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


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2013 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A state being a republic has no bearing on whether it is democratic or not, it means little more than that state does not have a monarch (which itself might or might not be an executive type position).
    You get into tricksy territory when you claim a democratic state, as both countries are, is not true democracy. The two states are representative democracies which satisfies most people's definition of a democracy.
    Could they be better, more representative democracies? Absolutely and undoubtedly. Some for me of proportional representation in both and a sane parliamentary system in the US would be much better. But that something can be improved does not negate everything that it is and both states are democracies, their chosen wielders of executive power are all elected in mostly fair contests although the US has admittedly hiccuped on this for at least one notable position within the last fifteen years. The US is also prone to rather arbitrarily deprive individuals of their voting rights but as yet in insufficient numbers to radically change outcomes.

    It seems that those most responsible in democracies are increasingly unwilling to accept any part of their responsibility for the messes their nations are in, but in the case of the UK and the US the primary responsibility for the actions of their governments acting in the name of the people still lies with the electorate. Only when sufficient of those electorates acknowledge and accept that will there be any hope of improvement.

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