Ordinarily we'd avoid mentioning the Government's unaccountable failure to gaol Craig Murray, in case we inadvertently reminded its members of something they missed from yesterday's 'To Do' list. But, as the man himself so plainly wants to draw attention to his continuing liberty, we might as well just go ahead. Bloggers, says Murray, have killed off the Official Secrets Act.
We wouldn't put it that strongly ourselves, but the Act certainly doesn't look well. Last week, Murray, a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan*, responded to Foreign Office attempts to suppress two confidential documents by publishing them on his website and encouraging blogs the world over to republish them. Murray now claims these appeared in more than 4,000 blogs within 72 hours. We've no idea whether or not the total hit 4,000, but whatever, it's loads and loads - far beyond any number that the UK Government could ever manage to deal with.
Despite this, Murray hasn't even been questioned. "We have published," he says, "what were, undoubtedly, classified British Government documents. Under the notorious Official Secrets Act that is an offence, and everyone connected with it is plainly guilty. There is no public interest defence."
Actually, it's not the numbers as such that have kept the security forces off Murray's back. Not directly, anyway. Having the documents reproduced throughout the world certainly ensures they can never be suppressed, but has no obvious effect on any desire the Government might have to wreak awful vengeance on Murray. The reverse, if anything. Murray himself acknowledges this to an extent, observing: "British criminal trials still involve juries, and they are reluctant to convict in OSA trials, where they often sympathise with the motives of the defendant. Clive Ponting was acquitted after leaking that the Belgrano was heading home when British forces sank it. The jury acquitted him against the clear direction of the judge. And that was in the context of the Falklands War, which the British public supported. What chance of a conviction in the context of the Iraq war, which the British public oppose?"
It's also in Murray's favour that he's loudly opposing torture while the UK Government is giving every indication of skulking around conniving at it. If the Government busts Murray, his book gets more publicity, more waves of outrage will ripple through blogdom, and the jury could well chuck out the charges and render the OSA even deader than it is already. Must be annoying to have Murray crowing about it, though, when you're striving not to notice that official secrets breaches have gone global. ®
* It occurs to us that life must be hard for the current UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, whoever they may be. All ambassadors are fairly silent by Murray's standards, but silence from the envoy to Uzbekistan these days might so easily be thought of, throughout the world, as indicating some kind of cynical, torturing, CIA stooge. For the sake of your reputation, whoever you are, we urge you to leak something, quick.