Orders To Destroy Guardian Hard Drives Came Directly From PM David Cameron

from the and-now-the-nation-is-more-secure-than-ever! dept

More details continue to emerge on the UK government's two recent anti-journalist actions. The Guardian reports that the order to (pointlessly) smash up Guardian hardware came from the top.

A spokesman for Clegg made clear that Heywood was acting on the authority of both the prime minister and his deputy. The spokesman said: "We understand the concerns about recent events, particularly around issues of freedom of the press and civil liberties. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation is already looking into the circumstances around the detention of David Miranda and we will wait to see his findings.

"On the specific issue of records held by the Guardian, the deputy prime minister thought it was reasonable for the cabinet secretary to request that the Guardian destroyed data that would represent a serious threat to national security if it was to fall into the wrong hands.

"The deputy prime minister felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action. He was keen to protect the Guardian's freedom to publish, whilst taking the necessary steps to safeguard security.

"It was agreed to on the understanding that the purpose of the destruction of the material would not impinge on the Guardian's ability to publish articles about the issue, but would help as a precautionary measure to protect lives and security."
So, let's get this straight. The UK government "understands the concerns" about its recent actions, but apparently wouldn't change a thing if it had to do it all over again.

The usual justification presents itself repeatedly: security uber alles.

The government forced (statement says "request" but we know how these things work) the Guardian to destroy hard drives containing content that was "a serious threat to national security" but still existed elsewhere. The government knew this and still forced the issue and then has the temerity to claim the pointless show of force was about "safeguarding security."

Look at how many times that empty word shows up in this brief statement.
"...serious threat to national security…"

"...taking the necessary steps to safeguard security…"

"...a precautionary measure to protect lives and security…"
None of this was "necessary" or "precautionary." It did nothing. The data that might "threaten national security" is still out there. The government knows because its own defensive statement says the action "wouldn't impinge on the Guardian's ability to publish articles." It was pure muscle-flexing. This security-heavy statement pretty much says precisely that while expending many more words.

There's also this:
The deputy prime minister felt this was a preferable approach to taking legal action.
Awesome. The government would rather throw its weight around than pursue any sort of process that might have allowed the Guardian to dispute the order. How telling. How utterly and vilely telling. Of course the government felt this "approach" was "preferable." Screw the adversarial process. We've got the nation's "security" at stake. Everything else is secondary, including the public's outdated ideals about a free press and a government willing to respect the rights of its citizens.



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    Ninja (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 7:59am

    I wonder if the Guardian could have resisted and pursued the legal route. It would be a very interesting case and a kind of thermometer of how bad censorship and lack of freedom is in the UK. I wonder if they thought about it.

    Cameron and Obama should nuke the entirety of Afghanistan, Iran and whatever country they think that hosts terrorists to ensure "national security", right? After all, it's being used to justify all sorts of Human Rights violations, what's a little genocide to protect our precious security? I'm sure they'd get the Nazi Seal of Approval.

    Hypocrites.

     

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      mrong (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:18am

      Re:

      I'm guessing it was just easier to let them break a single hard drive which in no way contained the only copy of whatever data they had. I mean I make pretty reliable backups and most of my data is pictures of my cat. So I imagine if I had some super secret documents I'd probably make a backup before going through customs.

      But yes it would have been, though I don't blame them.

       

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        David, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:28am

        Re: Re:

        Here in Germany, in the Late 30ies, where similar Things going on.

        Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz)

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:37am

        Re: Re:

        I'd probably do exactly what the Guardian did: destroy the hard drives, knowing full well I had offsite backups. No harm done (reporting can continue) and it gives a nifty new news story. It was a nice bit of Judo.

        This is all about picking your battles.

         

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      JH, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      It's been suggested the Guardian were given a formal direction under section 8(9) of the Official Secrets Act.
      (Carl Gardner's blog)

       

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      Noah Callaway, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Alan Rusbridger (editor in chief of The Guardian) has said that a prolonged legal challenge would have impacted their reporting more than destroying the hard-drives. They chose to comply with the "slightly pointless task" because they had other copies and it wouldn't really affect their reporting.

      http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/aug/20/guardian-editor-alan-rusbridger-nsa

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:07am

      Re:

      I wonder if the Guardian could have resisted and pursued the legal route. It would be a very interesting case and a kind of thermometer of how bad censorship and lack of freedom is in the UK. I wonder if they thought about it.

      Yes, they said they thought about it, but realized going the legal route would have resulted in injunctions that blocked them from reporting -- so doing the totally symbolic thing of destroying the hard drive, continuing to report from NY, and then talking about the destruction seemed more effective. Probably true.

