The takeaway from the scandal over the detention by British authorities of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, should be obvious: it was an egregious abuse of power by a desperate and cretinous government. Miranda was detained for 9 hours, the maximum allowed under a British anti-terrorism law. Uncontroversially, as Greenwald himself has laid out, British authorities had no suspicion whatsoever that Miranda was at all involved in terrorism-related activities. His detention was nothing more than intimidation.
In the day or so that has passed since the news of Miranda’s intolerable detention, that it was an act of government intimidation of journalists reporting what government is doing in the shadows was a claim made only by those opposing the government – Greenwald, the Guardian, and other sympathetic journalists and commentators.
But now, as reported by Reuters, a U.S. official has confirmed that intimidation was indeed the purpose of Miranda’s detention:
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.
Notably, the White House said they had “a heads up” from the British authorities before Miranda was detained, but – they claim – they did not ask Britain to detain him. Ok. Here’s another obvious point to make: the Obama administration’s complicity in this thuggery is probable, to put it generously.
In Greenwald’s write-up of the incident, he mentioned how “even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by.”
It’s an apt comparison. Government is mafia. And by harassing and persecuting dissident journalists and their families, it is proving so more and more everyday.