Keeping the spies at heel

Richard Norton-Taylor on an assessment of security service scrutiny.

The World Today
Published 1 April 2020 Updated 28 September 2020 2 minute READ

Richard Norton-Taylor

Author, The State of Secrecy: Spies and the Media in Britain

Secrets and Spies: UK Intelligence Accountability after Iraq and Snowden Jamie Gaskarth, £29.95

How to submit the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ ) to effective and credible scrutiny is an increasingly urgent, and dangerously unresolved, question.

It has been avoided by successive governments despite serious failures and abuses, including the way weapons dossiers were compiled before the invasion of Iraq and collusion in the CIA’s abduction and subsequent torture of terror suspects.

Edward Snowden was damned as a traitor – as were editors reporting his revelations – by intelligence chiefs and MPs alike for exposing the extent to which GCHQ and America’s National Security Agency have cooperated in a symbiotic relationship in mass interception of data on individuals.

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