What the Independent tells us about the Guardian’s crimes

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Julian Smith MP has filed a complaint to the Metropolitan Police about the Guardian and its potential breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. Under the Act, it is a terrorist offence to communicate names, or any identifying material, of GCHQ personnel – not just to publish those names, but to communicate them.

The Guardian shipped GCHQ files to American bloggers and the New York Times. In so doing they did a lot more than journalism, ie receiving files and reporting on them. They became traffickers and distributors.

They have refused to answer my questions on Twitter as to whether their trafficked files included names of GCHQ staff, issuing a classic non-denial denial to the Daily Mail that reads like an admission: “We did not include the names of any British spies.” Spies? It’s a terrorist offence to communicate identifying info on any GCHQ personnel.

Well, the Guardian gets all the love and money from this betrayal of our security forces, but there’s another British paper that got to see the Snowden files. The Independent, in August, ran a story about a secret British base in the Middle East.

I believe this story was abominably irresponsible and a betrayal of national security. The excuse was the paper didn’t provide an address and a map. So what? They revealed the existence of the base and put all its operations and operatives in jeapoardy.

However, and it is a big however, the Independent here was “committing journalism” as the Guardian likes to put it when trying to avoid the police. They received the files and they reported on them. Irresponsibly and morally wrongly, but that’s all they did,

They didn’t copy the files. They didn’t traffic the files. They didn’t hand the files to foreigner papers and bloggers. They just reported on them.

Once the Telegraph and the Daily Mail – to their eternal credit – started to challenge the Guardian’s muling and commercial trading on our agents’ safety, the Independent published this little-noted editorial. But for the purposes of the police investigation, it is a crucial one, because it tells us just exactly what Guardian editors copied and gave to foreigners in order to get their dying paper more money from online clicks.

In August, we too were given information from the Snowden files. It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain’s security.

I think that’s pretty damned clear.

Yes, it is ludicrous that the Independent thinks publishing a front-page story revealing a secret British Middle Eastern base is not “sensitive” or “damaging”. But they are informing their readers – roughly the same base as the Guardian, the liberal left – just how awful the GCHQ Snowden files are.

Glenn Greenwald, who has now left the Guardian for a French-funded company with his fellow traitor Laura Poitras, was kind enough to tell the world on Twitter that Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson were concerned not to expose any NSA spying, but merely to endanger British operations. He told us what the documents they copied and muled to a blog and the NYT were on September 10th

@peterkofod As for NYT, I had no role at all in that – those were 1 set of docs only about UK that G had. They made that choice without me.

Julian Smith MP’s letter does more than ask the police to investigate if GCHQ personnel were identified in these “just about Britain” documents the Guardian trafficked to foreigners. He also asks the police to compel Alan Rusbridger and Janine Gibson to help in decryption efforts. After all, they have the documents, and they are happy to hand them to bloggers. And from the Independent, we know that the documents could not be more dangerous to the security of this nation. If a British commercial media company is sitting on the decyrption key, they have to hand it over to our intelligence forces. Instead of helping the police and GCHQ see what damage has been done, which agents’ names are out there, and assisting them in saving lives, Rusbridger has admitted online that he has actively prevented this vital information being accessed:

Are you taking any precautions to prevent US/UK government tampering/stealing with the documents?

Alan Rusbridger: Yes. And many of them are now with the NYT

Julian Smith MP has taken direct action by referring all of this to anti-terrorist police. But of course, it is a question for the Government too. The Home Office Committee is now investigating the Guardian. I have no doubt they will rightly ask ministers if they asked the Guardian for access to these terrible documents and if denied, whether and when they sought an injunction or subpoena to compel this commercial company to give the security forces access.

Once again, thanks to the Independent’s honesty in its editorial, we know the stakes for our intelligence services could not be higher.

It pertained to the operation of the security services, was highly detailed, and had the capacity to compromise Britain’s security.

I believe that anti-terror police are already actively on to breaches of the Terrorism Act 2000. But the Government, for whom defence of the realm is its first duty, must also play its part and not be cowed by the Guardian-BBC axis. We must never let fear of the press stop us from doing the right thing. The legal tools are there to compel the Guardian to share access to these files not just with commercial papers and bloggers but with the forces that defend us. In the same Q&A Rusbridger also said this:

Would The Guardian have been willing to hand copy to authorities if there hadn’t been threat of prior restraint?

Answer:

Alan Rusbridger: We had not yet decided what eventually to do with the original material at the point the Government asked us to return it or destroy it.

Theresa May and the Home Office should help Mr. Rusbridger to make up his mind. ‘Destroying’ it is not an option now the Guardian has distributed and trafficked it. Instead, Rusbridger and Gibson, who have access to it, must share that access with our security forces. As the Indie has told us clearly, national security is at stake.

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42 Responses to What the Independent tells us about the Guardian’s crimes

  1. nigelpwsmith says:

    It’s been a long time since anyone was charged and prosecuted for treason in the UK. The last person was William Joyce – Lord Haw Haw in 1946. The last person executed for Treachery was Theodore Schurch, hanged the very next day.

    Thankfully for the Guardian et al, it is no longer a capital crime. However, the sentences can be very severe and in this instance, the disclosure of information that endangers the lives of people working to protect the United Kingdom, the Judges ought to be advised to ‘throw the book at them’.

    If Rushbridger and his other conspirators do not disclose all that the information requested, they should be held in contempt of court indefinitely. A bit like the indefinite sentence self-imposed by Julian Assange for being such a prat!

    • rss says:

      Except this will only serve to further isolate the government against its own populace. They would never do that. They have an election to win.

