US official: Greenwald’s domestic partner detained to send him, Guardian a message

Programming note: I’ll be speaking with Arnie Arnesen on The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen at 12:30 pm ET today (Aug 22) about Glenn Greenwald and all the fun the State has been having with him. To listen live, go here. The archive of program MP3′s is here.
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By now (I hope) you know that Glenn Greenwald’s domestic partner, David Miranda, while flying from Berlin to their home in Rio de Janiero via London, was detained at Heathrow Airport under a terrorism statute, questioned for 9 hours (the legal limit) and then released.

The questions were entirely about Greenwald, Snowden, Laura Poitras (who is working the Snowden story with Greenwald), and … unrest in Brazil. Nothing about “terrorism.”

Now we find that the speculation of targetted harrassment is accurate. And more. Here’s the relevant quote from a report in Reuters (h/t Greenwald; emphasis his):

One US security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government’s detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks.

While we have not yet commented on it, part of that message-sending clearly includes the forced (and meaningless) destruction of Guardian newspaper hard drives under pressure from — and under the present wachful eye of — British security forces (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on Monday night disclosed the remarkable news that UK authorities, several weeks ago, threatened the Guardian UK with prior restraint if they did not destroy all of their materials provided by Edward Snowden, and then sent agents to the basement of the paper’s offices to oversee the physical destruction of hard drives.

The Guardian has more details on that episode today, and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes interviewed the Guardian’s editor-in-chief about it last night. As Rusbridger explains, this behavior was as inane as it was thuggish: since this is 2013, not 1958, destroying one set of a newspaper’s documents doesn’t destroy them all, and since the Guardian has multiple people around the world with copies, they achieved nothing but making themselves look incompetently oppressive.

If you read through to Guardian editor Rusbridger’s own account, you’ll see that he told them upfront there were other copies, and they demanded the destruction anyway.

Sending a message — “We going to act like thugs.” Message sent.

A few things to note:

1. The source of the Reuters quote is a “‘US security official,” not named but on the record. In other words, the quote is an admission, not a speculation about motive. In other other words, our own speculations were correct.

2. The quote was published August 19, and I’ve yet to see a retraction. (If any of you find a retraction, please post it in the comments. Thanks.)

3. The speaker is a U.S. security official, not a U.K. security official. Does this not imply a team effort? The official didn’t say the Brits were sending a message; the implication is that we’re sending a message. Yes, he says the “British government” is serious about shutting down the leaks. But this isn’t about British leaks, is it. Showden is leaking NSA information. So, to translate:

The British government is serious about shutting down Americans who leak American information, says an American government spokesman.

And there’s no coordination? Common sense, of course, says that this was always a joint op, but this just adds to the confirmation, as does Rachel Maddow’s closing comment in the video below.

I have to give Glenn Greenwald some space. He sums up this “message sending” this way (again, my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

But here’s the most important point: the US and the UK governments go around the world threatening people all the time. It’s their modus operandi. They imprison whistleblowers. They try to criminalize journalism. They threatened the Guardian with prior restraint and then forced the paper to physically smash their hard drives in a basement.

They detained my partner under a terrorism law, repeatedly threatened to arrest him, and forced him to give them his passwords to all sorts of invasive personal information – behavior that even one of the authors of that terrorism law says is illegal, which the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said yesterday is just “the latest example in a disturbing record of official harassment of the Guardian over its coverage of the Snowden leaks”, and which Human Rights Watch says was “intended to intimidate Greenwald and other journalists who report on surveillance abuses.”

And that’s just their recent behavior with regard to press freedoms: it’s to say nothing of all the invasions, bombings, renderings, torture and secrecy abuses for which that bullying, vengeful duo is responsible over the last decade.

But the minute anyone refuses to meekly submit to that, or stands up to it, hordes of authoritarians – led by state-loyal journalists – immediately start objecting …

I think it’s becoming clear that despite what Maddow says below, to be a “terrorist” simply means to oppose the global security state. Period. This is clearly their working definition, and knowing this is all you need to know to make sense of their behavior.

