Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Smashing Hard Drives ~ The Miranda - Snowden - Guardian Saga Continues

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Previous Related Posts:
Glenn Greenwald Threatens to spill UK Secrets
UK Detains Greenwald's Partner, Twitter Wars Erupt


Glenn Greenwald's husband, David Miranda, in Guardian UK
They were threatening me all the time and saying I would be put in jail if I didn't co-operate. They treated me like I was a criminal or someone about to attack the UK … It was exhausting and frustrating, but I knew I wasn't doing anything wrong.
. . . I was in a different country with different laws, in a room with seven agents coming and going who kept asking me questions. I thought anything could happen. I thought I might be detained for a very long time.
They got me to tell them the passwords for my computer and mobile phone. They said I was obliged to answer all their questions and used the words 'prison' and 'station' all the time.
It is clear why they 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. 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.

(Miranda) was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities. The questions, he said, were relentless – about Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras and a host of other apparently random subjects.
"They even asked me about the protests in Brazil, why people were unhappy and who I knew in the government," said Miranda.
He got his first drink – from a Coke machine in the corridor – after eight hours and was eventually released almost an hour later. Police records show he had been held from 08.05 to 17.00.
~ Guardian UK

Glenn Greenwald on CNN's Anderson Cooper:

COOPER: I read "The Guardian" had paid for David's flights.
Glenn, was he carrying classified material with him?

GREENWALD: Well, I'm not going to talk about what he was carrying because that's our product as journalists. Remember, both Laura and I are working with "The Guardian" as journalists. What I would say is every single newsroom in the United States, every single major news organization in the world has classified information. Reporting on what governments do in the secret is what journalism is about. So if you want to support the idea that states can just go and confiscate from journalists classified information, you should be demanding that your government go physically into newsrooms and seize whatever classified information is there.

All of the best reporting over the last 40 years involves journalists having classified information, the Pentagon Papers, the Bush torture cites, CIA black sites, the illegal warrantless eavesdropping program. That's what investigative journalism is. And if you want to start criminalizing that, it means that you're asking, as a citizen, to be kept ignorant and to allow people in power to conceal what they're doing behind a wall of secrecy and to have no accountability or transparency.

Journalism is not a crime and it is not terrorism.

COOPER: I would also imagine that any information that David might have had was likely duplicated, backed up some place else. So confiscating it, it's not like that would make it simply disappear, which then, I guess, leads to your argument that this was to intimidate you and send a message to others.

GREENWALD: What they did is ludicrous. First of all, of course we have multiple copies of every single thing that we're working on. Nobody would ever travel with only one copy of anything, even if you just lose it or it's stolen. That would be inane. Of course we have multiple copies around the world in different places. So taking it is in no way accomplishing anything.

Secondly, every single thing that both David and I carry, even personal items, things for his school, are protected by very advanced and heavy forms of encryption, which they can't access. So taking it doesn't enable them to know what's in there, either. It's not going to stop our reporting. It doesn't do them any good.
All it did, as I said this week, is give them a huge black eye in the world, make them look thuggish and authoritarian, interfering in a -- in the journalism process, creating international incidents with the government of Brazil, which is indignant over what was being done, for no benefit at all to themselves, which is why I said I truly believe they'll come to have regret -- to regret what they've done, because it's an -- aside from being oppressive and dangerous, it's also quite incompetent and really quite dumb.



From Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian
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.
. . . 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.


From the Guardian UK Comments Section:

Ah Bright Wings: Wait...did this really happen? . . .
AlanRusbridger: yes, it really happened...

