Did Glenn Greenwald pull a fast one on NSA and GCHQ?

The news has been dominated for days by the story of British authorities’ ham-fisted detention and interrogation of Glenn Greenwald’s husband David Miranda as he returned to his native Brazil from Berlin, Germany where he was meeting with Greenwald’s co-journalist Laura Poitras. According to the official story confirmed by Glenn, David was ferrying documents between Greenwald and Poitras because they don’t feel safe communicating electronically. He was detained for hours and all of his electronic recording devices were stolen. According to anonymous NSA sources, the NSA has no clue what Snowden took and the Miranda affair may have been a desperate attempt to find out.

I’ve been an enthusiastic reader of Glenn’s site for years, and although I agree with some of the criticisms that have been raised regarding his and the Guardian’s handling of the documents and related stories, I can claim with great confidence that Glenn is no idiot. This is not a man who acts without thinking, especially when the stakes are high.

Under the circumstances, I’m pretty surprised to see that nobody is questioning the official story. Is it reasonable to believe that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras (with help from Edward Snowden and access to the considerable resources of the Guardian) couldn’t figure out a way to communicate securely? Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t. Is it reasonable to believe that they would use Glenn’s husband as a go-between to physically transfer documents? That’s a bigger leap of faith, because he could have used someone not associated with him, and for several reasons it seems like a smart guy like him would have. Within days of Manning getting 35 years for angering the US government, would you send your wife or husband on an airplane with stolen top secret documents? Or would you send someone you don’t care so much about, or maybe someone who is not well-known to be associated with you? Let’s answer “Maybe” to all of those and then ask the big one. Why did he have to pass through Heathrow Airport? Is there no direct flight from Germany to Brazil? Looking at a map I see that Heathrow is somewhat of a detour. Are there no direct flights from Berlin to Rio? Based on a 30-second search, maybe not. But KLM has a flight that goes through Amsterdam, and Lufthansa has a direct flight from Hamburg to Rio. Double the 900-euro price for the nonstop flight, and add 500 euros for the Amsterdam layover. Can the Guardian not afford it? This piece of the puzzle does not fit.

I suspect that the Keystone Kops at NSA and GCHQ have been played for fools once again. Miranda was probably carrying encrypted copies of the Declaration of Independence. This entire story is most likely a very successful publicity stunt by Greenwald. I have to stop typing now because I am helpless with laughter.

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