I have been trying to understand the recent events which involved Mr David Miranda and the UK authorities and within the torrent of questions that rise out of this mess, there are two that stand out to me and which I’d like to comment on.
I’ve been trying to picture myself being detained without being allowed access to a lawyer. I easily come up with the conclusion that I am being attacked by thugs. There is no better way of putting it. You see, what differentiates civilized society from a bunch of thugs, the legitimate authorities of a country from the common criminal, is due process. When a group of bullies attacks you, your are not allowed to reach out for help - bullies do not work that way. The police, on the other hand, can come after you but are obliged to allow you to get help. That’s what it boils down to. The police have to treat you as a human, no matter how inconvenient it might be. Therefore, I cannot understand how this law came to pass. How is it justifiable for a society to behave like a street gang? How is disallowing access to a lawyer supposed to help the police’s inquiries when it comes to arresting terrorists? The thing contradicts itself. You see, the motto that the innocent have nothing to fear works both ways, if at all. Asking questions to an individual if they are legitimately considered to be terrorists should not be something the police should be afraid to do no matter how many legal experts the detained happens to have on his side. His or her responses, including silence, can be judged appropriately. But, a lawyer will change nothing. So, that’s a thing I am skeptical about.
A more worrying thing however, one that is more troubling, is the motives behind this. I do not think that this was meant to intimidate Mr Gleenwald or the rest of the journaling world. That would be juvenile and ineffective. I don’t think it had to do anything about acquiring the material Mr Miranda was carrying either. That material is probably already in the torrents already circulating the web, forever present in the collective hard drive of the Internet. What I think this was meant to achieve was precisely to show what most people I have talked to know about it.
Combine this with the events that transpired in The Guardian’s basement. How can these be perceived as anything but a taunt? The combined UK-US governments have managed to give a pretty strong message in the most straightforward way possible. They have demonstrated that they can undertake acts that attack some of the last bastions of freedom and they can do so without anyone raising any objections. Even though the state appears as if attempting to destroy evidence of uncomfortable truths about its activities, in reality what it does is demonstrating the indifference of the people against this blatant attack on basic liberties.
Do you know that inner voice that says “OK, I’ll let this slide, but if that happens then I’ll do something about it”? Well, if it is about civil liberties and basic human rights, there is no more letting slide. That was it. Simple citizens are being detained without due process, journalists are threatened with litigation and journalistic material is seized and destroyed. There is no getting worse. When even the journalists themselves are mum about what is going on, then we are pretty much at an impasse.
That’s what I think this is all about. Pushing, and seeing where there is push back. No one is pushing back. No one cares.
Actually, I think I answered myself.