The Guardian has had a very good idea. It asked novelist and journalist
John Lanchester to look at its Edward Snowden papers. This had to be done in New York because the London copies were destroyed under the supervision of some trenchcoats. The result is a thoroughly frightening article in which John Lanchester is able to give his impressions of the secrets without giving away too many of them. It is an excellent piece. You can read in full here.
I was particularly impressed by this:
Since 9/11, 53 people have been killed by terrorists in the UK. Every one of those deaths is tragic. So is every one of the 26,805 deaths to have occurred on Britain’s roads between 2002 and 2012 inclusive, an average of 6.67 deaths a day. Let’s call that the SDRD, standard daily road deaths. The terrorist toll for 12 years comes to 0.0121 SDRD. This means that 12 years of terrorism has killed as many people in the UK as eight days on our roads.
…Is that enough of a justification for the scale and extent of what is happening to our privacy? Is the current supervisory regime – which involves senior judges inspecting GCHQ’s actions, “within the circle of secrecy”, and issuing a secret report – adequate to the scale of the state’s powers?