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Monday, July 01, 2013 

Not much intelligence etc.

The Intelligence and Security Committee wants to be taken seriously.  We know this because in its previous incarnation it was regarded as a bit of a joke, producing reports so ridiculously censored that its existence was a waste of everyone's time.  It was lied to repeatedly by the intelligence agencies, and when it wasn't being lied to it was more than happy to change the very meaning of words in order to clear those it was meant to be monitoring of any involvement in little things like extraordinary rendition.

When it then postpones the very first occasion on which it was meant to be questioning the heads of the security services because "it's too busy", meaning that it almost certainly won't be rescheduled until October once the summer recess is done and the party conferences are over, first you smell a rat and second it makes a mockery of the new powers it's received.  As the Graun almost incredulously reports, surely Thursday would have been a great opportunity to question those who normally prefer the shadows, both on whether more could have been done to prevent the murder of Lee Rigby (extremely dubious, although there's plenty they could have asked about MI5's involvement with Michael Adebolajo and his family) and on the revelations about GCHQ's spying on the G20 meetings and alleged tapping of the country's main fibre optic cables via Project Tempora.

Frankly, who knows whether it was the committee or the agencies that decided they simply couldn't be quizzed on TV when interest would have been high.  No, far better to let everything calm down, the accusations against GCHQ to be pushed to the back of minds, and then allow John Sawers and Andrew Parker to be extremely lightly grilled at some point in the future.  Taking into account that the trial of Adebolajo and Adebowale has been set for the 18th of November, it wouldn't surprise if the heads either refused to answer questions on the Woolwich murder in light of the trial, or if the session was pushed even further back.  Regardless of the reality, the ISC is hardly convincing that it is up to the job it's been set, and that's just the way that the spooks like it.

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