So now we have information that UK security agents at Heathrow airport purposefully held up Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, told the US beforehand that they were going to do that, and that the main reason they wanted to question him was to find out more about Laura Poitras.
Laura Poitras is someone you may not have heard about until now, but she is someone who has been playing a role in l’affaire Snowden, albeit a much more quiet one compared to her fellow propagandist Glenn Greenwald. The New York Times article to which I link here explains a few things about her, making her sound a bit like Mother Teresa with a film camera and a knack for encryption.
Like Greenwald, Poitras has a skill at making being detained for a while before eventually being allowed to go someplace sound like decades on Devil’s Island. She’s spent the last ten years making documentaries that help to make American troops look like power-drunk butchers, and she expects the intelligence community to not be interested in whether she’s making contact with the country’s enemies. If one of the American women who played Axis Sally on the radio during World War II wanted to board a plane for the US after creating propaganda for Germany and Italy, probably the intelligence community of the time would be interested enough to want to ask her a few questions about that. I suppose whether you think of Laura Poitras as a victim of the security state or as a modern version of Axis Sally depends on whether you trust her motives as a maker of documentaries.
A lot of people in the American military don’t – and not just the higher-ups. The rank-and-file soldiers seem to think of her as someone trying to cook up stories about them. This is an interesting passage from the article, about one particular moment during Poitras’s stay with the family of a Baghdad doctor: “Poitras was with the doctor’s family, and occasionally they would go to the roof of the home to get a sense of what was going on. On one of those rooftop visits, she was seen by soldiers from an Oregon National Guard battalion. Shortly after, a group of insurgents launched an attack that killed one of the Americans. Some soldiers speculated that Poitras was on the roof because she had advance notice of the attack and wanted to film it.”
What is interesting about this is that even the Times does not suggest that this was a high-level plot to smear Poitras – rather, it portrays this as the general attitude ordinary soldiers had about this documentary filmmaker. It’s the sort of attitude one might expect people to have when said fimmaker had no intention of getting their side of the story. It’s the sort of attitude one might expect people to have about someone who came to film her own side of the story and no one else’s.
Indeed, it’s the sort of attitude one might expect people to have of the kind of person who is a journalist of the Glenn Greenwald type.
The Times does portray the claim of advance knowledge of the attack as unsubstantiated, as indeed it appears to be. Indeed, even the soldiers who raised the speculation admitted they could not prove it. But it speaks volumes that soldiers _would_ speculate that was what she was doing.
Okay, so now you know what my first impression of all that is – but how does that relate to the current imbroglio involving the interrogation of David Miranda, you may ask?
I’ll keep this part of my commentary brief. Basically what I think boils down to these three things:
(1) The fact that a major rationale for this interrogation appears to be to learn more about Poitras indicates that the intelligence community still believe Poitras is a threat basically because she makes effective anti-American/anti-Western propaganda films.
(2) I agree, she does make effective anti-American/anti-Western propaganda films.
(3) Hassling David Miranda, without painstakingly explaining why doing so is pursuant to a valid legal matter, in order to go on a fishing expedition to flush out at least one alleged illegal thing that Laura Poitras actually did, makes even more effective anti-American/anti-Western propaganda.
Perhaps the intelligence community knows something more than I do. I’d like to think so, this is why we call them the intelligence community. But if they don’t, and are just messing with Laura Poitras and anyone who knows her because she really annoys them, that helps the real enemies of America and the West more than even another premiere of a Laura Poitras film would.
If there was a reason for delaying David Miranda for nine hours, the UK needs to let us know what it was. Otherwise, people will accept this New York Times article at face value and canonize Poitras, along with Greenwald, Snowden, Assange, Manning and the rest of the “whistleblowers”.
It’s as simple as this – the only way to defeat these demagogues is for governments to manifest the transparency of which they are claimed to be incapable. If the UK can’t manage that, we have yet another public relations victory for the demagogues.
Axis Sally, wherever she is, will be smiling.