We have previously discussed how, after Sept. 11th, officials have simply begun to classify acts to be terrorism to use ramped up surveillance and sentencing laws. It was inevitable that with Western countries giving official unprecedented anti-terror powers, they would start to move as many crimes as possible under the expanding category. That is evident after it was disclosed this week that British authorities framed the case against David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, as a case of terrorism “terrorism” for carrying documents from Edward Snowden.
We have previously discussed the alleged decision of Greenwald to have his partner serve as a courier of the documents. Putting aside the wisdom of using family or personal friends as couriers or colleagues in such cases, it was clearly not terrorism unless you view all whistleblowers and journalists as engaged in terrorism when exposing abusive surveillance.
Miranda filed a lawsuit over his treatment at Heathrow. At a hearing, a document called a “Ports Circulation Sheet” was read into the record from Scotland Yard. The document was written in consultation with the MI5 counterintelligence agency and states that “Intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security.” That is of course an absurd conclusion since they knew of his connection to Greenwald. However, the document then includes the following line: “Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism…”
That is the chilling line. It seems something right out of “V for Vendetta” and all that is missing is Peter Creedy and his agents of Finger.
Police officials say that items seized from Miranda included electronic media containing 58,000 documents from the U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Greenwald immediately said that his partner was carrying the Snowden documents.
Recently, Prime Minister Cameron called on measures to be taken against the media for reporting on the documents and their content.
The casual and easy transition from a journalist/whistleblower case to a terrorism case demonstrates the slippery slope that the West is now on. These officials did not appear to have the slightest hesitation in converting the case into a terrorism case. Indeed, they created a type of legal shape shifting charge where they could claim either espionage or terrorism — effectively admitting that such classifications are now entirely arbitrary.
It is distressing to see both England and the United States slipping into such authoritarian constructs. What is most distressing is that the desire for such powers seems to reside like a dormant virus in some law enforcement circles. The ease with which the Miranda case was treated as espionage or terrorism shows an utter lack of concern over the implications of such ill-defined offenses. Under this definition, the Pentagon Papers could be treated as the same act as the 9-11 bombings.