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.