Pebble in my Boot
Sam von Maltitz
The furore that has ensued after revelations in the British Guardian newspaper that British security forces ‘spied’ on South African, Turkish and Russian delegates during the G2o summit in London in 2009, is should be regarded as nothing but a storm in a teacup. The South African government, as well as officials of various other governments and administrations, have strongly condemned the British Government for either allowing it or ordering it to happen. With flashing halos on their heads.
The information about the spying exercise involving eavesdropping on telephone conversations, various espionage actions and interception of e-mail messages was given to the newspaper by Edward Snowden, an ex-computer technician of the CIA. Snowden has already given information to the newspaper about the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter by the CIA to spy on various institutions and people ‘in the interests of America’s overall security.’ More about him later.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation Clayson Monyela, said this week the South African Government had taken note of the revelations with extreme concern. Although the Government did not have all the relevant information about the revelations, it in principle condemned the violation of privacy and basic human rights, he said, especially if actions like these were perpetrated by people who called themselves democrats. “We have had a strong and warm relationship with Britain, and appeal to the country’s government to investigate the matter thoroughly, and to take the necessary steps against the perpetrators. ” His halo was also flashing brightly. He, and his colleagues in all government departments, especially state security. know that this is standard practice. He will also know that the South African government will do exactly the same thing when summits like these or similar events such as state visits happen in our country. Maybe not on the same scale as the British, Americans, Germans and the French, not to mention the Russians, but any country worried about its security in the modern world will do it. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say it is any self-respecting country’s duty to do so. How else, in the modern world with all its sophisticated technology, will a country such as Britain be forewarned of for instance well-planned terrorist attacks such as the 9/11 tragedy? No wonder British premier David Cameron, when he was asked whether his security services would be spying on delegates at this year’s G8 summit currently being held in Ireland, said “we never comment on security or intelligence matters, and I am not going to do it now.” We have to accept that these security actions are not new. They become much more sophisticated by the day, but they are not new, and will remain with is way into the future.
This again brings me to Edward Snowden, the man who leaked this and earlier information about activities of the CIA. There is a significant number of people who think that he and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange are heroes for ‘blowing the whistle’. Yes, security officers do sometimes do things that violate the privacy of individuals, and that should be dealt with appropriately. But by divulging sensitive security information as if you are doing everybody a favour, as these two have done, is nothing else but extremely dangerous to relationships between nations and they should simply be treated as traitors to their countries. Period.