The Guardian reports: David Cameron has encouraged a Commons select committee to investigate whether the Guardian has broken the law or damaged national security by publishing secrets leaked by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
He made his proposal in response to a question from former defence secretary Liam Fox, saying the Guardian had been guilty of double standards for exposing the scandal of phone hacking by newspapers and yet had gone on to publish secrets from the NSA taken by Snowden.
Speaking at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Cameron said: “The plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and cabinet secretary to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files.
“So they know that what they’re dealing with is dangerous for national security. I think it’s up to select committees in this house if they want to examine this issue and make further recommendations.” [Continue reading…]
The Guardian knew that they were dealing with goons acting on the orders of Cameron’s intelligence chiefs who wouldn’t take no for an answer. They also knew that destroying the hard drives in question had no security significance whatsoever, given that copies of the files on those drives were all safe outside the UK.
On July 18th, [editor, Alan] Rusbridger received a call from Oliver Robbins, the U.K.’s deputy national-security adviser, alerting him that agents would be coming to the Guardian’s offices to seize the hard drives containing the Snowden files. Rusbridger again explained that the files were also on encrypted computers outside England, but his reasoning did not sway Robbins. Rusbridger asked if, instead, his staff members could destroy the files themselves, and Robbins consented. That Saturday, Rusbridger told associates to take the five laptops from the bunker to the basement and to smash the hard drives and circuit boards in front of two agents from the GCHQ.
If Cameron wants to draw any lesson from the incident, it should be that the editor of The Guardian is smarter than his own deputy national security adviser. By agreeing to let the drives get destroyed, the British government threw away its best opportunity to discover which files Snowden had taken — something that neither the NSA nor GCHQ has ever been able to establish.