Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Says Anti-Terror Laws Should Be Used To Stop Investigative Journalism

from the wtf? dept

Plenty of people in the UK -- including some of the most powerful -- have expressed significant concerns about the decision to detain David Miranda and take all of his electronics under an "anti-terrorism law," when (at worse) he could be called a journalism messenger for transporting key documents between reporters. However, it appears that the former boss of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Blair, doesn't just support the detainment of Miranda, but is arguing that anti-terror laws should be expanded to cover investigative journalism, like the kind that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have been doing.
He suggested new laws were needed to cover those who obtained secret material without proper authority.
Of course, pretty much any journalist on the national security beat has ended up with "secret material without proper authority" at one point or another. It's part of being an investigative journalist and uncovering the secrets that government officials like to keep secret. It's also known as holding the government accountable -- and apparently Lord Blair thinks that holding the government accountable in such a manner should be a crime.
Lord Blair told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme: "The state has to have secrets - that's how it operates against terrorists.

"It has to have the right to preserve those secrets and we have to have a law that covers a situation when somebody, for all sorts of wonderfully principled reasons, wishes to disclose those secrets.

"It just is something that is extremely dangerous for individual citizens to [make] those secrets available to the terrorists."
Almost no one is arguing that the government should never have secrets. The problem is that they're using those "secrets" to abuse their power, trample individual rights, and spy on everyone. There's a pretty big spectrum between arguing that such unchecked power needs to be held accountable and "the government can't have any secrets."

And then, of course, there's the insanity that unveiling government misconduct is automatically being seen as making "secrets available to the terrorists." That's ridiculous. Especially when you look and realize that really nothing that's been released actually helps terrorists. All it's really done is show how the government abuses their surveillance powers.

To argue, in response, that the answer is criminalizing investigative reporting is nothing short of insane.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: anti-terror laws, david miranda, investigative journalism, journalism, lord blair, publishing, secret documents, uk

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2013 @ 1:04pm

    Classification Control Project

    Purpose: Reduce classified material (secrets).

    Scope: All classified material, all agencies, all branches, military, other(s) ad infinitum, no exception via any privilege, rule, or law.

    Highest whatever you want to call it classified (I am voting for SUPER_HOT_PENULTIMATE_UMBRA_EYES_ONLY_WITH_SHADES_OF_GRAY_CHARTREUSE_AND_PUCE). Has a ten year release date from first classification. Limited to a total of 1500 items at any given time. Requires pinky swear.

    Second Highest whatever you want to call it classified. Has a 5 year release date from first classification. Limited to a total of 10,000 items at any given time.

    Third Highest whatever you want to call it classified. Has a 2 year release date from first classification. Limited to a total of 15,000 items at any given time.

    Fourth Highest whatever you want to call it classified. Has a 1 year release date from first classification. Limited to a total of 20,000 items at any given time.

    Fifth Highest whatever you want to call it classified. Has a 30 day release date from first classification. Limited to a total of 5,000 items at any given time.

    There shall never be more than 51,500 classified items at any time. Each item will be given an identifying token (for identification purposes only, not subject matter related) by which it will be tracked through the system, including the public identification of the classification requester. If you need a new highest, you have to reduce classifications of 4 things below, one of them becoming immediately public. The transaction will be immediately reported (not the information, but that the change took place with reference to the token number) to the general public, see below.

    All other government documents (including anything more than 10 years old), reports, emails, investigations, declassified documents, etc. must be posted to the correct, universally accessible website within 48 hours of creation/receipt/release as in the case of a report or other collaborative object; example: where as the emails of that group are released ongoing within 48 hours of creation, where it will remain in appropriately indexed date and subject related archives, fully cross references, in perpetuity, the project itself may wait for normal distributions, like draft, final draft, working release candidate, final, within 48 hours of said distribution.

    Failure to post any document in a timely manner shall be compensated with a fine of 10% of all involved individual(s) earnings for six months on first offense, 20% of earnings for 1 year on second offense, and 100% of earnings forever on third offense.

    Participation in any cover-up or conspiracy to hide items that are in fact secret, but not included in the audit are treasonable offenses with a penalty of death, no appeal, no pardon, no exemption.

    Have NSA use their new computing power to track all of the above in minute detail and report to their bosses, the People of the USA, oh, and the rest of the world, 24/7/365 or 356 with up to the minute information flows, time stamped with all possible meta data included, and on any and all violations of the above. The FBI shall spend 80% of its resources investigating NSA employees for possible conspiracies involving this statute or others. The other 20% will go towards 'For the Children' and 'Because Terrorism'.

    Be very careful what you want to classify, it will come back to byte you. Change the way you think about and treat others, then you won't have such a need for secrets. There should never be a reason to hide whether you are offering a carrot or a stick.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.