Tony Blair let the American NSA Spy on Millions of Britons and Store their Private Data

The Guardian and Channel 4 News report that Tony Blair allowed the US National Security Agency to spy on millions of Britons, and to record and store their browser history and email. In 2005, the US had gone ahead and initiated the spying without British permission. Subsequent Prime Ministers, including the current one, David Cameron, appear to have allowed the agreement to stand..

The US and Britain agreed in 1947 not to spy on each other’s citizens. The “Five Eyes” program had been thought to exempt some major English-speaking allies (the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand) from spying on one another. (Rumors to the contrary have swirled since WW II).

It appears that those agreements have actually been dead letters for some years. The British public, which in opinion polling reacted with lack of concern to the revelations of Edward Snowden of massive electronic surveillance of millions of Europeans by their General , will have to now consider whether to join the Germans and French in outrage.

The British public agitated for and got passed a law forbidding police to store for long periods of time or indefinitely the DNA and fingerprints of innocent civilians never convicted of any crime. (In contrast, innocent civilians’ fingerprints and private data are routinely stored by law enforcement in the US).

So is it all right for the American NSA to conduct “3-hop” searches in Britons’ connections to others that would pull in as much as 5 million people? Is it all right for them to store that information indefinitely?

Channel 4 News reports clearly and emphatically on the revelations, in a way I think only Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Aljazeera America have done in the US.

10 Responses

  1. How much do you want to bet that the Brits’ reaction will be modulated in order to conceal the mutual back-scratching– we do for the Brits what their law might not allow them to do against their own citizens, while they do for Uncle Sam what the law might not allow the USG to do against Americans?

  2. Only if Tony Blair shows moral courage and honor along with some personal sacrifice will Blair watchers be surprised.

  3. You’re implying the British government has a program to spy on the American public. Any reference for that?

    Or is your sole reference the fact that the US does so to all its allies, including the Brits?

  4. Is this any surprise?

    The NSA spied on two British cabinet ministers in 1983.

    They conducted intensive surveillance on Princess Diana up until the day she died; amassing 1,056 pages of material and including intercepting her phone calls that the NSA has declined to reveal due to the “grave damage” it can cause U.S. national security interests.

    See Vernon Loeb’s December 12, 1998 article in the Washington Post, “NSA Admits Spying on Princess Diana”.

  5. There should be no surprise that Tony Blair as British Prime Minister was indifferent to the rights of the British people. This authoritarian attitude has been part of British history from its genesis through King John of Magna Carta fame, Henry VIII, George III, General Haig, Margaret Thatcher, and now David Cameron. What’s more, the consequences of British authoritarianism were worse throughout most parts of the British empire.

  6. Meanwhile another of the ‘Five Eyes’ has their own little problem.

    The Australians used their Jakarta Embassy to spy on Indonesia’s President and other leaders. The Indonesians are furious and demand an apology as well as a no-spy agreement.

    The Aussies are unlikely to stop eavesdropping but the Indonesians are already curtailing their attempts to stop people smuggling in the region. If they turn a blind eye, there will be thousands of refugees heading by boat to Australia through Indonesia’s archipelago. The boat people is an immigration problem which has already decided Australian elections and could get a lot worse.

    The classic rock and hard place.

    • “Tony Blair let NSA spy on British citizens. It is a sure sign of a dying empire.”

      I hate to break this news to you, Mr. Shahid, but the British Empire has effectively been dead for 60 years.

Comments are closed.