       

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        Ninja (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:50am

        Re: Re:

        Indeed. If you think about it they can still pursue the legal route without risking any injunction. I suppose that it's hard for any of us without seeing exactly how the things happened.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:50pm

        Re: Re:

        Yes but the governments next step was to demand that UK newspapers "re-word" certain upcoming pro-snowden articles..again on threat of legal action, and again, orders coming directly from David Cameron and Nick Clegg......

         

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        Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 26th, 2013 @ 2:29am

        Re: Re:

        Do they have to transmit the leaked documents through the internet?

        Maybe this is a ploy to find out what he took from the NSA.

         

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      HaveSomeIntegrity, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 11:53am

      Re:

      If the Gaurdian fought a legal battle on this, all of the data would need to be handed over to the courts to rule on. The government would LOVE this to be the case, so they could push back the dates of the ruling for years, meanwhile the Gaurdian wouldn't be allowed to report further on any data surrended, even if it was simply a copy.

       

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      ginger_baz, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      the issue is, should they have taken the legal route the judge would have slapped an injunction on reporting it prior to the case being resolved.

       

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      hkdharmon (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      In an interview, the editor of the paper said they preferred staying out of court because the court could have decided that all the data was secret and they would not be allowed to even use the copies. That is, the judge could have ordered him to not discuss the data, as the UK does not have a 1st Amendment like the US. He said he actually preferred having the hard drive destroyed as it did not keep him from reporting from elsewhere.

       

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      YouareaHypocrites, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 2:19pm

      Re:

      The reason why the world keep justifying wars is because people like you.

      Take a little break and analyze what would happen if the USA would used nuclear power.

      1. If you used Nuke-clear power countries like China and Russia would automatically counter attack.

      2. By nuking any country you not only destroy the land with radio active isotopes but the cloud would travel the globe (and guess what you would end up with terminal cancer and die 20 year later).

       

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      Melly, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 3:14pm

      Response to: Ninja on Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 7:59am

      The Guardian editor actually addressed that-he said if they pursued it legally it would preclude them from continuing to publish the info. Since he knew there were backup, he authorized the destruction of the computers in London. That's rather wise, at least IMHO. Now the whole world sees what Cameron is capable of.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 6:20am

      Re:

      barometer

       

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    Atkray (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 8:24am

    Cameron: That's a nice little newspaper you have there, it would be a shame if something happened to it.

    Guardian: Umm ok?

    Cameron: Fall on your... ah, I mean destroy your hard drives.

    Guardian: But we are using them.

    Cameron: I could get a court order but if I have to do that I'll take everything, now be a good chap and destroy your hard drives.

    Guardian: done.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:28pm

      Re:

      You missed out the best part!

      Cameron: Oh, Barry, I love you!

      Guardian: Well, they're idiots, so we may as well play our part in this farce.

       

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 8:54am

    "...serious threat to national security…"
    "...taking the necessary steps to safeguard security…"
    "...a precautionary measure to protect lives and security…"

    One minor point. Not once, has the all encompassing surveillance of the US or UK, been shown to have stopped an actual plot, saved a life, or safeguard security.

     

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      Zos (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:00am

      Re:

      well, the FBI have stopped lots of plots. of course they were all plots invented and enabled by the FBI, but still. 'merica.

       

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      Adrian Monk, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      Strange that. A quick Google brings up this article.
      Do your research.
      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/boy-bomber-plots-school-massacre-1487471

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:54pm

        Re: Re:

        "It is said that investigating police found amounts of sulphur and potassium nitrate which are some of the main ingredients needed to make gunpowder."

        Notice the word "amounts"..no specifics so it could be anything from kilograms to nanograms.
        Hell the sulphur and potassium nitrate could have come from a poorly cleaned toilet based solely from that article.

        Secondly you'll notice how child-abuse gets lumped into the mix...well if they don't believe us about terrorists anymore perhaps some paedophilia shoved in there will help?

        Finally, its the Daily Mirror...which once ran a picture of an action man doll claiming it was a soldier that had been kidnapped whilst on duty in Iraq (so not the most believable source for anything).

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Even if it were true there is a point missed: this is not the best way to prevent 'terrorism'. People should not feel the need commit these acts instead of being scared into compliance with white-collar criminals.

           

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        John Fenderson (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re:

        Daily Mirror != research

         

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      FG, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      Well, we don't necessarily know that. That doesn't make any of this any less horrifying, though.

       

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      wordsdontmatter, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 7:58am

      Re:

      I think plot was the keyword, and they seem to be doing that quite openly and well.

       

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    antymat, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:05am

    Porn? Nay...

    Now Britons should know what are the "porn filters" needed for. But they will continue saying "Baaa, baaa".

     

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      josh.li, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 2:01pm

      Re: Porn? Nay...

      It's our PM who wants these moronic porn filters, not the people. We don't say "baaa", we say "What the fuck are you on Dave?"

       

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        antymat, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 1:11am

        Re: Re: Porn? Nay...

