Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mission Creep: The War On Terror Leakers

     So...didja hear what our buddies the Brits did the other day?  They nabbed 'em a suspicious terrorist changing planes at Heathrow and held onto him, interrogating him for the maximum time their law allows.

     ...Except the "suspicious terrorist" was Glenn Greenwald's boyfriend, David Miranda, and what he was suspected of appears to be the dire crime of being a known associate of the crusading* journalist who was Edward Snowden's primary contact in leaking details of the vast UK/US surveillance of their own -- and each other's -- citizens.

     There's a shiny lining to every cloud and in this case, it must be reassuring to those who think a vast homosexual conspiracy has grabbed the reins of power: GCHQ (and thus presumably NSA) aren't afraid of 'em, not even a little tiny bit.

     For the rest of us, it's a reminder of the the continued covert growth and waxing strength of shadowy intel agencies.  Sure, nobody hurt Mr. Miranda and when time ran out, they set him (though not his telephone or laptop computer) as free as a bird.  But the trend is clear and by the time they've worked themselves up to a kinder, gentler Room 101, they'll be working their way down from lovers and friends of journalists who help leak embarrassing secrets to slobs like you and me, who merely look askance at abuses of power.

     You may not like Mr. Greenwald or approve of his politics and/or personal life; you may see Snowden as traitorous or shallow.  But along with secret stuff from the real (or at least earnest) fight against Bad Guys who try to do Bad Things, they've hauled into the light a mass of festering rot that, unchecked, will do more real damage to Western Civilization than any bunch of goatherds-turned-bombers could ever dream of.

     H/t to Claire Wolfe, who has a keen eye for such abuses.  I hope she's right when she sunnily opines, "...freedom ultimately wins. Because power is DUMB."  Dumb it may be, but it's certainly quite powerful, and on the subject of power, one of history's more bloodily successful autocrats observed, "Quantity has a quality all its own."
* I use the mostly-neutral term advisedly; as Newsweek put it, "His independent persuasion can make him a danger or an asset to both sides of the aisle."


Bubblehead Les. said...

Don't worry. Unless you are part of the 75% of the Internet that the NSA ALREADY has access to, you should be fine. See the Wall Street Journal for details.

Cincinnatus said...

One thing, if you read closely the articles in the Guardian, Rick Ellensberg ... err, Thomas Ellers ... err Glenn Greenwald's BF actually was carrying documents relating to Snowden / NSA / GCHQ between Greenwald and another person.

Drang said...

@Robin: And...?

Stretch said...

Miranda? SRSLY?
The Universe sure has a wicked sense of humor.

Roberta X said...

Yep, Miranda. I'm not sure if a furriner detained under the terrorism act in the UK actually has the right to remain silent but it appears he didn't have the right have an attorney present.

Robin: was he, really, at that time -- and if so, why no mention of those documents be taken from him? Why wasn't he arrested and deported for spying?

Cincinnatus said...

Roberta, the Guardian paid for Miranda's air travel. He was going between Greenwald and a Laura Poitras in Berlin working with Greenwald on Snowden /NSA stories. Greenwald stated in his own comments about the incident that Miranda was couriering information between Berlin and Brazil for Greenwald.

And Greenwald and Miranda filed for a court order preventing the UK government from analysing the data they pulled off of Miranda.

One can argue about whether or not the UK should have detained Miranda, but it isn't the case that Miranda was detained only to harass Greenwald as his partner. Miranda was couriering for Greenwald. The Guardian stories specifically confirm this. The repetition by Greenwald that Miranda obviously wasn't involved in terrorism is a sort of distraction.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

One article I read yesterday (unfortunately I can't remember where, now) indicated that he was carrying encrypted files he admitted came from Snowden. That same article then pointed out that, even ignoring the espionage/terrorism/etc. aspects, if true he was at least (probably) carrying stolen goods.