By Jason Warick, The Starphoenix
A non-confidence vote on the sweeping reform process at the University of Saskatchewan is expected today at a meeting of its influential university council.
“We’re expecting a good turnout. This has become an increasingly divisive issue on campus,” said Prof. Len Findlay, who crafted the motion coming to the council floor.
The council will debate a motion asking for an expression of non-confidence in the TransformUS process, one of several initiatives underway to fill what administrators believe is a potential $44.5-million budget shortfall. More than 300 professors, university staff and others have signed a non-confidence petition letter online in advance of the meeting.
Findlay said the few positive aspects of the work so far should be salvaged and then a new process undertaken. He said the reforms have been dictated by top-level administrators, rather than the traditional collegial model.
“It’s part of the creeping corporatization of universities,” he said.
Officials dispute this claim, saying all interested parties have been brought together to make decisions.
U of S provost and vicepresident academic Brett Fairbairn said TransformUS is one of several initiatives involved in the reform process. He said he welcomes all feedback, which has come from many different sources.
He said he couldn’t predict the outcome of Friday’s motion.
“I’m looking forward to the debate,” he said.
He said there is no escaping the fact more needs to be done. In 2012, U of S officials predicted a $44.5-million deficit by 2016 if the status quo continued. Workforce planning and job cuts have achieved roughly $15.5 million in savings so far, but that still leaves a gap of $29 million, he said.
“The university is facing a serious budget issue,” he said. “We have to get it under control.”
University of Saskatchewan Students Union executive members unanimously voted non-confidence in the process earlier this year.
The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Neatby-Timlin Lecture Theatre on campus.
From: Pascal V. – Avaaz.org
Sent: January-29-14 1:07 PM
Subject: Internet Apocalypse?
The richest 1% could now control what we all see on the Internet forever. It’s the apocalypse of the Internet as we know it, and will erase the democratic promise of an information highway for everyone the founders of the world wide web imagined.
Together, our community has built on that vision, using the web to fight corruption, save lives, and bring people-powered aid to countries in crisis. But the US and the EU are on the verge of giving the richest corporations the right to show content fast, while paywalling or slowing down everything else. Avaaz’s ability to show the world citizen journalist footage from Syria, or run campaigns to save our planet is under threat!
Decisions on both sides of the Atlantic are being made now. But tech innovators, free speech advocates and the best web companies are fighting back. If millions of us join them now we can create the largest call for a democratic and free Internet ever. Sign up now and tell everyone:
Until now, any improvements in the speed and functioning of the Internet benefited all of us — if Rupert Murdoch’s ultra-conservative Fox News got a faster way to stream videos, it also benefitted independent media showing reality on the ground in Ukraine, Syria, or Palestine. Politicians called this “net neutrality” and laws protecting it used to exist in the United States until a court just struck them down. Now, the EU Parliament is threatening to pass regulation that give ISPs the right to carve up the web and control what we see, by slowing down or charging for sites that don’t pay.
But we can stop this. First, we will show up with massive global numbers into this week’s public meeting in the United States to decide whether to reinstate Internet protections. Then we will unleash a high powered lobby team to target the EU Parliament to ensure its committees listen to the public. This will be the big first step we need to win these important battles over the next few months.
Web providers like Verizon and Vodafone are lobbying hard for an Internet for the rich. And without a massive response from citizens, they could win, and put our whole community’s work at risk. Most of our Internet is located in the US and the EU so this affects us all. We don’t have any time to lose. Click below to join now:
When our community was less than half of the size it is now, we rallied and helped kill the ACTA treaty and stopped massive Internet censorship laws SOPA/PIPA. Today, we are more powerful than ever. Let’s now join together and ensure that what connects us all stays open.