        I cannot see many protests. No-one marching on the streets. I rather see indifference. And if you ask, what he is on - well, good riddance, soon you'll be asking only government-approved questions. Or be branded "a terrorist helper" and filtered out.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:09am

    the UK appears to be doing similar to the US, creating a society that is afraid of it's government. a society that doesn't have a government that wants to help and promote the people and the country but one that revolves around fear. how can any country that is supposed to be based on democracy, on privacy and most importantly, on freedom, lose it's way so much and so fast? forcing a reporting service like this is ridiculous! it shows it has things to hide, it shows that it has been up to no good and it shows it wants those things to remain out of the peoples' knowledge. when the statement came out about anyone that was against the detaining of Miranda was condoning terrorism, it's trying to justify the whole disgraceful debacle. i thought the UK had more balls than this and could stand on it's own. seems i was wrong!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:10am

    Liberal?

    I know Liberal is some sort of insult in the USA. But I find it so depressing that Clegg has abandoned the Liberal ethos so much as to have taken part in this. I was already moving my vote from Liberals to Green/Pirate/SNP but still its a sad day.

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:20am

      Re: Liberal?

      All three main parties are part of the neo-liberal elite who have no idea what it is to be truly liberal.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:22am

      Re: Liberal?

      Indeed. I wrote to Clegg a little while asking what his position on this NSA stuff was, as Lib Dems have been very quiet. Seems I have my answer...

       

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      John, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 12:52pm

      Re: Liberal?

      Liberal in the US is only a "bad" thing to less than half of the country. The US does not have a liberal party.

       

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    Dave, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:15am

    "On the specific issue of records held by the Guardian, the deputy prime minister thought it was reasonable for the cabinet secretary to request that the Guardian destroyed data that would represent a serious threat to national security if it was to fall into the wrong hands."

    Did no one think to tell this idiot that the destruction of ONE set of records was absolutely pointless and would serve only to anger the people it was being done to? Something like "Awakening a sleeping Giant", perhaps? As Clemons once said "It's not wise to anger people who buy printers ink by the barrel."

    The "wrong hands"? Meaning someone who would publish it and show the world thet they are somewhat less than honest and forthright? Those "wrong hands"? I soitainly hope so - the sooner the better. IMHO, the only danger is in showing them to be the liars, cheats, and thieves they are. Personal security? Maybe. National security - not so much.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:28am

      Re:

      You forget that politicians are old farts that have no idea about technology and are not in touch with the public at large, they then consult with over paid 'experts' who are about the same age and have the same education level, this all leads to some of the worst choices and most ridiculous actions. Oh and many laughs from us.

       

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        Dave, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:41am

        Re: Re:

        That's a very good point. Time was, when technology was in it's infancy or nonexistent, that age signified wisdom and maturity. Turns out that the wisdom was simply hardening of the brain. Maybe their should be a MAXIMUM age for active politicians - say in the mid to late 40's?

         

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          That One Guy (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You'd be solving the wrong problem, there's plenty of people much older than them who understand tech fine.

          No, what should be put in place is 'competency/knowledge tests', where a politician/judge has to pass a mid-level knowledge/competency test on a subject before they are allowed to make any laws or rulings affecting it. Don't know anything about computers? You're forbidden from proposing, making suggestions, or voting on any laws that affect them until you learn.

          Just like in any other job where you have to prove you know what you're doing before they let you have at it, politicians/judges should have to prove they know the subject at hand before being allowed to write laws or make judgements affecting it.

           

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            Dave, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 11:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Roger THAT!
            Absolutely brilliant idea. Too bad it'll never happen. Those that understand are obvious. Those that don't fall back on the usual obfuscation, BS, and snow jobs, and refuse to learn. I mean they can use a smart phone, can't they? Why should they need to learn? That's for geeks.
            .

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 2:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I could agree more with this statement being so well said .after all others competencies like that of healthcare are skill tested critical in handling the lives of others .courts/ judges should have the same fundamentals. considerably in question. where I'm from it is blk and white

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 4:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This. This is genius. It'd prevent stupid proposals and debacles like CISPA and make governments be more efficient.

             

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          Niall (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 5:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The thing is, the main British politicians *are* in their mid-forties. And still authoritarian to the hilt and technologically clueless.

           

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        Arioch (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 3:29pm

        Re: Re:

        The British judicial system is not noted for being even close to technology. This is shown here in a sketch from the 1970's UK TV programme "Not the Nine O'Clock News"

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VgwxKW0J6I

        It applied then and still applies now!

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:22am

    And of course David Cameron took his orders directly from his master, Obama.

    "Obey Me, Cameron! - Yes, master! Miranda will be arrested immediately, as you requested..."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:28am

    The UK government is not looking good right now, is crystal clear that this was not done to protect anything just to show how bad things can become if others don't comply with them and the British government didn't even bother with the law, just sent the goon squad to trash everything.