Shadows88: "Shadowy Whitehall figures"? I can't believe you don't know who you were speaking to. Name names. If you're not legally allowed to, say so. Stop playing the authorities game.
AlanRusbridger: It's not legal. Every journalist sometimes agrees to some things/conversations/names being off the record...
Phineus: Stop playing Wormtongue

AlanC: What worries me most in your piece, Alan, is that you apparently 'handed over' the material when asked to do so rather than force the government to go to court. Recalling the joke a GCHQ operative made after you cravenly gave into their demands can't hide the fact that you failed to stand up to intimidation.
If the Guardian won't stand up for the right what hope do the rest of us have?
Have I misunderstood?
AlanRusbridger: I think you're missing the point. The "destruction" of the hard disc will make no difference to our reporting
AlanC: Sorry, Alan, but I believe that you are the one missing the point. If you meekly give into their demands without insisting that they take you to court then you've as good as admitted that they can do whatever they like as far as the UK press is concerned. Now if you had made that story a front page feature the day after it happened then you might have a point but, as far as I can remember, there was nary a cheep.
AlanRusbridger: Play out the scenario for me in which fighting this case in court would have enabled us to do a better job of reporting the Snowden documents. I'm not sure I quite see it...
AlanC: How would fighting the case in the courts against Government seizure of the hard drives in question have made a jot of difference to the Guardian reporting the Snowden papers? As you correctly say, actual possession of the physical drives was immaterial in this day and age. That you don't seem to have realised that what was done was a serious matter for press freedom and didn't see fit to report it at the time deeply concerns me.
(That said, all credit to you for coming BTL and responding to our concerns)

AdamW: Alan -- what was the context under which the destruction of hard drives on The Guardian premises took place? Did you do it voluntarily? Was there a court order? Please explain.
AlanRusbridger: As described...
AdamW: I'm afraid it's still unclear to me (and others in this comments stream) why you seemingly chose to voluntarily allow GCHQ on to the paper's premises to oversee the destruction of your property instead of fighting them in court.
Whether it was immaterial to continued reporting is not the point. Why allow them in at all? What right did they have to be there?
AlanRusbridger: no
AdamW: Alan, you're starting to speak like them ;)No to what?

lids: Pity you gave in to their intimidation.
AlanRusbridger: think you're missing the point...
surrogate: As others pointed above, it is you who are missing the point, or let's say one of the points. That point is that government officials have pressured you into destroying the materials you were reporting on. It has absolutely no relevance that other copies exist, or that it doesn't impede the Guardian's ability to continue reporting. What if other copies didn't exist? We're talking about the principle here, not about you managing to work around it. To top it all, that episode wasn't even reported in the Guardian, and even now it's mentioned only in passing. Instead you're making fun of the GCHQ not being able to understand the digital age, now that is missing the point, completely. And I can only imagine you're doing it deliberately, you are a journalist and I refuse to believe you don't understand what you're being asked repeatedly in these comments. I can understand that the legal framework is shoddy and possession of those materials could be deemed illegal, but to see you brush over that particular issue is worrying.

Crowfoot: Ok Alan, There's a tide of us ordinary folks out here, shocked witless, cross, affronted by the degree to which basic democratic rights have been usurped, and fully support The Guardian's David stance against Goliath.
But what does one proactively do with one's anger? How can we help? How to galvanise the public's response?
Give us something to do.
AlanRusbridger: Keeping readin the Guardian... and I suppose you could support Snowden's defence fund

WhyDidHessFly: A good, thoughtful, piece. Somewhat spoilt by the narcissistic preamble about watching an actor portray you on the screen. You should have been advised to spike that.
AlanRusbridger: sorry, couldn't help that

From Reuters
Miranda's lawyer Gwendolen Morgan said her client was seeking a judicial review of the legal basis for his detention at London's Heathrow airport on Sunday under anti-terrorism laws and wanted assurances from the authorities that property seized from him would not be examined before this.
"We've sought undertakings that there will be no inspection, copying, disclosure, transfer or interference in any other way with our client's data pending determination of his judicial review," Morgan told Reuters.
"We're waiting to hear back this afternoon from both the defendants. Failing that we will be left with no option but to issue urgent proceedings in the High Court tomorrow."


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