Committee That Grilled Guardian Editor Over Snowden Documents Won't Get To Question Intelligence Boss
from the of-course-not dept
We recently wrote about the ridiculous performance put on by the UK Parliament in quizzing the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, concerning the legality of reporting on the Snowden leaks. Now, it appears that the same committee sought to hold a hearing with the head of the British MI5 intelligence agency, Andrew Parker, in order to see if he could back up the claims that the Guardian’s reporting had put UK citizens in danger. However, that’s not happening. UK officials won’t let Parker testify in front of the same committee. Why? Because.
The home secretary, Theresa May, told the home affairs committee chairman, Keith Vaz, that she had rejected the request for the spy chief to give evidence because his appearance would “duplicate” the existing oversight provided by the prime ministerially appointed intelligence and security committee.
And, indeed, it is true that the intelligence and security committee held a hearing on the topic not so long ago — but, like the Congressional counterparts, it was almost entirely softballs allowing them to spew rhetoric, rather than answer serious questions concerning the intelligence community.
Even worse, it appears that the UK leadership is working extra hard to keep trying to pass a hot potato to make sure no one has to testify on this particular issue:
A similar request for Kim Darroch, the national security adviser, to give evidence to the committee’s inquiry into counter-terrorism was also rejected in a letter from David Cameron. He said “it was not a good idea” because Darroch’s role focused on providing private advice to him and the national security council and his appearance would “set a difficult precedent”.
The prime minister said it should be left to the home secretary to give evidence to the MPs on their concerns about counter-terrorism and the Guardian’s disclosures of mass digital surveillance by GCHQ and the US national security agency.
The decision prompted a furious reaction from Vaz, who said: “The prime minister has suggested that the home secretary should come before us to answer our questions and Theresa May is suggesting that it is a matter for the intelligence and security committee. We cannot play pass the parcel on the issue of accountability on these important issues.
While the US process has been something of a joke, at least Congress has been able to get James Clapper, Keith Alexander and others out to testify a bunch of times on these issues. Some in the UK, however, would apparently like to sweep the whole issue under the rug.