Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Welcome to the UK.

The plot thickens...

"Meanwhile, a Brazilian man held for nine hours at Heathrow airport under anti-terror laws on Sunday has said he was forced to divulge email and social media account passwords.David Miranda said his interrogators threatened that he could go to prison if he did not do so."

Not exactly a great advert for tourism. Although I suppose David Miranda wasn't just any tourist - but even so - what happened to freedom of the press? Some heid-bummer from the UK civil service paid the Guardian a visit and asked that the computer holding information leaked by Edward Snowden be destroyed.
Apparently two 'experts' from GCHQ stood over newspaper staff - in an advisory roll - while hard drives where smashed in a just-so fashion.
If you are worried about the UK's security, here it all is.
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said later 
"We were quite clear we were not going to hand this material back to the British government so we destroyed it ourselves under advice from a couple of GCHQ intelligence experts, who told us which bits of the hard drive to smash up, in what way."
The thing is - and I'm no expert* - the information was held electronically. Smashing up a computer is no guarantee of anything other than you've smashed up a computer. I truly believe all copies of Dan Brown's book 'The DaVinci Code' should be destroyed because its derivative crap with moronically contrived characterisation, but it won't happen if I smash my Kindle - assuming it had a copy of that arse-gravy on it -  which it doesn't. 
If GCHQ and UK security in general hinges on the following -
"Hello, have you smashed up that hard drive with the country-shattering data on it?"
"Yes, yes we have."
"Did you copy the apocryphal nation-destroying information?"
"Er... No?"
"OK, bye then."
- then Edward Snowden probably isn't the biggest threat to the UK's security apparatus - the UK security apparatus is the biggest threat to itself.

Put in the simplest of terms. Edward Snowden leaked information (via Glenn Greenwald, who's partner is David Miranda) which showed that the USA and the UK regularly 'listened in' on email traffic, the governments in question claimed surveillance was only ever intelligence led - it turns out - they've been monitoring people and organisations with no justification.

The UK and USA security services do this for our protection, the mantra often bleated by the naive is - if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. That might be true, but that our government thinks all of us do have something to hide - to me anyway - smacks of totalitarian police statism.

Meanwhile, the checks and balances of a free press are slowly being eroded with moronic GCHQ reps standing over journalists as they smash up a container but not necessarily the content.

What this really looks like is - the UK and US administrations got caught out - and now they're having a bloody good flounce about it.

Whether you think its OK to be monitored and spied upon 'for your own safety' is subjective, whether you trust the government with the job is a good bit less so if you're prepared to take any previous behaviour into account.

Perhaps the destruction of privacy & liberty, the ability to hold government to account and to criticise it enthusiastically when it fucks up or oversteps the mark is a fair price to pay to fight 'terrorism' and maintain 'security'...

Mmm, I don't think so either.

* Working within a given field does not necessarily qualify a person as an expert in that field - as evidenced by GCHQ 'experts', my own accidental (and unfortunate) IT career and the chap in the photo above.


  1. Good post Pa.

    Apparently Washington has distanced itself from what Cameron had his flunky did at the Guardian.

    But of course as you say they have been spying on us, from what I can make out working in collaboration, passing each other information that maybe it would be illegal for them to gather on their OWN citizens.

    As for David Miranda's experience, I suspect that fewer people will want to use Heathrow.

    They seem to be unable to see that what they do is go around the world making enemies. They wouldn't have to worry so much about terrorism if they didn't ask set themselves up as hate figures.

    Mr Miranda is a Brazilian citizen; he should be complaining to his government that he was treated appallingly by the british thugs; denied legal support, in a foreign country. All done in a foreign language, I imagine.

    As I think I said before, I suspect that the Guardian will now store its material in a democratic country where thugs from the secret police will not raid their offices on the orders of the prime minister.

    I'm sure they would be welcome to open an office in Edinburgh in a few years' time.

  2. What always sticks in my craw is when Cameron etc stand up and criticise other countries their civil rights record - its massively hypocritical.

    The UK is fast becoming a pariah state, the sooner we withdraw from it the better.

    After the Bradley Manning sentencing today, Snowden would be well advised to start learning Russian.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?