Social Media’s Oppressive Anger


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
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Social media users are becoming stale at creating new and interesting own-content
, thus allowing the networks to be hijacked by partisan politics, extremist religion, and to a lesser degree causes, anti-phobias and conspiracies. It is a hot pot of grumpiness.

Recent surveys suggested that “more than one-third of social media users are worn out by the amount of political content they encounter”. And, individually, you really are not contributing to the groundswell of content or discontent with fresh ideas. Same old, same old.

Both Facebook and Twitter are being populated with so much unoriginal content that they have become the premier platform for re-messaging (sharing/re-tweeting) partisan interests. The volume of conflicting ideas and philosophies in single medium has never been surpassed. Stop the internet, I just want to get off… enough, I just don’t care what you think, really!

Social media users are suffering information overload, and often this excess is of material they do not wish to deal with. The Pew Research Center suggests that “more than half (of users) describe their online interactions with those they disagree with politically as stressful and frustrating”. People with causes are using brutal force feed tactics to deliver their messages, often with horrific, gory images.

Content is stressful indeed. Those users let loose on social media who do create original content seem to pursue very blinkered views. They will not entertain contrary thoughts that may be different, unconventional, or even from a new perspective. Dogmatic content sometimes reflects, sometimes poorly, on the user’s general upbringing, philosophies and shaping.

To cap this, there is an awful lot of anger out there in social media. Clearly, this is an angry little world and so too is the content of social media. It is nasty. The tone of content is often disrespectful, condescending and, frankly, troubling. This anger is a reflection of the broader climate in our societies today. Who foments this anger and what is the end objective?

Add to this spurious, fake news. Social media users have a penchant for fake news distribution. They just cannot help themselves. Few take time to check and verify. Gullibility is at its peak. The more outrageous the better, and why not one might ask?

Governments and the mainstream media have been the masters of fake news for years. We used to call it propaganda. But today’s fake new is sensational, good reading for the bored masses and angry people. They are being fed, and we are all being manipulated.

Governments, in their infinite wisdom (takes tongue out of cheek), busy themselves with anti-hate laws in the hope that the problem will subside. It will not go away. Racism was never properly suppressed, its use moved simply from one hue to the other. It’s a cause that will not die. Nor will religious extremism.

Populations have aversions to those who are different and do not conform to custom. Social media provides a ready platform to offer discontent and multiplies the issues when legislated against. Germany’s proposal to fine social media companies for failing to remove illegal content “is a significant moment in democracy’s battle with digital giants”, according to some!

Social media moguls are extending the science of social media with artificial intelligence. Google has launched a new AI program called Perspective to detect “abusive” comments and hatred online. Facebook recently admitted “it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like”.

With both government and social media controls creeping in, users are actually seeing little relief. In fact the problem is getting worse, and the majority of users now try harder to avoid political and religious argument on social media.

Often, when avoidance fails, users take steps to filter or curate their feeds, frequently then eliminating the good material too! When the State takes a role in the media, the news is always biased, but boycott often leaves one without useful information.

The solution may lie very much in your choice of contacts and friends in social media. The average user is actually carrying too many contacts. Once it was vogue to have as many as you could muster, but alas, that is biting back.

Some interesting statistics suggest that two-thirds of your Facebook friends are generally known to you personally, while Twitter is almost the reverse. Yet of your contacts, only about a quarter have similar views to you, less than 6% opposing views about politics and the rest have mixed or neutral opinions. Selective pruning of your contacts may well be necessary.  But do you want to stick your head in the sand?

Unless you can achieve some peace of mind in social media, angry information overload will wear you down. One would think that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, yet social media, especially Facebook, membership continues to climb. Clearly humanity needs its little dose of anger, its gripes, whinges and whines. We are being overwhelmed, it may be time for some to pull the plug on this social monster.

A Liberal Dose of Whimpering


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Picture by Dan Hodgson – @darkroom

There was a huge flash of whimpering, egalitarian, liberal sentiment following Donald Trump’s infamous little quip about barring Muslims entry into the United States. The bigot, how dare he! Sure, to any sensible thinking person, it was a ludicrous thing to say, especially on the campaign trail, he being obviously expectant of the peoples support. It is all rather farcical only because Trump, well knowingly, uttered his thoughts in the ferment of a rather too liberal society. His words were intended to shock, if not wake up a blinkered, apparently big-hearted, electorate. As the old cliché suggests, they truly do walk among us.

