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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Don’t Menshn The Paranoia

[Update at end of post]

Some read the Guardian because they appreciate its standard of journalism. Some read it for the series of scoops that have been published since Phonehackgate. Some just carp about it, because they get instructed to do so by their editors. And one person reads the Guardian just so she can scream at its staff about non-existent treachery among its ranks.
Has she got any news at all? Doubtful

This presence, to no surprise at all, is former Tory MP Louise Mensch, now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket, whose colourful reinterpretation of the Guardian’s articles on the USA’s National Security Agency (NSA) is now bordering on the apparently paranoid, as she exhibits signs of having read rather too many John le Carré books.

Even the GCHQ Wiki is regarded as secret: this is where the Guardian demonstrates that Spook Central near Cheltenham is where like-minded but otherwise ordinary people work. Because a perusal of GC-Wiki shows the kind of clubs, gatherings, outings and relationships that you would find in any similarly sized organisation. But this news has sent Ms Mensch off the end of the pier.

Last year, GCHQ organised trips to Disneyland in Paris, and its sailing club took part in an offshore regatta at Cowes. It has a chess club, cake sales, regular pub quiz nights and an internal puzzle newsletter called Kryptos. A member of Stonewall since last year, GCHQ has its own ‘Pride’ group for staff who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” was all it took.
Not sure the spooks ... like being turned into actual spooks because [the] Guardian [is] risking their lives ... I’m asking a Guardian ‘reporter’ (that’s as in Suncolumnist’) if [he] further copied and then trafficked material that identifies British agents ... Who cares about how many copies you make of our LGBT agents’ names? ... story refers to agents, clearly having their names ... includes sports teams and chats”.
The Guardian article identifies nobody by name. Nor would anyone need to be personally identified to be able to write it. And this is not the first time Ms Mensch has made the accusation on the basis of no evidence at all: after David Miranda was detained at Heathrow, she ranted “the fact they identified our agents’ names and addresses; clearly they have the index”.
Then she invents the story asserting that the Guardian has “been rebuked in court for its sloppy tradecraft”. Perhaps she saw the recent film of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy when she last ventured out to the movies. And thought that dropping words like that into her Tweets would do wonders for her credibility. But credibility can go down as well as up, and is not helped by the frankly paranoid tone.

After all, they’re not coming to get her. Well, maybe not just yet, anyway.

[UPDATE 15 September 1720 hours: Ms Mensch has been allowed to peddle her frankly ridiculous arguments that Edward Snowden's information had the names of "our agents" in her column for the Sunday Sun today, as well as asserting that these have been "trafficked cross-border".
Snowden, as one commenter has reminded me, worked for the NSA, and not GCHQ, yet Ms Mensch clearly asserted in her rant about the latter's in-house Wiki that "agents" could be identified from the Guardian's information.

So Louise Mensch is inferring that authorities in the USA have names of "agents" working at GCHQ. Think about that. Even countries that share information would have no need to advise each other of the personnel involved. Add to that the possibility that Snowden did not have clearance to see such information anyway - no-one has yet confirmed one way or the other.

Still, what the heck, Rupe wants to kick the Guardian, and so he lets Ms Mensch peddle her potty ideas in his paper. After all, most of the readers wouldn't be fussed about it anyway]

4 comments:

Paul Canning said...

Actually, it's not unreasonable to think Guardian has documents with agent's names in them. A german newspaper, Spiegel I think, wrote that they'd had to redact because the documents handed to them from Snowden had not been redacted.

It is also not unreasonable to think that the FSB now has Snowden's documents and hence agent's names.

Tim Fenton said...

No, it's making logic leaps and assumptions that cannot be stood up.

For starters, there is an assumption about what was not redacted.

SteveB said...

I've mentioned this before, but I'm still no clearer.

The Guardian got all it's stuff from Snowden - am I correct?

Snowden took it from work - yes?

So the Yanks are maintaining their own lists of British agents' personal details.

Or someone in this country stole them and gave them to the Yanks.

Or our Government handed them over.


Surely the security leak that the UK needs to worry about is how the list reached America in the first place. If it got/ could get to the FSB etc. by this circuitous route then presumably it had an even better chance by a direct route.

Paul Canning said...

Thanks for responding Tim.

I'll find the German link and comment here.

I truly think we - that is the left - are making a serious error associating with Greenwald. There are very few prominent commentators saying this in UK and it is unfortunate that they are likes of mensch and Telegraph bloggers.

In the US there are numerous progressives who are questioning the Guardian's actions and the Guardian's reporting. I did a long read examining all this last month because I was reading them and could not see anyone here questioning the reporting and - most importantly - questioning the politics.

I do feel like I'm banging my head against a wall but there are a LOT of our comrades in the US who are concerned about what Greenwald (and The Guardian) are doing with HOW they are reporting. I don't know why this is not getting through - even slightly - but if it is filtered through a 'Mensh said it, therefore it must be nuts' filter or a 'Guardian wrote it then we must reflectively back them' filter that says a heck of a lot about the UK left.