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 Coward, 26 Aug 2013 @ 12:16pm

    "Almost no one..."

    Well then, I guess I'm "almost no one" because not only should the State have no secrets, it should not exist.

    The State is an immoral institution as it is based on the expropriation of property (i.e., theft/taxation) and holds a so called "legal" monopoly on the initiation & use of force/aggression/violence.

    I prefer consensual relationships and voluntary exchange.

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
Special Affiliate Offer

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.