Here in the US, we’ve long had the concept of “Miranda rights” which stem from the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, which found that the rights of Ernesto Miranda had been violated during his arrest. This Miranda case has stood as one of the primary safeguards against police abuse of power as can occur in an arrest situation. Police officers as individuals have a tough job to do, but they are acting as representatives of state power, and Miranda has always been a check on that power, guaranteeing persons taken into custody have basic rights – the right to remain silent, the right to consult with an attorney, and a guarantee that even poor persons can have some representation.
Now we have the case of David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, detained and questioned by UK police for 9 hours, denied an attorney, threatened with jail, his possessions stolen. These are the new Miranda rights, which the UK has accorded itself. The new Miranda rights are the rights of the state to abuse laws designed to protect the public from terrorism in order to harass and intimidate critics. Add to that destroying computers belonging to the Guardian containing documents from Snowden. They knew these documents were sequestered elsewhere. What was their goal other than straight intimidation of the press?
Fortunately the old Miranda is still here with us in the US, but for how long?
There is a battle going on right now between freedom and control, transparency and secrecy, accountability and classification. This is not a battle with weapons, but a battle of ideas, and as an American, I’m ashamed to see the abuses of power we’ve tolerated in this country, and I’m glad to see that there are some people who are willing to do something about it, regardless of the risk to themselves.
Certainly our government and intelligence agencies have devoted too much time to people like Glenn Greenwald, David Miranda, Laura Poitras, Juilian Assange and Jacob Appelbaum. The problem is these people are transparency/privacy activists, and their argument is a political one. They are the voices of freedom that we should be trying to protect. It is beyond inappropriate that our intelligence and security apparatus that is explicitly designed and charted to counter violent terrorism, should be used for political reasons against these individuals. Ask yourself which side is fighting for your freedom here…