Category Archives: goals

Whiplash-5547.cr2

Whiplash: the Film of the Year is a Hymn to Men

Whiplash is not a complicated film. That is not to say it is not brilliant. It is brilliant. Written and directed by the biggest young talent in film-making today, 29 year old Damian Chazelle, everything about Whiplash says genius. But, like men, to whom the film is a profound ode, Whiplash is uncomplicated and unpretentious. It has a clear storyline, compelling characters, a climb, a nadir, a resolution. It follows the classic three-act screenplay structure immortalized by Syd Field in his how-to book Screenplay. It employs no complicated structures, flashbacks, or other rhetorical devices. Rather, it is a classic, even predictable, story, told superbly.

I didn’t want to see it. I hate “art films” and I hate Jazz. My husband saying ‘let’s go see this film about a jazz drummer’ is not a winning lead-in. But it really isn’t about Jazz drumming. It’s about drive, ambition, fire, rivalry, and masculine approval. It’s the same essential story as ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ with Richard Gere, yet without the side characters, and imagine if Sergeant Foley was about a thousand times the badass and you would lay down your very life to win his approval.

Miles Teller is excellent as the lead, and up for an Oscar. His character is always there, driven, ambitious, isolated. He has a gift that is incomprehensible to those around him, and the movie plays nicely with these conventions; his character’s ordinary side struggling for release by getting up the courage to ask out a girl, his bemusement when, so unlike himself, that girl is not laser-focused on what she wants to do with her life. Teller has a loving father who, because he does not understand Jazz drumming, is unable to understand his son’s bitterly hard-won achievements. The genius is more or less alone, as talent often is. Teller carries off all these nuances extremely well; the resentment, the shame, the rivalries, the determination, the risks great people take when they put all their eggs in one basket.

On one level, discussed by most critics, the film is a meditation on achievement and mediocrity and how much of a price is worth paying to get it. But on another, one mostly missed, the film is in fact about men. Masculine men. Dominant men. Type A males and how men will do anything – literally anything – to obtain the good opinion of a man whose good opinion is worth having; of a man who will not compromise, will not accept anything less than perfection, and doesn’t give a fuck about you or your excuses or your feelings. The film is shocking because it breaches the same forbidden territory breached by Fifty Shades of Grey. I do not compare the artistic achievement of Whiplash to the schlock of Fifty Shades; rather I compare the essential premises. Fifty Shades broached the forbidden idea that women enjoy being sexually dominated by men they love, formerly a common assumption but today held to be misogynist, and that some men want to dominate women they love. Whiplash similarly posits that a talented, ambitious young man will do anything to win the praise of a superior male who gives it out sparingly if ever; and that the truly driven man will put achievement (conquering, winning, final victory) above all other things.

It is not Miles Teller, then, good though he is, who is the point of this movie. It is J.K. Simmons, a dead cert for Best Supporting Actor in a world where there is any justice. Simmons is a conductor. He is ruthless. He is brutal. He will shout and bawl and keep his players up until four in the morning if they get it wrong. He throws chairs at heads and he screams in the face of his players until they weep, then mocks them and throws them out. He is utterly uninterested in anything other than perfection and therefore, for him, the men under his command (they may as well be soldiers) would follow him into battle and die for him – literally.

So effective was Simmons in the part that I could not get him out of my own head after the film, and indeed, desperately wanted to collate the actor and the character (a reaction to a performance that makes you wish that the character existed). It was a joy, therefore, to find out that Simmons has a degree in music from the University of Montana, that when he conducts with icy precision, he is reprising a genuine skill (he conducted), and that in asking for the music in the film, when sent MP3s, he said ‘No – the music – give me the score.’ Simmons said that the character on the page felt like destiny to him, that he responded viscerally to it. In interviews I have read, he defends the actions of his character. Me too. Reviews that call Simmons’ conductor “the villain” are missing the point. “There are no two words in the English language so destructive as ‘good job’,” he says to the young hero.

SPOILERS FOR THE PLOT BELOW THIS LINE

And that is exactly what the reviewers miss. Simmons’ character isn’t a villain. He is a hero. He is not abusive. If you don’t like it, you can drop out, or be assigned another teacher; his students want to be in his band. Desperately. He is uncompromising and he is there to find genius and push it to its limits. On a very basic level, that means the character puts others in front of himself. He is selfless. He is not seeking his own genius; he is attempting to draw it from Teller’s character. As Jane Austen had Mr. Darcy say to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice “But your good opinion is rarely bestowed, and therefore, more worth the earning.” He and Teller both recognize something others cannot see; Teller has genius.

