On Sunday morning at Heathrow Airport, a man who until that day, virtually no-one in the world had heard, of was stopped and held under Schedule 7 of our terror laws. This particular piece of legislation, allows for terror suspects to be held for up to nine hours without charge by police and security services, before either an extension can be applied for or charges brought.
The man being held was David Miranda, who was heading back to Brazil. Now, that name shouldn’t ring any immediate bells, there are very few household names in the world of terrorism and most of them have the back of their head missing. The detention of this man though, has had me furious for days since.
Firstly, I know that stating something made me angry is kind of like saying “the smell of bacon makes me a bit peckish” but this got me so fantastically furious, I could be a member of Grandmaster Flash’s backing group.
If you haven’t read or heard already, David Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald works for the Guardian newspaper. In this role, Greenwald has been publishing the revelations of the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Yeah, to call this one a little murky is to say it’s quite hard to see a pin in a puddle.
So, by virtue of being vaguely linked to Edward Snowden, the very height of the terror laws drafted in to protect you and I, have been used against this man to send out a not-so-subtle message to those publishing his revelations. Now, the urban myth goes that I’m vaguely linked to Kevin Bacon, who once played a paedophile and so, after this legal precedent, I’m expecting Operation Yewtree to come calling at any time.
In all seriousness though, this has been a staggering abuse of power by those entrusted to keep us safe from genuine danger. Miranda, for no obvious national security reason, had items such as dongles and hard drives seized. As he was in a departure lounge, all of this was perfectly legal.
Before this, a senior civil servant was sent to the offices of The Guardian to ensure that the hard drives containing the information from Snowden were either destroyed or could be seized. Upon hearing they had been destroyed, he sifted through the pieces. Allegedly, he was sent there with the blessing of David Cameron himself.
We live in a nation that constantly takes the moral high ground against the likes of Russia and China, for this very kind of thing. What are we doing here? Maybe it’s been a long time coming, in an era of Guantanamo Bay’s and the smearing of those who choose to fight the establishment? Maybe, we were all just too content with our iPhones and Candy-FUCKING-Crush to care as our liberties were eroded? Ask yourself – where does this end?
Now, I always try to be even-handed, so let’s get a couple of things out the way. I don’t think that exposing matters of high security should be totally without consequence. Somewhere way back, laws were passed, to stop those who risk their lives to protect their citizens being exposed. You can argue all you like for a completely open government, but somewhere down the line someone ends up getting beheaded on the Internet when their real name is divulged.
Secondly, if we are honest, we all know these dark arts occur in the background of the western world. We turn a blind eye to it, because we know it’s often what keeps us where we are on the world stage and other nations…. well, down there. For fucks sake, our biggest movie hero is Bond, we are more than peckish for espionage.
In turning that blind eye, you somewhat foolishly, almost romantically hope that those dark arts are to keep us safe from the really bad bastards in the world. A bit like that mate who would bite someone’s nose off down the pub if they tried to glass you.
Instead, we are in a position where our security agencies are spying on our calls, with the full help and knowledge of the service providers. Quite rightly, Edward Snowden felt the need to expose this. The US and British governments have reacted in much the same manner of when you or I are caught doing something we shouldn’t. Sometimes you say sorry and try to make amends. Other times, you get mad at the person who pointed the finger at you and vow to take vengeance. Let’s be frank, in any other circles we wouldn’t be calling Snowden a “whistleblower”, he would be a “grass”.
If you think about it, it genuinely stings when someone calls you that. We have a strange in-built code that says you keep “schtum”, but sometimes you’ve got to be brave enough to speak about the real wrongs in this world. This wasn’t nicking a stapler from work, this was a massive abuse of civil liberties. Snowden has exposed his former employers for what they are- ultimately weak sorts who scurry around like rats, to protect their own interests and maintain their standing in this world.
In their minds, these people justify this as “survival of the fittest.” That is the code of these people because, more often than not, they have trampled on more than enough people without any great conscience to succeed in life. The people we see in power are so befitting of our disdain because they are the ones we see day in, day out – the ones in our offices, factories and workplaces that everyone hisses as their name trips from their tongue. The ones who aren’t the most skilled, the most deserving, the most suitable for their role, but they sure can shine a shoe with their tongue.
When you live on that precipice of being exposed for being a fraud, you do unethical things to climb further, so that it’s hard to fall to the bottom. If you do that, and a “grass” exposes you, you use that considerable power to show them who they messed with.
This is what is happening here. The nations we live in are doing unethical things to keep their standing in the world. They don’t want to be exposed as weak or undeserving, and they have their big, tough mates along to back them up. Those who run these nations are in a position that is far less tenable. Like Nixon and many before them, they can fall easily if the public mood sways in such a manner, and so begins this blind panic we now see against those who can expose their weak, unethical fingernails dug deep into the ladder rungs – journalists.
They’ve almost won the war. Pick up a paper, and 80% of them contain no real news, especially as they employee fat, lazy “journos” who disgrace their profession. These people long gave up any attempt at true journalism and instead resorted to hacking into phones (oh, the irony) to get their “scoops”. Now they can no longer do this, they are too fat and lazy to print anything else but the inner workings of Kerry Katona’s mind.
Every now and again though, someone does a true piece of journalistic work that shatters their attempts to control the flow of information that may bring their untimely downfall. Real Redford and Hoffman in “All The Presidents Men” work, that can bring down leaders.
That is what is happening here with The Guardian, and make no mistake, considerable weight is being thrown around to limit the damage. Arresting a man and holding him for nine hours to make a point to his partner is a cowardly, shameful act that spits in the face of the idea that those who threaten our nation, do so because they fear our open, free and democratic society.
If they care, all of those fat, lazy sorts in Fleet Street will get up out of their Lazy-Boys and stand up for the freedom of the press, before it is too late.
My Dad always told me if someone is trying to bully you, just punch them hard before they know they can intimidate you. They won’t be expecting it because no-one ever stands up to them. These people are bullies, plain and simple. It is time for someone to start clenching a fist, and fast.
Paul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff