British spy chiefs have been answering questions before a Commons select committee Thursday. It is part of the fall out following espionage revelations by Edward Snowden. Their appearance was shown live on TV but with a two minute delay; in other words not really live. The delay was deemed necessary in case one of the three men uttered a word which could jeopardise British security, the well-being of a spy or similar.
The stance of the men being questioned was predictable. Seems the only people to blame for this mess are Edward Snowden and the Guardian newsparer and its affiliates. Heaven forbid that any of these three accept that their behaviour overstepped the mark.
According to the Washington Post "Iain Lobban [pictured above], chief of the eavesdropping agency GCHQ, said his spies have picked up “near-daily discussion” of the unauthorized disclosures among his agency’s targets. His colleague John Sawers, the chief of the British foreign spy agency MI6, was even more explicit. "It’s clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands in glee,” he told lawmakers. “Al-Qaida is lapping it up.”"
Again as expected but who's fault is that. Surely it is long past the time when spy chiefs and politicians both sides of the Pond accepted some resonsibilty for behaving in an inappropriate manner and spying on citizens and allies?
This stance is in line with President Obama's in Washington and that of US spy chiefs. You know "hey man - nothing to do with me". Echoes of Bart Simpson spring to mind with his now immortal words " I didn't do it".
Spy allegations should not be a matter for frivolity but certainly those involved treat citizens as buffoons and fools.
Five Days ago the Guardian in reporting the scheduled event Thursday said "The head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, the director of GCHQ, Sir Iain Lobban and the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker (the knighthood will come) have a date before the Commons intelligence and security committee and we are all sort of invited."
Questions the Guardian raised included - is this meeting simply to justify the Commons intelligence and security committee which has obvioulsy failed to keep spy bosses in line?
Thursday much was made of protecting British citizens, spying to look after us and more cliches which have been bandied about since Snowden blew the whistle on spying shenanigans.
MI5 head Andrew Parker claims that UK intelligence work defends freedom rather than undermining it. Many people would say at the very least though it may do both. In a worse case scenario it does the latter.
British people should remember that a great deal of money is spent by these spy agencies and on these spy agencies when around the country austerity measures are hitting the people. Still spying on the disgruntled public who have little respect for politicians could be useful if the proverbial hits the fan.
So did the spy bosses allay fears and explain their abuse of power appropriately?
For this blogger, no they did not.
It was more of tthe same old excuses; more of the blame game; more fear tactics to justify their jobs and the syping and overall it was predictable propaganda.
The Guardian reported: "The head of MI6 [Sir John Sawers] has claimed that national security has been so badly damaged by the leaking of NSA files that Britain's adversaries have been "rubbing their hands with glee" and al-Qaida is "lapping it up"."
Perhaps but again - who's fault is that? Today's committee hearing indicated that British politicians have been largely kept in the dark about the level of spying and that spy bosses have been held unaccountable for too long.
Read: Father of the Internet Tim Berners Lee condemns spy agencies