There is a scene in which Teller dumps his friendly, nice girlfriend because she will get in the way of his drumming and not understand his drive to be great. It’s a beautifully acted scene, but the genius here is the writer’s, because he poses an uncomfortable situation well. The girl is nice, the lead character is nice. The audience superficially is meant to think it is a mistake to dump the girl. But it is not a mistake. Teller’s character is absolutely right. He’s right not to lead a nice girl on, and he is right to dump her because he’s right that she can’t reach into his drive, and she will get in the way. Later, he tries to make up with her and she’s moved on. Some in my movie theatre were sighing in sympathy. I shook my head because, so what. It just doesn’t matter. She was wrong for him and at that point in his life, almost any girl was wrong for him.

The only dramatic false step for me came when Teller’s character is expelled from the Schaffer Conservatory for having assaulted Simmons’ character. Simmons would simply not have expelled Teller. He would have beaten him up, or imposed some other back-breaking punishment (as in An Officer and a Gentleman incidentally). Just as Teller’s raison d’être is his genius, Simmons’ is training and developing genius. For his character, Teller would have had to walk out voluntarily (thus showing himself unworthy, and not the genius Simmons was hunting).

But there are no other complaints, apart from a slowing of the momentum in the final act. The last scene is what you imagine it would be. It ends, and the film ends, at a particularly precise, dramatic instance, which mimics – no doubt intentionally – Simmons’ precision conducting. It is a triumph. It was shot on a shoestring of $3.3m dollars, with no acting rehearsals, in nineteen days. Start to finish, it is a triumph.

END OF SPOILERS – NO FURTHER SPOILERS BELOW

Whiplash is correctly described by Miles Teller as a psychological thriller. It has that pace, that plotting, that drama. It uses its setting as a foil to underline its dramatic point; e.g.; Teller is alone because his family and friends don’t understand his world. No more do we (unless we are classical musicians, I watched it at Lincoln Centre and there were some knowing laughs). This is emphasized in one intense scene where Simmons is saying “Not quite my tempo” in a tone that means “Cut his head off” and as the attempts to get it right proceed, we cannot hear the slightest difference between A and B. There’s humor, too, mostly in in-jokes. My husband, a rock manager, was almost beside himself listening to Simmons whip the musicians into shape. He manages Metallica, whose drummer Lars Ulrich has seen the film about six times. Lars probably really enjoyed the poster on Teller’s bedroom wall that says “If You Have No Talent, You’ll Wind Up in a Rock Band”.

But I found the film intense, inspirational and life-affirming because I am a huge tomboy, and the desire to be more than mediocre, to achieve at the highest level, to beat all comers, has been with me my whole life. I would follow Simmons’ character to the ends of the earth, and in real life, when I found a man as uncompromising and driven as that, I married him. The more ambitious we are, the more manly we are (both men and women), the more we will relate to Whiplash. See it. It will make you want to do, and be, better.

Sturgeon

Britain’s New Political Force Isn’t UKIP – It’s the SNP

As I write this Douglas Carswell hasn’t yet been elected in Clacton but he will be. He will be UKIP’s second MP (Bob Spink was the first) but first elected MP. But Clacton is a special case; Carswell has a big personal following. I have no time for him whatever and I can only help he has the integrity his friends claim he does. If that is true, he will not remain silent in a party that is racist, sexist and allows the condoning of child abuse, blaming the victims. We’ll see.

The real UKIP test comes in Rochester and Strood, where my friend Mark Reckless defected without the same personal following. I will always like Mark, having known him since we were at the same Oxford college together at the same time (OK OK he’s younger) and ran together on the same slate in the Union (roofing materials cough). But I fear Mark has made the mistake of his life. He is an able barrister and he has been a leading light on the best Select Committee in Parliament at the moment, the Home Affairs Select Committee. But UKIP help Labour and prevent the chance of any EU Referendum at all. I am so sorry that Mark was deceived into going with Farage, and I both hope, fear and believe he will lose his seat. I hope it politically because Ed Miliband must not be helped into power by UKIP voters – there will be no EU referendum and it will be  total disaster. I believe it because I can read the polls and the mood, I think (it’ll be close for sure), and I fear it, because ukip are a party without loyalty or principles. When Mark loses they will blame him, cast aspersions on his work as an MP, toss him to the wind and move on without looking back like they do to any candidate who gets in Nigel’s way.

But enough of Labour’s little helpers. Let’s look north, where I think the unnoticed revolution is going on. And it’s not purple – it’s plaid. In fact, it’s tartan.

The Scottish Referendum seems like yesterday north of the border and for us in rUK too it was the election of the year. Few nights will ever be as emotional. And yet a London-centric media has taken its eye off the Glasweigan ball. That’s a mistake.

The SNP have packed on tens of thousands of new members – that’s actual paying members who have gone so far as to sign up – imagine the latent support behind these numbers. I read somewhere that it might be a hundred thousand. Labour is in trouble in its Scottish heartlands. Real trouble, not just Holyrood trouble where they are used to getting their arses kicked, but Westminster trouble. John Curtice said they might pick up as many as 26 seats. I think they may also lose one or two to the Tories and LibDems – yes, you heard me correctly. Passions for YES and NO raged immensely, and where the SNP hold Westminster seats in areas that were strongly NO they are vulnerable. Ruth Davidson took back some of her ‘Tartan Tory’ mantle from the so-called Tartan Tories. There’s a long way to go to detoxify the Conservatives in Scotland but she gained wide respect in the IndyRef.

But let’s develop the idea of the SNP storming the Westminster elections. Every seat they gain will be a one for one loss to Labour.  Labour down 26 and the SNP up 26, for a max gain of 32 seats. That would give the SNP parity with the LibDems.

Semi-jokingly I suggested future SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon as Deputy PM under Cameron. There was a lot of kicking the football around on Twitter from SNP members, but let me develop the idea.

I am NOT suggesting that the SNP go into coalition with the Conservatives – it would be toxic for both parties north of the border. Ruth Davidson needs those Unionist votes to start rebuilding in SNP WM areas. And SNP are banned from propping up the Tories, their left-wing support wouldn’t like it.

But I AM suggesting a scenario where Sturgeon can demand a DEAL with an rUK Conservative majority – after all the Referendum itself happened because Alec Salmond and David Cameron made a binding deal. A deal isn’t a coalition and the SNP wouldn’t need to prop up the Tories in this scenario – because devo-max and English votes for English laws would have meant that the SNP was “mainly governing” Scotland via Holyrood, and in rUK, the Tories would no longer need any Scottish votes (or even be able to use them) – on devolved matters for Eng Wales and NI. Cameron would still need other parties like the DUP and probably even the LibDems for comfort, but Sturgeon’s SNP would not be involved.

Scenario goes like this – Tories largest party, no majority. SNP offer a deal whereby Sturgeon becomes Deputy PM as being able to command the second party of United Kingdom government, with or without a WM seat of her own. She need not have one, and she can always take a peerage if she likes, a nice Scottish peerage obviously :). Sturgeon and Cameron horse-trade over devo-max and the financial settlement for Scotland in exchange for immediate, first-order-of-business “English votes for English laws” legislation. EVEL has been long planned by the Tories and has been in the last three Tory manifestos. This constitutional deal done, Sturgeon repairs to Scotland to govern. Ruth Davidson opposes her now on tax, spend and policy as well as Unionism (because we assume the SNP will still aim for full independence).

South of the border Cameron governs with a coalition but one where the Tories can set more favorable terms.

In defence and foreign affairs, areas that all agree would remain United Kingdom competencies, Sturgeon would have the right to be consulted first, to have SNP seats in the ministries and the SNP would have a direct voice at the global table, as the LibDems do now. I cannot frankly imagine that the SNP view would be more left-wing than the LibDem view on either area of policy. In this area, Cameron would have to seek to have Scotland on board respecting the SNP’s primacy in the country.

That, then, is my vision of a revolutionary government – not a coalition, no propping up needed – a government that represented a deal between independent actors, even political opponents, to make constitutional changes that the SNP and Conservatives both believe in for Scotland and also for England.

Labour is the enemy of the SNP when it comes to devo-max or any version of devo-max. The more autonomy Labour allows in Scotland, the greater the demand in England for English votes, which deprives Mili of his Scottish block vote. It says much for Labour’s weakness in England that Ed Miliband thinks he can’t govern England, Wales and Northern Ireland without the votes of Scots MPs on matters that will never affect their constituents. Put another way, Miliband doesn’t want to introduce laws for England he knows English voters will approve of.

Fair play to the 45, they have no objection to English voters getting our own devolution. The SNP don’t vote on English only laws unless it will affect Scotland – that’s to be decided in the initial horse-trading before EVEL passes. Sturgeon would be a conquering heroine in Scotland with the prestige of deputy PM of the UK and the delivery of the best possible deal for Scotland. Rather than ‘propping up’ Cameron or any coalition, she’d follow SNP creed of leaving the sassenachs to sort themselves out. And Labour’s offer to Scotland of tiny changes while chopping England up into already-rejected-in-a-referendum “regional assemblies” would get the contempt it deserved – north and south of the border.

