Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


British secrecy

The US is by no means the only democratic nation with a penchant for keeping things quiet. This month the British Prime Minister presented to Parliament — "by Command of Her Majesty" — a document titled Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee�s [ISC] Annual Report 2003�2004.

The Report highlights the Committee�s conclusions and recommendations. These are set
out below (in bold). Each one is followed immediately by the Government�s response.

The first conclusion is that the Intelligence Agencies' staffs do very well and are to be commended, though "most of the hard work" they do will never be made public [Never? That's an awfully long time! -Ed.] (the government endorses this commendation and notes the difficulties under which they labor). The second, under the heading "EXPENDITURE AND RESOURCES," recognizes that "Public Service Agreements can be useful in helping to measure and deliver the business objectives of the [Intelligence] Agencies," that progress has been made but more is needed (the government noted the intention of the ISC to monitor developments).

I reproduce here an image from the document of the third conclusion with the government's response, both in their entirety (still under the EXPENDITURE AND RESOURCES heading):

Indeed! [Thanks to The Plain English Campaign's weekly newsletter, which noted the existence of this document and said, "We like to think that most types of official documents can be made clearer, but the Guardian reported this week on a case that might have stumped us."]

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