Rated as less arbitrary, the retention of David Miranda at Heathrow airport is perfectly legal. That’s right. The British government gave itself the power to detain anyone for any made up reason after approving the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows the police to stop, search and question passengers for up to nine hours at all ports, airports and international rail terminals.
Unlike the powers that security forces have in other areas, in this case it is not mandatory to even a “reasonable suspicion” that the individual is involved in any terrorist activity. On Sunday, officials detained the Brazilian David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald in what they said was a questioning session related to terrorism. Today Scotland Yard has once again defended its actions although it did not provide any tangible proof that Mr. Miranda was detained because he posed a threat, or due to his relation to terrorist groups, for example.
Miranda’s only sin is to be related to journalist Greenwald, who along with Edward Snowden, has been publishing information from secret documents related to the illegal actions conducted by the NSA regarding espionage of private citizens.
The Terrorism Act of 2000 was approved by the Labour government of Tony Blair. This legislation requires the challenged to provide any information in its possession that the officer claims may be of interest. It also permits the confiscation of any other possessions, which would allegedly be returned to the traveler within seven days.
In the case of technological devices such as phones or computers, the law allows police to extract all information from them. The lack of cooperation with these measures is considered a crime. The Miranda case provides another look into what many considered as a civil liberties paradise: any innocent passenger may be subjected to the bitter experience of being abused by an undoubtedly unconstitutional law.
Proponents of the law put forward the code of conduct, that determines how “police powers should not be used arbitrarily” and that its application must take into account “the threat posed by various terrorist groups active inside and outside the country.” As critics say, this kind of laws should consider the conditions around the detainment and not the individual who is to be questioned and harassed who has no opportunity to defend himself or to have access to a lawyer.
The same Labour Party that promoted the Terrorism Act of 2000, and whose government “abuse” of the law showed its hypocrisy, decided six years later to go even further with another legislative package that supports the detention of terrorism suspects without habeas corpus, to a term of 28 days. All in the name of so-called war on terror. These two pieces of legislation opened the door for more abuses, which have extended to the Cameron government just as in the United States the Bush administration abuses continued to happen under Obama.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.