I just watched a feature on BBC News about the call of Tim Berners Lee for a Bill of Rights to protect internet freedom, and astonishingly they managed not to mention NSA, GHCQ or government surveillance at any point. They had an “expert” named Jenni Thomson who opined that “it is not as if anyone is looking over your shoulder all the time”, and went on to say the collection of data by facebook and google is the problem, and then was led by the BBC interviewer to the nice uncontroversial subject of education in schools for children on how to stay safe on the internet.
I had rather tended to think of the BBC’s rabid anti-independence propaganda in Scotland as an aberration, a legacy of the fact that so many in senior positions in public institutions throughout Scotland got there as Labour placemen. Then a couple of months ago I was in Ghana watching coverage on BBC World TV and listening to BBC World Service radio, specifically relating to Egypt and the trial of President Morsi. I suddenly noted that in all circumstances the BBC journalists and presenters were tangling themselves in knots not to refer to the military coup as a coup. We had the “ousting”, “overthrow”, most often “removal from power following popular demonstrations”. Occasionally BBC staff would mention it was a military “intervention”. But they tied themselves up in knots not to say coup, even though that is precisely what happened and often was the most natural word. Occasionally they would grind to a halt looking for an alternative. I once heard “following the military ummm err ummm ouster of President Morsi.”
Now I understand the US government decided not to use the word “coup” because that would automatically bring in sanctions under existing legislation, so the Obama administration decided to pretend it was not a coup. It is perhaps surprising there is no other get-out in the legislation for coups like the Egyptian military one achieved by the US and Israel, but that is a different question. But that the BBC should follow so servilely this policy of distortion of truth ought to be shocking.
It seems few people care any longer. There is actually rather more concern for liberty among the population at large in the US than in the UK. Snowden’s revelations have brought almost no reaction against GCHQ’s actions in the UK, compared to some fairly strong outrage in the US. Even the revelation here that 1.4 million people hade their webcam chats spied on by GCHQ, many of them involving sex, caused barely a ripple. I am fairly confident that would have caused more concern in the US. The notion of liberty appears to have been lost for now in the mental scheme of the citizenry of the UK.
There is now a great scandal in the States about the CIA spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee as that committee compiled its report into torture and extraordinary rendition. Even the dreadful warmonger and fanatical Zionist Dianne Feinstein is outraged by this. Predictably, Senators are much more concerned about having their computers hacked than about people being dispatched all round the world for terrible torture on a massive scale. The CIA’s actions have probably made it more likely that a report will eventually be published which gives more of the truth about extraordinary rendition and American torture, though I suspect that the Obama administration will make sure most of it remains buried. There is however a chance that more will be admitted, and particularly that there will be revelations of the collusion of other governments, including our own.
In the UK, this precise matter continues to be hushed up, and there seems very little concern about that. The Gibson Inquiry was to establish the truth, and it was simply cancelled. Our politicians even went so far as to institute secret courts, precisely so the guilt of Blair, Straw and a host of senior spies and civil servants over torture could be kept hidden. It will be ironic if the truth comes out through revelations by US senators outraged at being spied upon.