The USA’s PRISM project has led much of the last few days’ news coverage, not a bad achievement given that the discovery of this vehicle for snooping on just about anyone and everyone appears to have been mainly down to the deeply subversive Guardian, which is now branching out into North America and Australasia. And after the initial news, there has to be punditry.
Stateside, this means the ranks of cable news hosts, especially those at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), where the likes of Bill O’Reilly have lost it on air as they denounce the Obama administration for not putting the lid on a programme that was started by someone else. Bill-O thinks Democrats will use this to snoop on Republicans (perish the thought that the reverse could also be true).
In the UK, the faux outrage has been left to the likes of Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, writing as ever for the benefit of the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs. Hannan asserts “We should be shocked at the American tapping scandal, and shocked that Obama doesn't seem to care”. He never was very good with facts: for starters, something which enjoys Congressional approval might not really be “tapping”.
“In 2007, Congress passed a law that allowed the National Security Agency to intercept foreign data” he tells, although what he isn’t letting readers know is that this all ties in to the USA PATRIOT Act, first passed in October 2001 – in other words, in the wake of, and in response to, the 9/11 attacks. All the additional surveillance – from which the UK has also benefited – can be traced back to that act.
That should be borne in mind when reading Hannan’s post, where he mentions Barack Obama five times in total. In fact, Dan mentions no other President. That’s quite a significant omission, considering that the incumbent who signed off on the USA PATRIOT Act, and who was still in the White House in 2007, was not Barack Obama, but George W Bush.
The reality is that the Obama administration has merely continued with what it inherited in early 2009. Those same right-leaning pundits who are now queuing up to lay into the Democrats would have been screaming about their letting terrorists encroach on their patch had the surveillance been scaled back one jot, not that Hannan will be admitting it. They’re all hypocrites.
“Americans deserve better. And the rest of us expect better” he pontificates. Well, we certainly expect some things to be presented rather more honestly, like who is responsible for the snooping. And that person isn’t Barack Obama. Moreover, that the UK Government is sharing the fruits of the PRISM project does not warrant a mention. But the UK has a Tory PM. I’m sure this is mere coincidence.
Because Daniel Hannan wouldn’t do that deliberately. Or would he?