An Andrew Sullivan reader points out that it appears Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was acting as a courier for Greenwald, and may have been carrying Snowden documents when he was held by UK authorities. If that is true, then that changes things significantly. My first thought was that the British held Miranda to punish him for Greenwald’s role in the Snowden leaking. But if Miranda indeed was carrying stolen top-secret US government documents, or there was good reason for the British to suspect that he was, then they had a right to detain him and search him. From the NYT report, it certainly sounds like Greenwald has confirmed that Miranda was carrying these documents:
Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.
You may approve of what Snowden, Greenwald, and Poitras have done, but you can’t say that the US and its allies don’t have good reason to want to get those documents back, or at least to find out what Snowden has. Miranda made a very stupid mistake — and so did Greenwald and Poitras. If they were going to courier documents, why did they rely on Miranda, someone they ought to have known the security agencies would be watching?