[Sir Robert John Sawers, chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)
The hearing was an attempt to show it could call the heads of the intelligence services to account.Before the committee came the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, his Mi6 counterpart Sir John Sawers and the director of GCHQ Sir Iain Lobban.
The agency chiefs took the opportunity to outline how they though revelations about their spying activities leaked by Edward Snowden in the Guardian and New York Times newspapers have hurt their counter-terrorism operations.
Sir John Sawers, from MI6 said it was clear damage had been done to efforts to combat terrorism: “The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging. They have put our operations at risk. It is clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee, al-Qeida is lapping it up and national security has suffered as a consequence.”
Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham says the testimony today means the government has no choice but to prevent newspapers from publishing such sensitive information again.
But if there remain many questions about transparency in the intelligence services, perhaps this at least a step forward in some ways – with the public now able at least to put faces to the names leading the country security services.