Step aside, Sir, so we can have a few words
August 18, 2013 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Glenn Greenwald's partner was detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours, his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles confiscated. Glenn Greenwald calls it a failed attempt at intimidation. "...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..."
posted by dabitch (521 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yikes.
posted by JHarris at 12:08 PM on August 18, 2013


One does not simply walk out of Heathrow.

The UK is the Saruman to the United States' Sauron. It's a special relationship.
posted by srboisvert at 12:14 PM on August 18, 2013 [60 favorites]


What kind of excuse do they have for seizing DVDs and a games console? The SIMs or Godzilla hold the secrets to terrorism?
posted by jb at 12:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And they didn't even bother to pretend it was about terrorism; they spent the whole time demanding information on Greenwald's reporting.

In case you needed a reminder of who's playing the role of "bad guy" here.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:16 PM on August 18, 2013 [43 favorites]


Gentleman Caller is a dead ringer for Glenn Greenwald. I'm worried about what would happen if he traveled by plane.
posted by pxe2000 at 12:16 PM on August 18, 2013


Gangsters gotta gangster.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The UK is the Saruman to the United States' Sauron.

*rolling eyes so far back into head I can see middle earth back there*
posted by stroke_count at 12:21 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've never been in any kind of situation even remotely like the one described in this story, but I'd like to think that if I ever was my answer to every question put to me would be a solid, "Go fuck yourself."

I'm so very twitchy with rage.
posted by kbanas at 12:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wow. In light of this, I hope neither of them go anywhere near the US.
posted by ODiV at 12:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sycophants are already sycophanting, on Twitter.
posted by downing street memo at 12:37 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to think that if I ever was my answer to every question put to me would be a solid, "Go fuck yourself."

"Those stopped have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning under schedule 7, which critics say is a curtailment of the right to silence."
posted by ryanrs at 12:38 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


I hope neither of them go anywhere near the US.

After DOMA was repealed, he said that they were considering moving to the US to get married.
posted by pjenks at 12:39 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


When they do drop by to tell us this is okay/not a big deal/how it's always been done/is actually better than 20/50/100/200 years ago, their argument will probably take the form of "when you meddle in the affairs of nations, it is natural for them to take measures against you." Which ignores the fact that you can know the ostensible reasons why something is done while also thinking it is horrible.

>Way to encourage thoughtful dialogue, AElfwine Evenstar.
>This kind of threadshitting adds nothing.

On the contrary, it is expressing frustration with how, no matter what has happened or has been revealed, there will always be someone, and some way to explain it in such a way as to make it seem like less of a horrifying invasion. I've said things like this before, and I stand by them.

If you do know why this isn't really a bad thing, then go ahead and say it. What AElfwine Evenstar, and myself, are saying, is, it had better be a good explanation, because this event is infuriating.
posted by JHarris at 12:41 PM on August 18, 2013 [16 favorites]


The UK is the Saruman to the United States' Sauron.

*rolling eyes so far back into head I can see middle earth back there*


Yes, but can you see Iraq there?
posted by VikingSword at 12:43 PM on August 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Wow. They're not even pretending anymore, are they?

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.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. You're a public servant. You have a name. You are accountable for the things you do. Calling yourself a fucking number doesn't change any of those basic facts.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:44 PM on August 18, 2013 [30 favorites]


I hope neither of them go anywhere near the US.

I hope they *do* come back, because the alternative is that a journalist and his spouse are forced to seek asylum in another country for practicing journalism. That would be awkward at the World Press Freedom 2014 after-party.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:45 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Relevant, from last month:

“When I was in Hong Kong, I spoke to my partner in Rio via Skype and told him I would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I did not end up doing it. Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it’s connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists.”
posted by mediareport at 12:46 PM on August 18, 2013 [41 favorites]


[Knock it off folks, don't pre-doom threads and don't pretend like you don't know where the flagging and/or MetaTalk features are.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:48 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


“When I was in Hong Kong, I spoke to my partner in Rio via Skype and told him I would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I did not end up doing it. Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it’s connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists.”
posted by dabitch at 12:50 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


oh, mediareport beat me to it.
posted by dabitch at 12:50 PM on August 18, 2013


Is Greenwald officially designated as an Enemy Of The State like Assange?
posted by acb at 12:51 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sycophants are already sycophanting, on Twitter.

I don't see what's sycophantic in those tweets. Sounds like this person simply has an opinion that she is expressing. Not an opinion I agree with, but that's not the same thing.
posted by lunasol at 12:55 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members...

Obviously, a mistake governments have learned from.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:56 PM on August 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


We are all enemies of the State, as "the State" is a end unto itself.

Oligarchy knows no bounds.
posted by Max Power at 12:56 PM on August 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


This is so shameful.
posted by rtha at 12:58 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Abridging civil rights at airports without any basis is an outrage. Targeting journalists for this treatment for their lawful work is several degrees worse. And going after their family is contemptible, despicable, and sickening.

This whole story makes me furious.
posted by bearwife at 12:59 PM on August 18, 2013 [34 favorites]


"Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Obama, Cameron: Resign. Enough is enough.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:04 PM on August 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't think people in the UK will be shocked by this. We aren't under the illusion modern Britain is not a surveillance state.

The UK has always tended to be pretty ruthless about people who threaten, or are perceived to threaten, state security. Off the top of my head, Peter Wright's Spycatcher trial and how Richard Tomlinson was treated are two better known examples.

Also: UK customs and the Border Agency have huge powers. Always have done.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:05 PM on August 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Considering how willing Greenwald has been so far to release the 1% of a given story that happens to be in his interest, I'm going to need a little more information before making any claims about "the whole story" here.
posted by kiltedtaco at 1:06 PM on August 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


In the NYT now: "Mr. Greenwald’s partner, David Michael Miranda, 28, is a citizen of Brazil. He had spent the previous week visiting Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who has also been helping to disseminate Mr. Snowden’s leaks, in Berlin, to assist Mr. Greenwald. The trip had been paid for by The Guardian, Mr. Greenwald said, and Mr. Miranda was on his way home to Rio de Janeiro, where they live."
posted by dabitch at 1:06 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given that the Guardian paid for the trip and he was visiting Greenwald's reporting partner, I do wonder whether Greenwald expected this and decided that his partner should take the trip alone. Because it does seem like Miranda was acting as Greenwald's proxy and so to some extent his detainment, or at least the seizure of his property, is as acceptable as Greenwald's would be, even though the optics are much worse.

Of course detaining journalist and seizing their property is unacceptable in a country that claims to have a free press, but I'm still curious the extent to which this was planned, or at least anticipated, by Greenwald.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 1:07 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yep. Seems more like they detained a journalist/journalist-assistant on a meet the documentary filmmakers trip, rather than partner on vacation here. Adjust outrage accordingly.
posted by dabitch at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to need a little more information before making any claims about "the whole story" here.

He was detained under a Terrorism law. He was purposely detained for nine hours, the maximum allowable time. He is clearly not a terrorist but the partner of a journalist considered an enemy of the current US administration and by extension its British lackeys.

But then Bradley Manning was "gender-confused," Snowden didn't finish school or something, so I'm sure you'll be able to dig up something about Greenwald and his partner that makes this somehow about them personally and their own fault. Best of luck.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2013 [81 favorites]


Obama, Cameron: Resign. Enough is enough.

This story is about the UK. Connections to US involved can be drawn or implied, but there is no indication that it can be inferred.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Heh. Given the Guardian paid for the trip and he was meeting Poitras it's pretty obvious he was acting as a courier of some sort. That doesn't mean he should be detained but this is obviously not a case of "intimidate the journalist by fucking with his family."
posted by Justinian at 1:10 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Interesting to see other UK media is ignoring this at the moment but it might be a bit too soon.
I see the authorities are not even pretending any longer.
Enemy of the state loud and clear is shown by this action.
Also a warning to any other journalists who might want to push a bit more about the soft totalitarianism we seem to be falling into.
Osama won by forcing the west to score own goal after own goal.
The fundamentalists must be laughing their proverbial socks off.
There is no accountability, there will be no apology. This is a not so subtle war by the state against its own people. That's you me and every one else on this site.
We are so fucked it's unbelievable, mainly by ourselves.
Ah and on preview I see the first naysayer has shown up.
kiltedtaco, its people with your attitude that make me spit.
Official figures;, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.
David Miranda was detained for 9 fucking hour;s the legal limit.
Please don't tell me that isn't intimidation.
posted by adamvasco at 1:11 PM on August 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


"the whole story" may simply be that the UK police sincerely thought that Miranda was carrying some of the Snowden files. I missed when Snowden was declared a Terrorist in the UK though.
posted by dabitch at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is Greenwald officially designated as an Enemy Of The State like Assange?

I don't think it's quite reached the level of Assange yet, in that they're not trying to extradite him, but it's pretty clear at this point that nothing pleasant is going to happen to Greenwald if he enters US jurisdiction any time soon. You would think that the Anglo-American security states would realize that there's nothing they could do that would reinforce his narrative more, but I think they're starting to panic.

I'm starting to think of they still don't know the full extent of what Snowden walked away with. They don't seem to have been prepared at all for Barton Gellman's release of the NSA compliance audit records this week, in that they would seem to directly contradict the press the line the White House is taking. If they had known those audit results were taken by Snowden and were still to be released, why on Earth would the President have made a public statement last Friday that directly contradicted them?

So, maybe what's happening now is that people in the security apparatus are lying awake at night thinking of what else Snowden might have taken that's about to be released, and they don't like the answer so very much that they're starting to panic and lash out directly at Greenwald.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2013 [34 favorites]


Oh and btw Laura Poitras has been shamefully harassed by the US government for years whenever she travels. Even being a filmmaker is dangerous if you're not a good little water-carrier like Katheryn Bigelow.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:13 PM on August 18, 2013 [32 favorites]


He was detained under a Terrorism law.

Well, the NSA should be terrified right now, if the public turns on them it means no more blank checks from congress.
posted by 445supermag at 1:13 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Considering how willing Greenwald the NSA and its lackeys has have been so far to release the 1% 0% of a given story that happens to be in his their interest, I'm going to need a little more information before making any claims about "the whole story" here.

FTFY
posted by R. Schlock at 1:13 PM on August 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Connections to US involved can be drawn or implied, but there is no indication that it can be inferred.

While I concede it's possible the UK could have chosen today to act without US approval in the "War on Terror" for the first time ever, I have nevertheless believed Obama should resign since 2010 or so.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Considering how willing Greenwald has been so far to release the 1% of a given story that happens to be in his interest, I'm going to need a little more information before making any claims about "the whole story" here.

NYT:
London’s Metropolitan Police Service, which had jurisdiction over the case, said in a statement that Mr. Miranda had been lawfully detained under the Terrorism Act and later released, without going into detail.

“Holding and properly using intelligence gained from such stops is a key part of fighting crime, pursuing offenders and protecting the public,” the statement said.

...

A spokesman for the British Foreign Ministry said the episode was a “police matter” and would provide no further comment.
MSNBC:
Scotland Yard confirmed that a man was detained for the maximum amount of time allowed under Britain’s Terrorism Act and was released without charges. Official statistics show that one out of every 2,000 people detained under the act (.06% of all those stopped) are held for more than six hours.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep. Seems more like they detained a journalist/journalist-assistant on a meet the documentary filmmakers trip, rather than partner on vacation here. Adjust outrage accordingly.

So, upwards?
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [75 favorites]


Because it does seem like Miranda was acting as Greenwald's proxy and so to some extent his detainment, or at least the seizure of his property, is as acceptable as Greenwald's would be.

Why would the use of an anti-terrorism statute in order to detain and question a journalist be anything approaching acceptable? If the definition of "terrorist" has been stretched to include Greenwald and/or his proxies, then the word "terrorist" is meaningless and can apparently be applied to anyone the British government doesn't like for any reason.

Me, I don't understand how any of the officials involved in this can possibly look at themselves in the mirror in the morning. How do you use an anti-terrorism law to target a journalist's partner for interrogation and intimidation, confiscate all his electronics, and yet somehow be so un-self-aware that you don't feel like a cartoonish villain by the time you're done? Can anyone explain to me the psychology at work there?
posted by mstokes650 at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2013 [25 favorites]


Heh. Given the Guardian paid for the trip and he was meeting Poitras it's pretty obvious he was acting as a courier of some sort. That doesn't mean he should be detained but this is obviously not a case of "intimidate the journalist by fucking with his family."

It's not like it can't be both. They're not mutually exusive.
posted by rtha at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


@mollycrabapple

I think a lot of white, well connected tech people are going to see social graphs of the type used against "Muslim terrorists" used on them

posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


True. Win win!
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]




Why would the use of an anti-terrorism statute in order to detain and question a journalist be anything approaching acceptable?

It isn't. My next sentence was "Of course detaining journalist and seizing their property is unacceptable in a country that claims to have a free press"
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 1:18 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


jharris--"it had better be a good explanation"--I am not sure how you mean this. Do you mean "or else", "or I hope I like it", or what. I am not completely certain how I feel about the Snowden's action. Nor how I feel about the involvement of the Guardian, Post, the associated journalists or the various Government's responses. I see nothing more objectionable in one attempting to (de)catastrophize this than in giving it the passion and presence you do. I am interested in following the story but I am no more interested in your trying to censor opinion than I am in the fact you are infuriated.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:23 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's pretty obvious he was acting as a courier of some sort.

Indeed, it almost seems like a sting by Greenwald. Have a skype call where you say "I'm going to send you all the documents, encrypted, and then two days from now you can fly to Heathrow." Watch immigration show their ass by uselessly detaining you in a PR shitshow. Count coup.

What's always surprising to me in episodes like these is how clueless the faceless gov't lackeys seem to be about the larger picture. There was nothing to be gained by doing this. Even if they'd got a copy of the encrypted files, they could likely have done nothing with them. They certainly didn't intimidate Greenwald or Miranda or the Guardian. All they did was show that their heavy hand was useless once you point and laugh at it.
posted by fatbird at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


Greenwald:
Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world - when they prevent the Bolivian President's plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today - all they do is helpfully underscore why it's so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.
NYT Laura Poitras story published last week.
posted by adamvasco at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


You have got to be fucking kidding me. You're a public servant. You have a name. You are accountable for the things you do. Calling yourself a fucking number doesn't change any of those basic facts.

<PATRICK_MCGOOHAN_VOICE>

"I am not a free man! I am a number!"

</PATRICK_MCGOOHAN_VOICE>
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Joseph Heller was an optimist.
posted by delfin at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


As one who has spent substantial time working in the UK and living in Ireland I have a great deal of respect for the fact the UK has been dealing with internal and external issues related to terrorism for decades. Regardless of how one feels about the politics of this issue it is disappointing, and I think substantially inaccurate, to see the UK treated as a junior partner or lackey of the US. Of course they cooperate but the junior partner status is unwarranted.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:37 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: "@mollycrabapple

I think a lot of white, well connected tech people are going to see social graphs of the type used against "Muslim terrorists" used on them
"

Clearly, not well connected enough.
posted by symbioid at 1:38 PM on August 18, 2013


You have got to be fucking kidding me. You're a public servant. You have a name. You are accountable for the things you do. Calling yourself a fucking number doesn't change any of those basic facts.

It keeps your name out of the paper, though.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:38 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


This detention seems unwise for the authorities and abusive to the extent that the police detained him for the full 9 hours allowed by law - but it does seem that the police stayed within the letter of the (horribly overbroad - hopefully this incident will encourage its watering down) law and that the detainee wasn't just a bystander ( so not just purely intimidation
posted by Bwithh at 1:40 PM on August 18, 2013


“When I was in Hong Kong, I spoke to my partner in Rio via Skype and told him I would send an electronic encrypted copy of the documents,” Greenwald said. “I did not end up doing it. Two days later his laptop was stolen from our house and nothing else was taken. Nothing like that has happened before. I am not saying it’s connected to this, but obviously the possibility exists.”


Dear Glenn Greenwald,
You and your family really need to learn technological security procedures and to quit either broadcasting what those procedures are or baiting the authorities. Yes, this isn't right or fair, but it is the reality of the situation. If you want to play this game (and I admire that you do, even if I don't always agree with you), then definitively learn the rules as best and as quick as you can. Also, avoid UK airports for a bit.


I think a lot of white, well connected tech people are going to see social graphs of the type used against "Muslim terrorists" used on them"

*pops popcorn, gets comfy in chair*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think I'd lean more toward patriot if Snowden didn't fly to China, give an exclusive interview to Chinese state media after meeting with Chinese authorities for hours then camp out in Moscow with a nod from Putin.

You don't get diplomatic protection unless you give something juicy in return. Sometimes I feel like Snowden was a bit naive, in the end just a show horse ridden across the globe by Julian Assange.

There's a traditional and important place for criticism of the government - Chris Hedges for example - and after all we were founded on revolution. But after reading Greenwald's columns on Salon you quickly get the impression his tirades aren't heroic, but those of a hysterical saboteur.

It's easy to forget in the digital age, behind all that easily accessible data is still war planes and standing armies and nuclear weapons. I'm not sure a bit of fame draped in contrarian righteousness is the best motivation to stir these beasts.
posted by four panels at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Indeed, it almost seems like a sting by Greenwald. Have a skype call where you say "I'm going to send you all the documents, encrypted, and then two days from now you can fly to Heathrow." Watch immigration show their ass by uselessly detaining you in a PR shitshow. Count coup.

What's always surprising to me in episodes like these is how clueless the faceless gov't lackeys seem to be about the larger picture. There was nothing to be gained by doing this.


One might suspect he obligated them to do so whether there was anything to gain or not.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on August 18, 2013


Osama won by forcing the west to score own goal after own goal.

Yeah. I'm not suggesting that there is any kind of a moral equivalence to their actions, but both Al Qaeda and the Wikileaks/Greenwald/Anonymous axis have realized that the only strategy for fighting a hyperpower is jujutsu. They can never survive a pitched battle, but by channeling the natural tendency of superior strength to retaliate to provocations with overwhelming force, they can use asymmetry to goad the US and UK into attacking in ways and places where the very force of the attack can be turned back against them.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:50 PM on August 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


rmhsinc
I hate to prick your bubble but Blair was so far up Bush' arse his puppet strings weren't needed
That is where this started.
I am not sure how much the US President is in control anyway as he seems to have done an about turn on almost all of that hope and change stuff.
The puppetmeisters are in danger of being shown up and they don't like it.
The power wielded by those corporations running the intelligence community in America is impressively scarey.
posted by adamvasco at 1:50 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


you quickly get the impression his tirades aren't heroic, but those of a hysterical saboteur.

This is kind of like saying that if you pay attention to politicians, you quickly get the impression that their motivations aren't those of humble public servants but those of delusional power-hungry narcissists. People who do what Greenwald is doing are likely to have certain personality traits. You can't judge the merits of what they do based on their personalities.
posted by leopard at 1:51 PM on August 18, 2013 [24 favorites]


On the subject of security, I'm finding, much to my disappointment, that the U.S. government is beginning to resemble the Catholic Church on matters of theology, self-regarding as the only and ultimate authority and not to be second guessed. Perhaps it has always been this way, but it has only seemed obvious to me since pretty recently.
posted by hwestiii at 1:51 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boy, Miranda's going through laptops like gangbusters.
posted by Mapes at 1:55 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miranda's going through laptops like gangbusters.

"Time for a new Macbook Air! Glenn, make threatening travel plans for me." So everyone's got their game. Wheels within wheels, man.

One might suspect he obligated them to do so whether there was anything to gain or not.

My estimation of Greenwald would actually go up a notch or two if this was confirmed.
posted by fatbird at 2:02 PM on August 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


Me, I don't understand how any of the officials involved in this can possibly look at themselves in the mirror in the morning. How do you use an anti-terrorism law to target a journalist's partner for interrogation and intimidation, confiscate all his electronics, and yet somehow be so un-self-aware that you don't feel like a cartoonish villain by the time you're done? Can anyone explain to me the psychology at work there?

This isn't that hard. This guy was traveling between some folks who are in a project of releasing classified information. Some folks don't look kindly on that, and probably actually want to take action to stop it. Now you can argue that what Greenwald et al. are doing is or should be legal, and maybe this was just intimidation (certainly could have been), or that journalists deserve some sort of exception (who exactly counts as journalists?), or that the UK terrorism definitions are way too broad (this seems to be true), but it's not at all surprising that some people think the answer is "no" to these issues. You can like what Greenwald et al. does and still realize that it's potentially illegal and the police might be interested in investigating it as such. That's certainly not to say that this incident was kosher, it obviously needs to be investigated and could very well be exactly as outrageous as everyone's assuming, but let's not act like they detained a girl scout troop for eight hours.
posted by kiltedtaco at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yep. Seems more like they detained a journalist/journalist-assistant on a meet the documentary filmmakers trip, rather than partner on vacation here. Adjust outrage accordingly.

How should that make a difference?

I'm starting to think of they still don't know the full extent of what Snowden walked away with.

I've been thinking that too. It's effectively out and about so there's probably no putting the genie back in the bottle, but it's hard to damage control if you don't know what the damage is. If they had a copy of the documents then, even if they're encrypted, they could possibly tell something about the extent of the problem by file size.

I wonder, actually, how much of all of this might be Greenwald and company testing the waters, giving the US and UK opportunities to hang themselves. I mean, they knew from the documents that Skype was compromised yet they used it -- and in the process add evidence to the pile that Skype is compromised, and revealed what dick moves the supposed most powerful nation in the world is willing to go through to get what it wants. After all, Greenwald didn't actually send the documents. The more the US does this, the more petty it seems, and further this stuff keeps the story in the news.
posted by JHarris at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


How should that make a difference?


I think the point is that the story isn't that a family member of a journalist was detained, but that a de facto journalist was detained, if Miranda was really just acting as a proxy here for Greenwald. I'm not saying it's appropriate to detain any journalist, but the headline of this story is different than the truth.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:05 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


> The official - who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654

In his mind it's 007. I'm glad it's apparently not yet "007, licensed to kill."


> You and your family really need to learn technological security procedures and to quit either
> broadcasting what those procedures are or baiting the authorities.

Great heavens, why? If they were actually baiting the authorities and hooked one, then well played, David and Glenn. (And bravely played, David.)


> I am not sure how much the US President is in control anyway as he seems to have done
> an about turn on almost all of that hope and change stuff.?

Can he possibly be the Obama I thought I was voting for? How can he not be an alien in a rubber mask?
posted by jfuller at 2:05 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great heavens, why?

Well, if they're upset about losing stuff, then a bit precaution would be useful. If they're just baiting the authorities, her hee, cool. But baiting the authorities is not the impression I got from the second link, so if Greenwald is baiting, be upfront about it at some point, rather than feigning rage and surprise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:10 PM on August 18, 2013


adamvasco--don't worry about popping my bubble--many have been popped and some reborn. Quite seriously, I sometimes fear that it is many of the posters here that live in a bubble. I often get bogged down in what I see as lack of historical perspective or a ready tendency for certainty and righteousness when things are not all that certain or clear (to me). I find the Snowden episode as very little different than what has been happening as long as there have been States and a perceived or real need for security and safety from the next door neighbor. What I do see as different is the freedom we have to discuss this, explore the smallest detail and get instant information on what is happening--all without any significant reprisal to the 99.99 % discussing, second guessing or condemning it. I know, there will be thoughts that "of course" we should never have to worry about this, this is free speech, etc. I personally see all this as a continuing dialectic as all parties try and adjust to new technologies, threats (real and imagined), shifting balances of power and continuing redefinitions of rights and responsibilities. BTW, I am at all sure any of us are privy to the strings in someone else's ass.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


This story makes me so angry.

It's a bit absurd to think Miranda was serving as a data mule. Greenwald and Poitras, they understand that stuff is subject to seizure at national borders. They also understand how to use the Internet and how to transfer encrypted files. I mean maybe they'd be so crazy as to put the Super Secret Video on a USB stick, but it seems awfully unlikely when there's safer, easier ways to do it.

It's also a bit absurd to say that Greenwald and Miranda were trying to bait out UK intelligence, to embarass them. Being arrested for hours by the secret police is fucking scary, it's not something you do on a lark. And in the absence of any evidence, I see no reason to entertain the idea. It's not impossible, but highly implausible.

Speaking of being baited, what's come of the Ecuadorian President's airplane being forced to land in Switzerland?
posted by Nelson at 2:29 PM on August 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


I personally see all this as a continuing dialectic as all parties try and adjust to new technologies, threats (real and imagined), shifting balances of power and continuing redefinitions of rights and responsibilities.

Sure, but this "dialectic" involves the exercise of the state's capacity for violence and intimidation, which, if judged to be done arbitrarily, presents a significant threat to the .01% who are victimized by state power directly and the 99.99% who depend upon the legitimacy of the state to live a normal life. The detainment of anyone in a democratic society should be, by default, illegitimate until proven otherwise. Justifying this or any detainment should thus involve clearing a well-defined hurdle of what constitutes a threat to the state. It's not at all clear that the UK's actions clear any such hurdle, which is why knee-jerk justifications for this action should be discouraged.
posted by MetalFingerz at 2:32 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Shurely shome quip about Miranda rights in here? (No? Right, carry on then.)
posted by progosk at 2:38 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


David Michael Miranda

The jokes, they write themselves.

It's too bad Michael Hastings isn't around anymore. It really irks me trying to figure out what could've happened to him the night he died. The only reason I'm not more worked about this is because by all accounts this is the new norm - I mean what, you expect to be partners with the guy that is helping another guy spill a country's national security secrets and not get stopped? - but more importantly, we've done so much fucking worse. Don't even get me started on another Guantanamo rant; some days you'd think our enemies aren't even human. It's hard to understand on what basis we haven't gone ahead and just killed our captives. The only secrets worth protecting are state secrets; everyone else, take your clothes off, pop a squat and give me a nice hard cough.

The boat has long sailed on what we're willing to do to enemies of the state. Pax Americana has given way to "the access of evil" - total, one-way transparency. We need to know where you are, what you're doing and what you're thinking at all times, just to be safe. What are your elected officials up to? That's none of your business. Democracy and due process, the pillars of Western society, circumvented in one fell swoop. My finger up your ass? Welcome to Heathrow.

Of course I'm saying all this just as I'm about to move all my emails, tasks and projects up into the cloud. I hope our course corrects itself; probably not in my lifetime. In the meantime, the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must. Was true 2500 years ago, is true today.
posted by phaedon at 2:39 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Who the hell flies around the world carrying multiple game consoles?
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:44 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Those stopped have no automatic right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to co-operate with questioning under schedule 7, which critics say is a curtailment of the right to silence."

Given America broke away from Britain, among other things, for their lack of civil liberties, it should not be astonishing when their surveillance state is so much worse than ours; but we are not far behind.
posted by corb at 2:45 PM on August 18, 2013


metalfingerz--" knee-jerk justifications for this action should be discouraged" and the knee jerk justification is ??? Any detention of a citizen should follow due process and I am not at all sure due process was not followed. It maybe that we disagree with the due process but it was not arbitrary or capricious. Further, International travel intrinsically suspends certain rights ( everywhere in the world) during certain portions of that travel. Like it or not, borders are boundaries and one is only a visitor not a citizen.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:45 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who the hell flies around the world carrying multiple game consoles?
Brazil has really high tax on everything imported so my guess is he probably bought them either in Germany or in duty free.
posted by adamvasco at 2:47 PM on August 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Whether they detained a spouse or a journalist, they applied an anti-terrorism statute to cover someone who's only been accused of illegally publishing classified information. Just because the government doesn't like what you did doesn't mean they get to hit you with whatever law happens to be lying around at the moment. Why not just arrest him for murder, or tax fraud, or jaywalking? Sure, he didn't do any of those things either, but his husband pissed off the executive branch so apparently it's open season.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:47 PM on August 18, 2013 [81 favorites]


What Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish just said. Anti-terrorism statues aren't time-out cards for naughty children; government officials shouldn't be able to use them to harass individuals whose actions or ideas they disagree with. That is beyond dangerous, as is the thinking that David Miranda somehow deserved it, or brought it on himself, because he - what? Because he didn't stay at home in Brazil and keep his mouth shut? Really?
posted by harujion at 2:55 PM on August 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


If Miranda and Greenwald were Muslims the Seal Team 6 would be hunting them on a Black Op, so it could be worse.
posted by bukvich at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2013


Brazil has really high tax on everything imported so my guess is he probably bought them either in Germany or in duty free.

Well, I hope he got the right power cords. Seriously though this seems ill-considered, the new PS4 and Xbox One are coming out in like two months. Shoulda waited. But then, my rule is never to buy first-generation hardware, so maybe that's their rule as well. Lot of factors you gotta factor in, but on the whole this is pretty suspicious, so I'd probably detain him too.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:47 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


You can't judge the merits of what they do based on their personalities.

I always sigh about people who believe that a spy program is good or bad based on how much they like the guy who released the docs. "I didn't like a electronic panopticon as part of a wider surveillance state, but since I saw that leaker's egotistic walk/statement/bad haircut I'm all for it!"
posted by jaduncan at 3:49 PM on August 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


It's this aspect that makes me so angry when Howard Dean, who should know better, goes on TV to explain why our surveillance state is OK because it's being used to keep us safe. The surveillance state can't help itself. Given more power, it uses that power to target normal criminals and harrass dissidents. The pathetic thing about this episode is the Metro reponse that this detention was legal with no apparent understanding of why its legality is irrelevant. Plenty of things are legal which are nonetheless grossly immoral. Legal or not, a law which purports to allow police to detain someone for no clear reason and then excuse it under "terrorism" when it is clearly no such thing is wrong. My understanding is that the UK will not comply with ECHR rulings on this topic. Can someone enlighten me on that aspect?
posted by 1adam12 at 3:51 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can't judge the merits of what they do based on their personalities.

I always sigh about people who believe that a spy program is good or bad based on how much they like the guy who released the docs. "I didn't like a electronic panopticon as part of a wider surveillance state, but since I saw that leaker's egotistic walk/statement/bad haircut I'm all for it!"


On the other hand, I sigh about how leakers don't always recognize that people are going to judge them based on their egotistic walk/statement/bad haircut.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:57 PM on August 18, 2013


Also, for those who are interested, Andrew Sullivan has weighed in. So has Kevin Drum. (Both brief, but outraged.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:02 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


@Moochava: Yearly reminder: unless you're over 60, you weren't promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:04 PM on August 18, 2013 [41 favorites]


The UK is the Saruman to the United States' Sauron. It's a special relationship.

The Special Relationship.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:13 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whaddya say, CNN? Want to rouse Wolf out of his Situation Hammock?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if this doesn't have more to do with Poitras than Greenwald. Long before the Snowden leaks, Poitras has been detained virtually every time she flies. Even as far back as 2006, Poitras was told by airport security in Vienna, "You’re flagged. You have a threat score that is off the Richter scale. You are at 400 out of 400." While Greenwald calls Miranda's detainment an attempt at intimidation for the NSA leaks, I imagine this could easily be the outcome of impersonal, incredibly stupid, massively overreaching bureaucratic procedures and Miranda's recent visit with Poitras instead.
posted by Wemmick at 4:25 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Here is a thought:

If David Miranda was an Afgani and Glen Greenwald was some Indian/pakistani/afgani journalist .... David would have been in Guantanamo by now and Glen wouldn't even have known how/where David disappeared.

Sami al-Hajj, nn Al Jazeera journalist, was detained at Guantánamo Bay for six years because they wanted to know how Al Jazeera got OBL documents.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 4:42 PM on August 18, 2013 [29 favorites]


re: Yearly reminder--I am over 60 and we have flying cars/vans and buses. Some 245,000,000 of the persons on them went through UK airports/ports last year. Approx 70,000 (.03%) were stopped under Schedule 7 of the anti terrorism statute, less than 4% of those were detained more than one hour, and 40+/- were arrested each year. This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. In fact--244,930,000 went through without questioning under the terrorism act. I know, this has nothing to do with the specifics of Snowden et al but it does have something to do with the nature of a police state. I swear--some of the posters will not be satisfied until they have convinced themselves and others that oppression and repression is the order and norm of the day. I will grant that it is an inconvenient state but it sure beats horses, wagon trains boats and cars to travel through out the world. But after all I am over 70 and grateful just to be able to get across the room.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:44 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was detained in Heathrow for "questioning" (luckily, much briefer!), back when all young Irish were presumed terrorists. It's quite unsettling and back then they told you exactly *nothing* about why they were interested in you, how long you could be held, and what answers would satisfy. They tell you that you've no right to legal counsel unless charges are filed or you're shipped off for further detention, and they tell you that they don't have to tell you what their names are. It's intimidation of the worst sort. Basically, they went through my address list and asked me who nearly everyone was, and asked me to describe how and where I'd met them.
posted by meehawl at 4:48 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia.

What you don't understand is that it's not how we treat the best which defines what we are, it's how we treat the worst. Subjecting their family members to oppressive interrogation is not cool.
posted by localroger at 5:12 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]



This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia.

What you don't understand is that it's not how we treat the best which defines what we are, it's how we treat the worst. Subjecting their family members to oppressive interrogation is not cool.


Both of these statements can be equally true.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]



It's a bit absurd to think Miranda was serving as a data mule

The NYT is quoting Greenwald saying that's exactly what Miranda was doing:

"Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. 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. The British authorities seized all of his electronic media — including video games, DVDs and data storage devices — and did not return them, Mr. Greenwald said."

To be clear, that doesn't excuse what seems to be an obvious misapplication of the law for the purposes of intimidation and hoped-for-silencing of a free press.
posted by donovan at 5:17 PM on August 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


I wonder if this doesn't have more to do with Poitras than Greenwald. Long before the Snowden leaks, Poitras has been detained virtually every time she flies. Even as far back as 2006, Poitras was told by airport security in Vienna, "You’re flagged. You have a threat score that is off the Richter scale. You are at 400 out of 400." While Greenwald calls Miranda's detainment an attempt at intimidation for the NSA leaks, I imagine this could easily be the outcome of impersonal, incredibly stupid, massively overreaching bureaucratic procedures and Miranda's recent visit with Poitras instead.

Are we supposed to feel better if he wasn't detained as a suspected terrorist because of his relationship to a journalist, but instead because he met with... a journalist? Because I'm not feeling any better, personally.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:20 PM on August 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia.

Well it ain't exactly the model of an open, free, and healthy society; now is it?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:30 PM on August 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


turbid dahlia: "Lot of factors you gotta factor in, but on the whole this is pretty suspicious, so I'd probably detain him too."

I'm not sure if you're joking, but if not, you have just declared something that is rather normal in that part of the world suspicious without any rational basis whatsoever.
posted by wierdo at 5:33 PM on August 18, 2013


While I concede it's possible the UK could have chosen today to act without US approval in the "War on Terror" for the first time ever,

Um, I'm pretty sure the US handbooks on torture, intimidation, interment, forced feeding etc were cribbed from the UK to begin with.
posted by fshgrl at 5:42 PM on August 18, 2013


Homeboy Trouble: "Are we supposed to feel better if he wasn't detained as a suspected terrorist because of his relationship to a journalist, but instead because he met with... a journalist? Because I'm not feeling any better, personally."

Well, being detained for a relationship with a journalist (Greenwald) vs. being detained for meeting with a journalist who is apparently on a terrorist watchlist (Poitras) seems different to me. The former appears personal and vindictive, the latter, standard bureaucracy logic: meet with a flagged person, get searched yourself. Airport security is not known for moderation or good sense. It's still a rotten, nasty thing to have happen, but Hanlon's razor suggests it might not be be as personal as it appears. Then again, they did force down the Bolivian president's plane...
posted by Wemmick at 5:48 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


so people keep claiming greenwald as victim of the state
when really
hes playing the state as much as the state is playin him
its mutually reinforcing
posted by PinkMoose at 5:52 PM on August 18, 2013


Some 245,000,000 of the persons on them went through UK airports/ports last year. Approx 70,000 (.03%) were stopped under Schedule 7 of the anti terrorism statute, less than 4% of those were detained more than one hour, and 40+/- were arrested each year. This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia.

I am curious, at what numerical percentage does it become a police State or oppressive cyberpunk dystopia?
posted by mstokes650 at 6:01 PM on August 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


Damn cyberpunks!
posted by Max Power at 6:03 PM on August 18, 2013


I just hope he wasn't overcharged for his interrogation. Given that he lives in Brazil, it's going to be difficult for a man from the Ministry of Information to come around with a refund check.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:07 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, being detained for a relationship with a journalist (Greenwald) vs. being detained for meeting with a journalist who is apparently on a terrorist watchlist (Poitras) seems different to me. The former appears personal and vindictive, the latter, standard bureaucracy logic

This logic only works if you accept the premise that there's a good reason for Poitras to be on the terrorist watchlist in the first place.

If I know bureaucracy, the fact that David Miranda was stopped for questioning at Heathrow will go into a database which will probably raise his "threat rating" because of it which will result in him getting stopped and questioned at airports some more.
posted by mstokes650 at 6:10 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Given America broke away from Britain, among other things, for their lack of civil liberties,

No, you don't get it. Britain is a free country. Its foundations for its freedom are different to the US's, but every free country has different constitutional underpinnings to its freedom. And every free country has different challenges to its freedom, but there's a great deal of commonality in the way freedoms in the countries that are fighting the "war on terror" are being undermined. Section 8 of the act under which Miranda was held seems a huge violation of the right to due process.

But I can't tell you how important it is to understanding freedom it is that you understand it can come from sources other than the US constitution.
posted by ambrosen at 6:11 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, being detained for a relationship with a journalist (Greenwald) vs. being detained for meeting with a journalist who is apparently on a terrorist watchlist (Poitras) seems different to me. The former appears personal and vindictive, the latter, standard bureaucracy logic: meet with a flagged person, get searched yourself. Airport security is not known for moderation or good sense. It's still a rotten, nasty thing to have happen, but Hanlon's razor suggests it might not be be as personal as it appears. Then again, they did force down the Bolivian president's plane...

Explain to me how a one-off detainment of a person because a journalist they've associated with (Greenwald) is somehow worse than an automatic detainment because a journalist they've asssociated with (Poitras)? "Don't worry; the security agent wasn't being personal, we fuck up everybody like you" doesn't seem calming to me, particularly for everyone else. And if it is automatic flagging because they met with Poitras; 1) why don't we hear about this more, since presumably other people have met with this journalist and 2) why is the government tracking innocent civilians who meet with journalists in the first fucking place?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:14 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please watch Jacob Appelbaum's keynote address at 29c3 (previously).

Also, I find "Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members" an interesting observation. I suppose modern society is remarkably good at questioning such ancient rules, usually for good, but not always. We might relearn why the Mafia adhered to such rules if such blatant intimidation of family members spreads. Of course, the left-wing is silly multiple decades away from responding to our encroaching police state with violence, but the right-wing has already begun to do so, albeit in a confused and random way.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if you're joking, but if not, you have just declared something that is rather normal in that part of the world suspicious without any rational basis whatsoever.

That's a real suspicious thing to say, pal. You got my Suspect-O-Tron all abuzz. You have been specifically selected for a random search, I'm afraid those Diesel jeans in my size are declared contraband.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:18 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia.

It's a hell of a lot closer to it than it was when I was a lad.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:20 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Both sides seemed to have acted curiously stupidly here - GG sending his spouse through LHR while carrying top secret US info from Snowden & the British police detaining him temporarily (if so serious, why not arrest ?) in a brazen way that will obviously cause huge backlash. I think there's more to this.
posted by Bwithh at 6:23 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am curious, at what numerical percentage does it become a police State or oppressive cyberpunk dystopia?

When you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web?
posted by Going To Maine at 6:24 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regardless of how one feels about the politics of this issue it is disappointing, and I think substantially inaccurate, to see the UK treated as a junior partner or lackey of the US.

If you're on the payroll, you haven't made partner.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:25 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Err... sorry that makes no sense. I should say it becomes a cyberpunk dystopia when you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:25 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Poitras story just seems outrageous. Sure, at some point there might have been a reason to investigate her, but surely after six (or more?) years they should back off because she's probably not actually a terrorist threat. Continuing to hassle her (airports, etc.) just seems incompetent or punitive at this point. The Snowden thing could I suppose (as much as I dislike it) renew interest in her (and her associates) but what about the many years in between?
posted by R343L at 6:30 PM on August 18, 2013


Wait, so does this mean that MI5 or similar finally know what's in those Snowden files? Because it seems to me that the UK might want to know, and probably don't have total transparency into what the NSA does.

Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. 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. The British authorities seized all of his electronic media — including video games, DVDs and data storage devices — and did not return them, Mr. Greenwald said.
NYT

Having a hard time keeping up now, but so far China has copies, Russia has copies and now the UK. right?
posted by dabitch at 6:33 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Joshua Foust : The Miranda Detention: Troubling from all Sides
posted by Bwithh at 6:35 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Foust piece is good.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:41 PM on August 18, 2013


It's outrageous, R343L, but it doesn't pass a laugh test. Miranda got detained for the exact maximum time the law allows, and grilled on the articles his partner wrote that embarrassed multiple governments including the UK's biggest ally, because of a bureaucratic whoopsie? Please.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:50 PM on August 18, 2013


What I haven't seen so far is whether it occurred to Greenwald and Poitras that Miranda would be detained. It is simply not credible that it wouldn't have occurred to them, given their area of focus, Poitras' own relentless experience with precisely that, the fact that the aircraft of the head of state of a sovereign entity was forced down...

We have to assume that either they knew this might occur or that they are absolute imbeciles. I'm fully persuaded that the latter is not true. Given that, it is reasonable to suppose that A) the seized documents are useless; one or more of nondecryptable, innocuous in content or dummies. And B) what we're seeing is the plan: exposure of what the authorities are willing to do.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:50 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Having a hard time keeping up now, but so far China has copies, Russia has copies and now the UK. right?

Well, that's assuming that there's just one set of files, not multiple copies and not different portions in different locations. It seems certain that the UK has some of the materials (unless the whole exercise was the journalists engaging in some trolling). China and Russia appear to be bit of a guess. There were lots of allegations that Snowden was handing over files to the Russians and the Chinese, but Greenwald (and Snowden?) claimed that those were unsubstantiated allegations by the American press. (References to people saying it was likely that this had happened, etc.) On the other hand, Snowden is certainly living in a much more personal, hands-on surveillance state now, and it seems unlikely that Greenwald would want to circulate material that tarnished Snowden's character.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:56 PM on August 18, 2013


When you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web?

Sooo...it's not a dystopia or a police state until 100% loss of free speech then?
posted by mstokes650 at 6:58 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


You guys are adorable. The UK doesn't really need Snowden's files, they been in on this for the very beginning. Even before domestic spying we engaged in a little creative quid pro quo with them. It isn't illegal if they spy on Americans for us.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:01 PM on August 18, 2013


Mm, let's put it together. Greenwald sends a message to Miranda to expect some materials. Soon afterward their home is invaded and Miranda's laptop -- and nothing else -- is taken. Miranda goes and visits Poitras, who was routinely detained in transit zones for years. Miranda returns via Heathrow carrying a rather silly amount of electronic devices.

To suppose that any of them were not expecting this seems increasingly preposterous.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:03 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


R343L: "The Poitras story just seems outrageous. Sure, at some point there might have been a reason to investigate her, but surely after six (or more?) years they should back off because she's probably not actually a terrorist threat. Continuing to hassle her (airports, etc.) just seems incompetent or punitive at this point. The Snowden thing could I suppose (as much as I dislike it) renew interest in her (and her associates) but what about the many years in between?"

Nobody wants to be the guy who took someone off a watchlist only to later have them take down an airplane - even if such a possibility is wildly improbable. So the natural tendency of security policy is going to be to over-investigate, over-search, and consider people a risk much longer than would ever be reasonable. There's no harm to the government to do so (only other people pay the penalty for overreach), but there's a considerable downside if they miss someone who's actually dangerous. It's the same reason Guantanamo still holds so many innocent people. Or why the NSA will try to get it's hands on as much information as possible. Or why they might treat a terrorist's driver's mechanic's uncle as a threat. Barring action by someone way up in the government, someone like Poitras probably stays on watchlists indefinitely.
posted by Wemmick at 7:04 PM on August 18, 2013


Wemmick: Yes, of course, that's the reason why, but it still is clearly unjust. Applying that standard to "normal" criminal law, if the cops ever talked to you about a crime, you would always be called for similar crimes no matter how many times they have a look at you and it's clear you're not involved in that kind of crime. It's absurd.
posted by R343L at 7:08 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw something recently that suggested Poitras has been able to travel without being screened for at least the past year. Don't have time to source this information atm, but whatever list her name was on, I believe it had been taken off a while ago.
posted by bigZLiLk at 7:10 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Belatedly I find on re-reading that I'm more or less duplicating two other commenters' conjectures.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:11 PM on August 18, 2013


To suppose that any of them were not expecting this seems increasingly preposterous.

