Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Don't worry about the government

BAE Systems is a British defence and aerospace company with a market capitalization of 16.39 billion dollars. It is so big that the UK government stepped in to stop investigations of blatant bribes to members of the Saudi royal family and government officials. At the time the Attorney General said:

This decision has been taken following representations that have been made both to the Attorney General and the Director concerning the need to safeguard national and international security. It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest.
Doesn't this clearly say that for enough money the rule of law will be ignored? This is so pathetic that now even the United States Department of Justice is investigating the bribes.

In the Guardian today there is a compelling story of how BAE employed people to spy on the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), a small peace group. A trusted friend, activist and officer within the group secretly forwarded emails that ended up at BAE. Fortunately this case did not involve a £43 billion arms deal and in court BAE admitted that they had been paying for CAAT to be spied on.

BAE Systems has undertaken "not to intercept by any unlawful means ... [and] not to solicit, voluntarily receive or procure any confidential communication or document" belonging to CAAT. The big picture is that a multimillion-pound arms firm has been humiliated, it has been caught and forced to admit to paying for spying on a peace group comprised primarily of students and Quakers, and has promised not to do it again.
If you are an activist you have to suspect that the government is spying on you. But companies may be spying on you too.

1 comment:

  1. CAAT run a great café at the Glastonbury Festival, so I like them. If only BAE took to running nice cafés.