Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The U.S. and U.K. equate journalism with terrorism

Last August, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was held and questioned for nine hours at Heathrow Airport by British security agents. The hazy justification for the detention revolved around the Snowden leaks, and Miranda challenged this rationale in British courts. Today, a lower UK court released its judgment that the action was justified because the release of the Snowden documents was tantamount to “terrorism,” and anybody even remotely connected to the event was fair game for government scrutiny.

Greenwald argues, and I agree with him, that this mindset basically equates journalism with terrorism. If, as a journalist, you expose anything that the government finds displeasing or embarrassing, you can be labeled a terrorist and the courts will uphold this absurdity. At the same time that Snowden is being nominated for a Nobel Prize, the U.S. and UK governments are treating him, and anyone associated with him, as a terrorist.

If you’re old enough to remember the Cold War, you’ll recall horror stories about the USSR and East European governments eavesdropping on dissidents and journalists, steaming open letters, and bugging embassies. This was child’s play compared to the surveillance tactics and technologies of the 21st century. The real horror story today is that these sophisticated technologies are being employed relentlessly by the world’s most advanced democracies, ostensibly to fight terrorism, but in reality for a variety of nefarious purposes.

We have become that which we demonized less than a generation ago. When you think about it, the only real justification for our current lawless surveillance tactics is that whatever we do is okay because, America. Just remember, you or I could be the next David Miranda.

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