By Simon Davies
It’s becoming harder and harder to disentangle fact from fiction in the statements of national governments and their spy agencies. So here is the Privacy Surgeon’s handy guide to interpreting what they really meant to say.
What we did would have been lawful if the other party were in office.
We acted strictly according to law We tested the limits of the law.
What we did was envisaged by law What we did would have been lawful if the other party were in office.
We scrupulously observed legal principles We acted outside the law.
We acted in accordance with international agreements We trampled over everyone else’s law.
National security is part of the national critical infrastructure National security is hard-wired into the national critical infrastructure
Everything we have done was strictly in the public interest We acted unlawfully.
The data we looked at was trivial We scooped up all the metadata in sight. Privacy is an important consideration for the privacy of national security
Privacy is an important consideration for the privacy of national security
We do not have a backdoor into the systems of major companies It’s more like a dog flap.
We have saved countless lives through national security interception We don’t know who they are.
Privacy is an important consideration in national security Privacy is an important consideration for the privacy of national security
We are subject to rigorous checks We internally sign-off everything we do.
We give unsupported evidence in camera and then we put on a congressional PR display every six months.
The courts approve everything we do We fill out all the required check-boxes and the court rubber-stamps them.
The allegations being made are factually incorrect We changed the names of the programs as soon as they were discovered
The source of the allegations is untrusted The source of the allegations was found to be correct.
The allegations are nothing more than conspiracy theory The allegations involve collusion between more than two officials.
We respect the laws of other countries We’ve received a legal briefing on the laws of other countries.
My response was erroneous I lied.
My response was clearly erroneous I lied – and you were all too stupid to notice it at the time.
We mistakenly gave misleading information We got caught out.