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Red-herring "inquisition": Guardian editor robustly defends Snowden leaks to UK MPs

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Original published at RT


Editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger
(Image by (AFP Photo / Leon Neal))
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Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger strongly defended his newspaper's publication of the Snowden leaks in response to a hostile grilling by a UK parliamentary committee Tuesday, as MPs attempted to show that national security was breached.

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Prior to the parliamentary hearing, former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who first broke the story on Snowden's revelations, had tweeted that he thought the parliamentary hearing would be like an inquisition. 

  1. Peter Kofod   @peterkofod
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    @ ggreenwald pretty sure it'll be streamed here:

    http://www. parliament.uk/business/commi ttees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news/131128-terrorism-ev-3-dec/   " @ armandodkos @ arusbridger

Glenn Greenwald  @ggreenwald

UK's inquisition of the Guardian today RT @ peterkofod @ ggreenwald pretty sure it'll be streamed here http://www. parliament.uk/business/commi ttees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news/131128-terrorism-ev-3-dec/ 

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Responding to MPs, The Guardian's editor-in-chief insisted that national security was never breached and that what his newspaper had published was in the public interest. He said the UK government's response to the Snowden revelations about NSA and GCHQ spying and its attitude to The Guardian had dismayed many people around the world who believe in a free press. 

Asked whether he loves his country by committee chairman Keith Vaz, Rusbridger replied that he was proud to live in a country where there is free press -- unlike other countries which "are not generally democracies, where the press are not free to write about these things." He added, however, that in Britain privacy should be balanced against national security and assured MPs that the entire Guardian staff and their families who live in the UK "want to be secure," too.

Rusbridger said the only way the UK's and the US's mass surveillance programs had become public knowledge was through the press, because politicians had failed in their job to properly scrutinize and regulate the secret services' activities.

He said that in Britain many MPs were appalled to learn of the lack of parliamentary oversight over intelligence agencies, and that The Guardian had faced intimidation from the UK government and some politicians, including calls for Rusbridger to be prosecuted, while the US had begun to debate the issue properly in Congress.

One Tory MP, Michael Ellis, asked Rusbridger pointedly whether, if he had known about British intelligence agencies breaking the Nazis' Enigma Code in World War II, he would have published it at the time. The question appeared to fall flat, however, as Rusbridger insisted that even trainee journalists very clearly knew the difference between revealing mass spying on the population today and endangering the lives of Allied troops during the war.

In his reply, Rusbridger retorted that bringing up the Enigma Code "was a well-worn red herring" and that he could "make that distinction." 

Ellis also accused The Guardian of publishing personal information, including the sexual orientation of GCHQ workers, saying that a Guardian story said there was a LGBT pride group at GCHQ.

But Rusbridger replied: "There are gay members of GCHQ, is that a surprise?"

"It's not amusing," Ellis said. "They shouldn't be outed by you."

Rusbridger refuted Ellis's claim immediately, however: "The existence of a pride group at GCHQ was on the Stonewall website, and it does not out anyone."

On the sensitive question of whether The Guardian had published the names of any UK intelligence officers, Rusbridger insisted that the paper has not revealed a single name: "We have published no names and we have lost control of no names," he said.

On the issue of endangering national security and accusations by the chiefs of spy agencies GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 that the Guardians revelations were a "gift" to terrorist groups, Rusbridger replied that the problem with these accusations was that they were too vague.

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