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.
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.”
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):
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.
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.
To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius