Paddick: Police have some explaining and reassuring to do on Miranda detention

Brian Paddick has just gone on the BBC News Channel to talk, very briefly, about the detention of David Miranda. The former Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate, recently ennobled by Nick Clegg, has a unique perspective on the issue.

He was quite careful in his use of language, but the overall impression I took from what he was saying is that he’s not entirely convinced that the detention was justified. He said that it was extremely unusual for a transiting passenger to be stopped in this way and that the authorities must have had some sort of intelligence that he would be there and might be carrying something of interest to them.

He asked what the purpose of detaining Miranda might be? Even if there was material on his hard drives or USB  sticks, it was unlikely to be the only copy, so it was not as if they were taking it out of circulation. He was quite careful to add that there could be a circmstance when someone was carrying information which, if put in  the public domain, could put at risk the lives of security personnel. However, he wondered if the provisions of the Act, detaining Miranda on grounds that he could have been involved in acts of terrorism, had been stretched too far.

His conclusion was that he thought that the Police had a lot of explaining and reassuring to do on this, because people might be put off from using Heathrow if they thought they could be stopped seemingly indiscriminately.

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52 Comments

  • Clear Thinker 20th Aug '13 - 11:58am

    Brian’s comment seems like a very mature one, though it seems unlikely that anyone would believe that Miranda was stopped at random. Many air travellers and others might suggest that the Police would have a lot of explaining to do if they thought the police were hamstrung or not vigilant in the terrifying “war against terror”. Information can be valuable, whether or not it is “taken out of circulation”.

  • It seems the police were acting at the behest of the Government. Perhaps it is Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers who have some explaining to do?

  • “and that the authorities must have had some sort of intelligence that he would be there and might be carrying something of interest to them.”

    But that isn’t grounds for stopping a passenger under Sch 7.

  • Does that section apply in this instance Joe?

    Sch 7 allows:
    “An examining officer may question a person to whom this paragraph applies for the purpose of determining whether he appears to be a person falling within section 40(1)(b).”

    s40(1)(b) refers to someone who “is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.” – which are defined by reference to s1. The bit you refer to is covered in s.40(1)(a) which defines terrorist offences but isn’t AFAICS included in Sch 7.

    S1 defines terrorism as:
    (1)In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where—
    (a)the action falls within subsection (2),
    (b)the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
    (c)the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.
    (2)Action falls within this subsection if it—
    (a)involves serious violence against a person,
    (b)involves serious damage to property,
    (c)endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
    (d)creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
    (e)is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

    It’s rather opaque and you need to work through several sections, so I could have misread this. And of course they could have been using powers other than Sch 7 – though it has been widely reported that this was what was used.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Aug '13 - 4:10pm

    Brian’s comment is good but hardly unique – it’s the kind of thing a lot of people have been saying.

    It appears to be the case that both “Number 10” and the US authorities were informed of the detention /before/ it took place. They knew he was on the plane and they were waiting for him as he left the aircraft (where they were checking passports).

    It is already very clear that what happened is a disgrace to the country. The clumsy actions of an old-fashioned state apparatus trying to cope in the digital age. Like going into the cellars at the Guardian a fortnight ago and trashing hard disks.

    It also looks as though the UK government will end up, after legal processes lasting years, having to apologise and provide compensation to David Miranda. (The police officers concerned will probably not have to face prosecution however).

    What is suddenly very obvious is that there is now a total absence of a Liberal party in UK politics which instinctively challenges this kind of overbearing state intrusion. The revelations by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have shown us, shockingly, just how fast we are racing into a techno-fascist world in which Liberal liberty will be no more than a fond memory. The clumsy actions of London Plod and the “shadowy Whitehall figures” sent to trash the Guardian computers are a farcical side-how farce in this world, though a very dangerous and illiberal one

    Good for Brian Paddick. But where are the party leadership in all this? And where is Jeremy Browne supposedly in the Home Office partly to “coalitionise” it?

    Tony Greaves

  • Steve Griffiths 20th Aug '13 - 4:53pm

    Thank goodness there is still Tony Greaves to remind me that working for that once great Liberal Party for decades was not all an illusion and that the party was as I remember it, not this pale shadow of itself that it has now become.

  • No word from Clegg?

    Secret courts , Nothing said about Tempora , This , despite previously objecting to the milder Snoopers’ charter . How can anyone conclude that the party is anything other than illiberal to its bones?

  • Simon Bamonte 20th Aug '13 - 5:34pm

    @Tony Greaves is 100% right on this issue. We are sleepwalking into a STASI-state. That is, of course, if we are not there already. Mind you, our government and the security services can now spy on people on a scale that would’ve made the STASI green with envy. Sadly, the LibDems in government have, in my opinion (and in the opinion of millions of other people) capitulated to the wishes of the security apparatus and the private security industry. I was full of hope when the coalition was formed that the days of Labour authoritarianism were over, but sadly things have continued as if they never left power. I’m sure someone will be along soon to explain why this is still Labour’s fault even though they have been out of power since 2010. This is more proof, if ever it was needed, that those who lead the three main parties are essentially all the same. The LibDems can, sadly, no longer claim to be the party of civil liberties.

    The future looks bleak indeed. This is the sort of things LibDems would’ve been condemning in no uncertain terms pre-2010. We now live in a nation where the government can spy on every innocent citizen, where the partners of investigative journalists are detained and their personal belongings seized, where they can demand a national newspaper destroy their hard drives and laptops. Intimidation of journalists, newspapers and activists was the hallmark of the Eastern Bloc and now it seems to be happening here, in a “free” and “democratic” country. Is this really the liberal society this party used to stand for? Why have our ministers been so quiet on this issue? Where is Clegg? Where is Browne?

    Disgraceful.

  • Clear Thinker 20th Aug '13 - 5:41pm

    It is NOT clear at all “that what happened is a disgrace to the country”. Many ordinary voters will be very happy that the police are alert. Many will be proud that we as a country have a police force that can take firm and measured action in the face of unjustified criticism, at the same time as being somewhat irritated by the fact that it comes from a Lord.

    The subsequent threat by Miranda and/or the Guardian to publish more secrets only goes to further confirm the impression that the police are on to something here. Is this threat some kind of public blackmail action? These people are supposed to be reporters, so why have they not published already? If they have state secrets that they shouldn’t have, whose publication might aid terrorists, doesn’t that actually ted to confirm that the police may have had some more concrete justification for their action?

    As far as the Liberal party is concerned, what now appears to be the case is that the old guard are more likely to prevent progress through bullying, and that some form of New LibDem movement may be needed if we are to continue to survive and prosper as a party. Labour did it a while ago, why not us?

  • Simon Bamonte 20th Aug '13 - 5:54pm

    @Clear Thinker:

    Some of us would rather die in a terrorist attack than live in a country where the government sees us all as suspects to the extent they can spy on us all. I am far more frightened of an overbearing security state we are building than I am of terrorism. I am infinitely more likely to die in a car accident than through the actions of some terrorist. It is not LibDem members such as Lord Greaves who are bullying people. It is the police and security services who see journalists exposing dodgy government actions who are using bullying and intimidation tactics that would have been more at home in the old USSR. The government should be afraid of its people, yet the government is now making its own people afraid of them.

    You obviously sound as if you would trade your freedoms for security. You obviously trust the government to never abuse their STASI-like powers. Yet the police themselves have recently been shown to be corrupt in many ways. And yet, and yet, you still trust them to not be corrupted by powers which see us all as suspects. This is a profoundly illiberal position to take.

    This is not “progress”. This is descent into a regressive, illiberal quasi-fascist state. And if you cannot see that, then I am sorry for you.

  • Paul in Twickenham 20th Aug '13 - 6:20pm

    I am a Liberal and I am against this sort of thing.

    What is your position, Mr Clegg?

  • Simon Bamonte 20th Aug '13 - 6:38pm

    One more thing, @Clear Thinker:

    There were many people in the Soviet Union who believed the lies of their government. Many Soviet Citizens truly believed the KGB was “keeping them safe”. Many people swallowed the Soviet government’s line that, in exposing the Gulags and the KGB spying on ordinary citizens, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a traitor. Do you not see the irony in the words of those who now claim people like Snowdon, Manning and Greenwald are “traitors” simply for exposing what our governments are doing? All in the name of “security”, of course. And, of course, “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” was once a motto of USSR’s security apparatus itself.

    Some of us are old enough to have lived through a large portion of the Cold War. Our government, police and security services are using the exact same excuses the likes of the KGB and STASI used to use when their overbearing activity was exposed. “Keeping people safe”, “preventing terrorism”, etc.

    We are slowly heading into the same situation. Where the security services are overbearing, where journalists are treated like terrorists and where the government sees every citizen as a potential danger. I see very well the parallels between what was slowly built in the name of “security” in the old USSR happening here. I don’t want to end up in a totalitarian society, even if it does keep us safe. Maybe you do, but that’s not for me. And it sure as hell is not Liberal.

