And No Warrants Shall Issue, Unless the King Says So

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In what is surely an incredible coincidence, the partner of the reporter (Glenn Greenwald) who has been embarrassing the NSA over the past few weeks was just detained at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act, held for nine hours, questioned extensively about things having nothing to do with terrorism, and then released without charges. They kept his laptop and other electronic equipment, though, an act that would be called "stealing" if you or I did it. (That happens in the U.S. too. Where it is also stealing.)

The Brits aren't constrained by the Fourth Amendment itself, of course, but there are (or at least there once were) similar principles in their law. In fact, the reason we have the Fourth Amendment in the first place is because we were sick of the King's agents ignoring those principles. (One of the most famous cases in English law on this topic, decided in 1765, involved a "general warrant" for the seizure of a journalist and his papers and effects, issued just because he embarrassed the King.) So it is a little ironic that now the governments of both countries obviously feel free to ignore them again, to the point where they are willing to go after the loved ones of journalists who embarrass them.

Is that irony? Maybe it's just sad. The last name of Greenwald's partner is "Miranda." Is that irony? Alanis Morrisette I think has permanently confused me on this.