Pascal, Emma, Dalia, Luis, Emilie, Luca, Sayeeda and the whole Avaaz team
On dangers of non-Network Neutrality (ABC news):
Save the Internet
EU telecoms market reforms threaten net neutrality and privacy (Wired)
Federal court strikes down FCC net neutrality rules (The Verge)
Summary of BEREC positions on net neutrality (BEREC)
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Avaaz.org is a 32-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Congratulations to Professor Christy Morrissey at the University of Saskatchewan! See the article below, U of S research serves as check.
#neonics #bees #pollinators #MarchAgainstMonsanto
- Not just for doing the Research on neonics (the chemicals that are killing bees & other pollinators).
- But also for being willing to speak up.
There will be attempts to discredit Christy Morrissey. The chemical / biotech corporations are too entrenched at the U of S for it to be otherwise.
Following the article: copy of the email I sent to Christy,
- The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear, New York Times, Jim Robbins
- Very Important Video: Ronnie Cummins on Turning the Tide Against Monsanto.
- Bees and agro-industry – your attention needed
- Informative: Russia Warns Obama: Monsanto GMO. Global War Over “Bee Apocalypse” Coming Soon, EU Times
- The Counter-Enlightenment, How government science advisers misrepresent science. Guardian, Monbiot. (Bees, EU neo nic ban)
- A win! Bee-harming pesticides banned in Europe, The Guardian
- Biotech giants Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, DuPont, BASF and Dow face trial for ‘systematic human rights abuses’
- January 27th, Star Phoenix, CropLife Canada (the industry lobbyists) wrote their usual “ no problem with neonics .. We are the most highly regulated industry .. “
- Many of the March Against Monsanto (MAM) groups have a “Save the Bees“ component, to raise awareness of the neonics. Is there a MAM group in your community? . . . click on Z to find out. The next March is May 24, 2014. Become involved. It’s a way to support what Christy is doing.
U of S research serves as check
The Star Phoenix January 11, 2014
The research being done by University of Saskatchewan assistant Prof. Christy Morrissey on the presence and impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on prairie wetlands underlines why Canada needs to support the work of independent scientists as a check on claims by industry groups in marketing agricultural products.
Neonicotinoids are a relatively new pesticide that entered the market in the early 2000s, but their use as a seed coating has grown during the past five years and nearly all of the canola grown in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is now treated with it.
Ms. Morrissey told CBC reporter Geoff Leo that she’s alarmed by the early findings of her four-year study, with sampling by researchers of hundreds of Prairie wetlands showing that more than 80 per cent to 90 per cent of these areas are contaminated with neonicotinoids.
What’s of even greater concern is that they found the chemical in the water before spring seeding, suggesting the chemicals persist in the water for months. The presence of the pesticide in concentrations at least three times greater – and in some cases 100 times more – than what’s been deemed tolerable for insect habitat can be devastating to bugs that range from mites to mosquitoes, which are a prime food source for birds and waterfowl. While Ms. Morrissey notes there’s a lot of evidence to indicate that bird and insect populations are declining, she admits any role played in the wetlands ecosystem by nicotinoids isn’t clear.
However, that’s a far cry from the reports issued by chemical manufacturers and industry lobby group CropLife Canada. They say that what they call “neonics” have been rigorously tested and found to be safe since being introduced to the market, and that there’s no reason to believe the chemical persists in the water for long periods. This research in Europe and North America was conducted by the companies, and Ms. Morrissey’s study is the first in Canada to investigate the effect on wetlands of the widespread use of neonics, which she conservatively estimates were used on 44 per cent of Prairie croplands in the year she reviewed.
“This class of insecticide had extremely low toxicity to humans, extremely low toxicity to other mammals as well as birds and fish,” CropLife spokesman Pierre Petelle told CBC. However, note that insects, which play a huge role in the wetlands ecosystem, aren’t mentioned.
While the manufacturers have consistently said no direct evidence exists to connect neonics to declining bee populations, the European Union last April placed a two-year ban on the chemical after complaints from apiarists. Even Health Canada’s pest management regulatory authority has raised concerns about the possible impact of neonics on bees in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, where treated seeds are used to grow corn.
In this context, the work of researchers such as Ms. Morrissey is invaluable, not only to push chemical companies to reassess their studies and public claims, but to serve as a reminder to a province such as Saskatchewan, which is turning over more environmental stewardship responsibility to farmers and ranchers, of the need for scientific rigour and independent oversight.
The editorials that appear in this space represent the opinion of The StarPhoenix. They are unsigned because they do not necessarily represent the personal views of the writers. The positions taken in the editorials are arrived at through discussion among the members of the newspaper’s editorial board, which operates independently from the news departments of the paper.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
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I EMAILED PROFESSOR MORRISSEY:
Sent: January-28-14 1:55 PM
To: Christy Morrissey
Subject: Your researh on neonics. Thank-you so much.
Your work is a wonderful contribution to the welfare of the people in Saskatchewan and in Canada.
Whether you count that first, or the contribution to the health of the environment and its creatures first, is not material.
I have posted the article at http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=12302 and will email it into networks.
The posting (titled Hooray! Research, Canada, on neonics (chemicals killing bees and other pollinators). Star Phoenix) has commentary and links to seven articles circulated into networks in the last year. It is important for you to know that there ARE informed people who are very grateful for your work and voice.
When time permits, I’ll post to all the Canadian and some American March Against Monsanto facebook groups. Many of them share information about the neonics and are connected with the Save the Bees networks.
Thank-you so much for being willing to speak up about the neonics.
The stranglehold of the chemical / biotech corporations at the University AND in the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of the Federal Government are the reason there has been a paucity of research in Canada on neonics.
You may or may not know an earlier statistic: the Canadian market for roughly ONE THIRD of ag chemicals is in Saskatchewan. The industry will be watching you closely.
It is very important that you and your work are supported.
I’ve had run-ins. A federal scientist with the PMRA, located in Innovation Place, threatened to sue me a few years ago (to silence my voice). I replied that the industry is well-known for using the threat of the justice system to silence critics. No different than the mafia using the threat of broken bones.
I am an elected Senator, University of Saskatchewan. I have received the same threat of legal action against me, from the U (arising out of a challenge to the conflicts-of-interest at the U). I replied in the same vein as to the PMRA scientist.
In neither case did I hear another word. They are bullies and intimidators.
You are on solid ground. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be attempts to discredit you. I used to maintain a list of the scientists that the industry has gone after. They cannot do it so freely these days – - too many people are onto them and share information.
Please feel free to get in touch anytime, if I might be of assistance.
All the best to you, Christy.
I was asked for my thoughts on today’s news report (appended):
Janet Churnin was found guilty of not filling in the 2011 Census form.
Note that the CP coverage does not even MENTION the leaks by Edward Snowden. Small wonder that Europeans know about the NSA surveillance of them, but Canadians don’t.
The Edward Snowden leaks about the extent and the means being used by the NSA to collect personal data on citizens leave no room for misunderstanding. If the American surveillance system cannot collect every morsel of information on YOU through legitimate access to a data base, they do it illegally.
The statement that Lockheed Martin had no access to the agency’s data operation centre or its census response database has no credibility.
Unless it is taken literally - Lockheed HAD no access – - the past tense. So one can conclude that it HAS access now (present tense), or that it WILL HAVE access in the future.
Given what is known through the leaks by Edward Snowden that is a reasonable conclusion by Canadians.
It is very frustrating to see another decision like this one, that completely ignores the reality of today’s world. The so-called “influential” people in StatsCan, the Justice Department, and the Judiciary are marching us right into a surveillance state. A police state.
Note that the “head of census operations at Statistics Canada”, by this news report, is now anonymous. In fact, he does have a name. It is important that Canadians know his name; it is a means by which citizens hold Government officials accountable.