    Yes, I feel VERY strongly about civil liberties and an ever-encroaching security state. This is one of the reasons I was attracted to the LibDems in the first place. And this is one of the reasons I, sadly, have no faith in the party leaders any longer.

  • Clear Thinker 20th Aug '13 - 6:40pm

    Guardian editor Rusbridger has given an interesting interview on Sky News where many of the points made by myself and other commentators here were discussed. And I should say the discussion there was a lot more mature than the unsupported and inflammatory assertions by Greaves.

    One surprise was that Rsubridger claims that journalists routinely carry information that can help terrorists, and did not deny that this was the case here too. I can see a future in which tomorrow’s terrorists will now be targeting journalists en route, to get at their computers and maybe even sell their information to the highest bidder.

    One of the points not discussed was the ability of newspapers to move their operations out of one jurisdiction and into another where the laws are more convenient for them. Rusbridger seems to feel it is perfectly ok for journalists to get round laws in this way. I must remember to ask him what he thinks of tax havens if I get a chance.

  • Kevin Maher 20th Aug '13 - 6:42pm

    Paul in Twickenham – that very phrase was going through my head as I read this thread. The silence from the party leadership is deafening. If the Lib Dems don’t stand for liberty then it has lost it’s soul.

  • Clear Thinker 20th Aug '13 - 7:04pm

    @Simon Bamonte. I don’t wish to be rude, but I would like to point out that there may be a reason why you’re “infinitely more likely to die in a car accident than through the actions of some terrorist”.

    The reason might be that the police and security services have been working to keep you safe from terrorists, as well as on the road! Without their work, it seems likely there would be more London bombings, more Boston marathon bombs, more Woolwich murders. We could be Iraq.

    Police action can certainly be uncomfortable if you’re on the receiving end, but the damage that is done to terrorists and that makes them terrorists is done far earlier than any such action, and by a completely different set of people.

  • Joe – probably the best summary is that in the Bindmans letter that Sch 7 can only be used when their is no suspicion that the person is involved in terrorism (as if they are then they should be arrested and only questioned under caution)

    I understand why you think this doesn’t appear very logical! 🙂

  • Simon Bamonte 20th Aug '13 - 7:43pm

    @Clear Thinker:
    “One surprise was that Rsubridger claims that journalists routinely carry information that can help terrorists, and did not deny that this was the case here too. I can see a future in which tomorrow’s terrorists will now be targeting journalists en route, to get at their computers and maybe even sell their information to the highest bidder.”

    Maybe we should make investigative journalism illegal, then. After all, it would keep us safer, right? Maybe we should do away with the internet and libraries, too. There is plenty of information in both which could be useful for terrorists. Once those are abolished, maybe the security services/police will ask for more powers, like, say, closing down news outlets which question their actions in “keeping us safe.” The police and security services would never abuse power for their own ends, right?

    “One of the points not discussed was the ability of newspapers to move their operations out of one jurisdiction and into another where the laws are more convenient for them. Rusbridger seems to feel it is perfectly ok for journalists to get round laws in this way”

    What does it say about our society and our so-called freedom of the press when journalists from the United Kingdom, once a bastion of freedom, are considering moving to less repressive regimes to carry out their important work of holding power to account and informing the public? What does it say when a man who exposes American war crimes is called a “traitor”, held in near-torture conditions and is expecting to spend the rest of his life in jail while those who committed the war crimes walk free? What does it say when a partner of a man who exposed mass government surveillance on their own people is held for 9 hours and all his effects are confiscated? Does that sound like the actions of a “free and liberal democracy” to you?

    “The reason might be that the police and security services have been working to keep you safe from terrorists, as well as on the road! Without their work, it seems likely there would be more London bombings, more Boston marathon bombs, more Woolwich murders. We could be Iraq.”

    I’ve heard this argument before. The KGB & STASI were fond of this way of thinking, too. Our nation (and the USA) used to make a big deal out of the fact we didn’t have to act like the KGB to stop terrorism. People used to flock from the USSR to the US and UK for the precious ability to speak freely and go about their lives without the State spying on them. I’m with the great Ben Franklin on this one: “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither” and “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

  • Clear Thinker 20th Aug '13 - 8:23pm

    It is certainly “scaremongering” to imagine that police powers to address real threats in the modern world are equivalent to an imaginary, Kafkaesque and consumptive “all powerful central State”.

