Last night, Glenn Greenwald’s partner was the target of a blatant intimidation attempt by UK authorities who detained him for hours under the powers granted them under anti-terrorism statutes. Glenn’s full account of the incident can be found here. This act backfired, both in instilling Greenwald and his partner with more determination to expose the misdeeds of the U.S.’s deep state and in stoking further outrage among observers, including Andrew Sullivan, whose shellacking of the UK’s David Cameron is well worth reading. The most important way in which the detention of David Miranda backfired, though, was in illustrating how policies supposedly crafted to combat terrorism can be abused to harass those who annoy politicians holding the levers of power.
Explain to us again how we’re supposed to trust the U.S. government with sweeping surveillance powers–powers that could very, very easily be turned to coerce citizens–under what’s essentially a “trust us” framework.
Sullivan summarizes the revelations that leave us at the “trust us” frame:
…I’ve watched the debate closely and almost all the checks I supported have been proven illusory. The spying is vastly more extensive than anyone fully comprehended before; the FISA court has been revealed as toothless and crippled; and many civilians have had their privacy accidentally violated over 3000 times. The president, in defending the indefensible, has damaged himself and his core reputation for honesty and candor. These cumulative revelations have exposed this program as, at a minimum, dangerous to core liberties and vulnerable to rank abuse. I’ve found myself moving further and further to Glenn’s position.
The U.S.’s British allies just illustrated the danger in trusting governments with sweeping anti-“terror” powers that could easily be abused to intimidate and harass dissenters. Remember that when they ask you to trust them with your entire telecommunications history.