Katherine you are a shining example of humanity and an example to the rest of us!
British whistleblower Katharine Gun faces two years in jail – for speaking truth to power
In the run-up to war, as the British were going through the motions of getting a second resolution through the UN Security Council, there was much speculation as to how the 6 non-permanent members of that body would vote. So high was the interest in this question on the part of the U.S. and British governments that a covert operation was launched to discover what the so-called Middle Six delegations were up to – and to head off any compromise proposal.
The details of the U.S./UK espionage operation were exposed last March by the brave (and beautiful!) Katharine Gun, a former employee of the Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, Tony Blair's eavesdropping center. She faces up to two years in jail for leaking this memo from National Security Agency honcho Frank Koza to NSA personnel and "a friendly foreign intelligence agency," (i.e. British spooks). The memo describes a "surge" in surveillance efforts "against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters."
Mexican and Chilean officials are now revealing that a secret meeting, held at the United Nations, where such a proposal was discussed, was bugged, along with the phones used by diplomats. The Guardian reports:
"A joint British and American spying operation at the United Nations scuppered a last-ditch initiative to avert the invasion of Iraq, The Observer can reveal. …The former Mexican ambassador to the UN, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, told The Observer that US officials intervened last March, just days before the war against Saddam was launched, to halt secret negotiations for a compromise resolution to give weapons inspectors more time to complete their work. Aguilar Zinser claimed that the intervention could only have come as a result of surveillance of a closed diplomatic meeting where the compromise was being hammered out. He said it was clear the Americans knew about the confidential discussions in advance."
"… We had yet to get our capitals to go along with it, it was at a very early stage. Only the people in the room knew what the document said. The surprising thing was the very rapid flow of information to [US] quarters. The meeting was in the evening and they call us in the morning before the meeting of the Security Council and they say, 'We appreciate you trying to find ideas, but this is not a good idea." I say, 'Thanks, that's good to know.' We were looking for a compromise and they [the US] say, 'Do not attempt it.'"
You'll remember that, in order to make the war more palatable to his clearly reluctant countrymen, and his own balking Labor Party, Blair made quite a show of trying to intercede on behalf of those UN Security Council members who wanted to give the invasion the stamp of legality, vowing to craft an acceptable resolution. But that was a lie….
Now we find out that Blair and his ministers were actually trying to undercut efforts at a compromise, because it would have given UN weapons inspectors more time to find out the truth: that Saddam didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. The rush to war would have been aborted – if the War Party hadn't moved quickly to quash the last hope of peace.
Ms. Gun's arraignment in the Old Bailey today means more trouble for the already beleaguered Tony Blair. As the Liberal Democrats' Foreign Affairs point man, Menzies Campbell, put it:
"If the allegations that these operations had ministerial authority are well-founded, then it could hardly be more serious for the Government. There will be understandable uproar at the UN. On the other hand, if the eavesdropping took place without Ministers knowing, then the question is, who was in charge?'"
Charged with violation of the Official Secrets Act – the British version of the U.S. "Patriot" Act – Ms. Gun, a 29-year-old Chinese language specialist, will have her trial in the fall. Her defense will be to put this illegal war on trial.