  • I wonder if Clear Thinker has ever watched the movie “Goodnight and good luck”

  • Clear Thinker 20th Aug '13 - 8:29pm

    @Simon Bamonte

    If you listen to Rusbridger, it’s pretty clear he’s not talking about the kind of information you can find in libraries.

  • Stuart Mitchell 20th Aug '13 - 8:51pm

    “What does it say about our society and our so-called freedom of the press when journalists from the United Kingdom, once a bastion of freedom, are considering moving to less repressive regimes to carry out their important work of holding power to account and informing the public?”

    Absolute rubbish. Miranda and his boyfriend live in Brazil, a country where violence (including murder) against journalists is commonplace, and sometimes carried out by the military. A country where the government thinks it fit to ban people from working as journalists at all if they don’t have the right qualifications. Compared with this, Miranda’s nine-hour Q&A session at Heathrow seems like pretty trivial stuff, does it not?

    Alan Rusbridger tries to convince us that we live in a totalitarian state by spinning yarns about “shadowy” spooks trying to stop him printing stories. But the fact that, as Rusbridger has made clear, these spooks were totally impotent in their efforts, and Rusbridger has continued to print the stories, ought to suggest to any reasonable person that our press freedoms are in pretty good nick.

    Just for the record, Freedom House publish a table of “Global Press Freedom Rankings”. They rank the UK at 31st, with a status of “Free” and a rating of 21 (where low is good – the #1 country has a rating of 10). Brazil on the other hand is ranked 91st, with a rating of 44 and the status “Partly Free”.

    Meanwhile, what sort of countries do the likes of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange seek to live in? Russia and Ecuador, both of which have appalling records on press freedom – far worse than Britain and the US. Go figure.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Aug '13 - 10:38pm

    “One of the points not discussed was the ability of newspapers to move their operations out of one jurisdiction and into another where the laws are more convenient for them. Rusbridger seems to feel it is perfectly ok for journalists to get round laws in this way”

    Of course journalists have always done this. It’s just that they used to come to the UK to avoid the totalitarianism of places like the Soviet Union and Greece under the Colonels!

    As for the person masquerading as “Clear Thinker” – perhaps we can have a more relevant and honest discussion on these matters if s/he comes out from under their pseudonym? S/he attacks me for being a member of the Lords – okay (but so what), But who or what is s/he? We can also then each judge whether s/he is a Liberal.

    I watched the C4 interview. Rusbridger was making the obvious point that many journalists are used to holding and dealing with sensitive information, and know how to do so reasonably. I would make the point that if such information now has to be held in less appropriate places, that is a consequence of the actions of the US and UK governments. Anyway the Guardian may have seen its hard disks crushed under the boots of the Plodhoppers from the Met (possibly literally from the clips shown?) but does anyojne believe that they did not keep back-ups hidden away in this country as well as in Russia and Brazil?

    As for Snowden and Assange, I don’t think they “seek to live” in the places they are or may be forced to go! They are being driven there.

    Tony

  • I am puzzled by the silence at the top of the party. Doubtless they are privy to further information, but what? Irrespective of the specific and individual details of this case there are important generalities on which the Party leadership needs to be putting forward a robust position that defends civil liberties.

  • I agree, CT, that there should be an ability to use a name which is fully or partly anonymised. However, it would be useful to know “where you are coming from” in some of these debates. I do not feel I wish to know who you are, but I cannot honestly feel I have an understanding of your views. Often, in order to debate effectively, that is a useful piece or set of information. Most regular commenters here, even if I don’t know them personally, I have enough understanding to achieve that standard of debate.

    In context of this debate – you seem to be being ironic here about “dangerous info in the hands of unreliable people…as journalists”. It is interesting that it is The Guardian that was targeted immediately after key revelations at the time of Leveson. It is the Guardian that is targeted again now. The Guardian just happens to be a paper which leads on much “human rights” investigative journalism. It is not one of the organs of the press – Sun, News of the World, Mail etc, which were actually cited in evidence to Leveson about ruining people’s lives, targeting people for taking political lines, or making allegations of a nature that the owners or editor didn’t like. The reason Leveson was set up. How strange was that?

  • Simon Bamonte 21st Aug '13 - 12:12am

    @Clear Thinker:
    “In the interview on Sky, Rusbridger was not denying the new point that many journalists nowadays carry information that can be useful for terrorists ”

    Almost anything the State prefers to keep secret could be useful for terrorists. If the leaked information that had exposed the expenses scandal had fallen into the hands of radical Islamist groups, would it be terrorism if they had published this information? If so, why was it not terrorism when the Telegraph published this information? After all, whoever published this leaked material would be willingly bringing disrepute to Parliament and, in the minds of the securocrats, the nation as a whole. The US still maintains that the evidence for American war crimes leaked by Bradley Manning was terrorism. Funny, then, how nobody has been brought to justice for the actual crimes committed and innocent Iraqi lives taken. If we have now entered an era where exposing transgressions, lies and outright murder by “democratic” states like the US and UK (see the Fallujah massacre by American forces) is a not only a crime, but “terrorism”, then we have entered the realm of authoritarianism. I am in my very late 50s now. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I felt far more free when the IRA was routinely murdering people than I do now. Even during the dark days of the Thatcher government, society did not seem as paranoid, nasty and willing to give up liberty for safety in the face of an exaggerated boogeyman than it does now. Make of that what you will.

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 12:26am

    Tim13.

    What you seem to be saying is that you do not assess arguments on the basis of logic or evidence, but on the basis of who is making a point. I’ve seen this from a few people on LDV. I’m sure it’s useful to know who is who when trying to assess who is influencing who, what kinds of caucus you might be up against, etc. But if you want to assess whether something is correct, or logical, or true, or compassionate, or … well, why would names matter?

    So, my name is Clear Thinker. That is a fine name. Like John Smith, Jenny Brown, L.Carpenter, etc. I might be one or more people, of one or more genders, sexualities, skin colours, faiths, or income or tax brackets. None of that should have any effect on whether I manage to create clear arguments or not, or on how those arguments are assessed.

    I have no problem with anyone claiming that I don’t think clearly on occasion, or that I do, or that I’m a traditional, creative, unfocussed, lateral, or even tunnel thinker, but I do reserve the right to challenge such judgments! I also aim to be obnoxious to people who obnoxiously try to force me to provide another name.

    I hope that this little essay will help you to clarify your thinking!

    Ha!. You see my trap? Oops! Game away!

  • Simon Bamonte 21st Aug '13 - 12:32am

    @Stuart MItchell:
    “Absolute rubbish. Miranda and his boyfriend live in Brazil, a country where violence (including murder) against journalists is commonplace, and sometimes carried out by the military. A country where the government thinks it fit to ban people from working as journalists at all if they don’t have the right qualifications. Compared with this, Miranda’s nine-hour Q&A session at Heathrow seems like pretty trivial stuff, does it not?”

    The treatment of journalists and whistleblowers in Russia and Brazil by their governments and compliant security forces is indeed horrific. This whatabouttery which you espouse, however, does not absolve us from slowly sliding into a situation where the tactics used in Brazil and Russia could one day be acceptable here. In 1995, for example, it would have been unthinkable, in my opinion, that the partner of a man who is disclosing serious transgressions by people who claim to be keeping us safe, be detained without charge for 9 hours and have all his electronic devices confiscated. Would you have imagined in 1995 that the US, the so-called “bastion of freedom” would engage in “extraordinary rendition” and maintain a Gulag-like prison camp in Cuba?

    “Just for the record, Freedom House publish a table of “Global Press Freedom Rankings”. They rank the UK at 31st, with a status of “Free” and a rating of 21 (where low is good – the #1 country has a rating of 10). Brazil on the other hand is ranked 91st, with a rating of 44 and the status “Partly Free”.”

    I have already acknowledged the faults of Brazil and Russia concerning press freedom. That, however, is another example of whatabouttery on your part. Just because nations such as Russia rank worse than us when it comes to freedom of the press does not excuse any transgressions we make against press freedom. Yes, we may rank at the position of 31st when it comes to freedom of the press. Yet that means there are 30 countries who enjoy a greater amount of press freedom than we do. Surely you would agree that we should be working towards being at the top of this list rather than rejoicing in the fact that freedom of the press is considered more “free” in former communist nations such as Estonia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia?

    Meanwhile, what sort of countries do the likes of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange seek to live in?

    It is widely accepted that Bradley Manning, who leaked proof of American war crimes, was held in conditions most people would consider torture. Snowden has leaked material which proves the Americans are spying not only on their own people, but civilians of many other nations. The leaks Snowden gave us have exposed abuses of power by both the British and American security services. Snowden did not choose to accept asylum in Russia. As was reported, he sought political asylum from almost every European nation, Germany and Poland included. The only nation to offer him asylum was Russia. Faced with possible mistreatment and an unfair trial by the Americans, would you not yourself choose to stay, if only temporarily, in the first country to offer you safety from torture and miscarriage of justice?

