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Sunday 1 December 2013

Don’t Menshn The Burning Trousers

All those who said I was exaggerating and the Guardian would not ship GCHQ agents’ names to bloggers are pretty quiet now” chirped the self-congratulatory Twitter feed of former Tory MP Louise Mensch yesterday. Where was the new evidence? “After months of lying to the rest of the British press on the issue of agent names, Rusbridger admits he muled them abroad”.
Has she got news for us? Not yet

So had the editor of the deeply subversive Guardian done as she asserted? We can test this by checking out the same article that Ms Mensch claims has the answers, a Q&A which Alan Rusbridger gave for the Washington Post. The relevant exchange comes at the start of Page 2, and is in response to the assertions made by Ms Mensch’s pal Julian Smith, Tory MP for Skipton and Ripon.

Rusbridger responds “the Snowden documents contain names of some employees of the NSA and GCHQ”, but then adds “We have published no names, nor lost control of any material ... We’ve listened carefully to the arguments, agreed not to publish certain things, and redacted all names and sensitive operational details”. Ms Mensch bases her claim on this passage.
So there is (a) no evidence that any serving intelligence operative out in the field has been identified, (b) no publication of any names – something Ms Mensch has previously accused the Guardian of doing – and (c) no evidence that any names have been sent abroad. Yet she calls this an admission, and calls “liar” on the Guardian’s editor. That’s a pretty draughty glasshouse she inhabits.

And what she manages to miss is this follow-up from Rusbridger: “The DA Notice secretary has said he had not seen anything the Guardian has published that puts anybody’s life at risk, while a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and other senior administration officials have told us they consider the Guardian has reported the issue carefully and responsibly. We have also been thanked by some well-placed British officials for our approach”. Well, Louise?
He also draws a parallel with the Pentagon Papers case: “The case also has echoes in that the Nixon administration made dire warnings about how national security would be damaged by publication”. Rather like the GCHQ stooges and their cheerleaders like Ms Mensch have been doing, no?

We all know what happened to Tricky Dicky. And we also know what happened to Daniel Ellsberg. Moreover, one look at the WaPo Q&A shows that any assertion of the kind made by Louise Mensch would be laughed out of court. She is so ready to call “liar” on others that she cannot see her own flagrant and frequent dishonesty. The reason others are “quiet” is they have better things to do.

Louise Mensch has ceased to be relevant to this debate. A long time ago.

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