MI6 Chief Blasts Requests For Availability Of Information

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by StrainOfCommand, Oct 28, 2010.

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  1. MI6 chief Sir John Sawers says secrecy is vital to keep UK safe - Telegraph

    It's about time a top-head made his opinions clear. Intelligence gathering methods, the names of intelligence gatherers and, of course the intelligence gathered, must be kept secret and out of the public domain or else it becomes worthless and, if widely known, will diminish the safety of the nation.
  2. Common sense if you ask me....
  3. Obvious to us, but to the self-appointed guardians of truth and morality that are the press (particularly the pinko-lefty liberal tree-hugging variety) their oversight is more important, to make sure that we are playing by the rules.
  4. we don't need to know what SIS is doing but I suggest some oversight is required unfortunatly the calibre of all politicions is not exactly very high:(
  5. "Loose lips sink ships" is applicable today as it was during WWII. Keep our secrets secret.
  6. And let's face it, we haven't got many ships to sink.

    What a bind when the head has to give a speech to tell people to **** off.
  7. I watched his speech, to a bunch of editors? Is it just me, or was he harping on about consideration of human rights a bit much?

    Earlier revelations that we (UK) don't go around topping people, and now finding that he's willing to let terrorists commit atrocities if, by doing so, he prevents their being tortured sounds a tad unrealistic?
  8. At least you still have some real journalists. In Amerika, the traditional media has taken the Goebbels route (not surprising since most of his ideas on propaganda came from progressive American journalists like Lippmann and Bernays who are idolized even today in our journalism schools)
  9. It’s hardly a ‘blast’ is it?

    Rather one more step in a journey that started in the late 80s/early 90s when HMG finally stopped pretending that the agencies didn’t exist and placed them on a statutory basis. Once a government admits it does something there then needs to be oversight (certainly in any country that aspires to even titular democracy) and the result was the Intelligence and Security Committee. Unlike the select committees that oversee defence, foreign affairs, etc. which are appointed by and report to parliament, the ISC is appointed by and reports to the PM, although it is composed of parliamentarians . Throw in the provisions of the Interception of Communications Act and then the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, etc, etc and you also had an element of judicial oversight of some aspects of the agencies work. For a while life was good – the ISC members got some overseas jollies to see how oversight worked in sunnier climes and the heavily redacted versions of their reports provided some annual entertainment for journalists, intelligence academics, spook-spotters, etc; but the ISC actually proved to have slightly more teeth than expected.

    Then the world changed. We had our ‘special’ ally’s actions post 9/11 – extraordinary rendition, Gitmo, etc. We had the ‘dossier’ – probably the first time since the 20s that HMG has placed intelligence in the public domain in order to justify a policy; and from that followed Dr. Kelly’s suicide. Again courtesy of our ally – we had some eye-catching images of white trash making friends and influencing people in Abu Ghraib. We had 7/7 – and the realisation that domestic terrorism now had theological and global dimensions absent from the ‘good old days’ of PIRA. The veracity of the ‘dossier’, the possible illegal/inhumane treatment of UK citizens, the complicity or acquiescence of the agencies in torture, the circumstances of Dr. Kelly’s death, the performance of the agencies pre-7/7 – all became matters of sometimes intense public debate. There has also been debate about the proportionality of some post-7/7 legislation – perhaps justified in light of the fact that 100,000 stop and searches in the last year under counter-terrorist legislation have resulted in exactly 0 arrests for terrorist offences.

    Gone were the days then oversight was a matter of a few good chaps mulling over HR policy in Vauxhall Cross or the cost of computers in Cheltenham. Enquiry followed enquiry, four in a year on aspects of intelligence and Iraq: by the foreign affairs committee, by the ISC, by Hutton, and by Butler. And doubtless Chilcott will have something to say. There have been special ISC reports on ‘Rendition’, ‘The Handling of detainees by UK Intelligence Personnel in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and Iraq’ and two on aspects of 7/7. This maelstrom of publicity has meant the agencies have come to be examined and discussed in a way unimaginable 20 years ago, and consequently parts of the media, the legal profession, Liberty, the North Islington Wimmins Collective, etc, etc are increasingly demanding greater transparency by, and oversight of, the agencies.

    And that, boys and girls, is why ‘C’ finds himself appearing in public to defend secrecy and assure us that his agency is squeaky clean. Cumming, Sinclair, Menzies, etc are doubtless spinning in their graves – but these are the times Sir John and the rest of us live in.

    Is it actually a bad thing that ‘C’ has to defend his agency? Not really. No one with half a brain cell (which obviously excludes the wimmin of North Islington) would claim that secrecy isn’t essential for the agencies to fulfil their functions, but I don’t think that increased public discussion about them is unhealthy or will lead to any real reduction in their effectiveness. Better ‘C’ having to do a dog and pony show for the Society of Editors than a culture where there is no debate.
  10. and of course, being head of the MI6, we can assume he's probably a really bad liar. *nods*
  11. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    A population that is kept ignorant and in fear is much easier to control, "The protected must never know what the protectors do" has more than one defination
  12. That is hardly what is being said here though, it's not East Germany! It just goes without saying that somethings don't need to be in the public domain, and may be better off being kept quite. Prince Harry's last deployment to Afghan being just one good example, or was that us being duped and kept dumb?

    The population may well be ignorant but that is largly by choice, it's not hard to find out exactly what your MP is doing but who many people can actualy be arsed to go and find out? So who many people ae going to take the time to find out what SIS is doing?
  13. X59

    X59 LE

    Secret Intelligence Service.

    The clue is in the name.
  14. We can read it all in his book!