David Miranda – Snowden’s Mule, and physical data

Why was Glenn Greenwald using David Miranda as a mule for stolen, classified U.S. intelligence?


When I tweeted thanks to our security forces, saying Edward Snowden had stolen classified info and now we had it back, there was an outcry from lefties along these lines:

Louise Mensch doesn’t understand data. She thinks there’s only one copy. She thinks if I copy a photo I’ve stolen it. etc etc etc.

Equally, we had Alan Rusbridger trying to deflect the attention of the UK’s papers from the Guardian’s lies, smears and omissions on the Miranda mule story by diverting their attention to the smashing of Guardian computers by GCHQ. ‘We had copies of the data in New York and Rio’ he said, tweeting an obviously faked picture of a MacBook Air he said heavies had smashed that was actually the components of all sorts of different computers, leading to suspicions by normally on-side geeks that the Grauniad was faking the photo for effect with random computer parts.

Now I don’t want to do our Fourth Estate’s job for them but it looks like I’m going to have to  (again) – after their supine closing of ranks just because Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, and their unwillingness to look at him, Miranda or the Guardian with a critical eye until after the damage was done.

Look, boys and girls, you hold politicians to account, hold YOUR OWN  to account too. No fear no favour – stop turning a blind eye and swallowing the spin so uncritically.

Ask yourselves this damned obvious question. If the data was copied everywhere and it didn’t matter, why is Rusbridger talking about “copies in New York and Rio”?

Why is David Miranda carrying it on encrypted thumb drives?

Why is David Miranda acting as a go-between at all?

Haven’t Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenberg and the Guardian heard of Dropbox? Or P2P filesharing sites? There are a million ways to store locked data in the cloud.

Let’s review:

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.

This Guardian quote does not say “rolls of film… written notebooks” etc. It describes only electronic storage devices for data. They could have saved David Miranda “He is my partner, he is not a journalist” ‘s ticket price and expenses by, you know, storing all that in the cloud or shipping it via FedEx.

Glenn Greenwald to the New York Times:

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.

But Miranda and Poitras used a human mule (if indeed we believe him, I absolutely don’t, that he didn’t know what he was carrying).


Yes, I realise I’m asking journalists to ask hard questions about another journalist and they like to keep those for people outside their club. Thank goodness for blogging and Twitter – and the smashing of big media’s gatekeeping hold on information. 

Ask yourselves if Glenn Greenwald, and Laura Poitras, are actively assisting Edward Snowden in his treacherous dissemination of classified, incredibly sensitive US and UK intelligence? From where I’m sitting, it looks like an attempt to fight charges in advance – by claiming that they are journalists and everything they do is covered by the First Amendment. Hence the New York Times putting Poitras on the cover of its magazine supplement this week and Greenwald’s repeated lies about the role of his husband and the events and aftermath of the detention to British journalists, unchallenged anywhere in the UK press, until I started tweeting about it  & wrote my last blog on the topic.

They hope that claiming a journalistic role will protect them when they are stealing, storing and disseminating classified intel about not just NSA snooping but America’s intelligence programmes against China, Russia and so forth. They are, in doing so, risking countless lives. So are the Guardian newspaper. As Malcom Rifkind said countering BBC bias yesterday on the Today programme, the Guardian had no right to store that stolen intelligence or to report even on GCHQ data collection (legal, not illegal, data collection). As he said, the Guardian’s angle was the GCHQ could legally penetrate comms in a deeper way than was known – and of course the Guardian let Al Qaeda and others know that, meaning that terrorists will start protecting their communications. Some terrorists are sophisticated – others, like many extremist Islamist cells, are not. The latter have been warned off by the Guardian from ways that UK spooks were tracking them.

“Rusbridger was on weak ground” Rifkind said. “He knew he had no legal right to possess the material.” And the point about the Guardian’s immense arrogance was made extremely well in the Daily Mail by Simon Glover:


In a BBC radio interview yesterday, Mr Rusbridger claimed his newspaper had ‘held back a great deal’ of information from Snowden that might be harmful to Britain if it ever saw the light of day. Maybe it has, but some stuff has been published that was damaging.

