Tuesday, 20 August 2013

"You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back."


UK Government "Pulverizes" Guardian Hard Drives In Snowden Retaliation, Says "There's No Need To Write Any More"



20 August, 2013

While the much publicized Sunday morning detention of Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda at Heathrow on his way back to Brazil, in a stunning move that as we subsequently learned had been telegraphed apriori to the US, could potentially be explained away as a desperate attempt at personal intimidation by a scared, and truly evil empire in its last death throes, it is what happened a month earlier at the basement of the Guardian newspaper that leaves one truly speechless at how far the "democratic" fascist regimes have fallen and fondly reminiscing of the times when dictatorial, tyrannical regimes did not pretend to be anything but.

For the fully story, we go to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger who, in a long editorial focusing on the tribulations of Greenwald, his partner, modern journalism and free speech and press in a time of near-ubiquitous tyranny when the status quo is questioned, happened to let his readers know that a month ago, after the newspaper had published several stories based on Snowden's material, a British official advised him: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back."

It gets better: after further talks with the British government, Rusbirdger says that two "security experts" from Government Communications Headquarters, the British NSA equivalent, visited the Guardian's London offices and in the building's basement, government officials watched as computers which contained material provided by Snowden were physically pulverized. One of the officials jokes: "We can call off the black helicopters."

Reuters adds that according to a source familiar with the event said Guardian employees destroyed the computers as government security experts looked on.

What is shocking is that as Rusbridger explained to the gentlemen from Whitehall, they had no jurisdiction over the forced destruction of Guardian property as it has offices in New York, that Greenwald himself was in Brazil, and that future reporting on the NSA did not even have to take place in London. That did not stop the UK government's punitive measures, and obviously neither did pleas, before the computers were destroyed, that the Guardian could not do its journalistic duty if it gave in to the government's requests.

In response, he wrote, a government official told him that the newspaper had already achieved the aim of sparking a debate on government surveillance. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

What is most shocking is that the UK government was apparently dumb enough to think that by forcing the Guardian to destroy its own hardware it would actually destroy some of the underlying data. It is this unprecedented idiocy that is most disturbing, because when interacting in a game theoretical fashion with an opponent one assumes rationality. In this case, what one got instead, was brute force and sheer, jawdropping stupidity.

Yet that is precisely what happened, and is why the stakes have suddenly been drastically higher: because the opponent now suddenly finds himself hurt, bleeding, ready to lash out at anything and everything without regard for the retaliation, and just happens to be dumb as a bag of hammers.




Miranda, a Brazilian citizen in transit from Berlin to Brazil, said he was released without charge after nine hours of questioning but minus his laptop, cellphone and memory sticks.

The detention of Miranda has rightly caused international dismay because it feeds into a perception that the US and UK governments – while claiming to welcome the debate around state surveillance started by Snowden – are also intent on stemming the tide of leaks and on pursuing the whistleblower with a vengeance. That perception is right. Here follows a little background on the considerable obstacles being placed in the way of informing the public about what the intelligence agencies, governments and corporations are up to.

A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."

During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?

The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Whitehall was satisfied, but it felt like a peculiarly pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age. We will continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won't do it in London. The seizure of Miranda's laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald's work.

The state that is building such a formidable apparatus of surveillance will do its best to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Most journalists can see that. But I wonder how many have truly understood the absolute threat to journalism implicit in the idea of total surveillance, when or if it comes – and, increasingly, it looks like "when".

We are not there yet, but it may not be long before it will be impossible for journalists to have confidential sources. Most reporting – indeed, most human life in 2013 – leaves too much of a digital fingerprint. Those colleagues who denigrate Snowden or say reporters should trust the state to know best (many of them in the UK, oddly, on the right) may one day have a cruel awakening. One day it will be their reporting, their cause, under attack. But at least reporters now know to stay away from Heathrow transit lounges.

Needless to say both Hitler and Stalin are spinning in their graves.

Below is a photographer's rendering of what it would look like if the UK government were the Nazis and Macbook Pros were books.






