Arriving in Northern Ireland today, British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to answer media questions about UK/US eavesdropping on his VIP colleagues. Meanwhile, “independent” UK media seem to be under some constraint – witness the bizarre behavior recently encountered by some of my British colleagues in Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII).
Not surprisingly, two of them – Katharine Gun (formerly of GSHQ) and Craig Murray (former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan) – were eagerly sought for interviews to provide expertise and insight regarding the revelations about spying on visiting VIPs and other disclosures of joint GCHQ/NSA snooping emanating from documents leaked by American Edward Snowden.
Both Gun and Murray have a history of speaking truth to power. Gun disclosed NSA spying on (or attempted blackmailing of) UN Security Council members whose votes were sought to give some legal cover to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Murray exposed human rights crimes in Uzbekistan. (For their risky truth-telling, both were recipients of SAAII awards.)
Despite the timeliness of getting their comments on the Guardian reports, the British media was having trouble trying to “manage” – as the British like to say – their efforts to flesh out the story. Here’s the text of Katharine Gun’s e-mail to SAAII members. (This is provided, in part, as a courtesy to GCHQ and NSA which, busy as they are today, probably have not yet had time to do anything more than collect and store the metadata.)
Katharine Gun wrote: “Anyone read the latest headlines in The Guardian today? Kind of strange, although don’t know if this sort of thing is perfectly normal. I got a call from Sky News, they wanted to interview me today regarding the latest releases, they said they would send a TV truck, then a call back to say the truck had technical problems.
“Next they propose to use the local TV studio, but needed to make sure there was a cameraman available; just got call back to say, ‘no cameraman, so have to call it off.’ Left it vaguely that they would be in touch perhaps at a later date.”
Ambassador Murray commented: “I had precisely the same experience and precisely the same excuse, last week with the BBC. They don’t have difficulty finding satellite trucks to film Prince William’s wife attending a gardening class.”
You won't be surprised to learn that the Cabinet has issued a D-Notice to the British press in regards to the PRISM revelations.