The Smears of Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian – a primer


Like most people, I fully supported Edward Snowden blowing the whistle on the NSA surveillance programme on Americans. I called for a Presidential pardon for Snowden right here on this blog, and suggested the journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story, should win a Pulitzer prize for it.

Unfortunately, within barely a few days, my naive belief that Snowden was a patriotic whistleblower started to unravel. He fled to Hong Kong and it became apparent that he had targeted his job not just to gain intelligence on the NSA, but to expose American – and British – spy programmes, putting our agents at risk around the world, and aiding some of the world’s most repressive regimes. With the interview Snowden did with the South China Morning Post, he exposed US intel in China. He then dumped his entire stash of files with the anti-American Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who has previously stated ‘so what’ if US intel assets are killed from leaks.

My blog on that was here.

But with all this distressing realisation that Snowden was just a shitty little spy, one who was happy to suck up to the homophobic regime in Russia where he has taken asylum, i kept looking at Glenn Greenwald’s feed – @Ggreenwald  on Twitter – hoping to see some condemnation of the plain and obvious treason committed by his source. Yet there was none.

I put this down to journalistic “Stockholm Syndrome”, that Greenwald was so in love with his story and his source that he had just gone blind and could see no wrong. When Greenwald frenziedly attacked a Wall Street Journal reporter who suggested he, Greenwald, might have aided and abetted Snowden, I supported Greenwald. I honestly did not believe that Greenwald would stoop so low, knowing as he did by then that Snowden was happy to leak US intel operations against repressive regimes.

The Guardian came out with a “story” that GCHQ had spied on Russia at the G8 and it was rightly met with total derision on Twitter, even amongst lefties. #GuardianBond was the hashtag. (They were shocked, shocked that our spies spy! and on Russia, too!)

Well, the sell-out traitor Snowden took asylum with the homophobe Putin, issuing a fawning statement of thanks, and I assumed the story was dead for a while.

Until the “scandal” of David Miranda’s 9 hour detention broke on Twitter. Boy, did it seem pretty bad – the husband of a journalist, nothing to do with this story himself, detained for no good reason for nine solid hours, denied a lawyer, held under the Terrorism Act, purely to intimidate his husband. Wow. I had no idea our security forces at Heathrow were such utter bastards, abusing their power in violation of all professional standards and ethics.

Except…. for that very reason I didn’t quite believe it.

Everybody else believed it though, and fellow UK papers, the AP, the NUJ, all ran the story unquestioningly – by the way, the lot of you, this blind acceptance because a journalist throws an accusation is a violation of your OWN ethics.

Here’s how the story utterly unravelled over the course of the day.

Glenn Greenwald to the New York Times, pretending Miranda was just there as a spouse, and was not himself a journalist:

He is my partner. He is not even a journalist.

This was the first clue. It turned out that the Guardian was paying for David Miranda’s flights and that David Miranda was working on the leaks story, making him a journalist. My direct question to Greenwald – and the Guardian – as to whether the Guardian was paying Miranda for his work on the story went unanswered, though Greenwald instead asked me a question of his own.

Here’s where the Guardian admit they were paying for his flights and he was assisting with the story:

The Guardian paid for Miranda’s flights. Miranda is not an employee of the Guardian. As Greenwald’s partner, he often assists him in his work and the Guardian normally reimburses the expenses of someone aiding a reporter in such circumstances

This showed that Greenwald was lying by saying that Miranda was merely a spouse – he was actively involved in the story with Greenwald.

But hey, no biggie – even if Miranda WAS acting as a journalist himself, you can’t detain someone under the Terrorism Act just for being a journalist. Freedom of the press. And you can’t deny them a lawyer, as Greenwald said the airport police did:

The official – who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654 – said David was not allowed to have a lawyer present, nor would they allow me to talk to him.

