August 18th, 2013

[Update: 19 August @ 0918 — Mano Singham joins the conversation:

Those of us who have been concerned with the massive assault on civil liberties have warned that all the so-called ‘anti-terror’ measures that are being rammed through for the ostensible purpose of fighting terrorism would be also used against anyone whom the government does not like, and that those who casually dismissed those concerns might one day find themselves in the cross-hairs. Those alleged realists who adopted a worldly-wise air and airily treated due process and constitutional protections as quaint relics of a bygone era that need to be dispensed with in our hard-eyed effort to protect ourselves from terrorism dismissed these arguments as fear-mongering, placing their trust in the supposed goodness of political leaders that they would not abuse the powers they had seized.

The case of David Miranda will, I hope, open their eyes.

Surprisingly, one of President Obama’s strongest supporters, Andrew Sullivan, is also glimpsing the dark side:

When the NSA leaks burst onto the scene, I was skeptical of many of the large claims made by civil libertarians and queasily sympathetic to a program that relied on meta-data alone, as long as it was transparent, had Congressional buy-in, did not accidentally expose innocent civilians to grotesque privacy loss, and was watched by a strong FISA court.

Since then, I’ve watched the debate closely and almost all the checks I supported have been proven illusory. The spying is vastly more extensive than anyone fully comprehended before; the FISA court has been revealed as toothless and crippled; and many civilians have had their privacy accidentally violated over 3000 times. The president, in defending the indefensible, has damaged himself and his core reputation for honesty and candor. These cumulative revelations have exposed this program as, at a minimum, dangerous to core liberties and vulnerable to rank abuse. I’ve found myself moving further and further to Glenn’s position.

What has kept me from embracing it entirely has been the absence of any real proof than any deliberate abuse has taken place and arguments that it has helped prevent terror attacks. This may be too forgiving a standard. If a system is ripe for abuse, history tells us the only question is not if such abuse will occur, but when. So it is a strange and awful irony that the Coalition government in Britain has today clinched the case for Glenn.

Power, in any form, if subject to abuse will be abused. Full stop.]

[Update: 19 August @ 0552 — So far this morning, I’m seeing only the New York Times with the story here in Amerika.]

Glenn Greenwald writes:

[T]hey obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop “the terrorists”, and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

Worse, they kept David detained right up until the last minute: for the full 9 hours, something they very rarely do. Only at the last minute did they finally release him. We spent all day – as every hour passed – worried that he would be arrested and charged under a terrorism statute. This was obviously designed to send a message of intimidation to those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.

Before letting him go, they seized numerous possessions of his, including his laptop, his cellphone, various video game consoles, DVDs, USB sticks, and other materials. They did not say when they would return any of it, or if they would.

This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.

*Bush-Obama Security Scheme…


  1. […] got here before 2012, but I’m happy that others, like Andrew Sullivan, have passed the tipping […]

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