To suppose that they should have been expecting this seems increasingly outrageous.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:12 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sooo...it's not a dystopia or a police state until 100% loss of free speech then?

In a world where the USSR is still a very recent memory, I am leery of the word "dystopia".
posted by Going To Maine at 7:14 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


To suppose that they should have been expecting this seems increasingly outrageous.

I agree, but I don't see a contradiction. I wish I did.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:14 PM on August 18, 2013


You guys are adorable. The UK doesn't really need Snowden's files, they been in on this for the very beginning. Even before domestic spying we engaged in a little creative quid pro quo with them. It isn't illegal if they spy on Americans for us.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:01 PM on August 18 [+] [!]


But US/UK may not know what data and files Snowden has.
(Also, US/UK don't share everything)
posted by Bwithh at 7:17 PM on August 18, 2013


Going To Maine: "I am curious, at what numerical percentage does it become a police State or oppressive cyberpunk dystopia?

When you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web?
"

I am on a work visa to US and after writing my earlier comment, for a moment, my thought was:
Hope these comments don't lead to me to being flagged in some software and being stopped or searched more at entry / exit points or in the worse case being banned from travelling to US (I am not a high profile person and there wont be any backlash if a software/random agent decides the easiest course for them is to put me on watch list).

So, in a way, buddy, the state you are referring to is not very far from where US is now.

Its not a book that there will be a law saying you can't talk about this on a public forum .. what will happen is that people (especially vulnerable people) will simply stop talking about it.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 7:23 PM on August 18, 2013 [26 favorites]


Regarding theories that GG & co. were trolling/setting up US/UK authorities, this assumes that either a) GG & co. willing to sacrifice Miranda to possibility of arrest, being charged, and imprisoned for a long time (Miranda is patsy (?!) or acts as kamikaze volunteer to get the publicity (?! Surely they don't need this) or b) GG & co. confident ( because they still have that level of faith in US/UK govt limits? Because otherwise GG & co. go nuclear with even more special super secrets? ) that US/UK wouldn't arrest and charge Miranda.

I don't think either possibility is convincing.
posted by Bwithh at 7:26 PM on August 18, 2013


On the other hand, why don't GG and Poitras have a full set of Snowden docs already?
posted by Bwithh at 7:34 PM on August 18, 2013


But US/UK may not know what data and files Snowden has.
(Also, US/UK don't share everything)


I'm guessing the US would have done an immediate audit and figured out what the worst case scenario was and assumed that is what he has.

Snowden has been specifically are talking about "five eyes" or auscannzukus right? I hope we shared the analysis. They already got outed, they already spy on Americans and we spy for their intelligence services. What could possibly be left to hide from other signatory nations intelligence services.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:37 PM on August 18, 2013


Since I have been warned to not go back in history or do comparisons ( or else ) it is a bit of a challenge to disagree with many of the points that have been made. So I will just posit, without substantiation or corroboration that the world (the US and UK included): has never had so many journalists and citizens with access to so much information, that there has never been a time less punitive for disseminating that information; there has never been a time of such transparency in Government, that in North America and Europe ( and much of the world) there has never been as much freedom to express your opinion and that the ability to speak anonymously and with full personal disclosure has never been greater. What I do worry about is the oppression of women in much of the world, religious tyranny, income inequality, technological elitism and class stratification, cancer, heart disease, mental illness and parasites which I do not understand. This does not justify any abridgement of human rights or due process but for me it does put it in perspective. Snowden, Greenwald, etc are interesting--it is certainly personally challenging but it does not define a country, the world or the nature of freedom.
posted by rmhsinc at 7:38 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


But US/UK may not know what data and files Snowden has.

What, they don't log what their employees access?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:43 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


that there has never been a time less punitive for disseminating that information

This administration, in particular, has been extremely punitive, while claiming otherwise.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2013


Bwithh: "On the other hand, why don't GG and Poitras have a full set of Snowden docs already?"

Furthermore, is there a good reason why Poitras and Greenwald are using thumbdrives to share data? They've met in person before, so why can't they encrypt the docs with a pre-shared key and send them over the internet? Unless AES-256 is broken or they're trying to hide their locations, I don't see the point.
posted by Wemmick at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


so why can't they encrypt the docs with a pre-shared key and send them over the internet?

They've got that information. I assume everything is either compromised or potentially so.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:57 PM on August 18, 2013


But US/UK may not know what data and files Snowden has.

What, they don't log what their employees access?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:43 PM on August 18 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


But maybe he is super secret sly spy computer genius?
posted by Bwithh at 7:58 PM on August 18, 2013


They already got outed, they already spy on Americans and we spy for their intelligence services. What could possibly be left to hide from other signatory nations intelligence services.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:37 PM on August 18 [+] [!]


Something like e.g. the US spying on top UK, Canadian, Australian, NZ govt officials and R&D labs
posted by Bwithh at 8:02 PM on August 18, 2013


Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald.

Well, I was wrong, and I absolutely don't understand this. Why would anyone in their position carry any valuable data physically through a border crossing? I'm not saying it's OK for the British police to grab Miranda and steal his Xbox. But it seems odd to me that Greenwald would outright say Miranda is carrying documents for he and Poitras.
posted by Nelson at 8:19 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fucking stupid. The unwritten rules are this--leakers of classified information should be prosecuted. And you can subpoena journalists to get information about the leakers. But you don't work the journalists. And what did they think? Greenwald wouldn't make this blow up in their face?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:24 PM on August 18, 2013


Why would anyone in their position carry any valuable data physically through a border crossing?

I doubt it's any less secure than going over the net, unless the government in question is willing to use the more literal forms of brute force decryption (and even then they could likely get the encrypted file via their electronic snooping anyway). It is my understanding that Greenwald is not at all good at this paranoid security stuff and he is simply doing as Snowden and Poitras tell him in regards to protecting the data. Imagine having your grandparents being the reporter handling this stuff, a thumbdrive might just be easier for an amateur to handle.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:29 PM on August 18, 2013


kiltedtaco:

> Considering how willing Greenwald has been so far to release the 1% of a given story that happens to be in his interest, I'm going to need a little more information before making any claims about "the whole story" here.

Some links to prove your point? Perhaps actually show us some story where he only released a minority of the information that happened to be in his interest?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:29 PM on August 18, 2013


But you don't work the journalists.

Holding a journalist physically so they can snoop him is not exactly much of a stretch from the snooping the US was doing to the AP and Fox. Not matter how it is legally justified in either country, the chilling impact on journalism is the same. This shit is out of hand, and it has been for a while now. Anybody who is sick of it better call the White House or their representatives in their own countries.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Regarding theories that GG & co. were trolling/setting up US/UK authorities, this assumes that either a) GG & co. willing to sacrifice Miranda to possibility of arrest, being charged, and imprisoned for a long time (Miranda is patsy (?!) or acts as kamikaze volunteer to get the publicity (?! Surely they don't need this) or b) GG & co. confident ( because they still have that level of faith in US/UK govt limits? Because otherwise GG & co. go nuclear with even more special super secrets? ) that US/UK wouldn't arrest and charge Miranda.

I don't think either possibility is convincing.


I have two guesses about what is going on.

(1) The documents were not provided by Snowden, but are instead works-in-progress that Greenwald and Poitras are collaborating on. They are following a security protocol stipulating that files from air-gapped computers are only transmitted from Point A to Point B on physical media (e.g., encrypted thumb drives).

(2) Sending Miranda was intended to establish some kind of precedent that would help Greenwald to travel freely. Greenwald correctly believed that it would be politically untenable for the UK to arrest and charge Miranda for traveling across the border with encrypted documents. Now, if Greenwald crosses the border with encrypted documents, Miranda has set a valuable precedent.

I think the first possibility is more likely than the second. However, it is possible that both guesses are correct, and it is possible that both guesses are wrong.
posted by compartment at 8:36 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some links to prove your point? Perhaps actually show us some story where he only released a minority of the information that happened to be in his interest?

Don't bother. When Wikileaks released all the information, that was the wrong thing to do as well, of course.
posted by Jimbob at 8:40 PM on August 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


The Little Prince, thanks! I appreciate your perspective. Not sure that it changes mine, but something I will bear in mind.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:41 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


People associating themselves with the name "Anonymous" can be shitheads a lot of times. The "doxs" appear to be a call for mob justice on the friends and family members of government employees.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:44 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now, if Greenwald crosses the border with encrypted documents, Miranda has set a valuable precedent.

But the UK police can still seize GG's docs? Detain him for only 1 hour - "We went easy on him" - but still take docs?
posted by Bwithh at 8:50 PM on August 18, 2013


So... did they read him his rights?
posted by Sebmojo at 9:03 PM on August 18, 2013


TheLittlePrince has it. The goal of a security state is not to control everyone, watch everyone, know everything, but to make people wonder if they control everyone, watch everyone, and know everything. The chilling effect is the goal, not the side effect.

As soon as people start pausing before typing negative things about their government into a text box on the internet, then the chill has begun to spread.
Why bother blogging about your support for Edward Snowden? You're just one voice, and there's just the smallest chance that it'll make your trip across the border to your sick mother in Mexico more difficult. Others will express that opinion, why take the chance? They're probably not analyzing my blog, but...you never know...
The vulnerable people will feel it first - people who have committed crimes, immigrants, members of unpopular groups, etc. But as soon as those groups have been effectively silenced, the definition of who is vulnerable will expand.

By the time we've reached all-out red-alert East Germany police state-a-rama, no one will be interested in discussing it, let alone opposing it.

The beautiful thing about the whole business is that the low-level people who accomplish this goal, the cogs in the mechanized state icebox - the TSA employees, the NSA analysts, the Microsoft FISA compliance team-members, etc, they all are doing it to protect us from monsters.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:07 PM on August 18, 2013 [25 favorites]


TheLittlePrince has it. The goal of a security state is not to control everyone, watch everyone, know everything, but to make people wonder if they control everyone, watch everyone, and know everything. The chilling effect is the goal, not the side effect.

The NSA has been consistently attempting to imply that it doesn't watch everyone, or watches people significantly less than is being suggested by leakers; the idea that they are intentionally trying to create a chilling effect is misreading their purposes. (You can't get SIGINT from SIG that has no INT.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:26 PM on August 18, 2013


Going To Maine: "The Little Prince, thanks! I appreciate your perspective. Not sure that it changes mine, but something I will bear in mind."

Being a police state is not a matter of reaching a certain point but a matter of degree. Its defined by how much the person being restricted is comfortable with the restrictions.

What seems a police state to some people now might have seemed normal or outright freedom to someone from earlier east Germany or even may be for someone from McCarthy era. The opposite also applies ... what seems freedom to you might look like overbearing control to someone.

The question is: Is US moving towards more freedom for its residents or less freedom? And how much appropriate are the choices being made to the actual situation.

Post 9/11 the argument is that the US has become/is becoming less free. And this restriction is disproportionate to the risks that US faces as a whole. In addition, these restrictions are useless or counterproductive to reducing those risks.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 9:35 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, for those who are interested, Andrew Sullivan has weighed in.

He really nails it.

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.

posted by Drinky Die at 9:37 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


The NSA has been consistently attempting to imply that it doesn't watch everyone, or watches people significantly less than is being suggested by leakers; the idea that they are intentionally trying to create a chilling effect is misreading their purposes. (You can't get SIGINT from SIG that has no INT.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:26 AM


What you say is true. The policymakers at the NSA may even believe that their purpose is not to create this chilling effect. The crazy thing about power is that once it's created, it will be used. Even if they didn't really intend to control the population through surveillance and intimidation, they created the power to do so, and as a result we're already seeing them take the first steps down that path.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:40 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Salvor Hardin, your statement make it sound like you are trying to have it both ways: the chilling effect isn't goal of the NSA policy makers, yet it is their goal. (Contrast, say, with the firewall of China, which does try to create an air of uncertainty about what is or isn't forbidden.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:46 PM on August 18, 2013


In a world where the USSR is still a very recent memory, I am leery of the word "dystopia".

At what point do you begin to wonder if something is wrong about detaining people without cause?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


In a world where the USSR is still a very recent memory, I am leery of the word "dystopia".

At what point do you begin to wonder if something is wrong about detaining people without cause?


Of course there's something wrong with it. That doesn't make it a dystopia.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:57 PM on August 18, 2013


Why are some people so invested in the state, vis a vis the state as a "kick ass" organization with guns and bombs and spies and watch lists and all that claptrap?
posted by maxwelton at 9:58 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Setting aside all of the other things to be outraged over (and rightfully so, IMHO), when did it become legal to confiscate all the electronics that a person is carrying through an airport? Did they take his clothes and luggage too? I mean, the guy was released after all, with no charges filed, right? How does that translate into the government legally stealing all of a person's possessions?

This shit is getting totally crazy.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:01 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


In the US it is legal to confiscate electronics anywhere within the border zone. The 'border zone' stretches 100 miles inland of the actual border, and contains 66% of the population.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:21 PM on August 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


You can hear "Saracen" in "Sauron" and "Saruman".
posted by telstar at 10:24 PM on August 18, 2013


Of course there's something wrong with it. That doesn't make it a dystopia.

Maybe. But do you really think there's nothing to calling this a dystopian situation, or that there isn't something to why people are pessimistic enough to call this a dystopian situation? It's the dismissive tone I keep hearing from people like you while things just get worse and worse, which is what bothers me. I'm really desperately trying to understand it. I'm really trying to understand you — what your point of view is. This is clearly not an ideal representation of freedom or democracy, when people are detained by the government without good reason, because their partner is a reporter who reports on the increasingly excessive abuses of powerful people who intercept our private communications outside the confines of the law. Please help me understand you; to understand why you think people shouldn't care about this. I really want to understand why this country's citizens don't care about rule of law any more. I want — I need to know. I worry about the future and my safety in it — about my partner's place in it. I worry about inadvertently saying the wrong thing somewhere — having already said it, perhaps — and having my words cause myself and my loved one harm. Keeping silent out of fear is not a utopian situation, clearly. Why is this acceptable to you, even as the revelations get worse and worse? I'd really like to know. Please educate me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 AM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Of course there's something wrong with it. That doesn't make it a dystopia.

There is no official dystopia declaring body. There is no hard line. It's an ad hoc determination. It doesn't make sense to say we are or are not living in a dystopia, although the fact that people feel it necessary to say we definitely are not seems interesting to me.

Still, on a scale of Sealand to North Korea, we're just about approximately at a United States, give or take a Germany.
posted by JHarris at 1:04 AM on August 19, 2013


“There is simply no basis for believing that David Michael Miranda presents any threat whatsoever to the UK government. The only possible intent behind this detention was to harass him and his husband, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for his role in analyzing the data released by Edward Snowden.”

"States cannot pass anti-terror acts and claim they are necessary to protect people from harm and then use them to retaliate against someone exercising his rights. By targeting Miranda and Greenwald, the government is also sending a message to other journalists that if they maintain their independence and report critically about governments, they too may be targeted."


- Amnesty International (google cache since their site seems down)
posted by jeffburdges at 1:08 AM on August 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't get how anyone can justify this. These kind of powers, holding people without charge or legal defence are dangerous precisely because they can and will be used in this way. The question of course becomes what level these orders come from, and sadly that is one to which we will probably never get an answer, if this even gets addressed.

One of the promises of the coalition was that they would roll back the authoritarian nature of the previous Labour government. They have done so on a small scale, but at nowhere near the required amount. It seems that as soon as parties obtain political power they meet with the civil servants who are convinced of the necessity of their information gathering apparatus, and quickly acquiese. That said, even out of power Labour haven't exactly had a road to Damascus moment on civil liberties.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:14 AM on August 19, 2013


As a journo's spouse who travels (has travelled) to Heathrow with encrypted laptops (they mandated BitLocker on my previous company's laptops) before, this is chilling in no small measure. It is also quite ridiculous; I had no idea that British law required cooperation and mandates seizure even when you haven't crossed the border.
posted by the cydonian at 1:27 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


via
The hysteria of the "war on terror" is now corrupting every area of democratic government. It extends from the arbitrary selection of drone targets to the quasi-torture of suspects, the intrusion on personal data and the harassing of journalists' families. The disregard of statutory oversight – in Britain's case pathetically inadequate – is giving western governments many of the characteristics of the enemies they profess to oppose.
posted by adamvasco at 3:28 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Interesting post on Legal Insurrection.
Is it unrelated that on friday wikileaks released 400gbs of security files? Also on Friday Wapo released a detailed report stating that the NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year and HuffPo published an article about Snowden where he states
individuals associated with his father have "misled" journalists into “printing false claims about my situation..
NSA and their apologists seem to be running very scared and muddying the waters as much as possible.
posted by adamvasco at 3:52 AM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm glad to see people over at The Guardian aren't mincing words:

Harassing the family of those who have upset authority is the most obscene form of state terrorism.

The worst part is that I don't believe anyone will actually take responsibility for this, or make a single move to change anything. Because a lot of ordinary people support this kind of bullshit - if you're innocent, you have nothing to fear, right? Well my partner isn't going to be hanging out with Edward Snowden, so why is this a problem?
posted by harujion at 4:00 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Miranda had been transporting (e.g.) codes for nuclear weapons I would be all for detaining him; the reason I would give him a pass is that these revelations are good for the USA, and the world. It's not the detention that should outrage people: it's the massive quasi-legal scheme to bug the planet. Detaining a data courier is practically insignificant compared to the other things the USA does; and until and unless it decides to roll back its totalitarian aspirations it's basically forced to behave as though Snowden was a spy and Greenwald is his co-conspirator.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:39 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stay Classy England. Jeez, we are so far down the wrong rabbit hole now we are well and truly fucked.
posted by marienbad at 4:40 AM on August 19, 2013


would only identify himself by his number: 203654

The response to this would be "then kindly address me as Number Six"
posted by sammyo at 5:07 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


rmhsinc
I came across this somewhere which I feel is how the west prefers to control their populace.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."

Now that the range of the debate has jumped over the permitted guide lines there seems a certain sense of panic going on from the authorities. Blatent lies are being spouted as truth.
Little lying Willie Hague tells Brits if they havent done anything wrong they have nothing to be afraid of.
Re the Special relationship (2007 piece)
Not exactly. Britain has always been the battered mistress: badly treated but clinging to the US for protection.
posted by adamvasco at 5:08 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. 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. The British authorities seized all of his electronic media — including video games, DVDs and data storage devices — and did not return them, Mr. Greenwald said."

I had no sympathy for the authorities before I read this. But Mr. Miranda was quite literally smuggling doccuments through customs if this is the case. And was, if my suspicions about Greenwald are correct, doing it badly. Which means that he was pretty obviously smuggling doccuments through the airport and was pulled aside for it. He then refused to answer questions, as planned, so was pulled aside for being incredibly and deliberately suspicious, and refused to answer questions for nine hours, as planned. And was released at the end of nine hours having just waited things out.

Well trolled, Mr. Greenwald. Well trolled.

If the son of a Mafia Don is arrested for mooning the police department he's not been arrested for being the son of a Mafia Don. He's been arrested for mooning the police. And the exemption for mafia families only applies if they stay out of the family business, which Mr. Miranda is not.

On the other hand this is in line with the classic tradition of Civil Disobedience. Doing things that people ought to be allowed to do and getting them noisily and messily arrested for eating their lunch in the wrong place or sitting in the wrong part of the bus, drawing attention to the laws being bad in the first place and people being arrested for things that they should not be arrested for (like travelling with documents and electronic files while darkish skinned and uncooperative). Having trolls like this is a good thing to shine a light on the things that need shining a light on.
posted by Francis at 5:09 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, for those who are interested, Andrew Sullivan has weighed in.

He really nails it.


Actually, what he nails is why he should have zero credibility as a commentator on anything.

The man would need to be repeatedly struck by lightning before he recognized a thunderstorm.
posted by srboisvert at 5:12 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course there's something wrong with it. That doesn't make it a dystopia.

When I was a kid, I used to read science-fiction books about cyber-dystopias. I read them because they gave me the thrill of fear and horror that I knew I wouldn't get for real life. They were suitable for a kid, because in among my fear was an absolute sense of security. I knew that these terrible things would never actually come to pass - that I could put the book down and be in my own society again, rest secure in the freedoms this country granted me.

Now, they are spying on my email. They are spying on my phone. They are kidnapping people abroad and forcing them into secret prisons. They are holding people for years without charge. They are killing American children without a trial. They are watching me move in my cities. They are roughing up and keeping journalists away from protests where they then proceed to beat, shoot, and gas protesters. They irradiate citizens at airports to look at their body under clothes for weapons. They are preparing to do it to citizens walking down the street.

Do you, like me, remember when those things were horrible and unimaginable?

Your children won't.
posted by corb at 5:19 AM on August 19, 2013 [21 favorites]


Now, they are spying on my email. They are spying on my phone. They are kidnapping people abroad and forcing them into secret prisons. They are holding people for years without charge. They are killing American children without a trial. They are watching me move in my cities. They are roughing up and keeping journalists away from protests where they then proceed to beat, shoot, and gas protesters. They irradiate citizens at airports to look at their body under clothes for weapons. They are preparing to do it to citizens walking down the street.

No I don't remember when the police were roughing up civil rights demonstrators and keeping journalists away from protests. I don't remember the fourty years in which they were letting people die from syphilis and claiming it to be healthcare. I don't remember Cointel Pro. I am too young. I do however know enough history to know if you thought such things were unthinkable that said more about your privilege than it did about what actually happened.

What has changed is that as communications have improved we know much more about what is going on. And that you have opened your eyes.
posted by Francis at 5:41 AM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


"I had no sympathy for the authorities before I read this. But Mr. Miranda was quite literally smuggling doccuments through customs if this is the case. And was, if my suspicions about Greenwald are correct, doing it badly."

No, he was carrying documents relating to a journalists investigation-- by using the word smuggling you seem to be indicating he's done something illegal, I'd love you to tell us what that illegal thing was? Lets be clear, he was held under an anti-terrorism law, which from any reasonable viewpoint is an absolute abuse of power-- and yet you have still have sympathy for the Government in this instance? Amazing.

"What has changed is that as communications have improved we know much more about what is going on. And that you have opened your eyes."

And that you have closed yours.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:06 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web?