Except, giving an interview to the Guardian just before 10pm and after all the UK papers had gone to bed (so they couldn’t report this) David Miranda confirmed he had been offered a lawyer:
He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities.
Right. Now let’s pause for a moment and talk about lies of omission. All day long, both the Guardian newspaper and Glenn Greenberg had known that David Miranda was offered a lawyer by airport security. Yet all day long they had allowed the falsehood to be tweeted and written about that Miranda was detained without being offered a lawyer.
Pretty shocking. Pretty untransparent, that, from self-appointed truth seekers.
I was arguing at this point that Miranda, who was clearly working as a journalist assisting on the story, was obviously suspected of not just reporting, but helping Snowden disseminate his intelligence on UK and US spying programmes, which would clearly be a serious crime. I qualified it by saying Miranda may not have been doing that, but it could be reasonably suspected.
I didn’t know then what we all know now, and what Greenwald and the Guardian knew throughout the day but kept secret.
But the final shoe fell. Glenn Greenwald admitted to the New York Times that David Miranda had been carrying, as a mule, stolen, encrypted thumb drives actually containing intelligence data that Snowden stole from the CIA – and those encrypted drives were confiscated.
Remember, Greenwald knew this all along. He knew his husband was not only a journalist but much more to the point, he was carrying top secret, encrypted drives with stolen intelligence information on them – information not just about the NSA but about UK and US intelligence action against foreign powers. Yet he was so quick to lie and viciously slander our security services, saying they targeted his husband only to intimidate him, Greenwald. He always knew Miranda was transporting top secret encrypted files Snowden stole.
Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.
Note the NYT correctly says “the two journalists” – though at this point they are far beyond that.
As I tweeted away on this bombshell, fellow tweeters denied it was possible, even when again and again I pointed them to the quote. Then they asked “If Miranda was carrying encrypted stolen Snowden data, why wasn’t he arrested and charged? Eh? Eh?”
Well, probably because the thumb drives are encrypted and it would take police more than 9 hours to decode them – by which time they had to release Miranda under the law. The only reason we know for sure that Miranda was smuggling this is because Greenwald admitted it to the Times - once Miranda was safely back on Brazilian soil.
In Brazil now Greenwald was threatening, out of sheer revenge, to expose British intelligence and therefore British agents. He tried to deny these threats later, but unfortunately for him, CNN reported his exact words with the video to prove it:

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the news about secret U.S. surveillance programs, said the authorities who took his partner into custody at London’s Heathrow Airport “are going to regret what they did.”

“I am going to write my stories a lot more aggressively now,” the Guardian reporter told Brazil’s Globo TV on Monday in Rio de Janeiro.

“I am going to publish many more documents now. I am going to publish a lot about England, too, I have a lot of documents about the espionage system in England. Now my focus is going to be that as well.” (slide to 1:20 for Greenwald)

And lastly of course, we have the juxtaposition of the quotes by David Miranda to the Guardian and the statement by Glenn Greenwald to the New York Times. Miranda states (if you believe him, and I don’t) that he had no idea what he was carrying. Greenwald states that he was transporting Snowden’s stolen, top secret CIA intelligence data on encrypted thumb drives. So basically, you have Greenwald using his spouse as a mule to actively assist Edward Snowden, and you have Miranda lying at the airport when he answers that damned basic security question… “Has anyone given you anything to carry on board?”

“It is clear why they took me. It’s because I’m Glenn’s partner. Because I went to Berlin. Because Laura lives there. So they think I have a big connection,” he [David Miranda] said. “But I don’t have a role. I don’t look at documents. I don’t even know if it was documents that I was carrying. It could have been for the movie that Laura is working on.”

You lied to airport security, then, David, didn’t you?

Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.

And you knew this all along, Glenn Greenwald, yet you continued to smear our intelligence police, just as you knew all along David Miranda was offered a lawyer yet failed constantly to correct the record?

But you know, why is the New York Times breaking the story that Miranda was transporting stolen intelligence data, stolen by Snowden? Why wouldn’t our fearless truth-seekers at the Guardian let Britain know what David Miranda was really doing?

He was returning to their home in Rio de Janeiro when he was stopped at Heathrow and officials confiscated electronics equipment, including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.

Oh my goodness! Those awful Guardian subs are at it again. They totally forgot to mention that the “memory sticks” confiscated contained classified information about UK and US intelligence programmes against repressive foreign regimes, stolen by Edward Snowden! Ooopsy! Must tie a knot in your handkerchief, Alan Rusbridger, so you can remind your reporters to mention little details like that next time…. before they accuse our security forces just doing their job of intimidation.

Shame on the Guardian for its smear story, its partial reporting, and its vile accusations against our border agents. Shame on Glenn Greenwald for not correcting the idea that David Miranda was denied a lawyer. Shame on Greenwald and the Guardian for not admitting Miranda was smuggling encrypted Snowden files. Shame on Miranda for lying at security about being “asked to carry anything for somebody else”. Shame on Greenwald for – if we believe David (I don’t) – not telling his husband that he was carrying top secret encrypted CIA data that Snowden stole. And a plague on all their houses for conflating whistleblowing on the NSA with revelations of intelligence actions against foreign powers.

