Today, the Guardian had a live feed of information about yesterday’s detainment of Glenn Greenwald’s husband David Miranda. When I reported on it yesterday, I was a bit concerned that as the facts came out, the situation might get a bit more cloudy. After all, why would the United Kingdom government detain a person with such a high profile defender as Glenn Greenwald? It seems like a move designed to provoke a reexamination and rollback of the government’s police powers. But I guess you really can’t underestimate just how stupid the police are wherever you go, because the only indication that this action was anything but a vulgar abuse of power is a statement by Scotland Yard claiming that the detention was “legally and procedurally sound.”
Meanwhile, just about everyone is enraged by what has happened. I was very taken by a letter written by Keith Vaz, the Labor chair of the Commons home affairs committee, to Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner. He asked ten questions. Most interesting are, “Why this decision was taken, and upon what grounds it was deemed justified?” And, “Whether any foreign authorities asked us to take this decision?” And, “Why Mr Miranda: (a) had his personal effects confiscated? (b) Was detained for the full 9 hours?”
On these issues, Miranda has no doubt. He gave the Guardian an interview earlier today. He said that he believed this all came from the United States. Josh Earnest, White House deputy press secretary, claimed that the United States had nothing to do with it. (He said they were given a “heads up.”) But I suspect this is either an outright lie, or just a legal truth. For example, if the NSA was working with Scotland Yard, I doubt the press secretary would see it was the “United States.”
Miranda also said that during the interrogation he was asked random questions—none of which had anything to do with terrorism. Most important though, he was intimidated into providing the password to his computer and phone. He was apparently told he would be arrested and jailed throughout the 9 hours of detention. That strikes me as a hollow threat, but for a young man who has no experience with such matters, I’m sure it sounded very serious. This is one of the reasons that the police should not be given the wide latitude they have to lie: it most harms the young and innocent and does not further the cause of justice.
We’ll see where this goes from here. The story is getting surprisingly little coverage in mainstream American press. I couldn’t even find it on Fox News, although Fox News Latino is covering it, probably because Miranda is Brazilian. That’s not just to pick on Fox. Normally, it has the most relentless coverage of any outlet, regardless of the story. However that may be, it is a very important story that relates directly and indirectly to this country. Stay tuned.