Newspaper Editor: If The Gov't Tells Me Publishing NSA Secrets Is Not In The Public Interest, Who Am I To Disbelieve Them?
from the apparently,-you're-not-a-journalist dept
As the title suggests, Blackhurst makes it quite clear that he believes the role of a journalist is to be a stenographer of the government, to simply amplify their position on things, rather than to hold them accountable:
If the security services insist something is contrary to the public interest, and might harm their operations, who am I (despite my grounding from Watergate onwards) to disbelieve them?He later defends this by arguing that there's nothing that interesting in the Snowden leaks anyway.
In August, this paper also received information from the Snowden files. We did not publish much of the information we were given because the Government, in the shape of a Defence Advisory Notice or "DA" notice, asked us to desist, in the interests of national security. Several times in my career, I've been served with a DA notice. On each occasion, I confess, I've not published. Does that make me a coward and an establishment lackey? Or responsible and sensible?
First, try as I might, I cannot get that excited about it. With the Snowden leaks I find myself speculating – as I did with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks – as to whether I am getting too old and losing the plot as a journalist. But, as with WikiLeaks, will someone please put the boasts about size and volume on one side and tell me: where is the story?Apparently collecting data on every phone call, as well as scooping up a ridiculous amount of everyone's communications data, despite previous claims of not doing that, isn't a concern to Blackhurst. He simply believes -- because the government tells him -- that they need this information to "stop terrorists." And yet, the evidence has shown that these efforts haven't actually done much to stop terrorists and that this information has been abused for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, it's not as if we need to reach very far back in history to find examples of governments abusing this kind of information to destroy people's lives -- including reporters. But, Blackhurst seems to think that if his buddies in the government say it's okay, it must be okay. Because.
If it's that the security services monitor emails and phone calls, and use internet searches to track down terrorists and would-be terrorists – including, I now read, something called the "dark net" – I cannot get wound up about it. At Kings Place, home of The Guardian, they will say my judgement is a mess. Never had any, they will probably sneer. Far too cosy to the powers-that-be, they might add.
In which case, guys, uncurl your lips and explain what it is, exactly, that the NSA and GCHQ, are doing that is so profoundly terrible? What justifies all the posturing we've been subjected to these past months? I watched The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who obtained the Snowden scoop, on Newsnight the other evening and was nonplussed. I wanted him to say what the real scandal was that he had uncovered. But he did not.
I don't want my civil liberties infringed, and as a taxpayer I'd like to know as much as possible about what the Government and its agents are doing with my money. But I also want the security services to do their jobs properly, to make the world safer. I know they will make mistakes; I know that occasionally they will stray. I hope I'm not complacent. Others, doubtless, will disagree.Again, this seems to be totally ignoring his role as a journalist to be the one to help people understand what the government is doing with his and their money -- and to make sure that the security services are actually doing their jobs properly and not abusing the system (which goes way beyond merely making "mistakes.") If this is the way The Independent views its journalism role these days, it really ought to change its title to "the Government's Mouthpiece" or something more appropriate.