Lastly, shame on Greenwald for attacking a fellow journalist, Edward Epstein, for questioning him – as to whether he was actively assisting Edward Snowden. The encrypted thumb drives his husband was smuggling are a pretty solid proof of that.

to end, let’s just remind ourselves of Edward Snowden fearlessly betraying his country to the South China Morning Post:

Coda – many have argued that David Miranda, even if assisting in espionage, should not have been detained under the Terrorism Act. This is of course flat wrong. The Terrorism Act does not only apply to men with bombs and guns. Interrupting electronic systems to influence the govt of a foreign power for political purposes is EXPRESSLY COVERED.

Terrorism is defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000) and means the use or threat of action where –

  1. The action –
    1. involves serious violence against a person,
    2. involves serious damage to property,
    3. endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
    4. creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
    5. is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system AND
  2. The use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND
  3. The use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause

1 E, 2, 3 are absolutely covered here.

photo by Agencia Senado

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65 Responses to The Smears of Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian – a primer

  1. edmundintokyo says:

    “Interrupting electronic systems to influence the govt of a foreign power for political purposes is EXPRESSLY COVERED.”

    What electronic system are you accusing somebody involved with this of interrupting? Unless there’s some weird legal meaning of the word “interrupt” here it means sabotaging the system – eg if somebody hacked into the control systems of a dam threatened to flood a city downstream unless their political demands were met, that would be terrorism. But Snowden hasn’t sabotaged anything – he’s just told people what the systems do. Presumably you don’t mean that he’s interrupting the NSA’s systems by telling people what they do, so they can lobby their elected representatives to shut them down?

    A more plausible way to get a legal justification out of that definition is to go with “endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action”. On a sufficiently broad reading of that, all kinds of acts of journalism could endanger somebody’s life. For example, if you report the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, you endanger the lives of Iraqi soldiers. But if that’s what it means, it’s absolutely nothing like what we’d normally understand by terrorism.

  2. whatswrongwithyou says:

    Does carrying a thumb drive
    1.1 involve serious violence against a person (NOPE)
    1.2 involve serious damage to property (NOPE)
    1.3 endanger a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action (NOPE – maybe indirectly, but no more than changing lanes without indicating threatens life)
    1.4 create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public (NOPE – you might think the leaks have exposed government agents (although there is no proof it has) but this point explicitly says the risk is to the public, so NOPE)
    1.5 is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system (NOPE)
    Keep in mind a suspect needs to be guilty of points 1,2 and 3 to be detained under suspicion of terrorism, so we’re already out. But let’s keep going, for argument’s sake.

    Point 2? Maybe the police can think the data is designed to influence government but it doesn’t intimidate any section of the public. If you agree with this point, he is no more guilty than a WSJ opinion columnist

    Point 3? What ideology do you think Miranda is a part of? Al Qaeda? Hammas? IRA? NRA? Greenpeace? Doctors without Borders?

    If you think David Miranda was guilty of any of points 1,2 or 3, let alone them all, you are dangerously deluded. Therefore it is a waste of time rebutting the rest of your accusations.

    • “Keep in mind a suspect needs to be guilty of points 1,2 and 3 to be detained under suspicion of terrorism, so we’re already out. But let’s keep going, for argument’s sake.”

      Err… no. They need to be suspected of being involved in those things. That’s all that’s required for a Schedule 7 detention. The courts are the only people capable of deciding guilt.

      • JimB says:

        Err… no. Schedule 7 does not require suspicion of anything at all. They are only allowed to detain for the purposes of prevention of terrorism, but suspicion is not a pre-requisite.

    • Bentley Strange says:

      Well, I can tell what’s wrong with you easily, I think you need to look very hard in a mirror when calling someone “dangerously deluded”. You’re not just carrying a “thumb drive”, you are carrying the contents of that device. That make a difference to you ? Or could an Al Qaeda operative happily carry a thumb drive with full details of a dirty bomb attack (say) on London through security and that would be OK, because, after all, they didn’t plan to attack anyone with that thumb drive ?

      I suggest you grow up a little before commenting again.

  3. “Well, probably because the thumb drives are encrypted and it would take police more than 9 hours to decode them – by which time they had to release Miranda under the law. ”

    Excuse me?


    They could absolutely have demanded the password to the data, and arrested and prosecuted him if he refused to reveal it. They did neither.

    There’s a lot here that doesn’t add up – in your theory as much as the story. Using a mule to physically transport encrypted material makes *no sense* – you just email the the damn stuff. Or FTP it. Or use any other kind of online dead drop. Trivial. I’m #notbuyingit for an instant.

    MY theory, for what it’s worth, is this might just have been a planned operation – part of the story. Greenwald et. al. wanted to see, and expose, exactly what lengths the UK police & security services would go to, given the chance. Why else would he fly via Heathrow? I think, perhaps, they were very clever and got UK police to do *exactly what they wanted* – and bang, more momentum for the story, and an awareness of the potential misuse of Section 7 – another story, and to be honest they have a point; that needs to be debated and reconsidered.

    • edmundintokyo says:

      To be fair to the document mule story, The Guardian, and Greenwald in particular, seem to be really bad at technology.

      Remember The Guardian leaked a bunch of unredacted cables by forgetting the elementary rule of information security, don’t print the passphrase to your encypted archive in bold italic text as the sub-heading of a book published by Public Affairs. And the Snowden story apparently got held up for several weeks because Snowden wanted to use encrypted email (using PGP) to communicate with Greenwald, and Greenwald couldn’t figure out how to set up the software.

    • The more government officials engage in these public-relations-ignorant actions that do nothing, the more the nagging suspicion haunts me that some of the official defenders are being intentionally ham-fisted in their defenses and pointing us directly to where the incriminating information is, but in a way that they preserve plausible deniability.

      Particularly PBO’s repeated assurances of the legality and limited nature of these programs that masterfully set up the next story that proves him (and folks like perjurer Clapper) wrong almost immediately. If we really know most of what Snowden took, then we know what documents are in the Guardian/Wapo’s possession that can be instantly published to impeach any statement.

      Remember when 2008 Presidential Candidate Obama shocked many of his civil libertarian supporters by embracing telcom immunity? Re-read his statement with the clarity of hindsight:

  4. thominkrak says:

    Louise, you’re being very clever, but maybe not analytical enough. For example, you seem worried about the lawyer question… Glenn states he was contacted by a security official and told that David wasn’t allowed a lawyer. David states that he was offered a lawyer. Those statements are in no way contradictory. For example, the security official might have been lying to Glenn, or he might have misspoke, not realising that someone else had offered David a lawyer. Either way, there’s no implication that Glenn lied about the lawyer. True, the Guardian might have played this in a canny way, but that’s the art of great journalism for you there.

    Since you’re piece really hinges on whether Glenn was lying about this in a lot of ways, we could basically disregard the rest of it,. You’re piece about the Terrorism Act though, clearly demonstrates why this is an extremely dangerous line you’re taking. Wether you like it or not, the implication of the passage of the Act you’ve written above clearly refer to hacking in the sense of writing malicious code which causes a system to breakdown. I don’t know how you could possibly read “designed seriously to disrupt or interfere with an electronic system” in any other way. It doesn’t refer to the theft of electronic data – although this would be a crime (espionage or theft depending on the context).

    Taking laws which were designed to protect against real terrorism and conflating them with other crimes is EXACTLY what the problem is here, and you’ve just very deftly demonstrated why the Guardian and its friends should be shouting from the rooftops about it, and most importantly, why the law needs tightening and clarifying.

    • Actually Greenwald did more than state he was *told* that Miranda couldn’t have a lawyer. The Guardian’s original story ( quotes Greenwald as saying:

      “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.”

      Given that this statement was given to The Guardian after Miranda was released and (presumably) after Greenwald had spoken to him, Greenwald must have known at that point that not only was Miranda offered a lawyer, but that he actually got his own choice of lawyer after 8 hours – something confirmed by Alan Rusbridger.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shame on Louise Mensch, for once again playing the dutiful role as establishment stooge. Snowden blew the whistle on western governments’ outrageous violation of public privacy under the auspices of fighting terrorism. Greenwald and the Guardian provided a major service to the public, giving Snowden a platform to expose how western governments were trashing our right to privacy to fulfill their own tenuous objectives under the cloak of ‘fighting terrorism’. The craven and self-serving responses of Hague and his US counterparts, with their inevitable denials and half-truths, were dutifully swallowed by those wishing to condemn a man for exposing the state’s hypocrisy and arrogance. It was fascinating to see how those in the media, especially from ‘the right’, tried to give us the ‘nothing to see here’ line so reminiscent of the phone hacking scandal. We all know how that turned out.

    Once again, Mensch is twisting every fact of this case to protect ‘state’ interests. From her own hideously partial narrative, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was some sort of spy smuggling state secrets. As opposed to the partner of a journalist assisting in a documentary about the case. Louise was a very vociferous opponent of any changes to press regulation after the disgraceful and illegal conduct of News of the World. So it interesting to witness her volte face when the partners of journalists are being detained under terrorist acts, and the Guardian is being ordered to destroy its own hard drives by government officials. Something she neglects to mention here.

