Revelations About Massive UK Police Corruption Shows Why We Cannot -- And Must Not -- Trust The Spies
from the trust-no-one dept
As Mike reported recently, the NSA has presented no credible evidence that its bulk metadata collection is stopping terrorist attacks, or keeping people safe. Instead, the argument in support of the secret activities of the NSA and its friends abroad has become essentially: "Trust us, we really have your best interests at heart." But that raises the question: Can we really do that? New revelations from The Independent newspaper about massive and thorough-going corruption of the UK police and judiciary a decade ago show that we can't:
The entire criminal justice system was infiltrated by organised crime gangs, according to a secret Scotland Yard report leaked to The Independent.
If an entire criminal justice system can be corrupted so completely, there's no reason to believe that agencies like the NSA or the UK's GCHQ are immune. After all, they have the same ethos of serving the public that supposedly prevents them from betraying the trust placed in them (but didn't in the case of the UK police), and the same kind of privileged access to important and valuable information that inevitably makes them attractive targets for blackmail and bribery.
In 2003 Operation Tiberius found that men suspected of being Britain's most notorious criminals had compromised multiple agencies, including [UK tax and customs services] HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the City of London Police and the Prison Service, as well as pillars of the criminal justice system including juries and the legal profession.
Snowden showed us in a dramatic fashion just how easy it is for an individual to access and copy top secret material. In his case, we are fortunate that his strong moral principles led him to reveal the abuses he found, rather than selling them to the highest bidder. Next time we may not be so lucky, so we need to build a system that assumes people are weak or corrupt, and make it as hard as possible for them to get away with any unauthorized use of the system. Despite what the NSA and GCHQ would like, that requires not trust, but its exact opposite.