I have been following the hoo ha about the Snowdon revelations. Yesterday's performance by the three Big Brothers of our intelligence agencies left me with more doubts than it provided reassurance.
Foremost in my thoughts has been the very fact that Snowdon, and the Wikileak community were able to gather the vast amount of information that they did. The drive of objections regarding Snowdon is that he has revealed how we go about intelligence gathering and just how pleasing this insight has been to Al Queda et al.
One would like to think that this supposed previously unknown information was well protected with high levels of access and limited need to know. Snowdon was not Top Man in any int unit and Assange got his treasure from a very low ranking soldier. So - how was it possible for this vast hoard of documents to be transmitted without any of its supposed guardians suspecting that a mole was in their lawn?
Much was made that our foes would gain benefit from knowing the mechanics of our surveillance. They apparently would change their procedures so as to make their conversations impenetrable. I was a user when working of the adage that what man invents, man can circumvent. Our experts are operating in a free and sophisticated world with very big budgets and full access to the black arts of IT. Benefits that are (or should be) unavailable to the terrorist plotters. It does not require a master's degree to work out why so many of their casualties met their end whilst talking on a mobile telephone to the background of a loud droning overhead.
That raises a further concern for me. Great emphasis was made yesterday that we are constrained by the law. Yesterday also saw a Royal Marine SNCO convicted of murder after killing a wounded insurgent. This with a background of drones in Pakistan, Somalia and other war zones arbitrarily dishing out death and destruction to whole families without so much as a perfunctory challenge.
And another worm has started. It seems that the Border Agency had information regarding illegal immigrants but failed to investigate effectively. 49.00 tip offs lead to 2695 investigations. As a result, 660 people were deported - aabout as many as one sees in Tesco on a busy morning.
The whole intelligence and counter-terrorist community is just crying out for Talbot Rothwell's Carry On films to be re-written.