The Detention of David Miranda

Anybody who has continued to follow the surveillance state fiasco that became prominent thanks to Glenn Greenwald has probably already heard that David Miranda, Mr. Greenwald’s partner, was detained for nine hours at Heathrow airport:

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Considering the person who was detained and the length of time he was detained it’s pretty obvious what was going on. The state, embarrassed by the National Security Agency (NSA) slides that were published by Mr. Greenwald, has resorted to a tactic favored by tyrants throughout history: intimidation. What’s particularly funny is that the same state that wasn’t bashful about detaining Mr. Miranda (who, for us Americans, has a rather ironic last name) has still decided to “investigate” the matter:

Senior politicians and an independent reviewer have said police must explain why David Miranda was detained for nine hours at Heathrow Airport.

The explanation is quite simple. As enforcers for the same people demanding an explanation, the guards at Heathrow airport decided to send Mr. Greenwald a message. The message itself was quite simple, the state can get to the people Mr. Greenwald cares about the most. It’s the same tactic used by mafia henchmen in the movies. When somebody falls out of favor with the local mafia a few henchmen are dispatched to pick up that person’s children from school and drive them home. The parent understands that the mafia is letting him or her know that they could easily kill his or her children at any time. From there the parent can decide to fall into line with the mafia or risk having his or her children killed.

Detaining Mr. Miranda was a coward’s move, which are the only moves the state knows. I’m sure several higher ups in the British government ensured that Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Miranda were added to a watch list so they would be harassed whenever they traveled by air. After the target has been entered into the computer it is up to the ordinance, in this case airport security personnel, to hit its mark. The nice thing about this methodology is it allows politicians to feign innocence. They can claim to have no knowledge of the event, perform an “investigation” into the matter, and punish a handful of disposable soldiers.