Governments and media at odds over Snowden leaks

The UK is considering a crackdown on media sources that leak information passed on by former NSA employee Edward Snowden, while the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger warns of "doomsday" files that will be released if anything happens to Edward Snowden.

Governments and media at odds over Snowden leaks

World Bulletin / News Desk

British lawmakers will question the editor of the Guardian newspaper next month over publishing intelligence files from U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden after warnings from security chiefs that the leaks damaged UK national security.

Alan Rusbridger will appear before the House of Commons home affairs select committee, the Guardian said. "Alan has been invited to give evidence to the...committee and looks forward to appearing next month," a spokeswoman said.

The Guardian has already been coerced by the British government into destroying the hard drives in London containing the leaked files while the London police used the terrorism law to detain the partner of Glenn Greenwald - one of the journalists to whom Snowden leaked - at Heathrow Airport and confiscated computer media believed to contain leaked files. Last month, Cameron threatened to act to stop newspapers publishing the leaks.

But these measures were largely for show. As Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger had earlier reminded officials, other publications and individuals possess copies of the files, and "doomsday" copies exist that will be released "if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden," said Greenwald in June.

Rusbridger, a former Washington editor for the London Daily News, has defended the Guardian's role, saying it has provoked a debate about the extent of intelligence activities, which lawmakers had failed to do.

Snowden outed himself as the source of the NSA files - essentially confessing to the espionage charge against him - so prosecutors can't retaliate against Greenwald, the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, or filmmaker Laura Poitras, early recipients of the Snowden leaks, by using the courts to expose their sources.

Disclosures about the activities of Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping agency and its close cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency, have embarrassed Prime Minister David Cameron and angered lawmakers in his ruling Conservative party who say they have compromised national security.

Civil liberties groups say the files have shown the need for more effective controls over intelligence gathering but spy chiefs have been highly critical about their publication.

"They've put our operations at risk," John Sawers, the head of MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service, told a parliamentary committee earlier this week.

"It's clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee - al Qaeda is lapping it up," he said.

Meanwhile, hardly a week has expired since June without the publication of a new Snowden revelation somewhere in the world. Last week, the Washington Post reported how the NSA pinches data from Yahoo and Google's worldwide data centers. On Sunday, the New York Times published a list of NSA operations.

Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2013, 17:06
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