Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 20th Aug 2013 10:39 UTC
In the News Another checkmark in our road towards a totalitarian society: government intimidating the free press, destroying materials, and threatening to take them to court - to shut down a newspaper. No joke. The British government demanded that The Guardian hand over all materials related to Edward Snowden so that they could be destroyed. If the newspaper did not comply, the British government would go to court to shut down The Guardian.

The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."

During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route - by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention.

The newspaper told the government that even if they did comply, it would be pointless - all the materials related to Snowden had already been spread throughout the world, the actual editing was done in New York, the journalist in question (Greenwald) lived in Brazil - but the British government stood fast.

And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred - with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.


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This IS serious.
by reduz on Tue 20th Aug 2013 14:05 UTC
Member since:

I live in a modern, western country, member of the G20.

Not very long ago, some terrorists disguised as left wing tried to impose communism and went into civil war with the government, kidnapping politicians, making things explode.

The government couldn't handle the situation via the regular way governments handle this issues under the rule of law. Military took over.

The military handled the issue, but finding and capturing those terrorists proved to be really difficult, some were obviously terrorists, others it was unclear. So they just did guesswork, if you had a book written by Marx at home, kept a gun or a relative of yours was a terrorist, you could most likely be a terrorist too.

So a lot of people was captured and jailed, but there was another problem, in order to sentence them, or even keep them jailed, the government would need to prove legally their relation to terrorism. You know how rule of law is, due process, innocent until proven guilty.

This also proved too difficult, so the solution was to murder everyone captured and make them disappear. Never notifying anyone of this, not even the justice system.

For society, it would be like someone you knew would suddenly not exist anymore, without any trace. Could be your friend, sister, father, etc. Plenty of innocent died.

The dictators involved, who carried out all this, learned of such methods (torture, killing, etc) while assisting the US Army School of the Americas.

This was only 30 years ago, and the world is much more in peace than back then. Yet if something ever happens in the next decades, imagine the same situation with this kind of massive surveillance system..

Reply Score: 12

RE: This IS serious.
by Carewolf on Tue 20th Aug 2013 18:27 in reply to "This IS serious."
Carewolf Member since:

You are talking about Spain, right? I had no idea your history had been that retcon'ed.

I love the perspective of your story compared to this one, but unfortunately it is not really what happened. I would recommend you reading history books not written by Spanish nationalists.

Edited 2013-08-20 18:27 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: This IS serious.
by Parry Hotter on Tue 20th Aug 2013 18:47 in reply to "RE: This IS serious."
Parry Hotter Member since:

Spain is not a member of G20. I'm guessing Argentina, which has had its fair share of traitors of humanity, such as Alfredo Astiz.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: This IS serious.
by big_gie on Wed 21st Aug 2013 00:11 in reply to "RE: This IS serious."
big_gie Member since:

This happened in Quebec, Canada.

The FLQ[1] was placing bombs in mail-boxes and at some point kidnapped Pierre Laporte, minister of Labour[2].

A week later, the War Measures Act was enacted[2]. Mr Laporte was found dead not long after.

It's giving me chills just to think what could have happened if the government had the power it has today. I'm proud of my large linkedin network, I'm sure I can be linked to almost anybody in the city through that network...

Edit: That was more than 40 years ago though. So might not be the same example. Still, it's another example if not.


Edited 2013-08-21 00:16 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: This IS serious.
by reduz on Wed 21st Aug 2013 14:02 in reply to "RE: This IS serious."
reduz Member since:

No, It's not Spain, but as this particular situation seems to mark a pattern, it's really not nice to know that if it ever happens again, a totalitarian government can use this as a potential tool for repression the next time they decided to do a social "clean-up".

You expressed your view against the government to a friend or relative? you might be a terrorist.
You used encrypted e-mail? you might be a terrorist.
A terrorist in your Google contacts? you might be one.
You frequent a bar that terrorists frequent? you might also be one.

Then 5% of the population is gone. Happened so many times in history.

I mean, it doesn't even have to be the American or British government against it's own people, but just aiding some dictatorship (like it did in the past) to get cheaper access to resources that improve American life.

Edited 2013-08-21 14:03 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3