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11.03.13

Britain Misuses the ‘Terrorist’ Label

Posted in Action at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Miranda
Image credit: AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Summary: The UK is cheapening terrorism by just equating it with investigative journalism that looks into abuses of international laws

Without independent media, we cannot enforce a law that's adhering to justice as an uninformed public becomes too weak to speak out against those in power (they can rewrite the law to legalise their injustices). Here in the UK we have a chilling war on journalism right now [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Threats are being sent to journalists by our ‘elected’ officials and hard-drives are being destroyed on demand for political reasons.

“Threats are being sent to journalists by our ‘elected’ officials and hard-drives are being destroyed on demand for political reasons.”An MI5 whistleblower, the ‘British Snowden’ as some might prefer to refer to her, speaks about the lack of spy oversight [1]. Basically, if you make it illegal to report about spies, then you make it impossible for the public to scrutinise those spies when they break ethical guidelines, violate the law, or put to shame the original contracts that legitimise their budget (taxpayers’ money). The BBC World Service, not a Russian media outlet for a change, gave this ‘British Snowden’ a platform (or a “propaganda platform” as the US State Department might call it).

The latest news from the Snowden saga is that David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald (Assange equivalent), has been harassed for political reasons [2,3]. Great move, Cameron et al.

A few months ago, after passing the passport control area in Manchester Airport I was hanging around for a bit near two offices used for interrogating people under the pretext of “terrorism”. The doors had a notice on them, alluding to this law which facilitated a vague process as means of “counter terrorism”. It’s a fairly new process. Terrorism as it is described in the media (synonymised these days with radical Islamisation) is not a new thing; what’s new are the laws and the retribution, e.g. drone strikes, long/indefinite detainment without charges, torture for false confessions to be derived, etc. In Britain we had issues with the IRA too, but the same type of actions by Irish militants/extremists did not facilitate harassment of journalists and their family members who are in transit in airports. For the term “terrorist” to be applicable at all, as per the definition of the word, physical violence must be involved. Trying to label leakers and/or their publishers “terrorists” is to merely cheapen the term and over time make it virtually meaningless, just like the term “pirates”.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. BBC World Service interview about NSA and spy oversight
  2. In David Miranda’s Case, UK Security Services Argue Traveling with Secret Documents Is ‘Terrorism’

    Security services in the United Kingdom have accused David Miranda, the husband of journalist Glenn Greenwald, of being “involved in espionage activity” when he traveled from Berlin to Heathrow Airport on his way back to Brazil, where he lives with Greenwald.

  3. Metropolitan police detained David Miranda for promoting ‘political’ causes

    The detention of the partner of a former Guardian journalist has triggered fresh concerns after it emerged that a key reason cited by police for holding him under terrorism powers was the belief that he was promoting a “political or ideological cause”.

    The revelation has alarmed leading human rights groups and a Tory MP, who said the justification appeared to be without foundation and threatened to have damaging consequences for investigative journalism.

    David Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who – often in collaboration with the Guardian – has broken many stories about the extent and scope of spying by the US National Security Agency. Miranda was stopped at Heathrow airport in August and held by the Metropolitan police for nine hours while on his way home to Brazil.

    Miranda, it has been claimed, was carrying some 58,000 encrypted UK intelligence documents. He had spent a week in Berlin visiting a journalist, Laura Poitras, who has worked with Greenwald on many of his stories, which have been based on information leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    [...]

    Greenwald was equally scathing, tweeting: “UK govt beats its mighty chest, now explicitly equates journalism with ‘terrorism’ and ‘espionage’.”

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