This Is Why Unchecked Anti-Terrorist Laws Are A Bad Idea

Here’s a super-important story that blew up this weekend: Guardian correspondent Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer-journalist who’s been raising the alarm on the U.S. surveillance state for years and is the most important journo in the NSA spying-on-everyone scandal, has been targeted for intimidation. From the BBC:

Senior politicians and an independent reviewer have said police must explain why David Miranda was detained for nine hours at Heathrow Airport. Mr. Miranda’s partner is a journalist who published documents leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. Police have not said why Mr Miranda was held, but he said he was kept in a room and quizzed by “six agents”. Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said police must explain why terrorism powers were used. Brazil has complained that his detention was “without justification”.The Home Office said it was for the police to decide when to use its powers to stop people. Mr Miranda, 28, was held at Heathrow on Sunday, on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro, where he lives with his partner, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. “I remained in a room, there were six different agents coming and going, talking to me,” Mr Miranda said. “They asked questions about my entire life, about everything. They took my computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory cards, everything.”

Greenwald, not surprisingly, blasts this naked abuse of power:

The stated purpose of this law, as the name suggests, is to question people about terrorism. The detention power, claims the UK government, is used “to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

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

More here.

Can we all agree that this detention has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism? As Greenwald says, it’s a clear-cut case of anti-terrorist laws being used to harass a journalist who’s reporting on something the United States doesn’t want him covering. Because this incident happened in Britain and not the U.S., this thing might actually become a scandal and there might even be some laws changed. Or I might be hopelessly naive. Regardless, the U.S., it’s sinking fast into an  authoritarian mire which, combined with the Tea Party’s nascent fascism, is really something its citizens — not to mention the rest of the world — should be alarmed about.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.

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