  2. John says:

    Wow, that “buried tweet” was a bit of a let down.

    The problem is that all these “revelations” do nothing to change my mind about the fact that I prefer knowing that I was being spied on. The secret services weren’t about to admit it, so it was up to the media.

    What’s funny, through all this I haven’t heard anyone talking about the “chilling effects of Leveson”. It’s almost as though evidence of widespread spying wasn’t one of the biggest revelations of the year. I think you’d be hard pressed to claim this sort of thing couldn’t be considered public interest.

    • louisemensch says:

      Guardian sockpuppets always say this sort of thing, so let’s tackle it head on.

      That your data was being collected (legally, as the Guardian stories always had to admit) is a story. They could have reported that story without doing the following:

      1. Running a story that lets the whole world know the Snowden files contain detailed info on GCHQ personnel and internal comms
      2. Copying, distributing, muling and trafficking that data to foreign papers and bloggers
      3. Preventing British security forces from seeing just what damage has been done
      4. Lying to the rest of the British press by saying David Miranda was harassed for being somebody’s spouse when the Guardian was paying him solely to mule
      5. Reporting publicly on GCHQ efforts to decrypt Tor users engaged in terrorism, child porn, guns trading and drugs trading (including crack) – but only after being blackmailed by Wikileaks
      6. Sending files that were unutterably damaging to British national security via FedEx

      and that’s just for starters.
      None of the above is “committing journalism”. It’s “committing terrorist offenses” and in the case of 4. “committing gutless acts of lies to other papers in an effort to save our own skin.”

  3. I think referring to him as a sockpuppet is a little far. Someone expresses an opinion and you move straight to denigration.

    You also haven’t answered his points you’ve just reiterated your own.

    • louisemensch says:

      He only made one point, that he wanted to know he was “being spied on” and I answered it.

      That could have happened without any of the crimes against the Terrorism Act listed above (and deception of the press).

      • OK – so he doesn’t want to be spied on and you agree that that’s probably, ‘not a good thing’, I’m sure. Feel free to clarify if not, I’m just looking to understand your position.

        You then go on to say that they could have told people that without doing any of the following:

        1. Running a story that lets the whole world know the Snowden files contain detailed info on GCHQ personnel and internal comms
        2. Copying, distributing, muling and trafficking that data to foreign papers and bloggers
        3. Preventing British security forces from seeing just what damage has been done
        4. Lying to the rest of the British press by saying David Miranda was harassed for being somebody’s spouse when the Guardian was paying him solely to mule
        5. Reporting publicly on GCHQ efforts to decrypt Tor users engaged in terrorism, child porn, guns trading and drugs trading (including crack) – but only after being blackmailed by Wikileaks
        6. Sending files that were unutterably damaging to British national security via FedEx

        In response to these – though I don’t feel that any of them directly address John’s first expression they’re reasonable assumptions to make but I’ll respond to each in turn:

        1) I’d argue that it has been necessary to understand the amount of information an American contractor has been able to retrieve on British staff. It’s a signal of the failings in the intelligence community that this was even possible. It should never have happened. As long as that information has been secured and not released (as it does not appear to have been) it’s difficult to understand where any damage has been done. Do you not suspect that this is the information they were asked to destroy?

        2) If true, this would be very serious. It deserves investigation and I’d be astounded if it hasn’t been investigated. It only makes me think more that the information was destroyed at the request of the PM’s office.

        3) You’re going to have to link me to that. I’ve not seen a source that demonstrates that.

        4) I’ve not seen evidence of that… I’m not avoiding the point but I’d be interested to know more about your basis for that?

        5) Tor is not secure. We’ve known that for a long time and for years people have understood that it’s to the advantage of the intelligence services to run Tor exit nodes. GCHQ’s interest in Tor isn’t even relevant compared to the scope of Tempora.

        6) This may well be far more secure than sending it online. Even the process to get the data on a computer with a network connection leads to insecurity. As the Guardian has highlighted – it’s an insecure business altogether. The only way these files have been knowledgeably damaging to our national security to date appears to be in red faces. I’d hope that serious investigations and changes in process are going to make an incident like this impossible in the future.

        I’m worried about the use of the Terrorism Act in this circumstance. It’s not appropriate. These people are not terrorists – at worst they may have committed criminal acts and that is for the police to investigate and the courts to decide. Terrorism is an altogether different problem.

        Hurling terrorism accusations against journalists and members of the public at random is a little frightening.

  4. Paul says:

    Speaking of sock puppets, I wonder how much louise is being influenced by her boss Rupert, whose company’s criminal activities were exposed by the Guardian. And of course we now have Liam Fox piping up, who was also exposed by…..the Guardian.

    This is about settling scores, the righteous indignation over national security is a fig leaf for those bitter at being held to account. I’m sure Louise will tell you, defending powerful men often leads to well paid employment opportunities.

  5. Pingback: Scaremongering over Guardian reporting | Nathanimalism

  6. Alex says:

    “…became traffickers…
    …betrayal of our security forces…
    …their trafficked files…
    …betrayal of national security…
    …the Guardian’s muling…
    …commercial trading on our agents’ safety…
    …the Guardian trafficked to foreigners…
    …more dangerous to the security of this nation…
    …the Guardian …trafficked…
    …national security … at stake…”

    as a german this style of writing uncomfortably remind’s me on what i was teached in school about nazi-propaganda.

    Quoting from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_propaganda

    Assessing his audience, Hitler writes in chapter VI [of "Mein Kampf"]:
    “…all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward….”

  7. Malcom says:

    Don’t you think if the security services and the police wanted to take action against The Guardian they’d have done so already without being asked to by MPs, ex or otherwise?

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