I’ll have a definition of that “state” — who is a functional part of it, who does it encompass and who does it serve — in a later piece.

For now, a teaser — Why is NYPD  “stop and frisk” lover and police chief Ray Kelly high on the list to head the Dept. of Homeland Security? It’s the State hiring from within.

Rachel Maddow sums it up

The Maddow show had an excellent explainer and summarizer on this affair. Please listen, and note her conclusion.

Did you notice (2:10 in the clip) that once the world’s airports stopped harassing Poitras, they all stopped harassing her, all at the same time? The global security state. Yes, they act as one.

Laura Poitras, with whom the clip opens, is an under-appreciated character in this story. More on her here, in a good profile.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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  • Kelvin Nyota

    The fact remains in this day and age it is not a bad idea to send a message. That is being obsolete, and research shows nothing bad can come out of it.

  • Progressives are useless OCD whackjobs for the most part.

  • HelenRainier

    My understanding is the Miranda has already filed a lawsuit against the British government. His attorney (I believe in Britain) has already sent a nearly 20 page letter to the UK government agency involved with this. I didn’t read the entire letter but it was linked to in The Guardian if memory serves correctly.

  • BloggerDave

    Wrong. It’s not to intimidate; it’s to find evidence on Greenwald and charge him with crimes… He knows that.

  • K_L_Carten

    I totally agree, that is why I am wondering why the tactics, if we go by past administrations, such as Nixon, there has to be some damaging info still not released. Why go after Greenwald and his spouse like they have, there has to be more than just intimation tactics. After a point, and it looks like the govt. over played their hand, that the public becomes MORE interested because the public loves a good underdog story. If there is more, and once released, the govt is going to look much worse than they already do. Now if it’s just heavy handed tactics, most people get pissed because the abuse of power always pisses people off, especially when it is unconstitutional. So, eventually, we will have the republicans scream for Obama’s impeachment, they scream for petty bs, I am sure that
    they scream for this, and I for one won’t be yelling against it. Of course, it won’t come to that because Bush and Cheney started this and we all know the republicans will never throw those to evil war criminals under the bus.

  • There is not one shred of evidence that the ‘leaked’ information has cause any damage what so ever or even compromised national security. In fact the NSA and CIA are so incompetent they don’t know exactly what was leaked—the same for Snowden.

  • Yep, she is a deluxe media tool. MSNBC’s new corporate masters have pretty much dumped the old lefties, bought off Maddow and now, are sending the addled Chris Mathews to the elephant’s graveyard.

  • Same here!

  • ezpz

    One little segment on “journalism is not terrorism” is just her way of maintaining credibility, given that her audience is pretty well aware of what’s happening in that department. Had she said nothing, the audience would become suspicious.

    Exactly! She could not ignore it without raising an eyebrow or two.

    I’m surprised that real liberals still watch, let alone respect her. I try, but have to change the channel after a minute. Two at the most.

    I did tune in when the news broke that Obama would appoint Clapper to convene the NSA review board, thinking surely she would cover it. Not a peep about it. Nope. Instead and as usual, she droned on and on about the big, bad republicans and how everything is their fault.

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/13-8

  • Ford Prefect

    In contrast, consider the bullshit piece on Syrian “chemical weapons” attack the other night. She kept repeating that none of what she was presenting was verified in any way at all. They just kept showing video along with her caveats. Pure propaganda.

    What she was trying to do was pre-empt the UN investigators who had just arrived in Damascus. They know the report will not support the WH’s assertions, so they just flood the airwaves with phony “evidence that admittedly may not be evidence at all,” to leave an indelible impression. So, no chemical weapons experts to parse what she was presenting, because that would have invalidated the entire piece. Pretty shabby. I laughed at it and then changed the channel.

    One little segment on “journalism is not terrorism” is just her way of maintaining credibility, given that her audience is pretty well aware of what’s happening in that department. Had she said nothing, the audience would become suspicious.

  • ezpz

    *Sigh* I can relate, especially because I was not born in the USofA.
    Even if I could afford to leave, the options are few. Plus, my family is well situated in the states, and I would miss them too much.

