tv British House of Commons CSPAN December 8, 2013 9:35pm-10:01pm EST
myself, the whole government made a series of announcements last week where we are tightening up the access to benefits for migrants who come from other parts of the european union to this country. i believe we should protect and defend the principle of the freedom of movement, but the freedom to move to seek work is not the same as the freedom to claim. that is a distinction this government is now making. >> order. >> you have been watching prime minister's questions from the british house of commons. question time airs live on c- span 2 every wednesday at 7:00 a.m. eastern and again on sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. you can watch anytime at c- span.org where you can find video of past prime ministers questions another british public affairs programs. the editor of the london-based newspaper "the guardian" testifies before a british
committee about publishing the edward snowden leaks. with davidm., "q&a" finkel. then another chance to see british deputy prime minister nick clegg take questions from members of the house of commons. world is really the central circulatory system of our economy, the veins and arteries that really connect what is now the information economy in the united states. onare seeing data traffic our wireline networks increase at the rate of 40% per year. it is wireline networks that connect all forms of communication, whether they originate in the wireline environment or a wireless environment. yeah, i would say america's future is a wireline future. >> the future of the communications industry with u.s. telecom had walter mccormick, monday on "the communicators" on 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. >> the editor of the london- based newspaper "the guardian"
testified before the british home affairs committee earlier this week. he defended his newspaper's decision to publish surveillance piles clicked by former nsa contractor edward snowden. this is an hour and 20 minutes. >> can i call the committee to order? i welcome our witness to today's session, alan rusbridger, the editor of "the guardian." mr. rusbridger, you are giving evidence as part of the committee's inquiry into counterterrorism. thank you very much for coming here this afternoon. can i refer all those present to
the register of members? can i ask other members to declare any special interests? >> thank you, chair. i have written to the guardian on this issue. >> thank you. i should say that we are all "guardian" readers, some more avidly than others. we will declare our interests. i did read it this morning. facts,bridger, just some and members of the committee will come and question you on a number of issues. a reference was made to some newspapers you have been to come year against her wishes. you are here as part of an inquiry. you don't feral -- feel under any compulsion, were you? >> i wasn't aware it was optional, but i'm glad to be
here. >> you said yes? there was no need to take that further. thatsaid in your evidence in respect to the information you have got from mr. snowden, you have only published 1% of the information that you were given. is that still correct? >> it is approximately correct. stuff,inue to publish but it is about 1% of what we were given. have far as i can see, you 58,000 finals. you're telling this committee that only one thing percent of the information in those piles -- feil's has now gone public. >> yes. >> where are the other finals? >> can i give some general context which i would -- which i think could help you understand this? i think it is important to think -- >> we will come to that in a minute. if you could just establish the facts, these are just factual questions.
piles, 58,000 of finals. you have published 1%. where are the other files? >> as i would have explained, as this is an ongoing story we are writing, if you think it is sensible i talk here about where the exact files are, i'm happy to write to you. i'm not sure that is a really sensible thing to do about the existence of other files. underre are other files your control in different parts of the world? which weis one file hold jointly with "the new york times." >> the other finals -- this is important in respect to the inquiry -- obviously, the context is important, but there is criticism that some of these files may not be under your control. they are under your control one way or the other? >> i think it would be helpful if i could give some context.
understandtant to that there were four different sets of information that went to four different parties in four different countries on three different continents. i think it is important to establish that. one of them was "the guardian." one of them was "the washington post," clearly not under my control. one went to rio. one went to germany. that was the hand of cards we were all dealt, if you like. obviously say that "the washington post" is under my control. >> we are in touch with "the new york times." we may take evidence from them in the future. in terms of the files under your control, 99% has not been published. you have full control. you know where they are. they are secure and in a place where you feel they cannot get into other people's hands. >> i believe that be true.
in reply tosaid julian smith in a letter that was published that there are 850,000 people in the world who have the same information as you have in those piles -- those files. >> we were told that 850,000 to thewere exposed original leak, which is the thing that most people were concerned about -- 850,000 people had access to the information. >> these 800 50,000 people, this is a figure given to you of people who've got security clearance, or they would know what is in the -- >> obviously, people were aghast. people at gc hq were aghast that a 29-year-old in hawaii not even employed by the american government could get access to their finals. of 850old the figure
thousand people who had that kind of access. it is part of the defense. there is a lot of controversy regarding the publication of this information, that you may have this information. eight hundred 50 thousand people, they are in the same position, if they choose to be, as mr. snowden was, to release this information. there is safety in numbers, in other words. that these giant databases that were created after 9/11 have proved porous. these secret things have escaped. that is because so many people have access to them. that is the only point i think we were trying to make. , usingople talk about the word catastrophe or the fact that there has been this catastrophic loss, people comparing it with maclean, burgess, philby, that comes down to the original leak.