Chief Statistician of Canada since the summer of 2010
Telephone: 613 951 9493
E-mail:Wayne.Smith AT statcan.gc.ca
(I googled to ensure that he is still the head: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Smith_(Chief_Statistician_of_Canada)
Personally, I find the statement by Wayne Smith
The head of census operations at Statistics Canada testified that Lockheed Martin had no access to the agency’s data operation centre or its census response database
to be offensive inasmuch as it assumes that I, the citizen, am ill-informed, I do not read. I cannot think for myself, and so he can get away with silly pronouncements.
It is wonderful that Canadians have citizens such as Janet Churnin who will stand up and be heard. It would be wonderful if the decision in her case could be appealed. But that is probably unrealistic.
It happens that Eve Stegenga, a young woman from Powell River BC, is the next one in the cross-hairs of the StatsCan – Justice Department duo. A little serendipity: I live not too far, a ferry ride away.
Eve’s next appearance in Court is in March. I will be attending.
And it’s a good thing that my emotions don’t come across in the writing of this. I can feel my heart thumping! I find that too often, the ill-informed people are the ones in positions where we NEED well-informed, intelligent decisions to be made. Grrrr!
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Conditional discharge for census resister
The Canadian Press, 2014
TORONTO – A 79-year-old Toronto woman has been handed a conditional discharge after being found guilty of violating the Statistics Act for refusing to fill out the mandatory census in 2011.
The sentence means Janet Churnin will have no permanent criminal record after she completes 50 hours of community service, but she’s on probation until then.
The judge presiding in the case disagreed with Churnin’s arguments that her Charter rights were violated, and found that the self-described pacifist had no lawful excuse for not participating in the census.
Churnin’s lawyer had argued at her trial that the government didn’t do enough to address her concerns about U.S. arms-maker Lockheed Martin’s role in the data collection process.
The Crown countered that Canadians can’t refuse to comply with legitimate government obligations simply on the basis of moral disapproval or speculative security fears.
Churnin has said she thought there was a chance information on Canada’s population could be accessed by Lockheed Martin, or even the American government if the corporation was forced to turn over the information under the U.S. Patriot Act.
The head of census operations at Statistics Canada testified that Lockheed Martin had no access to the agency’s data operation centre or its census response database.
By The Canadian Press
I think I’ll start raising my own pigs!
This newscast reminds me that the Chinese have bought Smithfield Foods in the U.S. – one of the largest American meat producers, remembered from the battles over intensive livestock operations and the decimation of farmers.
You can see this next wave in the industrialized food supply, cloned pork from the Chinese – but produced in North America.
Or – - will we be eating the meat that is being grown in petri dishes? No poop!
(I guess we are getting a sample of how other countries have felt about American hegemony in the past. And we don’t like it! Somehow we (mistakenly) feel that if it’s American or Canadian, we have more control over it.
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Inside China’s animal cloning factory
With a robotic rover driving on the Moon and the world’s fastest supercomputer, China is emerging as a new superpower in science.
The country is spending vast amounts on research – so much that one leading British scientist says China is on course to overtake the US in 30-40 years’ time.
Science editor David Shukman was given rare access to one key area of Chinese research – a laboratory which creates around 500 cloned animals per year.
The attempted Invasion of Canada by American Revolutionary Forces under the leadership of Benedict Arnold in 1775 was unsuccessful.
Crr–AY–zy world!! this is connected to:
- a Girl Guide “Heritage Camp” I attended in 1964
- on-going attempts through the decades at the takeover of Canada. (Reference David Orchard’s The Fight for Canada.) . . . Up to
- today’s resistance to takeover by American corporate interests,
- including my own resistance.
Is it crazy? Do the connections between the Girl Guide Camp and my work today (XCorporatocracy) make sense? Or, is it only a matter of interpretation?
December 26, 2013.
On a mundane day, maybe a decade ago, my “life flashed before my eyes”. I was not in jeopardy, as in a “near-death experience”. I was surprised by the experience and wondered what in the world had just happened. It was an “epiphany” or a “revelation”. A “knowingness” that is transmitted into consciousness in a fraction of a second. It is “out of the blue”.
