Ex-UK spy boss says WikiLeaks sparked Egyptian revolution
Dearlove gets schooled on radical transparency
The former head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service has credited WikiLeaks and other secret-spilling sites with sparking the revolutions sweeping the Middle East.
At what was supposed to be an off-the-record appearance last month at the Cambridge Union Society, Former MI6 Chief Richard Dearlove said that the technology WikiLeaks harnesses is fundamentally strengthening the hand of the individual as he goes up against powerful organizations.
“I would definitely draw parallels at the moment between the wave of political unrest which is sweeping through the Middle East in a very exciting and rather extraordinary fashion and also the WikiLeaks phenomenon,” Dearlove said. “Really, what ties these two events together, and of course a number of other events, is the diffusion of power, away from the states and the empowerment of individuals, and small groups of individuals, by technology.”
The former spy didn't know just how prophetic his words would be: much of the talk was captured on video, including an exchange with a critic. She cited a leaked document from 2002 that has come to be known as the Downing Street Memo, which appeared to show him as saying that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of then US President George W Bush of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
“I find that a terrible betrayal of everything democracy is supposed to stand for and that the intelligence service is supposed to provide,” the unidentified woman told Dearlove. She went on to challenge his assertion that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is an “undignified flag-carrier” who has yet to justify his zeal for radical transparency.
“To find out information like that, and that's what public servants are actually doing, and that's how intelligence is being used, I think the most dignified way we can recover from that is to find out that information and move forward from there,” she continued.
Dearlove first said he wouldn't comment, but couldn't help adding: “The Downing Street Memo, which you just read, is a misquotation of what I said, and what I said is not in the public record.”
Elsewhere in the 20-minute video, Dearlove said: “I think it would be generally accepted that most organizations large and small also require moments in their existence for the benefit of their members of confidentiality. However, there's absolutely no question that technology is significantly shifting these domains and altering the relationship quite fundamentally between the citizen and government.”
Following the exchange with the critic, Dearlove quickly took a question from what what is assumed to be a more sympathetic audience member. But the leaked comments and conversation are now a permanent part of the internet record. Ah, the irony. ®
Dearlove should be listened to, this is the Establishment speaking out against the Establishment
For a guy with a track record like Dearlove's he is someone worth listening to having been M!6 boss between 1999 to 2004. His speaking out against 'striking and disturbing' invasions of privacy by the Big Brother state', including some activities that were abuse of the law, is significant, especially when he said immediately after retirement he wouldn't be doing interviews. This also means he was in the know around the 2001 New York air incidents and he believed the U.S. response to 2001September 11 had been disproportionate. (No kidding).
Dearlove has also complained of the 'loss of liberties' caused by expanding surveillance powers and said some Plod operations as 'mind-boggling' including the massive surge in police use of stop-and-search powers in London, headlining the fact that Scotland Yard Plods have carried out more than 150,000 searches since 2007 which compares with fewer than 300 in Manchester. Reg readers will undoubtedly recall photographers and rail-spotters were Plod targets.
A total of 238 Territorial Support Group officers were investigated over 547 allegations of misconduct of/to the public in 2009, 29% referenced serious and sexual assault, and other assaults. This is pretty bad even for Plod supporters. This Plod mob sparked controversy over policing during the G20 protests, were accused of 159 assaults in the past year.
This former spy chief is not alone as a growing number of high-profile critics warning that individual freedom and privacy are being seriously eroded by the Government's efforts to guard against terrorism. Personally I think they have gone way too far.
Sir Richard Dearlove particularly noted inadequate laws to regulate some surveillance powers. Even the House of Lords Constitution Committee has called for the state's Big Brother powers to be cut back, and the Information Commissioner has condemned the spread of surveillance, particularly the UK's 4.5million CCTV cameras, at a cost of at least £500million of taxpayers' money was spent installing them. Home Office research has shown that the millions of CCTV cameras in Britain's streets have done virtually nothing to cut crime.
Dearlove said Home Office plans for a vast InterNet surveillance database were 'a step too far for the British way of life'.
Remember if Britain accepts all this it will only get worse. Time to write your MP.
Why prosecuting Assange would be a huge mistake...
This brings to light why attempting to prosecute Assange in the US would backfire severely. The claim of "aiding and abetting the enemy," becomes absolutely ludicrous when the actual result has been an increase in world democratic action, as opposed to the US usual methodology of aiding and/or placating despotic leaders. Regardless of his intent, Assange could claim he's better at getting their job done than they are (US diplomats), making the US a laughingstock.
Couldn't have done it by themselves
They could have done it for themselves, but the fact is until Wikileaks leaked those documents, they didn't. In the case of the Libyans, for 40 years.
Your view is extremely naive as it totally ignores the probability that the government in power is able to control the flow of information in these countries enough to make the population think that the west is the reason they are poor and that their brave government is busy fighting the western world to ensure their rights.
Now, these documents have leaked, and suddenly people have access to (in a lot of cases) the unvarnished truth. That sort of thing can change a population's collective opinion.
Another example of this is the vietnam war. I can't provide a link as this was on TV years ago, but do you know what they think persuaded the American population that, despite what their government was telling them, the Vietnam war was a bad thing? One single clip of video shown on a documentary. A clip of a US soldier calmly circling a Vietnamese prisoner, and without saying a word or showing any emotion, turning toward the prisoner and shooting him.