US Official Admits That UK Detention Of Glenn Greenwald's Partner Was 'To Send A Message'

from the illegal-and-obnoxious dept

Buried in a Reuters report about the UK government’s ridiculous decision to force the Guardian to destroy some hard drives with Snowden-related materials, is the fact that the reporter got a US official to admit that the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was all about “sending a message” to anyone who had the Snowden documents:

One U.S. security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government’s detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks.

That’s what many people had assumed, but to have it admitted by an official just shows how incredibly stupid this whole thing was. The only message it sent was that the UK government has gone way overboard in abusing the law for reasons of personal thuggery, rather than any legitimate purpose. The law they used was an anti-terrorism law, and they flat out used it to intimidate the press. That’s not how the government in a free country acts. The outrage over all of this (both the detention and the hard drive destruction) isn’t just going to go away. These actions are, in some ways, worse than the original reports, because they confirm the petty vindictiveness of those in power against journalists doing their job in exposing the abuse of people’s rights.

It’s this very reason why people are so concerned about the collection of all of this data. If the government has no problem detaining people under bogus pretenses to “send a message” to journalists, while also threatening to shut down newspapers and forcing them to destroy hard drives, what else might they already be doing with all of that personal data and information they’ve been sucking up?

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Comments on “US Official Admits That UK Detention Of Glenn Greenwald's Partner Was 'To Send A Message'”

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49 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Most western countries have definitely lost their moral superiority on the former east-block countries, if they ever had it.

EU (the institutions), UK, Scandinavia, Benelux, France, USA and Germany seems particularly fond of unrestricted surveillance.

Ironically Italy are better in those areas. Italys corruption and mafia is making the processes turn inward and towards more specific individuals. Seems having a less obscure enemy than “formerly unrecognized terrorist” makes these surveillance efforts far more useful…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It appears that these governments completely miss the point of the quote about not learning from the mistakes made throughout history means you are doomed to repeat them. Instead it appears that they actively look through history for mistakes to intentionally repeat. Astonishing really. It reminds me of the other quote about the definition of insanity being the repetition of the same actions each time expecting a different result.

That One Guy (profile) says:

One message sent, another received...

That may have been the message they wanted to send, but if I was in the position of Greenwald or someone else exposing government abuses like that, I think the message I’d get from this is that the governments are running scared, terrified by having their ‘Trust us, it’s legal’ deeds aired out and put under public scrutiny.

Tyrants hate and fear, above all else, free dissemination of facts and information, as it destroys their ability to control the narrative, so it’s rather telling how these leaks are causing the US, and now the UK, to panic so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: One message sent, another received...

“Tyrants hate and fear, above all else, free dissemination of facts and information,”

Maybe not above ALL else, but it’s pretty high on their list. A lack of free speech and free dissemination of information is pretty much the number one way you can tell if tyrants are in control.

And it’s getting hard to tell which side of the line we’re on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Such fibbers

“…was to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks.”

I suspect the message was intended for the US and reads
we are in your pocket, look were doing what you want us to do even though it makes no sense and demeans and degrades us, just please, please, please be nice to us and pretend like you respect us at least in front of other countries.
If you have to hit us tonight, please, not the face.

out_of_the_blue says:

Umm, next you'll be saying US admin knew in advance!

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/19/white-house-had-advance-notice-on-heathrow-detention/

Gosh, breaking news.

But you do pose a good question if your murky “they” is made specific: “what else might [Google] already be doing with all of that personal data and information they’ve been sucking up?”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Umm, next you'll be saying US admin knew in advance!

No, don’t you see, since Google is the internet, that means it’s all connected! Since the leaks are taking place on the internet, that means it’s all being done at Google’s direction!

… Bah, I cannot fathom how blue keeps that level of fixation up all the time.

Duke (profile) says:

These people should really talk to their lawyers before talking to the press.

The UK government has been defending this detention by claiming it was because they suspected he was carrying sensitive documents likely to be of use to a terrorist (something which is illegal in the UK). And now the US are saying it was to “send a message”.

Except if either is the case, the detention was illegal. The disturbingly-broad power they used can only be used to determine whether or not someone is a terrorist. There’s even a case where a court found the use of this power was illegal because the guy they detained was a terrorist and the Government already knew this.

I almost feel sorry for the UK Government’s legal team…

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Communication with the Populace

This would be the third illegal detention…err…message send:

Edward Snowden’s loss of travel privileges in a Russian airport, because he told the world the truth, and it hurt some nefarious goings on in the US and other Governments.

The Bolivian Ambassador and those with him whom were forced to stop over in Austria after being denied airspace clearance in Spain and Portugal, because Snowden might be onboard.

David Miranda who had the temerity to assist a journalist in their job, releasing information on illegal government activities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Are Uk news under secret super injunctions?
I notice they report the peripheral Snowden stories but some are deafeningly quiet about the main leaks, as if they’ve been injuncted, or threatened by the spooks with worse.
They don’t report the story and it’s very suspect.
Their talk with Rusbringer amounts to a threat and would fit the pattern.

Steve says:

thuggery

“The only message it sent was that the UK government has gone way overboard in abusing the law for reasons of personal thuggery, rather than any legitimate purpose.”

Taken in the context of their insistence on destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s UK office (despite knowing that everything on them was backed up elsewhere), I’d say that that is literally all they are going for.

No subtlety, no pretence of having any actual impact, just someone showing up and saying “look at me, I’m the UK government and I’m a pointless destructive ass, don’t mess with me or I’ll mess you up, mwa ha ha ha”.

I mean, it’s got to be that. They can’t actually be so stupid as to think they’re winning anyone over, surely?

Steve says:

prior restraint

Also worth noting, by the way: while the UK government threatened the Guardian with prior restraint – that is, preventing them from “printing and being damned” – a year or so ago, they were singing a very different tune.

Half the cabinet were desperate to get a seat and a say at the Leveson enquiry, where they were overwhelmingly opposed to prior restraint – something which Leveson never proposed and specifically said he never would – while defending the freedom of paps and hacks to spy on the McCanns or hack Millie Dowler’s phone. They were also very keen on the public interest defence in those instances.

A year or so later, they attack public interest defences that are far far more legitimate, and threaten prior restraint in person, rather than decrying its use via a purely hypothetical regulatory boy.

Of course, at the Leveson enquiry, they were primarily defending the right of Daily Mail and the Murdoch press, who broadly support the Tory party, to print lies, scar stories, hate campaigns and celebrity snaps. Not only are those parties very much on their side, they are also only printing stories that infringe on the rights and the dignity of common people, rather than the government.

There is overwhelming hypocrisy being displayed here by a government that has no principles whatsoever beyond serving their donors, their school chums, and themselves.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Um yea!!

We are supposed to beleive.. we are told.. they say they don’t lie.. we don’t have to worry…

Over and over again, the actions of our government are to shut us out, shut us up, lock us up, deny us our rights, continue to lie to us, hold us accountable for lying and doing the very things our government says it isn’t doing, because they wouldn’t abuse us or break their own laws. It’s incredible.

Yes, detaining this person sends the absolute worse message possible: Hey we don’t really mean we respect whistle blowers. Nope, you have to back off and let us do anything we want because we will make you pay for shedding light on our dirty laundry. Yep, I got the message!

My message to the people responsible to the purse strings is to reign in these thugs that violate our rights immediately! Take the budget away now! Forget that you voted to let them slide. They are out of control and the only way to stop it is to drain the gas out of the tank that makes the engine roar out of control.

Anonymous Coward says:

according to May, she was perfectly justified in detaining him for as long as they did, simply because he is involved in the documents that were ‘stolen’ from the USA and passed to his newspaper reporter partner. this was definitely done on purpose and intent on giving a measure. however, i think the message given is one of how stupid and ridiculous the UK government are and how ridiculously blindly they are following the USA’s lead. making pricks of themselves seems to come extremely easy! the danger, however, is the egos of both Cameron and May. both seem to have delusions of even greater grandeur than they have atm. they need to be careful that it doesn’t run away with them!

Anonymous Coward says:

We’ve been assured that all has not been revealed. That tells me what we know is what would be considered the minor stuff. The citizens are already raising cane over this minor stuff that means there are far more serious things these officials are worried about coming to light to have to deal with.

In their desperation to send a message, I think the message meant to be sent and the message received are not going to be in the same category.

The question remains in my mind is just how upset have they made those sent a message to?

Anonymous Coward says:

One question that springs to mind is what data is Google slurping up from Google Fiber?

They have DIRECT access to everything not just google services and you can bet they’ve been trawling packet by packet through everything they can, storing blackmail material (Sorry I mean information designed to enable targetted advertising) by the gigabyte.

Anonymous Coward says:

There’s a shit storm brewing just as surely as if it were a hurricane. These congress critters that are all back home holding townhall meetings are getting an ear full. The results will be showing up next session.

Already there is one proposal that cuts funding to the NSA if they break the rules of law they have been given.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/317831-gop-bill-cuts-nsa-funding-for-data-collection-violations

Of course I suspect it will result in the NSA playing turtle and going back to hiding what they are doing. There’s been too many lies told by too many officials to expect different.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, the current ‘trickle’ method is much more effective, let’s them hold back stuff until they can use it to directly rebut the lies the government tries to pass, and keeps the story in the forefront of people’s minds, rather than allowing it to be overshadowed by a temporary rise in interest in something else.

Not to mention if all the files were released, I wouldn’t give Snowden so much as a week before a ‘tragic accident’ were to befall him; holding back the more sensitive files keeps the governments from doing anything rash(though not stupid apparently).

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