Is Glenn Greenwald’s journalism now viewed as a ‘terrorist’ occupation? | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | theguardian.com

glenn greenwaldIs Glenn Greenwald’s journalism now viewed as a ‘terrorist’ occupation? | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

Simon Jenkins’ analysis seems to be correct, and, as usual, concise and incisive.  Here it is…

The detention at Heathrow on Sunday of the Brazilian David Miranda is the sort of treatment western politicians love to deplore in Putin’s Russia or Ahmadinejad’s Iran. His “offence” under the 2000 Terrorism Act was apparently to be the partner of a journalist, Glenn Greenwald, who had reported for the Guardian on material released by the American whistleblower, Edward Snowden. We must assume the Americans asked the British government to nab him, shake him down and take his personal effects.

Miranda’s phone and laptop were confiscated and he was held incommunicado, without access to friends or lawyer, for the maximum nine hours allowed under law. It is the airport equivalent of smashing into someone’s flat, rifling through their drawers and stealing papers and documents. It is simple harassment and intimidation.

Greenwald himself is not known to have committed any offence, unless journalism is now a “terrorist” occupation in the eyes of British and American politicians. As for Miranda, his only offence seems to have been to be part of his family. Harassing the family of those who have upset authority is the most obscene form of state terrorism.

Last month, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, airily excused the apparently illegal hoovering of internet traffic by British and American spies on the grounds that “the innocent have nothing to fear,” the motto of police states down the ages. Hague’s apologists explained that he was a nice chap really, but that relations with America trumped every libertarian card.

The hysteria of the “war on terror” is now corrupting every area of democratic government. It extends from the arbitrary selection of drone targets to the quasi-torture of suspects, the intrusion on personal data and the harassing of journalists’ families. The disregard of statutory oversight – in Britain’s case pathetically inadequate – is giving western governments many of the characteristics of the enemies they profess to oppose. How Putin must be rubbing his hands with glee.

The innocent have nothing to fear? They do if they embarrass America and happen to visit British soil. The only land of the free today in this matter is Brazil.

Little Brother

Little BrotherLittle Brother by Cory Doctorow. Tor Teen (an imprint of MacMillan Publishers), 2008. 416 pages. Recommended for ages 13-17. ISBN: 9780765323118.

Originally posted on Kid Lit About Politics.

Little Brother isn’t exactly science fiction. It could happen now. The story is told by Marcus, a 17-year-old expert hacker living in San Francisco. He and three of his friends skip class to go and play a game one Friday afternoon. There is an explosion. A bridge, we later learned it’s the Bay Bridge, has been blown up by terrorists. Marcus flags down what he thinks is an emergency vehicle to help one of his friends who has been injured. The vehicle belongs to the Department of Homeland Security. Marcus and his friends have sacks put over their heads. He and two friends are held for five or six days, then released. The fourth friend, Darryl, is not released. While in custody, Marcus struggles to maintain his rights under the Bill of Rights. Eventually, he gives up and tells the DHS what they want to know about him.

When Marcus returns to San Francisco, he finds the DHS is watching every person’s movements in an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack. His father, who has no idea that his son was imprisoned, thinks this invasion of privacy is fine. Marcus doesn’t, and neither do the thousands of kids he involves in his attempts to stop the DHS.

The political issues raised are very timely. When is it appropriate to give away our civil liberties in the name of preventing terrorism, and when should we fight for those civil liberties? Should congressional or judicial oversight of organizations like the DHS be in place, or should they be able to operate freely. Is it right to hold people without telling them why, and without telling their families where they are? Is it right to torture people? In this country, are people still innocent until proven guilty? These are the questions Little Brother raises.

The book has too much explanation of technology for me, but technology geeks would love the explanations. I am a political geek, and I love the political aspects of the book.

It’s clear Doctorow doesn’t know San Francisco well. The most glaring error is the constant reference to BART as “the BART.” I got pulled out of the story a little bit every time he referenced “the BART.”

With the exception of the long paragraphs about technology, this book is fun, and the political issues are even more pressing now than they were when the book was written in 2008.

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