This article comes from Nation of Change on 20 August 2013 and is a further example of the way the United States of America is showing its tendency to become the police state of the western world.
It is becoming perfectly clear that the outrageous detention of American
journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda by British police
during a flight transfer at London’s
was, behind the scenes, the work of US intelligence authorities.
Greenwald Partner inLondon Clearly Came on U.S. Orders
Detention of Greenwald Partner inLondon Clearly Came on U.S. Orders
British police and the British Home Office (the equivalent of America’s Department of Homeland Security) are claiming that the action was taken by them on the basis of an anti-terrorist statute, passed in 2000, with the Orwellian name “Schedule 7.” The give-away that this was not something that the British dreamed up on their own, however, is their admission that they had “notified Washington” of their intention to detain Miranda, a Brazilian national, before the detention actually occurred.
Note that they did not notify Brazilian authorities. It was the Americans who got the call. Why would British police notify American authorities about the detention of a Brazilian citizen except to ask what US authorities wanted done ? Clearly, Miranda was on one of America’s “watch lists” and the British police called because they needed instructions from their superiors in the US regarding whether to detain him and what to do with him once they had him. (The ironically named new White House press secretary, Josh Ernest, denied any involvedment by the US in the detention of Miranda, saying, "This is a decision that was made by the British government without the involvement - and not at the request - of the United States government. It is as simple as that." He was not pressed on the matter by the assembled members of the White House press corps--a group that is not known for its aggressiveness even when its own interests are at stake.
No doubt Miranda was placed on such a watch list by the US because of his relationship with Greenwald. No journalist himself, Miranda had just met in Germany with journalist/filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has been working in collaboration with Greenwald on the Snowden documents exposé. According to the Guardian, which was paying his airfare, he was bringing back to Rio de Janeiro some materials in her position for Greenwald’s use in writing further articles. (Knowing that the NSA is monitoring their every electronic communication, Poitras and Greenwald understandably preferred to use a trusted courier, rather than sending the records electronically.)
We have entered a very dark period in terms of freedom of the press, not to mention the basic freedom of travel, association and privacy, when people like Miranda are detained in this manner. No one has suggested that Miranda, Poitras or Greenwald has broken any law. They are doing what good journalists in a free society are supposed to do. But the US security state, which has its tentacles now spread through most of the world, with client state secret services, such as the police in Britain, doing its bidding, isn’t going after “criminals” or “terrorists.” Like tyrants everywhere, it is engaging in repression, pure and simple.
“Terrorism” laws are now being overtly used to repress basic freedoms without the state even bothering to pretend that the police actions taken have anything to do with combating “terror.” The only terrorism at this point is the actions of the state. The only terrorists are government authorities.
What started out as malignant universal monitoring by the NSA of all electronic communications is now metastasizing into arrests of journalists and their assistants at the airport. This will no doubt in no time metastasize further to night-time SWAT raids on journalists’ homes and offices. We’ve already seen such things being visited upon political activists, so the new development should not come as much of a surprise.
This latest escalation of the US government’s assault on truth and journalism exposes the puerile sham of President Obama’s claim to want to “reform” the National Security Agency’s spying program and to limit the “Justice” Department’s invasive actions against journalists. The detention of Miranda was an act of war on the whole concept of press freedom.
Absent a public outcry -- and I see none -- it will only get worse.
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Her majesty's thugs target press
Her majesty's thugs target press
It's been an infuriating few days for anyone who values the freedom of the press, as authorities in Britain resorted to the tactics of tyrants and thugs to squelch reporting that they simply don't like. In acts clearly calibrated for optimal intimidation, they have detained the partner of a journalist, threatened to shut down a reporting operation that has prompted a critical public debate over government spying, and forced the destruction of a major publication's computer hard drives.
It's breathtaking in its audacity - and if it comes to light that the US government took any part in these acts, it will warrant immediate congressional investigation.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Photo: Reuters
As it is, accelerating assaults on investigative journalism demand stronger protections for journalists and their sources. Otherwise, Western society will forsake its right to know what happens in the back rooms of a government that purportedly exists to serve democratic interests.
Miranda was returning from Berlin, where he met a filmmaker who worked with Greenwald on stories based on leaks from former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Schedule 7 of the British Terrorism Act grants authorities wide latitude to search and question travellers to ascertain any link to terrorism. But it's clear Miranda's detention had nothing to do with terrorism, since Greenwald reported that those nine hours were spent questioning him about the NSA reporting.
Using laws designed to ferret out suspected terrorists to detain a person aiding acts of journalism is a cut-and-dried abuse of government power, an act of intimidation that may well be illegal - and certainly should be. It gives the lie to the naive but oft-repeated notion that if you've done no wrong, you have nothing to fear.
British officials justified their actions by suggesting Miranda was ''in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism''. But many things can be construed as ''helping'' terrorism. Osama bin Laden recommended a Bob Woodward book for its insights into US military decision-making, but that doesn't mean anyone with a copy in his or her carry-on luggage should be dragged off a plane.
The White House acknowledged that it was given a ''heads-up'' about Miranda's detention, but said it occurred ''without the involvement - and not at the request - of the United States government''. An equally shocking set of revelations arrived on Monday, as Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger published a story disclosing that British officials have demanded that the newspaper relinquish or destroy all the material leaked by Snowden. He was warned that if the newspaper refused to do so, the government would force its hand in court.
Rusbridger told authorities that most of the reporting on the NSA stories was already happening out of New York. But his argument was unpersuasive.
''And so one of the more bizarre moments in The Guardian's long history occurred - with two [government intelligence] security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in The Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents,'' Rusbridger said.
The good news: the publication had digital copies of the material outside the country. But the mere fact that a Western democracy raided an independent publication and shattered its property is outrageous, a tilt towards the totalitarianism imagined by George Orwell.
Such attacks on investigative journalism appear to be escalating. Judges have threatened reporters at The New York Times and Fox News with jail time for refusing to disclose their sources. The Obama administration has prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act for leaking classified information than all past presidencies combined.
Veteran investigative reporters say the current climate has cast a chill across the landscape. Once-reliable sources now refuse to step forward for fear of winding up the next Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks leaker.
There's a high price to pay for these policies: we'll know less about what governments, businesses, lobbyists and other institutions are doing behind closed doors. Unless we demand stronger protections for journalists and their sources, we forfeit a victory to idiocy, incompetence, abuse and crime.
James Temple is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.