    To be clear, Mensch wants the story to be about the supposed misleading statements of the Guardian and Greenwald, and hyperbolic rhetoric of ‘spies’ endangering our national security. It is not. Its about our governments using acts designed to fight terrorism to punish those who have exposed their own double standards and contempt for the rights of its citizens. Don’t be fooled by the attempt at misdirection.

  6. Pam Nash says:

    You nailed it, Louise – both here and in your interview on BBC 5 Live this morning.

    Excellent work, carry on!

  7. DavidL says:

    One of the flaws in this version of the story is the suggestion that the cops at Heathrow were obliged to release Miranda after 9 hours. That is not true. They could have detained him for an initial period of 48 hours and then longer periods sanctioned by a Magistrate. They would have had absolutely no problem in getting extensions if he was carrying encrypted hard drives believed to contain intelligence data and either not able or not willing to give the password.

    The outrage here is not that this man was held for 9 hours but that the little person of doubtful parentage was not detained, charged and arrested. Even if the authorities were persuaded that he was an innocent dupe in this I find that really remarkable and would like to know why. I would be disgusted if it was because his spouse was a journalist with access to dangerous information.

    • alexbrimelow says:

      So if he is so guilty, if so many crimes have been committed, why wasn’t he arrested?

      You immediately leap to the conclusion that it is because his spouse is a journalist.

      Maybe the conclusion you should find is that the police let him go because they couldn’t find any reason to charge him?

      Are you suggesting the metropolitan police are incompetent?

    • John says:

      I think the point is more that they know they didn’t have a leg to stand on. 9 hours is the most they could hold him without having to justify it, at which point their reasoning would most likely fall apart (holding an encrypted hard drive is *not* evidence of anything other than the fact you’ve encrypted your hard drive).

    • louisemensch says:

      Not true – sadly 48 hours applies only in the UK. 9 hours in the transit lounge. Should be longer, I agree

      • Mazin says:

        The 9 hours could have been extended by applying to a judge.

        The reason they didn’t do so was because the judge would have laughed in their faces.

        Look at the facts:

        95% of people held under Section 7 are held for less than 1 hour.
        99.95% of people held under Section 7 are held for less than 6 hours.

        The statistic for people held 8 hours and 55 minutes, (which he was, according to the police spokesperson) are not publicly available, but are pretty close to being him alone.

        Therefore, according to whoever was responsible for holding him (Police, Borders Agency, Home Office…), he must be the most serious threat to have entered the UK in the last decade.

  8. nigelpwsmith says:

    Well done Louise. You & Edward Epstein caught The Guardian, Greenwald & Miranda lying. They do not deserve the title of journalist. They DO deserve the title of terrorist.

    By the way, hasn’t Snowden acted against the promise he made to Putin not to release any more information prejudicial to the interests of the United States? Surely this means that Putin would have to rescind the temporary visa that Snowden was given and put him on the first plane out of Russia – directly to the United States! That might restore US/Russian relations!

  9. alexbrimelow says:

    You focus so much on the inconsistencies of the story and so little on the real problem – the misuse of anti-terror legislation. You sweep it under the carpet in the last paragraph of this piece. Your interpretation of the Terrorist Act is weak and shows poor understanding of the legalese – A sad state of affairs for an ex-MP, aka, a legislator.

    “The Terrorism Act does not only apply to men with bombs and guns. Interrupting electronic systems to influence the govt of a foreign power for political purposes is EXPRESSLY COVERED.”

    Okay. No electronic systems were ‘interrupted’. Caps lock isn’t going to convince anyone that this was covered under the terrorism act.

    Hell, while I’m a lefty I recognise the rule of law, and I recognise that Greenwald’s activities have been illegal, in this country and others. So just arrest him, or arrest David Miranda, and get on with it. Yesterday wasn’t about that. It was about the disgusting misuse of anti-terror legislation. Laws that were written and justified because of the growing threat to British interests by terrorist groups, primarily in the middle east and Ireland. It’s a slippery slope and yesterday it got greased. In our rush to fight terrorism, laws have been made that violate the rights of taxpaying British citizens – I am not talking about DM & GG, but the thousands of British people that have been unfairly held under Section 7 (sinister name or what?). Yesterday showed that in its full gory. People are pissed because they don’t like laws that allow people to be held for 9 hours, questioned, possessions confiscated, no right to silence, but they will accept them they feel it protects them – say from terrorism. Only no British citizens need defending from DM & GG. Because they aren’t terrorists.