I know people who are already wary or afraid of publicly taking a stance against abuses of authority. It has certainly crossed my mind that, as someone who is not a citizen yet of the country in which I reside, I should perhaps be more careful in my political views and activism. But then I think, ah, maybe I'm just being paranoid; it's not like I'm anywhere near on the level of a Glenn Greenwald. But I don't know. That doubt is there. It does affect my life. It's something that comes up regularly in activist circles, even among those of us that don't engage in "illegal" civil disobedience. The local police department's spokesperson even admited to politically motivated spying on some local activist groups a couple years ago.

By the time 100% of people are afraid to talk about these issues in public, it will be far, far too late.
posted by eviemath at 6:51 AM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


(Contrast, say, with the firewall of China, which does try to create an air of uncertainty about what is or isn't forbidden.)

This is not what the firewall in China does, people have studied it, and it is pretty clear what is and is not censored.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:58 AM on August 19, 2013


What kind of a country do you have to live in for "smuggling documents" to be a thing? I didn't think documents were contraband in any supposedly 'free' country.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:01 AM on August 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


But Mr. Miranda was quite literally smuggling doccuments through customs if this is the case. And was, if my suspicions about Greenwald are correct, doing it badly.

If my suspicions are correct, GCHQ is going to be throwing a lot of computing power at some highly encrypted cookbooks (out of copyright, of course.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:09 AM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


To be clear, there is no evidence that Miranda was doing *anything* wrong. Had there been any evidence, the authorities would not have had to resort to using these anti-terrorism laws that require no evidence, nor probable cause, in order to detain him. They could have just arrested him, and then interrogated him.
If, for example, they got a tip that someone was smuggling drugs (as opposed to documents) they would have arrested that person, searched them, and jailed them if they found anything.
posted by bashos_frog at 7:10 AM on August 19, 2013


Bashos_frog: Some documents contain state secrets, and taking that information out of a specified physical or digital location is subject to legal control, often under espionage statutes. However, espionage DNE terrorism, although terrorist groups sometimes engage in espionage (and indeed espionage agencies sometimes work with terrorists). The Terrorism Act is supposed to be used to prevent terrorism - i.e. the attempted or threatened use of violence against person, property or national infrastructure with the intention of seeking to force governments to act according to the wishes of, or to advance a particular political, social or religious agenda.

The possible overlap would be relating to provisions in the Terrorism Act relating to seeking to elicit or publish the personal details of members of the police or armed forces (the Act is also why Greenwald didn't get a name from the office he spoke to). Normally this would be moot, of course, because, as you say, the Terrorism Act can be invoked without a statement of probable cause (because telling a terrorist suspect why they are a suspect might help them to evade suspicion, or help others to do so). However, the Home Office is going to come under pressure to press the police on this one. Whether that will go anywhere, or whether national security will be cited, is an interesting question in itself.

I had no sympathy for the authorities before I read this. But Mr. Miranda was quite literally smuggling doccuments through customs if this is the case. And was, if my suspicions about Greenwald are correct, doing it badly. Which means that he was pretty obviously smuggling doccuments through the airport and was pulled aside for it. He then refused to answer questions, as planned, so was pulled aside for being incredibly and deliberately suspicious, and refused to answer questions for nine hours, as planned. And was released at the end of nine hours having just waited things out.

I'm not sure where you are getting that Miranda refused to answer questions - is that on the record at this point? Under schedule 7, not cooperating is itself a criminal offense - what happens at that point is that you are charged and taken to a police station, where you get access to a lawyer.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:20 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some links to prove your point? Perhaps actually show us some story where he only released a minority of the information that happened to be in his interest?

Foust describes the issue with the latest WaPo story pretty well, and how Greenwald purposefully blurs the line between legal and technically possible to suit his own picture. Getting XKEYSCORE Right actually takes the effort to understand what XKEYSCORE is rather than just hyping the scare factor, and makes some important points about how the legal authority for it has changed since some of the slides were created. And honestly one of the best sources for cutting through the Guardian/Greenwald/WaPo spin is the NSA OIG report on STELLARWIND, which WaPo was kind enough to release even though it undermines a lot of their perspective on the program. It's really the most important thing to read if you want to understand what the program is and how it operates.

Don't bother. When Wikileaks released all the information, that was the wrong thing to do as well, of course.

It was potentially more dangerous for the people who's activities were leaked, but it was far better in terms of showing that Assange was more interested in letting the leaked information speak for itself than in trying to spin it to appear as nefarious as possible.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:29 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


A UK official tells the BBC: "Those of us who were part of passing this legislation certainly would not have expected it to be used in a case of this kind."

Greenwald in the same article: "I have lots of documents about the way the secret services operate in England. Now my focus will be there as well...I think they are going to regret what they did."
posted by mediareport at 7:33 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given the UK's recent history of the treatment of Brazilian nationals, I suppose Miranda got off quite lightly.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:35 AM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess they screw back yeah? While I support the media and this is a bit outlandish, like Spain and England over some Big rock in the MED, one should not openly say I think they are going to regret what they did." I mean you can and one should but ah. Carry on.
posted by clavdivs at 7:39 AM on August 19, 2013


It's clear that Miranda "often assists" Greenwald's reporting (and in fact had his flights paid for by the Guardian, according to that BBC article). It's also clear that doesn't matter. The key is the harassment of legal journalism under ridiculously broad "terrorism" statutes that should never have been used in this case. It's a clear assault on press freedom and a clear sign of things to come, aimed at journalists of all political stripes, unless we stop it now. UK people, please be calling your representatives. Please.

Oh, and the BBC reports the law requires "Any property seized must be returned after seven days." We'll see if that's the case.
posted by mediareport at 7:40 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


But Mr. Miranda was quite literally smuggling doccuments through customs if this is the case. ... Which means that he was pretty obviously smuggling doccuments through the airport and was pulled aside for it.

It's only "smuggling" if he's moving something into the country illegally. Is it illegal to bring encrypted documents into the UK? Should it be illegal?

There's a difference between a mule and a courier.

But that's beside the point. The point is that they detained him using a counterterrorism law. In what possible world do a journalist's encrypted documents constitute a terrorist threat?

how Greenwald purposefully blurs the line between legal and technically possible to suit his own picture.

Can you provide a specific example? I didn't see anything in the linked article. I have always thought Greenwald made things clear.

The Joshua Foust article draws the heavy-handed analogy of the FBI having the technical ability to walk into anyone's house and shoot them, but not the legal authority. No doubt. But if the FBI did that, they would quite obviously be subject to legal oversight.

Greenwald's concern is not just over the technical ability, but over the technical capability AND the lack of meaningful oversight. Without adequate oversight, the ballyhooed "legal limitations" are, practically speaking, a set of optional guidelines. If the NSA listened to your phone call without a warrant, what penalties would they face, and who would punish them?

Foust complains that Wyden has not offered specific examples of the abuses that he alleges. Please tell me: How is Wyden supposed to tell us about these secret abuses without breaking the law? Wyden was complaining about the metadata dragnet for literally years without offering specific information because he was legally prohibited from talking about it. Foust's complaints about Wyden suggest that Foust is either poorly informed or disingenuous.
posted by compartment at 7:47 AM on August 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Going To Maine: When you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web?

You may want to check your privilege.
posted by anemone of the state at 7:55 AM on August 19, 2013



Oh, and the BBC reports the law requires "Any property seized must be returned after seven days." We'll see if that's the case.


Not if it's needed as evidence in a criminal investigation
posted by Bwithh at 8:04 AM on August 19, 2013


Greenwald's concern is not just over the technical ability, but over the technical capability AND the lack of meaningful oversight.

Both the OIG report I linked to above and the recent release from the Washington Post actually describe the oversight in place. WaPo spins the report to make it sound like a disaster, but I think it actually makes the NSA's oversight look quite reasonable. Obviously there's no way to prove the non-existence of abuse issues, but the evidence is right there describing how the NSA monitors its compliance with the law.

If the NSA listened to your phone call without a warrant, what penalties would they face, and who would punish them?

The office of the inspector general, the FISA court, the secretary of defense, or the president. Same as any other federal agency. Oversight is important, but with most agencies we don't bother asking "What if the entire IRS went rogue and charged people illegal taxes then lied about it, what penalties would they face, who would punish them?". We're usually ok with most problems being handled by the agency's OIG, and I think the evidence we have shows that the NSA's internal compliance is not obviously lacking.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:14 AM on August 19, 2013




I think the evidence we have shows that the NSA's internal compliance is not obviously lacking.

I like your confidence. I hazard some people said the same thing in East Germany about the Stasi.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]



Key Loophole Allows NSA To Avoid Telling Congress About Thousands Of Abuses

From the Ambinder article linked to in that piece
The Post’s documents suggest that people classified as “roamers” are the unwitting victims of the plurality of both E.O. 12333 and FISA violations.

According to an intelligence official, one type of “roamer” is a legitimate foreign intelligence target who suddenly travels to the United States, thus temporarily placing his or her communications on the U.S. telecom infrastructure grid. Roamers, generally, include recognized agents of foreign powers, like identified foreign government officials or suspected spies operating under diplomatic cover.

NSA is not permitted to use the U.S. telephone system to continue to collect intelligence on these targets without re-tasking the target through FISA channels.
"Plurality" in this case means 91% of the 2776 incidents. Nobody seems to bother to do the math, but it's all in the report linked above. This is about the most non-nefarious mistake I can imagine the NSA making. Calling this "abuse" is ridiculous.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:43 AM on August 19, 2013


If my suspicions are correct, GCHQ is going to be throwing a lot of computing power at some highly encrypted cookbooks (out of copyright, of course.)

The game consoles were the tipoff for me. Someone needs to memeify Miranda's photo with YOUR CHAINZ / I IZ JERKIN THEM
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:44 AM on August 19, 2013


If my suspicions are correct, GCHQ is going to be throwing a lot of computing power at some highly encrypted cookbooks (out of copyright, of course.)

My money's on a copy of a large chunk of Project Gutenberg.
posted by Francis at 8:46 AM on August 19, 2013


Terrorism law watchdog calls for explanation of Miranda detention

Most surprising to me is that the UK has a person appointed Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation ready to go at a moment's notice. Sounds like a good idea, at least on paper.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:52 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Greenwald, today:
"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," Greenwald, speaking in Portuguese, told reporters at Rio's airport where he met Miranda upon his return to Brazil.
posted by lullaby at 8:57 AM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]




I think the evidence we have shows that the NSA's internal compliance is not obviously lacking.

Linguists who worked at an NSA facility allege that they "routinely monitored conversations between U.S. troops in Iraq and their spouses or loved ones." Was this a lawful program? Was anyone punished? If so, how?

How did the NSA's internal compliance mechanism react when confronted with the fact that it eavsesdropped without a warrant on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time?
posted by compartment at 9:56 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


"This is not a police State or a oppressive cyberpunk dystopia."

Thanks for clearing that up!

What exactly is the name we should use for an undemocratic illegal global surveillance system? One that spans most of the planet, whose mere existence chills nearly every person's speech and where writing about such an apparatus results in serious harassment or worse?

To deny that our current societies are dystopian in nature is abject nonsense. The idea of dystopia is reasonably laid out as a society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening - so, if you're suggesting that this current political landscape is desirable or that the massive surveillance programs used for political purposes aren't frightening, I'd encourage you to take a look around this thread, as well as on some journalistic forums.

The definition of a police state varies a bit but generally to quote the Wikipedia: "The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state."

Does that sound familiar? If not - does it sound impossible? If so, how do you square that with Mr. Miranda's treatment? If it does sound familiar - does it sound acceptable?

The practical restrictions on mobility are extremely serious - to use anti-terrorism legislation for political ends with a journalist or their family is absolutely disgusting - it is also outside of the law. Let us not forget that the law itself is completely unjust - they didn't even follow their own law! This kind of police action chills speech and if it wasn't for massive political pressure, David Miranda might still be sitting in a jail with people throwing around the word terrorist.

How many people does this happen to in the US or UK? It isn't zero and frankly, Blackstone's formulation seems lost on this generation when reasoning about justice. Lots of victim blaming and lots of praise for criminal state action.

The monitoring might not yet be familiar but it is no longer possible to deny - TEMPORA being merely part of the current UK surveillance system. The NSA and GCHQ clearly have the entire planet under their watchful eye, as imperfect as it might be, it isn't for a lack of trying.

Many of my friends and I have experienced years of detainment actions by various governments, similar to Mr. David Miranda. To say that it isn't pleasant on a number of levels is an understatement. To be detained and to be called a terrorist is not even remotely a positive experience. It is a tactic designed to put the fear of god into the person being held - it is pure political thuggery that should not be tolerated by anyone about any person. This kind of behavior by the police, border authorities or other public servants is not reasonable, nor does it square with the purpose by which those in authority were granted such powers.

Agents of the US, UK and others governments at borders now seem to regularly steal a person's property, deny that person legal council, interrogate a person about their political, religious and philosophic views, record the person against their will, keep them incommunicado and even then, they may deny that they exist at all. This is simply unacceptable.

The fact that I'm posting here means that with high probability some (machine, then human) analyst will read this entire page. Think on that for a moment and now consider everything you've all written. Feeling good? Feeling no change in how you might write or what you might or might not say? Wishing that MetaFilter was serving all their content over HTTPS?

So - what do we call many dystopian police states working together anyway? The Free* West™ of course!

Welcome to the Cast Iron Club social graph ladies and gentlemen of MetaFilter!

* Some unknown, secret restrictions may apply and you or your loved ones may or may not be targeted!
posted by ioerror at 10:04 AM on August 19, 2013 [36 favorites]


The banality of evil

The thing about repressive states is that for most people they don't look like the worst case scenario. What does a police state look like? For states that have received such designations in the past, for a small subset of the population it looks like state terrorism. But for most people there's a dis-ease and overall background atmosphere of fear, but it becomes normalized and backgrounded. Our view of historic, no longer extant police states is skewed because we hear the stories of heroism and struggle and of injustices and crimes, not the boring, banal, everyday lives of most people living under the repressive system. The stories of injustices are very important to help us remember why repressive states are bad, and the stories of heroism are very important to give us the heroic imagination that supports us in the difficult and tedious work of struggle against injustice. But a complete and realistic picture of what a repressive state looks like in its banal, everyday workings is also important for recognising current repressive states.

"Repressive state" is a spectrum or continuum. But it should concern us that we are even on that continuum, even if we are far from the worst extreme end case.
posted by eviemath at 10:30 AM on August 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


You know... the fact that someone used the phrase "smuggling doccuments" [sic x2] non-ironically should infer that we've already crossed the line into that grey area of dystopian territory.
posted by Blue_Villain at 10:32 AM on August 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


(My last link had a nice pull quote at the top, but here's a better overall link.)
posted by eviemath at 10:39 AM on August 19, 2013


ioerror--sorry, i just can not get on board with the dystopian police state stuff. And I am quite prepared to be wrong and perhaps I should worry more. If I find any justification for my position it is observing the hundreds of millions of people who fluidly and easily cross international borders, the information that flowed electronically in Egypt, Libya and increasingly in Iran. I am comforted by the number of posters here and on thousands of other web sites where ideas are exchanged freely and with impunity ( that could change but I will have to see the evidence and not the fear). From my perspective the ability to physically move and exchange ideas/opinions is embedded in so many 100s of millions if not billions of people that it is simply impossible for a State to effectively and significantly curtail these activities. I fully acknowledge that there will be efforts and unwarranted attempts at intimidation/oppression but openness of communication and movement will just keep on moving ahead. Sometimes in fits and starts and sometimes smoothly. I could be naive and if I am I trust you and others will carry on the fight. I have seen McCarthyism come and go, Goldwater dashed, the government distortions promulgated during the Vietnam clarified, China making huge strides in more open communications, the growth of the internet which has exponentially opened communications, a movement from three national broadcasting networks and the list goes on. In the long run if commerce is to be successful it requires transparency, clarity, consistency, the free exchange of information, mobility and innovation. I have said enough and will bow out.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]




With respect for what we do have going on here in metafilter, it's hardly a major threat even to a mid-range police state. People who are actually politically engaged, rather than mere armchair internet commenters, are actually getting targeted and harassed.
posted by eviemath at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2013


Oooooh, eponymous White House deputy press secretary
posted by Bwithh at 10:58 AM on August 19, 2013


i just can not get on board with the dystopian police state stuff
There are two apparent views of "police state"; one in which posting of anything in opposition to the current regime is forbidden, and another in which people are simply afraid to do so.

We lie somewhere in between.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:03 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Foust worries about dystopian (he doesn't use this word himself) comparisons

(Side note: on Twitter he says he uses the phrase "briefly detained" because under US law, Miranda could have been held twice as long without grounds of suspicion or charge)
posted by Bwithh at 11:03 AM on August 19, 2013


How did the NSA's internal compliance mechanism react when confronted with the fact that it eavsesdropped without a warrant on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time?

This is exactly what the OIG report on STELLARWIND that I linked above discusses. It's evident now that the NY Times story came from people who saw the details of the process but were not privy to the legal justification, an issue which the OIG report discusses. You can read the report itself for the justification and its compliance with FISA and USSID 18. Seriously, it's all there.

The other link is more worrisome in terms of USSID 18, if the conversations were in fact between two "US persons". I don't know if there's much else to make of the story otherwise. It's obviously way too far into "sources and methods" territory for the NSA to release anything about it, so we're kind of stuck. If that one article is enough to convince you that the NSA must be dismantled, that's your right, but I can't agree.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:08 AM on August 19, 2013


The UK (government appointed) Independent Reviewer of Terror Legislation, Dave Anderson QC (his website ; his legal career summary (note his high profile human rights cases vs the UK govt) tweets as @terrorwatchdog (surely should be counterterrorwatchdog...?)
posted by Bwithh at 11:26 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


White House: US was given 'heads up' before Miranda detained.

The Obama administration can pretend it had nothing to do with his detention, but the GCHQ get funding from the US government for delivering actionable intelligence, so it is all but certain that he was detained to further the relationship.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 AM on August 19, 2013


People who are actually politically engaged, rather than mere armchair internet commenters, are actually getting targeted and harassed.

The thing is, these are not mutually exclusive.
posted by corb at 11:28 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Obama administration can pretend it had nothing to do with his detention, but the GCHQ get funding from the US government for delivering actionable intelligence,
So ipso facto anybody that sends any money or service to another, is directly responsible for their actions?

Good to know the next time I pay for cable, or I dunno, send my kids to church. Cause you know, I'm directly responsible for every action every one of their employees takes.

My god... I'm a monster. Apparently.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2013


So ipso facto anybody that sends any money or service to another, is directly responsible for their actions?

Depends a great deal on what that money is used for, doesn't it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2013


I think the evidence we have shows that the NSA's internal compliance is not obviously lacking.

If the NSA has an internal compliance system that is not obviously lacking, why is the US government scrambling to figure out what documents Snowden took? You cannot have robust protections and a competent auditing system that allows a contractor to download GBs of documents and have no way to know what was accessed.

That is, perhaps, the most infuriating NSA quantum superposition.
posted by ryoshu at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Depends a great deal on what that money is used for, doesn't it?

Well sure... but if we're just spouting out blanket nonsense then my phrasing is as good valid as the previous.

Edit: include the words; unjustified, unconfirmed, conspiracy theory in any order/place you'd like.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:44 AM on August 19, 2013


So ipso facto anybody that sends any money or service to another, is directly responsible for their actions?

NSA Surveillance Triggered 2010 Terror Case Against San Diego Men

According to the US government, yes.
posted by ryoshu at 11:44 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]




According to the US government, yes.

So you're saying that because the US had some sort of involvement in something that happened to some residents of the US while on US soil... then that is the silver bullet in proving that the US had something to do with what happened in England to a citizen of Brazil?

I mean... I'm not naive enough to think that the US doesn't have it's hands in this mess somehow... but throwing out random accusations based on weak anecdata doesn't really advance the discussion in any way.

Instead, it reinforces the post-911 fear-mongering status quo that is the root cause of all of this crap anyway.

tl;dr: if you promote fear-mongering, then the terrorists have won.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can read the report itself for the justification and its compliance with FISA and USSID 18. Seriously, it's all there.

Because we should accept the NSA's self-assesment, while oversight is effectively nil?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that because the US had some sort of involvement in something that happened to some residents of the US while on US soil... then that is the silver bullet in proving that the US had something to do with what happened in England to a citizen of Brazil?

What I'm saying is that the US government believes that sending money to an organization overseas makes you complicit, if not responsible, for that organization's actions. Hence the arrests outlined in the article.
posted by ryoshu at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


tl;dr: if you promote fear-mongering, then the terrorists have won.

That's a nice sentiment, but the Obama administration still funds some of the GCHQ's activities. If he had any respect for law left, one would think Obama would pull that funding over this abusive behavior.

It's not like the UK looked or found anything specific, or they would have kept him longer. This was abusive detention intending to intimidate, not to gain information, and it was paid for, in part, by the United States, even if it was carried out by the UK.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on August 19, 2013


Blazecock Pileon: It's not like the UK looked or found anything specific, or they would have kept him longer. This was abusive detention intending to intimidate, not to gain information, and it was paid for, in part, by the United States, even if it was carried out by the UK

Last time I checked, and I'll admit it's been a while, whether the US was funding GCHQ operations or not (and it wouldn't surprise me if they were), they most definitely were not funding the Metropolitan Police. And the Met – particularly those parts of the service charged with engaging in whatever spurious flavour of counterterrorism is the order of the day – need neither permission nor approval from anyone else to conduct their own legal-but-morally-reprehensible/extra-legal-but-nodded-through-by-the-top-brass activities.

They're perfectly capable of doing that all by themselves, as recent history proves, whether that involves picking up photographers who, for some reason, they've decided are recce-ing locations for a bombing, beating confessions out of random Northern Irish 22 year olds, or chasing a Brazilian national through the streets of South London, into a tube station, down the escalator, on to a train, and pumping eight bullets into him, before hamfistedly covering the whole thing up in front of an inquiry. (Which makes me think that Miranda, unlike his dead compatriot, got off lightly, though that's damnation through faint praise if ever there was some.)

In short, the Met are easily – institutionally speaking – stupid, misguided, venal and antidemocratic enough to pull this off on their own, without needing some goon from the NSA breathing down their necks about it. They do their consequenceless misconduct in public, thank you very much.
posted by Len at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Blue_Villain: "tl;dr: if you promote fear-mongering, then the terrorists have won."