WhoKip? The SNP is the real story this year – and they didn’t quit and go home when they lost that vote. Trust me, the 45 are just warming up.

Margot

Dear Prime Minister, please promote Margot James

There was only one true mystery after David Cameron’s pitch-perfect reshuffle last week.

Where was Margot James?

I realise the risk in publishing a ‘please promote my mate’ blog about any MP, not least to the MP themselves, but that is not what I am doing here. Firstly, I know and like just about every Tory MP in the 2010 intake, and I understand there isn’t room in government for all of them, especially when LibDem obstructionists have a third of government seats (notice all those female and BME LibDem ministers by the way? Oh. Me neither). Secondly. Margot James had absolutely nothing to do with this blog and would never have approved of my writing it. And I know those that feed back to the PM will understand that.

Now that my interest has been properly declared, it is worth saying that the entire political lobby in the UK agrees with me on the merit of Stourbridge’s finest. “What, pray, has Margot James done wrong?” tweeted Tim Shipman of the Times, formerly the Mail, a grande dame of Fleet Street himself, being then retweeted by Jane Merrick, Political Editor of the Independent on Sunday. Prior to the reshuffle, Margot James was being tipped everywhere from the Guardian to the Belfast Telegraph – her name was on nearly every list.

And this is because, inexplicably, Margot James has not been promoted before. Every Parliament-watcher was expecting her elevation long before now. She is a hard worker, above average in both speaking and voting. She is loyal: “Hardly ever rebels against their party”. She is extremely nice, and has no enemies that I know of on either side of the house. She is well-regarded locally, and her local paper were none too pleased to find their favorite daughter overlooked yet again. 

James is that rare breed, a person who has truly succeeded before entering politics. One of Britain’s most successful female entrepreneurs, she worked as a corporate leader in PR, winning “communicator of the year” in 1997 and selling the company she founded for millions not long after that. She resigned from the Tory party after Maggie was ousted, but rejoined, and fought the safe Labour seat of St. Pancras before taking Stourbridge from Labour in the last election.  Her service to the Conservative party is not four solid Parliamentary years, it is in fact a lifetime of work.

And James, who had a life and a business before getting elected, is not as young as she looks. She is 56 with a lifetime of achievement few MPs can ever hope to match. I say this with hesitation, but somebody has to, so it may as well be me; not promoting Margot James in this Parliament is more than a mistake, it is an insult.

The PM has made Nicky Morgan Education Secretary, but also Minister for Women. Because Nicky voted against equal marriage, he has given implementation of that law to the promoted Nick Boles MP, now an education minister. This is a mistake. I have long argued in public and in private that the women and equality brief should not be an afterthought shunted as a secondary responsibility to this ministry or that ministry, distracting a SecState from her more important job (previously Maria Miller, as SoS for Culture, was also Minister for Women). Margot James would be the perfect person to be Women and Equalities Minister. She is gay, and she is a feminist, previously Vice-Chairman of the Party for Women. But more than that, she brings a Conservative, libertarian, business-minded feminism to the brief. Women and Equalities should be a Minister of State position inside the Cabinet Office, and the holder should have the right to attend Cabinet.

Margot James would do things with this brief. She would end the scandal of OFSTED guidance on Muslim schools that breaches the Equality Act (forced wearing of the veil, even for non-Muslim girls, forced segregation). She would get rid of the anomalies that favor men throughout the system. She would stand up for equality of opportunity – that was at the heart of Thatcherism.

Failing this, the PM should correct his mistake. It would be a sign of his strength and flexibility. He should either make her a senior whip or make her co-Chairman of the Party (I don’t care if there are three) and a Cabinet Minister right away. She is able, loyal, experienced, hard-working, 56, charming, and has proven ability to run a whelk stall.

Come on David – make us all happy.

David Cameron has had a lot of work and loyalty from Margot James, who because she was an entrepreneur, gay, telegenic and full of substance, was asked by CCHQ to do much extra work in 2010 on the media to win our party the election. She took on those duties unstintingly, as well as ousting a Labour MP from her marginal seat. The Prime Minister owes Margot James a debt. He too is hardworking and loyal. It is time for him to pay his debt. Margot was chosen to represent the ‘new face’ of the modern Tory party and she surely does. It’s time to show that this was not just a PR stunt, and that we believe that impressive entrepreneurs like her are exactly what the Party offers the voters to run the nation.