     

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    kenichi tanaka (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:29am

    "He was keen to protect the Guardian's freedom to publish". WOW! Really? How can you claim to protect the media's freedom to publish when you order them to destroy documents that do NOT endanger national security of anyone.

    Is the UK really concerned that Al Qaeda could reveal the existence of another top secret NSA spying program? The UK really needs to seriously think things through before they act on impulse.

    The British government taking orders from their masters in the U.S. Government? lols Clegg and Cameron are both idiots.

     

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    ioconnor (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:37am

    What Would James Bond Have Done?

    I just finished watching most of the old 60s James Bond movies on Netflix. I can't help but think of what a modern day James Bond would do? Take retirement and live as far away from these politicians as possible? Would he change his citizenship?

    Possibly he died and Spectre won. That would explain this and many other things...

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:59am

    Call to the cloud

    Make backups. Use multiple cloud services. My guess is they were complient because they did have these things backed up and were thinking silently to themselves: Cameron go fornicate with yourself.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:45am

      Re: Call to the cloud

      Yeah, they outright told the spooks/politicians that those were not the only backups they had, but an HD had to be destroyed to send a message to those that embarrass the governments, so destroyed and HD was.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 10:17am

    These fiascos are all predicated on fear of the unknown so pols try to instill fear in everyone so theirs will seem normal. In spite of the complete failure of any of this spying and fear mongering to have yielded a useful result, the pols are mostly afraid that they'll get blamed for the next bombing and they don't know what to do about it. Further, since they don't understand any of the technology they're afraid of that too. Somehow, in their uninformed minds, the Internet is directly responsible for all their problems.

     

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    Rekrul, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    I can't help wondering, if the Guardian wrote some of that information on chalkboards, would the government have insisted that they smash them with hammers?

     

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    nubwaxer, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    the government comes off looking like complete ineffectual and ignorant fools throwing a childish tantrum. hey, morons, what you're looking for is not there, instead it's there, there, there . . .

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    Impeachment?

    Does the UK have some sort of equivalent to impeachment other than just starting another parliamentary election? If so that sounds like we have a british Nixon.

     

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    Jan Bilek (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 1:30am

    security uber alles

    Exactly, "security uber alles". What is surprising to me is that security is used as some kind of absolute argument, like it's some kind of absolute value that justifies anything. What about other values? Where is the line and why is there no discussion about it? When I read a story about TSA agents stripping down a dying old lady to make sure there is no bomb in her diaper I just think that I would rather risk dying in a terrorist attack than live in a society that needs do that to feel safe.

    At what point does reasonable safety turns into cowardly society?

     

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    Postulator (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 2:55am

    So the Liberal Democrats are not exactly liberal, nor democratic.

    Go figure.

     

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      Niall (profile), Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 5:54am

      Re:

      No, just Clegg. Normally the rest of them are a lot noiser about stuff like this, but they are being suspiciously quiet - probably trying to hang onto power while they can.

       

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    antymat, Aug 23rd, 2013 @ 4:14am

    Just like a Guinea Pig.

     

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    Me creative, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    For starters lets make one thing clear: the UK government is a company whose biggest 'clients' are the wealthy and nobility. This is what they mean when they refer to 'national'. Any endeavours (such as meddling in other countries affairs, fracking/oil prospecting etc) are at their benefit mainly. We the people get a what we can, a trickle down from the main sponge. Let us stop presuming democracy exists and that we have true representation - we're wasting time and grey cells. Imagine UK as a boat - we are the slaves rowing it but ultimately whatever our masters do abroad will affect us: we will all sink. I just wish they would stop dicking around with other boats. For a group of people to take certain militant actions is either an act of aggression or retaliation for aggression - terrorism generally falls into the latter. IMHO the Cold War never really ended (or WW2 for that matter), just that the battlefield and the weapons have changed (and the players). Speaking of which, anyone who remembers board games like Risk? Well imagine having a hybrid of that with Monopoly..

    'The pen is mightier than the sword' and the ignorance/naivety of the masses will breed inactivity for years to come.

    As for data: there are people prepared to die who report on moral discrepancies around the world. This scaremongering by the puppets Cameron et al is confusing at best.

    “We build but to tear down. Most of our work and resource is squandered. Our onward march is marked by devastation. Everywhere there is an appalling loss of time, effort and life. A cheerless view, but true.” - Nikola Tesla

     

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    identicon
    Me creative, Aug 24th, 2013 @ 5:32am

    ..oh and the Guardian are clever enough to use Apple's cloud email to communicate (despite what they tell us). Apple won't give the CIA or anyone else a back door.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tushar Agarwal, Sep 2nd, 2013 @ 12:09am

    WORK on inustries

    mainly exporting companie

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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