My interpretation of the “flash” has been helpful, in the quest to understand what my life is all about.
The easiest way to describe what I saw or “intuited” was the various disconnected and isolated pieces of a puzzle assembled to present “the whole”, a picture that is complete. The instantaneous picture I saw (which is hard to explain) was my whole life as “one” – - the past merely the preparation that equips me to do the work (purpose) of my life today. It was an “aha!” moment: my life is not a sequence of random events.
Today, I uploaded two reports I wrote in the 1960′s about my experience at two Girl Guide Camps in my High School days .
Confusion over the location of Spider Lake in Quebec (location of the second camp) eventually led to a realization: hmmm, it would seem that those Girl Guide Camps in the 1960′s were stations along the way for my resistance to the takeover of Canada by American corporate interests today.
And I am reminded that since 1775, the numerous attempts by American interests to invade have been successfully repelled by Canadians.
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Girl Guides and my resistance to American takeover today:
The Girl Guide Promise, as it was in the 1960′s:
I promise on my honour, to do my best, To do my duty to God, the Queen and my Country, and to help other people at all times. (You also promise to follow the Girl Guide Laws.)
I Promise to do my best,
To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada
I will take action for a better world
And respect the Guiding Law)
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THE CAMPS LEADING UP TO THE CANADIAN CENTENNIAL, 1967:
1963 – I attended “Heritage Lake” Girl Guide Camp in northern Saskatchewan (formerly known as Little Sandy Lake).
- Description of the Camp is in newspaper clipping in another posting
- The report of my experience at the Camp is in another posting.
1964 - I attended Spider Lake Heritage Camp in Quebec near Lac Megantic (today the scene of the train wreck (transportation of oil) and devastation of the town from the ensuing explosions and fire).
- The report of my experience at the Camp is in another posting.
- In preparation we were asked to read Kenneth Roberts’ book Arundel, that presents the attempted invasion of Canada by the Americans in the form of an engaging novel.
- I am embarrassed to say that until today, and although I loved the novel Arundel, I did not realize that the Camp, Spider Lake, is right on the path of the attempted invasion.
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“An early historian”, Catherine Day, filed the HISTORY OF THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS in the Library of Canada in 1869.
Canadian Confederation was in 1867.
Curious: read the last sentence in DAY’S one-paragraph description of the invasion (below). I wonder where her sympathies laid?!
HISTORY OF THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS
PROVINCE OF QUEBEC
DOMINION OF CANADA
CIVIL AND DESCRIPTIVE
by CATHERINE MATILDA DAY
“ In September 1775, Colonel Benedict Arnold of the American Revolutionary Army, received instructions to take command of a body of men and effect a passage through the wilderness, by proceeding up the Kennebec River in Maine, thence across the highlands to the head waters of the Chaudiere River, and down that stream to its entrance into the St Lawrence near Quebec (City). The object of the expedition was to cooperate with the forces of General Montgomery (the French) in the reduction of that city. Arnold and his men entered the Province at the southern extremity of Woburn, and followed up the stream which still bears his name to where it enters Lake Megantic thence down that lake to the point where its surplus waters are discharged through to the Chaudiere. The unfortunate ending of an expedition as boldly conceived as bravely carried out is matter of history, and Quebec then remained as it still continues a British stronghold.”
Following the discussion about CHANGE (how is it accomplished?), you may be interested in some of the links below.
There is emphasis on the corrupting influence of Corporations in bed with Governments – the cause and effect relationship – because the corruption is a serious, practical obstacle to change.
You can understand the dynamics of change,
but if you don’t do something about the obstacles, you may not succeed.
#6 related to Ego is pretty critical to understanding “change”, I think. It goes to ROOT CAUSE. It is an applied understanding (why do westerners spread hate propaganda about Muslims?), but it is generally applicable, if you dig down to “what’s behind our actions”? . . . Change is thwarted because ego blinds us to what’s really happening.