To my knowledge, Margot, though undoubtedly disappointed at not having been promoted up until now, has always bitten her tongue. This time, though, it clearly bothered her. To Shipman’s tweet, she replied “I don’t know Tim, but if you ever find out, let me know!”

If Margot James is lost to the party it will be a massive embarrassment. It should not happen. She should be promoted now, to give her a year in place before the election. Cameron can make it happen. We need Women to Win, is a great Conservative slogan. We also need women WHO win. And that’s Margot James, Conservative MP for Stourbridge.

UPDATE: HAS Rusbridger exposed thousands of GCHQ personnel?

rusbridger

UPDATE: Scroll down to see video of Rusbridger admitting that he gave the GCHQ files, unredacted, to Glenn Greenwald, files Glenn Greenwald did not already have. So that his claim to Parliament to have control of the files is false.

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It seems apparent that the information exchange wiki betrayed by the Guardian did not just include the odd name – the Guardian’s own descriptions imply that it included entire staff directories; which is logical as after all, this is exactly the sort of information GCWIKI would have been set up to share. We might be talking about many thousands of names. This could be a security disaster of unparalleled proportions.

Journalists have asked me on Twitter if I really want to see Alan Rusbridger arrested. Yes, I do; and here’s why.

It was always incredibly bad that he had exposed British intelligence agents to foreigners, willfully, having admitted that doing so would expose them. My prior blog below shows how he redacted all their names from the files he FedExed to ProPublica but then decided he couldn’t be arsed on the 25,000 files he sent unredacted to the NYT and Glenn Greenwald.

A comment was left on that last blog that I have to reproduce. It shows that every agent exposed by Rusbridger has had their career ruined for the duration of it; none of them can ever work in the field again. Furthermore, the writer makes the compelling case that the NSA-GCHQ wiki, which the New York Times published extracts from, and the directories of staff interests like gay and lesbian clubs, ghost hunting clubs etc, mean that Rusbridger has actually sent abroad not just a handful of names, as he claimed to Parliament “there were names on power points” but actually thousands of GCHQ names.

It is possible he has exposed the names of every person working at the agency. I checked this comment with Prof John Schindler, @20Committee on Twitter. Schindler is former NSA Top Secret plus cleared, a senior NSA officer, and currently a Professor at the Naval War college in Boston.

He says that my commenter is “very probably” right on the wiki and its directories. Here’s the comment:

As a total security imbecile, Rusbridger fails (or refuses) to grasp this basic concept: Any intelligence operative whose name is exposed to journalists, or put in a position where the likelihood of their identities being publically exposed is at greater risk, CAN NEVER BE DEPLOYED COVERTLY.
The issue here is not that ‘no names have been published’, it is that a) copying and trafficking them in a way that gives poor assurance over their long-term control and b) allowing such vast visibility of their names to unvetted journalists has had significant implications for those staff safety, deployability and careers. This also puts the Agencies operational effectiveness in peril – operational staff are difficult to recruit, train, retain and protect. To have even tens of staff blown could cause entire business areas to grind to a halt and lead to further attrocities on the streets of the UK.

Let’s take an example: we necessarily have a sizeable security presence in Northern Ireland. Therefore there were almost certainly named staff within those files who work in Northern Ireland or would have been required to do so at some point in their careers. If names were to hit wikileaks then there is a real and tangible prospect of those staff in such high risk environments being hunted down and killed. In this situation they would have to leave their homes within minutes of publication. With documents shipped extensively internationally, with hundreds of journalists given access does Rusbridger seriously think it would now be viable for such staff to remain in environments like Northern Ireland, does he think such staff who were already deployed there could remain regardless of whether the Guardian actually published the names? Is this a risk HMG can take? Of course not. This is why it is a criminal offence to communicate names and this is why HE HAS CAUSED GREAT DAMAGE.

Those staff may have been employed for another 40 years, can Rusbridger give any long-term assurances over control of those documents he shipped? Of course not.

It seems apparent that the information exchange wiki betrayed by the Guardian did not just include the odd name – the Guardian’s own descriptions imply that it included entire staff directories; which is logical as after all, this is exactly the sort of information GCWIKI would have been set up to share. We might be talking about many thousands of names. This could be a security disaster of unparalleled proportions.

In his Witness statement, Oliver Robbins stated that:

‘I am advised that information already obtained has had a direct impact on decisions taken in regards to staff deployments and is therefore impacting operational effectiveness’

So it sounds like this damage is already happening.

