Monday, August 19, 2013

You've Been Warned

David Miranda was never even given the British version of his Miranda Rights.

As a matter of fact, the  legal term "Mirandized" may have just gotten a whole new meaning. Thanks to the Heathrow Airport arrest and detention yesterday of David Miranda, domestic partner of Glenn Greenwald, we now have irrefutable proof that our civil rights have eroded even faster than we thought. The whole world is a police state, and we are all deemed terrorists unless and until they decide otherwise.

The familiar Miranda Warning, the one we see on TV cop shows, says "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." It's meant to protect your right against self-incrimination, guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.

The newest, perverted version, however, isn't even a warning. It's a fact. It's the thuggery of the state run amok. It's the extralegal pronouncement that they can stop you in a public place during the course of your travels. Any electronic gizmos you carry can and will be confiscated, and probably used against you in a secret court operating under a secret code of law enacted in a secret politburo.. The very fact that you exist in time and space now makes you a target in a USG-orchestrated campaign of suppression and intimidation. The Terror Government has extended its tentacles around the entire girth of the globe.

As Glenn Greenwald points out in his post about Miranda's ordeal, the transnational crusade against journalists who dare spill government secrets has now reached truly epic proportions:
This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.
If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world - when they prevent the Bolivian President's plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today - all they do is helpfully underscore why it's so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.
David Miranda was detained under a statute called Schedule 7 of the UK Terrorism Act, allowing for an arrest lasting a maximum nine hours, pending formal charges. The law is a direct slap in the face to the original Miranda rights, given that detainees are not given the right to remain silent, not allowed access to legal counsel, and are forced into answering questions. Refusal to cooperate under Schedule 7 has itself been deemed a criminal offense. Ironically enough, Schedule 7 forbids plain old stopping and frisking of folks for race or ethnicity. I imagine the NYPD would have something to say about that. Mayor Mike Bloomberg would probably insist that the Mirandization of David Miranda was done to protect him from himself, to keep the world safe from democracy.


Jay - Ottawa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay - Ottawa said...

Miranda vs Miranda: You have a right to remain silent vs You must spill your guts. Who says Kafka was a writer of fiction?

Truthdig explains why it made Laura Poitras Truthdigger of the Week.

annenigma said...

Good thing he didn't travel through the USSA or he could have been detained indefinitely under the NDAA of 2012 without anyone ever knowing where he went.

I am having nightmares.

annenigma said...

Now it turns out that the USG got a heads up from Britain that they had Miranda in their sights, flying in from Germany. But true to form, the word games begin and the USG says they didn't 'request' his detention.

The conversation probably went something like this:

Brits: "Thanks for sending the latest Terrorist Watch List. We have Greenwald's partner coming in any moment. What do you want us to do with him?"

USG: "Detain, harass, intimidate, and take away any possessions he has and send them to us."

Brits: "Yes, boss".

Such is the power of Ameristan and its client states.

James F Traynor said...

You'd think they'd realize how sleazy this makes them appear. But it doesn't.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Should anyone want to inform the British government that as a result of their interference with Glenn Greenwald's/ Laura Poitras' reporting (via Britain's detention of David Miranda), you will boycott UK-manufactured products, the products of UK-based corporations, and the UK as a tourist destination, below is some contact information from the embassy's web site:

British Embassy Washington
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008

Phone Enquiries: 202-588-6500

British Council USA
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008


"The British Council's US team works to energize the transatlantic relationship through the arts, education, society and English."

James F Traynor said...

You'd think they'd realize how sleazy this makes them appear. But it doesn't.

Zee said...

@Karen and @All—

Insofar as I understand the laws of the United Kingdom (UK)—an understanding that is very limited, indeed—the “detainment” of David Miranda may have been entirely legal...under the laws of the UK.

We tend to think of the UK as our “mother country,” and, therefore, some sort of bastion of liberty, justice and “fair play” that “gave birth” to our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We expect them to be just ever-so-civilized and respectful of (what we construe as) human rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as I read things.

