Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger answers questions on Edward Snowden and the NSA files.
Sorry, I’ve just seen James Ball is not the Special Projects Editor of Guardian US.
A couple of references to James Ball, now Data Editor of the Guardian. MPs are trying to convolute his involvement in Wikileaks to this story. Rusbridger points out that one story is no relation to the other.
Guardian do not have any contact with Snowden anymore now that Glenn Greenwald has left the Guardian.
Rusbridger has finally spoken about Tor, after many attempts. Ellis was not happy about it.
What is fascinating is the clear party lines this committee has split on. Tories Reckless and Ellis are the most antagonistic towards Rusbridger and the links. The Labour MPs, with the possible exception of Chairman Vaz, are smiling, nodding, and laughing at Rusbridger responses. Labour’s Ian Austin is friendly but seemingly a bit cynical in his questioning.
Key point to Parliament: UK threats to gag the Guardian are what drove @arusbridger to share docs w/Times.
— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) December 3, 2013
Julian Smith MP switches to mobile. Michael Ellis starts reading his mobile. Looks puzzled
— Paul johnson (@paul__johnson) December 3, 2013
“Conversations with the Cabinet Secretary led me to believe it was was sensible to share this information”
Blackwood gets Rusbridger to admit again that names in communicated documents were not redacted, but that no names have appeared in the New York Times and they had an agreement with the NYT that the names would not be used.
Cringe moment from Labour’s Paul Flynn: “Do you think you have performed a great public service?”
“I don’t want to blow own trumpet” replies Rusbridger
“Please do” smiles Flynn
“A lot of this information has been embarrassing, because it’s in the public domain, but not dangerous.”
Rusridger has made multiple references to Senator Diane Feinstein. Clearly trying to make comparisons between first amendment US and the UK.
Head of MI5 Andrew Parker will attend the Home Affairs Select Committee next year.
Mark Reckless re-asks questions as to whether whether Rusbridger has broken the terrorism act. In his answer Rusbridger concedes those names have gone “out of jurisdiction” which is the offence.
“Should the be taken up by the authorities” asks Reckless.
“That depends on your view of a free press” replies Rusbridger.
Greenwald has GCHQ material given to him directly by Snowden.
Michael Ellis has just passed Keith Vaz a note. Vaz muttered “no” and scrawled the word back to Ellis.
Rusbridger pushing for reform of security oversight functions.
Deputy Editor of US Guardian:
So far @arusbridger has been asked by UK MPs: "Do you love your country?" "Would you have told Nazis that Enigma codes had been cracked?"
— Stuart Millar (@stuartmillar159) December 3, 2013
Ellis very angry, claims the Guardian have potentially outed GCHQ members, and put families in jeopardy by some of the stories and communication of data.
Rusbridger also angry at question “if you had known about Enigma would you have transmitted it to the Nazi’s?” With knowing padronism he says he can differentiate between material “you learn about that on your NCTJ course.”
Michael Ellis MP, in full lawyer mode. Asks Rusbridger if he believes he has committed a criminal offence under the terrorism act by sharing names of officers with the New York Times.
It was apparently made clear to Rusbridger that there was no threat to life. Huppert agrees that Guardian followed an agree procedure, Rusbridger agrees “on all but one story” (The first GCHQ one, due to fear of prior restraint.
Rusbridger says that he was “directly threatened with prior restraint by cabinet secretary”
Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert says he thinks the Guardian have done a “great job”.
“Do you love this country? Asks Keith Vaz.A gasp from some around the table. “I’m surprised by the question” replies Rusbridger.
“We have published no names, and lost control of no namse”
Rusbridger continues to outline responsible way that data, including officers’ names, has been used.
Vaz reminds Rusbridger that security chiefs criticised Guardian publication, with one describing it as a “gift” to terrorism.
Do you recognise what you have done? Vaz asks.
Rusbridger counters that two of the worlds leading newspaper, the Washington Post and New York Times, had published the data too. He counters with quotes from people, including Lib Dem Home Office Minister Norman Baker, that they do not believe damage has been done.
Rusbridger says 850,000 people have access to the same information the Guardian now have.
Rubridger quite irritable with Vaz already. Wants to give background, and Vaz trying to emphasis point about where files are and who controls them.