UK ordered Guardian to destroy hard drives in effort to stop Snowden revelations
UK authorities reportedly raided the Guardian’s office in London to destroy hard drives in an effort to stop future publications of leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.


RT,
20 August, 2013

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed in a Monday article posted on the British newspaper's website that intelligence officials from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) told him that he would either have to hand over all the classified documents or have the newspaper’s hard drives destroyed.

After more talks, two "security experts" from GCHQ - the British version of the National Security Agency - visited the Guardian’s London offices.


Rusbridger wrote that the government officials then watched as computers, which contained classified information passed on by Snowden, were physically destroyed in one of the newspaper building’s basements.


"We can call off the black helicopters," Rusbridger said one of the officials joked.
Another source familiar with the event confirmed to Reuters that Guardian employees destroyed the computers as UK officials observed.


During negotiations with the government, Rusbridger said that the newspaper could not fulfill its journalistic duty if it satisfied the authorities’ requests.
But GCHQ reportedly responded by telling the Guardian that it had already sparked the debate, which was enough.


U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (front L) embraces his partner David Miranda upon his arrival at Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013 (Reuters / Ricardo Moraes)
U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (front L) embraces his partner David Miranda upon his arrival at Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013 (Reuters / Ricardo Moraes)


"You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more," Reuters quoted the unnamed official as saying.



In the article, Rusbridger explained that because of existing “international collaborations” between journalists, it was still possible to report the story and "take advantage of the most permissive legal environments."


I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations...Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that [reporter Glenn] Greenwald lived in Brazil?” wrote Rusbridger.


The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents.”


Rusbridger pointed out that the whole incident felt like a “pointless piece of symbolism that understood nothing about the digital age.”


The news comes after Sunday’s international incident during which David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was held at Heathrow airport under the UK Terrorism Act for the maximum time allowed before pressing charges. Greenwald was the reporter who exclusively broke the Snowden story. 


The editor promised that the Guardian will “continue to do patient, painstaking reporting on the Snowden documents, we just won’t do it in London. The seizure of Miranda’s laptop, phones, hard drives and camera will similarly have no effect on Greenwald’s work.”


Another US security source told Reuters that Miranda’s detention was meant to send a message to those who received Snowden’s classified documents, about how serious the UK is in closing all the leaks in relation to the whistleblower’s revelations.


U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013 (Reuters / Ricardo Moraes)
U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013 (Reuters / Ricardo Moraes)


Greenwald, who first published secrets leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, responded by promising to release more documents. He added that the UK would be “sorry” for detaining his partner for nine hours.



Snowden, who has been granted asylum by Russia, gave Greenwald up to 20,000 documents with details about the US National Security Agency and the UK’s GCHQ surveillance operations.

US is the intellectual author behind detention of Miranda’


Lawyer Eva Golinger told RT that the UK has violated all concepts of freedom of the press. “We are talking about a media outlet. Journalists and their spouses and partners being detained and interrogated. So clearly there has been a decision made that everything related to Edward Snowden must be captured no matter what, violating anyone’s right under any country’s laws.”


Golinger believes that government's pressure on journalists could inspire some to cover the topic of government surveillance even more, instead of discouraging them to do so.


The more principled the people reporting are, the more they will continue to pursue that work in the face of threat. Such cheap threats and intimidation give people even more reasons to continue doing what they are doing because it shows that those in power are clearly frightened of the information that is being put out,” she explained.


At the same time it could certainly intimidate other journalists and create the environment of self-censorship, where many would be unwilling to take the risks that are involved with national security reporting, particularly when it comes to the US.”


Golinger argued that US is the “intellectual author behind the detainment of Miranda.”


We are talking about a search and capture that is going on for Edward Snowden and it is the US that is leading that effort. It is not the UK or other European nations, they are merely abiding by the wishes of the US…What I believe is that Washington has simply put out a request to all of its allies that anyone related to Edward Snowden must be detained if they come into your territory and the UK abided by that and did their duty.”

.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MneAXGkZnX0

No comments:

Post a Comment