Which takes us back to last evening’s discussion: the role of values in bringing about change. (Ego is pretty self-centred and with immediate concerns. Lacks recognition or denies our oneness with creation. Which is denial of the spiritual, as I see it. The opposite of ego.)
I will do more with integrating and adding to, making sense of the material, when time permits. Empowerment (education / information) is an essential ingredient, as we discussed. And critical mass.
The more we can understand the elements of change, the better.
I am anxious to read the book Denial (Varki & Bower). Perhaps it is the integrator!! I’m sure there is something out there that puts everything together.
Over and out!
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(Click on selected link, then scroll down past the top-of-page headings that remain constant.)
I mentioned the thesis that change comes about, not through rational debate, but through the march of events.
(Conventional wisdom is the status quo; it is the inertia that has to be overcome, if change is to happen.)
Galbraith says, among other things – - see the above link:
The enemy of the conventional wisdom is not ideas but the march of events.
10. (Email from Mike Bray, 2010): The section of Al Gore’s book Our Choice called Changing the Way we Think is really interesting. It has some answers as to why it is so hard to get thought and action from citizens on climate change and other environmental issues.
10. Addressing City Council, 2004:
When so much is known, WHY isn’t change happening?
“It is common for proposals for change, which usually imply criticism of current practices, to bring up fear and a diverse range of defensive behaviours.
The defensive behaviours range from withdrawal, non-compliance and argument to ridicule, angry confrontation and even violence.”
My proposal to you, that the City revert back to augering from the use of a chemical pesticide is a criticism of current practices.
In civil society such as gathered here, the defensive behaviour will most likely manifest itself in the form of argument.
In order to bring about change, my strategy must therefore be:
1. don’t trigger defensive behaviour. When I become defensive, I defend my position: I pay lip service to the arguments of the other person. I can think of a recent experience where the arguments of the other person made me angrier and angrier. With you, I want to have an open discussion, with as little defensive behaviour as possible. Which brings in my second strategy.
2. as pointed out, defensive behaviour will manifest itself in the form of argument. I can tell you some of the arguments that will be presented as a rationale for maintenance of the status quo and how the processing of the arguments will happen.
3. I should understand what it is that I am attempting to do. John Kenneth Galbraith defined “conventional wisdom”. I, and others, are trying to overthrow the conventional wisdom in Saskatchewan about pesticide use.
Ideas come to be organized around what the community as a whole or particular audiences find acceptable. It isn’t about the reality of the world, but about the audiences’ accepted VIEW of the world. Because familiarity is such an important test of acceptability, the acceptable ideas have great stability. The acceptable idea in Saskatchewan is that pesticide use may present some problems, but it’s okay.
The enemy of conventional wisdom is not ideas such as I am giving to you, but the march of events. Conventional wisdom remains with the comfortable and the familiar, while the world moves on: conventional wisdom is always in danger of obsolescence because the world keeps on changing.
All I can do is to crystallize in words what events have made clear, it has been well-documented for you: our society has made a big mistake in relying on the propaganda of the chemical industry. The process of changing the conventional wisdom about chemical pesticides is well underway, even in Saskatchewan. The process takes time. From the time when people thought that the world was flat until everyone knew it was round: how long did it take?
So why shouldn’t we just sit back and wait for the new conventional wisdom to take hold?
The cost of inaction is very high. To treat a child with life-threatening cancer costs a million dollars. That doesn’t include the cost to the family.
A CHART (the chart is a summary of the ARGUMENT and RESPONSE items)
Column 1: Argument contained in one compartment of the brain
Column 2: Defensive behaviour: place this fact in a separate compartment to eliminate conflict with argument
Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor
UN’s senior counter-terrorism official says revelations ‘are at the very apex of public interest concerns’
The UN’s senior counter-terrorism official is to launch an investigation into the surveillance powers of American and British intelligence agencies following Edward Snowden’s revelations that they are using secret programmes to store and analyse billions of emails, phone calls and text messages.