the 29-year-old who was one of hundreds of thousands of people had access to information. i'm sure that is something that everyone must not be considering what to do about. >> in respect to our sister committee, the sick -- the intelligence and security committee, you were criticized, or your newspaper was, in the decision you took. this is your opportunity to answer questions. as andrew parker describe what you in your newspaper did, "a gift that our enemies needed to evade us instructors that will," and i'm sure you've heard "our adversaries were rubbing their hands with glee." all heads of the security services were clear in their evidence to the intelligence and security committee that you had result this country as a
of what you had done. clearly, other editors may differ decisions. we know it is been in "the washington post" and "the new york times." do you recognize what you have done? do you accept that this has damaged the country? this is severe criticism that i haven't seen before from the head of our security services. >> i think it is important context that editors of probably the world's leading newspapers in america, "the new york times," took identical decisions. this is not a rogue newspaper. it is serious newspapers. the problem with these accusations is they tend to be very vague. they are not rooted in specific stories. i would like to quote for people who have told me that there has been no damage. you took evidence last week from norman baker. i won't repeat that evidence.
he said he had seen no damage. >> that's right. >> the second person we have consulted is a member of the senate intelligence committee and is somebody who is sitting in oversight over all the intelligence, has seen it all, and said to us -- he asked not to be named -- we want to know this, have you seen anything published that has caused damage? he said, i've been incredibly impressed by what you have done. you have written about the scope and scale. i have seen nothing that you have done that has caused damage. a senior administration official of the current obama administration told us last week , we asked the same question, damage? he said, i have been incredibly impressed by the judgment and care you would expect from a great news organization. white houseenior official said on september 9, i have not seen anything you have
published to date which has risked the lives. there are different views about this page and listen with respect to the views you have given. >> you disagree with them? >> it is impossible to assess. no one has given me specific evidence. >> the information you have contains the names of individual security officers. this has been sent around the world, sometimes paid for by "the guardian," added these names are of our security officers, people who are there to protect our country, and that is how you have damaged the country. those without security clearance have been able to read these things, know who they are, possibly know where they live. that is the damage that you have done. >> first of all, we have never used a single name. i think, is the crucial bit. we have published no names. we have lost control of no names. it has never been a secret that
these documents contain names. a lot of them are power -- our powerpoint presentations given by an individual. at the beginning of june, we rejected the name of somebody. it was apparent that these documents had names. was seized offal david maranda, it is apparent through witness statements that the government knew then, although i would say that they knew already, and in fact, we discussed the use of names -- there have been six months where it has been apparent that there have been names in these documents. i told the secretary that we were sharing this material with "the new york times." on july 22, i gave the editor of "the new york times" a phone number and e-mail address. guarantee -- i find it difficult for you to guarantee -- that you are telling this committee that you
can guarantee the security of all of these names of these officers? ,> your original question was the copy that "the new york times" has, do i believe that is being held? yes. >> everything under your control, can you guarantee -- >> i have talked about the copies under the joint control of "the guardian" and "the new york times." i can guarantee those are held securely. i just want to add that in those six months, it would have been open to anybody from her majesty's government to come and ask about the names. that hasn't happened. >> no one has asked you to destroy this information or hold it over? >> the cabinet secretary came over and asked me to destroy the entire cache of documents. yes. >> you haven't done so? >> no, that is also a matter of public record. one one more you
-- will one more thing -- one more thing. some of the criticism has been very personal. you and i have both been outside this country. i love this country. do you love this country? [laughter] >> how do you answer that kind of question? >> we live in a democracy. hereof the people working are british people who work in this country and live in this country. i'm slightly surprised by the question. yes, we are patriots. one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of the democracy and the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things. >> the reason why you have done this has not been to damage the country, but to help the country understand what is going on as far as surveillance is concerned? >> i think there are countries -- they are not generally democracies -- where the press
are not free to write about these things, where security services do tell editors what doht, where politicians censor newspapers. that is not the country we live in in britain. it is not the country that america is. it is one of the things i love about this country, that we have that freedom to write into report and to think -- to write and to report and to think. we have some criticisms. nobody is underestimating national security. for alanak for the -- rusbridger -- for "the guardian " staff. >> thank you for coming before this committee. i hope we have similar cooperation. many of us want to ask better questions. if we could put on record briefly that i think "the
guardian" has done a great service to the public debate in the country. can i ask, you have published very selectively -- you have taken all of these documents published small portions of those -- if you hadn't done that , do you think -- what do you think would have happened to the information? would it have been silenced or published in some other mechanism? that's why i want the initial context to be understood. i the way, i don't think there anybody who would have sent back this material. -- we asked the leading editors of the world to talk about this difficulty of handling secret material, and they were all familiar with doing it. they all said they would do what "the guardian" did it. you make judgments.
