Princess Di -- bugged by the U.S. Secret Service

LONDON — An official British report into the 1997 car crash that killed Princess Diana will say the U.S. Secret Service was bugging her phone on the night of her death, according to the London newspaper the Observer.

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The paper said Stevens would report that the U.S. Secret Service was bugging Diana’s phone without the approval of its British counterpart on the night of her death. [emphasis mine]

This is more than a little bit bizarre. The Secret Service is under the jurisdiction of the Treasury; they are charged with protecting the President and his family, and nabbing counterfeiters.

Did Princess Diana pose a threat to (then) President Bill Clinton, or was her expensive lifestyle funded with fake $20’s run-off a press in the basement of Buckingham Palace? Neither has a plausible sound. Nor does it sound believable that her companion, Saudi jillionaire Dodi Fayed, posed any threat to the president or American currency.

This would have the sound of comical prurience on the part of bureaucrats with too much time on their hands and too little supervision if, at the very same time, the September 11th planning hadn’t been underway right under Uncle Sam’s nose.

It’s not unusual for the intelligence services of friendly countries to undertake chores for each other that, for one reason or another, the other can’t. The CIA is forbidden to spy on American citizens within the United States, for instance; the British might do the spying for the CIA, then, and give the CIA whatever it learns &#0151 and vice versa. The United States might do some spying in England that a British intelligence agency is forbidden to undertake, that is, and then turn over the results. But according to the news story, this was an American solo act; the British didn’t know about the spying and, presumably, weren’t being given whatever intelligence the spying produced.

We have to be realistic about the fact that we live in a dangerous world, and that governments are sometimes obliged to be … expedient. But expediencies tend swiftly to become the norm, degrading the safeguards of law. A thorough airing is in order.

Bob Felton