The indignant outrage of Western society is a touch preposterous, perhaps more so than the very pronouncement by our prime, all American, presidential hopeful clown. It has stimulated division within his own ranks and most certainly the extremes of society; it has created victims in the Western Muslim community further exacerbating the ‘dangers’ of living in a free, decadent society, and thus creating a cause; and, heaven forbid, it has been truly rough abrasion for simply nice people who cannot see the wood for the trees.

Perhaps we need to reflect on Trump’s words and the reaction to them a little more carefully. What we are seeing here is egalitarian liberalism forcing the suppression of freedoms, rather than advocating them. We may not like what Trump had to say, but he had the right to say it. One does protest a little too much. Thus, those rights and freedoms espoused are, perhaps, the very same liberties that allow others to do Western society harm. The fact is, Islamic terrorism, through its many variants is well intent on doing harm in Western Judeo/Christian society.

There are many taboos in Western society in the interests of political correctness. The late Christopher Hitchens once wrote about unwelcome attention received in response to essays written ‘defending the right of Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers to publish their views’. He averred,

“I did this because I think a right is a right and also because if this right is denied to one faction, it will not stop there.”

How right he was. Laws criminalising Holocaust denial are already being extended to the criticism of Islamist sentiment, clearly the single biggest threat to Western society today. Laws prohibiting so called hate crime, or the motivation of racial, sexual or other prejudices, involving violence, are blossoming in Western society. They deny our right to free speech, we cannot offer vitriol and contempt to our worst enemy. Yet our enemy is at liberty to offer his! How soon will it be an offence to condemn mass immigration?

For Islamists, to achieve their objectives, it is inherent that they should subvert and deploy people of their ilk, religion and culture, in other words, those select, unwitting Muslims who have integrated into Western societies. Yes, it is a broad sweeping brush, but it will be those from this community who wish to destroy or more rather have infidel Western society succumb to their religious zeal. Islamists, seemingly, have the right to hate and destroy, while Western society has its hands tied through ignorance and passivity. One might begin to understand Trump’s clear frustration, albeit the man is a fool.

Liberalism is about freedoms and rights, which makes it all the more astonishing why liberal minded people have denied Trump the right to his freedom of speech; the right to dislike a certain sector of the community who pose a threat to their well-being. Dislike, and indeed distrust, is not hatred. How can anybody like and trust those who seek to destroy our cultural and religious values? People cannot expect to uphold the rights of those who would destroy them, while suppressing the rights of those who believe their ideas and policies may prevent such destruction. It is a grey line, much like hate crime, but Western society needs to get is head out of the sand!

And for those still blurting their anti-Trump vitriol, of course you have the right to do so, but take note: Muslims do not have a right to visit the United States, nor migrate to Europe. It is actually a very liberal privilege.

PRISM and Tempora: Unholy Tapping Alliance or Portcullis


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIIt seems rather strange that there is such indignant protest that the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States has been trolling social media, gathering intelligence. Even more umbrageous objection arises from the allegation that some of this intelligence is being shared with Unites States’ allies, principally the United Kingdom. The pinnacle dissent in this debacle seems to be that your trustworthy and friendly social networking site has allowed ‘Uncle Sam’ backdoor access to all your data, which of course they all deny.

Let us smell the salts here. Intelligence gathering has recorded biblical roots from the days when Moses sent twelve men to spy on the land of Canaan. Spying is labelled by some as the second oldest profession, but, perhaps, commands less respect than the first. While war with ones foes has been the catalyst of espionage motivation generally, home revolution, subversion and civil dissension have turned the practice inward, thus targeting citizen opinion.

The core of good intelligence interception is communication. Message snatching has moved from bribing or disabling the messenger to sophisticated methods of “wire-tapping” designed to monitor a broader spectrum of interests and thus glean more intelligence. Electronic eavesdropping forms a major part of most intelligence operations the world over today. The intelligence agencies have moved with the technology and social networking just had to fall within their sites.

Back in the 1960s the Western allies introduced ECHELON, the global electronic eves-dropping system; a late Cold War need to intercept then COMECON military and diplomatic communications traffic. With the waning of the Cold War, ECHELON turned its attention to the collection and analysis of private and commercial communications using radio, microwave, cellular, fibre-optic, cyber and celestial (satellite) communications, known by the acronym SIGINT. It continues to operate today and we have known about it for years. The Chinese are doing it, as are the Russians.

Now we have PRISM bursting onto the world stage, thanks in part to whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who is current sought by the United States. PRISM (described as an activity designator – thus the acronym SIGAD) is a complimentary process of the wider reigning ECHELON and a primary source of US and sometimes Western intelligence. The process of activity designation prioritises intercepts based on their worth, perhaps through a process of key word/phrase analysis. Thus, most of the drivel we write hits the waste bins of the NSA. The ‘good stuff’ is pumped into massive non linear databases, making the GDR Stasi’s Department 26 look like kindergarten.

According to leaked NSA documents, social networking giants (Facebook, Google, Skype and Yahoo were named) and some of the big five (Microsoft and Apple included) allowed direct access to their servers and databases by the PRISM system! All deny the access, one stating that they were ‘really protective of the information our users have provided’ – attributed to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s Director of Engineering. Yet the United States government obtained over three billion items from cyber communications networks in just March 2013 alone. Where did it come from?

Edward Snowden and those documents he leaked suggest United Kingdom complicity in the scheme of things, yet British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, re-acting to the PRISM exposé, told Parliament,

“Our agencies practice and uphold U.K. law at all times… To intercept the content of any individual’s communications in the UK requires a warrant signed personally by me, the Home Secretary, or by another Secretary of State. This is no casual process. Every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice. Warrants are legally required to be necessary, proportionate and carefully targeted, and we judge them on that basis.”

Who is the Pinocchio here? The British SIGINT operation at GCHQ, which feeds United Kingdom intelligence, is tapping into fibre-optic communication links and drawing data for analysis over a 30 day holding period in an intelligence operation called Tempora. This is not a suspect targeted operation. The information, from both innocent citizens and security suspects, is shared with the NSA in dubious exchanges, perhaps for PRISM intelligence. Is this legal, Mr Hague, or is it just another ‘porky’ offered to cover your backs?

Be very afraid if you are a terrorist or a criminal so naïve as to chat about your dirty deeds in cyberspace or on any legitimate communications network. Big brother is really watching now. We know that, and it may not be legal, but really people who complain the most about privacy violations by social networks are in fact their own worst enemies. It is these same people who share their achievements, plans and wishes, if not there inner-most secrets, in social media. The message here is keep your private data to yourselves, but surely this would defeat the object of social networking.

While some may dillydally innocently, others spin sinister plots and revolution foolishly oblivious to reality on these sophisticated networks. We have come to trust the integrity of our communications platforms and social networks; and we clearly believe we should enjoy some right to privacy. This is a mythical right, since the wicked World cannot work like that in an age of fundamentalist terrorism.

PRISM and other similar systems, like Tempora, have built up complex profiles about you, but you only have yourself to blame for gullibly feeding the system. Our sudden indignity about all this snooping does amuse, and must surely rank in the naivety stakes with those who believe the myth of the tooth fairy. We know it is happening and this makes it all the more nauseating that filthy politicians choose to deny the instruments of their intelligence gathering apparatus.

Corrupt States: Outcome Choices – Democracy or Revolution


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
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One may ask, is there some correlation between democracy and corruption? It would seem there is.
Those countries with autocratic or ‘president for life’ dictatorships, or those that suffer democracy challenges, seem to have a higher ranking, for being lofty in their corruptness, than those with more stable democracies. The recently released Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010 appears to suggest this when compared with other indices.

It is common purpose for lesser free nations to impose extreme controls to sustain their autocratic rule, and this depends upon an array of punitive legislation; a strong securotocracy of partisan service chiefs; systems of patronage, where Peter is robbed to pay Paul, in other words, the party faithful; and a generally kleptocratic ethos, opening up the stratagem for filthy corruption. Sound familiar? Zimbabwe is no stranger to this and is certainly no alien to its poor ranking on the corruption scales.

Zimbabwe, which was ranked joint 154th (with 11 other nations), of the 182 countries surveyed, joins a few other countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region with similar poor ranking and likewise dodgy democracy records. Within the SADC region Zimbabwe is brought together with two others at the bottom of the corruption cesspool, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The top three (least corrupt) in SADC are Botswana, Mauritius and the Seychelles (Namibia and South Africa follow, regionally, in 4th and 5th place respectively).

If one looks at the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index rankings… there is a striking resemblance in their rankings, give or take a few juxtaposed grades and one major exception. Swaziland ranks highly amongst least corrupt, but is rated low on the democracy rankings; synonymous with its monarchic plutocracy, perhaps. Despite this, generally, rank correlation between democracy and corruption is distinctly apparent.