Lives and careers put at risk and families uprooted for Mr Rusbridger’s convenience? It is difficult to conceive of a more treacherous, reckless act.

Do I think that Rusbridger would have sent the files over if he had realised the wikis contained directories with thousands of names? No – I don’t think him as bad as that. Or that he deliberately scorched the careers of every intel officer named in the files? Again, no. I can’t think so ill of the man as that. But it’s the smugness of thinking he knows better, that he is, as he has said many times, above the law – didn’t want “judges” getting hold of the story – and the determination to secure for his financially failing paper some online traffic that led him to do this wicked thing. Time and again Rusbridger has been shown not to understand the basics of intel. He kept the files in a “secure room” with floor to ceiling windows covered with blinds, ideal for laser mikes. They could pick up any detail of conversations about those files in that room. This had to be pointed out to him by civil servants and was one reason he agreed to destroy his hard copy of the files (and this is by his own account).

He has cited this wholly false, fake figure of 850k people having access to the GCHQ documents – which is the total number of US personnel cleared Top Secret. Intelligence doesn’t work like that, there is compartmentalisation, it’s on a need to know basis only. As Prof Schindler has said he was given the topmost NSA security clearance and he did not see, have access to or know about these files.

Rusbridger is a journalist; he doesn’t know what’s safe and what’s not, or how intel works. As my commenter says (and my commenter is not using his real name) this is precisely why it is a criminal offence to communicate names. I will be writing today to Commander Cressida Dick at the Metropolitan Police to put in a complaint of a criminal offence based on this, as she has said anyone can do yesterday in Parliament. It is to be hoped that other journalists will hold Rusbridger to account on what he has done, but there is a massive amount of establishment clubbery going on. We must rely on the police not to be intimidated by a very powerful press axis. A free press under the law means just that, and it’s why hacking trials are now proceeding.

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UPDATE: I had not seen the video of the brilliant Mark Reckless MP, a barrister, questioning Rusbridger. He forced him to admit that he communicated names, and that was the headline on Twitter, but I was struck by something further. In this video, Reckless gets Rusbridger to admit that he handed the GCHQ files unredacted to Greenwald (he flew them via James Ball to Rio after Ball couried the files to the NYT).

Greenwald is an insane lunatic, and has provided all kinds of GCHQ stories that even the NYT would not touch to outlets around the world. Rusbridger likely misled Parliament when he said he had not lost control of the files, as in no way whatever can he vouch for Glenn Greenwald, who played him for a total fool by dumping him and the Guardian for a $250m “new media” outlet as soon as he got the GCHQ files. Greenwald did not originally have the GCHQ files from Snowden – that is why Poitras was trying to courier them to him using Miranda at the Guardian’s expense – but Alan Rusbridger handed them to him. It is impossible to imagine anything more reckless and disgusting.

Remember, Greenwald tweeted that he didn’t have all the files, and that only the Guardian had the GCHQ files. Now he does have all the files. Because the genius of “kept control” Rusbridger handed them over.

Why did Rusbridger do it? Well, we know from Miranda’s Buzzfeed story that the Guardian published a story on command, by 5pm, when Greenwald threatened to resign. Most likely Greenwald, who was unhappy that Rusbridger sent files to the times, threatened again to resign if Rusbridger didn’t hand him the files via James Ball. Rusbridger didn’t have NSA files – only GCHQ ones. So he did the deal with Greenwald in order to have access to Greenwald’s NSA data.

Shoddy. Appalling. Something else for the police to consider. That Espresso Italy story on  the GCHQ base? Rusbridger’s responsibilty, for shipping these files to the maniac Greenwald. What a craven coward, bowing to Greenwald’s blackmail in that way. I cannot help but have a slight tinge of admiration in Greenwald’s hoodwinking him so easily and taking his GCHQ files straight to a for-profit French billionaire.

http://markreckless.com/2013/12/04/video-mark-reckless-mp-quizzes-the-guardians-alan-rusbridger/

Rusbridger admits shipping agents’ names – what now?

rusbridger

MPs today got Alan Rusbridger to admit a number of things he, and his paper had previously denied.

Firstly, that he shipped the names of GCHQ agents abroad to newspapers and bloggers. Mr. Rusbridger was reminded that this was a criminal offence, and said he had a public interest defence. He also, however, kept arguing that he hadn’t published any names, which rather blows up his public interest defence – it’s self-evident that you don’t need the names of intelligence agents to report on GCHQ spying, so why not redact them?

