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Friday, 3 March, 2000, 12:09 GMT
Shayler: Whistleblower or traitor?

Is David Shayler a public-spirited whistleblower exposing malpractice in the shadowy world of Britain's secret services?

Or is he a traitor putting national security at risk by his embarrassing revelations?

Should he be made to pay for his lack of discretion in the courts or allowed to return home from exile in Paris?

Would you risk becoming a fugitive to expose something you believed was wrong, or is loyalty to your country more important?

This Talking Point is closed. You can read a selection of your comments below.

David Shayler writes to Talking Point to have his say on the debate:

Could I contribute this debate by saying that I am a patriot? I tried to change MI5 from within but it was impossible because MI5 management were faceless bureaucrats who had no idea about serving the public who pay their wages.

I finally did what I did because I love my country. Criticising the intelligence services does not make me a traitor or an enemy of this country. Those who imply it does seem to think that Britain (and England - the country rather than the state I belong to) consists only of its intelligence services.

There is also a moral issue here. I stood up to point out where public servants had broken the law. In one instance, the Qadhafi Plot, this led to innocent civilians being murdered.

Some have said I should have remained silent as anything else constitutes a betrayal of my country. But the only people who support the notion "my country right or wrong" have abdicated the moral responsibility of being a human being. If you always believe your country is right, no matter what it does, you do not think and are therefore incapable of making a moral decision. That process is what separates human beings from animals.
David Shayler, France

Your Reaction

I do not know all the ins and outs of the case, but what I do know is that my brother is a serving British diplomat in Tripoli and Shayler's "exposure" conceivably put (and continues to put) my brother's life at risk. He isn't a spy or anything, just an ordinary bloke doing a job in very difficult conditions. I would very much like to meet Shayler in person!
IT, South Africa

Standing up for what you believe in will often be seen as traitorous by some, courageous by others.
Edward, UK

Organised society does not really appreciate such individual moral imperatives.

Loukas Loukopoulos, USA
Mr. Shayler should not have done this because he did himself and his country harm and little or no good. Nothing will change because of his actions. Organised society does not really appreciate such individual moral imperatives.
We had Dan Ellsberg here with the Pentagon Papers, and who really thanked him in proportion to his ordeals? Sadly, Mr. Shayler will go the route of Lord Haw Haw. The essential moral of this story is that if you want to stay clean, you must not play in the mud.
Loukas Loukopoulos, USA

The idea that exposing the wrongdoings of the security and government apparatus is a betrayal of the people rather reminds me of Stalinist Russia. Some things should be kept secret but it seems that the security forces have abused this privilege of secrecy. If Gadhaffi's security apparatus had carried out an assassination attempt against our head of state we would be imposing sanctions or bombing Tripoli - oh silly me, we've done that already!
Richard, UK

The secret services are supposed to be secret that's why their called the secret service, what I'd like to hear from DS is did they kill Kennedy, have they seen Elvis and are they hiding aliens.
Jon, UK

He is a traitor to Queen and Country.

Mike, UK
There are some things in this world that are to be kept secret no matter what. If all the black operations conducted by either the US or UK were to come out, how soon do you think an armed conflict might break out. The security agencies are there to prevent that from happening.
The sooner Mr Shayler is "dispatched with", (or convicted) the better! He is a traitor to Queen and Country.
Mike, UK

I think what he has done is right. I am disgusted to think that my taxes went to pay for an ILLEGAL operation to kill the leader of another country. The thought that the UK secret services are corrupt and engaged in illegal activities around the world whilst the UK government tells us and other countries how important obeying the law is, sickens me.
Shaylor signed the OSA without knowing what state the firm that he worked in was. Most contracts for companies here also require employees not to disclose company policy etc but if a worker in a toxic waste company "blew the whistle" on illegal practices he would be called a hero even though he broke his contractual obligations.
Vishal Vashisht, UK

You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

Kalle Helenius, Finland
Well, if he was put into a no-win situation by the actions of the MI5, then the MI5, not Mr Shayler are at fault. By a no-win situation I mean that by talking he violated one law, but by not talking he would've violated another, namely the one that requires you to forward information about illegal activity.
In my eyes the MI5's actions are equivalent of the officer in a war who orders his subordinates to commit war crimes. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
Kalle Helenius, Finland

He's a dangerous traitor who should be arrested the moment he sets foot back in Britain. To place his former colleagues in jeopardy is really appalling.
Ray Marsh, Australia

DS has not actually revealed anything that every other security service in the world doesn't already know about.

