Naked authoritarianism

We appear to be rapidly reaching the end of the grand pretense of liberal democracy:

While the much publicized Sunday morning detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda at Heathrow on his way back to Brazil, in a stunning move that as we subsequently learned had been telegraphed apriori to the US, could potentially be explained away as a desperate attempt at personal intimidation by a scared, and truly evil empire in its last death throes, it is what happened a month earlier at the basement of the Guardian newspaper that leaves one truly speechless at how far the “democratic” fascist regimes have fallen and  fondly reminiscing of the times when dictatorial, tyrannical regimes did not pretend to be anything but.

For the fully story, we go to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger who, in a long editorial focusing on the tribulations of Greenwald, his partner, modern journalism and free speech and press in a time of near-ubiquitous tyranny when the status quo is questioned, happened to let his readers know that a month ago, after the newspaper had published several stories based on Snowden’s material, a British official advised him: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

It gets better: after further talks with the British government, Rusbirdger says that two “security experts” from Government Communications Headquarters, the British NSA equivalent, visited the Guardian’s London offices and in the building’s basement, government officials watched as computers which contained material provided by Snowden were physically pulverized. One of the officials jokes: “We can call off the black helicopters.”

Reuters adds that according to a source familiar with the event said Guardian employees destroyed the computers as government security experts looked on.

What is shocking is that as Rusbridger explained to the gentlemen from Whitehall, they had no jurisdiction over the forced destruction of Guardian property as it has offices in New York, that Greenwald himself was in Brazil, and that future reporting on the NSA did not even have to take place in London. That did not stop the UK government’s punitive measures, and obviously neither did pleas, before the computers were destroyed, that the Guardian could not do its journalistic duty if it gave in to the government’s requests.

In response, he wrote, a government official told him that the newspaper had already achieved the aim of sparking a debate on government surveillance. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

What is most shocking is that the UK government was apparently dumb enough to think that by forcing the Guardian to destroy its own hardware it would actually destroy some of the underlying data. It is this unprecedented idiocy that is most disturbing, because when interacting in a game theoretical fashion with an opponent one assumes rationality. In this case, what one got instead, was brute force and sheer, jawdropping stupidity.

If you still do not understand that government and force can NEVER be trusted to uphold human liberty and basic human rights without being held strictly accountable to the people at all times, with no exceptions, you are part of the problem.  And protesting “what if bad people might do bad things if we don’t let the bad people in government do whatever they want whenever they want without telling us” is not a credible counterargument, it is tantamount to voluntarily placing a dunce cap on your own head and drooling.