The increasingly surreal pursuit of the deeply subversive Guardian by a variety of gullible right-wing politicians and haters of the paper (in some instances, like the barely credible Liam Fox, both boxes are ticked) has taken another turn as Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, has written to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate the paper.
Smith has told the Met “The Guardian newspaper and its editors have admitted that they did more than receive detailed information on UK and US intelligence services and report upon it ... In online discussions they have revealed that they copied and distributed files to individuals and organisations abroad. If that is the case it goes beyond journalism to a breach of the Official Secrets Act”.
That would depend on what was being passed between the Guardian and other parties. It would also depend on material from a US agency (the NSA) being subject to the Official Secrets Act. Did Smith find out if this was the case before he wrote to the Met (my expectation is that he did not)? Then he crosses the line into the same fantasy world inhabited by his former colleague Louise Mensch.
“Furthermore, it seems highly likely that they have communicated details of intelligence personnel internationally. If true, this puts our dedicated agents, and their families at risk”. Very good Julian, she couldn’t stand that one up and made herself look silly trying to do so. But Ms Mensch is no longer an MP, and so is not making her Party a laughing stock as a result. Julian Smith is.
You think I jest? “Finally, I would be grateful if you can also confirm that the Guardian is giving the Metropolitan Police every possible assistance to facilitate access and analysis of encrypted files including encryption keys and passwords in the Guardian’s possession. If it is not please can you assure me that the Metropolitan Police will use every power available to compel the newspaper to do so?”
And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. This is about the materials confiscated from David Miranda at Heathrow Airport. This was in transit from Laura Poitras in Berlin to Glenn Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro, and not being taken to or from the Guardian. The idea that these security conscious individuals gave any encryption details to Guardian staff when they did not need to is, frankly, risible.
Therefore, having the Met grill the Guardian would be like a more civilised version of what happened in the dentist’s chair in Marathon Man – trying to get information that is not there. Smith admits in his letter that he cannot prove his “intelligence personnel” details claim. He would be well served engaging brain before making a complete fool of himself in future.
He could also look after his constituents before grandstanding. Just a thought.