I love this statement .. its such an example of something being used in direct opposition to what it actually means. Reminds me of catch-22 actually.

The state agencies have gained more powers in the name of preventing the terrorists from winning.

But if someone fears that state agencies have too much power, that means that terrorists have won?

I can't even figure out the double-think necessary to come to this conclusion. Bravo!
posted by TheLittlePrince at 12:45 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Len:
NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ.
I don't think Plod acted on it's own initiative.
I agree with you totally on the institutional shortcomings of the Met, but in this case someone had to point them in the right direction, either that or they have their own in GCHQ in which case the circle is squared.
It will interesting if Vaz or Watson get a non evasive answer.
posted by adamvasco at 12:53 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, it's not that hard. What do "the terrorists" want? If you think they want the downfall of our society... then fear-mongering on your part contributes to their goal.

You've been so inundated with double-speak for so long you don't even realize single-speak when you see it.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:59 PM on August 19, 2013


I'm not justifying it - all's fair in love and war is my view - but given that we know they wanted all and any Snowden information and he almost certainly had it on him, it's what they would do. It's not nice, and it's using the law past what's 'fair' in that they were mean to his partner, but it's absolutely what the intelligence agencies would do. Stick your head above the parapet, expect to get shot. Not nice, but expectable and understandable. As for that mafia phrase, it's nonsense, from what i heard about cosa nostra when i was living in italy. I just hope they encrypted that stuff so good nobody hacks it (if what was retweeted all over twitter was true, that his stuff was full of information).
posted by maiamaia at 1:02 PM on August 19, 2013


NB NATO is a joint command thing, where all NATO members - armies, intelligence etc - are under USA command - but permission is usually asked etc. But they could directly command our (UK) army etc. Isn't it border control that pulled him over, and hasn't UKBA been or is about to be privatised? It's stuff like G4S killing people and still getting awarded care contracts that bothers me, i don't care about the rich and famous, they get the kid gloves not killed.
posted by maiamaia at 1:05 PM on August 19, 2013


it's using the law past what's 'fair' in that they were mean to his partner, but it's absolutely what the intelligence agencies would do.
This has become apparent to all via this incident, and is the strongest argument there is that the intelligence agencies must be drastically and ruthlessly cut back and checked. Most people want to think of the intelligence agencies as the good guys on our side, but as you point out that's not nearly cynical enough; they will not conform to law and cannot be trusted to.
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:10 PM on August 19, 2013


adamvasco –

As I said, it doesn't surprise me that GCHQ are taking cash from the NSA. But this whole fiasco is entirely consistent with Knacker of the Yard acting on their own initiative.

Does this mean that the NSA didn't have a quiet word in the ear of Hogan-Howe, or one of his subordinates? Of course not. But it's entirely in keeping with what the Met would have done anyway. As to whether the Met has one of their own in GCHQ? Wouldn't doubt it for a minute, which is one of the scary things about the total lack of transparency of information sharing/distribution.

I just think that it's entirely possible – and rational – that the Met did this of their own accord, and that they don't need some security agency, foreign or otherwise, to coerce them into doing what I suspect they were going to do anyway. I think that it's bettter seen as an unhealthy confluence of interests, rather than a bit of heavy leaning (or hint-dropping) on the part of the security services, coercing a hitherto-unblemished police force into doing something it would never imagine doing without exterior pressure, m'lud.
posted by Len at 1:11 PM on August 19, 2013


This is exactly what the OIG report on STELLARWIND that I linked above discusses. It's evident now that the NY Times story came from people who saw the details of the process but were not privy to the legal justification, an issue which the OIG report discusses.

From the document:
This report provides the classified results of the NSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) review of the President's Surveillance Program (PSP) as mandated in the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008. (page 2, emphasis added)
This FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was in part a response to the leaks published in the New York Times. In other words, this secret internal report is in fact the result of outside pressure, not internal oversight. Left to its own devices, it seems unlikely that the NSA would have issued this report.

Here are some specifics from the report. (Page numbers refer to the numbering on the bottom of the pages, not the sidebarred numbers in WaPo's document viewer.)

On page 24 it states that NSA twice requested to see the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel's original opinion of the "Presidential Surveillance Program". The NSA was twice denied. I have a hard time believing that a strong oversight regime would bar NSA management from seeing the DOJ opinion on the very programs they implement.

The report describes this behavior as "strange" and "odd", which seems like an understatement:
However, the IG said that he found the secrecy surrounding the legal rationale to be "odd." Specifically, he said that it was "strange that NSA was told to execute a secret program that everyone knew presented legal questions, without being told the underpinning legal theory." The IG, GC, and Deputy GC all stated that they had yet to see the full text of the original OLC opinion. (page 25)
There is also this interesting contradiction:
Page 33: "While requesting help from corporate entities to support the PSP, NSA personnel made it clear that the PSP was a cooperative program and participation was voluntary."
Page 37: "The Attorney General directed COMPANY C to comply with NSA's request.
Which is it? Voluntary or mandatory? Why, it's another NSA quantum state!

And I thought that this was interesting:
In response to a New York Times "warrantless wiretapping" story published in December 2005, General Alexander briefed all FISC members on the PSP on 9 January 2006.
In other words, although it looks like some individual FISC judges were briefed before the story broke, the secret court as a whole was not briefed until after leaks resulted in a New York Times story. (page 42)

As far as internal oversight, the Inspector General of the NSA was not even briefed on the existence of the Presidential Surveillance Program until August 2002:
We could not determine exact reasons for why the NSA IG was not cleared for the PSP until August 2002. According to the NSA General Counsel, the President would not allow the IG to be briefed sooner. General Hayden did not specifically recall why the IG was not brought in earlier, but thought that it had not been appropriate to do so when it was uncertain how long the Program would last and before operations had stabilized. The NSA IG pointed out that he did not take the IG position until April 2002, so NSA leadership or the White House may have been resistant to clearing either a new or an acting IG.

Regardless, by August 2002, General Hayden and the NSA General Counsel wanted to institutionalize oversight of the Program by bringing in the IG. General Hayden recalled having to "make a case" to the White House to clear the IG at that time. (page 50)
In other words, the executive branch can withhold knowledge of potentially illegal programs from the NSA's inspector general.

So, here we have a program that was implemented by executive order, very possibly in violation of existing law, without congressional approval, subject to minimal congressional oversight, and kept secret from most of FISC judges until the New York Times reported on it.

According to Wikipedia, the actual FISA legislation stipulates that it is "illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both." I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know if there are FISA loopholes that were exploited. Sorry for using Wikipedia as a source. Here's the actual statue.

I kinda just skimmed the OIG report, so maybe somewhere in there they addressed the question of whether that law was broken, but I didn't see anything.

The other link is more worrisome in terms of USSID 18, if the conversations were in fact between two "US persons". It's obviously way too far into "sources and methods" territory for the NSA to release anything about it, so we're kind of stuck. If that one article is enough to convince you that the NSA must be dismantled, that's your right, but I can't agree.

I never said that the NSA should be dismantled, and it kind of feels like you're putting words in my mouth. I think the NSA should be subject to meaningful congressional and judicial oversight. Presently the NSA is subject to executive oversight, and as we have seen the executive can block the NSA inspector general from doing his job.

I recognize the need to strike a balance between privacy and transparency. That balance is not being struck correctly. We remain light years away from exercising informed consent over the methods used to police us. We are only "stuck" insofar as Congress has not yet exercised its authority to conduct a proper investigation.
posted by compartment at 1:15 PM on August 19, 2013 [8 favorites]




kiltedtaco: ""What if the entire IRS went rogue and charged people illegal taxes then lied about it, what penalties would they face, who would punish them?". We're usually ok with most problems being handled by the agency's OIG, and I think the evidence we have shows that the NSA's internal compliance is not obviously lacking."

You're making a completely nonsensical argument. If the IRS does wrong by me I can hire an attorney who through legal process can gather the evidence needed to get the courts to order the IRS to quit with the fuckery. That can happen because the IRS doesn't get to keep everything they do secret on national security grounds and get almost universal deference from the courts in deciding what should or should not be disclosed to the court or the opposing party.

The NSA does get that benefit, so they are not subject to normal judicial process, so who exactly will stop their fuckery? Countless lawsuits have been attempted and dismissed for lack of a justiciable controversy, even though that lack was solely due to the defendant's illegal acts.

So yeah, completely different circumstances. Not only not in the same ballpark, but not on the same planet.
posted by wierdo at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the NSA should be subject to meaningful congressional and judicial oversight. Presently the NSA is subject to executive oversight, and as we have seen the executive can block the NSA inspector general from doing his job.

I just want to say that I basically agree entirely with the issues you've pointed out from the report, along with your stated goals for oversight. My position is more to point out that 1) it's not operating in a complete state of lawlessness, as some have assumed, and 2) arguments about how the program operates and what oversight needs to be implemented should be conducted from basis of actually understanding the current state of affairs rather than assumptions and powerpoint slides from Greenwald. I'm happy to argue all day about the many actual problems with how this program originated; in no way am I trying to argue that the NSA was perfect.

Also, I think it's interesting to note how many of the problematic issues brought up have origins in the office of the vice president, the white house, and the DoJ. Again, not trying to white-wash the NSA, and this was written by them, but interesting for a historical perspective.
posted by kiltedtaco at 2:00 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


That can happen because the IRS doesn't get to keep everything they do secret on national security grounds

They are a bit more brazen about reading private communications without a warrant; indeed, their legal department has more or less argued they are not subject to restrictions outlined in the US Constitution.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on August 19, 2013


Miranda interview in Guardian

Hmm...
"It is clear why those 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 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."
...
He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities.
posted by Bwithh at 2:10 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]




Wow, they wouldn't even let him have an interpreter. Clearly they were solely interested in getting answers and this wasn't an abusive act of intimidation.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:37 PM on August 19, 2013


Blazecock Pileon: "They are a bit more brazen about reading private communications without a warrant; indeed, their legal department has more or less argued they are not subject to restrictions outlined in the US Constitution."

Sure, but at least I can challenge that in court, as others have. The NSA is so secret that it's impossible for any particular person to find out if they've been spied on, thus leaving the NSA without any sort of judicial review beyond the FISA court, which I think we can all agree is a court in name only.
posted by wierdo at 2:44 PM on August 19, 2013


Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian:

A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."
-
And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.

posted by Drinky Die at 3:08 PM on August 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also from that article: We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources. Most reporting – indeed, most human life in 2013 – leaves too much of a digital fingerprint.

That's what really scared me about all of this. Already people are willing to make all kinds of excuses for why it is okay to spy on the press in the US. The situation is obviously much worse in Britain, but it's the path we are on if we keep acting like this sort of thing is okay.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:23 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


The part of all this journalist harassing that strikes me as completely insane (as opposed to simply immoral) is that it seems likely to lead the next Snowden to say "well, I was going to run documents by journalists so we can make sure the parts that really would be dangerous to be revealed aren't released, but fuck it, I'll just pull a Bradley Manning and dump everything into the open and just not be reckless enough to talk about it." Not that I would defend it even if I didn't think that was a possible effect, of course, but I don't really see how even the security establishment's long-term interests are helped here. It smacks of desperation.
posted by dsfan at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2013


From the Rusbridger article linked a few comments above:
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention.

To be clear, what happened was:

1) Government officials threatened the Guardian with a court case if they didn't either hand over or destroy the data drives.
2) Guardian agrees to destruction rather than handover -the destruction is done in an extreme degree in front of Guardian staff and government officials, presumably so it can be shown satisfactorily that the government didn't just pretend to destroy the data drives completely - to avoid court case, after informing government officials that Guardian has other copies outside the UK anyway (Government officials shrug; whatever, they get to report to superiors that they did their task).

So it's obnoxious and objectionable but not really in secret police territory
posted by Bwithh at 5:07 PM on August 19, 2013


We know they are already scraping all the metadata and keeping it, which means if they develop an interest in you they have a neat little time machine where they can go back and find all of the people you've ever been in contact with. They did not want us to know this, but at least one can make a non-crazy sounding argument that it's legal (as well as one that it shouldn't be, but that's the law now).

What I suspect they're really trying to hide is that they're also scraping the content, but hiding behind the fig leaf of not analysing it (which they don't have the manpower to do anyway) to argue that doing so is legal. Once they develop an interest in you and get a warrant this gives their little Deja Vu machine the power to recall your conversations and sent data as well. That might be much less likely to survive a challenge in a real court though.
posted by localroger at 5:09 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it's obnoxious and objectionable but not really in secret police territory

Because it was pointless? I don't think that is really the criteria.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:10 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


localroger, your suspicion sounds entirely reasonable at this point. And I say this as someone who was not exactly receptive to the broader implications at the beginning of this whole thing.
posted by wierdo at 6:13 PM on August 19, 2013


So it's obnoxious and objectionable but not really in secret police territory

Just a media organization in a democratic country being forced to exile its national security reporters to a different country, despite not having released any info on the country they're based in, but YOLO
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:31 PM on August 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah Wierdo Snowden raises all kinds of alarm bells for me but there's no doubt he's already blown a hell of a whistle and is sitting on more. Given what he's already blown, short of a full on exposure of the freaking Illuminati it's hard to think of anything else the next step could be. He is for sure somebody's tool and it's very hard to figure out whose, but OTOH a lot of the shit he has pasted is undeniably real.
posted by localroger at 6:34 PM on August 19, 2013


If Snowden and Manning can get access to our secrets, then imagine what real organized government crackers in China, Russia and the rest of the world are doing to us. I have no confidence that the tools used by the NSA to find terrorist emails arn't also being used by the Russians and Chinese against us.
posted by humanfont at 6:55 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that I'm posting here means that with high probability some (machine, then human) analyst will read this entire page. Think on that for a moment and now consider everything you've all written. Feeling good? Feeling no change in how you might write or what you might or might not say? Wishing that MetaFilter was serving all their content over HTTPS?

I use GMail. Oodles of machines read my data routinely. Just sayin'.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:14 PM on August 19, 2013


(me: People who are actually politically engaged, rather than mere armchair internet commenters, are actually getting targeted and harassed.

corb: The thing is, these are not mutually exclusive.


Actually, with the "mere" in there, they are. If you removed the "mere" they wouldn't be.)

posted by eviemath at 7:26 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure but when Adwords screws up scanning gmail, you don't end up in forever limbo at Gitmo.
posted by humanfont at 7:27 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Snowden and Manning can get access to our secrets, then imagine what real organized government crackers in China, Russia and the rest of the world are doing to us.

Detaining us in airports? Forcing down our chief execs' planes?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:52 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just a media organization in a democratic country being forced to exile its national security reporters to a different country, despite not having released any info on the country they're based in, but YOLO
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:31 PM on August 19
[1 favorite +] [!]

But Guardian/Snowden have released secret sensitive info on UK govt/GCHQ activities ( e.g. )

Also Guardian reporters abroad are not "in exile". The Guardian is already established as an international news operation that's seeking to be a major player in the US and Australia. Many or most of their reporters in the US are American ; and many/most in Oz are Aussie.
posted by Bwithh at 7:52 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because it was pointless? I don't think that is really the criteria.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:10 PM on August 19
[+] [!]


No, because the govt threat seems to be a standard court case process, rather than anything else. ( Could be non-standard, secret star chamber suggestions, but if so nefarious, why doesn't Rusbridger say so. Also, why is this just coming out now of so exceptional rather than 2 months ago? Hardly because Guardian is so fearful of UK govt surely)
posted by Bwithh at 7:56 PM on August 19, 2013


Devils Rancher: "@Moochava: Yearly reminder: unless you're over 60, you weren't promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go."

Fine. Give me a skulljack, deck, and cyberspace then. So I can fight the power.

HACK THE PLANET!
posted by Samizdata at 9:14 PM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me be clear that I try not to argue in terms of things like what is or is not a secret police state or totalitarian or whatever. There is a lot of baggage and differing definitions going on there.

What I would say is that it is extremely bad for freedom of the press if governments are as a standard matter legally justified in breaking down the doors of a newspaper to burn the materials the journalists are working on. That is essentially what occurred here, it's just that nobody at The Guardian saw any benefit in actually making them physically do it since it would be a purely symbolic action in this case. It won't always be.

Poitras and Snowden are very above average in their ability to handle the security side of this and make sure the files remain available to themselves while taking seriously their duty to keep them secure. Wikileaks and the Guardian failed wildly on that in the past and released data to the public they had no intention of releasing. Other less well trained journalists may not have had the backup copies available elsewhere in the first place. Many journalists would not have the resources to have staff overseas to handle the story and this legal action would have killed it.

Coming from the perspective of an American who takes press freedom very seriously I have a hard time considering obnoxious and objectionable strong enough language to describe what occurred.

As for why it came up now, it is likely because this new incident of harassment of someone working on the story turned this into a notable pattern of symbolic, pointless acts of intimidation meant to silence them rather than a single incident.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:16 PM on August 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


which I think we can all agree is a court in name only.

I don't think we all can agree on that.
posted by nightwood at 9:17 PM on August 19, 2013


Going To Maine: "(You can't get SIGINT from SIG that has no INT.)"

So, what you are saying is I need to concentrate on streaming the Honey Boo Boo show as much as possible?
posted by Samizdata at 9:19 PM on August 19, 2013


I am really sad about this whole ordeal. It would not surprise me in the slightest to hear of Greenwald being found murdered, at this point.

Add me to the list of people who definitely modulates my activity in direct response to these surveillance activities. I do not get involved with protest movements I otherwise might agree with, and certainly political actions are to be avoided or downplayed. It's very upsetting.
posted by odinsdream at 9:26 PM on August 19, 2013


So it's obnoxious and objectionable but not really in secret police territory.

We're treading a pretty fine line here. Exactly how much private property is the government allowed to destroy? Any machine that ever held or displayed any of the information? Any hard disk owned by the Guardian?

It may not be secret police (though Rusburger was not allowed to name the GCHQ personnel), but it's borderline Mafia tactics to come in and start destroying property for no reason other than intimidation. GCHQ was clearly aware that it was a "symbolic gesture."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:28 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon, I never said this was acceptable to me. Don't put words in my comments. Thanks, & I'm out.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:19 PM on August 19, 2013


nightwood: "I don't think we all can agree on that."

Even the tax courts are less deferential to the IRS than the FISA court is to NSA, et al. Since the beginning, only two hundredths of one percent of all FISA court applications were presented and not approved. Not two percent, not two tenths of one percent, but two hundredths of one percent. That is not the record of an organization that is exercising meaningful oversight. This is especially true when we know that those it is supposed to oversee are not exactly the most conscientious at following the rules.
posted by wierdo at 10:39 PM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is absolutely amazing what people will excuse. I came here to link to the hard drive smashing story only to find someone saying its not a big deal. Sorry, but coming into a major newspaper's offices and smashing their hard drives on threat of court action is not a small deal! This is unacceptable behaviour on the part of whoever it is issuing these orders, and its coming because our laws have become lax enough to allow this behaviour.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:46 PM on August 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Going to Maine, I think you don't realize how dangerous your position is.

You seem to be saying something like
Yeah, all my stuff is machine-readable and being analyzed by spooks but I don't care because I have nothing to hide.
The problem, when coupled with rmhsinc's logic (to which you have so far seemed amenable) that most people are free to express themselves and do not find themselves being detained, interrogated, and deprived of property is equivalent to saying
The (few) people who have been detained and/or deprived of liberty and/or property do not warrant concern because there are so few of them and I am not one of them.
The problem is that the people who are being deprived of their liberty through these mechanisms are precisely political dissidents, and their victimization means the UK and the United States are despotic states that harass, imprison, and destroy people and organizations for their political activities.

Do you see the problem, now?

The UK and the US are silencing the media organs that shape political opinions and inform the political process whereby power used to be apportioned in an orderly and democratic way.

Yes, they are not yet coming for you, your family, and your friends because you and others like you seem to accept this state of affairs enthusiastically. You have been effectively indoctrinated and you don't seem to care that your political autonomy has been crippled.

Ten years ago we in the West would probably have dismissed predictions of journalists being harassed and jailed for reporting as paranoia. Today we assert discussions on Internet boards do not result in the jailing of "normal upstanding" citizens, though we no know every last one of us is being watched and information can be connected at any point in time.

When these normal citizens do in fact start to wield political influence that makes the powers that be uncomfortable, I guarantee you will see these citizens harassed, detained, and jailed.

I do not look forward to the time when verbs such as "executed" and "disappeared" are added to the list but I do believe that time will certainly come. Whether we want to or not, we will have to make a choice about what to do and no amount of ignoring the evidence is going to change what, to my mind, is sure to come. In fact, for Americans of Arab descent these things have already come to pass.

These things have come to pass for Greenwald and Miranda, and while many of us are not journalists or close to journalists the scope of these persecutions will widen, especially as real political change becomes unavoidable.

Given rmhsinc is over 70, his naive view of the world may remain intact for the rest of time. The rest of us will not be so lucky.
posted by mistersquid at 11:47 PM on August 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Life as a Terrorist, William T. Vollmann, Harpers, September 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 12:21 AM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


William T. Vollmann, Harpers, September 2013

Thanks. Not available before August 22. Will be behind paywall.
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:42 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It may not be secret police (though Rusburger was not allowed to name the GCHQ personnel)

If you look through the Guardian comments you'll see that he wasn't compelled to keep their identity a secret, rather it was a personal journalistic decision. I think it was the wrong decision.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:24 AM on August 20, 2013


"When you won't talk about it in a public forum on the web?"

Does Groklaw closing down over the chilling effects of National Security Letters count?

"The owner of Lavabit tells us that he's stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we'd stop too.

There is no way to do Groklaw without email. Therein lies the conundrum.

What to do?

What to do? I've spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure it out. And the conclusion I've reached is that there is no way to continue doing Groklaw, not long term, which is incredibly sad. But it's good to be realistic. And the simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how "clean" we all are ourselves from the standpont of the screeners, I don't know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don't know how to do Groklaw like this."


Also the Chaos Computer Club comments on the Alan Rusbridger piece.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:53 AM on August 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


Just fyi, DemocracyNow is discussing Miranda's detention with Jacob Appelbaum (ioerror) now.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:34 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]




Holy shit. Groklaw...
posted by schmod at 5:49 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


New thread on GrokLaw shuts down in wake of Lavabit closure.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:58 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listening to this week's On the Media, it was discussed that the very reason Edward Snowden picked Laura Poitras to reveal his story to was because she was so well-versed in wiping her tech because of her border crossings. I'm sure the US government didn't intend this, but law of unintended consequences....
posted by inturnaround at 6:03 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I rather like Martin Rowson's cartoon; poodle policeman, savaging bulldog on presidential lap, says it all really.
posted by adamvasco at 7:37 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]






Why is the BBC's story on David Miranda in the "Latin American" section? It's about a UK abuse of a foreign national.

