Into the controversy and debate surrounding the detention of David Miranda, partner of Guardian correspondent Glenn Greenwald, at Heathrow on Sunday has waded the former Tory MP now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket, Louise Mensch. And you must pay attention to her, because, well, it’s written, that’s why. And she’s been on telly recently.
Has she got news for us? Er, no
Ms Mensch has titled her rant on the affair “The smears of Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian – a primer” [note that the URL has “lies” instead of “smears”], which suggests that this is some kind of wholly factual text giving readers a straightforward, yet comprehensive, briefing on events. Sadly, though, and by her own admission, it is nothing of the sort. But there is invention and abuse in spades.
The tone is set at the start, as we are told of Edward Snowden “putting our agents at risk around the world, and aiding some of the world’s most repressive regimes”, an accusation that Ms Mensch does not stand up with any of those pesky things called facts. We have to take that as read – on her say-so. And remember, anyone wavering, Snowden “was just a shitty little spy”. And this is a “primer”?
Whatever. Glenn Greenwald is accused of having Stockholm Syndrome, and then the abuse ratchets up as Greenwald is accused of being a liar over his description of Miranda as “not even a journalist”. Ms Mensch fails to understand that one can be working with a journalist without actually being one. But she’s nailed Miranda with another “lie” over his claim not to have been allowed a lawyer.
Once again, she fails to understand that being offered an approved lawyer by a clearly hostile interrogator does not cut the mustard. The Guardian had sent legal representation to Heathrow, and Miranda was refused access to them. But then she goes ballistic: “Glenn Greenwald admitted to the New York Times that David Miranda had been carrying, as a mule, stolen, encrypted thumb drives actually containing intelligence data that Snowden stole from the CIA”.
Greenwald made no such admission. But Ms Mensch is not detained by such trivialities, banging on about “top secret ... stolen” information (which, on Twitter, was also “classified”), while also admitting in an exchange with me that she had no idea what information Miranda was carrying.
And Louise Mensch, of all people, should tread carefully when casting around the word “liar” as if it were so much confetti. This is, after all, the same Louise Mensch who twice used Parliamentary privilege to make wholly untrue (and highly damaging) statements about Piers Morgan which she subsequently had to withdraw. She would be best advised to put facts before embellishment in future.
In the meantime, this blog will certainly not be taking lectures on honesty from her.