The EIU index places Zimbabwe, Angola and the DRC at the bottom of the SADC democracy standings, while Botswana and Mauritius are top ranking (most democratic) SADC nations (the Seychelles seems not to have been surveyed by the EIU). Here of course is another exception, the Seychelles has strayed from democracy in recent years and perhaps it is only time before the corruption sets in there; if the supposition is correct.

If this hypothesis is anywhere near decent, then, clearly, the solutions to Zimbabwe’s corruption lay with re-democratization of the nation. The people seem to want this, but are far from ready to demonstrate their will. Some years back, Zimbabwe was actually ranked 65th in the TI rankings. This is when the economy was faring reasonably well and the then popular party was getting its own way in power sustenance. There were no threats against the king. Perhaps the corruption ranking was skewed.

Then, about came change…the politicians went and spoiled it all. There was popular resistance to constitution change, which would have entrenched the Mugabe regime; then mindless forays into the DRC to fight another dictator’s squabbles; land seizures, theft and gluttony; denial of freedoms; suppression of transparency; explosion of inflation and consummate hunger; and now indigenisation; and some even say a military coup by proxy.

The people began to resist autocratic leadership and from there on it has been a slide down the slippery slope of political self indulgence, benefiting only the kleptocracy and its patronised bureaucracy. Zimbabwe skidded to its worst on record corruption ranking in 2009 become the 11th most corrupt nation of 180 countries surveyed. All that in just 10 short years, the root cause being simply to sustain a single individual in power, so they say; with his lackey coterie reaping the trappings of his protectionism and patronage. The once popular party now has some of the wealthiest politicians; one has to presume, being the product of lousy, edacious graft.

Some may take heart that Zimbabwe has actually climbed the rankings in 2010. Can we say this is probably the prize of a Government of National Unity (GNU), with ‘new kids’ on the block? Well perhaps not. It does not seem that those ‘new kids’ will be any different. There is a growing cynicism, a new mood, which suggests any new broom, brought about by greater democracy, may not sweep quite as clean as it should. This goes against the theory.

More recently people have been pointing at the nation’s pro-democracy Prime Minister and his apparently scandalous personal affairs presently in the public domain. This is sad and consequently issues of trust are now being raised, personal failures translate to susceptibilities elsewhere. Add to this Zimbabwe’s recent, wealthiest in the World, discovery of diamonds, and one might surmise, unfairly perhaps, that the scales will tip even further down the corruption order, no matter how democratic the nation becomes.

This should be troublesome indeed for Zimbabwe’s new breed of politicians, while the older ones look over their shoulders. The race here must be who gets to the post first, true democracy or the powder keg of violent revolution. We should draw from the fact that famine may purge southern Africa in the months ahead… if we are to believe this, then Zimbabwe could well run short of food, a clear melting pot for dissent. North Africa chose violent revolution, and while the parallels are few; corruption, personal and political self indulgence were core causes. In those primers there are parallels aplenty for Zimbabwe.

Visit Andrew’s Simply Wild Photography photo blog… you will not regret doing so!

Two Faced Short Arm of Justice


By Andrew Field – Follow on Twitter
Flickr_Andrew_XIThe breaking news yesterday was all about the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the once high ranking Bosnian war crimes suspect. He is accused of the massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, amongst other heinous crimes. Europeans have been at the forefront of the hunt for Mladic and will no doubt expedite his extradition to The Hague for trial and due process. The world will be a better place.

Well, not quite. Mysteriously, those same Europeans, who relentlessly pursued this notorious war criminal, were busy protecting yet another reprehensible felon and human rights villain in securing his asylum in the United Kingdom under the European Human Rights Convention. Justice David Archer, so gullibly, accepted that a former Zimbabwean intelligence agent and self confessed torturer, come political murderer, would be in danger if not given asylum and compelled to return to his home land.

This is not only ludicrous to the core, but a potentially large obstacle to human rights justice. One wonders what Justice Archer’s ruling would be in the case of on an extradition to Zimbabwe of an accused person for crimes against humanity and murder. Bearing in mind that Zimbabwe still has, and may impose, the death penalty for such crimes as murder and rape, would the learned judge uphold the extradition? Perhaps not. Simply, the offender would be in danger of losing his life. Thus justice would never be done.

The point is that one day, and many hope in the not too distant future, Zimbabwe may well see regime change, despite the denials and pathetic complicity of SADC leaders supporting and upholding a now unpopular elements of the current regime. Such are the trials and tribulations of Africa, all is fair in African politics, including, apparently, the massacre of innocent civilians and political opponents, or at least those perceived to be.

