The Murdoch Times, despite the mounting tide of evidence showing their story yesterday to be false to the point of reputational embarrassment, has kept up its assault on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, with an editorial loftily claiming “Putin’s Poodle … Edward Snowden has betrayed his country and his calling, and endangered the West”. This magnificently crafted fiction masks a rather less pleasant reality.
That reality reveals a convocation of long-time US Government supporters and less than totally reliable journalists who have come together to propagate a smear campaign which would be laughable, were it not being taken seriously by those who should know better. But let us start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start. That leads to the pitching of the first name in the frame, that of Rupert Murdoch himself.
Moreover, it should have surprised no-one: as Jason Leopold told in a Vice News article eleven days ago, “A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers solicited details from Pentagon officials that they could use to ‘damage’ former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's ‘credibility in the press and the court of public opinion’”. What is also not surprising is who was used to write up the Sunday Times story.
Harper was in the vanguard of those trying to draw attention to so-called “Blue Chip Hacking”, suggesting via a series of articles (see HERE and HERE) that many large corporates had been indulging in practices which put the allegations levelled at the likes of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in the shade. His work was cited by those seeking to get their readers to “look over there” (Stephen Glover in the Mail is typical - HERE).
[UPDATE 1820 hours: Tom Harper has appeared on CNN, to face some comparatively gentle questioning about whether he has any of those, you know, facts to back up his story.
He did not manage to cite even one.
How did senior 10 Downing Street sources know that the files leaked by Snowden had been breached? "Well, I don't know the answer to that ... all we know is that this is, effectively, the official position of the British Government".
How did the British Government know what was in these files (remember, Snowden worked for the NSA, not GCHQ)? "They may have known for some time what Snowden took" [the NSA admitted some time ago it didn't know].
And then he said it again: "We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British Government".
Were the files hacked? Did Snowden give them over in Hong Kong or Russia? "We don't know". Were the MI6 agents moved as a precaution? "We don't know".
So if Harper and his pals don't know, how the hell do they conclude "British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese"? And what happened to all that free and fearless investigative reporting?
Tom Harper just sprayed his remaining credibility up the wall on CNN. He is being used as a patsy in yet another Murdoch spooks-excusing exercise. But he'll be getting paid for it, so that's all right, then]