The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said his inquiry would also seek to establish whether the British parliament had been misled about the capabilities of Britain’s eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, and whether the current system of oversight and scrutiny was strong enough to meet United Nations standards.
The inquiry will make a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next year.
In an article for the Guardian, Emmerson said Snowden had disclosed “issues at the very apex of public interest concerns”. He said the media had a duty and right to publish stories about the activities of GCHQ and its American counterpart the National Security Agency.
“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who has been the UN’s leading voice on counter-terrorism and human rights since 2011.
“It is the role of a free press to hold governments to account, and yet there have even been outrageous suggestions from some Conservative MPs that the Guardian should face a criminal investigation. It has been disheartening to see some tabloids giving prominence to this nonsense.”
Emmerson’s intervention comes ahead of Tuesday’s hearing of the home affairs select committee, which is conducting its own inquiry into counter-terrorism.
The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, will give evidence to MPs on the committee on Tuesday afternoon, followed by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.
Over the past six months the Guardian – along with other international media organisations – has revealed the existence of mass surveillance programmes, such as GCHQ’s Tempora, which taps into the cables that carry internet traffic in and out of the UK. Last month the heads of Britain’s three intelligence agencies, MI5, GCHQ and MI6, gave evidence before parliament’s intelligence and security committee.
During a 90-minute hearing they accused Snowden of leaking material that had been “a gift to terrorists”.
But Emmerson said such claims “need to be subjected to penetrating scrutiny”.
He said his inquiry will be requiring further testimony from GCHQ’s director, Sir Iain Lobban, the director of MI5, Andrew Parker, and MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.
“I will be seeking a far more detailed explanation than security chiefs gave the (ISC) committee. They must justify some of the claims they have made in public, because as matters stand, I have seen nothing in the Guardian articles which could be a risk to national security. In this instance, the balance of public interest is clear.”
He added: “When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest there are often borderline cases. This isn’t one of them. The Guardian’s revelations are precisely the sort of information that a free press is supposed to reveal.”
Emmerson said nobody had suggested the Mail on Sunday should be prosecuted when it published revelations from the former MI5 officer, David Shayler, and that the attorney general had rightly abandoned a prosecution against Katharine Gun, the GCHQ whistleblower who in 2003 revealed the US and UK were trying to manipulate a vote at the UN security council in favour of military intervention in Iraq.
No jury would ever have convicted her even though she had broken the Official Secrets Act, Emmerson said.
“The Guardian has revealed there is an extensive programme of mass surveillance which potentially affects every one of us, but has been assiduous in avoiding the revelation of any detail which could put sources at risk. The Mail on Sunday, on the other hand, published material that was of less obvious public interest.”
Emmerson said the Snowden disclosures had caused reverberations across the world.
“There can be no doubt the revelations concern matters of international public interest. Wholesale reviews have been mooted by President Obama, Chancellor Merkel and Nick Clegg. In the US, a number of the revelations have already resulted in legislation.
“In Europe, the political class is incandescent. Many states have registered serious objections at the UN, and there are diplomatic moves towards an international agreement to restrict surveillance activity.”
Chaired by Keith Vaz, the home affairs select committee called for the Guardian to give evidence following the ISC hearing.
However, a number of civil liberties groups and campaigners have raised concerns about the intense political pressure put on the Guardian, and condemned the UK government’s demand that it destroy the Snowden files it was researching in the UK.
The freedom of expression group Article 19 and the Open Rights Group are among two signatories to a letter sent to Vaz ahead of Tuesday’s session.
They describe their deep concerns that the review of the Guardian “could restrict media freedom in the UK by discouraging future reporting on important matters of public interest”.
The letter calls on MPs to take into account “international human rights standards, and in particular those that relate to the right to freedom of expression and media freedom”.