  • ezpz

    MSNBC has silenced her.

    Not without her consent. She could have taken a principled stance like others before her.

  • A note: David refers to Glen as his husband. All in for impeachment! Sit back and wait for the Obozobots to swarm.

  • I wouldn’t count on Maddow, she is one of America’s most talented and out gay media icons…..and is keeping silent. MSNBC has silenced her.

  • Thanks, done – someone emailed me, you might want to email me when you see stuff like this.

  • nicho

    Imagine if President Nixon had tried to shut down Washington Post and threatened to arrest reporters spilling beans on him.

    Actually, they did threaten newspapers who were publishing or going to publish the Pentagon Papers. The went so far as to get a court injunction to prevent publication.

  • nicho

    This is SPAM. Don’t follow link. Basically what the bot did was copy and paste my earlier comment — and then add a link to a sex site.

  • Apparently what is leaked doesn’t have to be damaging; just embarrassing to the people who were trying to keep the secrets.

  • K_L_Carten

    Is the information that hasn’t been released that damaging? Of course if you been paying attention since they rammed this crap through, it’s not! Not much on stopping terrorism but a great boon for law enforcement in money and erasing civil liberties. I am wondering is the heavy handed tactics a way to suppress any new whistle blowers or is there much more we really DON’T know and the govt is really worried that if this does come out how much money will be lost personally, and careers destroyed, as well as they should, but there are always more corrupted grubbers to take their place.

  • MyrddinWilt

    If people want to stop terrorists then ban the guns first, then we can talk. The idea that we have to give up civil liberties in the name of stopping terrorism but the gun wankers can keep their sex toys is bogus.

    The US is not serious about stopping terrorism. Its about control.

  • Ford Prefect

    It’s funny what passes for messaging these days. It’s so bad now, that even Rachel Maddow must sit up and take notice. Now that spouses are “fair game,” one must wonder where they’ll stop and say, “Okay, that’s a bit too far.”

    “We’re sending a message.” Yes, indeed they are. How odd they prefer the messages more traditionally communicated by jack-booted thugs, the semi-literate cognoscenti of another era’s great messagers.

  • JayRandal

    Imagine if President Nixon had tried to shut down Washington Post and threatened to arrest reporters spilling beans on him. President Obama has become worse than Nixon now. He is killing whomever he wants by drones and arresting whistle-blowers. Trying to shut down Guardian newspaper and threats
    to arrest Greenwald and his sexual partner too. Hello fellow Americans it’s time to call for impeachment
    of Obama in House and conviction removal from office by Senate. Forget about Obama hiding behind
    being Black. He acts worse than corrupted White Nixon.

  • Manuel Rodriguez

    Words no longer mean anything. Just as “enemy combatant” means anyone
    Obama and his co-conspirators decide to murder with a drone, “terrorist”
    means anyone the fascists want to terrorize. War is peace
    http;//girlsfr.com/

  • Mark_in_MN

    The war in Iraq had nothing to do with intelligence we had. Better intelligence would t have mattered. It wasn’t spurred by such information. Bad and cherry picked intelligence was certainly used to sell the war, but certainly wasn’t the cause thereof.that war happened for ideological and political purposes, not reaction to information we gathered.

    “Intelligence” is certainly useful when engaging in battle and strategy during war, but I don’t think it is as nearly as important as the “intelligence” apparatus tries to make it out when we are not at war, and I’m not sure how useful it really is for a fight against terrorist activity, especially when it isn’t a very specific and targeted investigation to a particular matter. It’s simply too diffuse. The information that can be helpful in that and most government activity is the variety that can be gathered by conventional research woot covert activity and the super-secret world of NSA, CIA, and other parts of that alphabet soup.

    And, Franky, I’m not really concerned about North Korea.

  • And, as I noted above, ‘treason’ is now also whatever top government officials say it is, and a public accusation of such is sufficient proof of guilt for punitive measures, possibly even the most extreme sanction of all, extrajudicial execution.

  • The part I find especially dismaying is how quickly how many on the progressive left embrace the always expanding definition of ‘terrorism’.

