Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday, 27 February 2004

Spying at the UN .... unimaginable or simply inevitable?

Clare Short, a former Labour cabinet minister and apparatchik (albeit of the 'bolshie' variety) par excellence, lobbed her hand-grenade of venom at her Party leader yesterday morning on BBC Radio4's 'Today' programme, asserting that the UK had intercepted telephone conversations to which Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN, was a party. Is anyone really surprised at this? It certainly didn't shock me out of my bed when I heard her on the radio yesterday morning!

I know nothing more than the average citizen about 'spookery', but I have always assumed that the need for timely intelligence information would always take preference over any such nicety as the Vienna Convention (which deals with international diplomatic law), or any other law which seeks to inhibit illicit activity. I expect all governments indulge in this from time to time; I'm not exactly condoning it (but nor am I condemning it, because I am sure it sometimes proves vital in enhancing our national security), but it seems to me to be completely naive to imagine that it isn't happening all the time - and Mr Blair's reaction to the whole matter at his press conference yesterday revealed, by intelligent inference and scrutiny of his body language, considerably more than he might have imagined (in my view). And listening to Boutros Boutros Ghali, a former Secretary General of the UN who was interviewed on the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio4 this morning, he didn't seem at all surprised either - he always assumed he was being bugged and rather than bleating about it thought the best strategy was to develop better means to detect/prevent it happening, whilst accepting that the 'psychological perception' that it was happening would change subtly, and inevitably, one's behaviour. A grown-up attitude, as is this, it seems to me.

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