Sometimes the opposition comes riding to your rescue. Yesterday it came galloping to the aid of the deeply subversive Guardian and Glenn Greenwald after another banshee scream of attention-seeking by former Tory MP Louise Mensch blew back on her and inadvertently let slip that rather more was planned by the UK authorities when they detained Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport.
Ms Mensch had homed in on a feature from Buzzfeed on Miranda and Greenwald, concluding dishonestly and erroneously that this made Miranda – who, in the retelling, became a Guardian employee – a liar, because he allegedly said one thing to CNN and another to Buzzfeed. But his accounts do not contradict one another. And that is a mere sideshow to the main event.
The accepted version is that Miranda was detained almost for the maximum time permissible under the Terrorism Act 2000, and then released to catch a flight onward to Rio de Janeiro. However, and in this case it’s a very worrying however, one part of the narrative was missing from that version, until now. And that part suggests the Police attempted to deceive Miranda into getting himself arrested on UK soil.
As Miranda recalls, he wanted to catch a different flight back from Berlin, but: “I called the airline to change flights, and they wouldn’t let me. They didn’t give me any details, they just kept telling me they couldn’t do it”. Add to that the prior notice of his being stopped at Heathrow, and it comes clear that the Security Services were already snooping on, and targeting, him.
After the interrogation, and with his passport still being held by the Police, “The agent arranging Miranda’s travel then told him there were no more flights back to Rio that evening and that he would have to go through customs, stay the night in London, make his own arrangements with his own funds, and return to the airport to fly out the next day” [my emphasis].
Clearing customs and crossing the UK Border would have opened up the possibility of then arresting Miranda on British soil. You think I’m overreacting here? Miranda kicked off at the news: “I am a Brazilian citizen! I’m being held here against my will! I want to go home! They will not let me go home! They took my passport!”And lo, miraculously, there was a flight to Rio, and off he went.
There was a flight. The Police deliberately told David Miranda otherwise, with the clear intention of getting him to cross the UK Border and open himself up to further detention. That is what is deeply sinister and troubling about the Buzzfeed revelations. So when Louise Mensch says someone is lying, she is dead right. The problem for her is that it is the people she is defending who are doing the lying.
And that’s something else most UK papers aren’t telling. No change there, then.