John, UK
Any follower of current affairs could quote dozens of occasions where the security services have pursued individuals to avoid embarrassment to them. DS has not actually revealed anything that every other security service in the world doesn't already know about. Thus the danger to UK security in non-existent.
This case is ENTIRELY about the secret services' concern about their public image and their worries that should the truth ever be told we will all realise a) what a bunch of incompetents they are and b) what it is they actually get up to.
John, UK

The MI5 has made it almost impossible for Mr Shayler to move around the world and exercise freedom of speech.

MI5 and intelligence agencies around the world have been harassing Mr. Shayler endlessly. During his trip to Australia/New Zealand and back MI5 contacted the Australian/New Zealand security services and had his computer equipment illegally confiscated.
When he went to the US to appear on an American talk show, the CIA were contacted and told to stop him at the airport. These are just two examples of the way MI5 has made it almost impossible for Mr Shayler to move around the world and exercise freedom of speech.

Joining MI5 is not like taking an ordinary job. Those that join should realise that they forego the normal freedom of expression that the rest of us enjoy.
Nick Thompson, England

There are some amazingly ill informed comments posted here. The issue should not be "Is David Shayler a traitor?" but rather how accountable should our politicians be.
To those of you who feel that DS should have stayed in The Security Service and fought his case internally should realise that he tried and was not listened to so what was the point? If he had tried to 'leak' information it would not have taken long for the officers in charge to work out who was leaking information and he would have been discredited straight away.
Anon, UK

The revelations of David Shayler, combined with the SpyCatcher fiasco and the Bettany case show that the Security Services need over-hauling. The cult of secrecy which extends not only to operations but to any discussion of the conduct, mores and presumptions of the services needs to be changed.
What I find disturbing in all these cases is the revelation that the services who say they exist to protect our liberal democracy from outside enemies show scant understanding or regard for the principles of liberal democracy!
Brian Binney, UK

The British public should not be taken in by anything that either Shayler or the home/foreign offices try to pin on each other.

Could I suggest that whatever we have heard and will hear from Shayler (whom I believe is a Man. City fan and therefore prone to flights of fantasy) is not even the snowflake on the tip of the iceberg - we will never find out most of what Shayler knows, nor perhaps what he has done to incur the wrath of his former colleagues.
How do we know Shayler has not committed more unthinkable deeds than those he attributes to everybody else? I'm not trying to suggest that he is guilty of anything, or that he has no right to expose malpractice - simply that the British public should not be taken in by anything that either Shayler or the home/foreign offices try to pin on each other.

Common sense dictates, YES, freedom of speech, individual right to justice and truth; however, isn't there such a thing as The Official Secrets Act and is it not legally-binding for all those who choose to sign it?
Adrian Paul Miles, UK

How many of you in your professions when you come up against injustice would stand up and be counted?

Selva Appasawmy
That is an interesting one, How do you define whistle blower? In my opinion it is a person that cannot reconcile his moral and ethical responsibility in the face of injustice and immoral acts to the narrow loyalty to a an organisation, department, club, lodge etc.
If there were more whistleblowers Harold Shipman would not have been able to do what he did for decades. The Alder Hey scandal would not have been going on for so long. Stephen Lawrence Police fiasco would not have happened. And I can give hundreds of other cases where because people have misplaced loyalty evil doings is allowed to go on unchecked.
How many of you in your professions when you come up against injustice would stand up and be counted? Let us at least admire the courage of those who do so!
Selva Appasawmy

David signed a contract pledging to keep all he saw a secret. He broke that contract so he should be punished. The people didn't really need to know what he knew. Some things are best kept secret.
Alvin Anyiah, USA

Many of these comments equate loyalty to country with loyalty to a corrupt organisation. I believe that Mr Shayler has done the right thing. No government bureaucrat should have the cover for stupid and immoral acts that are currently afforded to them by blanket secrecy.
Steve, USA

What if he's just some plant, to divert our attention from what is really going on? Remember, we only see what we are shown.
Chris, UK

He is a self-obsessed man who misses not a chance to promote himself in an offensively smug and complacent manner.

Janet, UK
Less secrecy with government - possibly yes...probably a good thing. However, what concerns me about Shayler, borne out by his response to this 'Talking Point' is that he is a self-obsessed man who misses not a chance to promote himself in an offensively smug and complacent manner, which makes me somewhat suspicious about his motives in the first place.
Janet, UK

This is ridiculous. Shayler is NOT a traitor. I think it's appalling what some people think they can get away with. 'Secrecy?' What for? I agree that we should be wary of terrorists, but when UK officials sanction plots to assassinate politicians?
Nikolai, UK

The fact that this so called hero has disclosed the names of two acting agents to a newspaper, therefore jeopardising their safety, speaks for itself.
Barney, England

What Mr Shayler has done is brave in the extreme. So what if he's earning something from it?

