[Marxism] If Watergate sank Nixon, isn't this worse?
rhh1 at nildram.co.uk
Wed Feb 25 17:58:36 MST 2004
How a GCHQ translator uncovered an American dirty tricks campaign
By Kim Sengupta
26 February 2004
Under any other circumstances Katharine Gun would at least have been tried
for breaching the Official Secrets Act. She has never denied that as an
employee of the GCHQ she leaked secret information which ended up in a
But there was one festering fact which made it impossible for the Government
to allow the case to continue - Iraq.
>From the advice of the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, about the legality
of the war, to tales of dirty tricks involving British intelligence, a trial
in the full glare of publicity would have led to highly embarrassing
revelations for Tony Blair.
So Katharine Gun walked free from the Old Bailey yesterday, a heroine to
those who opposed the invasion.
... When the Prime Minister first mooted the possibility of war, Ms Gun's
reaction, and that of many of her friends, was one of incredulity. "I felt
at the time, when the Government started mentioning Iraq, 'you have to be
joking', and then suddenly it snowballed into something everyone was
agreeing with," she said.
But the inexorable slide to war continued. It was in this atmosphere of
recriminations and accusations that Ms Gun found herself with information
that she felt was so worrying it must be made public.
Washington and London were facing a struggle to convince other members of
the United Nations of the need to overthrow Saddam Hussein by force. Ms Gun
was part of the team monitoring the Chinese delegation on the Security
Council, who were very much a target for surveillance by British and
In February, with diplomatic activity at its most frenetic, Ms Gun came
across an e-mail to GCHQ from Frank Koza, a senior official of the National
Security Agency. It was requesting help with an eavesdropping "surge" on
delegates from six non-permanent members of the Security Council whose
"swing votes" would be crucial if the US and Britain were to drive through a
second UN resolution.
Ms Gun recalled: "I was pretty horrified. I felt the British intelligence
services were being asked to do something that would undermine the whole UN
democratic process itself."
.. The crux of the defence was that Ms Gun had taken the action because, she
felt, the British government had acted illegally, both in taking part in the
war without UN backing, and being involved in a plot to bug UN delegates.
Ms Gun's legal team demanded disclosure of government documents pertaining
to the legality of the war. On Tuesday, they made a request for a full
account of the advice Lord Goldsmith had given about the legal justification
for war - something ministers had repeatedly refused to do.
James Welch, the Liberty solicitor acting for Ms Gun, said: "Our case was
that any advice the Government received on the legality of war was relevant
to Katharine's case and we were prepared to go before a judge and argue for
it to be disclosed. We served the document at lunchtime and just before 5pm
yesterday I received a phone call saying it was the intention to drop the
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