Ruminating over a glass of Bordeaux or three with a former civil servant I am initially surprised that he bemoans the celebrification of Edward Snowden.

Then he said that “everyone knew none of that Internet stuff was secure.”

At that moment the realisation dawned that he’s less concerned about the damage done by the content of Snowden’s revelations than the damage done to the principle that ordinary people shouldn’t be apprised of the doings of government.

My instincts are the bipolar opposite – that the governed should know everything, within reason, that the governors do – not least because the governors govern in our name and are paid by us.

In the USA, a Congressman who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, says: “The degree that people have been lionising Snowden, it encourages people to make a name for themselves by leaking. It’s a concern we’ve discussed – that Snowden has become the model for other leakers.”

The big issue is: how important is truth?

The leakers seem to tell us the truth. In America the people running the security agencies have admitted lying repeatedly to their own political masters – the US Senate – so the people running the US security agencies appear to think truth is of zero importance.

Now that brings the US security bosses into line with my Civil Servant friend – whatever the truth of the matter, both think that what government does should not be revealed to the governed.

This is unhealthy both for the governors and the governed. When truth is jettisoned as an irrelevance we get suckered into doing things like invading Iraq.

We are still arguing about the causes of World War 1. It seems that the governments of Germany, Russia, England, America etc just told their people to go and kill each other and they did without anyone knowing the truth of why they were doing it. People obeyed because they trusted their governments. Well nowadays we don’t because you can’t trust people who don’t tell the truth.

Us ordinary governed people know that truth is essential for maintaining a sensible life. We shun liars.

The more the governors demonise leakers, the more they reveal their disregard for truth and the more they show their unsuitability to govern.



  1. Yes, Richard, I as though I was sitting in Sir Humphrey’s club with him blandly advancing morally shocking propositions as though they were the most obvious and natural things in the world. Clearly there’s a reckoning to be had between the governed and the governors.

  2. Flesh the story out a bit David and you have yourself a episode of Yes Minister!

  3. Yes Silverman, I expect Marie Antoinette felt much the same way.

  4. Ever get the feeling that the ruling elites exist in a different world anyway?

    While we the mob get fed nonsense by the red tops?

  5. Maybe America has a reason for a third revolution – first the Brits, then slavery now the impoverishment of the many to enrich the few.

  6. There is a lot of anger to come. America in particular continues to rack up trillions of debt, all mounted on the shoulders of the working man. Meanwhile manufacturing was offshored many years ago? Credit cards provided the illusion of wealth to many. Now that the money has been spent on credit – it is time for it to be earned (and paid back again to the moneylenders). This a truth many will be unable to handle.

  7. It’s a good point, Silverman, although it’s a pity that it is made by shouting and anger. However shouting, anger (and lying) have typified the US and UK authorities’ reaction to Snowden which has not helped their credibility.These are issues of vital importance for the world and I think everyone would like to see world leaders addressing them responsibly.

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