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Naked Tyranny: UK Gov’t defends detention David Miranda, as Guardian caves into threats

Grilled and threatened: Glenn Greenwald with partner David Miranda at London’s Heathrow airport on Sunday.

21st Century Wire says…

Predictably, there is plenty of public outrage in response to this latest installment of the Ed Snowden/NSA affair…

Aside from detaining and threatening David Miranda, who appeared to be acting a courier in conjunction with the Guardian’s NSA/GCHQ investigation, Greenwald’s partner revealed yesterday that he was “forced to give passwords” to computers, email and social media accounts to his interrogators who threatened him with prison if he did not comply.

Beyond the obvious narrative here of the U.S. and Britain officially declaring war not only on whistleblowers, but on journalism and journalists – there lies another development waiting in the wings of this Hegelian saga. We only have to wait and see how the government media complex talking points manifest in the wake of this crisis. More sweeping powers in the name of national security, or more regulation of the press? More Leveson rules? Take your pick, but we know how this will end.

To date, the UK government has seized on every major event and crisis in order tighten its grip on liberties and privacy – not loosen it. Sadly for the electorate, the state has moved too far down the road of tyranny and cannot find its way back.

The keys to the basement: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger (IMAGE from RT.com).

It’s interesting to note also that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has publicly hit back at the government for its horrendous totalitarian behaviour, and also claims that the paper has suffered a sustained campaign of intimidation and harassment by Downing Street and other agencies, only to eventually cave in after a “threat of a lawsuit” from the government, finally allowing agency thugs and GCHQ operatives into the Guardian’s basement to destroy hard drives and other evidence in this investigation. By the way, what is GCHQ doing in the building? Is that their new role also?

Say what you like about the all too predictable over-the-top, Stalin-like practices of the British government agencies, but if the Guardian knowingly allowed government spooks into their building knowing full well what was going to happen, then the paper has, at the very least, played its own role in the premeditated, willful destruction of important public evidence in an ongoing investigation.

The liberal intelligensia at the Guardian have failed to gauge the public mood on this issue, and ignore the underlying reality of this issue, namely: the paper’s readers, and the public at large, do expect more backbone from such an established and powerful media organisation like Guardian, than to see it crumble over threats of a court case from a secretive-obsessed, oligarchical government behemoth… who doesn’t actually have a legal leg to stand on, and yet, appears to have everything to hide from its public.

In this respect, the Guardian took it upon itself to interpret what “freedom of the press” really means, and in the process, they failed the public.

Why did the Guardian not simply act in the public’s interest and hold its ground, considering the historical precedent which is at stake? Maybe it wasn’t the lawsuit, but rather something else which prompted Mr. Rusbridger to cave in. Maybe the government threatened to pull millions in public sector employment and other jobsworth advertising from the paper? Hmm. Good question.

I guess money talks in the end, and to hell with morals and principles.

Surprisingly, the Washington Post has penned an excellent synopsis of the events transpiring so far in this constitutional and civil meltdown in Britain…

Max Ehrenfreund
Washington Post

The United Kingdom responded to criticism today of its detention of David Miranda for nine hours at Heathrow Airport over the weekend.

Miranda is the partner of Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who has written about Edward Snowden and U.S. surveillance programs. Miranda has begun legal action against the government, claiming it had no authority to detain him:

Police used a contentious anti-terrorism law to detain Miranda, the civil partner of Guardian newspaper journalist Glenn Greenwald, on Sunday. Greenwald has published stories about U.S. and British surveillance programs based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Miranda was held for nearly nine hours — the maximum allowed by law — and had electronic equipment confiscated.

Miranda, a 28-year-old university student, was traveling home to Brazil after visiting Germany, where he met with Laura Poitras, a U.S. filmmaker who has worked with Greenwald on the NSA stories. Greenwald said Miranda was carrying materials between the two, but didn’t specify what they were.

“The government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security,” the Home Office said in a statement.

“If the police believe that an individual is in possession of highly sensitive stolen information that would help terrorism, then they should act and the law provides them with a framework to do that,” it said.

“Those who oppose this sort of action need to think about what they are condoning.” (. . .)

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger characterized the detention of Miranda as part of a campaign of official intimidation against the newspaper since it began publishing stories based on Snowden’s leaks in June. The articles revealed details of surveillance of electronic communications carried out by U.S. and British spies.Associated Press

For more on what Snowden’s documents reveal, watch the discussion with Washington Post contributor Barton Gellman below.

The White House has claimed that U.K. agents decided to detain Miranda on their own initiative:

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that U.S. officials had received a “heads-up” that London police would detain David Miranda on Sunday, but he said the U.S. government did not request Miranda’s detention, calling it “a law enforcement action” taken by the British government.

“This was a decision that was made by the British government without the involvement and not at the request of the United States government. It’s as simple as that,” Earnest said.Billy Kenber and Karla Adam

In a column, Rusbridger claimed that what he called a campaign of intimidation also involved British intelligence officials destroying some of the Guardian’s hard drives:

He said the hard drives were torn apart in the basement of the Guardian’s north London office with “two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction … just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.”

It was not clear exactly when the incident occurred. Rusbridger gave a vague timeline, suggesting that it happened within the past month or so. Guardian spokesman Gennady Kolker declined to comment further, and messages left with GCHQ after working hours were not immediately returned. An operator at the intelligence agency’s switchboard said no one was available until Tuesday.

Rusbridger said the destruction was the culmination of weeks of pressure on the Guardian by British officials.

Shortly after his paper began publishing reports based on Snowden’s leaks, he said he was contacted by “a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister” who demanded the return or destruction of Snowden’s material. There followed a series of increasingly tough meetings in which officials demanded the Guardian comply. Eventually, he said, officials threatened legal action, and that’s when the editor allowed British agents into his basement.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron declined comment. Associated Press

The Switch’s Andrea Peterson warns against interpreting the story as a conflict between Greenwald and the United Kingdom, citing media reports that “implied that Greenwald would be publishing more documents in response to the government’s decision to detain his partner.” Peterson writes:

Greenwald’s point seems to have been that he was determined not to be scared off by intimidation. Greenwald and the Guardian have already been publishing documents outlining surveillance programs in Britain, and Greenwald has long declared his intention to continue publishing documents. By doing so, Greenwald isn’t taking “vengeance.” He’s just doing his job.Andrea Peterson

For more on the National Security Agency and U.S. surveillance, continue reading here.

READ MORE MEDIA SCANDALS AT: 21st Century Wire Media Cog Files



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