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David Cameron Wants the Guardian Investigated Over Snowden Files 279

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the damaging-national-security-for-the-public-good dept.
dryriver writes "The Guardian reports: 'British Prime Minister David Cameron has encouraged a Commons select committee to investigate whether the Guardian has broken the law or damaged national security by publishing secrets leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. He made his proposal in response to a question from former defense secretary Liam Fox, saying the Guardian had been guilty of double standards for exposing the scandal of phone hacking by newspapers and yet had gone on to publish secrets from the NSA taken by Snowden. Speaking at prime minister's questions on Wednesday, Cameron said: "The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and cabinet secretary to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files. So they know that what they're dealing with is dangerous for national security."'" Destroyed their copies of some files, certainly, but it's not like others don't have the files too.
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David Cameron Wants the Guardian Investigated Over Snowden Files

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  • Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:08AM (#45143987)

    Whilst growing up as a teen in the '80s, we took the piss out of the Soviet Union and eastern European peoples for the whole "Papers, please..." thing. It looks like the western world is not far off from this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:11AM (#45144009)

    Of course there isn't one. It's just newspeak to incite the idiots against the Guardian for daring to defy the surveillance state.

  • by ciderbrew (1860166) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:11AM (#45144019)
    National security and putting people in danger seems like a smoke screen at this point.
  • Double Standard? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:12AM (#45144029)

    FTA: " former defence secretary Liam Fox, saying the Guardian had been guilty of double standards for exposing the scandal of phone hacking by newspapers and yet had gone on to publish secrets from the NSA taken by Snowden."

    He's claiming they are following a double standard by revealing secret illegal spying on people, and then revealing secret illegal spying on people again.

    Well, I guess it could be considered a double standard if you follow the same standard twice.

  • Free press? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zemran (3101) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:12AM (#45144033) Homepage Journal

    Not if they tell the public what the government are doing... Hacking individuals private communication was wrong when a newspaper did it and it is still wrong when the government does it. It is not the Gruaniad that has double standards, it is Cameroon.

  • National Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brxndxn (461473) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:18AM (#45144105)

    At some point, the people in charge need to define the scope of 'National Security.' Right now the scope seems to be defined as 'anything that security officials claim'. Because of this, anything a journalist publishes can be said to violate National Security since National Security covers everything.

    For example, Martin Luther King's speeches criticized the status quo. Since the status quo is now matter of National Security, Martin Luther King's speeches were a threat to National Security, by today's standards.

    So the real argument is what exactly is National Security? Is the status quo more important than civil liberty? Further, why are we not investigating whether or not secret laws used to justify anything violate the law?

  • Blimey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:21AM (#45144147)

    So:

    Cameron's hired goons spend their time harassing the Guardian and its little journalist chums into returning or destroying the data on the pretext that "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."
    The Guardian eventually goes "oh, whatever; if this pointless activity will make you any happier, okay", and permitted GCHQ security experts to trash the hardware containing the data. As one of said GCHQ types put it, now that the files have been destroyed "We can call off the black helicopters."
    Aaaand... Cameron then claims that the Guardian's compliance with this pointless demand is proof that the Guardian has published stuff that is dangerous for national security. Which only goes to show that the Guardian should have told Whitehall to sit on it and swivel.

    Conclusion: Cameron is a loathsome lump of Eton excreta. He and his equally repellent deputy Clegg have also recently claimed that publication of the NSA material is 'not in the public interest' because it is too complicated for most people to understand, therefore most of the public would not be interested. It's good to know that Government have a strong understanding of key concepts such as 'public interest'.

  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:23AM (#45144167)
    From a concerned American to any of his concerned British cousins: Anybody want to get together and start our own country? With blackjack and hookers?
  • Learn the lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:24AM (#45144185)
    So, Guardian, the next time the government "politely" asks you to do something, you politely tell the cunts to bugger off and die from an acute lack of tea *. Because evidently they try to use you complying with their requests to be admitting you're wrong. Should have probably known that before.

    (* Is that how you would say it? I'm not a British newspaper, so I'm not exactly sure.)
  • Re:Doulbe Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:26AM (#45144217)

    The double standard implied is that the Guardian deemed one way of obtaining data unacceptable (hacking into people's voicemail) but not another (downloading your employer's data onto USB sticks and then giving it away).

    I would argue the public interest defence. If someone came to me and said, "on that voicemail is X's confession to the abduction and murder, even though he denies it in public", hacking it could be in the public interest, whereas fishing voicemail for gossip is not.

    Similarly if Edward Snowden came to me and said, "on this USB stick is proof of illegal and pervasive surveillance by governments, which I've nicked", I'd at least look at it to establish whether there was a public interest case.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:29AM (#45144263) Homepage

    In absolute terms, there isn't one. The Guardian published information, because that's what journalists do.

    From the perspective of a government, though, the situations as complete opposites. In the case of phone hacking, the Guardian supported the security of the public by exposing and denouncing a crime. In the case of the Snowden documents, the Guardian is exposing and denouncing a legal operation protecting the security of the public, and in doing so it's helping criminals evade detection.

    To Cameron, it looks like the Guardian is acting inconsistently, publishing whatever it wants not based on ethics, but rather based on the potential for public outrage.

    Your perspective and sense of ethics may differ.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:29AM (#45144275)

    ""The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security "

    Lets be clear, the CIA trained Mujahadeen fighters to fight the Russians. It created a database "Al Qaeda", literally translates as "database" in Arabic. The database of those fighters, included one Bin Laden. Who is "Al Qaeda" and who wasn't "Al Qaeda" was defined by the CIA's database originally.

    That group turned on the US, after the Russians had been driven out of Afganistan. So I trust the US government about as much as any person can trust THE PEOPLE WHO TRAINED THE TERRORISTS IN THE FIRST PLACE. Which is not at all. They make an endless series of terrible choices that result in lots of deaths.

    Next up, GCHQ stands accused of breaking UK law, lying to the Cabinet and lying to Parliament. The "National" for the UK, means "Britain", not America. Snoopers Charter is not law, GCHQ did not get the laws they wanted and they are outside the law.That's why they kept it secret from most of the government they are supposed to represent, yet NSA and US was told.

    Guardian are not just leaking secrets, they revealing high-treason. The most serious example we've ever seen in British history. Not just a spy here or there leaking stuff to foreign powers, but a whole agency systematically spying on Brits and hiding the evidence from Parliament and Cabinet.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:33AM (#45144323) Homepage

    For example, Martin Luther King's speeches criticized the status quo. Since the status quo is now matter of National Security, Martin Luther King's speeches were a threat to National Security, by today's standards.

    Nothing like the union movement or the black rights movement or the gay rights movement could happen today. It would be crushed. Back in the 1960s, there wasn't so much jail capacity, and cops were not well organized. So mass civil disobedience was possible. Now, if 10,000 people have to be sent to jail, no problem. Look what happened to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:37AM (#45144385)
    Yup. Government breaks the law. Government gets caught. Politician accuses person who denounces their lawbreaking of endangering "national security". Reality is that governments own actions has endangered "national security". Ahh politics. And remember it (Kenya mall attack) has absolutely nothing to do with Islam...
  • Re:Doulbe Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FireFury03 (653718) <`slashdot' `at' `nexusuk.org'> on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:46AM (#45144513) Homepage

    The double standard implied is that the Guardian deemed one way of obtaining data unacceptable (hacking into people's voicemail) but not another (downloading your employer's data onto USB sticks and then giving it away).

    I would argue the public interest defence. If someone came to me and said, "on that voicemail is X's confession to the abduction and murder, even though he denies it in public", hacking it could be in the public interest, whereas fishing voicemail for gossip is not.

    I would say that the news papers cracking IT systems is never in the public interest. If you've got evidence that someone has committed a murder, take it to the polce and they can get a court order to access the voicemail.

    *However*, there is a big difference between a whistleblower supplying a paper with information that was acquired illegally (which is what happened with Snowden), and the paper themselves breaking the law to acquire it (which is what happened with the News of the World).

    And as you point out, there is a public interest argument - if the government is spying on *me* then that directly affects *me* and *I* have a right to know that and I support the papers telling me what I have a right to know. On the other hand, if $celebrity_a is shagging $celebrity_b then that is of no concern of mine because it doesn't involve me.

    Unfortunately, the government seems to think that it is in the public interest to keep this stuff secret.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:51AM (#45144577) Homepage Journal

    Doubleplus Ungood.

    Emmanuel Snowden and Emmanuel Assange are now unpersons, who's crimethink makes Citizen Cameron duckspeak. This is plusgood blackwhite for Cameron, making endings to the ownlife for Oceania.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:55AM (#45144643) Homepage Journal

    "You might be living in a totalitarian regime if..." Truth is considered Treason by heads of State.

    Thoughtcrime [wikipedia.org]

  • Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @12:00PM (#45144703) Journal

    Of course there isn't one.

    In the first case the Guardian stood up to its own industry and exposed highly unethical behaviour showing that it met the standard for moral behaviour when dealing with colleagues. In the second case it stood up to its own government and exposed their incompetence and/or complicity in unethical behaviour against their own citizens and friendly nations showing it met the standard for moral behaviour when dealing with those in power.

    So yes I would agree that the Guardian has met a "double standard" for moral behaviour. The question is when will he and his government? A good start would be apologizing for invading our privacy and putting their own interests above their public duty not to mention parliamentary expense claims...

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @12:48PM (#45145281) Journal

    And, going farther back:

    Il est dangereux d'avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrèditès ont tort.
    It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.

    -- Voltaire

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaiWELTYl.com minus author> on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @01:28PM (#45145709) Journal

    I had to read it about 10 times very slowly, but after a couple of minutes I figured out that he's trying to say that both the newspaper's phone hacking and Snowden's leaks were both unauthorized access to information, and that since the Guardian acted against the unauthorized access to information in the case of the phone hacking scandal, they should have acted against the unauthorized access to information in the case of the Snowden leaks by keeping quiet about it.

    I guess that's how people think when they have a religious duty to authority in place of a good system of ethics and morals.

  • Re:series of tube? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @02:17PM (#45146141)

    he must be another one that thinks the internet is a series of tubes and "uses the googles"

    Besides, a "polite request" from government is seldom really polite, and seldom really a request.

    Government needs to understand that people often see "government requests" as genuine threats: "Do as we ask, or else." The threat may just be perceived, or it may be real. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

    But we must always keep in mind that government authority = force.

  • by Patch86 (1465427) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @04:05PM (#45147015)

    He is implying that they exposed a newspaper doing illegal hacking on the one hand, and now are a paper benefiting from someone's illegal hacking on the other.

    The far more obvious way to see this is that they exposed a trusted organisation which was spying on people on the one hand, and exposed another trusted organisation that was spying on people on the other. Sounds perfectly consistent to me.

    David Cameron's problem may be that he doesn't really understand what the word "hacking" represents in either of those two situations, or it is possible that his problem is that he's a self serving idiot. Possibly both.

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