people talk about mass dumps of data. we have published 26 document so far. we have made a very selective judgment about what to print. what would have happened if we had sent it back? that is the whole point of my initial point to the chairman, that glenn greenwald had this material in rio. laura poitras had a copy in berlin. "the washington post" had a copy. the thought that this material wouldn't have been published is ridiculous. know, the system in the u.k., which prevents people from being put at risk, have you had any conversations with the secretary, and have a told you that the material would pose a risk to life? >> yes, we have.
out of all the stories we have published, and i think there are about 35 of them, i think we have gone back and counted all of the stories -- we have consulted with the relevant one, which wast the first where we published hq on june 16. the reason i didn't consult with ear ofmmittee was the f prior restraint, which exists in this country, but not in the united states. it is inconceivable that any american government would get prior restraint of public material. that doesn't exist in this country. indeed, we were directly threatened with prior restraint by the cabinet secretary. immediateidn't seek advice on that story, i have
with the vice marshall since. he confirmed that we have been in touch since. also, there was to some extent a that extendedng to the prime minister. i think there was a lot of misunderstanding. the prime minister talked about threatening people. that is not how it works. vice marshall says the misunderstanding is he would have kept that material confidential from the government. we had, in fact, collaborated with them since. >> did he give you any feedback as to whether what you were publishing posed a risk to life? >> on the overwhelming -- he was quite explicit that nothing we have seen risk to life. he was explicit about that.
that is not to say he would give us a complete bill of health. a risk he saw had caused to life. most of the times when we have rung him up and put stories to -- responseponses is, there is nothing that concerns me there. this might be politically embarrassing, but there is nothing that is risking national saturday. >> it seems like you follow the established procedures? whichve touched on issues are fundamental to national importance. really fundamental questions about the future of communications, a full range of things about the future of privacy in the digital age. in germany, there are huge interests in this subject. in the u.s., there is huge interest. why do you think there has been so little interest here?
what we have seen, there was an attack on "the guardian." why do you think that is? >> shooting the messenger is always the oldest diversionary trick in the book. i cannot explain why some people have not taken interest. it is my experience when you speak to people about this and explain it, they are deeply interested in this. debate, of the broader i cannot think of a story in recent times -- i cannot think of any story in recent times -- that his ricocheted around the world like this has and which is been more broadly debated in , amongstt's, in courts ngos. the rollcall of people who have said that there needs to be a debate about this includes three presidents of the united states, two vice presidents, generals, security chiefs. this is a debate that in
retrospect we know we had to have. there are people who have been charged with oversight of security measures here, former chairman tom king said this was a debate that had to be had. the director of national intelligence in the u.s. said these were conversations that needed to happen. interest,f the public i don't think anyone is seriously questioning that this leaps over the hurdles of public interest. >> thank you. >> michael evans? >> mr. rusbridger, you authorized files stolen by snowden, which contain the names of intelligence staff, to be communicated elsewhere, didn't you? yes or no? >> i think i have already dealt with that. >> can you just answer? >> i think it has been known for
six months that these documents contain names. i share them with "the new york times." >> is that not a criminal offense under section 58a? >> i will leave that to you. -- files-plus finals were sent or communicated by you, as editor in chief of "the guardian." you caused them to be communicated. a contain a wealth of information. it was effectively an i.t. sharing platform between the united states and united kingdom, wasn't it? >> i will lead you to express those words. very well. that was information which contain a wealth of . >> very well. that contained a wealth of data,
and not secret under the classifications of this country. documents. e secret >> secret and top secret documents. o you accept that information contained personal information hat could to the identity even of the sexual orientation of gchq.ns working within >> the sexual orientation is new to me. f you could explain how we've done that, that's interesting. >> in part of your own still er, which is available on-line. because you refer to the fact gchq has its own pride group for staff. i suggest to you that the 58,000ontained within the documents also contained data that allowed the paper to report that information, it's therefore information now that's not any the laws tected under of this country