In a recent interview with the BBC, you stated – in respect of Ed Snowden’s leaks about NSA/GCHQ – that:
“Staff are very hurt, very angry about the allegations in the newspapers. There have been implications that we don’t work within the law and we absolutely do. We work completely within the law, completely within policy and completely within the spirit of the law. So these allegations that we are trying to circumvent the law and use back channels to exchange intelligence are just complete rubbish.”
While I have some sympathy with these sentiments, it seems to me that the illegality or otherwise of GCHQ’s work is ultimately a red herring. The real issue here is the development of what former NSA employee Thomas Drake describes as a “vast, systemic, institutionalized, industrial-scale Leviathan surveillance state that has clearly gone far beyond the original mandate to deal with terrorism “.
Such a characterisation in mind, do you at least accept that Ed Snowden’s revelations have kick-started a much needed debate about what level of surveillance is acceptable within a (supposedly) liberal democracy?
I’m afraid I’ve got no comment to make on this issue. You need to contact the GCHQ Press Office.
Over to you GCHQ Press Office!
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Thank you for your email.
It is worth pointing out to you that GCHQ takes its obligations under the law very seriously. Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee.
I’d also like to point you to the statement made by the Foreign Secretary to the House of Commons on 10 June in support of the work of GCHQ and its partnerships.
GCHQ Press Office