David B, England
All governments and their civil service arms are at some stage corrupt, inefficient or at best, just complacent. They also, rather than thinking long term and taking some brave decisions to reform or update their practices from time-to-time, almost always take the easy option of covering up their incompetence, rather than make themselves more efficient.
What Mr Shayler has done is brave in the extreme. So what if he's earning something from it? He's never going to live a normal life again, let alone resume his former profession! If there is the slightest hint that there have been wrongdoings or a breach of morality OR waste of the public's money in their operations, then the secret services and the Home Office should make it their priority to ensure it isn't the case or if it was, then it never happens again.
David B, England

Traitor The comments posted here about the intelligence services being 'corrupt' or relics of the cold war are absolute rubbish. MI5, MI6 are institutions that uphold and rectify problems with the Infrastructure of this country, an infrastructure I might add that provides the comfort and social stability from which the 'liberal view' can proliferate.
If you sign the official secrets act, you make an officially binding contract, if you leak it you are behaving in a dishonest manner. I do not trust Mr Shayler, he is the one who is betraying the trust he accepted from his government, and should be tried as such.
If he did not like the methodology, he should have remained the agent of change within or gotten out in silence his current position is dangerous for GB and for him as the security forces rarely leave a mess not tidied up, and this is a mess.
NVM Mar L 12, GB

He is a hero. He may be speaking up against the Government (and breaking the OSA), but when that Government is morally corrupt, the individual's greater duty is to the society the Government should have been serving. I say open the papers and tell the total, un-spun truth. Then punish the real traitors.
JI, Scotland

Either he is lying to us, or our beloved politicians are lying! Who do you trust?

Zafar Nadeem, England
Quite simple, not sure what the fuss is all about! Ask yourself if the official secret act is a cornerstone of democracy and freedom, if you think it is, then Shayler ought to be tried for treason, if not then as long as he does not make a financial gain, he should be listened to. My problem is this, either he is lying to us, or our beloved politicians are lying! Who do you trust? Shayler or Robin 'Ethical' Cooke?
Zafar Nadeem, England

In East Germany the people rose up and took back their Stasi files, why are we such cowards in this country that we do not do the same?
Mark, UK

I find it unbelievable to see that all the people here seem to care about is whether they can "sleep well at night". Nobody cares at what expense and who pays in the end. It is not this honest man that "embarrassed London" but the dubious actions of the secret services and the people commanding them. A man's first and foremost duty is towards humanity - not towards some outdated nationalistic principles!
Peter Christopher, UK

It is interesting reading these comments. What I find interesting is the amount of publicity gained by Shayler by disclosing his secrets and the government recently realising information that it has problems with its guns and other armaments. So whose "secrets" are deemed more damaging then?
Mark Sargeant, UK

We do not know if he has passed information to the security services of another country.

Andrew Cromwell, UK/Northern Ireland
I am appalled by this man's actions. Our government spends millions every year through the secret services to protect this country and its citizens. I think that it defies belief for a worker in one of these services to leak information to the world and continue to threaten more leaks which I assume are making him a considerable nest-egg for the future.
On a serious level we (the public) know what secrets he has passed onto the newspapers, but we do not know if he has passed information to the security services of another country.
Andrew Cromwell, UK/Northern Ireland

Many people here seem to think (in the usual ignorant fashion) that prosecution automatically procures conviction. Guilty until proven innocent? That point out of the way, we should consider the usefulness of MI5/6 and what they actually "do". In my opinion: nothing (at least, nothing useful).
They are basically relics of the Cold War and serve no useful purpose now other than as a Big Brother-type police organisation. Anyone naive enough to think that intelligence agencies (around the globe) are squeaky clean is, well, naive :O)
Dominic Burns, UK

I cannot for the life of me recall a single bit of useful data to the world's enemies of Britain he has provided. I think he did the Services a very large favour self-selecting to weenie himself out of his pension. Ignoring him seems the best way. Compare the indiscretions of inefficiencies prevalent in certain sections of MI5 to the type of malfunctions which occur as a matter of routine in today's Kafaka-esque corporate environment; the comparison absolutely flatters MI5.
Walt O'Brien, USA

Shayler may be guilty of many things but has he really put the country at risk? I think not.

Craig Harry, England
Treason is defines as "Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies." Shayler may be guilty of many things but has he really put the country at risk? I think not.
Craig Harry, England

What kind of a person is smart enough to get into secret service but stupid enough to think that unseemly things don't happen. He chose this profession.
Adam Parker, USA

Is the truth that we are all aware of the manner in which countries like ours engage in terrorist acts and then accuse other nations of undermining national/ international stability. As people we need truth and this is one piece in that puzzle. Lets keep this honesty going.
Mr N, UK

He is a hero!!! If there were more like him maybe countries secret services would deal with less dirt and more honesty!!!
Vivien Cooksley, Cyprus-Austria.

He is a traitor and should be tracked down and dealt with.

Collin, Canada
A difficult one this, does a person's conscience count higher than loyalty and duty to one's country? Shayler did sign the Official Secrets Act and knew the nature of his work. I must say though that I deplore the sneaky way that the Government is using Civil Laws to try to get silence and punish Shayler when they have failed through the Criminal Law.
Steve Foley, England

I may be absolutely disgusted by my country's policies, but I would never shoot off my yap to endanger other people. He is a traitor and should be tracked down and dealt with.
Collin, Canada

He is a traitor. In a democracy many things should and are discussed in an open and public way, but the secret intelligence services MUST be kept secret. Whatever concerns he has about MI5 and MI6 should be communicated to his superiors or even the politicians in charge. They as our elected representatives should look into his comments with the national interest in mind. It is simply ridiculous to expect that every action of MI5 and MI6 should be held up to public scrutiny. There must be strict political control of the security services but no public discussion.
James Franklin, UK

While some forms of whistle blowing have a slight semblance of justification all too often they are simply an expression of disloyalty and in the case of Shayler he betrays his country and his workmates for a personal whim. In my view he should be tried for treason and executed.
G.S.Brown, New Zealand

To Scott from the UK: I too want to "sleep at night" . In order that we can all sleep safely, it is imperative that we have Officials that are accountable to the people they represent. I don't want people acting in my name doing "dodgy things". If Shayler is to be believed, then it is MI5 and MI6 that should themselves be subject to public investigation. This is Great Britain, year 2000, not some oppressive backward State. At least, we're supposed to be!!
Dave Hartley, England

David Shayler is the most manifest example of a traitor! Presumably, Shayler took an oath to Her Majesty? He blatantly dis-regarded that pledge, and went 'AWOL' apart from endangering the very thing he swore to protect - our national security. He placed the lives of his fellow agents in jeapordy, by causing Tomlinson to 'open up'. This is not a film, Shayler!
Peter Crawford-Bolton, UK in US

OK, so MI5 and MI6 might do things that are a bit dodgy, but at least they keep our nation secure so we can all sleep at night
Scott, UK

Mr Shayler's motives for his behavior are besides the point. Whatever country we live in it, is all too easy to turn a blind eye or even point blank deny that our country could be involved in anything shady or illegal. None of Mr Shayler's revelations so far could have any impact on national security, but they do serve to inform the public that even in the highest offices of our nation, there are hidden agendas which routinely overstep the bounds of ethics and genuine national security.
Buzz, UK

He had no right to do what he did.He should be make to pay for what he did with a long, long jail term.
Larry Glimp, USA

When he worked for the secret service, he knew the obligations that he was under. His stance reeks of commercial gain at the expense of the government
Paul Jaines, UK

I respect him for it. It is good to see that someone is still brave enough to stand up to the government and blow the whistle on what is blatant paranoia. He hasn't given out any state secrets that are truly critical to our defence interests, yet he has raised the issue of what is blatant inefficiency and in some parts exploitation of position. I like to know what my government and its departments are doing, and I like to know when they get it wrong. It's a pity MI5 refuses to admit it.
Alex Banks, Wales

Mr Shayler is not acting in the best interest of the British people, who trusted and employed him to do so. There are ways which are far less damaging to British interests to promote the accountability of the security and intelligence services and he deserves to be prosecuted.
Christopher Clark, England

Shayler had a employment contract which he broke. Such a sensitive job calls for a closed mouth. He may have put other people in danger,he should held to account .
R Clifft, UK

MI5 and MI6 are there to pursue the "national interest" in a covert manner. So what is the "national interest"? Your guess is as good as mine is when it comes to the secret services. We should welcome whistleblowers.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

