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UK government showcases its total criminality and desperation in 9-hour interrogation of Brazilian David Miranda

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: UK government, David Miranda, interrogation


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(NaturalNews) The so-called "war on terror," declared by George W. Bush while the horrific images of the 9/11 attacks were still vivid and fresh in our minds, has turned out to be much more of a "war on liberty" than anything else. The difference is, the world's democracies are proving much more adept at destroying the latter; this business about the widespread electronic eavesdropping committed by the National Security Agency, in violation of its mandate, is Exhibit A.

As bad as it is that a little-mentioned provision of the USA Patriot Act never authorized blanket NSA surveillance of American citizens, it is worse that successive administrations did it anyway. The coup de grace now appears to be the persecution of those responsible for informing us of these serial violations of both the spirit and intent of the law (not to mention the Constitution).

On Aug. 18, David Miranda, the live-in and professional partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist for Britain's Guardian newspaper who broke details of the spy scandal provided him by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, was "detained" and questioned at length for nine hours at London's Heathrow Airport.

Politically motivated revenge

The charge? Oh, there were no charges, per se. British authorities would only say later that he was detained under provisions of the country's counterterrorism statutes. And later, news broke that that Obama's White House had been tipped off that Miranda would be detained.

Two of the world's foremost democracies - perhaps now in name only - had tag-teamed to strike in revenge for Greenwald's disclosures, since they couldn't get at Snowden himself, having since obtained temporary asylum in Russia. And Miranda, it appeared, made an easy target; it was the United States' and British governments telling both men they could reach out and get them anytime they pleased.

What is ironic about the incident, according to an Aug. 19 editorial in The Guardian, is that the law that British authorities used to detain Miranda has, itself, been "discredited." Per the paper:

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is a sweeping power to detain for up to nine hours. It gives border police a power of detention for questioning without specific suspicion or a right to be represented. It is one of the strongest police powers on the statute book - a useful weapon for security services trawling for information but a potential source of injustice waiting to happen. It has provoked some of the strongest community complaints about the way UK terrorism laws operate in practice. Parliament is already scheduled to reform it.

David Miranda's detention should be seen in the context of the implicit acceptance by the Home Office, which is bringing forward the current changes, that parts of the law are too sweeping. But Mr Miranda's detention is extraordinary nevertheless. It raises important new issues that parliament cannot now ignore and will have to debate if its terrorism law reform bill is to be in any way meaningful, just or proportionate.


So much for democracy

For one, the editorial notes, there was, and remains, nothing even remotely suggesting that Miranda has any ties to terrorism. Hence the outrage regarding the application of the law; his detention, while "allowable" under the letter of the statutes, was clearly arbitrary and capricious - and retaliatory.

For another, the people have no real recourse. Who will hold accountable the officials who deliberately misrepresented the intent and spirit of the law to target Miranda? The voters? Isn't the process too insulated from voters to make casting ballots effective?

Perhaps, as the Guardian editorial suggests, the British Parliament is prepared to make the kinds of reforms to the country's terrorism statutes that would prevent such politically motivated detentions. But in the meantime, governments angry over the disclosure of their secret - and highly illegal - spying operations against the people will continue to exploit ways to exact revenge on anyone willing to expose them.

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.cnn.com

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