That's just a dumb categorisation, not a conspiracy - the current top post in the UK section is "No 10 'knew of Miranda detention'".
posted by forgetful snow at 8:55 AM on August 20, 2013


Why is the BBC's story on David Miranda...

I dunno. But the same day the Beeb posted that story in the Latin America section, it also posted a news item in the UK news section: US given 'heads up' on David Miranda detention

The Miranda story is currently (20 August 2013) on the front page of BBC News. It is the second item and leads with: David Miranda Heathrow detention: No 10 'kept abreast of operation'. Go to that page and there are currently also links to other associated news items.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:01 AM on August 20, 2013


Also, same day as BBC's "Miranda -- Latin American section'. this pops up in BBC UK News section (despite its URL): David Miranda detention: MP asks police for explanation
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:09 AM on August 20, 2013




Guardian Forced to Destroy Snowden Files

Wow. The powers must be scared to pull something like that. Does this mean that Greenwald will have to do all the reporting on the Snowden files from now on?

He'd better look out or the NSA will send someone to whack him with an umbrella spiked with shellfish poison.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:36 AM on August 20, 2013


Well, the only way to foil this destruction of all the Snowden-data-holding hard drives the Guardian had in the building would be to store duplicates of the files somewhere else, maybe even overseas! But that's just science fiction.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:43 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does this mean that Greenwald will have to do all the reporting on the Snowden files from now on?

Erhhh, no. See here:

And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won't do it in London. The seizure of Miranda's laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald's work.

Source: The Guardian
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:44 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]




Well, it would say that, wouldn't it?
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:58 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but for some reason I found it terribly funny. Must be the sleep deprivation.
posted by homunculus at 10:05 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Human Rights Watch : U.K. Detention Appears Aimed at Intimidating Journalists
posted by jeffburdges at 10:07 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]




Yeah, but for some reason I found it terribly funny.

Please don't take my comment as criticism.

My comment has a long history: Mandy Rice-Davies Applies (MRDA)
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:37 AM on August 20, 2013


Have any mainstream news outlets stopped referring to Greenwald as “a journalist”? If several of them suddenly stop doing so, it may be an interesting inflection point in the debate, a sign that he is no longer considered a member of the legitimate press but rather as an enemy agent.
posted by acb at 10:43 AM on August 20, 2013


Also: it's kind of cute that Rusbridger thinks he has outwitted GCHQ.
posted by acb at 10:45 AM on August 20, 2013


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

"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. (original source)
posted by jeffburdges at 10:46 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]




Dammit jeffburdges!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:49 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


More from The Guardian about destroying hard drives:

However, in a subsequent meeting, an intelligence agency expert argued that the material was still vulnerable. He said by way of example that if there was a plastic cup in the room where the work was being carried out, foreign agents could train a laser on it to pick up the vibrations of what was being said. Vibrations on windows could similarly be monitored remotely by laser.

Source: Guardian

Plastic cups? Lasers? Vibrations? Really?
posted by Mister Bijou at 11:15 AM on August 20, 2013


Why is the BBC's story on David Miranda...

I believe the first posting of the story on the BBC News world front page (as number 2 story after Egypt, I think) emphasized the Brazilian govt reaction ( condemns UK etc) angle as the lead element. So probably this LatAm filing of this little bit is just an accidental descedent of that
posted by Bwithh at 11:18 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Guardian provides more detail and clarifies the hard drive story

Details differ from "jackbooted thugs raid Guardian" reading of Rusbridger's original account. The drives were voluntarily destroyed by Guardian staff to avoid a court action that could have prevented publication about the material by the Guardian for a year. GCHQ were invited to witness. Both sides aware at time that this action mostly symbolic.
posted by Bwithh at 11:22 AM on August 20, 2013


Plastic cups? Lasers? Vibrations? Really?

Yup.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:31 AM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


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 UK and US governments are reckess, stupid, and out of their depth.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:41 AM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Details differ from "jackbooted thugs raid Guardian" reading of Rusbridger's original account.

That does not differ at all from how I read the original account.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 AM on August 20, 2013


Both Miranda passing through London with electronics and the Guardian making a show of destroying a few hard drives are looking like a sort of theatrical jiujitsu move against a paranoid surveillance state: get them to overreact and make fools of themselves.
posted by acb at 1:06 PM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it's theatrical jiujitsu, it's working in the sense that it's very attention grabbing. Keeping up with this story as it evolves feels a bit like reloading a Wikpedia-page in the middle of an edit-war.
posted by dabitch at 1:51 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd consider that unlikely given how many electronics Miranda carried, acb, but conversely I doubt Laura Poitras let him travel with anything sensitive either. And obviously encryption key never become sensitive until they're used.

Imagine I wished to send an encryption key that'd already been used. I might split up the key securely and attempt to transfer the shards physically one at a time. If any shards are intercepted then I destroy all the shards both sent and unsent, thus making the intercepted shard worthless, and start over with completely new shards.

I might even use the postal service provided I'm not being watched physically.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:29 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I might even use the postal service provided I'm not being watched physically.

Aren't all letters passing through the US photographed and kept on file?
posted by acb at 2:33 PM on August 20, 2013


You'd need numerous shards mailed using different couriers by different people from and to different locations, preferably different countries, acb. And one or two trusted physical couriers wouldn't hurt either because yes you don't know if they've opened your letter.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:39 PM on August 20, 2013


Aren't all letters passing through the US photographed and kept on file?

The envelopes are, but that's relatively easy to get around. Particularly on the sender's end.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:40 PM on August 20, 2013


Snowden NSA files: US and UK at odds over security tactics as row escalates

"I was briefed in advance that there was a possibility of a port stop of the sort that took place. But we live in a country where those decisions as to whether or not to stop somebody or arrest somebody are not for me as home secretary. They are for the policeto take. That's absolutely right that they have their operational independence. Long may that continue." - Theresa May,
posted by jeffburdges at 3:27 PM on August 20, 2013


The White House distanced itself from Britain's handling of the leaked NSA documents when representatives said it would be difficult to imagine the US authorities following the example of Whitehall in demanding the destruction of media hard drives.

Only if you weren't following the Megaupload fiasco.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:45 PM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


In terms of getting dox through borders, I've felt that a reasonably easy solution is an encrypted microSD card squeezed into a hole cut in the sole of your Nikes. Maybe I'm not as paranoid as I should be.
posted by Jimbob at 3:52 PM on August 20, 2013


In terms of getting dox through borders, I've felt that a reasonably easy solution is an encrypted microSD card squeezed into a hole cut in the sole of your Nikes. Maybe I'm not as paranoid as I should be.

Or you don't pass through enough airport security checkpoints.
posted by acb at 4:03 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Details differ from "jackbooted thugs raid Guardian" reading of Rusbridger's original account.

That does not differ at all from how I read the original account.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 AM on August 20
[+] [!]


There was no "raid". Negotiations between UK civil servants and Guardian staff over months ended with voluntary destruction by Guardian to avoid fighting it out in the courts. Both sides accept this as symbolic act, drawing a line under one particular phase of all this , with Guardian coming out ahead. GCHQ invited as witnesses but they take nothing away
posted by Bwithh at 4:05 PM on August 20, 2013


NBC: US doesn't know what Snowden took, sources say

I called it earlier this thread - Snowden is super secret sly spy computer genius
posted by Bwithh at 4:07 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"If everything is under surveillance, how can we have a democracy?" - ioerror

As a technicality, I disagree that machines won't understand constitutional protections however, perhaps they'll understand them better once programmed correctly, certainly the cameras cops wear sometimes do. We must revoke privacy protections for people who work at the NSA before they'll program the machines correctly though. Just ain't happening while no-bid contracts rule the agencies promotional structure.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:18 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


an encrypted microSD card squeezed into a hole cut in the sole of your Nikes

Wrong shoes for this. Dress blue-collar and wear steel toed boots, with the uSD card glued inside the toe to hide it from the X-ray machine when you pass them through. Alternately, some relatively normal shoes have a steel plate above the heel, which is why they set off metal detectors. Verify by seeing what happens when you drill a very small hole through the sole. No other shoe materials will stop a drill bit with the suddenness of a metal plate, and a few tiny holes won't affect the wearability of the shoe.

uSD cards really are very easy to hide even from a pretty thorough search. They won't set off a metal detector and even a wand is unlikely to squawk at one. Slip one into a band-aid and install on foot. Or Silicone one between two quarters in the pile of change you run through the X-ray and it's very unlikely to be noticed.

Or, if you're feeling really paranoid, swallow the uSD card. The recovery procedure is a bit more of a nuisance though.
posted by localroger at 4:31 PM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oops - my NBC link above is messed up. Here's the correct one

Thanks jeffburdges for pointing it out!
posted by Bwithh at 4:54 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


uSD cards really are very easy to hide even from a pretty thorough search.

Do the techniques used to detect transistor-based circuits (nonlinear junction detectors and such, as I believe MI6 called them in the 1960s) work on very large numbers of very small transistors? If so, I can see that there'd be demand for devices that can find concealed memory cards.
posted by acb at 5:06 PM on August 20, 2013


Oh gods, scanning for transistors at airports? Be sure to arrive two to three days early.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:14 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Details differ from "jackbooted thugs raid Guardian" reading of Rusbridger's original account.

That does not differ at all from how I read the original account.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:52 AM on August 20
[+] [!]


There was no "raid". Negotiations between UK civil servants and Guardian staff over months ended with voluntary destruction by Guardian to avoid fighting it out in the courts. Both sides accept this as symbolic act, drawing a line under one particular phase of all this , with Guardian coming out ahead. GCHQ invited as witnesses but they take nothing away


Yes all of this was in my original reading.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:21 PM on August 20, 2013


Or maybe you could quote the part of his original account where he says jackbooted thugs raided their offices and took hard drives away with them?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:22 PM on August 20, 2013



Oh gods, scanning for transistors at airports? Be sure to arrive two to three days early.


This device wouldn't be used on the general public, but rather when they pick up someone on a list, detain them and look for any microSD cards they may be carrying about their person.
posted by acb at 5:27 PM on August 20, 2013


(Oh I see you said the reading suggested that, not the article, but I don't think it did. What it said and how I read it was that physically breaking in to destroy the hard drives would be the inevitable end point here if they had decided to fight. That they did not have to does not change the fact that they could, and are willing to. As I said before I don't want to get into defining if that is "jackbooted thug secret police totalitarianism" or whatever. Just bad for freedom of the press in my view. Not every potential journalist has the resources to continue working a story in these circumstances.)
posted by Drinky Die at 5:28 PM on August 20, 2013


If you silicone the uSD card to a piece of metal, even the transistor scanning techniques won't work; the metal plate shorts out the microwave energy which would normally induce the harmonics the detector looks for. And that is very exotic equipment which is very hard to use even if you're one of the very few people who has it. As one might expect the world is full of positives and the detection energy is very hard to control.
posted by localroger at 5:58 PM on August 20, 2013


Also, if you were to wrap a uSD card in aluminum foil and swallow it, the result would probably still be far too small to be metal detected and would be too far inside your body to be wanded but would also be immune to the transistor detector.
posted by localroger at 6:00 PM on August 20, 2013


Oh, and considering the acid content of the stomach you'd probably want to put the aluminum foil wrapped uSD card in a condom and seal it off before going gulp. Detecting it would be almost impossible without putting you in a cell and waiting for it to emerge or taking you to a hospital and doing an abdominal X-ray.
posted by localroger at 6:03 PM on August 20, 2013


Is swallowing something like that safe? This is for purely educational purposes.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:05 PM on August 20, 2013


Yes, it's safe. What your body doesn't chemically reduce comes out the other end in a few days very reliably as long as there are no sharp or jabby things involved. It's been done for at least hundreds, and probably thousands, of years.
posted by localroger at 6:08 PM on August 20, 2013


Or Silicone one between two quarters in the pile of change you run through the X-ray and it's very unlikely to be noticed.

Please don't swallow your SD card, just hide it inside a coin.
posted by odinsdream at 6:24 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah odinsdream that is the perfect solution except for the fact that the NSA knows you have it because they snooped your transaction when you bought it.
posted by localroger at 6:27 PM on August 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Please don't swallow your SD card, just hide it inside a coin.

Just make sure not to spend it by mistake.

You could keep one coin by itself, but that might look suspicious if someone is actually searching you for small contraband.
posted by acb at 6:28 PM on August 20, 2013


Well, you can't use your shoe idea anymore either, then.
posted by odinsdream at 6:28 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just put them in the compartment in your Hulk Hogan Meat Shoes.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:32 PM on August 20, 2013


Btw, I wonder how many coins there are circulating which have SD cards full of stuff hidden in them, and ended up circulating due to their original owners' carelessness.

Eventually, some poor bastard will probably be stopped for some other reason (speeding, routine airport search, what have you) and, entirely by coincidence, found in possession of such a coin, possibly containing seriously illegal content. I wouldn't want to be that poor bastard.
posted by acb at 6:32 PM on August 20, 2013


Why smuggle the data? Just smuggle a one-time pad, ssss shard, etc. Encrypt your data using both Twofish-256 and AES-256 if you're worried.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:33 PM on August 20, 2013


I've worn steel toed shoes for 30 years. I suppose if you were a banker or journalist and you showed up with them it would be suspicious. Oh, I guess that does make it a problematic technique for one of the professions that needs it most.

Moonlight as a war journalist when not snooping on the spooks. Then the boots won't be suspicious.
posted by localroger at 6:35 PM on August 20, 2013


If you're going to get harassed until the end of your life anyway, why try to be responsible and sift through the data first, instead of dumping it all online? This article describes exactly why it's so baffling to me that someone thought the iron-first response was such a great idea:

"So far, I think, the Guardian and others have exercised reasonable restraint in what they have reported. They are at least attempting to understand the data before presenting it, and to maintain a balance between the public’s right to know and putting lives or even countries in danger. [...]

If you detain reporters at the airport and confiscate their thumb drives or force them to destroy computers, they will stop trying to parse the data and redact the most sensitive bits. The only safe way to handle this information in the future would be to distribute it as widely and quickly as possible."

posted by cerbous at 6:36 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've worn steel toed shoes for 30 years. I suppose if you were a banker or journalist and you showed up with them it would be suspicious. Oh, I guess that does make it a problematic technique for one of the professions that needs it most.

If you work in IT, however, you can just accessorise your steel-capped boots with the rest of a goth/punk/rivethead/hesher/other darkling uniform.
posted by acb at 6:38 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The model for that, cerbous -- though it hasn't had a widely deployed incident yet -- is to distribute an encrypted copy as widely and quickly as possible, with the threat that the key would be much easier to disseminate if that shoudl become necessary.
posted by localroger at 6:38 PM on August 20, 2013


you can just accessorise your steel-capped boots

Don't know if you've ever actually used them but the steel shield is inside the shoe and not much of a fashion accessory, except that the toe is higher and wider than usual for your foot size giving it a bit of a Herman Munster look.
posted by localroger at 6:42 PM on August 20, 2013




I microprint qr codes on a qr code. No on looks at those things.
posted by humanfont at 6:56 PM on August 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Guardian: The Metropolitan police had no legal basis to detain David Miranda under the Terrorism Act 2000, Tony Blair's former lord chancellor has claimed.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who helped introduce the bill in the House of Lords, said that the act makes clear that police can only detain someone to assess whether they are involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.

posted by Drinky Die at 7:41 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


A six and a half minute interview with Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor
who (04:40) indicates that they will report further how difficult reporting will become for journalists and (05:40) where he warns of the complacency we risk falling into as we approach a near total surveillance state which is the stated objective as revealed in the internal conversations at NSA .
posted by adamvasco at 1:31 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who helped introduce the bill in the House of Lords, said that the act makes clear that police can only detain someone to assess whether they are involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism.

What about interfering in the activity of officially designated anti-terrorist organisations like the intelligence services, by revealing their operational secrets? Might that not be argued to be the facilitation of terrorism?
posted by acb at 2:11 AM on August 21, 2013


Nope, that's journalism. Committing, preparing to commit, or instigating terrorism is an attempt to harness violent means to deliver political intimidation. Or maybe the law in question uses a different definition, IANAL, but this dude who helped introduce it seems to think this didn't qualify.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:18 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Intimidating reporters, destroying their computers, detaining them under false pretenses—it's all in a day's work for today's modern spy agency.

...

In other words, a “terrorist” is anyone the spooks say is a terrorist. In the past, we might reasonably assume our intelligence agencies targeted people who presented a potential threat to us. With the Miranda detention, it’s clear that a “terrorist” is anyone who presents a threat to them.

...

If you detain reporters at the airport and confiscate their thumb drives or force them to destroy computers, they will stop trying to parse the data and redact the most sensitive bits. The only safe way to handle this information in the future would be to distribute it as widely and quickly as possible.

In other words, a total Internet data free for all, open to anyone and everyone – including foreign spies and actual terrorists. Is that the world we want to live in? I don’t think so. But it’s far preferable to one in which no one dares speak at all, lest they become one more “mistake.”

posted by jeffburdges at 2:24 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]




Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who is the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, told Radio 4's Today programme: "Neither Mr Snowden nor the editor of the Guardian - or the editor of any other newspaper - is in a position to necessarily judge whether the release of top-secret information may have a significant relevance in the battle against terrorism."

He went on: "Sometimes you might genuinely think you can release a document and it's not going to be of any assistance to a terrorist when in fact you might be wrong - and that's simply a question of your inability to judge if you are a newspaper editor or a journalist as opposed to somebody involved in the intelligence work that has to be done."



From this article. The sheer overwhelming arrogance of the security services never fails to impress me. Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows. We must trust them to make the right decisions.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 4:37 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The sheer overwhelming arrogance of Snowden and Greenwald never fails to impress me. Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows. We must trust them to make the right decisions.
posted by nightwood at 5:24 AM on August 21, 2013


The sheer overwhelming arrogance of Snowden and Greenwald never fails to impress me. Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows. We must trust them to make the right decisions.

You're on the wrong side. You're supposed to be over here with us, the people, not the totalitarians among us.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:13 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]




I'm starting to think of they still don't know the full extent of what Snowden walked away with.

They don't - via NBC News:

More than two months after documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden first began appearing in the news media, the National Security Agency still doesn’t know the full extent of what he took, according to intelligence community sources, and is “overwhelmed” trying to assess the damage . . .

One U.S. intelligence official said government officials “are overwhelmed" trying to account for what Snowden took. Another said that the NSA has a poor audit capability, which is frustrating efforts to complete a damage assessment.

posted by ryanshepard at 6:28 AM on August 21, 2013


Ah, I see that's a double - my apologies.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:31 AM on August 21, 2013




The rightwing Riffkind had business dealings with Saddam Hussein's foreign ministry and has business interests in the security industry.
nightwood how are your stock holdings in defense industries doing?
What does this mean exactly:
Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows
The point being that us the general public 99%ers may have suspected but did not know the depth of the surveillance of innocent (until proved otherwise) citizens.
As Juan Cole pointed out yesterday:
what looks like a democracy is really an authoritarian state ruling on its own behalf and that of 2000 corporations, databasing the activities of 312 million innocent citizens.
posted by adamvasco at 6:35 AM on August 21, 2013


Personally I find the arrogance of the agency willing to lie under oath to Congress to be more galling. Reap what you sow if you abandon your responsibility to report accurately to the people's representatives.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:35 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're on the wrong side. You're supposed to be over here with us, the people, not the totalitarians among us.

We, the people still do not get to see any information unless some small group of unelected people decide that we get to see it.
posted by nightwood at 6:37 AM on August 21, 2013


The sheer overwhelming arrogance of Snowden and Greenwald unelected members of the US intelligence services never fails to impress me. Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows. We must trust them to make the right decisions.
posted by jaduncan at 6:48 AM on August 21, 2013


The sheer overwhelming arrogance of Snowden and Greenwald unelected members of the US intelligence services never fails to impress me. Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows. We must trust them to make the right decisions.

Agreed, we should just give Wikileaks unfettered access to all government data to host on their servers.
posted by nightwood at 6:54 AM on August 21, 2013


Maybe we should have a transparent government that doesn't lie under oath about the scope of secret snooping programs so we can have some level of trust in their ability to handle the power the public has granted them.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:58 AM on August 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


We, the people still do not get to see any information unless some small group of unelected people decide that we get to see it.

Yep that's exactly how whistle blowing works. I don't see what you have a problem with here. I mean are you really going to argue that what Snowden has revealed should still be secret? Do you really believe that a certain faction within the U.S. government should have the ability to look at the digital lives of everyone in the world? I don't think you've thought this through. The fact that you seem to be so untroubled by all this very curious to me. The surveillance state represents the single biggest threat to our democratic institutions, and you think it should operate in secret with virtually no oversight. Serious question: are you insane? Also, do you know any U.S. history pertaining to state surveillance of its citizens? If so I am curious as to where you derive your unfailing trust in the U.S. government, and if not I would suggest doing some careful reading of history before you decide to blindly support this government in its antidemocratic activities.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:08 AM on August 21, 2013


Maybe we should give elected congressional representatives access to basic information about the programs of the organisations they nominally oversee?
posted by jaduncan at 7:09 AM on August 21, 2013


I guess I would just say that the existence of an unaccountable military/intelligence deep state is not traditionally meant to be a western democratic thing.
posted by jaduncan at 7:11 AM on August 21, 2013


AElfwine Evenstar

I prefer oversight by the three branches of our government. But most folks in these threads think it is preferable to have an IT guy decide what they get to see. Remember, Snowden and Greenwald now control what you get to see. They have only given you a very small percentage. They have decided, for whatever reason, that you don't get to see the bulk of the information they have taken.
posted by nightwood at 7:13 AM on August 21, 2013


nightwood: You're aware that at the moment even most members of Congress don't get details of programs, right? They are literally voting on programs they have no ability to oversee.
posted by jaduncan at 7:14 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Congressional oversight is neat, when agencies aren't allowed to simply lie under oath to Congress with no consequences whatsoever.
-

USA Today: For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, officials say, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA arranged with Qwest Communications International Inc. to use intercept equipment for a period of less than six months around the time of the event. It monitored the content of all email and text communications in the Salt Lake City area.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:19 AM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


You're aware that at the moment even most members of Congress don't get details of programs, right? They are literally voting on programs they have no ability to oversee.

You're aware that is true of almost every federal program?
posted by nightwood at 7:25 AM on August 21, 2013


I prefer oversight by the three branches of our government.

But this isn't happening, so then what? Without whistleblowers like Snowden this wouldn't even be an issue in Congress. Now at least we have a public debate and can put pressure on congress to fulfill their oversight duties.

But most folks in these threads think it is preferable to have an IT guy decide what they get to see. Remember, Snowden and Greenwald now control what you get to see. They have only given you a very small percentage. They have decided, for whatever reason, that you don't get to see the bulk of the information they have taken.

It's not preferable, but sometimes it is unfortunately necessary when government bureaucracies pathologically lie to the branch of government that is charged with oversight. This is a strawman you have created in your own head.

FISC Chief Judge: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited

Given that the judge in charge of the FISC is telling us this why aren't you worried? Why do you just blindly accept the governments story? Given the history of state surveillance in this country how can you possibly trust the government with this power?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:27 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sheer overwhelming arrogance of Snowden and Greenwald never fails to impress me. Only they have the right to make judgments on what everyone else knows. We must trust them to make the right decisions.

...so, did you seriously just try to draw an equivalency between whistleblower and the subject of whistleblowing? Really? Does this apply to other whistleblowers, or just the ones you don't like? Are Daniel Ellsberg and Richard Nixon totes the same? How about Jeffrey Wigand, he had no more right to inform the public about the dangers of Tobacco than anyone else at Big Tobacco, right?

I prefer oversight by the three branches of our government. But most folks in these threads think it is preferable to have an IT guy decide what they get to see. Remember, Snowden and Greenwald now control what you get to see. They have only given you a very small percentage. They have decided, for whatever reason, that you don't get to see the bulk of the information they have taken.

No, most people in this thread are in fact *not* advocating for Edward Snowden to become the next head of the NSA, permanently, but that's a lovely straw-man you've built there. What we are recognizing, and you seem not to, is that without Snowden, we would not magically have an NSA that answers truthfully to Congress; instead the status quo of a spy agency with no oversight would remain in place. I don't think anyone anywhere, even the most rabid Snowden supporters, would argue that it is better for him to be disclosing this stuff than it would have been for the NSA itself to honestly and truthfully disclose the full extent of this stuff, but that wasn't happening.

And Snowden and Greenwald and the Guardian have said their "whatever reason" has been that they don't want to reveal stuff that in their judgement, the NSA was correct to keep secret; stuff that could put real peoples' lives in danger, for instance. It's not like they're keeping secrets which the NSA would prefer released, so in every case where they keep something secret they're basically just deferring to the NSA's judgement. But this is the old Wikileaks double-bind; either they indiscriminately release everything, in which case they are bad people for putting lives at risk, or they don't release everything, in which case they are bad people for holding onto some information for clearly nefarious reasons.

Finally it's worth noting that since the first Snowden revelations, other papers and reporters have followed up, investigating the NSA in their own right, and so we've continued to get information which did not come from Greenwald/Snowden. For example:

The National Security Agency's surveillance network has the capacity to reach around 75 percent of all U.S. Internet communications in the hunt for foreign intelligence, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Citing current and former NSA officials, the newspaper said the 75 percent coverage is more of Americans' Internet communications than officials have publicly disclosed.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:29 AM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


You're aware that is true of almost every federal program?

You are wrong, and statements like this make it very hard to take you seriously.

What are you even claiming is true? That congress can't get details on any federally funded program, that they are voting on programs they have no ability to oversee, or both? I mean if you really believe this then what in your mind is the function of congress other than to rubber stamp the wishes of our corporate oligarchs?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:36 AM on August 21, 2013


You're aware that is true of almost every federal program?

...no it isn't. For example, when they are examining HHS the budget is public, as are the major programs and statistics on the amount of Americans they interact with, what the average outcomes were, how differing pilot programs affected both metrics and how court judgements have affected the scope of the freedom of action of that agency. Non-coincidentally, you can do the same yourself!

Also, what?
posted by jaduncan at 7:38 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


FISC Chief Judge: Ability to police U.S. spying program limited

Agreed, we should just give FISC unfettered access to all NSA data to inspect on their servers. Ah ha ha, I'm only serious.
posted by jaduncan at 7:42 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agreed, we should just give Wikileaks unfettered access to all government data to host on their servers.

Given the US government's crimes that WikiLeaks have uncovered, like murdering journalists and shooting children, covering up torture, child prostitution and sexual abuse, corruption, international war criminals, etc., this may in fact be the first smart thing you've said in this thread so far.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:10 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


What I'm saying is that for any large federal program, the rank and file depend on their committee members and leadership for oversight. Certainly no single person can understand and oversee the entire federal budget, for example. That non-committee members are asking the intel committee members for more information is good, because they have been too lax in the past. That the non-committee members cannot get all the information they request from their counterparts on the committee is understandably frustrating but not surprising.

My assertion that a vast majority of congress people vote on legislation and programs that they do not fully understand (or at least have not read in detail) was perhaps flip, but I believe is pretty accurate.
posted by nightwood at 9:19 AM on August 21, 2013


But that's due to there being a lot of information, and only so much space in any one human's brain (insert joke about Congressional IQ here). Somebody who's not on the Environment & Public Works committee can still dig into the data on EPA's programs and budgets, attend hearings, schedule private meetings with agency staff, and find out whatever details they want to know about how money is being spent.

Start asking those questions about domestic spying, and you get the finger and/or lied to.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:31 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between a Senator knowing how much is spent on paint for the lines on the Interstate highway system and knowing how much oversight there is for the interception of domestic communications. There's also a difference between a Senator being told the truth about it and, y'know, not.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:53 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


US and UK: totalitarian, despotic, police state and because I am over 70 I have a "naive" view. What a load of unadulterated exaggeration, hyperbole and paranoia this thread has elicited. And as for "naive" I find that marginally offensive since it is tied to my age. For a board so consistently scrupulous on issues such as racism, sexism, class, gender, etc some of you are fairly cavalier when it comes to age. I do truly think if there is naivete it is among some of the posters who take the present and catastrophize it. Yes surveillance is a problem but not the end of the world. It is a problem, perhaps a serious problem, but that is all it is. Save Despotic, Police State an Totalitarian for what they are--and as for once again probably being accused of being a "yes but it is not as bad as"--I will say, Yes, but it is not as bad as "do you really want me to list the countries where real surveillance, despotism and totalitarianism is extant and rampant". The issues going on with Manning, Snowden, Greenwald etc are very real problems--they need to be argued about, challenged, fought over, lawsuits implemented, both the oppressor and oppressed critically challenged but to write off the US, UK (and most likely other European countries) as despotic totalitarian states is just plain nuts.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:47 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


but to write off the US, UK (and most likely other European countries) as despotic totalitarian states is just plain nuts.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Despotic totalitarian states emerge from other forms of government. The fact that the U.S. and British systems are incorporating what have traditionally been defined as totalitarian methods of coercion and oppression should be troubling for any proponent of the open society. No one is writing off anything...you are just making up strawmen. What has been argued in this thread is that these developments are very troubling and unless the course is changed we may one day find ourselves living in a totalitarian state. It seems you would agree with this proposition, but for some reason you feel compelled to defend the state against any charge that it might be exhibiting totalitarian characteristics.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:08 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


And as for "naive" I find that marginally offensive since it is tied to my age.

On the contrary: You're old enough to remember the Stasi. We thought that was a bad thing, remember?

They're impressed by our surveillance state.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:09 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Start asking those questions about domestic spying, and you get the finger and/or lied to.

More than half of senators skip briefing on NSA surveillance programs
posted by nightwood at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2013


More than half of senators skip briefing on NSA surveillance programs

No one is arguing that congress has been doing their job. In fact it seems they have been decidedly negligent in their oversight duties so I don't know who you think this headline is going to surprise, or how you think this supports your argument. All this tells us is that we have some house cleaning to do in congress...but we already knew that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:17 AM on August 21, 2013


AElfwine Evenstar--despotic and totalitarian came from some of the posts--not my words and I did identify it as a problem and you might drop the word "any" in the last sentence as I think, and said, it is a problem, should be challenged etc. I have absolutely no problem challenging the State (US, UK Ireland) but it is phrases such as as "compelled to defend the state against any charges" that drive me to distraction. If I said the State should be defended against the charges I certainly misspoke but I do not believe I did. I am quite sure I stated it should be challenged, argued and litigated.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:19 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


More than half of senators skip briefing on NSA surveillance programs

It may be giving them too much credit, but if the guy who lied his ass off the last time I asked him questions offered to sit down and answer more questions, I'd probably tell him to pound sand.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


More than half of senators skip briefing on NSA surveillance programs

Have you got a coherent point to make? You started with Snowden and Greenwald being arrogant - which makes the NSA's arrogance, what, okay? Pale in comparison? Less important?

Then you said that Coingresscritters have no ability to examine any of the programs they alot money to and oversee. Then you backtracked and said they're not interested/not able to understand and don't even show up at briefings anyway.

So. Your point. What is it?
posted by rtha at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


That if half the students don't show up for the Astronomy lecture, it's okay for the professor to teach Astrology to the ones that do?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]




If half the students don't show up for the Astronomy lecture they shouldn't complain about not getting information from their professor.
posted by nightwood at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2013


In this analogy, the professor is spending every class talking about how the sun revolves around the Earth.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2013


In this analogy, the professor is spending every class talking about how the sun revolves around the Earth.

Luckily untrue.
posted by nightwood at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2013


So, no point then? Okay.
posted by rtha at 12:26 PM on August 21, 2013


Luckily untrue.
SEN. WYDEN: [...] So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question, does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Director of National Intelligence JAMES CLAPPER: “No, sir.”

SEN. WYDEN: “It does not?”

DIR. CLAPPER: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.”

— exchange during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, March 12, 2013
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:34 PM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Out of interest nightwood, would you be OK with a hypothetical world where all emails were scanned by the NSA? If so, should the public know? Why to each?
posted by jaduncan at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would just love it if at least one of the people defending this program would come up with a coherent argument for why it's OK.
posted by jaduncan at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


would you be OK with a hypothetical world where all emails were scanned by the NSA
Nope.

As I've said before, I think that the Patriot act should be revoked and NSA oversight should be improved. But I also believe that spying, though unsavory, is essential to our and the world's security.

I do not believe the NSA is all evil and I don't believe Snowden/Greenwald, etc are all altruistic.

And I am guilty of being too flip sometimes when I read through the collective freakout in these many threads.
posted by nightwood at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because terror, jaduncan! TERROR! What, I suppose you think that being "brave" and/or "free" is in our national anthem or something?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:49 PM on August 21, 2013




Case in point:

October 3, 2011 FISC Opinion Holding NSA Surveillance Unconstitutional

That order, linked above is more complicated and nuanced than the EFF headline would lead you to believe. It would be more instructive to summarize what was denied and what wasn't denied.
posted by nightwood at 1:03 PM on August 21, 2013


WaPo story.

nightwood, golly, I wish I could read an 80-page court opinion in under 11 minutes and reach a valid conclusion about a rather brilliantly staffed public policy organization's topline takeaway.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:13 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


But I also believe that spying, though unsavory, is essential to our and the world's security.

What evidence is this belief predicated on?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2013


My law degree did leave me able to read judgements fast. Fascinating snippet from page 71 that I'm surprised isn't redacted: 91% of the internet communications collected by NSA are direct from ISPs. I guess they really don't have access to Google/Yahoo/MS server rooms.
posted by jaduncan at 1:34 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


jaduncan, bear in mind that it's a two year old document and they've been very far from idle. We know for example they went from helpless to remarkably not-helpless in their ability to do Skype intercepts. By an amazing coincidence, Skype's acquisition by Microsoft also occurred in that same interval.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:43 PM on August 21, 2013


nightwood, golly, I wish I could read an 80-page court opinion in under 11 minutes and reach a valid conclusion about a rather brilliantly staffed public policy organization's topline takeaway.

You don't need to speed read, it's not a contest. First - anything that speaks of "NSA Surveillance" as a monolith is glossing over the complexity of the numerous programs run by the NSA. And reading the first line of the conclusion:

"For the foregoing reasons, the government's requests [...] are granted in part and denied in part."

shows that this needs to be read more carefully to understand the import of it.
posted by nightwood at 2:11 PM on August 21, 2013


Page 16, footnote 14 is rather good: "The Court is troubled that the government's revelations regarding NSA's acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program."

Apparently the NSA considers itself above the court's authority.
posted by ryoshu at 2:13 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Congress too. I guess what I want to know at this point is if they are acting at the behest of the executive or are above that branch as well.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:16 PM on August 21, 2013


"For the foregoing reasons, the government's requests [...] are granted in part and denied in part."

Yes, and you may want to read far enough to see what's being denied and what's being granted before you get holier-than-thou. For starters, the opinion addresses requests by multiple agencies. The NSA section could be nothing but the words "fuck you guys" over and over and the overall judgment would still be "granted in part."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:17 PM on August 21, 2013




I mean, come on, what's 56,000 constitutional violations a year? Look at all the times the NSA didn't violate the constitution!
posted by ryoshu at 2:22 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, and you may want to read far enough to see what's being denied and what's being granted before you get holier-than-thou

Well, my point was that you needed to read the opinion to understand it, so we are in agreement.
posted by nightwood at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2013


Well, my point was that you needed to read the opinion to understand it,

This is an odd point to make on a website that is partly devoted to linking people things to read so that they can better understand them.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:34 PM on August 21, 2013


rmhsinc: "Save Despotic, Police State an Totalitarian for what they are--and as for once again probably being accused of being a "yes but it is not as bad as"--I will say, Yes, but it is not as bad as "do you really want me to list the countries where real surveillance, despotism and totalitarianism is extant and rampant"."

I shared your point of view right up until it was shown that illegally gathered information was being funneled to law enforcement to help them catch low level drug mules. What, pray tell, does that have to do with protecting us from terrorism? Not one fucking thing, that's what. I have consistently made excuses for this bullshit and one by one the excuses have been revealed to be based on complete and total lies. Now that all the fig leaves are finally gone, why exactly are you throwing your hands up and saying "welp, nothing we can do.."?

It's not that we don't need to spy. We do. Although arguably we don't need to engage in the massive dragnet we engage in and should instead restrict our collection activities significantly. I think that's a reasonable point to debate. It's that our spy agencies should not be devoid of meaningful oversight to the point that they lie with impunity to Congress and the FISA court and collect data on nearly everyone in the world and then don't protect that data with meaningful access control and audit logs. This is database 101 type shit they're not doing, and that incompetence is only the tip of the iceberg. There is still the active deception to deal with.

The rule of law should not be up for debate at any time in a country where the government is supposedly answerable to the citizenry.
posted by wierdo at 2:57 PM on August 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


collect data on nearly everyone in the world and then don't protect that data with meaningful access control and audit logs.

Plausible deniability.
posted by jaduncan at 4:29 PM on August 21, 2013


I could almost buy that, but they've never denied that such programs exist, they've only denied the scale on which they operate.
posted by wierdo at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2013


US Still Can't Figure Out What Snowden Took; What Happened To Those Perfect 'Audits'?
I've mostly dropped the NSA links here, but that thread has gone stale perhaps, folks posted most here already. See ya in September!
posted by jeffburdges at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


US Still Can't Figure Out What Snowden Took; What Happened To Those Perfect 'Audits'?

Because the NSA uses the least untruthful answer, it is helpful to be very careful when reading what they say. So when Alexander says, "We can audit the actions of our people 100%, and we do that," he might be telling the truth. Snowden worked for Booz Allen. As a contractor, he wasn't technically one of the NSA's people. So while the NSA may audit NSA people, they might not audit contractors.

I wonder if all of the NSA statements on audits are like that?
posted by ryoshu at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Alexander may have meant the data, not the PPT repository.
posted by nightwood at 5:38 PM on August 21, 2013


We actually know from court documents that they aren't able to audit all the actions of all their employees (to take a restrictive definition of "our people") because there's simply too much data. So if he's not lying, it would be because you can parse his sentence as "We can audit the actions of our people - 100%! - and we do that." In other words, it is 100% true that they have the ability to audit the actions of "their people", and that they have done this on occasion.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:56 PM on August 21, 2013


I mean, come on, what's 56,000 constitutional violations a year? Look at all the times the NSA didn't violate the constitution!

That is actually their defense.

You can't parody this stuff.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:00 PM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]



You can't parody this stuff.


You don't need to. They know that, with the things they know on those who wield power, they don't need anything but a pretend defence. They're tossing their tame politicians the flimsiest of figleaves, knowing that they have no option but to defend them.
posted by acb at 6:56 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


with the things they know on those who wield power, they don't need anything but a pretend defence.

I knew it! Obama really *IS* a muslim, was really born in Kenya and that 'birth certificate' was a forgery!
posted by nightwood at 7:17 PM on August 21, 2013




A British court has ruled the U.K. government may look through items seized from the partner of a journalist who has written stories about documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:55 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]




Who the hell flies around the world carrying multiple game consoles?

Every one of my teenage cousins? You want to play your new 3DS, but you only have two games for it, which could get boring, so you also pack your old DS that you have a bunch of games for ... and your PSP, because you have a PSP. And also your Vita.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:54 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, people who live in places like Brazil who are near last to get stock and tend to have higher retail prices. My SO's mom used to buy consoles at retail here and ship them to Brazil, the DR, and other countries because even after her markup and the retailer's markup there it was still cheaper (and more reliable) than getting them through the licensed distributor.

Needless to say, it's not uncommon for people who live in other countries to carry electronics, including non-portable game consoles, back in their luggage if they travel somewhere where they can be had more cheaply.
posted by wierdo at 7:49 PM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]




One of the most enlightening things I've learned from all these threads is that Techdirt is a god-awful site with bad writing, analysis and reporting.
posted by nightwood at 5:20 AM on August 23, 2013






And if New Zealand has them, that means they'll be leaked to Sauron by nightfall...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:50 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Important quote from ryoshu's link :

"It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act." -Snowden

Apparently "US government itself has constantly [leaked information that paints the administration in a positive light, despite that information endangering personal more than Manning or Snowden.]
posted by jeffburdges at 6:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Greewald says:

"[...]at least some information about [the Independent's] basis for these claims, given how significant they are, would be warranted"

But he demands no such thing from Snowden's significant claim about the leak coming from the UK government. How does/can Snowden know?
posted by nightwood at 7:14 AM on August 23, 2013


But he demands no such thing from Snowden's significant claim about the leak coming from the UK government. How does/can Snowden know?

You missed the part where Snowden says, "It appears that..."
posted by ryoshu at 7:56 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

This should make for some interesting press releases.
posted by ryoshu at 7:59 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]




This leaves one last possible explanation -- those in power were angry and impulsively acted on that anger. They're lashing out: sending a message and demonstrating that they're not to be messed with -- that the normal rules of polite conduct don't apply to people who screw with them. That's probably the scariest explanation of all. Both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence apparatuses have enormous money and power, and they have already demonstrated that they are willing to ignore their own laws. Once they start wielding that power unthinkingly, it could get really bad for everyone.

And it's not going to be good for them, either. They seem to want Snowden so badly that that they'll burn the world down to get him. But every time they act impulsively aggressive -- convincing the governments of Portugal and France to block the plane carrying the Bolivian president because they thought Snowden was on it is another example -- they lose a small amount of moral authority around the world, and some ability to act in the same way again. The more pressure Snowden feels, the more likely he is to give up on releasing the documents slowly and responsibly, and publish all of them at once -- the same way that WikiLeaks published the U.S. State Department cables.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:20 AM on August 23, 2013


ryoshu: "This should make for some interesting press releases."

And some interesting financial reporting conundrums.
posted by wierdo at 8:28 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command has begun a criminal investigation following the seizure of thousands of documents found in the possession David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist.
So we can only assume that the Met is leaking like a sieve in the direction of the Indy.Smearing Snowden and thus Greenwald as much as possible in the process.
The Indy's circulation is pretty dire and it may or may not be coincidental that the owner is Alexander Lebedev, a Russian who is / has sold all his assets in that country.
I guess he is trying to please somebody.
posted by adamvasco at 9:07 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies

...The disclosure that taxpayers' money was used to cover the companies' compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA. Since the existence of the program was first revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied all knowledge of it and insisted they only hand over user data in response to specific legal requests from the authorities.

So, basically, Google et al. were lying about not making backdoors available. In fact, they were paid to set them up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


..or they want people to think that they have cracked the thumb drive encryptation maybe.
Murkey shit as usual from a bunch who definitely do not have the word transparency in their vocabulary.
posted by adamvasco at 9:12 AM on August 23, 2013


Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command has begun a criminal investigation following the seizure of thousands of documents found in the possession David Miranda, the partner of a Guardian journalist.

That seems a bit harsh. I mean, sure, the police exceeded their powers, but they were only obeying orders...

Wait, what?
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:18 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Amazon, Google, Yotube, Microsoft, Tumblr, Ebay, WaPo, NYT and now NASDAQ

Is someone showing off?
posted by fullerine at 9:38 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "So, basically, Google et al. were lying about not making backdoors available. In fact, they were paid to set them up."

They could just as easily have been paid for the engineering services and network capacity involved in installing NSA equipment to sniff traffic, rather than being paid for direct access to databases or whatever. Given the amount of traffic these guys handle, it could be a fairly significant cost to have enough spare network capacity to mirror all the ingress and egress traffic from the datacenter to a couple of boxes and then provision enough WAN capacity for NSA to send it back to whatever lair they hold it in.
posted by wierdo at 9:54 AM on August 23, 2013






They could just as easily have been paid for the engineering services and network capacity involved in installing NSA equipment to sniff traffic, rather than being paid for direct access to databases or whatever.

I'm not sure there's a functional difference. Google is not only colluding with the US government to eavesdrop, but they are being paid to do it. Whether it is direct or indirect access seems immaterial to those underlying facts. They lied.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google's response, from the same article.
Google did not answer any of the specific questions put to it, and provided only a general statement denying it had joined Prism or any other surveillance program. It added: "We await the US government's response to our petition to publish more national security request data, which will show that our compliance with American national security laws falls far short of the wild claims still being made in the press today."
posted by Nelson at 1:35 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "I'm not sure there's a functional difference. Google is not only colluding with the US government to eavesdrop, but they are being paid to do it. Whether it is direct or indirect access seems immaterial to those underlying facts. They lied."

