WASHINGTON - January 19 - Breaking a silence shared with almost all major U.S. media outlets, the New York Times on Monday (Jan. 19) for the first time informed its readers about Katharine Gun -- thanks to a column on its op-ed page. As the British press began reporting two months ago, Gun is a former UK intelligence agency employee now facing charges that she violated the Official Secrets Act.
"Katharine Gun has a much better grasp of the true spirit of democracy than Tony Blair," writes Times columnist Bob Herbert in today's piece. "So, naturally, it's Katharine Gun who's being punished."
Herbert's column, titled "A Single Conscience v. the State," goes on to explain: "Ms. Gun, 29, was working at Britain's top-secret Government Communications Headquarters last year when she learned of an American plan to spy on at least a half-dozen U.N. delegations as part of the U.S. effort to win Security Council support for an invasion of Iraq." The plan "included e-mail surveillance and taps on home and office telephones." It was outlined "in a highly classified National Security Agency memo. The agency, which was seeking British assistance in the project, was interested in the whole gamut of information that could give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals.'"
Gun's latest court appearance in London was today. On Sunday, the Observer newspaper in London published an in-depth news article that shed additional light on the prosecution of Gun, who has said that disclosure of the NSA memo "exposed serious illegality and wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. government." She plans to invoke a necessity defense -- arguing that she had sought "to prevent wide-scale death and casualties among ordinary Iraqi people and UK forces in the course of an illegal war."
On Dec. 17, the Institute for Public Accuracy issued a news release about the prosecution of Katharine Gun ("New Developments in Case of U.S. Spying on U.N. Security Council"). An article about her, written by IPA Executive Director Norman Solomon, appeared in the Baltimore Sun on Dec. 14 and a few other newspapers, including the Boston Globe (Dec. 20).