Is Glenn Greenwald's partner a terrorist?

The British government apparently has its suspicions. David Miranda, Greenwald’s partner, was traveling back to Brazil from Germany, where he had been visiting a documentary filmmaker who has been helping disseminate Edward Snowden’s information. Miranda was traveling at the Guardian’s expense as a stringer, and he exchanged Snowden-related documents with the filmmaker.

At least one MP is asking the police for an explanation.

When he changed planes in Heathrow, British authorities detained him under an antiterrorism law. That law allows detention for up to nine hours; they kept him for that maximum and told him they were seeking a court order to hold him for 48 hours. That must not have been forthcoming, since he was allowed to depart. The authorities kept all his electronic media, although that last BBC article says they have to return them within a week.

I mentioned the Miranda detention (what is it about people surnamed Miranda?) in my MPSIMS thread updating developments on NSA surveillance, but I thought this deserved a debate in its own thread.

It looks like the detention and seizure were lawful. But were they right? To me, whatever one thinks of Snowden, this looks like a naked attempt to intimidate the press. I’d be interested to hear from those who see this as justifiable, however.

Another thought: Surely Greenwald, Miranda, and the Guardian had to have suspected that something like this might happen if he were to travel through the UK. Could it be that they set this up to provoke an action like this, and the attendant publicity into the UK government’s conduct?

Thuggish State intimidation worthy of Iran. Harassing relatives of journalists through abusing a specific piece terrorist legislation. It’s aimed at intimidating journalists. They had no reasonable suspicion he was involved in terrorism unless being related to a reporter reporting on whistleblowing is now terrorism in which case it was not lawful.

This is the UK, not East Germany under the Stasi.

Disgrace. I hope, but don’t expect heads to roll, up to and including the Minister responsible.

Without knowing what evidence or reasoning triggered the detention, I have no idea if the detention was justifiable.

Obviously there’s a school of thought that says:

(A) Greenwald is writing embarrassing stuff
(B) Miranda is Greenwald’s SO
(C) We’ll teach Greenwald a lesson by harassing Miranda

And there’s also:

(D) no one seems to be aware of the slightest evidence that would suggest terror group connections with Miranda

But that (D) element is the kicker – obviously the government wouldn’t be obliged to disclose what it knew to contradict (D), so the fact that “no one seems to be aware” isn’t necessarily all that dispositive.

In short: I have no idea, but if I had to guess, and recognizing that it’s just a guess and subject to immediate erasure when confronted with actual facts – this looks jinky.

My mistake --looks like tagos has some actual evidence! That’s great news, tagos.

What is it?

A whole lot of people are wading in asking for the grounds … too early to form much of a meaningful view:

I know State intimidation when I see it and so do you. My evidence is they let him go after not asking him any questions concerning terrorism at all. Just a lot of questions about his partner’s journalism. This is a crock - you know it and I know it.

The government should be obliged to disclose its evidence. They have not earned the privilege of having their accusations taken on faith. Even if they do actually have evidence and aren’t just pulling a “psychic paper” con, if stopping the threat isn’t worth sacrificing the secrecy of their evidence then it sure as hell isn’t worth violating the victim’s rights.

I’m going to get Occam’s Shaving tool out.

Which is more likely?

  1. The partner of an investigative journalist can reasonably be suspected of terrorism on evidence that was good enough to have 6 agents on hand to question him (entirely about his partner’s and other Guardian journalists reporting on the NSA)?

  2. Intimidation of investigative journalists.

This is the sort of bullshit we get on our high horses about with Iran and Russia.

You don’t even cite the relevant legal provision under which he was held and which, for even a legal undergrad, would be the starting point.

Oh no! How dare he fail to cite his source in a post in which he didn’t take a position!

but he just “had to guess”.

So why aren’t you bitching at tagos, who doesn’t even claim to be guessing?

No. I think it’s probably a crock, but I clearly don’t know it. I have no trouble imagining Miranda shading the truth about what questions he was asked, and I have no trouble imagining that he was telling the truth but the authorities have some terrorism group link to his partner’s journalistic sources, and I have no trouble imagining that the authorities had some reason to believe Miranda was transporting classified information, any of which would go a long way towards justifying the detention, I think.

But since I regard those as less likely than intimidation, I’m certainly willing to guess “intimidation,” with the caveat I mentioned in my post above: this is a guess, subject to correction if actual evidence comes along to change it.

You, on the other hand, say you simply know.

And if evidence were to surface tomorrow that Miranda did have some terrorist group ties – unlikely, but surely you agree it’s not impossible – what would that do to your KNOWING?

I’m with **Bricker **on this fence.

I’d say there’s more than reasonable suspicion that Greenwald is in possession of highly classified materials that he knows (or at least believes) will damage national security if released that he intends to release upon Snowden’s command, perhaps if Snowden is lawfully arrested. He has suggested as much in interviews.(I’m aware that he later tried to backtrack these comments, which was probably smart, since even threatening to release classified information to damage the US as retaliation for the arrest of someone is probably a crime, whether you’re a journalist or not.)

Of course, stopping his partner on nothing more than Greenwald’s misdeeds would be completely out-of-bounds. But, given the nature of Greenwald’s threat, one can easily imagine all kinds of reasons the authorities might think the partner is being used to transport or store that sensitive information.

I’m assuming the people who think this is obviously fascism think that it would have been improper even if they reasonably suspected Miranda to be carrying highly classified materials or have knowledge of their threatened retaliatory release?

I don’t know the relevant legal provision under which he was held. That’s why I didn’t cite it, and why I am only willing to offer a guess.

To be fair, the guess was it was jinky. Which I assume is the same as ‘iffy’.

It’s way more than ‘iffy’ though.

Freedom of the press is supposedly one of the bulwarks of democracy.

Seeing the naked intimidation of relatives of investigative journalists should send a chill down everyone’s spines.

It’s up to The State to show justifiable cause. Until they do, and they won’t because they can’t, people who value freedom should scream and shout. Demand explanations and demand reforms and stringent safeguards.

There should also be enforced resignations to make it clear to other would-be jackboot types that there will be consequences for pulling this sort of shit in future.

I clearly identified the grounds on which I based my guess, and also identified the lack of stronger information; this lack, I explicitly said, was why my guess was only a guess.

I have to say I don’t believe that’s a precipitous position to take – especially in view of other posters’ more confident declarations.

Well, I’ll defer to someone who knows the relevant legal framework, but I frankly doubt your claim that it’s up to the state to show justifiable cause, just going by the statements made in the article. The article seems to claim the state has nine hours before it has to show much of anything.

Greenwald issuing more threatstoday.

Being a responsible investigative journalist means publishing the information necessary to the story, and not publishing information that is more damaging than it is enlightening. Threatening to publish damaging information that wasn’t important or safe enough to publish earlier simply as retaliation is as bad or worse than the act to which he is responding.

Even assuming you’re right, since when is transporting classified documents “terrorism”? (And foreign, American vs British, classified documents to boot)