The spooks are still playing dirty tricks to get their snoopers’ charter: they must be stopped

David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation commissioned by Cameron, has just produced a 373 page report, ‘A Question of Trust’, which, partially at least, restored the fundamental principle of a free society into the toxic atmosphere of MI5/GCHQ’s (and the government’s) obsessive desire to introduce a snoopers’ charter in which the whole population is potentially targeted for algorithmic monitoring, with all the abuse, error and hacking that that entails.   He rightly condemns the current Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) as “incomprehensible, undemocratic, unnecessary and intolerable”.   But his central proposal is to shift oversight of the surveillance process from the Home Secretary to a new independent body and in particular to pass the power to authorise surveillance away from government to a panel of senior judges.   This is long overdue and should be strongly supported.

The arguments against almost unchecked mass surveillance are overwhelming.   In all the recent cases of UK terrorist bombings and killings, the perpetrators were already known to the security services, who culpably failed to keep track of them or to arrest them.   So there is no recent evidence to justify introducing mass surveillance, rather the need for the security services to be more alert and a lot sharper.   Second, privacy, despite Silicon Valley’s claim that it is now dead, has an essential role in guarding human identity, dignity, and independence, and mass surveillance runs clean counter to this.   Third, no other civilised country allows Ministers control over the mechanisms of mass surveillance.   The EU have amended their surveillance regimes following a judgement in the European Court, and even in the US there has been cross-party agreement to ban it as being unconstitutional.

It is however sad that even a libertarian like Anderson still, at the end of his report, supports the bulk collection of data by the security agencies.   This is such a prize item for Theresa May, who has touted the need for a snoopers’ charter at every opportunity presented by terrorist action anywhere, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, that one wonders if he was nobbled.   For there is no limit the spooks won’t go to to get their way.   Most recently they have put around the claim that Russia and China have broken into the secret cache of Snowden’s files and that British agents have had to be withdrawn from live operations as a result.  This story is riddled with highly unquestionable and unlikely implications that it is widely seen as yet another device to blacken Snowden and pave the way for the mass snooping charter they will sink to any dirty tricks to get their hands on.   They must be stopped by a cross-party alliance when the government presents its bill in the autumn, and I believe they will be.


6 thoughts on “The spooks are still playing dirty tricks to get their snoopers’ charter: they must be stopped

  1. Well they took away your benefits then they took away your rights to justice now they come to hide you away without charge will the last person left switch the lights out

  2. The whole Intelligence, (as I’ve here discussed previously,) thing is riddled with such contradiction and so much bullshit that it’s hard to take much of it entirely seriously, I’ll take one example, since it’s early and I’ve discussed this more cogently previously; you sate that, “In all the recent cases of UK terrorist bombings and killings, the perpetrators were already known to the security services, who culpably failed to keep track of them or to arrest them ?”

    But what does that mean, these days we’re all on file so “known to authorities,” could mean absolutely anything, (for example, it was well known that during the 70’s and since all the union leaders and left wing politicians were regularly having their phones tapped and so on by the intelligence services,) and then there’s the issue of not revealing their sources which is pretty much a get out jail free card for anything they don’t want to discuss, even stuff they may simply have made up after a few pints on a slow day to impress their superiors or get more funding and yes that’s really happened; the remarkable thing is that we even know about it, many of the super grasses fall into that category.

    Then there’s the problem of having to allow suspected or even know terrorists to remain at large and at liberty to commit atrocities in order to apprehend more senior elements of their sometime completely imaginary organizations, this was the classic problem for British and American code breakers during WW II, the moment the Germans or Japanese realized their codes had been broken, they changed them and allies were then worse of than if they’d never broken them.

    And so and so and so on and so on………………………………………….

  3. One last point, in world were elements of the CIA, (under orders from the US government,) Oliver North, (remember him,) organized this, were selling arms to Saddam Hussein, (for example,) to provide, (off the books,) finance their own anti government; arguably, terrorist, operation, (the Contras,) in Nicaragua, even when the lower echelon people responsible for these abuses are caught and brought to book that’s generally as far it goes.

    “Plausible Deniability,” is now everything and that’s a principle that has been applied far beyond the intelligence services, even I would argue to matters such as the climate of abuse that prevailed for so long at Mid Staffs; where more senior people all the way up to Andy Burnham and his predecessors could still claim that, “no one told us,” because anyone who tried to lost their job, the career and their livelihood as a result.

  4. Actually it was Iran/Contra and not the Iraq/Contra affair so not Saddam Hussein; although I think that I recall they sold him arms as well, but my point still stands.

  5. Consider the questionable (i.e. no actual evidence provided) of the number of agents hurt by Snowdens revelations and contrast it with the number of innocent victims maimed or killed as a result of our government foreign policy..its a no brainer..’I’m with Snowden’!!

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