
MI5's Andrew Parker put more meat on the bones when he told us that his security service, along with others, had foiled -- stopped -- 34 Islamic terror plots since the attacks in London on 7th July, 2005. So get your head around that. Since 2005 there might well have been as many as 52 times 34 more civilian deaths in the UK. That is, in the last thirteen years up to 1768 or more people might have been killed by Islamic terrorists (here in the UK) if it weren't for our security services.
British MPs have used more cautious or diplomatic words than that. For example, Conservative MPs Julian Smith and Stephen Phillips have called on the Guardian's editor, Mr. Rusbridger, to tell us whether or not he "acted on every security concern raised by government" when he published the -- until then -- secret documents. My guess is that he didn't. After all, the government is a Conservative government and the Guardian has deeply despised the Conservative Party for more than sixty years (or for around 180 years if you include the Manchester Guardian). And since the security services now work under a Conservative government, that may be all the information the Guardian requires when it comes to this matter. (This of course disregards the fact that every government has security services; as well as the fact that, to a degree at least, when UK governments change the security services stay largely the same; as does much of the rest of the civil service.)
More disturbingly, Julian Smith MP and Stephen Phillips MP want to know if the Guardian: "directed, permitted, facilitated or acquiesced in the transfer of the files obtained by Mr. Snowden to anyone in the US or elsewhere".
In other words, did the Guardian supply these secret documents to Leftist political activists/groups as well as to Muslim/Islamic groups?
Predictably, the Guardian's, or Mr. Rusbridger's, responses to these questions were either cases of prevarication or simple political rhetoric. Specifically, one response -- to a letter from 28 Conservative MPs -- failed to "acknowledge the devastating assessment of the damage done to the national security of the United Kingdom".
To put all this in some kind of context.
From the early 1920s onwards, there have been members of our (Leftist) establishment -- including those in the legal professions, spies, students/professors at Cambridge University, (even) members of the Church of England clergy and, of course, journalists -- who, for whatever reasons, preferred the system which was put in place in the Soviet Union to our own and who consequently worked towards the downfall of the evil 'capitalist system'.
Now that the Soviet Union is dead, and communism has been shown -- many times -- to be a failure on all counts, that doesn't mean that Leftists have suddenly stopped being obsessive despisers of what they facetiously call 'capitalist democracy.' (Coincidentally, the leaker of secret documents, Edward Snowden, is at present seeking asylum in Moscow.) The Progressive Left has simply shifted its focus. However, in some cases Leftists have no focus other than hating capitalism. In addition, as many now know, a substantial number of leftist-progressives have focused their political energies on Muslims/Islamists and their various causes. Some Leftists have even formed an attachment to the Islamic Republic of Iran (which is a contemporary substitute for China/the Soviet Union/Nicaragua/North Vietnam/Cuba). So, yes, it's the same old game as before but with different objects of Leftist/progressive faith and hope.
In the good old days, one way of destroying the 'capitalist West' was to spy for the Soviet Union. Today the leaking of highly-secret documents seems like a suitable -- and almost equivalent -- alternative to that.
Let's face facts then: the Guardian would like to bring down the present Conservative Government. In addition, most Guardian journalists won't be happy until we have some kind of socialist/progressive/collectivist state and society.
So to follow on from that: it was of course no coincidence that Mr. Snowden chose to leak his secret documents to the Guardian. Bear that in mind when you think about this case.
Alan Rusbridger's bio:
Mr. Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, is the son of G.H. Rusbridger; who was the Director of Education of Northern Rhodesia when Rusbridger was born. He was educated at Lanesborough Prep School and then at Cranleigh School (a boys' private/independent school). From there he went to study at Magdalene College, Cambridge University. He is married to the educationalist Lindsay Mackie, who was educated at the private St. Leonards School. Alan Rusbridger is paid £491.000 a year by the Guardian. (The Guardian is a perennially loss-making business.)