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 12:33am

    @Simon Bamonte

    You start from a false premise that “Almost anything the State prefers to keep secret could be useful for terrorists.” That is of course completely untrue, and the rest of your argument falls apart.

    I agree that UK society can be stressful. I suspect it’s all down to Capitalism. But the feeling of paranoia is generated by … well, by journalists! Even the BBC will talk up a story way beyond its actual significance if there is nothing much else to report in the news.

  • What Tony Greaves said.

    It seems that the “shadowy Whitehall figure” pressuring the Guardian is none other than the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood according to late reports on the BBC which say they can confirm the accuracy of stories in some of Wednesday’s papers. He was apparently acting with the knowledge of the PM, the Deputy PM and the foreign secretary which perhaps explains the deafening silence from Clegg.

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 12:54am

    @Simon Bamonte

    I suggest that, as a general matter, LibDems need to re-think their approach to police and security services. Many voters probably have a somewhat complex view, but the kind of automated “police-bad” responses that many LibDems appear to espouse does not seem very attractive.

    I would suggest that LibDems take on board two important ideas. The first is the well-accepted fact police and security services are _necessary_ to defend human rights, from the right to life to the right to not be mugged and the right to worship in peace. A person gains no credibility at all by spouting on about rights alone without considering how those rights can be guaranteed.

    The second is the idea that the response to a threat needs to be commensurate with the level of threat, which means inter alia that the size, strength and rights of police and security services has to depend on what they are up against. Another aspect of this would be that societies where there is a lot a lot of care (jncluding discipline) and education of young people will probably generate less crime than societies where there is not much care or discipline or education, and so will need less policing.

    If LibDems can start to embrace these more mature views, then we might be able to start discussing more complicated things like how to manage police and security services and what to do when things go wrong.

  • If the Liberal Democrats are to adopt exactly the same “consensus” views on state coercion that are espoused by the Tories and Labour, it’s hard to see what reason there is for them to exist as an independent party. Somebody must stand up against the commonplace orthodoxies of the day. If not the Liberal Democrats, then who?

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 2:03am

    I agree, David. But another issue is vexing me too …. Are Guardian journalists Saints?

    We own the state, all of us. It’s our personal property. Why would it be ok for Guardian journalists to steal or use state secrets from a national computer, but not ok for Murdoch journalists to steal or use personal secrets from a mobile phone?

  • Richard Fagence 21st Aug '13 - 9:31am

    I do hope Tony Greaves is going to conference. I would love to hear him speak on this matter and the appalling silence from the leadership (sic) of the party. Sarah Ludford is drafting an Emergency Motion on this and needs your support if you are a voting representative. And two final points. First, am I the only person who believes that what happened to Mr Miranda at Heathrow had nothing at all to do with the Metropolitan Police or, for that matter, the Home Secretary? Both parties were merely carrying out the instructions of their masters in Washington. And, secondly, to reinforce Tony Greaves’ point, shall we all start ignoring the likes of Clear Thinker and others who lack the confidence to use their real identities in their contributions? If you have a name, use it. I shall not respond to anyone using a pseudonym.

  • The problem as I see it…

    I do not know what information was obtained illegally under USA laws; our government may have an idea but again I don’t really know, so I as a citizen of the UK and the UK having a duly elected democratic government, I have to accept that our government have reason to do what they have done.

    Both the USA and UK government have said material that was obtained illegally will give outside forces an advantage against the security of our country or the USA…
    The problem comes down to what is private and confidential not just for individuals but the state as well.

    We either trust our government or we don’t.

    We still have ongoing prosecutions into privacy invasion which to be honest is astonishing and yet we have part of the media acting as judge and jury over illegally obtained material yet again, we are not prepared to trust the word of our government but we are willing to trust a media outlet whose job it is to sell the news, sell the news not make the news…

  • Stuart Mitchell 21st Aug '13 - 10:45am

    @Simon Bamonte
    “In 1995, for example, it would have been unthinkable, in my opinion, that the partner of a man who is disclosing serious transgressions by people who claim to be keeping us safe, be detained without charge for 9 hours and have all his electronic devices confiscated.”

    You are being wilfully misleading there. The fact that Miranda is Greenwald’s partner is irrelevant. As Rusbridger has made clear, Miranda was actively working on the stories with Greenwald, work which included transporting data around the world on his behalf. I have no idea whether Miranda’s actions justified his detention, and nor do you. Miranda’s supporters seem to be outraged by the very idea of a journalist (or someone engaged in work on his behalf) being questioned by the police at all.

    “Would you have imagined in 1995 that the US, the so-called ‘bastion of freedom’ would engage in ‘extraordinary rendition’ and maintain a Gulag-like prison camp in Cuba?”

    It’s a good job you weren’t around during the second world war – some of the things our government did then would have had you spontaneously combusting with outrage.

    “Snowden has leaked material which proves the Americans are spying not only on their own people, but civilians of many other nations.”

    Yes, I am aware that Snowden has revealed that American spies are, er, spying on people. This is the most shocking news I have heard since I was told that the Pope is catholic.

    Of course we should be aiming for high standards of press freedom. I take that as a given. But the point you are missing is that we already have them. Rusbridger’s revelations are risible. In many countries, he would have been visited by thugs who would have beaten him up (or worse) and closed his newspaper down. In most others, he would have been immediately charged with handling stolen classified information and put in prison. Here in Britain, he was visited by a harmless “official” who asked him if he wouldn’t mind being a good boy and destroying the stolen data. Rusbridger laughed in the official’s face and told him that he would carry on printing the stories, from abroad if necessary, and that there was nothing the government could do to stop him. That is how it should be, and that is exactly what has transpired. This story, if anything, should reaffirm your confidence in the freedom of the British press.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    I find your line of argument astonishing. Are we meant to think that because a newspaper editor wasn’t actually beaten up and his newspaper wasn’t actually closed down, then everything must be OK?

    Are we meant to be grateful for the fact that things aren’t as bad as in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia?

  • Stuart Mitchell 21st Aug '13 - 11:06am

    @Tony Greaves
    “As for Snowden and Assange, I don’t think they ‘seek to live’ in the places they are or may be forced to go! They are being driven there.”

    I think you’ll find they are being “driven” by a desire to escape prosecution for the theft of classified documents in the first place, and a desire to evade questioning about serious sexual offences in the second case.

    Still, perhaps some good will come of it. Given the dedication of these doughty warriors for press freedom, I’m sure it won’t be long before they are both exposing some of the serious infringements on liberty that go on in their adopted countries.

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 12:46pm

    @Richard Fagence

    It is surely not LibDem strategy to bury heads in the sand and avoid listening to any alternative opinion? Here are the names of commentators on this thread that seem good enough to identify the people, assuming the names are really theirs:

    Joe Otten
    Tony Greaves
    Steve Griffiths
    Simon Bamonte
    Kevin Mahr
    Stuart Mitchell
    Richard Fagene

    And here are the names that are not sufficiently personal or complete enough to identify the actual individuals who commented:

    Clear Thinker
    g
    Hywel
    And
    Paul in Twickenham
    Voter
    Martin
    Tim13
    GF
    David
    jim
    Chris

    There are more incompletely or un-identified people than identified ones! So on a voting basis, we win, you lose. Ha ha!

  • Richard Fagence:

    “And, secondly, to reinforce Tony Greaves’ point, shall we all start ignoring the likes of Clear Thinker and others who lack the confidence to use their real identities in their contributions? If you have a name, use it. I shall not respond to anyone using a pseudonym.”

    Hi, I’m Stewart. You don’t need to know my surname; it’s quite unusual and I have reason to not display it in a public forum. You don’t need to know why. Now, instead of huffing and puffing over anonymity, try engaging with *everyone* contributing to this discussion, if you please.

  • Peter Chivall 21st Aug '13 - 12:58pm

    Both Assange and Snowden released classified information that demonstrated widespread violations of International and US Law in the actions of the US military and intelligence services. In both cases the reaction of US authorities has been to seek to prosecute the whistleblower rather than address the wrongdoing. As we have seen in the case of Bradley Manning, the US Espionage Act, dating to 1917, allow no defence of public interest or just cause.
    It is not ‘antiAmerican’ to say that there are serious faults with the current extradition arrangements between the US and UK which, I believe, were put through under Privy Council procedures, without Act of Parliament and leave any UK resident vulnerable to the vagiaries of a legal system in which the majority of Judges and Prosecutors are elected on short terms of office, where there is a de facto presumption of guilt, from the ‘perp walk’, orange jump suits and manacles, through to the Plea Bargain – unless that is, you are rich enough and powerful enough to hire the small army of lawyers necessary keep you on bail and at home through the labrynthine layers of the system.
    UK and US intelligence services have always cooperated. What is different now is that they are clearly collaborators in defending, not the freedom of their citizens, but their subservience – in the name of the ‘War on Terror’, quite literally a War without End.
    When Nick Clegg was elected Leader of my Party, I was annoyed and disappointed that in his acceptance speech he continually referred to ‘Liberalism’ but never to Liberal Democracy or Liberal Democrats, as though denying the twin origins of our Party. At least, I thought, he WILL stand up for human rights and the Liberty of the individual before the State. Well, on the Home Office’s anti-brown and black migrants posters and Tube station round-ups, he showed weakness as a Liberal leader. Now, over the Miranda case, he has simply failed.

