I have read a variety of views on the nine-hour detention of Glen Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at London Heathrow Airport last weekend. Unfortunately some can’t seem to separate their disdain for Glen Greenwald from the detention of his partner and what that detention signifies. They somehow think that the issue is overblown or fear that Mr. Greenwald will make a “big deal” out of it. Some lament that “Glenbots” will use this as a cause célȇbre to trumpet their hero. Some believe that Glen Greenwald is too single-issue focussed, to the point where he’s myopic about everything else. Blah, blah, blah, blah.
That may well be. But here’s the bottom line. Detaining his partner at Heathrow for nine hours was nothing short of creepy. I felt a chill when I heard the news, not because I hold Mr. Greenwald or Mr. Miranda in any high esteem. I never knew the name of his partner before this happened. Not because I’m a “Glenbot” who lives by every word he writes or utters. Sometimes his pieces are too long and I can’t be bothered.
No, I was creeped out by this incident because I’m a writer, too, and sometimes I say things that might piss some people with power off. Does that mean that some time, some where, my partner will be detained and questioned? Will his iToys get confiscated? His hard drives smashed? Will he have access to an attorney? Or will I just have to sit and worry where the hell is he for nine or however many hours until their finished “detaining” him?
That’s a lot of power to give a government. And its creepy. And every one who writes or speaks her mind about issues of the day should feel a chill about this. It’s not right and its indefensible, unless of course the partner of the writer is carrying bombs. I don’t think Mr. Miranda was carrying a bomb. The detention is the sort of heavy-handed shit that thugs do, that thugs from past regimes which have since fallen into history’s dustbin of ill repute did.
I wrote about the NSA’s PRISM program, stating that it was too much power for any government to have, regardless of how much or little we trust them. Because the government we trust today will last only as long as the incumbent president’s term limit. The next government might not go after leakers of NSA secrets. They might go after critics of Wall Street policy or critics of the Tea Party or critics of the oil industry or critics of homophobes. As I stated then, this is not a pandora’s box we want to open. It will not go well for us as a society if we do.
It is imperative to separate the personalities from the acts. Glen Greenwald is not the issue here. The intimidation of speech is the issue. David Miranda was used as a pawn to intimidate his partner into “behaving.” No democracy can survive when shit like that happens. It should give us all pause.
© 2013, gar. All rights reserved.