    I notice you were very careful on twitter and newsnight yesterday. You haven’t yet said you think they are terrorists, just that their actions are covered by the terrorist act.

    Direct question – do you think Gleen Greenwald is a terrorist?

    • nigelpwsmith says:

      Yes – possession of information prejudicial to the security of the state might be dealt with by the Official Secrets Act, however, if that information would aid and assist a terrorist to commit acts against the states connected with the information, then merely carrying information could be construed as terrorism and should be prosecuted as such. I don’t need to remind you that people have already been convicted of terrorism offences for possession of terrorist handbooks. You could also be liable for arrest for possessing passports that did not belong to you which could be used to commit terrorist offences. Miranda was carrying stolen information prejudicial to this State. I would hope that if he or Glenn Greenwald visit the United Kingdom, in transit or otherwise, that they are arrested and charged with terrorism offences.

      I am very disappointed that the Guardian has taken it upon itself to decide that they are above the law in aiding and abetting people who’ve been carrying this information. I would hope that the Guardian and Rusbridger are charged with offences and trooped off down to the Bailey. It would be sweet and fitting if they could arranged for Lord Justice Leveson to hear the case! Journalists in breach of their ethics and acting as if they are the law – endangering others in the process.

      • Mazin says:

        Here is where your argument falls apart, the definition of what “information” would aid and assist a terrorist. As can be seen from Section 7, laws are now vaguely worded deliberately to allow this ambiguity and misuse of the law.

        “… if that information would aid and assist a terrorist to commit acts against the states connected with the information…”

        According to your definition, if I was carrying an Alton Towers brochure (or any other theme park for that matter), I could be arrested and accused of carrying information that “would aid and assist a terrorist to commit acts against the states connected with the information”.

        After all, the brochure contains details of their opening times, which might suggest to a terrorist suitable times to attack the park. (Opening hours, annual seasons, special offers…)

        Take for example the Police Spokesperson’s comment that everything done was “legally” and “procedurally” correct. (Talk about NewSpeak!). No one is seriously arguing that what they did was wrong, in fact, quite the opposite. Everyone is saying that the law was followed, but that it was also misused. You can still be doing something legal, which was not proportionate, ethical, moral, justifiable or socially acceptable.

      • nigelpwsmith says:

        There was some discussion by the BBC and the Home Office that the 9 hours was a bit much. They agreed and said that new legislation is in the Commons that reduces the period of detention to only 6 hours.

        The thing is that the detention was justified. Miranda was carrying stolen information prejudicial to both the United States and the United Kingdom’s security. They did offer him a lawyer and he refused – even though the Guardian was furiously tweeting that he was denied legal advice. He wasn’t mistreated, but asked for information that would be relevant to putting together a picture of his involvement with Greenwald and his degree of complicity.

        As for carrying an Alton Towers brochure, your attempt and Reductio is quite literally ad absurdum, because no one would consider a brochure a threat unless there was some other information which inferred that the brochure would be used for the purposes of terrorism. In this case, the information that Miranda carried was stolen, was prejudicial and could be used to attack the security of both countries.

        I hope they arrest Greenwald, Rusbridger, Miranda and Snowden.

        I would hope at least that the Russian President uses this opportunity to restore relations with the United States by sticking Snowden on a plane to the States for breach of his visa conditions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, as defined under the terrorism act: no in the simple meaning of the word. Carl Gardner did a very good blog on this that I will post here tomorrow

  10. Rob says:

    Mensch makes some pretty reasonable points about the way the story has unfolded – the partner emphasis in particular. But the mule claim is pretty flimsy, the lawyer point is undermined by seeming fact that he wasn’t permitted to call his own, and simply parroting TACT 2000 fails to address the critical issues. Mostly though the whole tabloid tone of this article does little credit to the author’s credibility.

  11. John says:

    “happy to suck up to the homophobic regime in Russia where he has taken asylum”

    Come on now Louise. You’re referring to the only country that a) He could get to, b) Would give asylum, and c) Said they wouldn’t hand him over to a “regime” that locked their last whistleblower up for years, naked, in solitary confinement.

    Whatever your opinions are of Snowden, berating him for not staying in America to be destroyed by the US Gvmt is loud mouthed opinion from someone who isn’t in his position. What you’re essentially saying is you should only whistleblow (that’s what a lot of us are still calling it, despite your opposing opinion that he was simply putting the world at risk) if you’re willing to be smeared as a war criminal and spend the rest of your life in jail.

  12. Richard says:

    This was sensible up to the point where you tried to justify the use of the Terrorism Act.

    Disrupting an electronic system would be something like a denial of service attack or attempting to interfere with the mobile phone network. Carrying electronic information doesn’t meet this definition and I’m scratching your head as to what else you might be referring to.

    Also, in the part of the act quoted, there is no reference to a foreign power. The government referred to is the UK government.

    For something to be defined as terrorism, it has to satisfy all three bullet points. If you take the ‘endangering UK spies’ line, you could argue that the information carried could be instrumental to someone carrying out an action that falls under 1.3. Points 2 and 3 are problematic however. The action that you are trying to define as terrorism (in this case, ‘releasing information that endangers a spy’s life’) has to be designed to influence the government (pt 2). The action of releasing the information is not intentionally aiming at endangering a spy (it is released in the public interest) and depending on how it is done, might not actually endanger any spies. Even if this unintended consequence did come to pass, an argument needs to be made that that consequence was designed to influence the government (whether the ‘endangering’ is being used as leverage to influence the government, which is a separate issue as to whether releasing the information in the public interest is intended to influence the government – the Act isn’t intended to criminalise all attempts to influence the government. We’ll wait for the Lobbying Act for that).

    Pt 3 is a further problem for the definition of terrorism. The act of ‘endangering a spy’ has to be done for the purpose of furthering a political, religious or ideological cause. If ‘endangering a spy’ is an unintended consequence, can it be done for a purpose? Even if it is, what are Snowden/Greenwald/The Guardian’s political or ideological cause? With a bit of chicanery, you can paint what they are doing (journalism in the public interest) in a political or ideological light (you can do the same about anything), but I think that is stretching what the Act is intending.

  13. Mazin says:

    I started to read your article, but as it was full of misrepresentation from the beginning, I didn’t bother reading the rest of it.

    “Like most people, I fully supported Edward Snowden blowing the whistle on the NSA surveillance programme on Americans. I called for a Presidential pardon for Snowden right here on this blog, and suggested the journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story, should win a Pulitzer prize for it.

    Unfortunately, within barely a few days, my naive belief that Snowden was a patriotic whistleblower started to unravel. He fled to Hong Kong…”

    The article you mention was published on the 9th of June, according to you, within a few days, your belief started to unravel, suggesting it was because he travelled to Hong Kong.

    Anybody who has a brain cell or two and has been following the details knows that he fled to Hong Kong on the 20th of May, where he stayed till the 23rd of June when he travelled to Moscow. When you wrote the article praising Snowden on the 9th of June, he had already been in Hong Kong 20 days.

    There are three main reasons for why this sudden U-turn of yours:

    a) You’re an idiot. (Which I doubt, but had to include for thoroughness.)

    b) You wrote the article roughly 3 weeks before you published it. (Which suggests you’re either incompetent as a blogger or deliberately being manipulative.)

    c) You honestly believed what you wrote on the 9th of June but later saw some advantage to changing your Principles. (As I understand you were an MP for a very brief period, this is the option I am going for, as British Politicians are very well known for dispensing with their Principles when they saw some selfish advantage to do so.)

  14. Pingback: What is a terrorist? | TechnoLlama

  15. Anonymous says:

    If carry information likely to be of use to terrorists was grounds for detention under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, then every squaddie returning from Afghanistan who’d kept a diary or taken photos on his mobile phone would be liable to detention as would every tourist who’d got a video clip of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The particular provisions of TACT 2000 under which Miranda was detained and questioned can only be used in order to determine if someone is ‘…concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism’.

    I believe Mensch is wrong in her assessment of how TACT 2000 has been applied in this case and it will be interesting to see the outcome of Miranda’s proposed legal action.

  16. goggzilla says:

    You omitted that Greenwald is (gasp) Jewish. Oh Lulu when will you be arrested by North Wales Police for naming Ched Evan’s “victim”?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Your latent homophobia is not so latent after all. Being a Conservative, notorious for their hypocritical homophobic views, it must be difficult to suppress.

    Its clear you are still hoping to remain relevant with these posts but lets not kid ourselves here. Your anti democratic views are plain for all to see.

    Calling Snowden a “shitty little spy” in one sentence and talking about threatening our “intel assets” on the other. Are you watching too many spy movies? What is the difference between a shitty little spy and a British or US spy?

