Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's official

In the UK, embarrassing political leaks are now classified as a "threat to national security":

Sources said their investigation was prompted by a request from the Cabinet Office, whose officials told the police that the "systematic series of leaks" from the private office of the home secretary were so serious that they could pose a threat to national security. Police sources said this explained their decision to take the step - unprecedented in recent history - of arresting Green and searching his parliamentary office.
This is a perfect example of how politicians conflate their political interests (in being re-elected, in a avoiding embarrassment, in not having to stand up in Question Time and explain how your department screwed up yet again) with the public interest. It's a conflation the police should be wary of. Unfortunately, in the age of terror, appealing to "national security” short-circuits all safeguards. And so we have the unseemly sight of a supposedly democratic nation arresting an opposition MP for performing his democratic duty in holding the government to account. If that's a threat to "national security", then the nation does not deserve to survive.