BBC: enemy of the state
Earlier this evening I was reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. For no particular reason that I can remember, I had Radio 4 softly in the background — and I slowly became aware of a BBC report on the Snowden leaks. I started listening, briefly, and then switched off in disgust and returned to Mr Norrell.
The BBC was doing what it now does best — twisting the truth, limiting the content and generally justifying its government masters.
Now I didn’t hear much of this. I really couldn’t stomach it. But there are two things I remember: that the Snowden leaks have not given any specific examples of law breaking; and that all States have legitimate state secrets.
Not broken the law? Really? Well, as far as Americans are concerned, that is arguably true. First of all, the NSA is legally entitled — indeed, required — to spy on non-Americans. It breaks no American law in doing so. And as far as spying on Americans is concerned, a secret US court, designed for the purpose, operating in secret and hearing no arguments from anyone other than the government, says it’s legal.
Therefore the NSA truthfully has broken no US laws. But it breaks national laws all around the world. Seriously, is it legal in Europe to spy on European institutions. Is it legal in Brazil to impersonate Google and spy on the state oil company? Is it legal to spy on the EU embassies in the US, which are technically not part of the US? Is it legal to collect the financial details of European citizens?
So you could argue that the BBC report was technically correct, but hugely misleading.
The second ‘claim’ that disturbed me was the suggestion — no, more like an assumption that we must all accept — that the state has justifiable secrets that we have no right to know. Sorry. No. It hasn’t.
The state has no right to withhold information from me, or from you. And that is because we are the state. There is no such thing as ‘the state’ that is separate from the people. The people are the state. For some individuals to say, ‘we are the state and we are separate from you and we have things that we will not allow you to know’ is an act of aggression by those individuals against the people.
And the BBC, in broadcasting such misleading comments and promoting such authoritarian views, becomes a party to that aggression.