    As for the laughable comment on “our spies spying on Russia”. Well its so rich coming from you who calls out states for being autocratic and non democratic etc when actually the horrible “crimes” of spying that we relate to autocratic states such as Russia ie spying on their people are NOTHING compared to what the UK and US have now been undisputedly disclosed to be doing.

    In fact any efforts of spying on citizens by the Russians and Chinese are irrelevant and laughable compared to what the UK and US is doing yet you are trying to downplay it and clearly support it!

    Hypocrisy is deep in your blood isnt it Ms Mensch? It makes sense you were a Conservative MP. Its a prerequisite right? You condemn others for spying on their people and for invading privacy etc but when the governments of your liking do it you write these articles to support them?

    A bimbo without the looks trying to remain relevant was always going to be a ghastly sight but you have made sure we all witness the spectacle here on your blog.

  18. WalterW says:

    What’s the difference between Miranda holding whatever stolen govt data and The Guardian/Greenwald holding (at least in part) the exact same stolen govt data?

    If Miranda’s data are free game for the govt to seize, then what is to keep the UK govt from seizing the same data from The Guardian? (Greenwald being out of reach.)

    Or instead -since the latter would likely be pointless- to forbid The Guardian to print any of it?

    Or -making 100% sure TG couldn’t print it- to close down The Guardian entirely?

    Still, the UK govt did NOT do any such thing. The exact same reason that kept them from doing it (regardless of what reason it was/is), also applies to seizing data from Miranda, since it’s the exact same thing (or more) they would be going after.

    So by not going after The Guardian itself, the UK govt prohibits itself from going after Miranda.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I was impressed by the forensic rigour with which the former Member for Self Publicity (South) has dissected this story, particularly this bit.
    “It turned out that the Guardian was paying for David Miranda’s flights and that David Miranda was working on the leaks story, making him a journalist.”
    Miranda was caarrying some materials from one journalist to another, and having his costs of doing so paid for by the Guardian. That indeed makes him a journalist. There are a vast number of postmen in the Farringdon area who are also journalists, I hope they’ve all signed up for the NUJ.

  20. ‘The action –
    involves serious violence against a person,
    involves serious damage to property,
    endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,’
    If Miranda carrying this information through Heathrow was an act which endangered life and property, so is much of the trivia on my hard-drive. All information can be dangerous. Especially when it becomes a lie. And even more so when it is stolen from us and exploited wthout our permission.
    Mensch knows that the offer of an airport D.A. was an insult, and probably damaging if accepted. And she also knows that the perforations and gushing spigots in US intelligence are not the Guardian’s fault, even if the leaks don’t happen to endorse Mensch’s own political correctness.
    When is her mate Rupert Murdoch going to reveal anything inconvenient about the US? That’s what we’d like to know. If it was left to Murdoch and the rest, we’d all be much happier, because we wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.

  21. Pingback: En rasande realistisk bok « Jeppelin

  22. Anonymous says:

    You should tell your boyfriend No.203654 that he will be sacked for giving you all the highly sensitive information such as what questions they usually ask at airports.

  23. rdg5183 says:

    ^”Terrorism is defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000) and means the use or threat of action where –

    The action –
    involves serious violence against a person,
    involves serious damage to property,
    endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
    creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
    is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system AND
    The use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND
    The use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause

    1 E, 2, 3 are absolutely covered here”

    How can you possibly claim that 1, 2 and 3 are covered here?1? So because Miranda was carrying information that the UK and US governments did not want to be revealed he is a terrorist? Your article is completely biased against the Guardian, Greenwald and Miranda. I wonder why?

  24. Pingback: The other side of the story | Kiwiblog

  25. Anonymous says:

    The Right Honourable Lord Falconer of Thoroton PC QC, Solicitor General 1997-98 and Lord Chancellor from 2003-07, has said that TACT 2000 makes clear that police can only detain someone to assess whether they are involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism. He said “I am very clear that this does not apply, either on its terms or in its spirit, to Mr Miranda.”

    David Miranda’s detention was unlawful.

  26. Pingback: Investigativer Journalismus vom Feinsten: Daten im Transit | Jihad Watch Deutschland

  27. Pingback: Lexplain | The detention of David Miranda: why is it being challenged?

  28. Pingback: A Defence of Secret Surveillance « optank

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  30. Jan Minar says:

    Who is Glenn Greenberg?

  31. Pingback: Common sense is not so common – the “Snowden saga” three months on. Part one: Tinker, Tailor, Hero, Traitor? | Notes from Self

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  34. Pingback: Common sense is not so common. The “Snowden saga” three months on. Part three: It really isn’t that common. Rounding up opinions. | Notes from Self

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