Coming down the pub after the General Assembly, Clare?
February 26, 2004 2:04 AM   Subscribe

And then Kofi said 'no way!' and Clare said 'way!' and... British agents bugged conversations of Kofi Annan in the run-up to the Iraq War. Former Minister Clare Short (who's made some wild claims in the past but presumably wouldn't state something of this magnitude without being sure) read some of transcripts and 'presumes' that this is all legal...
posted by humuhumu (25 comments total)
I'd have a lot more respect for Short if she acted when things came to her attention rather than months later when they only serve to put the boot in to her former allies.
posted by biffa at 2:21 AM on February 26, 2004

I would like to echo what biffa just said, she is nothing more than a turncoat, jumping ship at the last possible moment and now spilling her guts for all. I would probably have described her in my youth as a twat.
posted by johnnyboy at 4:34 AM on February 26, 2004

so given those responses i guess the govt will handle this by making personal attacks on clare short. thank goodness for democracy and the intelligence of the british electrorate.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:49 AM on February 26, 2004

andrew, there are two issues here, one the potentially illegal (and certainly unethical) bugging of the Secretary General, two the hypocrisy of the source of this information. My post addressed only one of these issues, it is not compulsory for me to address both and the absence of commentary on the bugging issue does not excuse it or suggest it is not of concern to me. Do you contest that Short is a hypocrit?
posted by biffa at 5:17 AM on February 26, 2004

so given those responses i guess the govt will handle this by making personal attacks on clare short.
Actually, the government are handling this by saying next to nothing and letting everyone else make personal attacks against Clare Short for them. They know the electorate well.
posted by chill at 5:17 AM on February 26, 2004

intelligence of the british electrorate

- as opposed to the intelligence of british intelligence, oxymoironic.
posted by johnnyboy at 5:20 AM on February 26, 2004

the electorate well

- collective responsibility, eh.
posted by johnnyboy at 5:21 AM on February 26, 2004

Err, just out of curiosity, do any of these articles tell what the spies heard Kofi Annan say while he was being bugged?
posted by unreason at 5:29 AM on February 26, 2004

It wasn't just Kofi Annan that was being bugged; it was every single UN Security Council delegation apart from those of the US and UK. And because it's somehow more scandalous if the CIA taps the phones of American-based delegations, they farmed it out to the British. Apparently, this subcontracted espionage hasn't made the headlines in the US. Perhaps it ought to, along with the apparent sexing-up of the legal rationale by which the British claimed they had UN authorisation to join the fun in Iraq.
posted by riviera at 6:04 AM on February 26, 2004

Clare Short has gotten a pie in the face before.
posted by josephtate at 6:04 AM on February 26, 2004

Is the bugging immoral? Yes.

Is it illegal? Not necessarily.

Were US law to prevail, then it would not be illegal to bug or videotape people without their knowledge. While any information so obtained would be inadmissable in a court of law, that's not the only motive for surveillance.

We like to think that we have a right to privacy, that it is illegal for others to eavesdrop on our lives. It simply isn't true. As long as the government never tried to use wiretaps/video surveillance of your activities as evidence against you in court, there's really no reason they couldn't observe you all they want.

It's a tricky distinction, but it is important. The constitutional right to "unreasonable search and seizure" only applies in the context of criminal proceedings.
posted by yesster at 6:15 AM on February 26, 2004

Of course you forget the 1st amendment - known as the tony blair carte blanche amendment, yesster.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:20 AM on February 26, 2004

IANAEOIL (I am not an expert on international law) but, doesn't the Vienna Convention bar spying on diplomats?

As for Clare Short, I think the popular opinion on her is wrong; she says she was promised certain things by Blair, and stayed in her job. Unsurprisingly he broke his word after she'd served her purpose by staying on board and giving the impression of cohesion in his cabinet.

Law seems a far more flexible thing for governents that it does for us ordinary folk.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:24 AM on February 26, 2004

This kind of thing happens all the time (not that that's an excuse). Wasn't there a ruckus a few months back about the French delegation to the U.N. finding bugs in their offices in NYC?
posted by mkultra at 6:34 AM on February 26, 2004

Is the bugging immoral? Yes.

Why? Seems morally fine to me - a government protecting the national interest, bugging people who aren't its citizens and aren't on British soil. They're not hurting anyone by bugging. Now, if they went around assassinating UNSC delegates, that might be different. But bugging foreign governments and the UN Secretariat? They should expect to be spied upon. I say go nuts.

Clare Short, on the other hand, should be thrown in jail. Once privy to secret cabinet documents, always bound by rules of secrecy. Lock up the stupid cow and be done with her.
posted by Dasein at 7:53 AM on February 26, 2004

As this briefing explains, spying on UN officials -- and most seriously the Secretary General -- is no light issue in the eyes of no less than three specific international treaties. If it's true and proven -- regardless of who made it public, it even further undermines the British social position in the world and the United States by association.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:55 AM on February 26, 2004

Is it illegal? Not necessarily.

Yeah, because the Vienna Convention, as one of those pesky international treaties that the US signed, is not necessarily 'law' to the Bushies.

Why? Seems morally fine to me - a government protecting the national interest, bugging people who aren't its citizens and aren't on British soil.

Well, that's because you're a moral vacuum. And also no student of pragmatic politics.
posted by riviera at 12:48 PM on February 26, 2004

I wish Tony Blair would just rip off his elaborate latex mask and reveal the reanimated corpse of Richard Nixon underneath and get it over with.
posted by scody at 2:06 PM on February 26, 2004

Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali:

Said he was unsurprised by Ms Short's comments.

He told BBC News 24: "I know that the office of the secretary general has been always bugged and it is a kind of tradition...

"Any country which has the technical capacity to do this will do it. It is unfortunate but this is a reality."

it's not like kofi didn't know it was bugged.

and good old clare, acting in her own interests again.

everyone should ignore her, she might go away.
posted by knapah at 2:36 PM on February 26, 2004

Assuming this is illegal, what recourse does the U.N. have? They can't kick out the U.K. or the U.S. I doubt they could even throw anybody in jail.
posted by MetalDog at 6:03 PM on February 26, 2004

Spying is illegal? Really? Who'd of thunk it.
posted by MintSauce at 5:03 AM on February 27, 2004

bbc news summarises reaction as: Short attacked over bugging claim.

yes, biffa, there are two aspects to this story. and everyone just happens to mention only one of them.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:54 AM on February 27, 2004

Gosh, that must make me a new labour stooge then. What's your point? I am to attack Blair's every mention to satisfy you? Does criticising Short preclude any negative feeling concerning Blair's action? Should I check with your agenda before I make any comments?
It seems to me that there's some discussion in this thread of both issues, so your statement is wrong anyway. And even if no-one did address the other side of things, they can judge the issues for themselves and prioritise as they wish. You don't get to decide how others see the issues.
posted by biffa at 6:26 AM on February 27, 2004

This would be odious if (1) the UN weren't so untrustworthy, corrupt and feckless. It's a shame the UN is such a French-oriented failure.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:59 AM on February 27, 2004

i say we all unite into The United Nation, then we wouldn't need all this voting crap, and you wouldn't need to bug anyone except your own citizens and/or opposition.

much simpler.
posted by knapah at 4:16 PM on February 27, 2004

« Older Howard Stern yanked off six Clear Channel radio...   |   Amazing photos from normal life in Iran Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments