Posted by Curt on 7 July, 2013 at 10:52 am. 2 comments already!


Charles Moore:

In traditional accounts of Hell, sinners end up with punishments that fit their crimes. Rumour-mongers have their tongues cut out; usurers wear chains of burning gold. On this basis, it will be entirely fitting if Edward Snowden spends eternity in a Moscow airport lounge.

Having betrayed his own state, the man who revealed the secrets of the US National Security Agency (NSA) needs to find out what it is like to live at the mercy of other states. Acting in the name of a morality which disdains allegiance to the rule of national law, he deserves to see what life is like beyond its protection. When he thought, last week, that Ecuador was going to give him political asylum, he wrote an oily letter to its president in which he declared that the US system of surveillance was “a grave violation of our universal human rights”. Now let him find out how hollow those rights are when not guaranteed within a democratic legal order. Let him eat the free peanuts in the transit lounge of life, and learn, too late, what is needed to defend a free people.

I gather that Wikileaks worshippers have been disappointed that the citizens of Britain and the United States have not acclaimed Snowden’s courage or been shocked by his revelations. Public opinion seems to have given a worldly shrug and said, “Obviously, our secret services spy on us in cyberspace; what’s all the fuss?”

But if that is the only public reaction, it is inadequate. In the Cold War era, when men such as George Blake or Michael Bettaney were convicted of handing secrets to the Soviet Union, they were reviled as traitors. They were assisting a hostile totalitarian power. Edward Snowden is not apparently working for such a power, and so he is not seen in this way. He is criticised as vain or silly or naive. Not enough people see the degree of his betrayal.

First, he has broken his oath. He has betrayed colleagues. From now on, all contractors like himself will be seen as suspect. He has also betrayed individual officers and agents. He revealed, for example, that a bug had been planted in the crypto-machine of the EU mission in Washington. So now everyone who got near that machine will be under investigation. Worse still, Snowden betrayed methods. If it is known that, say, a particular means of getting bulk access to undersea cables is used, that means is compromised. Disclosure also betrays allies. One of the positive developments in intelligence since September 11, 2001, has been the concept of “dare to share”. Countries which previously had little contact have seen the benefits of exchanging information. Now they will see its perils.

Even Britain, whose intelligence cooperation with America is probably uniquely deep in the history of the world, feels a little shaken now that what it told the NSA has been shared with the readers of The Guardian. And since no one (except, one strongly suspects, the Russians) knows what Snowden may still have up his sleeve – or, rather, deep in his laptop – there is a danger of paralysis.

The obvious beneficiaries of all of this are not civil liberties. They are those who wish to embarrass the West – the Chinese, who can now push back against US attempts to expose their cyberattacks on American government and industry, Vladimir Putin, German Leftists, South American populists and the sort of rent-a-mobs who are so confused that they burn the French flag in La Paz.

Whatever the precise intention, the actual effect of the Wikileakers and Snowdens is always to make life harder for the West. The web, which they love so much they make it their God, is hated and feared by countries such as China. Yet Wikileaks never furnishes us with Chinese “whistleblowers”.

Read more

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x