UK Officials Argue That David Miranda Was, In Fact, A Terrorist

from the oh-really-now? dept

You may recall the farce in the UK that is the story of the nine-hour detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, while he was held over while flying through Heathrow to get from Berlin to Brazil. Miranda’s devices were seized under an anti-terrorism law, which can only be used to deal with terrorism. Even though many have admitted it was really just to send a message to Greenwald and other reporters, many UK officials have maintained that the detention was fully justified, despite no evidence to support that. Even the author of the law that was used to stop Miranda has argued that it was not intended for such uses.

However, last week in court, the UK laid out its case, as presented by Scotland Yard — and they actually are going to try to claim that Miranda’s actions — carrying some of Snowden’s encrypted documents — is a form of both espionage and terrorism.

Intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security,” according to the document.

“We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material the release of which would endanger people’s lives,” the document continued. “Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism…”

Read that again and let it sink in. UK officials are arguing that if you have any material which, if disclosed, might “influence a government,” you are, by definition, a terrorist. That makes a very large number of people terrorists. By this definition, basically any whistleblower is a terrorist. Anyone with embarrassing, but factual, information about a government official might be deemed a terrorist as well. Something is very broken if that’s considered the actual standard in the law.

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Comments on “UK Officials Argue That David Miranda Was, In Fact, A Terrorist”

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70 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Something is very broken if that’s considered the actual standard in the law.

Yes, the people in power have gone completely megalomaniac. Time for some beheadings. Metaphorical or not.

Other than that Rikuo has it spot on. If he is, in fact, a terrorist then the UK pseudo-law enforcement is composed of incompetents since they let a “known” terrorist go.

As many have noted, terrorists won a complete and flawless victory so far. The Govts are happily confirming it by going fascism.

silverscarcat (profile) says:

It's worse than that...

The fact that they are saying… “UK officials are arguing that if you have any material which, if disclosed, might “influence a government,” you are, by definition, a terrorist.”

Means that anyone, reporter, whistleblower, random citizen with a twitter, facebook or social media account with a smart phone is a terrorist.

*Shakes head*

The PAX situation just got a whole lot worse.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: It's worse than that...

Not just reporters etc, even senior judges and peers have been known to spend months collecting material the disclosure of which is intended to influence government. Some examples include Lord Hutton, Sir John Chilcott, Lord Justice Leveson and Lord Saville of Newdigate

Note the last is unrelated to the recently deceased Saville of nudey-gate …

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: It's worse than that...

This definition looks like they snipped parts of the Wikipedia article on terrorism.

What they conveniently left out is there is no internationally accepted and precise definition of “Terrorist”.

What they did is twisting a few requirements to their taste, and left out the rest that didn’t apply. (Like, I don’t know, “violent”)

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: It's worse than that...

I noticed that. It doesn’t matter if you intend to disclose it, only that you have it?

Wouldn’t that make just about everybody in any security or spy agency in any government in the world a terrorist? After all, they are in possession of information that could influence a government…

For that matter, the results of the latest election would fit that definition, of information that could influence a government if released.

Anyone who votes in any election is apparently now a terrorist in the UK!

out_of_the_blue says:

Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

The particular labeling word changes, but inherited tyrants always see the supremacy of the State (themselves: “L’etat, c’est moi.”) the same.

Squawking about this must start at the notion of “inalienable rights” granted by god and/or nature, not wimpy Mike’s tertiary: “Something is very broken if that’s considered the actual standard in the law.” — Because when “the law” is at sole discretion of inherited tyrants, their word is literally law. — The American principle is that common law is the general consensus of all the people equal before the law; that is NOT the case in the UK, never was, and that’s why they’re actually still serfs in jolly olde Angle-land.

A-bas le roi!


The Rich will always seize more power until stopped. The only non-violent way to stop them is with steeply progressive tax rates, especially on unearned income.

02:03:51[c-10-6]

cpt kangarooski says:

Re: Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

The American principle is that common law is the general consensus of all the people equal before the law; that is NOT the case in the UK, never was, and that’s why they’re actually still serfs in jolly olde Angle-land.

Wow.

The common law originated as the portion of the law which was basically the same in different parts of England, as opposed to the regional laws which were not widespread — something vaguely like the difference between federal and state law in the US now. And since then it has evolved based upon what the courts thought. Democracy had nothing to do with it.

The idea that the legitimacy of the government comes from the consent of the governed has nothing to do with the common law, and is certainly not part of the common law or the common law itself.

You’re exploring whole new levels of ignorance here, and I’ve got to wonder why.

(Incidentally, given how widespread piracy is, does this mean that all which needs to be done to fully legitimize piracy is for more people to do it?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

The common law originated as the portion of the law which was basically the same in different parts of England

Nice theory.