The fact is, Rusbridger did acknowledge that it put GCHQ agents at risk when he first shipped files to ProPublica. He redacted the names of GCHQ agents from those files, and he promised the government he had done so, so when he claims nobody from the government asked him about shipping names, it’s possibly because they made the mistake of believing him.

Rusbridger replied that the files contained information that citizens in a democracy deserved to know, and he assured Heywood that he had scrubbed the documents so that no undercover officials were identified or put at risk.

If British papers had the guts to question members of their own club, they would ask Rusbridger why he scrubbed these documents – his answers to Parliament have said that only publication would be risky – and why he admitted to Heywood that undercover officials would be put at risk if he identified them.

In Parliament today when asked why he didn’t redact the names he said there were 58,000 documents – essentially, he could be bothered to go through the <100 files he FedExed to ProPublica, but could not be bothered to go through the entire batch he sent to the NYT.

Really? He couldn’t take a week, and black out agents’ names? There were copies of the docs in the Guardian offices in New York, so time was not an issue for Rusbridger – instead, he exposed the names.

Perhaps worst of all, Rusbridger confirmed my very worst suspicions, which were that he hadn’t even read through the top secret files before shipping them. He redacted no names; he redacted no operational details; he didn’t even read them. And by “he” I mean any employee of the Guardian. Nobody at that paper read the 58,000 documents through, not even once, before sharing them in bulk.

A solid British press would ask these questions – let’s hope I am pleasantly surprised.

Because no Guardian journalist even read the files, they do not know how many agents’ names are now out there. And I suspect that it is a lot worse than agents’ names. The Guardian’s August story about life inside GCHQ (gay and lesbian clubs, fundraisers, etc etc) revealed so much detail that it seems highly probable the 58,000 files contain the following: agents’ names, names of members of their families, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, Skype accounts and other contact details. The Guardian’s piece on sports days and teams, family days out etc implies that all this personal information is in those 58,000 files. Will any paper ask if it is in there?

Rusbridger also forced another paper, the Daily Mail, to run a “correction” of its story on names, denying that the Guardian had shipped the names, on Oct 9th:

An earlier version of this article indicated that the number of files the Guardian FedExed to America was tens of thousands; the Guardian has since indicated that it numbered less than 100.

The newspaper also said that the files it FedExed to America did not contain any names of British spies.

This was another attempt to hoodwink the British press, just like their fake reporting on the “Miranda innocent spouse” story. Today, Rusbridger admitted Miranda was paid to be a courier. He could hardly deny it, after Miranda threw him under the bus on Buzzfeed, stating that the Guardian originally wanted to use a staffer to fly the files to Brazil, had baulked at the illegality, then Rusbridger had suggested FedExing the lot, and finally chose to pay Miranda to do it.

But will other papers call them on their bullshit? It seems unlikely.

At least we now have the truth, something many of my followers on Twitter have been denying for months, ever since I first raised the spectre of the names of our agents being shipped abroad. Those names are completely unnecessary to the story, and to the reporting. With a modicum of patience Rusbridger could have followed the responsible course he took with the ProPublica scrubbing. But he chose not to bother.

Communicating, and not just publishing, the names is a clear offence under the Terrorism Act 2000. There’s a public interest defence. I would hope the police will interview Rusbridger and ask what public interest required him not to redact the names. I would hope the government, and GCHQ, ask him to tell them all the names of the agents they have shipped around the world, to more places than America – for example, they gave the GCHQ files to Glenn Greenwald, and they are responsible for whatever Greenwald publishes with them.

Lastly, what the Guardian should do is give GCHQ its own copy of the files, so they can take steps to protect national security. Thanks to the Guardian, hundreds of bloggers, journalists and all their friends and contacts have access to these files – what harm can it do to let GCHQ have them too? Of course, the exposed agents need to know. But all the security secrets need also to be known. Such a move wouldn’t prevent the NYT, or the Guardian or ProPublica from publishing, so there is no journalistic reason not to share the files. But it’s abundantly clear that the FSB control Edward Snowden and have access to all his files – and therefore the Guardian should let GCHQ know what is now in the Russians’ hands.

The government must not be afraid of the press, nor the press of the government. The Govt should seek an injunction for copies of the material to be provided to GCHQ. It could not stop the NYT publishing, and so there is no press freedom argument left; but there is a very clear national security argument. Moreover, of his own volition, Alan Rusbridger should tell GCHQ what names are out there – not just of our agents, but of their families, and if home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers or any other identifying material is in those documents. I bet that it is in there, that Alan Rusbridger knows so, and that he has failed to disclose this to the men and women in danger. And I remind readers that when it comes to what the Guardian has been covering up, I have, most unfortunately, been right every time.

