Shining a Light Across the Water

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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19 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Are there any acts that would *NOT* qualify any given person to be detained under this law?Report

  2. zic says:

    @nob-akimoto I don’t have time to read & comment now, dinner’s nearly on the table.

    But I’ve missed you. Welcome back. The day’s a bit better then it was, and it was pretty wonderful already!Report

    • zic in reply to zic says:

      Awesome, Nob.

      I very much appreciate that you gave this context:

      Under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000, the UK government has the authority to examine anyone suspected of terrorism for 9 hours. According to the Home Office anywhere from 70,000 to 90,000 people are examined per year under the authority granted by Schedule 7. Out of a total of over 200,000 detentions since 2009 the Home Office admits to making only 20 arrests and obtaining 7 convictions.

      a potential of holding people for 810,000 hours; at its maximum, that’s 33,750 days or 365 years worth of time for seven convictions.Report

  3. Damon says:

    “There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

    In other words: Any damn time we want to.Report

  4. Burt Likko says:

    I tend to focus my thinking on the PATRIOT Act and its cousins in U.S. law. That’s because those are the laws that strike closest to home for me. Now that this has happened, I can understand Greenwald taking a harder and closer look at UK and EU laws.

    Similarly, while the fact that Mr. Miranda is Mr. Greenwald’s husband has been the headline-grabber, it’s easy to forget that Mr. Miranda is a journalist in his own right, and any time a democratic government subjects a journalist to the criminal process for his work, there’s a whole suite of concerns implicated: liberty, free speech, informing the electorate of governmental activity, and due process — in addition to whatever legitimacy the investigation into criminal activity might “objectively” have and the uniqueness of the journalist’s ability to illuminate matter of interest to the authorities or the possibility the journalist is actually involved somehow. That’s a case-by-case analysis, unfortunately. In this case, it’s hard to imagine how someone made this call: the vanishingly small likelihood that Miranda is a terrorist himself or has unique information relevant to a critical criminal inquiry (his source told him when and where the bomb would explode) compared to the obvious high profile of this particular person.Report

  5. Nob:

    First, this a great, extremely helpful post.

    Second, a question that’s been bugging me even more than the other questions with respect to this particular matter:

    I understand that Schedule 7 is worded in such a way as to make it extraordinarily easy to get detained for little reason whatsoever, and that such decisions are typically made at a low level, though I’m exceedingly skeptical this particular decision was taken at a low level and thus I have a hard time thinking that this wasn’t done in part to intimidate Greenwald for practicing journalism.* But what I don’t understand is how the British authorities are able to justify permanently taking Miranda’s computer, etc. Yes, the Brits protect classified information just as every other government does, but to my knowledge, not a lot of countries have laws that protect the secrets of other countries. So that’s my question – what is the authority for taking Miranda’s computer here?

    *The odds of this particular person getting popped without having gotten a tipoff from someone in the US Government – and then being detained longer than almost everyone else who gets detained – are extremely long; Heathrow alone handles about 70 million passengers a year, so even if everyone who got detained under Schedule 7 was detained at Heathrow, the odds of this happening randomly would still only be about 1/10 of a percent.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      My understanding is that the British authorities actually need to return Miranda’s items within 7 days of his detention. The law is (from what I can gather) meant to allow temporary confiscation to determine if the contents of say electronics might contain something of use.

      Also, bear in mind that the information and publications that the Guardian have run have included the operations of the British sig-int organization in the GCHQ. I think that plus the “information useful to terrorists” clause from the Terror Act were the likely justifications used by Scotland Yard to declare that their search and confiscation of Miranda’s items was in accordance with law.

      The Guardian’s actually been forced to do revelations of leaked documents per the Official Secrets Act before. The rationale of publishing through a British paper actually eludes me a bit. If I were asked what country to avoid publishing this sort of story in (in terms of places with press freedom sufficient to get the story through without pre-clearance) the UK would be at the top of such a list. (Especially when the GCHQ stuff was involved)Report

      • Thanks for the clarification, Nob.

        I’m guessing here, but it seems to me that the reason he chose the Guardian was that, after getting rejected in his approach to the Post, et al, Greenwald would be at the top of the list of people who any civil libertarian would be likely to reach out to; since Greenwald has a column for the Guardian, the Guardian would then become the default news organization to publish it.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Well, the main reason I’m surprised is that the Guardian’s been in this sort of situation before and were forced to back down. One of the more famous cases of UK media prosecution was the 80s case of Sarah Tisdall where the Guardian was forced to hand over photocopies of classified documents leaked by a FSO. The Law Lords upheld the ruling and it led to Tisdall’s identification and arrest. (The whole incident was probably cheerleaded by the same Andrew Sullivan claiming Britain is just as bad as Russia, seeing as how it happened in Thatcherite England)

        Britain’s got some seriously draconian press freedom laws that allow them to do all sorts of things to newspapers that wouldn’t happen in the US. A little due diligence would reveal that, and either Greenwald got sloppy and decided to bring in GCHQ without recalling that, or he intentionally threw it out there to get the UK government to crack down on him in some fashion. (Given that he basically sent his husband out as a document mule, a cynical part of me thinks it’s the latter)Report

  6. Barry says:

    Nob Akimoto
    “No, from what I recall they actually used provisions of this law against Iceland over the bank creditors mess.”

    But not against their own lords and masters UK bankers.Report