U.S. and UK are Abusing Anti-Terrorism Laws, Claim the Laws’ Authors

Thursday, August 29, 2013
Charles Falconer (photo: UK Parliament)

American and British lawmakers who authored some of the most important anti-terrorism laws in the United States and Britain this century have taken their governments to task for abusing these very same statutes.


Charles Falconer, a longtime Labour Party politician, helped introduce Britain’s 2000 Terrorism Act. He says in an opinion piece published by The Guardian that the law he supports was not created so the government could hassle and interrogate people like David Miranda.


Miranda is the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who first revealed the secret surveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Government critics have accused officials of targeting Miranda, who was held for nine hours at London’s Heathrow Airport solely because of his association with Greenwald.


Falconer wrote that the Terrorism Act was adopted to keep terrorists from Northern Ireland from entering Britain, and “was not passed with people like David Miranda in mind.”


“There is no suggestion that Miranda is a terrorist, or that his detention and questioning at Heathrow was for any other reason than his involvement in his partner Glenn Greenwald’s reporting of the Edward Snowden story. The state has not even hinted there is a justification beyond that involvement,” Falconer wrote.


He added that the Terrorism Act defined a terrorist as someone “involved in committing preparing or instigating acts of terrorism.” As for Miranda, he “is plainly not committing or preparing acts of terrorism,” according to Falconer.


Falconer is not the only politician frustrated with how his government has used counterterrorism legislation beyond their intentions.


In the U.S., Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), a key author of the Patriot Act (pdf), has criticized the NSA for gathering Americans’ phone records under the guise of Patriot Act authority.


In fact, Sensenbrenner says Section 215 of the law prevents the NSA from conducting data mining of Americans’ communications. He reportedly said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show in June that the Obama administration’s citing of the Patriot Act to justify NSA operations was “a bunch of bunk.”


The congressman also said Snowden should not be considered a traitor because without him, people might never have learned how the Patriot Act was being abused.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Detention of David Miranda Was an Unlawful Use of the Terrorism Act (by Charles Falconer, The Guardian)

Author Of The Patriot Act Says Patriot Act Was Written Specifically To Prevent NSA Data Mining (by Mike Masnick, Techdirt)

NSA Leak Journalist’s Partner Interrogated in 9-Hour Detention by British, Citing Terrorism Law (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Administration Finally Releases Legal Justification for Massive Collection of Phone Records (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Sen. Wyden Warns American Citizens against Surveillance State (AllGov) 


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