  • That said, my views are closer to Richard’s than to those expressed by Clear Thinker. Funny old game, eh?

  • Has anyone noticed that even the US doesn’t fully agree with the UK’s actions?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/nsa-david-miranda-guardian-hard-drives

    (I know, it’s not directly related to Miranda.)

  • David Allen 21st Aug '13 - 1:06pm

    Clear Thinker,

    ” I also aim to be obnoxious …. Ha!. You see my trap?”

    Everybody has limited time, and must decide whose posts to read and whose they should skim over. I’m afraid you’ve just warned me not to waste any more time reading yours.

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 1:13pm

    I agree on limited time, David Allen, so it’s a bit of a waste of time when people attack people for not using full or real names, isn’t it? It’s the issues that count.

  • David Allen 21st Aug '13 - 1:35pm

    The issues do count. I use my real name but find it acceptable when others do not, provided they make it clear what their position is. So for many of the people you list, I would be able to identify them from past postings e.g. as “loyalist Lib Dem”, “disaffected left-leaning Lib Dem”, “independent who has often voted Lib Dem”, or “Labour supporter with some sympathy for Lib Dems”, etc. When anonymous people have told us all what their basic standpoint is, I am better able to read their specific postings and understand what it is they are saying about the issues.

    In your case, I can’t entirely work out where you are coming from! So I sometimes struggle to decide whether you are joking, or sarcastic, or stirring, or deadly serious – and hence, how I should take your comment.

  • Stuart Mitchell 21st Aug '13 - 1:36pm

    @Chris
    “Are we meant to be grateful for the fact that things aren’t as bad as in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia?”

    No, I’m just suggesting that those hysterics who talk about Britain being a “totalitarian” state should (a) get some perspective, and (b) buy a dictionary.

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 1:46pm

    I am certainly grateful for the fact that “things aren’t as bad as in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia”. … or North Korea, or Mauritania, or DRC, or Mayanmar, or Iran, or Uzbekistan ….

    Part of the reason for that fact is that our police services mostly obey the Rule of Law.

  • Clear Thinker 21st Aug '13 - 1:48pm

    Stewart,

    Thank you for your support, which reminds me of the old saying “I may not agree with what she says, but I defend to the death her right to say it”.

    Very LibDem, thanks again! 🙂

  • David White 21st Aug '13 - 4:13pm

    Do I need to assert that my LDV name is not a pseudonym? If I dare notuse my real name on a LibDem website, we’re all stuffed! – Just a quick message to NSA and GCHQ: please note this.

    The seizing of Mr Miranda and his private property by the anonymous State Secret Police was disgraceful; an affront to liberal (and LIberal) democracy.

    Comments to yesterday’s ‘Guardian’ cited extracts from Orwell’ ‘1984’. Too may of the quotations were directly related to what is happening in our – OUR, not THEIR – nation, now.

    Much nonsense is spouted from the bowels of people who say: ‘ The State Secret Police, Secret Listening Agencies, Para-Militaries, etc, are saving us from terrorist outrages.’ Oh yes? What about 9/11 and 7/7 and Stockwell and Woolwich? And what about all those killings in Ulster and Warrington and Birmingham and…? The State Secret Police did really, really well there, didn’t they? A BIG thank you to them for their assiduous searches for potential mad-bombers, etc. I’d recommend each of our gallant protectors for at least an MBE. – Oh, they’ve already got ’em, have they? Well deserved awards, I’m sure.

    Am I suggesting that the UK is a Police State? No, not yet – but we’re on the slippery, downhill slope. Please, beloved LibDem Party, don’t let Them turn the UK into Belarus Mk2. OK?

  • ‘Meanwhile, what sort of countries do the likes of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange seek to live in? Russia and Ecuador, both of which have appalling records on press freedom – far worse than Britain and the US. Go figure.’

    A facile point. Assange and Snowden would clearly rather live in a country with better records than our own or the USA, but have heroically sacrificed their ability to live here in order to expose our countries’ shortcomings. The fact that they have been persecuted to the point where they have have no choice but to go to antipathetic regimes in order to avoid the fate of Bradley Manning shames our governments and makes us all worse off.

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