Like most people in these trusted position who then decide to"spill the beans" I always ask if he was so good at his job and had such a good future why did he not stay and change the system? Or will we soon see another book published with more revelations form which he will make money while claiming "I did not do it for the money". From what I have read David Shayler comes across as a sad little man who was average at his job but wanted to get to the top and this is his shortcut to fame and fortune. The revelations either true or false are a side issue, you do not join MI5/6 without knowing the risks and the obligations to keep quite and he broke that trust.
Robin Thorne, UK

COMMENTS: David Shayler didn't sign the official secrets act for nothing. Who cares if MI5 were watching Lennon. Others manage to keep their mouths shut, so should he.
Rachel Stone, Thailand

Once again someone from the secret service, be it MI5 or the SAS has betrayed the trust behold to them for profit and personnel gain.They should be severely punished in court.
P cooper, UK

I will only be as loyal to my country as my country is loyal to me. In light of recent events, at least in the US, I would not think twice about compromising our national security. Living under an oppressive foreign government is the same thing to me as living under our oppressive government.
Alan, Missouri, USA

Shayler is definitely a traitor. By revealing practices of intelligence agencies, he is putting Britain's national security at risk. One wonders where his loyalties lay, with his willingness to tell all. Intelligence agencies often engage in unethical and illegal activity to find out secrets and protect the countries that they serve. The goal of every country's foreign policy is survival. Ethics must come second to national security.
Jeff, USA

Shayler signed the official secrets act. He has clearly breached the laws within the act and should be punished, instead of being allowed to expose our security services, for the sake of his personal bank account!
J. Thomas, UK

If David Shayler believed that the actions of the British Secret Service was wrong, then he should be allowed to tell the people who are paying their taxes to that service! This is about freedom of information, it should never be violated!
Richard, Wales

It is not easy to judge the actions of another person in many different ways. But, it seems to me that 'loyalty' to one's country must never be compromised. Each of us have a duty to our country to keep it safe and to protect it. We cannot do that very well if we are compromising security. And, the entire safety of our fellow citizens can be at stake. We must keep that in mind. As to what kind of punishment should be rendered that is impossible for me to say. We don't know the full story. And, it seems that every similar incident where national security is broken should be evaluated carefully on an individual basis.
Dave Adams, USA

The concept of an independent nation state, today, is simply myth.Therefore,who has this man betrayed? I think it is more treasonable for politicians to make decisions to placate those in private industry who are paying them huge sums.
Tom, Australia

In order to pursue financial gain he betrayed his country and the oath he gave when he joined the services. He should be dealt with in a severe manor to put off any one else contemplating treachery. He not only puts britain in danger but he puts the stability of the allies at risk as well.
Paul Walker, UK

Mr Shayler is a traitor who is clearly placing his Queen and Country second to his desire to line his pockets with 30 pieces of silver. He deserves not only to be held liable to the fullest extent of the law, but also to be tried and punished for treason.
Matt, USA

David Shayler was quite right to expose the MI5. The British Intelligence Services are acting as a state within a state. There are clearly "rogue" elements within the British establishment and it high time there was proper accountability and oversight.
Sohail Hussain, Chechnya

He should keep his pledge, however there should be a system of controls and balances to ensure that the secret services give value for money and less secretive.
Clive Lewis, Malaysia

Since I am a diplomat in London, I do not wish to disclose my identity nor do I want to say, from an English perspective, if he was right or wrong. However, as a foreign diplomat, I do think that Mr Shayler's revelations have embarrassed London.
African diplomat, Africa

Sure, David Shayler makes the point that the security services are mismanaged and secretive, but we knew that. What's needed is a tribunal body that keeps them in line, rather than the chummy "reporting only to the PM" arrangement we have now. However, I trust that the rather better-run security services will be wiser than to employ people like David Shayler, whose simple-minded claim to be a "whistle blower" is a transparent attempt to justify a publishing deal.
Tom Currie, UK

Shayler is a traitor and a misfit. The person who should be punished is the idiot who hired him in the first place. Shayler should go to prison.
John Mullany, Canada

With covert "black" budgets getting ever fatter and their purposes ever murkier, it is all too easy to forget that democratically elected governments and their employees are but servants of the people. Except for matters that pose a genuine threat to national security, government agencies must be held fully accountable to a public that has a right to know. The release of information about government sponsored assassinations of heads of state - no matter how zany - and the cover-up of UFO sightings by credible citizens and such do not endanger national security a whit. Citizens concerned about covert policies gone amok should be grateful for people like Shayler who surface once in a while to blow the whistle. He ought to be lauded, not lynched.
Nila Sagadevan, USA