    Now, apparently simply having information in your possession that any top-tier government doesn’t want you to have — no matter your nationality, and no matter where you are in the world — is defined as a terrorist activity, quite possibly treason.

  • Bruce

    Laura, Glenn, Ed, I my opinion you are all hero’s

  • Bruce

    I hate to admit it, but I think you are 100% right

  • cole3244

    same here, i always wondered if i lacked the courage to move in the hopes of more freedom, now that choice has been taken away from me.

  • Hue-Man

    To state the obvious, everyone – US, UK, etc. – knew that Miranda was flying through Heathrow as soon as he made the reservation and thus had time to co-ordinate their abuse.

  • Guest

    Oops I started typing and decide to take that part out but didn’t delete it. It was supposed to say:

    Well then maybe that U.S. Security official should be detained to “send a message” that the first amendment will NOT be violated by lawless government employees or politicians.

  • Guest

    Well then maybe the name of that U.S. Security official should be detained to “send a message” that the first amendment will NOT be violated by lawless government employees.

  • nicho

    I’ve always had the fantasy of emigrating if things got too bad here. Now, there’s nowhere to go. I’ve watched my “escape routes” fall one by one. This is a world-wide assault against the 99 percent. Make no mistake about it. This is World War 3.

  • DrDignity

    “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis

  • MichaelS

    Actually, I can’t entirely agree with that. While I don’t endorse the police state, at the same time I also think it would be naive to argue that we don’t need intelligence activities in today’s world. In fact, one could argue that the better (meaning more accurate) the intelligence, the better we can avoid armed conflict — think back to Iraq…it’s indisputable we could have avoided that war if the intelligence hadn’t been cherry-picked and cooked up. And releasing these documents won’t only reveal the extent of our NSA activities… it will also reveal sources of very valuable information on our enemies – and immediately dry up those sources forever. I, for one, really would want to know if North Korea for example, is trying to smuggle nuclear material across our borders, or our allies.

  • Mark_in_MN

    They shouldn’t worry. We’re all fine. They’ll be fine too, even if every scrap of information Snowden has is revealed on the front pages of every newspaper in the world. What the US and British governments may be doing seems to be anything but fine, but it’s not going to really endanger either country if it all comes out and the doors of secrecy are thrown open.

  • cole3244

    it used to be that if you were trapped in a fascist state you had a chance for freedom assuming you could extricate yourself from that states borders.

    now if things keep going along the path the world is on there will be few if any nations one can go to avoid the fascist monster most nations have become or are on the way to becoming.

  • nicho
  • MichaelS

    Not to defend the UK’s actions here, but I also suspect Britain is just as worried as the US about what’s in the secret data… So while of course they work together with the US, they’re also acting in their own self-interest in trying to keep their own secrets locked down.

  • nicho

    Words no longer mean anything. Just as “enemy combatant” means anyone Obama and his co-conspirators decide to murder with a drone, “terrorist” means anyone the fascists want to terrorize. War is peace. Up is down.

  • fritzrth

    9-11, 9/11, 9_11, September 11, 2001 — however you want to write it. It was nowhere near the beginning of this kind of atrocity, but it is the current excuse.

  • I was on the fence about Snowden. The illegal arrest and detainment of Mr Miranda has convinced me that Snowden was just revealing how far out of bounds our government has gone. Harassment of the romantic partners of journalists is the act of a tyrannical government.

  • Isn’t that false arrest? Abuse of power? I think this idiot just handed Miranda the proof he needed for his lawsuit.

  • nicho

    That was the intent of the laws to begin with. They were never about terrorism. Terrorism was just the excuse. It was all about the fascists’ war on the rest of us.

  • Indigo

    Well, now. Given the redefinition of journalists as terrorists, can bloggers be left far behind? Uh-oh! I used the ‘left.’

  • rerutled

    Oh my God. They really are using anti-terrorism laws to intimidate and disrupt the activities of journalists.

  • voltronforce

    I hope Snowden gives them more info or they have backup copies. This new surveillance state needs to be taken down.

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