Skip to main content

Wel, well, well.  So the board was all aflutter today with the usual hair-on-fire diaries moaning and wailing about the supposed outrage of Glenn Greenwald's partner being detained in the UK for 9 hours and having his electronics seized.

Glenn Greenwald himself posted about his outrage, claiming the detention was part of a supposed plot by authorities to intimidate him:

Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation
Glenn Greenwald: The detention of my partner, David Miranda, by UK authorities will have the opposite effect of the one intended
This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic...
Greenwald even spun the incident as some kind of U.S. government conspiracy:
But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.
This incident, and its supposed motivation as described by Greenwald, spawned at least 2 rec-list diaries and the usual denunciation by the Greenwald acolytes of anyone who didn't share their outrage.

But as with all things connected to Greenwald's reporting on NSA/Snowden matters, his tale of outrage began to unravel almost immediately.

First, as we learned from The Guardian itself, Miranda was not just traveling or on vacation -- he was specifically visiting Laura Poitras, a U.S. film-maker based in Berlin who had also received many of the stolen documents from Snowden:

While in Berlin, Miranda had visited Laura Poitras, the US film-maker who has also been working on the Snowden files with Greenwald and the Guardian.

And then, after finding out that Poitras was working with the same stolen, classified materials as Greenwald, we subsequently learned from the New York Times that Poitras is in the practice of using others to transport and hold her sensitive materials for her:

After being detained repeatedly, Poitras began taking steps to protect her data, asking a traveling companion to carry her laptop, leaving her notebooks overseas with friends or in safe deposit boxes. She would wipe her computers and cellphones clean so that there would be nothing for the authorities to see. Or she encrypted her data, so that law enforcement could not read any files they might get hold of. These security preparations could take a day or more before her travels.

So, already the story sounds much different than Greenwald's initial claims.  And now we learn, again from the NYT, as now confirmed by Greennwald himself, that Greenwald and Poitras were, in fact, using Miranda as a mule to transport the stolen classified documents:

Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.

Hmmm . . . funny -- I don't see Greenwald mentioning THAT little tidbit in his "outraged" comments earlier, do you?  Odd -- to me, using your partner as a mule for illegally transporting stolen, highly-classified documents seems kind of relevant to the story of him being detained by authorities and having his electronics seized, no?  And yet Greenwald made no mention of it.  Instead, yet another tidal wave of outrage porn was unleashed to crash ashore here and across the internet.  Turns out, as is now clearly becoming a habit for Greenwald, that it was all just more "truthy" bullshit -- oh, yes, his partner was detained . . . but it was because Greenwald was using him as a mule to illegally shuttle stolen national security documents.

The moral?  As usually, the lesson is that virtually anything Glenn Greenwald says on NSA matters is either a gross exaggeration or outright bullshit.  At this point, only a fool would take anything he says seriously.

Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 10:57 PM PT: Thanks to the poster below for noting that The Guardian only edited and updated its story to acknowledge the true purpose of Miranda's trip -- to visit Poitras -- AFTER the NYT article appeared.  So it would appear, as they have been on other stories, that The Guardian itself was just as misleading in its initial article as Greenwald was in all of his comments.

12:43 AM PT: Based on repeated attempted deflections in the comments, I offer the following for comparison, without further comment:

"Abusive government thugs bent on destroying the press detained my poor partner just because we're together!"


"Authorities detained my partner and seized the stolen classified documents he was carrying, and then let him go"  


"Oh, sure, Mr. Reporter, my boy Danny was carrying 8 kilos of heroin when he was detained by the police, but that's just some little thing that wasn't even worth mentioning when I held that press conference earlier to denounce the cops for targeting my family."


"Oh, sure, my partner was transporting stolen classified documents when he was detained by authorities, and those documents were seized, but that was just some little insignificant detail that wasn't even worth mentioning when I posted all kinds of comments and tweets all day denouncing the authorities for targeting my family."

7:19 PM PT: The BBC confirms that contrary to many claims, Miranda was offered and had an attorney present during his examination.  So the claim that he had no counsel turns out to be false, too.

"Contrary to some reports, the man was offered legal representation while under examination and a solicitor attended."

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences