Downing Street identifies leaker with the old "send everyone a different memo" trick

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/18/downing-street-identifies-leaker-with-the-old-send-everyone-a-different-memo-trick.html

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In a fitting irony that should have screamed “trap!” to the recipients, the leaked memo was an order not to leak memos.

For certain personalities, it’s an irresistible lure. “Don’t leak memos? I’ll show them!”

A lesson learned by many of us in a decade or so of heightened whistleblower coverage: don’t generally publish the stuff leaked to you. Don’t even quote it verbatim. Instead, describe it accurately in your own words and treat it as evidentiary material that proves the accuracy of your reportage.

Reading about the founder of this right-wing blog, I doubt that he’d be inclined to follow that good advice.

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“Instead, describe it accurately in your own words and treat it as evidentiary material that proves the accuracy of your reportage.” But Rob, cut-and-paste is so much easier! Oh well, Guy Fawkes got ratted out anonymously, this guy ratted himself out. Plenty of irony all around.

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Maybe run it through Google Translate a few times?

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lesson 2: leak somebody else’s copy of said memo

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Well, it needs to still be comprehensible.

We’re just assuming the leaker didn’t…

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Loved the part in Game of Thrones when Tyrion used this trick to figure out which member of the Small Council was feeding info to Cersei.

Except in that case it wasn’t “send a different memo” so much as “commit the Queen Regent’s daughter to marry a different nobleman.” Because medieval notions of agency and whatnot.

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Given the Guido Fawkes blog’s Conservative sympathies, it’s not impossible he was in on the effort to identify the leaker.

Interesting how some of the most rabid brexiteers are those who won’t suffer the consequences because of dual citizenship (Nigel Farage has access to German citizenship through his wife).

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Now listen, whoever comes to you with this Barzini meeting, he’s the traitor. Don’t forget that.

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This is why Admiral Ackbar is still an MP.

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The government even warned everyone a few weeks ago they were going to use precisely this strategy to identify leakers… clearly we’re not dealing with the smartest of individuals.

The one upside of this might be that people won’t leak information to the far-right Guido Fawkes site because they will be quoted verbatim and potentially exposed with zero protection. The sooner Paul Staines and his cabal of other stains disappears into obscurity the better.

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That’s assuming that it was comprehensible in the first place. Running it through Google Translate might actually improve it, or at least make us LOL.

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The Conservative Party: So scummy that we don’t even trust each other.

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All that confirms is that his copy was the one that leaked.

If British MPs are anything like Canadian executives, he probably had several assistants who had delegated access to his emails, in order to handle his schedule, send form replies to messages from constituents, prepare TL;DR versions of long documents he hadn’t time to read, etc.

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Perhaps race a translator through Google infrequently?

ETA:

Clinton’s (Bill) speeches through Babelfish became clear and concise back in the day.

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And now he will send a set of similar but only slightly different memos to his own staff…

It’ll be traps all the way down.

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What interest does a memo saying “Don’t leak memos” have to the readers of Guido Fawkes?

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‘It’s one of those irregular verbs. I give confidential press briefings, you leak, he has been charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act’ - Bernard Wooley

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No, he doesn’t. Not without living there for 5 (?) years. His kids do, though.

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Further, this - extracted from a Guardian article this morning:

Lewer, PPS to the policing minister Kit Malthouse, denied he had leaked the letter when confronted by Conservative whips, but suggested it could have come from a member of his staff.

He told the Politico website: “In nearly 20 years of elected office I have never leaked to the press.”

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