I don't believe Google ever stated that they did not cooperate with the NSA. They stated they had not given NSA direct access to their servers when there were articles circulating stating that they had. There is an enormous difference in law and in my own mind between those two things.

The former is like trying to read your mail. The latter is like searching your house. Both are invasive, but they are not the same thing with the same implications.
posted by wierdo at 6:07 PM on August 23, 2013


Bruce Schneider has a compelling analysis in The Real Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda. In short, PM David Cameron and GCHQ are thugs :

“This leaves one last possible explanation -- those in power were angry and impulsively acted on that anger. They're lashing out: sending a message and demonstrating that they're not to be messed with -- that the normal rules of polite conduct don't apply to people who screw with them. That's probably the scariest explanation of all. Both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence apparatuses have enormous money and power, and they have already demonstrated that they are willing to ignore their own laws. Once they start wielding that power unthinkingly, it could get really bad for everyone.”
posted by jeffburdges at 10:09 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


To rmhsinc, from waaaay up-thread:

jharris--"it had better be a good explanation"--I am not sure how you mean this. Do you mean "or else", "or I hope I like it", or what.

It's more like the latter. Think of it as "it had better be a good explanation or you can go to hell." Seriously, what would "or else" even mean here? It's a web forum. Like I could do thing one about what anyone says here. Because we can't, and what's more it's obvious that we can't, that safety encourages a bit of overstatement. Your former interpretation was not the intention.

but I am no more interested in your trying to censor opinion than I am in the fact you are infuriated.

Yeah, well, nuts to you too.
posted by JHarris at 1:20 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


“This leaves one last possible explanation -- those in power were angry and impulsively acted on that anger. They're lashing out: sending a message and demonstrating that they're not to be messed with -- that the normal rules of polite conduct don't apply to people who screw with them.

We (the UK) barely even bother to deny that the intelligence services organised an assassination of a republican lawyer in NI just for causing problems in court. What makes people think that we didn't play extremely roughly before?
posted by jaduncan at 3:41 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This headline may be a lie: Exclusive: UK’s secret Mid-East internet surveillance base is revealed in Edward Snowden leaks

According to Glenn Greenwald, the source is actually the UK government: UK government now leaking documents about itself. As he points out, the Independent's article actually references unnamed UK government sources.

Neither paper reveals where the base is, but after looking at this map my money is firmly on Egypt, which is traversed by cables coming from Iran, India, and Pakistan - Iran and India particularly stood out in the original reports as being places that are subject to a high volume of data intercepts.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:50 AM on August 24, 2013


We (the UK) barely even bother to deny that the intelligence services organised an assassination of a republican lawyer in NI just for causing problems in court. What makes people think that we didn't play extremely roughly before?

Not to mention killing Princess Diana.
posted by nightwood at 5:50 AM on August 24, 2013


Not to mention killing Princess Diana.

Very amusing. Somehow I'm not surprised that you made a flip answer without any research whatsoever; it fits with the rest of your comments in this thread.

The PM apologised for "shocking levels of collusion" between the security services and UVF, noting specifically that '"on the balance of probability", an officer or officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) did propose Finucane as a target to loyalist terrorists.' You will note the careful denial of the beyond reasonable doubt level of admission required for criminal conviction, even whilst the report admitted that the UVF got 80% of their intelligence from the security services and they helped select the targets for punishment kneecappings and assassination. But you can read the rest before being dismissive:

McDonald, Henry; Bowcott, Owen (12 December 2012). "Pat Finucane report: David Cameron apologises over killing". The Guardian.
posted by jaduncan at 6:05 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


jaduncan - it was more aimed at the folks who blithely accept, without any evidence, Greenwald/Snowden's assertion that the UK gov't leaked to the Independent. According to one poster above, I guess I could have just said the "UK *appears* to have had Princess Diana killed" and that would alleviate the need of any evidence.
posted by nightwood at 6:10 AM on August 24, 2013


I guess I was mislead by the fact that you directly quoted what I said.
posted by jaduncan at 6:13 AM on August 24, 2013


jaduncan - sorry about that - should have put more context around my snark.
posted by nightwood at 6:20 AM on August 24, 2013




jaduncan - sorry about that - should have put more context around my snark.

This might be a good rubric to apply more generally. Snark is supposed to make you look clever - or at least give the impression that you have understood a situation better than the person at whom you are snarking. One-line knee-jerking isn't really successful snark.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:13 AM on August 24, 2013


Neither paper reveals where the base is, but after looking at this map my money is firmly on Egypt,

Beg to differ. I've looked at the same map as you. But as this is a Brit operation, my money's on the British Army-run GCHQ listening post in Cyprus.

To wit, at Ayios Nikolaos Station.

Pre-independence, Cyprus was the UK's key military base in the eastern Med. Still is. There are several Brit military bases on the island.

The base at Ayyios Nikolaos with its listening post is within striking distance of the coast and Pentaskhinos, Cyprus. It should therefore have access to all the goodies on the ALASIA, CADMOS, EUROPA, MedNautilus Submarine System, TE North/TGN-Eurasia/SEACOM/Alexandros, and UGAR submarine cables.

Here's an aerial view of Ayios Nikoloas Station
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:19 AM on August 24, 2013


This might be a good rubric to apply more generally. Snark is supposed to make you look clever - or at least give the impression that you have understood a situation better than the person at whom you are snarking. One-line knee-jerking isn't really successful snark.

Like the folks here who gladly accept Greenwald's serious allegation that the UK leaked to the Independent, though absolutely zero evidence is presented, while repeating Greenwald's demand that the Independent provide evidence of their serious allegation?
posted by nightwood at 7:29 AM on August 24, 2013


nightwood, did you actually bother to read the link? The Greenwald article that includes this from you know who, Edward Snowden:

"I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent. The journalists I have worked with have, at my request, been judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger. People at all levels of society up to and including the President of the United States have recognized the contribution of these careful disclosures to a necessary public debate, and we are proud of this record.

"It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post's disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others. The UK government should explain the reasoning behind this decision to disclose information that, were it released by a private citizen, they would argue is a criminal act."

Nightwood, I am genuinely beginning to worry about your reading comprehension.
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:42 AM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, assuming that Snowden, somehow from Russia can assure that the journalists he has worked with and the folks that they have had courier their data and those folks that they have shown the data to have not leaked to the Independent (a huge assumption). How does he know that one of them have not been hacked or spied upon. And then how does he know it was the UK that did it and not one of the other partners that had this info (e.g. the US)? And then how did they know that this document was in the ones taken by Snowden since we are told the US does not know what Snowden took?

They may have evidence that the UK is behind the Independent's reporting, but it is not in that article.

I'm genuinely worried about the lack of critical thinking in these threads. One-sided skepticism may let the metafilter crowd get their conspiracy theory freak on, but it is counter-productive to understanding the problems and finding solutions.
posted by nightwood at 7:49 AM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


nightwood, I'm not going to bother unpicking your nonsense. Why? Because I'm not seeing critical thinking in your latest contribution. Yet again. On second thoughts, that's not true. Your so-called critical thinking reminds me of Alex Jones. You are Alex Jones, aren't you?
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:09 AM on August 24, 2013


Beg to differ. I've looked at the same map as you. But as this is a Brit operation, my money's on the British Army-run GCHQ listening post in Cyprus.

I'll say in passing that the Signals have a lot of people there.
posted by jaduncan at 8:15 AM on August 24, 2013




I've looked at the same map as you. But as this is a Brit operation, my money's on the British Army-run GCHQ listening post in Cyprus.

Would anyone describe Cyprus as being "in the Middle East"? Surely you'd say "a Mediterranean country" or something like that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:02 PM on August 24, 2013


Would anyone describe Cyprus as being "in the Middle East"?

Erhhh... misdirection?
posted by Mister Bijou at 6:14 PM on August 24, 2013








Joshua Foust:
Details are still emerging but there was an extraordinary government witness statement this morning in the UK regarding the detention of David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s partner who was detained two weeks ago in Heathrow Airport...
posted by BobbyVan at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2013


“The fact that…the claimant was carrying on his person a handwritten piece of paper containing the password for one of the encrypted files recovered from him is a sign of very poor information security practice,” says Govt statement
Wow.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 AM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greenwald:
Anyone claiming that David Miranda was carrying a password that allowed access to documents is lying. UK itself says they can't access them.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:19 AM on August 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


“The claimant & his associates have demonstrated very poor judgment in their security arrangements with respect to the material…”#miranda
This is somewhat hilarious claim, considering where the data came from. The poor judgement on the NSA's part was giving non-government third parties complete access to everything. The poor judgement from Miranda was thinking that the UK would obey it's own terrorism laws and not abuse them for other purposes.

This Joushua Foust guy seems like a trip too in that in his update he claims that there's some discrepancy in Miranda's or Greenwald's statements about the incident, and offers as evidence his own misunderstanding of the difference between a decryption key and a password.

And that Tim Stanley guy at the Telegraph is even more slimy, with sweeping judgements based on nothing. For example:
"Mr Miranda does not accept the assertions they have made." Presumably, this means that he does not accept the assertion that the data he was carrying threatened UK national security and even the lives of its operatives. Yet this somewhat contradicts something Miranda told The Guardian two weeks ago. Back then, he said, "I don't look at documents. I don't even know if it was documents that I was carrying." So if he didn't look at the documents, how can he know that they didn't include the kind of information that the UK Government alleges? Has Greenwald brought him up to speed with what was really on the memory sticks he asked him to ferry halfway across the world? I'd love to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.
Oh no, after this international incident where Miranda was detained for 9 hours, Miranda or his lawyer may have asked Greenwald what it was that was on there! Scandal for Greenwald, he looks so bad! Or even, oh no, Greenwald has access to sensitive information, therefore he's a terrorist! Good glob, these people are presenting stupid arguments.

There needs to be a cleaning of house not only of the rouge intelligence services that abuse laws, but also of the journalists that are trying to prevent justice. These journalists attaching journalism are hurting not only their own profession, but our entire nation.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, what did I miss? 'UK itself says they can't access them.' seems to contradict the info in Barret's story where Oliver Robbins says ' among the unencrypted documents ... was a piece of paper that included the password for decrypting one of the encrypted files on the external hard drive recovered from the claimant.'

So did Greenwald just call Oliver Robbins a liar? The UK's Deputy National Security Advisor is a fibber?

This feels like an old spy movie at this point. Is this just misdirection?
posted by dabitch at 3:50 PM on August 30, 2013


A little bit of levity, the cover of Mad Magazine this week is great and relevant.
posted by JHarris at 5:23 PM on August 30, 2013




The UK also asked the NY Times to destroy their copy of 58,000 documents that they destroyed at The Guardian's offices
Goode said the hard drive contained around 60 gigabytes of data, "of which only 20 have been accessed to date." She said that she had been advised that the hard drive contains "approximately 58,000 UK documents which are highly classified in nature, to the highest level."

Goode said the process to decode the material was complex and that "so far only 75 documents have been reconstructed since the property was initially received."
So 75 documents in 20 gigabytes, does that mean that each document has an average size of 270 megabytes? Are these 75 documents also from the same 58,000 that the Guardian was forced to destroy and the UK asked the NY Times to destroy? Or are these 75 "documents" video clips for one of Poitras' documentaries, and the 58,000 government files still encrypted and inaccessible on that drive? Presumably the UK can know that the 58,000 document are there without being able to decrypt them because they know the size of the archive when they saw the Guardian's copy.

And what type of "complex process" is it that's letting them slowly access parts of the drive? Is it typing in the password from the piece of paper? Or does it involve breaking the encryption by guessing a passphrase? And if they're guessing passphrases, whose handwriting is it that wrote the password down? And why did we not hear about a piece of paper that held the password until three weeks later, when they would have discovered this immediately in the nine hours that they detained him?

I wouldn't want to say that the UK government is outright lying, but their story makes little sense as presented, and sounds deceptive. Going by the statements in the press, it would be perfectly consistent that this hand written password wasn't to any of the government's documents at all, and could simply be the password to something personal of Miranda's. A consistent situation would be that Miranda had an encrypted porn folder for which he had written the password, plus some videos for Poitras, plus he was carrying an encrypted copy of the 58,000 documents that the UK is so determined to wipe out. So they get to zing Miranda on not keeping his personal privacy that secure, while also insinuating that if bad people had held him up and stolen all his belongings (hmm, what bad people would seize a person against their will and steal all their belongings?) that Miranda could have leaked sensitive information, even if that sensitive information was just an embarrassing collection of One Direction poems, or whatever.

The desire to seek out and destroy every copy of the 58,000 documents may have been the initial motivation to detain Miranda, an act that seemed and still seems mostly senseless. Given that we know the UK has a quixotic desire to destroy copies of these documents, it would make more sense than intimidation, because clearly intimidation wasn't going to work, and just gives Greenwald more fodder.
posted by Llama-Lime at 6:33 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't want to say that the UK government is outright lying

They are outright lying.
posted by localroger at 7:03 PM on August 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


TechDirt suggests that the government's claims are worded to suggest that the password Miranda was carrying decrypted one of the Snowden files, without actually saying that - the exact language was that the password allowed investigators to "decrypt one file on his seized hard drive," but the hard drive wouldn't contain only NSA leaks.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:15 PM on August 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or it is the password with which a hard drive was encrypted, and that drive had a file which had no further encryption on it. So they have a copy of AUTOEXEC.BAT plus 58,000 encrypted files. It's simply impossible to tell, which is what they want. It's all manipulation and misdirection.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:33 AM on August 31, 2013


Right? It's getting quite muddled at this point. At the same time, nobody forced Greenwald to write a Very Upset™ article about how his family had been detained as an intimidation tactic to scare him - leaving out the details that Miranda carried documents and was flying on Guardians dime, plus said "No thank you" to the lawyer offered. These are dteails Greenwald himsef chose to leave out.

So it's not like anyone else set Greenwald up so that we may doubt his word.
posted by dabitch at 6:21 AM on August 31, 2013


Oh for the love of god, did he eat a ham sandwich earlier that day? OMG THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING!
posted by JHarris at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2013


A ham sandwich isn't relevant.

"He was refused a lawyer" is different from "he refused a lawyer".
posted by dabitch at 8:21 AM on September 1, 2013


On Miranda's HDD and government lies.

Following a close reading of the government's statements, it's suggested that:
-The decrypted 20GB was a "throwaway" TrueCrypt partition
-That the "recovered" 75 documents could have been "undeleted" from unallocated space on the drive
-And that these 75 recovered documents could have been anything, including cat videos or shopping lists.
posted by anemone of the state at 9:11 AM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was a good sandwich.
posted by JHarris at 12:50 PM on September 1, 2013


New Greenwald story shows how the USA was spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff

Greenwald (translated): "It was very clear, with these documents, the spying has been done, because they are not arguing that just as something they are planning. They are celebrating the success of espionage."
posted by anemone of the state at 10:20 PM on September 1, 2013


The UK also asked the NY Times to destroy their copy of 58,000 documents that they destroyed at The Guardian's offices

I imagine the Times response sounded something like this.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:43 AM on September 2, 2013


leaving out the details that Miranda carried documents and was flying on Guardians dime, plus said "No thank you" to the lawyer offered. These are dteails Greenwald himsef chose to leave out.

The documents he had and The Guardian paying for his trip are mentioned outright in Miranda's lawyers' letter to the Home Office which has been posted on The Guardian's website for a while now.
posted by ODiV at 10:54 PM on September 2, 2013




...which has been posted on The Guardian's website for a while now...

yes, it's been posted on the Guardians website since Tuesday 20 August 2013. The articles that are linked in his Metafilter post, where Greenwald tells the Guardian & readers how his partner was detained in the UK and this kind of harassment is mafia-style, were posted on the Guardians website the Sunday 18 August 2013. These are the posts referred to when people are saying he left out the details that Miranda was flying on the Guardians dime, and said no thank you to a lawyer.

There was no reason for him to leave that out, and in doing so, he put everything else he says now in doubt which is a real shame, innit?
posted by dabitch at 8:04 AM on September 10, 2013


dabitch
I think there is a slight cultural difference here regards lawyers.
In western countries if you are offered a lawyer by the police one tends to accept believing everything is above board.
In places like Rio where Miranda comes from you accept nothing from the police ever. He probably thought the lawyer was going to be another cop in plain clothes.
Also I don't really think it matters who paid for his ticket. I don't remember The Guardian newspaper being declared a terrorist organisation ....yet.
Anyway the story has moved on considerably and should be considerered for what it is rather than concentrating on the messengers, who may or may not be playing some other little games.
posted by adamvasco at 9:09 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was no reason for him to leave that out, and in doing so, he put everything else he says now in doubt which is a real shame, innit?

It does? You say these things as if it should affect what we think of him. It does not. How should it?
posted by JHarris at 9:42 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's certainly a very Glenn Greenwald thing to do.
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on September 10, 2013


Is Glenn Greenwald, a US journalist, writing in English, for a UK&US Newspaper also under this Brazilian cultural difference feeler when he says (in his own paper):

"To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer..."

Denying him is != as him denying a lawyer. It just isn't.

It's not what we think of Glenn Greenwald (the person), it is how we read what he writes from now on. I trusted his word from the get go, as he had no reason to inflate the facts to make this story worse than it is. It's grim already. Yet he did.
posted by dabitch at 5:06 PM on September 10, 2013


Miranda requested a lawyer of his own choosing. The agents told him he could only have a lawyer of their own choosing. He refused, rightly so.

Miranda was refused access to a lawyer.
posted by anemone of the state at 5:46 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


yes, it's been posted on the Guardians website since Tuesday 20 August 2013. The articles that are linked in his Metafilter post, where Greenwald tells the Guardian & readers how his partner was detained in the UK and this kind of harassment is mafia-style, were posted on the Guardians website the Sunday 18 August 2013.

And your comment was posted on 31 August 2013, so I figured we'd all had eleven days to digest what was in the letter which was on the Guardian's site. Greenwald didn't include them paying for Miranda's travel up front, but I don't really see that as a huge deal. You do, obviously and that's fine.

As far as the denied a lawyer / was denied a lawyer, I agree that would be a serious departure from the truth.

Here's where I get a little muddled. I've read that he was offered a lawyer, but not his lawyer and that his lawyer was prevented from seeing him. Is that BS? If so can you share your source, because I'm legitimately interested. In the letter from Miranda's lawyers above, they say they weren't allowed to see Miranda until 1 hour prior to his release. Granted, that could be because Miranda had said, "No" to a lawyer. If he had, then why would they let the lawyer in at hour 8?
posted by ODiV at 5:50 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


People who decline lawyers generally do so, foolishly, because they think they have nothing to hide and that their open cooperation will win them a swifter release than refusing to speak without legal advice. The UK seem to be simultaneously saying that Miranda didn't cooperate, but that he did decline a lawyer. I can't see how this works, particularly since he didn't decline assistance from his own lawyer who was given access some eight hours later. As for being offered a government-selected lawyer, under these circumstances ... I frankly don't know whether I would trust the lawyer, or even trust the government's assurance that the person supplied actually was a lawyer. After all, terrorists!
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:05 PM on September 10, 2013


Since Greenwald is the guy who will spoon-fed us what they (they being the Guardian) think we should know from the Snowden NSA files - because they can't just let everyone read all of it willy-nilly, and I understand this - I really was hoping his language to be a lot more precise, so that there wouldn't be room for several different interpretations of an event. Or what is stated in one of the documents he describes. Do you see what I mean? This is why it bothers me.
posted by dabitch at 6:14 PM on September 10, 2013


Oh bullshit, dabitch. Julian Assange's ‘Scientific Journalism’ says journalists should stand up to state and corporate public relations machines by publishing the actual documents. And that's exactly what's happening. Read the documents yourself if you don't like Greenwald's interpretation, or just watch Fox news if you prefer.

All the "spoon feeding" serves to maximize those source document's impact by allowing the press time to focus on each separate story, another trick learned and explained by Julian Assange. In this case, they've far outstripped Assange practical press abilities by repeatedly catching Alexander, Clapper, Obama, etc. outright lying to congress and the press.

Assange is a genius to so precisely lay out this attack on the modern machinery that maintains unjustifiable secrecy, but Greenwald, et al. are expert practitioners.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:53 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


As people have said before, Assange was criticised for releasing unredacted documents; now Greenwald is being criticised for not releasing everything at once.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:45 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


.

(discourse is dead)
posted by dabitch at 8:48 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh please.
posted by JHarris at 1:27 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Honestly, how did this become a piddling silly argument about whether he was denied or denied himself a lawyer? This is the kind of bullshit equivocation you'd expect to see on Fox News, searching for nits to pick. And it happens in just about every thread, there is always something people point at and say, Look! Look! It's not really that bad! While refusing to look at the fucking aggregate.)

Since Greenwald is the guy who will spoon-fed us what they (they being the Guardian) think we should know from the Snowden NSA files - because they can't just let everyone read all of it willy-nilly

FOR THE LOVE OF -- if he DOES release everything at once, then the dozen other people around here who have piled on Wikileaks for releasing things willy-nilly will join in! I guess you really cannot please all the people all the time, especially when you're trying to inform the public about the nightmarish surveillance rapidly coming to pervade their lives.
posted by JHarris at 1:35 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


All these journalistic techniques discovered, highlighted, or extended by Assange, Greenwald, etc. serve precisely to create real discourse on a topic, especially publishing the source material or spoon feeding leaks. It's precisely that discourse the modern corporate and government bullshit machines seek to silence. And many people attack the Assange-Greenwald method precisely because it creates discourse that makes them uncomfortable.

All the agencies, corporations, etc. targeted by said method could resolve the problems by simply being more transparent. We'll need an awful lot more leaks before that happens though because people like Alexander, Clapper, Brennan, etc. have an enormous stake in the status quo because they violate the laws so much as to make their careers fundamentally incompatible with transparency.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:53 AM on September 11, 2013


JHarris, I think you've seriously misunderstood me. Lets leave it at that.
posted by dabitch at 1:18 PM on September 11, 2013


Maybe. If you want you can MeMail me about it.
posted by JHarris at 3:27 PM on September 11, 2013


« Older Welcome to Paradox "makes the future look...   |   Unique sculptures of Pierre Matter Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments