UK Parliament questions Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism in anti-terrorism hearing
On December 3, 2013 the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger had to testify before the House of Commons of the British Parliament in a hearing on anti-terrorism.
One of the rather stunning questions asked by Chair Keith Vaz was whether Rusbridger “love[d] this country [the UK].”
We live in a democracy and most of the people working on this story are British people who have families in this country, who love this country. I’m slightly surprised to be asked the question but yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things [emphasis mine].
With us or against us – the excluded middle
Behind the questioning of Rusbridger’s “patriotism” because he, as a journalist, does not agree with the government’s national security narrative, lies the logical fallacy of the excluded middle. Either you agree with total surveillance of the world’s citizens in the name of national security or the terrorists win.
The possibility that there might be excesses in the surveillance architectures of the so-called Global War on Terrorism (there are!) , that much of what is being done in this area has probably more to do with gaining illegitimate advantages through economic espionage, or that there might be approaches that actually help fighting terrorism without eroding civil liberties does not occur in this line of thinking.
An uninformed citizenry cannot correct its government
The elephant in the room is this: Had it not been for Snowden, we the people of the world would never have known about the extent of surveillance against innocent citizens. Democracies rely on an adversarial press to keep the government in check.
Since the summer of 2013, the Guardian has been releasing articles based on the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden, exposing the indiscriminate mass surveillance by the American NSA, the British GCHQ, and other intelligence agencies of the world’s citizens.
Read, see, and hear more:
[Audio and article] “Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger appears before MPs – live coverage.” (Paul Owen, Guardian, 2013/12/03) – Summary of the hearing and an audio recording can be found here.
“Highlights from Guardian editor’s Parliament hearing.” (Kristen Hare, Poynter.org, 2013/12/03) – Many more questions to and answers from Alan Rusbridger.
“MPs question Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s patriotism over Edward Snowden leaks.” (Ian Burrell, The Independent, 2013/12/03)
The progressive talk show The Young Turks reports on the hearing here: