When Alan Rusbridger, editor of the deeply subversive Guardian, told that the paper had been visited by representatives of GCHQ, who had then supervised the destruction of two computer hard drives which had contained, among other items, the data from Edward Snowden, some thought he was venturing into the realm of fantasy. He was not. And the story is now out there.
This place is getting bypassed, folks
Yes, even the Mail has run with it, not surprisingly as even the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre understands all too well the implications for his “freedom to edit” of the spooks rocking up at Northcliffe House with an angle grinder and an equally prejudicial attitude. And what makes this affair so much more serious is that it has been authorised by Government diktat.
The decision to have GCHQ give the Guardian the hard word was taken by Young Dave personally. And the instruction to Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, to have the deed done was also approved by Corporal Clegg and William ‘Ague. Whether Cameron was leaned on by the White House is unknown, but the implications for press freedom are in the category of the bleeding obvious.
But where the whole business requires a total suspension of disbelief is in the reasoning behind having the Guardian destroy the data. Quite apart from the mildly inconvenient fact that there are other copies of the Snowden files elsewhere – like, oh I dunno, an apartment in Rio de Janeiro for instance – the catch-all excuse that the data may fall into foreign hands is bunk.
We are told that there was a fear that the Guardian’s website might be hacked. At first this sounds plausible. But would accessing that site also give access to the two hard drives? No it wouldn’t. To get hold of the data, a hacker would have to access the machines in which the disks were installed, and would then have to hope that any encryption could be overcome. So that’s a false excuse, then.
And aren’t we forgetting something here? How did the Guardian obtain the information in the first place? That happened when it was copied from whichever US Government system was hosting it. And, who knows, there might be another Edward Snowden out there somewhere. So anyone representing Government telling the Guardian that they don’t really know how to keep data secure is coming it.
Worse, the number of supposed libertarians, and hacks, excusing the Government’s action because it’s the Guardian is stupidity of the most worrying kind. Tabloids may not be interested in anything that isn’t Sport’n’Slebs, but the rest of the press, and broadcast media, is equally at risk from this new variation on The Knock On The Door. We’re talking expediency here, not high principles.
“Do as we say, not as we do, and we know best”? I think not.