And Then Glenn Greenwald’s Partner was Detained


Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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42 Responses

  1. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Not to justify what seems like a poorly made law permitting police wide discretion (no lawyer, no suspicion required, and no right to remain silent), but this seems incorrect, “the detention and interrogation of Miranda doesn’t appear like it could possible achieve anything beneficial to the governments involved.” Miranda was acting as a courier of US/NSA related documents for Greenwald and Poitras, according to the Times,

    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. The British authorities seized all of his electronic media — including video games, DVDs and data storage devices — and did not return them, Mr. Greenwald said.


    • I don’t know about UK law, but New York Times v. United States seems relevant here. Publishing leaked classified documents is not punishable. It’s the executive’s own responsibility to keep such things to itself.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that the UK’s Official Secrets Act is broader than the US equivalent, with sections that’d apply to media and not just government officials. Similarly, the D-Notice system in the UK doesn’t seem to have an equivalent in the US; in the US it amounts to government officials negotiating with the news outlet in question on a case by case basis.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        From what I recall (and it’s been a while since I read the exact text) section 5 of the Official Secrets Act actually allows for the prosecution of people who disclose information from unauthorized sources. There’s actually a fair amount of prior restraint power for the Home Office. They’ve exercised this authority a few times to warn papers not to publish certain articles or else face prosecution.Report

  2. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    On the plus side, the fact that he was detained under a terrorism statue does finally confirm for us once and for all that journalism that criticizes the State is considered terrorism.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Because We Can.

    Forget You, That’s Why.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Did Miranda attend public school? Use public roads? We accept reciprocity.

      (More seriously, I guess identifying Miranda as the partner of Greenwald is helpful because otherwise we wouldn’t know who he is, but I think we have to approach this, more or less, as “a journalist” being detained and not as “the spouse of a journalist” being detained. The latter is actually worse, in my view, but isn’t actually the case here. It’s worth noting that this post makes Miranda’s role here clear.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Exactly. This story seems to be getting reported as “They can’t get at Greenwald, so they’re harassing his husband” rather than as “They harassed a journalist for his connections to Snowden.” Likewise, Miranda’s belongings weren’t confiscated out of unalloyed pettiness, but also because they might contain classified information.Report

      • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

        They detained him re: terrorism, so wouldn’t they have to be presuming that his personal items have information related to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities on them?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Unless they were using that purely as a pretext to harass him, which, again, is the impression I got from how it’s being reported.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Terrorism Act has this really vague provision that prohibits releasing information that would be of use to terrorists or incites terrorist acts. They needed something broad enough to ban things like Inspire magazine.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    The UK doesn’t honor Miranda rights?Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      Miranda rights don’t kick in until an arrest, and in Miranda’s case he wasn’t arrested, he was just seized, detained, questioned, searched, and held by police and other government authorities.

      I can’t conceive where the crazy spouse angle came from. So Greenwald has a partner. I’m sure the policeman who first stopped Miranda works with a partner too. Did anyone who watched Adam-12 assume cops in squad cars are actually married to each other?Report

      • Avatar NotMe says:

        I hate to disagree but Miranda requirement doesn’t really kick in till someone in custody is questioned. They don’t need to be Mirandized when arrested only before they are questioned if, the police want to be able to use any of the perp’s statements in court. Most of the time detectives will re Mirandize a perp before questioning just to make sure that it’s been done.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      He wasn’t wearing the hat.Report

  5. Avatar North says:

    The only thing I can say about this debacle is that if the administration and bureaucracy continue to be this inept, tin eared and ham handed about it all they may actually whip up some public interest in reining this idiocy in.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      Which Administration? Where?

      I’m highly dubious that anyone above say, a metro police mid-level manager made the call here. Maybe the Home Office tipped off the White House once the examination was made, but this is all a “call by the person on the ground” provision.Report

      • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

        What are you basing that on?

        How would someone on the ground even know who he was? Let alone what he was doing there?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        That’s sort of my thought. This doesn’t read like a TSA spot-check sort of thing to me. I don’t know that it goes all the way “to the top”… but I would guess it’s above metro mid-level manager. (Not that I necessarily know what I am talking about. But I’d at least need Ethan’s question answered before my mind changed.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Look at it this way: At least David Cameron is pro-choice.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        I’m mostly basing it on how the power is defined and exercised. The entirety of the examination and detention power is placed on officers on the ground. Just for the record the actual legislation says:

        “Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (‘Schedule 7’) is a national security port and border power. It enables an examining officer2 to stop, search, question and detain a person travelling through a port/airport or the border area3. This is to determine whether that person is or has been involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Stopping an individual does not necessarily mean that the officer believes the person is a terrorist.”

        It is in fact exactly the same as a TSA spot-check, except that the detention authority is there if they refuse to answer the questions. The question is how high up the chain of command the instructions to examine Miranda came from. Based on how flat footed Scotland Yard seems to have been taken on the out-cry, I don’t think this is something that was approved from Downing Street, even if it might have eventually filtered up.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I guess I am just unclear as to how they knew he might be a person of interest. Or where they got the idea from, if not for information the officer himself wouldn’t have had at his disposal. Chance?Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        I suppose my point goes further that if the Home Office really wanted to send a thorough message they would’ve arrested him under the Official Secrets Act for carrying unauthorized information with intent to publish it. There’s a rather nasty number of laws that allow UK authorities to prevent the disclosure of secret documents by journalists. Granted, there would be more of a chancy aspect to getting away with it, but given that the power used was one that’s granted low on the food chain, it seems like someone got extremely overzealous somewhere in the border agency rather than in the Cabinet.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Not sure on that one, Will. I do think it might have been someone higher up who was keeping tabs, or got a tip from intelligence. For all we know it’s mid-level operatives in both organizations colluding, but I highly doubt it was something from say the Home Secretary or anything at that level. It’s just too sloppy.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        It’s just too sloppy.

        This might be the difference between our world views in a nutshell.

        There is no level of incompetence on the part of government that would strike me as implausible.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        This might be the difference between our world views in a nutshell.

        I’ve spent way too much time in private enterprise to think that government has a monopoly on sloppy.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Groupthink and herd fear took over on this one. It probably wasn’t just one person, that much seems evident. Governments everywhere live in fear of discovery. Would it surprise you to know most of what an enemy would want to know about us is classified as merely Confidential? Troop movements, readiness levels, order of battle, that sort of thing.

        Most higher levels of classification are reserved for Serious Messes.Report

  6. Avatar NotMe says:

    So what? Was Greenwald either naive or arrogant enough to think he could publish whatever he wanted and not get some push back? Actually he probably is so I have no sympathy for someone that pokes the bull but doesn’t like the horns.Report

  7. Avatar George Turner says:

    The White House is saying they knew beforehand that he was going to be detained, but deny that it was done at their request.Report

  8. Avatar Herb says:

    Just saying….there are a lot of reporters working on this story. The only ones being detained are the ones ferrying ill-gotten government documents across international borders. This is an important distinction.Report

  9. Avatar K. Kaprow says:

    Glenn Greenwald’s partner”

    Are they business partners or sex partners? Why can’t we call Miranda what he is–Greenwald’s boyfriend? Is there some embarrassment somewhere over Greenwald being a homosexual? Is “partner” somehow more dignified, less bigoted? Is “boyfriend” the new “b” word that must never be spoken? Come on.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      I thought they were married, or at least in some sort of formal partnership, hence “partner” rather than “boyfriend”. I’ve consistently tried to use “husband” when writing about this subject.Report