The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin went on CNN Tuesday to continue his defense of the NSA and the White House against Edward Snowden's leaks and the journalists who report on them. And, well, Toobin responded to David Miranda's 9-hour detention in the UK under a controversial terrorism law by comparing Glenn Greenwald's partner to a drug mule.
Here's the quote, for the full context, in response to Anderson Cooper's question over whether the UK was justified in detaining Miranda, who was on his way back to his home in Brazil from a meeting with journalist Laura Poitras:
Let's be clear about what Mr. Miranda's role was here. I don't want to be unkind, but he was a mule. He was given something — he didn't know what it was — for one person to pass to another at the other end of an airport. Our prisons are full of drug mules.
Toobin added that he "doesn't think it matters a bit" whether the Guardian paid for Miranda's flight, or that Miranda was assisting with Greenwald's reporting. Toobin argued that the UK terrorism law under which Miranda was detained allows for authorities to hold someone if they might be carrying materials that could be used by terrorists. That's despite a preemptive counterargument today from one of the men who introduced the 2000 law in the first place. Lord Falconer of Thoroton (yeah, that's what he goes by), said that the law clearly only applies to people suspected in involvement in the "commission, preparation or instigation" of terrorism, adding, "I am very clear that this does not apply, either on its terms or in its spirit, to Mr Miranda." But Toobin's comments weren't without instant pushback on CNN. Former whistleblower Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, also on Cooper's program, called Toobin's arguments "vacuous."
Earlier today, Toobin published another essay at the New Yorker against Snowden's actions, arguing that the revelations from Snowden's leaks don't indicate a major violation of U.S. law, and that now the "government will almost certainly have to spend billions of dollars, and thousands of people will have to spend thousands of hours, reworking our procedures." He added, "this is all because a thirty-year-old self-appointed arbiter of propriety decided to break the law and disclose what he had sworn to protect." The writer has previously deemed Snowden a "a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison."
But hey, at least Toobin's CNN appearance gave Twitter something to play with by comparing journalism to a delicious condiment: "The word journalism is not magical immunity sauce that you can put on anything," he said.
I have changed my whole opinion on Toobin because he just gave us all "magical immunity sauce"— Josh Stearns (@jcstearns) August 21, 2013
I'm not leaving home to do journalism without my bottle of Magical Immunity Sauce ever again. #ac360— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) August 21, 2013
"Magical immunity sauce," said in the voice of Gob Bluth.— Liliana Segura (@LilianaSegura) August 21, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.