David Miranda, schedule 7 and the danger that all reporters now face
In it he describes how two months of visits from "senior government officials" demanding he hand over the Edward Snowden material culminated in an ultimatum a month ago :
"..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."
And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two Government Communications Headquarters security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement ..."
"We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro."Extraordinary. This is tantamount to the Inquisition taking away Galileo's pencil.
Thumb drives and crowd sourcing be damned! The truth will only revolve around whatever the surveillance state says it is.
"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 smashing of the Guardian's hard drives and the detention of Greenwald's partner under UK terrorism laws is not about containment or security or catching members of alQaida, is it? It's about laying down fear of the state into any reporter or publisher who would embarrass them.
"One U.S. security official told Reuters that one of the main purposes of the British government's detention and questioning of Miranda was to send a message to recipients of Snowden's materials, including the Guardian, that the British government was serious about trying to shut down the leaks."So the UK gave the US a heads up on Miranda?
Yeah, well, good luck with your whole confiscating the pencils thing.
Related : Did Canada spy on journos at the Toronto G8/20 summit?
1am Update : Most of the over 1600 comments under the Guardian editor's article are both outraged at the gov's actions and grateful for the editor's courage, but hundreds of them challenge the Guardian on two questions to which Rusbridger occasionally responds :
1) Why didn't the Guardian publish news of this hard drive smashing immediately?
Rusbridger: "we had our reasons. can't go into everything."
and 2)Why didn't the Guardian force the gov to take them to court rather than capitulate, thereby driving the gov's actions into the open?
Rusbridger : "UK would have gone to law (as threatened). From that moment the court would be in charge of the Snowden material. The penalty for destroying it or refusing to hand it over could be extremely punitive. I mean, unlimited fines - not jail ."
As to why Rusbridger buried his lede 9 paragraphs into the article : "sorry, couldn't help that"
the destruction of the data? : "er, well, not quite. We destroyed something... of which we had had least two other copies."
And most interestingly, why didn't the gov confiscate the drives to inspect them instead of destroying them?
Rusbridger : "They never touched the hard drives, so, no they got nothing from them. I don't know what they know..."