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Sunday 21 June 2015

Sunday Times Snowden Stupidity

[Update at end of post]

What we now know as Healey’s Dictum - “when in a hole, stop digging” - sums up rather well the plight of the Sunday Times, no longer capable of being considered a paper of record, after its lead story last week, claiming “British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese”, was exposed as nothing more than Government and spook propaganda. But Rupe’s allegedly upmarket troops are, it seems, still digging.
To do so must require industrial quantities of brass neck: it should not be forgotten that, soon after the splash claiming that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had somehow allowed his trove of material to fall into Russian and perhaps even Chinese hands, the article was taken apart for such basic inaccuracies as the suggestion that Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda had visited Snowden in Moscow.

Miranda has never met Snowden; he had in fact been visiting Laura Poitras in Berlin. The ST was, however, otherwise unmoved, and to show they had nothing to hide, Tom Harper, the hack whose name was at the head of the by-line, went on CNN to be interviewed about his scoop. The resultant car crash interview involved him admitting that the ST article was merely echoing the UK Government line.

Those who have worked previously in the diplomatic field were scathing in their condemnation of the ST: Craig Murray denounced ST editor Martin Ivens, observing “It is not the editor’s responsibility whether it is the truth or not, he just publishes what the government tells him to publish”. Ivens, he concluded, “is a lightbrain with zilch professional pride and a disgrace to his profession. He is in fact totally redundant”.
But back has come the ST today with an article - again Tom Harper is at the head of the by-line - proclaiming “Scotland Yard told: look into Snowden”. So who has appointed themselves to instruct the Metropolitan Police? Who is the last person that a newspaper concerned about its credibility would turn to? Liam Fox. Liam Stupid Fox. The ST only turned to Liam Fox. So let me put Harper and his pals straight.

Snowden worked with the Guardian. And which newspaper can lay claim to nailing Fox, who became the first Tory ministerial resignation of the Coalition? The Guardian. Which newspaper have several spook apologists tried to smear ever since the Snowden revelations emerged? The Guardian. Of course Liam Fox wants the rozzers to go after the Guardian. Because he’s still bitter about being ousted.

And what has Fox cited in his letter to the Commissioner? The “great potential damage to the national security of the United Kingdom”. Cue the Guardian news of Fox’s departure: “Fox's departure came only hours after [Adam] Werritty had been back for a second interview with the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell. He has been conducting an inquiry into claims that Werritty's friendship with Fox potentially jeopardised national security”.

Damage to the national security of the United Kingdom”? Liam Fox would know all about that - because he’s probably done plenty of it already. This man is not a credible source. Not on defence. Not on Government. Not on anything. And the ST has bet the house on him pulling them out of the shit. Guess what, Tom Harper and pals? Yep, you lost.

[UPDATE 1730 hours: despite the Sunday Times being behind a paywall, the full text of their latest Snowden story has been made available by Media Lens (see how that works, Rupe), so we can see the full extent of the bullshitting that is going on.

Readers are told "Last week, The Sunday Times revealed that Downing Street now believes Moscow and Beijing have gained access to some of the estimated 1.7m encrypted files stolen by Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of operations in hostile countries". Note "now believes" (they don't know), and "estimated 1.7m files" (they also don't know).

There's more: "It is understood that intelligence chiefs were furious that the accuracy of the claims was confirmed to The Sunday Times by Downing Street and, later, to the BBC". Baloney. They knew all about it, because they had fed the story to the ST.

But on they go: "Claims that Snowden's material had fallen into the hands of Russia and China were made by three independent sources across Whitehall before The Sunday Times approached No 10 for confirmation". Yes, they're called MI5, MI6 and the Government. And probably with GCHQ's agreement and after due consultation.

Then they get to their star witness - no, don't laugh - Liam Fox. "This weekend, Fox wrote to [Bernard] Hogan-Howe urging Scotland Yard to look into the matter ... 'You will no doubt be aware that Chinese and Russian intelligence have been able to decrypt these files. This has resulted in great potential damage to the national security of the United Kingdom', he wrote".

And again I call bullshit: this is at the very least a false assumption. We don't know that the Chinese and Russians even have one of these documents, let alone have cracked their encryption.

But do go on: "Fox, who wrote previously to Hogan-Howe over Snowden's leaks to The Guardian newspaper [as I said, it's about going after the Guardian], said: 'I think it's very clear that by one means or another documents relating to British security have reached foreign intelligence services and where any such breaches can be identified, I think the Metropolitan police have a duty to act upon it'".

And yet more bullshit: it's not clear at all. This is just a failed politician trying to garner a little attention by jumping on a passing bandwagon. Tom Harper's car crash interview with CNN last week tells us all we need to know about the credibility of the ST, and, whisper it quietly, the credibility of this story. Must try harder, chaps]

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