Well, yes, this is a temptation

British spies are tempted to “cut corners” in their efforts to catch terrorists and foreign agents, the head of MI5 has admitted.

And that\’s why we should not have the secret courts or secret cases.

Jonathan Evans, the director-general of the security service, said he had to warn new recruits to keep their activities “legal” and “proportionate” in order to retain the trust of ministers and the public.

He was speaking as the Government braces itself for a rebellion over plans for a new generation of secret courts that will allow evidence from the intelligence services to be heard in private. Critics, including senior lawyers and former Army officers, say the Justice and Security Bill will allow intelligence officers who are complicit in torture and rendition to evade public scrutiny.

However, ministers say that foreign agencies such as the CIA are already cutting the amount of intelligence they share with Britain for fear that it may be released in open court.

The intent of what we\’re being told is that the bureaucracy, the rules, mean that we\’ll be safe with those internal rules and the secret courts won\’t be a problem.

The actual meaning of what is being said is that as courts are there, at times, to protect us the citizenry from the rules and the bureaucracy, therefore we should not have secret courts.

As to getting less info from the CIA….well, bully for that really.

The aim and point of this entire system, of spies and courts and all, is to protect the freedoms and liberties of the citizenry of these silands. No more and no less than that. Secret courts are an imposition on those freedoms and liberties: that we get less information as a result of protecting such freedoms doesn\’t bother me in the slightest.

4 thoughts on “Well, yes, this is a temptation”

  1. Firstly, it’s not the CIA we’re particularly worried about, it’s the NRO and, to a lesser extent, the NSA. But, if the CIA do find out about a plot to blow up London, we would quite like them to trust us enough to tell us?

    The real problem, of course, being the court enforced release of source-sensitive information to the defence (and, hence to the ‘enemy’ – both the press and the various Islamist groups). Not the prosecution being allowed to use classified information in secret trials. The intelligence services were quite happy with the old position that such material was simply not permitted in court.

  2. The Pedant-General

    “The real problem, of course, being the court enforced release of source-sensitive information to the defence”
    and
    “The intelligence services were quite happy with the old position that such material was simply not permitted in court.”

    I don’t follow. If you want to use stuff for the prosecution case, you have to release it to the defence. If you don’t, you don’t. That hasn’t changed.

    What I believe (IANAL) is that the Intelligence Services wanted to get around this problem by having secret courts, i.e. to be able to use the stuff without showing it to the defence and hence that, no, they weren’t “quite happy” with the old position.

  3. If you want to use stuff for the prosecution case, you have to release it to the defence. If you don-t, you don-t. That hasn-t changed.

    Yes, it has. The intelligence services are being forced to declare all information they have on a suspect not just the stuff they have obtained through means appropriate to disclosure in court.

    In the past, this meant that some utter bastards got away with things. Because the source sensitive information that could have convicted them was, well, source sensitive.

    Now it means that some utter bastards are getting away with things because the source sensitive information is prejudicial – not necessarily in its content but in its context.

    I’m not saying that some people (mostly Home Office) aren’t masturbating furiously nearly unto dissipation about the idea of secret courts (although those people probably want secret courts for parking fines) but this is a push from the ECHR side of the fence being pushed back against, not the spooks starting up on things.

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