If he acting in the public interest, he won't mind handing his royalties to charity then, will he?
Barry, UK

Shayler did not release any highly sensitive information. The intelligence service should be more accountable to the general public. I read recently that they overspent 200 million pounds of taxpayers money refurbishing their headquarters. Somebody in the government should be sacked for this.
Ross Bradshaw, UK

At first I thought he was genuine, but now he seems to say anything in order to justify his whistleblowing and the inevitable book/movie merchandise.
Vernon Hunte, England

It is hard to judge Mr Shayler's motives or the result of his disclosure. There clearly should be an in-house mechanism for whistleblowing, to allow oversight of the security services without compromising security. Even if there is nothing formal, it is difficult to see how someone in his position could not have found a more discreet way to bring his concerns to the attention of a responsible person.
John, UK

Irrespective of the malpractice David Shayler wanted to expose, in every organisation there is a chain of command. If your immediate superior cannot give you satisfaction, you go one step up. It is easier to change an organisation from within than without, if comments are constructive. However what Shayler did was to seek publicity for himself, by exposing his employer to unwelcome scrutiny and his colleagues to possible danger. If nothing else he has broken the official secrets act and should be prosecuted for that.
Christopher Hollett, Wales, UK

We only have one life so why waste it on these childish arguments. He should admit what he's done and keep his mouth shut. Private government information should be kept confidential, to a certain extent.

He's irresponsible. One can make a point about the activities of an agency without endangering the lives of its agents.
Geoff Sutton, USA

If a country, any country, even yours, is doing something that you think is seriously wrong, you should try to fix things. If revealing state secrets is necessary to do this, then so be it. Sovereign states should not be immune to prosecution for criminal behavior.
C M Sanyk, USA

I think that as long as the secret services have no public accountability that can be relied upon to be free from political interest, whistleblowers are performing a valuable public service. Remember that loyalty to one's country does not mean loyalty to one's government, but to the best interests of the people of the country. Governments typically disagree with this view, of course, which is why the right to a trial by jury is no longer allowed for this kind of 'offence:' there have been too many acquittals.
Martin Thompson, England

Mr. Shayler is a hero in exposing the shadowy tiers of hidden government.
Andrew Cusack, United States of America

I would become a whistleblower, though usually such is not necessary.

There was a time when my employer was contracted to do the programming for a phase of the US FBI's "Low Speed Fingerprint Imaging and Acquisition" system. The eventual goal was to have everyone's fingerprints on file for instant reference to any police officer anywhere. This seemed quite Orwellian and bothered me.

My boss convinced me to begin work as long as I didn't have solid objections, so I did begin work. But when I was moved to the FBI main building, I asked the agents there whether there was abuse of the system. Their reply was the equivalent of "Yes, both official and unofficial, but we squish the cockroaches." So I quit the job, thus causing my employer to fire me.

The funny thing is that my boss quit before me, and several others quit after me, and before too long Congress pulled the funding for the project. So I rather suspect that the unanimous choice of individuals not to do evil in the name of "It's just my job, and if I don't do it, someone will" contributed heavily to its demise.

Ultimately, it occurs to me that there is no better protection against an Orwellian tyranny than a determination by individuals to fight it every step of the way.

This MI5 spy I read about is doing just that. The key word the clues me into the truth is that his "treason" is only "embarrassing". That means that certain individuals consider their personal fortunes to be worth more than the entire government, and implies that the real traitors are still sitting in Britain having tea. After all, which is more treacherous? The leader who betrays his men, or the man who will not assist him in it, though he was sworn to do so? Thomas A Becket would have said the former.
Michael Rudmin, USA

He took the money and he had the lifestyle ,he signed the official secrets act , I have no sympathy for him. David Shayler is a traitor.
Jim Bevan, UK

Here we have a classic "David and Goliath" scenario. Mr Shayler has exposed inefficiency, and more to the point, illegal activities carried out by UK Government security agencies. Just as an individual is not above the law, neither is MI5. Sophistry of the kind being currently being tabled on how Mr Shayler should "keep quiet" is quite amusing to say the least. It's very amusing to see a government behaving as though it was a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Deane, Belgium

He was just an administrator who craves recognition as someone who worked for MI5.

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See also:

26 Feb 00 | UK
Shayler: The exiled spy
24 Feb 99 | UK
Shayler: A 'moral stand'
18 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Shayler: Let me come home
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