P.S. – this will be the last of my blogs here. This was set up as a general holding blog after Jux shut down and before I set up a new themed site; I planned to blog on politics, but being the first person to call bullshit on the Guardian’s “Miranda wronged spouse” story I had to follow it where it led. Today’s admissions in Parliament by Rusbridger of everything I have been arguing seem like a natural place to close the account. I am grateful I have been able to expose that paper’s many lies, and the contempt they have for our agents at GCHQ. For all those of you men and women who work there, I hope you will remember that many more people are with you than against you, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for defending us, whatever millionaire editors and their media cronies are happy to expose you. Please remember that what you do is about our country, not some peacocking middle-class men from Hampstead. God bless all of you, who don’t get celebrated on Remembrance Day and who don’t wear uniforms, and who have nobody out there to speak for you. Julian Smith MP and his colleagues in Parliament, and Labour and Tory MPs on the Committee, have done their best for you today. Once again, thank you.

PPS – on that 850,000 figure, it is another lie by Alan Rusbridger. That is according to him the total number of people with Top Secret clearance in the US and UK – but as he knows, all intelligence agencies operate on a “Need to Know” basis only. Being cleared Top Secret doesn’t give you the right to view GCHQ materials or files unless you have a direct need to know about them. That is called “compartmentalization” and it is a basic principle of intelligence. Rusbridger knows this, but continues to lie and use this fake 850k figure. It fits perfectly with his paper’s pattern of lies and deceit as to their handling of this story.

The Guardian’s David Miranda is a Liar

Greenwald

 

David Miranda is a liar. So is his husband Glenn Greenwald. Thanks to @jeremyduns, investigative blogger, for this spot. Let’s hope the Home Secretary’s lawyers, and Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police, are paying attention.

In this Buzzfeed interview, Miranda claims:

After I spent several weeks with Miranda and Greenwald in and around their home in the upscale, artist-friendly Rio neighborhood of Gavea over the last month, one thing has become very clear: David Miranda knew exactly what he was doing. To believe he was played as some type of dupe or mule by Greenwald not only ignores the real nature of their relationship but also assumes that there’s some safer way to transport sensitive documents across the globe. Is there any device more fail-safe and secure than the person you love the most? Does Apple make that sort of product?

Miranda knew very well that he was traveling from Rio to Berlin to see Greenwald’s reporting partner, documentarian Laura Poitras, and that he would be returning through the U.K., all the time carrying a heavily encrypted flash drive directly related to the trove of documents that former and now notorious CIA employee Edward Snowden had vacuumed from the National Security Agency and had given to Greenwald earlier in the year.

“I have been involved in every aspect of Glenn’s life, why wouldn’t I be a part of this?” Miranda asserts over lunch at a fashion mall in Rio’s São Conrado neighborhood the next afternoon.

And Greenwald says that anybody who calls his husband an unwitting mule is just a racist. A racist, goddamnit! And a homophobe.

“David is a grown, 28-year-old man,” Greenwald says, visibly bristling at the accusation that Miranda was an exploited errand boy. “He is the most insanely willful person I have ever met; it makes me crazy sometimes. He was an orphan and had to take care of himself very early on in a way few people do. So it’s absurd to think that I could manipulate him into anything he didn’t want to do. A lot of this is pure racism, classism, and ethnocentricity: Some white Americans see a nonwhite Brazilian who grew up poor and doesn’t speak perfect English, and so disgustingly assume that he’s dumb, naïve, and easily manipulated.”

Unfortunately for both David and Glenn, that’s exactly what David Miranda claimed in his   “pants on fire” interview to Anderson Cooper of CNN after Heathrow police so correctly stopped him and removed the stolen files from him:

slide cursor to 5:05

Anderson Cooper: “David… did you know what was stored on those devices? Did you know it was classified material?”

Miranda: “I don’t know that… I was just taking the fi- … those materials back to Glenn. You know Glenn been working with a lot of stories along the years…I didn’t quite follow everything that he writes every day…I can’t follow him, because I have to have a life. I mean I can’t know everything that he’s been working with.”

So there you have it Glenn. Your husband is not only a liar, he’s a racist, classist, ethnocentrist on top of it.

There’s tons more in the Buzzfeed piece that screws the Guardian’s other lies to the wall. I have been too busy to blog much, but the paper is running scared, as well they should be. More to come on that later.