The United Kingdom has no unified Constitution, and it most definitely does not have anything resembling a “substantive” Bill of Rights:

'The Constitution of the United Kingdom is the set of laws and principles under which the United Kingdom is governed.

Unlike many other nations, the UK has no single constitutional document. This is sometimes expressed by stating that it has an uncodified or "unwritten" constitution. Much of the British constitution is embodied in written documents, within statutes, court judgments and treaties. The constitution has other unwritten sources, including parliamentary constitutional conventions (as laid out in Erskine May) and royal prerogatives.

Historically, "No Act of Parliament can be unconstitutional, for the law of the land knows not the word or the idea." '
(My bold emphasis.)

In other words, what Parliament says...goes. And at the moment, “Schedule 7” is just okey-dokey-fine with Parliament.

Nor does the UK have much of a “Bill of Rights,” if you care to examine its provisions in detail:

So don't expect to be treated gently when you're on the outs with the British government, even if you're a citizen. Ain't no Miranda Right there under Schedule 7, no matter how much Amnesty International might wish that there were.

This is not to excuse the obvious coercion that the United States brought to bear on the UK to force Miranda's detention. But had the UK wanted to, it could have done it entirely on its own volition under “Schedule 7.” Invoke Schedule 7, and any phonus-balonus that you see on Law and Order: UK about having the right to remain silent goes out the window.

And in England and Wales, the “right to remain silent” may have certain limitations, anyway, if you read the “fine print:”

“At common law, and particularly following the passing of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 under Code C adverse inferences may be drawn in certain circumstances where the accused...
fails to give evidence at trial or answer any question...
--(My bold emphasis.)

So, even remaining silent can be held against you in the UK!

Therefore it is all the more important that we fight for every scrap of individual liberty secured by our own, real Bill of Rights, rather than frittering it away piecemeal in the name of phony security.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Let's try to get it straight, people. In ascending order, practically speaking, first we have Sister Angelica's 18-inch ruler, then, as we age a little, we are guided by village and city ordinances and traffic courts, then we have run-of-the-mill state laws, then congressional legislation (with or without presidential signing statements), then Supreme Court precedents, like Miranda v. Arizona (1966), then the Constitution (1788), which includes the First Ten Amendments (which in turn includes that lynchpin of democracy known as the Second Amendment), THEN the Security State's growing collection of Anti-Terrorist Acts and clandestine bureaucracies (mostly post 2001), which together empower the Bill of Rights and all local, state and national laws as well as related court precedents to magically disappear.

annenigma said...


The UK might not have a constitution but they definitely have had a Bill of Rights for a long time, and there are other legal protections.

There is the English 'Bill of Rights of 1689' which served as an inspiration for our Bill of Rights.

There is also the 'European Convention on Human Rights' which is binding on all member states. It covers privacy, association, life, torture, servitude, fair trial, conscience and religion, discrimination, expression, etc.

There is also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I am by no means an expert either, but I got a hint about David Miranda's legal options under European human rights legislation from the Guardian this article.

Zee said...


I've been aware of the English Bill of Rights of 1689 for some time now as the inspiration for our own Bill of Rights, and especially for its inspiration for our own You-Know-What Amendment.

I sure that it was a remarkable document for its time, but it still seems to me to be rather weak compared with our own, much more detailed and comprehensive Bill of Rights.

Perhaps our Founders felt the same as me, and were inspired--or driven--to create a much stronger and comprehensive Bill a little over 100 years later.

Thanks for the links to related documents, which I will have a look at.

annenigma said...


Oops. Sorry for mentioning the English Bill of Rights after you had already clearly done so. My ADD is acting up! I skimmed over your comment too fast.

Pearl said...


That was a great comment you had to Drip, Drip, More NSA Revelations,on the
NYTimes front page. It is ironic to have all these reports coming out while they gave Manning a 35 year prison sentence. I hope that what he and Snowden have stirred up will give him some sense of how important his courageous actionshave been. The whole world is watching and waiting with I am sure, much more
to come. Orwell, you were too kind.