It was because the Government feared the Guardian’s hard drives could contain unused material that might be hacked into by terrorists that it not unreasonably persuaded Mr Rusbridger to destroy them.


Indeed. On these physical hard drives a newspaper – just a newspaper, which takes on new staff all the time, where people come and go every day, including brand new employees, the Grauniad stored dangerous stolen classified intelligence. Remember Rusbridger’s tweeted “Macbook” photo that contained parts from all kinds of computers. One of two things is true about it:

1. The photo was faked by Rusbridger, and Guardian hacks assembled parts of many computers, not smashed up by GCHQ, for effect.

2. The photo was not faked. All the parts came from computers the Guardian allowed GCHQ to smash up. That would mean they were storing this classifed stolen data on multiple computers.

So let’s assume that 2. is true although I find the Guardian less and less trustworthy on all matters to do with this story. That means they were storing stolen data that could imperil our intelligence and UK and US intelligence agents’ lives, and materially help terrorist networks and despotic regimes like China and Russia, on a bunch of office computers.

Nice one, the Guardian! Because really, no sophisticated spy agency can remotely access any of those, can it? On your PC and Macbook and MacBook Air and all the other different computers in that pic, no terrorists can send a kid in as an (unpaid) Guardian intern who could pretty easily hack your stuff? You are secure over there in King’s Place, are you, #GuardianBond? And you are holding this stuff on all kinds of different computers, increasing the likelihood of hacks with each one?

In fact the shame is that the Government and GCHQ waited to go in there and demand destruction of the drives. They should have done it right away. 

And so back to the question that the UK’s media and Twitter’s Greenwald obsessives are not asking.

If the data is stored in the cloud why is King’s Place keeping it on physical hard drives? Why is Glenn Greenwald using a human courier at all?

Because Greenwald, and not Miranda, is a US citizen – and it would be a serious felony for Greenwald to transmit, mail, send in the cloud etc, stolen CIA data that risks the lives of US intelligence agencies. If Miranda is doing the transporting Greenwald can argue that he never did this. That he only received the information and did not disseminate it.

Lastly, why is it so important that our police questioned Miranda for 9 hours – after offering him that lawyer that he refused? Well, they got him to surrender his computer and social media passwords. Quite bloody right too. God willing, on that phone, that computer, those soc med accounts, they find some encryption keys, some ways to get in to the Snowden intel he was muling, and save American lives. Of course we know Snowden, the traitor, has permanently leaked that intel to the enemies of America, from his interview with the South China Morning Post and the boasting of Julian Assange:

There is no stopping the publishing process at this stage.  Great care has been taken to make sure that Mr. Snowden can’t be pressured by any state to stop the publication process.

Let’s just remind ourselves of Assange’s attitude to American lives and allies like translators:

Declan Walsh, the Guardian’s Islamabad correspondent, recalls one tense evening: “We went out to a Moorish restaurant, Moro, with the two German reporters. David Leigh broached the problem again with Julian. The response floored me. ‘Well, they’re informants,’ he said. ‘So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.’ There was, for a moment, silence around the table. I think everyone was struck by what a callous thing that was to say.


That’s the guy Snowden has given his files to. He should rot in jail for it for the rest of his life. So why does it matter that our security forces help the Americans with the stolen Snowden data they got back from Miranda? Because it’s by no means clear the Americans yet know the extent of what he has endangered:


By cracking the code from Miranda’s copy of the Snowden data,  MI5 can help our American cousins know how bad it is and protect their, and our, intelligence agents from Snowden’s filthy treachery.

Well done indeed to our Border Police. And Theresa May and David Cameron need to be strong on this and absolutely unyielding. Being a journalist entitles you to report on a story. It does NOT entitle you to own, or to traffic, stolen intelligence data that puts UK and US spy programmes and agents’ lives at risk. These are not the Pentagon Papers; we already knew that when Edward Snowden told the Chinese regime, via their state engine the South China Morning Post, about US intelligence efforts against them, and we confirmed that when he leaked everything he had to the rape-charge fugitive Julian Assange. 

If UK intelligence can show US intelligence that Glenn Greenwald was passing stolen, highly classified intelligence info – trafficking in it – to and from Laura Poitras, they should prepare indictments and extradition warrants for both of them. For that goes far beyond reporting on a story, to actual espionage.

Cameron and May should remain strong – let Labour and Yvette Cooper be the ones telling the British public that Miranda should have been free to smuggle CIA data on Britain’s GCHQ around, without let or hindrance.

And the Obama administration should think long and hard before they pre-judge (as a spokesman did) whether they should seek a warrant for the New York Guardian hard drives. Yes there is the First Amendment, but the “fire in a crowded theatre” rule doesn’t apply to openly leaking US intelligence operations against foreign powers. The Obama spokesman rather feebly ran from Britain’s stronger actions saying that in the US they wouldn’t do that (get a warrant to seize computers). Well, they should bloody well try. We might have retorted that in Britain, we wouldn’t have let a twenty-something hacker with no history of service have access to our deepest intelligence computers, either, and lift intel endangering our spies and our allies’ spies with total ease. If Obama were Bush, the US media would be all over that failure.

However, as with this post, it is for bloggers to ask the questions that journalists refuse to. Thank God for the internet, eh?

PS: don’t try to seize this post. It’s stored in the cloud. 





  1. Pam Nash · August 22, 2013

    Another forsensic dissection – well done, Louise!

  2. fishysituation · August 22, 2013

    I’m still unclear about why you are suddenly so angry about Snowden when you initially supported his ‘whistle-blowing’. It is hard to sift through your rants to work out what you are actually saying; the more I read of your blog and twitter presence over the last few days, the more this feels like a protracted bid for a job with Fox news or some such. I don’t see how opinions about how Snowden has committed ‘filthy treachery’ and should ‘rot in jail’ are conducive to reasonable debate. Such emotive language should not be necessary if you have actual valid points to make.

    Surely, as the degree to which the NSA are spying on us is revealed, your impressively clear-cut view of what constitutes an unacceptably overbearing regime seems a bit confusing? It seems rather hypocritical for the US to parade around the world on its high horse of being a free democracy and prizing personal freedoms, then throwing all its toys out of the pram when someone points out that, well, it’s being a bit of a hypocrite. It is clearly in the public’s interest to know how they are being monitored by their democratically elected governments. Surely this level of secrecy is the antithesis to true democracy: shush now peasants, your overlords know what’s best for you…

    • WalterW · August 22, 2013

      > I don’t see how opinions about how Snowden has committed ‘filthy treachery’
      > and should ‘rot in jail’ are conducive to reasonable debate. Such emotive
      > language should not be necessary if you have actual valid points to make.

      Hear hear. Extremely well put.

  3. nigelpwsmith · August 22, 2013

    Love it Louise. So glad that someone with common sense is stating the truth that the Main Stream Media seem afraid to voice. There is no excuse for endangering the British public and that is precisely what Greenwald, the Guardian et al are doing.

  4. WalterW · August 22, 2013

    Well, if all the above is so evidently clear and simple, then you should also ask that other “damned obvious question”: IF the UK govt apparently has the law fully on its side -as fully you say it has- then WHY HASN’T THE UK GOVT CLOSED DOWN THE GUARDIAN OR AT THE VERY LEAST ARRESTED BOTH RUSBRIDGER AND MIRANDA and everyone else involved at TG?

  5. not You · August 22, 2013

    “but the “fire in a crowded theatre” rule doesn’t apply to openly leaking US intelligence operations against foreign powers.”

    i think you meant

    “but the “fire in a crowded theatre” rule doesn’t apply to openly leaking US intelligence operations against everyone that isnt you including your own citizens and so called allies”

    You rants are becoming dare I say it, american. Each day you sound more and more like an american politician.


  6. Simon · August 22, 2013

    Louise, your blogs on this issue are becoming increasingly frantic and incoherent. You seem ultra-defensive for some reason and I can’t be alone in finding this one virtually unreadable. Perhaps there is a coherent underlying argument somewhere, but the seemingly random flitting from one point to another doesn’t help.

  7. Ginger Ninja · August 22, 2013

    I liked this alternative view on this issue, even though I don’t agree with all the contents. I agree there is something wrong in the approach of journalism here but it pails in comparison to the wrongs arbitrarily executed by imperialist America on world citizens and their supposed allies of Europe.

    America is spiraling out of control and descending into a totalitarian regime and as a UK citizen I want no part of their doctrine. I hate the use of the word ‘traitor’ which has a fascist/feudal age ring to it. I appreciate we live in a world of competing superpowers but at what point do we say to our power hungry leadership, “enough is enough”?

    I support Snowden’s actions because they’ve revealed the creeping, insidious nature of the surveillance programs of the NSA and GCHQ. Spying on lawful citizens is totally unjust and cannot be justified by the statement, “if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear”. How does advancing spying programmes help advance peace and prosperity for all peoples, no matter the nation?

    I think you focus too much on the fact we live in a competing world rather than the urgent desire of the vast majority of peoples to be able to get on with their lives peacefully and meaningfully. America uses intelligence to advance an imperial agenda on the world and they need stopping. While Julian Assange’s comments are shocking I think the deaths of a few intelligence agents pails in comparison with the wars orchestrated by America, with toady UK in tow, on many nations around the world.

    The Iraq war was totally unjust and has only served to further their humanitarian crisis, aprticularly in light of the use of depleted uranium weapons. Iraq was a stage to experiment with new weaponry and is disgusting example of a facet of America’s broad agenda in action.

    • junior · August 24, 2013

      Let’s go back in time with current technology, Snowden, his mules & most of sandal wearing guardianistas would either be hung or be-headed ?.

      • junior · August 24, 2013

        I firmly believe that negotiations are over & Julian Assange should be just taken out of the embassy.
        Use the SAS on home territory again & then extradite him to Sweden on the strict understanding that he then be extradited to America, where I’m convinced he will be looked after.
        If this happens it will most certainly deter the next jerk.
        As forrest gump would say, “that’s all I have to say about that”

  8. TomMW · August 22, 2013

    Dear Louise,

    Along with many, you seem to be taking a great deal at face value and engaging in a deal of cheerleading that, while politically understandable perhaps, lacks a little je ne sais quoi.

    A few thoughts about what might be actually happening:

    1) The idea that material of such value/import was trusted to a mule who would clearly show up on every security check of flight rosters is asking a lot. How stupid do we believe Snowden/Grauniad et al actually are? ANY data can be move via P2P, dark web, VPN etc. Logically, it makes zero sense to do what they did unless they are VERY VERY stupid and/or have never seen an episode of 24 or any Bourne movie.

    2) If (1) above is accepted (that they aren’t total dufuses) then there must be a PLAN. And a core part of the plan would have been that Miranda would be stopped and the data seized. Why would they do that? Well, in my world (ex-army and ex-journo from when Fleet Street really was Fleet Street) it would be to seize the news agenda. Nothing more, nothing less. And they’ve done it.

    3) Ah-ha you trill, but the data has been discovered, the world will soon be a safer place etc etc. That assumes that the data was real. If you’re trying to catch a fish, you use a maggot, not a fillet steak. The chances that the data was real is limited. And even if it was, it will have been key encrypted so unless Miranda had the key (which would assume such a level of stupidity as to be bovine) it will be all but useless, even to the NSA, GCHQ and the finest that MIT can offer.

    4) Will we ever know what really happened? I doubt it. HMG are hardly likely to announce that they’ve been stung. Expect statements about the data being ‘under review’ to be followed by comments about ‘no further comment due to national security implications other than the data has proved useful…’. And charges? No way. HMG is already in a tough spot on this and is highly unlikely to want to run a trial in camera when it concerns issues so close (rightly or wrongly) to journalism. And a public trial is impossible as the data would have to be revealed, even if it was real and could be cracked.

    5) Will this all be tomorrows chip wrappers? Inevitably. But one thing will last in the memory. Whatever we may think about Snowden, the crimes that appear to be involved are those of theft through to treason. This is not terrorism. And before anyone shouts that the information could help terrorists, so could gold bullion. So was Ronnie Biggs a terrorist? No. To use anti-terrorism legislation to shore up a leaking state vessel misuses legislation and, in time, will serve to create a greater division between the state and the people that it is supposed to serve. And protect. Lose policing by consent, lose the faith of the governed and not only is moral authority chipped at but the prospect of other, perfectly sound legislation that may be needed in time becomes harder to justify, harder to sell.

    6) Those of us that have policed against or fought against terrorism do it because we are protecting our people, our beliefs, our values. The misuse of law is part of the insidious process where the loss of freedom that is deemed ‘required’ to ‘protect’ us means that the terrorists have won more than we care to admit. Only by maintaining the rule of law, even when it frustrates us, can we stay free. Bending otherwise sensible legislation for these ends is to undermine it and those who serve to protect.

    Apologies for going on at such length but I feel that perspective has been entirely lost here as people turn a serious issue into fairground politics.


    • fishysituation · August 22, 2013

      Ooh, a different perspective that makes some sense. Food for thought, thank you!

      • fishysituation · August 22, 2013

        An ‘investigation’ is just posturing unless there is a fair trial followed by a conviction, so that article isn’t necessarily an answer, and if TomMW is right that telegraph article would fit in rather neatly with his point number 4! Speculation on speculation…

      • TomMW · August 22, 2013

        “A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Initial examination of material seized has identified highly sensitive material, the disclosure of which could put lives at risk.” ”

        In other words, Point 4 above. I agree that the language is bellicose but all that has been said in that there is a criminal investigation. Which is rather like saying that the sun rises in the East.

        The proof will be in a successful prosecution. Wait till then to have your answer.


        PS notice how I have their stupidity as a caveat 😉

        PPS the misuse of legislation point still applies

  9. Ginger Ninja · August 22, 2013

    Excellent response Tom

    • TomMW · August 22, 2013

      Thanks – still waiting for the retweet….


  10. Pingback: Glenn Greenwald | Edward Snowden | Leaks | NSA
  11. Simon · August 23, 2013

    Just went to look back at the previous rant against Snowden / Guardian / Greenwald, and saw the ‘Red Hot Women’ item with the glamour shot sandwiched between the 2, and was struck by what a very strange place this is. A slightly unhinged authoritarian obsessing about one issue mixed with a touch of soft focus exhibitionism/narcissism; from modernising Conservative MP to the moodswings of a wild rightwing teenager in one quick year. Wow

  12. Mike Ross (@eruptionchaser) · August 23, 2013

    Louise, I may piss you off with this, hell you may even delete the comment, so I’m going to try to break it to you gently.

    You’re a smart person. You’re principled. You’re not afraid to take a stand; I was *very* impressed with your opposition to the disgraceful illiberal proposed ‘rape porn’ law. You think, and you can be sensible.

    I find it hard to reconcile the person who expressed such a thoughtful and principled opposition to criminalizing ‘rape porn’ with the person who is sounding increasingly shrill and, frankly, hysterical, over this case.

    You evince an almost irrational hatred of Assange, and as soon as you became aware than Snowden had had anything to do with him, he went from whistleblower to despicable traitor. You give the appearance of someone looking at this case through a very twisted filter, desperately twisting and interpreting everything so as to bolster your preconceived notions.

    I think you need to take a chill pill, think hard, and use some of that good sense.

  13. TomMW · August 24, 2013

    Dear Louise,

    As much as I usually find myself agreeing with you in spite to myself, this time you have become so profoundly separated from any form of political, journalistic or legal reality that I wonder what has driven you to such an unsustainable extreme.

    Just your opening summary is so flawed in so many ways as to make the remainder without value. And your thinly-concealed vitriol, ably supported by a degree of harrumphing, leaves the reader amazed at what has driven you to this position.

    Please, for your own credibility of nothing else, take 24 hours off, read range of views (not just those of the Right) and come back once you have gained some perspective. We enjoy you and your passion on so many subjects and we appreciate that you become enthused. Just stop and take five, as they say in the good Ol’ USofA.


    PS When I was with the Mirror in the 80s, the last time I saw a D-notice deployed was to protect the sexual indiscretions of one of Thatcher’s cabinet. These are clumsy instruments that governments all too often end up abusing. Propose them only when you’re desperate….

  14. QRys · August 28, 2013


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