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Laptop and documents are seized from reporter

White House spokesman Josh Earnest greeted the news of UK police detaining a loved one of the main reporter involved in the publication of U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spying secrets -- with little surprise.  He comments, "There was a heads up that was provided by the British government."

I. The Gloved Fist Strikes Back

While the U.S. did not order the detention, it would nonetheless please some Democrats and Republicans, such as House Republican Rep. Peter King (R-New York) who have been vocally demanding that the international authorities prosecute the journalists at The Washington Post and The Guardian who were involved in the leaks, opening investigations against them and their families.  Rep. King stated:

Actually, if [a reporter/reporters] willingly knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude.  I know that the whole issue of leaks has been gone into over the last month. I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation, both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security.

Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian has primarily documented the NSA leaks.  But it was not Mr. Greenwald who spent nearly 9 hours in police custody at London's Heathrow airport, but rather his partner, whom he lives with.

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda
Glenn Greenwald (left) and David Miranda [Image Source: Reuters]

David Miranda, 28-year old Brazil native, was harassed by seven agents who denied him his request to speak with a lawyer.  Under coercion he was forced to surrender password to his laptop and mobile phone.  He recalls, "They were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn't co-operate.  They treated me like I was a criminal or someone about to attack the UK … It was exhausting and frustrating, but I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong."

Authorities seized his laptop, phone, DVDs, USB sticks, and other materials -- even a game console -- claiming he was part of a Terror Act investigation.  Much like America's USA PATRIOT (Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism) Act, England's 2000 Terrorism Act offers the nation's police oft abused Orwellian privileges.  Mr. Miranda was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act; the agents involved refused to give their names, only giving their ID numbers.

The maximum police can hold a person in England under the Terror Act is 9 hours -- after that you have to either arrest the person or release them.  After a grueling 8+ hours, Mr. Miranda was finally released.

According to recent statistics only 3 out of 10,000 people are detained this way and only 1 out of 2,000 detainees is kept for more than an hour.  Thus Mr. Miranda's detention appears to be a 3 in 20 million occurrence -- a most extraordinary harassment measure.

II. Glenn Greenwald Vows to Leak Even More Secrets

The move appears to have backfired, though.  

Numerous politicians in Britain and Mr. Miranda's home nation of Brazil were voicing sentiments ranging from unhappiness to outright rage over the detention.  And Mr. Greenwald released a statement saying the harassment compels him to leak even bigger secrets on the U.S. and British surveillance programs that he allegedly holds.

UK police
The thuggish treatment of Mr. Miranda has prompted a backlash against the UK's secret police.
[Image Source: Reuters]

"This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process," Greenwald said. "To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.

"But the last thing it will do is intimidate or deter us in any way from doing our job as journalists. Quite the contrary: it will only embolden us more to continue to report aggressively."

In a separate statement to reporters he added:

I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now. I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England's spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did.

Back in the U.S., it's unclear if reporters publishing stories on Mr. Snowden will face similar persecution.  The Obama administration has charged more than twice as many whistleblowers with Espionage Act (18 U.S.C. § 792) offenses as all the previous administrations before him (since the Act was passed in 1917) combined, according to The Guardian.  It has also spearheaded secret programs to monitor dozens of Associated Press phone lines and spy on a Fox News journalist, allegedly in order to investigate "leaks".  The administration has thus far stopped short of indulging the noisy cries of Rep. King and his anti-free media cohorts, but given past behavior it would not be surprising to see similar harassment occur here in the states at some point.

Perhaps Mr. Snowden wasn't using hyperbole when he suggested that he feared for his family.  After, all, it appears that Mr. Greenwald's loved ones are seeing just the kind of harassment Mr. Snowden feared.

Sources: Reuters, The Guardian [1], [2]

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article combinatorics
By Yojimbo on 8/20/2013 8:51:33 AM , Rating: 2
"According to recent statistics only 3 out of 10,000 people are detained this way and only 1 out of 2,000 detainees is kept for more than an hour. Thus Mr. Miranda's detention appears to be a 3 in 20 million occurrence -- a most extraordinary harassment measure."

Who are the group of people from which it is decided that they were "detained this way" or not? Because if I am understanding the statement correctly, there are at least 20 million of them. Unless it was really, for instance, 1 out of 3,300 people and they, for whatever reason, decided to round it and write it as 3 in 10,000. Even in such a case, there must be at least ~6 million people.

RE: article combinatorics
By JasonMick on 8/20/2013 9:24:23 AM , Rating: 2
Only 2,000 were detained.

20 million is the # of UK fliers (which sounds a reasonable number to me)

the 3 in 20 million is the # of fliers detained for this length of time -- hence showing how unusual this occurrence was.

The statistics come the Guardian, as listed in the source section.

RE: article combinatorics
By Master Kenobi on 8/20/13, Rating: -1
RE: article combinatorics
By 440sixpack on 8/20/13, Rating: -1
RE: article combinatorics
By tng on 8/20/2013 1:56:22 PM , Rating: 3
government should be completely open and not do naughty things like espionage
Yeah, there are allot of people out there that think that way. It is the "Why can't we all just get along?" crowd and they have never been exposed to just how nasty human nature can be.

The problem I see here is not that they are spying, it is who they are spying on and for what purpose. It seems that there are people in our government that have come to the belief that everybody is a potential "enemy" and the term enemy is something they can define according to what they need.

RE: article combinatorics
By PitViper007 on 8/20/2013 4:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree with you if this had been the detention of the reporter to whom the classified documents were given to, and who subsequently leaked them, but it wasn't. It was a man that he lives with. How was detaining Mr. Miranda justifiable? Simply because he lives in the same house and has a relationship with him? Please.

RE: article combinatorics
By TSS on 8/20/2013 6:35:16 PM , Rating: 1
Oh it's sensationalism you're looking for? I got just the article hold on.

Ah, found it:

So, do tell. When exactly is something sensationalist? Because i don't think you can tell the difference between sensationalist and truth anymore.

RE: article combinatorics
By Master Kenobi on 8/20/2013 7:47:58 PM , Rating: 2
That is quite the article. Sensationalist for sure, how much of that is actually truth, who knows?

I still don't buy into the "sparking debates" line. It seems a convenient excuse now that everything has been blown open, but I doubt that was the original goal. As with Snowden, I think it was purely for their 15 minutes of fame, or in this case, infamy. None of this will change anything though. These programs are put into place by people elected to office, and allowed to continue by the people we elect into office. Most of the government backs the programs for one reason or another, it isn't going to stop because a bunch of people are angry about it. Obama took office and in theory would have stopped such programs, but I would guess that his security briefing on these projects must have shown there was a huge benefit to keeping them going. Thus, he kept them going, maybe even expanded them.

I find it amusing for joe sixpack to complain about such programs, when those "in the know" seem to be universally supporting them on both sides of the aisle. Clearly they work well at doing something that the government is overwhelmingly in favor of.

RE: article combinatorics
By ritualm on 8/21/2013 5:52:46 PM , Rating: 2
Not only would you refuse to believe the government is actively spying on you, you are also extremely quick in calling unbelievers as heretics. Meanwhile, you're only too happy rubberstamping the steps to the wrong direction.

Both the US and UK are rapidly turning into an illegal clone of North Korea, the US Constitution is next to worthless, and you're willing to give up all of your privacy in return for zero security. The state of Kim Jong-un is looking mighty peaceful right now. You should immigrate to that sunshine state quick.

RE: article combinatorics
By Spookster on 8/20/2013 7:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
Whoever runs DT really should consider removing Jason Mick from posting blogs. All he does is post conspiracy theory posts anymore. He's ruined DT at this point.

RE: article combinatorics
By OoklaTheMok on 8/20/2013 9:40:23 PM , Rating: 1
Well apparently Mick has taped into the Alex Jones demographic of DT readers.

Reading one comment where Obama should be impeached over this is just retarded. Bush authorized torture, and warrantless wiretapping, and not a damn thing happened to him. So to make such a stupid suggestion, when the perceived transgression doesn't even come close to the former, is just batshit crazy and takes a legitimate conversation into loony town.

RE: article combinatorics
By ritualm on 8/21/2013 5:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
Spend a year living in North Korea and its always-omnipresent police state. Then come back and tell us if this is the kind of freedom you want for USA and UK.

RE: article combinatorics
By Integral9 on 8/21/2013 10:25:01 AM , Rating: 1
Back when the internet was coming around, in the 80's and early 90's, did you ever see people use their real names or any sort of identifiable information? No. There was good reason for that, everyone knew privacy was non-existent and that enough information would allow people to piece together who they are, what they do, and where they live. It's only the mainstream users that started in the late 90's and 2000's that had this false belief in privacy on the internet. Maybe this will be an eye opener for them that there are limits to privacy when out in the public space. The only real tragedy in all of this is that it has shown how incredibly naïve the general public is about the world.

Well said.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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