What the Europeans are saying is reprieve those who should face justice in Africa, for their lives might be in danger. This is a little ripe, when NATO forces are pounding Libyan shores intent on the life destruction of Muammar Gaddafi, who, ironically and somewhat sick humorously, is being indicted for war crimes, if he survives.

Referring to Mladic’s arrest, Prime Minister David Cameron is quoted as saying,

“This should send a signal to all war criminals everywhere. In the end we will get you.”

Well Zimbabweans are certainly receiving mixed messages here. Some feel that certain people should answer to alleged crimes against humanity perpetrated in Zimbabwe, including the massacre of some 20,000 people in Matabeleland and, more recently, the dastardly acts of wonton murder and torture again opposition politicians.  Yet there can be no justice if there is any danger to the accused.  Many wonder if justice will ever be seen to be done. One cannot help feeling that certain Africa leaders are sniggering with mirth in their palatial corridors, rather than taking heed of the Britannic leader’s threats.  They know they are protected from facing the wrath for their gross violations.

Wikileaks: Corrupting the Keepers of Secrets


By Andrew Field
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Today, the media dwelled upon the recent exposure of previously classified information by Wikileaks.
They have just published 400 thousand pages of a United States Army situation reports during the Iraq occupation, causing much retrospective indignation. The material leaked is old news, there are few surprises. It has renewed the disclosure cravings of Iraq war critics. Despite pre-release media hype, the information is stale, and while revealing a few points of interest, there is no major scoop.

One does not know whether to scorn or admire Wikileaks. For what purpose do they act? They say ‘transparency creates a better society for all people’, and that ‘better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organizations’. Fair enough, if we were living in a pure world, but what of our enemies’ institutions who benefit from this ‘principled leaking’? Was there no corruption by the principled leaker?

What some struggle to come to terms with, is that while western nations are collaborating to prevent or fight terrorism, thus protecting its citizens; there are those who choose to expose their secrets, unwittingly perhaps, to the enemy, in the interests of such transparency. We seem to be losing the plot here, if wicked nations and organizations are really intent upon your absolute destruction.

For centuries conflict and political turmoil, and even commercial competitiveness, have given rise to a world immersed in cloak and dagger activity, spying and snooping. This has been enhanced hugely by technology in the last few decades. Our institutions have much to gain from information about their enemies, adversaries and competitors. Is this so thoroughly immoral?

To most, this is known as intelligence and an echelon of organizations and agencies has blossomed to perform this simple task of information one-upmanship upon your enemy, to defend your democracy. By their very nature, they do have blood on their hands, some more than others, and one would like to think mostly that of their foes. There is no purity in warfare.

Evidently, and acknowledging that no conflict is clean, much hard work is done to secure information, in some cases by devious means, which is why intelligence becomes so secretive. And this seems to irk some people, because while secrecy provides protection to those gathering and providing intelligence, it also covers up truths, eliminates transparency or things which in normal circumstances should properly be exposed. Where do we draw the line?

Our enemies, and we do have them, are going to pursue their objectives by the most evil means possible, and terrorism seems to be the vogue at the moment. Terrorists have another view of utopia, and will happily deny you yours, no matter how much you demand pure and absolute democracy and freedom, civil rights or equality for all, including your enemies.

No democratically minded citizen wants this evil of terrorism on their door steps. Such conflict brings death and destruction in the ugliest way. Warfare is a filthy thing, but a necessary evil if you are on the receiving end of a threat. Sadly, the successful counter-insurgency does not conduct itself by the ‘Queensbury Rules’, so blood does get spilled.

In fact, things get very dirty out there and on both sides of the fray. But when people within your own community decide upon ‘principled leaking’, passing on our secrets to a would-be whistleblower, then surely there is something wrong. It is morally incomprehensible and corrupt for the custodian of secrets to pass them on. When our whistleblower discloses the leak, he is in fact feeding and serving the enemy.

From a purely intelligence perspective, there is an ethical clash between the transparency you demand, being the supposed democratizer, and the undoing of secret intelligence networks and conduits used. Intelligence plays a part, apparently, in protecting those citizens, who claim this right to know, in the face of deadly adversity. Think about it. This is akin to wetting one’s powder when the beast is charging.

Intelligence conduits will dry up if we broadcast our intelligence modus operandi to the opposing world. By the same token we don’t want governments or their agencies to get away with their crimes under a cloak of secrecy, such as the tortures which occurred in Iraq. They who choose to support and feed this destructive whistle blowing should examine their collective conscience. It may be suicidal to uphold Wikileaks’ rights to spill the beans acquired through corrupt leakages.

The Folly of an Overwhelming Right to Know


By Andrew Field
Flickr_Andrew_XIThe most extraordinary decision by two, supposedly, learned judges to allow disclosure of foreign intelligence material in the legal matter of Binyan Mohamed beggars belief.   The judgement sets, to Britain’s great peril, a grievous precedent, if what the politicians say is correct.  Would the Americans cease intelligence co-operation in consequence?   Some say not.

Mohamed is an Ethiopian national, who was given refuge, benevolently one might add, by the British government back in 1994.  He is a manqué terrorist who would happily slaughter innocent Britons, given half the chance, according to the publicity the man has attracted.

Mohamed left the safety of the United Kingdom, as a drug addict, seeking solace for his filthy habit from the Muslim faithful in distant Afghanistan.  This country is the epicentre of terrorism, co-incidentally.  He soon became embroiled in the homicidal underworld of al-Qaeda fundamentalist terrorism.  Mohamed allegedly trained with Osama bin Laden’s terrorist mentors and other sources suggest his collusion with American gangster turned terrorist, Jose Padilla.

Our alleged terrorist and Padilla plotted death and mayhem, so they say, including the construction of dirty bombs and spraying people with cyanide.  He was arrested in Pakistan attempting to exit that country on a false passport, destined for the United Kingdom.  One might suspect that, on the face of it, he was up to no good.

Of course, this does not condone his rendition and alleged torture, but quite what he is doing back on British soil, to contest British intelligence involvement, is a mystery.  Surprisingly, it was British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who secured the man’s release from Guantánamo and allowed him back to Britain.  What was he thinking, one might ask, and have we lost all of our senses on the altar of political correctitude?

Clearly, Mohamed, had a few ulterior motives, and he is not exactly the model Muslim devotee that some would like us to believe, nor British.  And yet, this matter is not about Mohamed, but rather how this foreigner has brought the judiciary and government on a collision course, because a couple of fellows, bedecked in their wigs, have decided that the British people have an overwhelming ‘right to know’.  Really, so why do we not just throw open MI5 and MI6 headquarters as public archives, you could ask?

The suppression of foreign intelligence material, by Miliband, was considered by the judges to be ‘harmful to the rule of law’.  For those with any common sense, it is enough to make one vomit.  The judges have thoroughly ignored the appeals of the Foreign Secretary.  His position is contentious; would such disclosure strain intelligence relations between the United States, the originators of the material, and those attempting to defend the Realm?  It is considered that revelation may compromise vital sources of intelligence, including the death of agents, and breach a reciprocal understanding.

In all probability, the actual material subject to this furore may not divulge much that is either sensitive or secret, but it breaks a solid principal of absolute trust in the shadowy world of spy craft.  Friendly intelligence agencies share their information, knowledge and hard gleaned intelligence and nobody has any ‘right to know’ the content of these exchanges.  This reciprocity is secret and should not be scuppered.  It is done in the interests of combating a very serious threat, the type of threat our not-so-friendly Ethiopian terrorist would pose to the British people.

While the blood of British soldiers and airmen is soaking the soil of Taliban poppy fields, defending Britain from the al-Quaeda terrorist threat, so we are told, a couple of judges pontificate about the law and rights in the comfort of their chambers.  Are they are making decisions that would breach a trust and dangerously expose Britain’s hand?  If they are, some believe, then counter-terrorism operations will suffer and British servicemen and spies will be denied access to vital intelligence from their lead ally.

Let us not forget that the Americans are still seething badly at the release of another terrorist, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, by their British ally.  The State Department took that pretty seriously, and no doubt stifled intelligence outflows in consequence. The risk that Britain’s allies will clam up altogether, drying the intelligence fountain, perhaps is no theory.  This is the gambit. Surely, it is the Americans who should be authorising the release of the information anyway.

The judges may just have made terrorism a lot easier for al-Quaeda and damningly harder for the likes of MI5, MI6 and the men and women on the frontline.  Those who deem they have the overwhelming ‘right to know’ are increasing the odds of terror attack upon themselves.  The folly of this judicial thirst for transparency and lawful outcome may come back to haunt the Realm.