Why is membership of the Intelligence and Security Committee being kept secret from the pubic ? There has been no official public announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron, except for the appointment of Sir Malcom Rifkind as chairman back on 6th of July ?
Both Houses of Parliament appear to have rubber stamped, without holding any debates or any public confirmation hearings, a list of candidates, but have these people actually been appointed or not ?
The ISC is the only (feeble) mechanism of supposedly public oversight of these powerful vested interests, whose bureaucratic empires are such a potential threat to our freedoms and liberties.
Moved By Lord Strathclyde
That this House approves the nomination of Lord Butler of Brockwell as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
Lord Butler of Brockwell , who sits as a Cross Bench Peer, is a former Whitehall Sir Humphrey, who the intelligence agencies have experience with, as he was chosen to conduct the Butler Review (.pdf) which highlighted some of the intelligence and political failings in the in up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, especially regarding the alleged "weapons of mass destruction" which were never found, and the "sexed up" intelligence dossiers.
Whether this experience means that he is good at discovering if the intelligence agencies are deliberately or inadvertently misleading the Intelligence and Security Committee remains to be seen. He will probably be an improvement over the extremely partisan and authoritarian "double dipping" Labour peer and Member of the Scottish Parliament, Lord.Foulkes of Cumnock.
Again, this may be a nomination, but the actual decision to appoint him to the Committee is one which is made only by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who has failed to make any public announcement confirming any members of the ISC, except for his initial appointment of the former Conservative Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind as chairman, back in July.
The other still as yet unconfirmed candidates put forward by the House of Commons are:
Hazel Blears (Labour - please not her!!), Sir Menzies Campbell (Liberal Democrat) , Mr Mark Field (Conservative), Paul Goggins (Labour) , Mr George Howarth (Labour), Dr Julian Lewis (Conservative)
i.e. there is nobody with any experience of large information technology projects (which the intelligence services have spent and, seemingly wasted, hundreds of millions or billions of pounds of public money on)
Similarly, apart from perhaps Paul Goggins (who was exiled to Northern Ireland as Minister) there is nobody with any experience of alienated minority communities. Hazel Blears actually managed to further alienate minority communities when she was Minister for Communities and Local Government !
See the previous Spy Blog article - Hazel Blears and Sergeant Flanderka - "tension monitoring" i.e. snooping on local communities.
These are two of the most important areas which the ISC should be forensically investigating the performance of the intelligence agencies, on behalf of the wider public.
Since the dispute with Gordon Brown's Cabinet Office and Number 10 Downing Street apparatchiki, over political interference with and contempt for the ISC under the previous Labour chairman Dr Kim Howells, there Intelligence and Security Committee.no longer appears on the Westminster Parliament Committees web pages at all.
Incredibly, the Cabinet Office web page about the ISC now points to a Central Office of Information web page, which is hosted by Google ! See http://isc.independent.gov.uk
Why should the webserver logs of visitors to this ISC web page be automatically available o foreign governments and companies ? What about the Google cookie tracking profile of whoever is maintaining this Google Docs web page ? If they do not log out of their Google account and delete or block the tracking cookies, then they will be handing quite a bit of intelligence information to Google and therefore to the US government and intelligence agencies.
For now, the Cabinet Office is still hosting, the previous public versions of the Intelligence and Security Committee reports online - you should probably download these now (remember to use Tor or some other method of confusing their Communications Traffic Data analysis) , before they disappear due to "budget cuts".
This new Intelligence and Security Committee needs to prove to the public that it really is independent, otherwise they may as well save the tax payer some money and not bother to pretend to oversee the work of these powerful bureaucracies.
One step in that direction would be to set up confidential whistleblower contact arrangements, to allow and members of the public and especially also patriotic or aggrieved intelligence agency insiders,or from commercial companies supplying the military / intelligence / security bureaucracy, to contact the Intelligence and Security Committee, without being snooped on by, or tipping off, the UK (or foreign) intelligence agencies.
They should have an ISC website with an SSL/TL encrypted web contact form, independent of Cabinet office and a public contact email address, which is also independent of any government department or agency e.g.
They should also publish and maintain a PGP Public Encryption Key.
There should also be a 24 hour 365 days a year telephone answering machine and a mobile phone number for SMS text messages, and a postal address.
Prime Minister David Cameron should also re-affirm the Wilson Doctrine, which forbids UK intelligence agencies from snooping on the communications of Members of the House of Commons or Members of the House of Lords, something which unlike every other Prime Minister since 1966, he has still failed to do.