UK Intelligence Boss Blames Snowden And Reporters For Giving A 'Gift' To Terrorists
from the blame-game dept
Well, it appears that the head of the UK’s MI5 is going on the offensive (and I mean that in multiple ways) concerning the Ed Snowden leaks, spreading a hilarious story claiming that it’s Snowden (and to a lesser extent the Guardian) who have “helped the terrorists” with the leaks… and the UK press dutifully repeated the talking points as fact:
Revelations by Edward Snowden about British eavesdropping are a gift to terrorists because they weaken the ability of the security services to stop those plotting deadly attacks against the West, the head of the MI5 Security Service said on Tuesday….
[….] Though he did not mention Snowden by name, Parker warned about the danger of disclosures about the work of Britain’s listening agency, known as GCHQ, whose capabilities were made public by media reports based on documents from Snowden stole.
“It causes enormous damage to make public the reach and limits of GCHQ techniques. Such information hands the advantage to the terrorists. It is the gift they need to evade us and strike at will,” Parker said in his first public speech taking up his post as MI5 chief on April 22.
This is hogwash on multiple levels. First, it takes incredible self-obsession to claim that someone exposing your questionable activities should be blamed for the consequences of those questionable activities. That’s what Andrew Parker doesn’t seem to recognize: the problem isn’t that Snowden revealed these things, it’s that the intelligence community was doing it in the first place. Second, it’s already been shown, repeatedly, that terrorists already assumed these kinds of surveillance efforts were ongoing, and were careful to avoid such easy routes of surveillance. Third, if the surveillance relies on keeping the entire concept secret, you’re doing it wrong. For decades, criminals have known that the police have the ability to tap phones. There’s a whole process involved with real oversight, and most people are now comfortable with the general idea of phone taps following a specific warrant and oversight. The point here is that you don’t have to keep the fact that you tap these things a secret if you have sufficient oversight and controls to make sure they’re not abused. But that’s not what anyone did here.
But, really, these stories of doom and gloom are pretty laughable given that there’s been almost no evidence that these surveillance techniques have ever actually stopped terrorist attacks in the first place.