It's so completely idiotic that not even a security service PR man could possibly come up with an explanation why a hard drive should be destroyed that contains documents that must have been replicated around the Internet and around the world hundreds of times by now.
Even assuming the Guardian for some reason didn't make backup copies (which I think they say they have in New York and Brazil) then Snowden certainly must have these documents cached on servers all around the world, most likely with digital timestamps and signatures to demonstrate their authenticity.
The story the government appears to be trying is that the documents could be stolen by somebody else, from the Guardian offices. There was the comment in the article about laser eavesdropping too. So the PR story is "we are protecting our secrets against the Chinese/Russians/somebody."
I think these actions were more punitive than protective.
Good thing they got the video card, those things are notorious for hoarding state secrets.
Never thought I'd be alive to watch the world go full on dystopian, the internet seemed like more than enough fiction-turned-reality for one human.
this was just them saying "we can come into your place of business, break your computers, and it's perfectly legal. we have the power here, don't forget it"
There could be an argument made for the disk drives. You can recover deleted data. The Guardian and other sources are quite clear that they have a lot more information than they have released. Without knowing the specific nature, then yes.. I can see an argument being made.. Laptops gets misplaced or stolen quite often and this would be a high value laptop.
Now.. destroying RAM? Circuit boards, etc, etc? Nope. Not even remotely plausible. Straight out intimidation. This is actually a fairly common tactic in the US. Computers seized rarely are operational if they are ever returned.
I think they're panicking.
I think someone really, really doesn't want what those documents contain to get out, and is making insane demands that make no sense to those carrying them out, but appease David Came... someone.
The appropriate response to these thugs rolling in to destroy a laptop is to stand around them and laugh long and hard at their incompetent reactionary flailing.
I'd keep giving them other things to destroy, "This cable was plugged into it last Tuesday, better safe than sorry!"
I'm confused by that image. Why is there a big expansion card in what otherwise appears to be a laptop?
You have no idea!.. That GPU and VRAM chips have seen too much... Too much...
Detritus from multiple computers.
The red card is pcix, and I'd wager was once a video card. The video card in a macbook is integrated into the motherboard. The circuit boards with the curvy bits missing are from a macbook, the circular cutouts are where the fans go.
Take special note of the scraped up brown looking spots.. that's where surface mount chips used to exist. They not only felt the need to hit them with hammers, but rip them from the circuit boards.
Sure, but the Guardian destroyed the machine themselves in response to the ridiculous police request. You can punish a freelancer by destroying his or her personal machine, but not a big company.
I distinctly remember my Sociology 101 professor mentioning that it wasn't so much that it was money that was power, but information (which led to the procurement of power via money, things, and people). This action boggles my mind.
How would Bob Howard exorcise a laptop?
I image it went along these lines
Guardian: "So we just need to pull the drive and hit it with the grinder right?"
GCHQ: "No destroy the whole thing"
Guardian: "Why all the data is only on the drive?"
GCHQ: "Don't make me ask to see the server room"
I think he'd basically follow the same procedure as in The Apocalypse Codex, when he exorcised the 666 Squadron Lightning, with the additional complication that he'd have to put the laptop in a Faraday cage, to block the BlueTooth, wi-fi and 3G phone signals so that any extra-dimensional critters in the device wouldn't be able to propagate to other devices. (Naturally, he'd keep the lid closed so that it wouldn't infect him via the display.)
Or he'd just effect a field-expedient exorcism by shooting it with banishment rounds, or zapping it with a basilisk gun.
"Now.. destroying RAM? Circuit boards, etc, etc? Nope. Not even remotely plausible. Straight out intimidation"
"GCHQ: "No destroy the whole thing"
Guardian: "Why all the data is only on the drive?""
Oh come on, you guys are cleverer than that
Off the top of my head, places to store code / data / anything if you're willing -
Physical drives (external - usb, removeable -cd, internal - hd)
RAM, inc main memory, on video card or any other component (network cards,etc)
Cache in CPUs.
ROM - bios or wherever.
So basically theyve destroyed anything that could ever concievably hold any data whatsoever - permanently or temporarily, easy or a little harder to access ( http://www.zdnet.com/blog/security/cryogenically-frozen-ram-bypasses-all-disk-encryption-methods/900 ), doubt they were in the mood to discriminate. Better safe than sorry, i guess. And good luck building a pc that only stores data on the hd...