National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Op-Ed: Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction

On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered The Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration — while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention — pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom.

But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials — including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander — not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force The Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it.

One email, dated July 19 (the day prior to the destruction) bears the subject line "Guardian data being destroyed" and is from NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett to Alexander. He writes: "Good news, at least on this front." The next day, almost immediately after the computers were destroyed, Alexander emailed Ledgett: "Can you confirm this actually occurred?" Hours later, under the same subject line, Clapper emailed Alexander, saying: "Thanks Keith … appreciate the conversation today." Continue>>>
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