Mr Bingham is my MP. He made it clear at the 2010 election that he would put the electorate of the High Peak first. He had no ambitions other than to represent the people of his constituency to the best of his ability. He added that he was not interested in promotion. Unlike his predecessor, slippery Tom Levitt, he has opposed the government on several occasions. He has proved to have a degree of independence - much needed when the standing of politics and politicians is at an all-time low.
However last week was a significant moment when he put the interests of the ‘secure-ocrats’ before those of his constituents.
The Government have had over three months to respond to the ruling from the European Court that wholesale blanket surveillance is illegal. For two months of that time the government have been in discussion with internet agencies such as Microsoft and Yahoo. This was a lot more time than was given to MPs. They had a day. A day to pass a bill which restored all the blanket surveillance rights they had never acknowledged before Snowden revealed what was going on. No time to discuss vital checks and balances. Fast law is bad law. Look at the failed ‘Dangerous Dogs Act’ in the UK and the terrible ‘Patriot Act’ in the States.
The Americans have at least admitted ‘snooping on the haystack in the hope of finding a needle’. As the row about bugging Angela Merkel’s phone rumbles on, the Germans sent back a CIA agent for spying on them last week. Brazil is setting up an internal email/internet system outside the global giants after their major petrol company was found to have been bugged - along with many politicians. Here we have GCHQ saying ‘they do not comment on security matters.’ Why the hell not? We pay for their malpractice out of our taxes. Here we have political grandees who appear on the airwaves murmuring assurances about what jolly fine chaps these security services are. These same grandees frequently fail to mention they are often in the employ of security companies. Funny that.
Here too the security industry can rely on a supine bunch of MPs to do as they are told in the name of ‘national security.’ This is the same service who were responsible for the dodgy dossier used to sway opinion in the run up to the disastrous Iraq War.
Targeted surveillance is essential to track the misdeeds of those who wish us harm. Getting a warrant to allow such surveillance has been a necessary check on unlimited state power. This is right and proper.
What is not right and proper are the antics of a group within GCHQ known as JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Group). Thanks to the latest from Snowden we found out last week - just before the one day wonder debate - what these charmers are doing in our name and at our expense. Among their wheezes are such gems as altering online opinion polls, altering emails and ‘denial of service’ and ‘call bombing’ - offences for which teenage hackers get called before the beak. They also manipulate and distort online political discussion. Oh, they also disseminate state propaganda. And for those still unconvinced they have the “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING) Glen Greenwald
Four years is a long time in politics. This was in the Coaltion Agreement May 2010:“We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.”
"The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communications stream from the intended recipient and given to the government without any specific authorization without any specific need is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in a government database?” Edward Snowden
In our name - paid for by us - supported by my MP, Mr Bingham.
Disturbing - very, very disturbing.