Just two weeks after the melodrama of Edward Snowden's bizarre trans-Asian sojourn came to a rather anti-climactic conclusion at a Moscow airport, the melodrama of David Miranda's airport detention began in earnest.
Miranda, the husband of polemicist Glenn Greenwald for whom he served as a top secret NSA document courier, is now the subject of a criminal investigation by British law enforcement for transporting "tens of thousands of pages of digital material" to Brazil. He was detained for nine hours and questioned at Heathrow airport in London on Sunday.
U.K. authorities can't possibly believe that by seizing the documents from Miranda that they're somehow obstructing the ability of The Guardian and Greenwald to write about the content of the documents. Clearly, they're simply attempting to ascertain which specific stolen documents were attained by Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras from Snowden. Greenwald himself told the New York Times on Sunday that Miranda was delivering and receiving Snowden documents in Berlin where Poitras is working on a trilogy of documentaries about post-9/11 national security issues.
This is so vastly different than what everyone was led to believe by The Guardian and Greenwald in the hours after Miranda's detention ended. During that time, these self-proclaimed truth-and-justice seekers wailed about how the U.K. was attempting to intimidate Greenwald by harassing his innocent spouse who was only detained because of his relationship with Greenwald -- a tactic that not even the Mafia uses, Greenwald wrote. They even denied Miranda the use of a lawyer, Greenwald and The Guardian reported, but, like most things orbiting this story, the lawyer thing turned out to be untrue.
In the process of spreading the false "innocent spouse" narrative, with all of its accompanying finger wagging and shrieks of despotism run amok, Greenwald wrote that security officials prevented Miranda from having legal representation during the airport interrogation. Greenwald wrote:
The official - who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654 - said David was not allowed to have a lawyer present, nor would they allow me to talk to him.
Either Greenwald was lying about what he was told, or this mysterious Official 203654 didn't know what he was talking about. In a separate article about the incident, however, Greenwald said:
"To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ."
Surely Greenwald had already communicated with lawyers from The Guardian who went to the airport to help Miranda and who likely spoke with both Miranda and security officials before the Brazilian national boarded his flight back to Rio de Janeiro. But he was still running with the "denied a lawyer" line anyway. By the way, this article, published in the middle of the night London time, made zero mention of the fact that Miranda was transporting Snowden documents for Greenwald and Poitras nor the fact that The Guardian paid for the trip.
I think you can see where all of this is headed. Like nearly every one of The Guardian's articles on this beat, especially Greenwald's, this key fact turned out to be flatly untrue. On Monday, another article in The Guardian appeared, this time featuring some of the first remarks from Miranda himself. Fourteen paragraphs deep in the article the following line appeared:
He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities.
Miranda refused the offer for representation due to his suspicions about the veracity and motives of the authorities. Perhaps he thought, according to this account, that the British police would disguise an officer as a lawyer and double-cross Miranda. Who knows? Neither Miranda nor Greenwald have clarified this latest example of shifty reporting. And they probably ought to considering how on Thursday, the following paragraph appeared in an article in The Guardian about the criminal investigation into Miranda:
He was compelled to provide passwords for the devices. His lawyers said he only had a lawyer for the last hour of his detention and was not allowed a pen to write down the officers questions or a translator even though English was not his first language.
Indeed, there was, in reality, a lawyer present during his interrogation. So, to recap:
1) Thuggish despots prevented Miranda from having a lawyer.
2) Miranda refused a lawyer because of thuggish despots.
3) Miranda actually had a lawyer with him, in spite of previous reports about thuggish despots.
I'm not sure if this can become more ridiculous, but I'm sure they'll find a way to top it.
You can be sure this event will continue to fuel Greenwald's penchant for raking his tin cup across the prison bars of his own victimization -- his sanctimonious, indignant hyperbole about how the big, bad U.S. and U.K. governments are trying to suppress his ability to deliver this (misleading) version of the truth to his paranoid, apoplectic herd of disciples.
By overplaying this victim posture, Greenwald has skewed the debate he so desperately wanted into a Kardashian-style tangent better reserved for the E! channel than serious news headlines. And given the utter inability to preserve any minuscule thread of journalistic integrity by following the basic rules of News Reporting 101 (such as "when in doubt, leave it out" for starters), Greenwald and The Guardian have descended to the same level of transparent fakery as seen on so many of TV's staged and scripted "reality shows."