Feeds

Ex-UK spy boss says WikiLeaks sparked Egyptian revolution

Dearlove gets schooled on radical transparency

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.