The Smears of Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian – a primer


Like most people, I fully supported Edward Snowden blowing the whistle on the NSA surveillance programme on Americans. I called for a Presidential pardon for Snowden right here on this blog, and suggested the journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story, should win a Pulitzer prize for it.

Unfortunately, within barely a few days, my naive belief that Snowden was a patriotic whistleblower started to unravel. He fled to Hong Kong and it became apparent that he had targeted his job not just to gain intelligence on the NSA, but to expose American – and British – spy programmes, putting our agents at risk around the world, and aiding some of the world’s most repressive regimes. With the interview Snowden did with the South China Morning Post, he exposed US intel in China. He then dumped his entire stash of files with the anti-American Wikileaks and Julian Assange, who has previously stated ‘so what’ if US intel assets are killed from leaks.

My blog on that was here.

But with all this distressing realisation that Snowden was just a shitty little spy, one who was happy to suck up to the homophobic regime in Russia where he has taken asylum, i kept looking at Glenn Greenwald’s feed – @Ggreenwald  on Twitter – hoping to see some condemnation of the plain and obvious treason committed by his source. Yet there was none.

I put this down to journalistic “Stockholm Syndrome”, that Greenwald was so in love with his story and his source that he had just gone blind and could see no wrong. When Greenwald frenziedly attacked a Wall Street Journal reporter who suggested he, Greenwald, might have aided and abetted Snowden, I supported Greenwald. I honestly did not believe that Greenwald would stoop so low, knowing as he did by then that Snowden was happy to leak US intel operations against repressive regimes.

The Guardian came out with a “story” that GCHQ had spied on Russia at the G8 and it was rightly met with total derision on Twitter, even amongst lefties. #GuardianBond was the hashtag. (They were shocked, shocked that our spies spy! and on Russia, too!)

Well, the sell-out traitor Snowden took asylum with the homophobe Putin, issuing a fawning statement of thanks, and I assumed the story was dead for a while.

Until the “scandal” of David Miranda’s 9 hour detention broke on Twitter. Boy, did it seem pretty bad – the husband of a journalist, nothing to do with this story himself, detained for no good reason for nine solid hours, denied a lawyer, held under the Terrorism Act, purely to intimidate his husband. Wow. I had no idea our security forces at Heathrow were such utter bastards, abusing their power in violation of all professional standards and ethics.

Except…. for that very reason I didn’t quite believe it.

Everybody else believed it though, and fellow UK papers, the AP, the NUJ, all ran the story unquestioningly – by the way, the lot of you, this blind acceptance because a journalist throws an accusation is a violation of your OWN ethics.

Here’s how the story utterly unravelled over the course of the day.

Glenn Greenwald to the New York Times, pretending Miranda was just there as a spouse, and was not himself a journalist:

He is my partner. He is not even a journalist.

This was the first clue. It turned out that the Guardian was paying for David Miranda’s flights and that David Miranda was working on the leaks story, making him a journalist. My direct question to Greenwald – and the Guardian – as to whether the Guardian was paying Miranda for his work on the story went unanswered, though Greenwald instead asked me a question of his own.

Here’s where the Guardian admit they were paying for his flights and he was assisting with the story:

The Guardian paid for Miranda’s flights. Miranda is not an employee of the Guardian. As Greenwald’s partner, he often assists him in his work and the Guardian normally reimburses the expenses of someone aiding a reporter in such circumstances

This showed that Greenwald was lying by saying that Miranda was merely a spouse – he was actively involved in the story with Greenwald.

But hey, no biggie – even if Miranda WAS acting as a journalist himself, you can’t detain someone under the Terrorism Act just for being a journalist. Freedom of the press. And you can’t deny them a lawyer, as Greenwald said the airport police did:

The official – who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654 – said David was not allowed to have a lawyer present, nor would they allow me to talk to him.

Except, giving an interview to the Guardian just before 10pm and after all the UK papers had gone to bed (so they couldn’t report this) David Miranda confirmed he had been offered a lawyer:
He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities.
Right. Now let’s pause for a moment and talk about lies of omission. All day long, both the Guardian newspaper and Glenn Greenberg had known that David Miranda was offered a lawyer by airport security. Yet all day long they had allowed the falsehood to be tweeted and written about that Miranda was detained without being offered a lawyer.
Pretty shocking. Pretty untransparent, that, from self-appointed truth seekers.
I was arguing at this point that Miranda, who was clearly working as a journalist assisting on the story, was obviously suspected of not just reporting, but helping Snowden disseminate his intelligence on UK and US spying programmes, which would clearly be a serious crime. I qualified it by saying Miranda may not have been doing that, but it could be reasonably suspected.
I didn’t know then what we all know now, and what Greenwald and the Guardian knew throughout the day but kept secret.
But the final shoe fell. Glenn Greenwald admitted to the New York Times that David Miranda had been carrying, as a mule, stolen, encrypted thumb drives actually containing intelligence data that Snowden stole from the CIA – and those encrypted drives were confiscated.
Remember, Greenwald knew this all along. He knew his husband was not only a journalist but much more to the point, he was carrying top secret, encrypted drives with stolen intelligence information on them – information not just about the NSA but about UK and US intelligence action against foreign powers. Yet he was so quick to lie and viciously slander our security services, saying they targeted his husband only to intimidate him, Greenwald. He always knew Miranda was transporting top secret encrypted files Snowden stole.
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.
Note the NYT correctly says “the two journalists” – though at this point they are far beyond that.
As I tweeted away on this bombshell, fellow tweeters denied it was possible, even when again and again I pointed them to the quote. Then they asked “If Miranda was carrying encrypted stolen Snowden data, why wasn’t he arrested and charged? Eh? Eh?”
Well, probably because the thumb drives are encrypted and it would take police more than 9 hours to decode them – by which time they had to release Miranda under the law. The only reason we know for sure that Miranda was smuggling this is because Greenwald admitted it to the Times – once Miranda was safely back on Brazilian soil.
In Brazil now Greenwald was threatening, out of sheer revenge, to expose British intelligence and therefore British agents. He tried to deny these threats later, but unfortunately for him, CNN reported his exact words with the video to prove it:

Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the news about secret U.S. surveillance programs, said the authorities who took his partner into custody at London’s Heathrow Airport “are going to regret what they did.”

“I am going to write my stories a lot more aggressively now,” the Guardian reporter told Brazil’s Globo TV on Monday in Rio de Janeiro.

“I am going to publish many more documents now. I am going to publish a lot about England, too, I have a lot of documents about the espionage system in England. Now my focus is going to be that as well.” (slide to 1:20 for Greenwald)

And lastly of course, we have the juxtaposition of the quotes by David Miranda to the Guardian and the statement by Glenn Greenwald to the New York Times. Miranda states (if you believe him, and I don’t) that he had no idea what he was carrying. Greenwald states that he was transporting Snowden’s stolen, top secret CIA intelligence data on encrypted thumb drives. So basically, you have Greenwald using his spouse as a mule to actively assist Edward Snowden, and you have Miranda lying at the airport when he answers that damned basic security question… “Has anyone given you anything to carry on board?”

“It is clear why they took me. It’s because I’m Glenn’s partner. Because I went to Berlin. Because Laura lives there. So they think I have a big connection,” he [David Miranda] said. “But I don’t have a role. I don’t look at documents. I don’t even know if it was documents that I was carrying. It could have been for the movie that Laura is working on.”

You lied to airport security, then, David, didn’t you?

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.

And you knew this all along, Glenn Greenwald, yet you continued to smear our intelligence police, just as you knew all along David Miranda was offered a lawyer yet failed constantly to correct the record?

But you know, why is the New York Times breaking the story that Miranda was transporting stolen intelligence data, stolen by Snowden? Why wouldn’t our fearless truth-seekers at the Guardian let Britain know what David Miranda was really doing?

He was returning to their home in Rio de Janeiro when he was stopped at Heathrow and officials confiscated electronics equipment, including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.

Oh my goodness! Those awful Guardian subs are at it again. They totally forgot to mention that the “memory sticks” confiscated contained classified information about UK and US intelligence programmes against repressive foreign regimes, stolen by Edward Snowden! Ooopsy! Must tie a knot in your handkerchief, Alan Rusbridger, so you can remind your reporters to mention little details like that next time…. before they accuse our security forces just doing their job of intimidation.

Shame on the Guardian for its smear story, its partial reporting, and its vile accusations against our border agents. Shame on Glenn Greenwald for not correcting the idea that David Miranda was denied a lawyer. Shame on Greenwald and the Guardian for not admitting Miranda was smuggling encrypted Snowden files. Shame on Miranda for lying at security about being “asked to carry anything for somebody else”. Shame on Greenwald for – if we believe David (I don’t) – not telling his husband that he was carrying top secret encrypted CIA data that Snowden stole. And a plague on all their houses for conflating whistleblowing on the NSA with revelations of intelligence actions against foreign powers.

Lastly, shame on Greenwald for attacking a fellow journalist, Edward Epstein, for questioning him – as to whether he was actively assisting Edward Snowden. The encrypted thumb drives his husband was smuggling are a pretty solid proof of that.

to end, let’s just remind ourselves of Edward Snowden fearlessly betraying his country to the South China Morning Post:

Coda – many have argued that David Miranda, even if assisting in espionage, should not have been detained under the Terrorism Act. This is of course flat wrong. The Terrorism Act does not only apply to men with bombs and guns. Interrupting electronic systems to influence the govt of a foreign power for political purposes is EXPRESSLY COVERED.

Terrorism is defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000) and means the use or threat of action where –

  1. The action –
    1. involves serious violence against a person,
    2. involves serious damage to property,
    3. endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
    4. creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
    5. is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system AND
  2. The use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, AND
  3. The use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause

1 E, 2, 3 are absolutely covered here.

photo by Agencia Senado


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