However, the adjective ?common? as used in the phrase ?common law? was probably more used in the same sense as it was used in the legal phrases:

? common victualler
? common hosteller
? common innkeeper
? common carrier

That is, the ?common? in ?common law? was used in the sense of ?ordinary? as distinguished from canon law, and other specialized bodies of law. This distinction was not always a bright line: compare ?common treason? with ?high treason?.

It is true, though, that the common law was generally the King’s law, administered by the King’s courts, and gradually extended itself throughout the realm, as the central power grew at the expense of the barons.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

The Rich will always seize more power until stopped. The only non-violent way to stop them is with steeply progressive tax rates, especially on unearned income.

Are you ever going to answer my questions concerning the specifics of your “tax the hell out of the rich” notion?

Or will you keep on yelling your rallying cries that lack any substance?

Let me repost them just in case you really don’t know what that fancy blue text does:


Answers to these simple questions would be helpful:

1) Where and how would you determine the line between “too rich” and “not too rich”?

2) Where and how would determine the line between a corporation that is “too big” or “not too big”?

3) What is your definition of “unearned income”?

4) How would you counter the stigma of this being a “success tax”?

5) What incentives would you use to encourage economic growth from corporations if you remove the profit incentives once they reach a certain point?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

1) Really? To you that’s a stumper? Just because it’s going to vary and change over time?

2) If the corporation can lean on a state, it’s too big, if the state can lean on a corporation it’s not too big.

3) Income that you do no work to get.

4) How does anyone currently avoid the stigma of not paying their fair share. The fact that one pays more tax the richer one is, should be a badge of pride, somehow some people have managed to convince idiots that it’s somehow unfair for those who do best out of society to contribute meaningfully to the society that has enabled them to do so well.

5) In a capitalist society there really is no necessity whatsoever to encourage people to do business, they will chase profit, power and influence any chance they get. The big problem is reining them in so that you do cut off ways of doing so that are harmful to society. Slave Labour, Child Labour, low pay, terrible conditions, lack of health and safety measures etc.
If corporations can get so big that they can get too big to fail without destroying a vast section of the society around them, there is a point where you don’t actually want them to keep growing.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

1) Really? To you that’s a stumper? Just because it’s going to vary and change over time?

Can you explain how you are going to codify such a thing?

2) If the corporation can lean on a state, it’s too big, if the state can lean on a corporation it’s not too big.

Also, how are you going to codify such a thing?

3) Income that you do no work to get.

Ok. So give me some examples then. Would property rents fall under your definition? Would a lending service, like a video store count?

4) How does anyone currently avoid the stigma of not paying their fair share.

We aren’t talking about “fair share”. Blue’s notion is to “tax the hell out of the rich” simply because they were successful.

5) In a capitalist society there really is no necessity whatsoever to encourage people to do business, they will chase profit, power and influence any chance they get.

Yes, I know. But Blue wants to “tax the hell” out of corporations once they reach a certain size. How would you keep encouraging growth while at the same time punishing for too much growth?

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why the surprise? That's always the view of inherited tyrants!

1) Too rich = 2x my current income

2) Too big = 2x bigger than any company I own

3) Unearned income = income that I didn’t think of a way to get

4) I want there to be a stigma to “success” if “success” means I look bad in comparison. It’s all about me looking better to the ladies – how am I supposed to compete against the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?

5) So, everybody would be poor. So what? The main thing is how I look to the ladies.

/sarc

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Unacceptable

For after the spying is sufficiently dealt with:

Even the author of the law that was used to stop Miranda has argued that it was not intended for such uses.

At some point, we really need to deal with this trend. If a law isn’t intended for a certain use, it needs to specify that or unambiguously define a narrow enough scope to rule out such an application. If this can’t be expressed in the law, the law shouldn’t be passed.

A politician needs to be able to held to this level of capability so they can also be reasonably held culpable for the contents of the laws they pass. I suggest (again) using the game of Nomic as a training tool.

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Unacceptable

Not exactly. There is a difference between a law that has been bent and a law that has an overly broad scope.

In most cases where a law is bent, there is some portion of the law that is open to interpretation where judicial prudence has been relied upon. In this case, the legislature has surrendered a portion of the legal decision to the courts.

When this is not desired, explicit definitions of terms are provided. In this case, the definition in the legal statute overrides any other meaning of a given term and is not open to judicial discretion on the basis of that term. If this was not the intent, then the fault lies with the drafters of the law and not those enforcing it.

If anything, the enforcers are under-enforcing the statute as per the definition of terrorism given above.

Further, the easier loop-holes are to spot, the more likely and more often they will be exploited. It may be impossible to close all vulnerabilities, but actively trying to avoid them will still lower the incidence rate of abuse.

