It may not have been the smartest move to detain David Miranda, the Brazilian partner of Guardian ‘journalist’ Glenn Greenwald, under the Terrorism Act. But the explosion of righteous anger over the episode is ridiculous.
Starting with the outraged claim that Miranda was arrested only because of his connection with Greenwald. Wrong. Greenwald himself has previously told journalists that his partner assists him in his work. That present ‘work’ consists of engineering the leak of massive amounts of classified intelligence from a source – Edward Snowden – currently granted asylum in Moscow. Greenwald’s partner was travelling through London from a meeting using plane-tickets paid for by the Guardian and – it now transpires – appears to have been carrying files from Snowden. So all those ‘this could happen to any of us’ pieces are only really relevant if you happen to use your partner as a mule for industrial-scale sabotage against states you’re planning to travel to.
However, it seems to have become a variety of received wisdom that the rights we now enjoy should include the right to steal and publish vast amounts of secret intelligence that damages the intelligence-gathering abilities and thus the future national security of the UK and our allies. Crucially, it seems to be believed, if we exercise this right to steal we must also be entirely free from harassment by the countries we are targeting. Perhaps in future this lovely set of presumptions will come to be known to as the new ‘Miranda rights’?
Like Julian Assange, Snowden, Greenwald et al fall into that class of person who when people ask, ‘who has the right to know’ answers ‘we do.’ In particular they think that they know better than any security service what should and should not be in the public domain and how best a country should carry out surveillance. Except they don’t. And it’s not their point anyway. None of these new ‘freedom of information’ campaigners are ‘journalists’ working for this or any high-minded goal. They are simple saboteurs with an increasingly clear and specific anti-Western agenda. It is wrong to say that they don’t care how hampered our intelligence services might be as a result. They do care. They want them to be hampered.
If you knew nothing else, you could sense this from Greenwald’s reaction to the Heathrow episode. Greenwald warned reporters that Britain would be ‘sorry’ for detaining his partner, and said:
‘I will be far more aggressive in my reporting from now. I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England’s spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did.’
Does that sound like a journalist? Or a saboteur with a very particular agenda?