Thursday, 11 July 2013

Mystic Warsi

Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore suggested  in her  latest column (4 July ) that "we remain passive while the other European countries are angry at what [US National Security Agency whistleblower]  Ed Snowden has told us. We maintain the special relationship [ with the US]."

She is correct for most of the British political class, who show supine subservience to the United States, whether led by a dangerous political buffoon like George W. Bush, or a would-be Liberal, like Obama, whose own instincts have been suppressed by the obsessions of the intelligence apparatus in Washington.

The Tory chair of the so-called Intelligence and Security Committee, Sir Malcom Rifkind, himself "captured"  by  his former stints as both Conservative foreign and defence secretary, ("Unrepentant in our secrecy," Guardian 4 July) exemplifies perfectly to supine surrender to  the superior calls for secrecy by the intelligence community, in his apologia article  arguing he will hold  hearing of  his committee in public only on issues that don't matter!

One MP did try to get behind the shroud of secrecy surrounding the PRISM revelations  unveiled in Guardian over the past month. Labour veteran backbencher, Paul Flynn, asked the foreign secretary how many meetings (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) officials in his Department have had with their US counterparts on the PRISM data gathering system since May 2010. and also whether  the Government has given the US government authority to allow the US National Security Agency (NSA) to process data acquired by the NSA on UK citizens at the NSA's new Utah Data Center?
Junior foreign office minister Alistair Burt replied fulsomely: "It is the long-standing policy of successive governments not to comment in detail on matters of intelligence. This includes discussions with allies and liaison agencies."  (Hansard, 18 June: Column 630W)

How clever are our intelligence agencies anyway? Last week,  Lib Dem peer Lord Alton of Liverpool asked in the Lords about the intelligence that the UK  have received about military intervention in Egypt, she replied “it has helpfully been indicated that there is no intention for there to be a military coup”.(Official Report, 2 July: col.1079.)
When challenged  by Lord Alton two days later about this answer, Baroness  Warsi replied: "My Lords... I take the noble Lord’s point, but it would be inappropriate for me to comment on intelligence matters at the Dispatch Box."(Lords Hansard, 4 July: Column 1323).
As the United States funds the  Egyptian military to the tune of $1.3 bn annually, it is  highly unlikely that they did not  know about the planned coup. So did they not tell their closest ally, the UK, or did Baroness Warsi  not tell Parliament the truth?
Either way, it is worrying, and all the more reason to shine some  sunlight on the nefarious activities of the intelligence agencies to keep our defenders competent.

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