The excuse that “politicians and law enforcement will always find ways to bend it,” has become an entirely too convenient way for politicians to evade any repercussions for not paying attention to the laws they sign off on. This means they have more time to spend on the corrupt side of politics because they are spending less time working on behalf of the people. Lose-lose for us, unacceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

And where do you think this (secret) interpretation stems from?
The USA!
And who do you think has concocted this bunch of lies and bull shit and passed it on to the UK police to use? NSA and DoJ! They could never have thought of it themselves!
And don’t forget the ‘Special Relationship’ between the USA and the UK, until crap hits fan, that is!

Anonymous Coward says:

Freemasonry

It’s sort of Masonic. They give each other secret handshakes and the laws are twisted to benefit each other. Do the police think they are part of a super-secret club and somehow GCHQ isn’t spying on them???
That’s pretty dumb.

A UK minister can spy on his political opponents under the current system, all they need is assistance from the NSA to generate a legal order (e.g. an NSL), and GCHQ will even give technical help in the spying.

So while you’re busy focussing on Merkel and maybe laughing at how *you* are British politicians and part of this special club, you might want to wise up and realize that NSA can spy on any Brit and you are high value targets. Your internet feed goes through those NSA filters too you know. Do yo think Merkel is an OK target and somehow you are special??

Why, did he give you a special handshake??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, he was released before they had to put a justification to a court. If they thought he’d broken a law, they’d have made that claim to a court. They didn’t, so he hasn’t.

So the question is, could they use the terrorist detention power on a journalist?

Obviously not, the man who drafted the law they used says not, and their claim lacks substance enough to even present it to a court, let alone convince a court.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, you read the article incorrectly.

1. The UK Police service believe they had the right to detain him as he was a potential terrorist by their interpretation of the Article 7 powers because they believed he might be carrying some of the Snowden docs. They then released him as they had no reason to detain him.

2. This site and many others question how they came to this interpretation and are alarmed at how readily and easily one can be defined as a ‘terrorist’ in Britain. There doesn’t appear to be any evidence at this stage he broke the law – Mr Masnick is arguing that whether he has or not, the definition of terrorism is amazingly broad and prone to abuse.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“This site is obviously right because the writer says so.”

Actually the writer has stated an opinion. Are you not capable of weighing the presented facts and coming to your own conclusion? Because that’s exactly what the author and (most) readers have done. If you manage to come up with one of your own, feel free to share it.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Even the author of the law that was used to stop Miranda has argued that it was not intended for such uses.”

We’re starting to hear more and more how the “enforcement” branches of democratic governments are starting to bastardize the laws being made. As noted many times, this is the start of how tyrants gain power.

However, we’re not there yet. The fact that lawmakers aren’t happy means they may yet find their balls to take back some of the power the enforcement agencies are taking away.

The problem is, most of the legislative branches are 100s of people all on (more or less) equal footing while the enforcement branches are top-down/monarch/tyrant shaped. Of course it’s easier for them to see/want/take power…

Hopefully the other two branches will do something to get them back under control soon and not just complain about it.

clon3 says:

We in our western societies are very proud of our democracy and our freedom of speech. Having those basic rights is what makes the difference between our democracy compared to other suppressing countries. Now it seems that democracy is being replaced with totalitarianism. If we the people sit and do nothing about this, then our basic rights to privacy as well as freedom of speech will be violated, and our societies will as we can see happening, end up with a corrupt government that cannot be trusted.

Anonymous Coward says:

one of the worst things now in the UK is, that, just like in the USA, it is far more important to have the security agencies be in control than to admit any errors. being totally wrong therefore, is an absolute no-no! they are obviously gonna lie and cheat just as the US agencies have done. we saw exactly how that worked with the Megaupload case (still on-going) and the way the DoJ did what it wanted, twisted what was said and ignored court decisions, adapted laws to suit their claims of wrong doing, whatever it took. and we are no nearer now than a year ago to a conclusion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism…

I’m having a difficult time coming up with the name of a single politician that wouldn’t be considered a terrorist using their logic.

roarshock44 says:

what they are doing is playing a dangerous game of further alienating a skeptical public.? i think we can infer the public reaction in general from the politicians’ behavior lately.

the more the snoops screech nonsense, the shorter their rope becomes, but people in that kind of enterprise naturally see themselves as bullet-proof.? maybe they are right and maybe they are not.

John William Nelson (profile) says:

V for Vendetta plot?

Amusing that this is published on the 4th of November, one day removed from the 5th.

I am pretty sure this view of the British authorities?that ideological differences and questioning authority make you a terrorist?is a central theme to the movie/graphic novel V for Vendetta.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot indeed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Secrets revealed would make us soil our pants

a government official might be deemed a terrorist as well. Something is very broken if that’s considered the actual standard in the law.

You must have an awfully simplistic view of the world if you believe that the secrecy of governments and in particular our own isn’t keeping us all alive even at this moment. You would spoil your pants as would we all if we knew everything going on. Its more, way more than we need to know. Enjoy your blog.

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