10 Serious Considerations/Revelations (snip-less) re Snowden Scenario
1) Political asylum is an internationally recognized right. Snowden’s motives for releasing the surveillance info were in the public interest --and not just the American public’s. It was not for private and self-aggrandizing gains. Snowden discovered a massive government conspiracy to violate the Fourth Amendment with “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It was his legal and moral duty to disclose it. Snowden’s fear of persecution is well-founded. He could face torture, incarceration without trial, or death (already may be on the "kill list") under the M.O. of the Obama administration and its anti-Constitutional “global war on terrorism's” suspension of rights for us citizens. Snowden is also vindictively being tried in the media. Snowden has sent out 26 requests for asylum. He withdrew his request to Russia when Putin insisted he not disclose anything further about NSA surveillance. The Obama administration is using serious intimidation with other countries to discourage him finding asylum. (Robert Naiman)
2) Snowden is the David of the 99 percenters contending with a global collective one percenter Goliath-mafia led by the US and its warmachine and one percenter crony capitalists who are making life steadily more and more hellish for the 99 percenters in their respective countries including ours. Snowden was born in 1983. He grew up during a period of social and economic inequality and became an adult coinciding with 9/11 and the global war on terror national mindset. He was idealistic and patriotic and joined the military after the invasion of Iraq to serve his country. He became disillusioned by the demonization of and drive to kill Arabs and lack of foreign policy humanitarianism and cooperation. He recognized that the Iraq War was based on the lie about wmds. He was horrified by the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at Gitmo. He was horrified by the destruction of Fallujah and other war crimes committed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He believed Obama’s promise of change. He came to recognize that there was little intention of changing the M.O. of our government for the better on Obama’s agenda. That promises can be cavalierly broken by government leaders without consequences or any accountability impacted him. Then he came face to face with the Orwellian scope of mass surveillance. (Barry Grey and David North)
3) Mainstream media has been betraying us on a massive scale. It was the recent generation of the NYT’s under Arthur Sulzberger that sat on the illegal Bush surveillance secret since before Bush’s second election. Way back with Nixon it was a feisty NYT Seymour Hersh who blasted the administration about the CIA illegally surveilling American anti-war citizens. Sulzberger of NYT when he was told by NYT’s James Risen about the illegal surveillance rushed to tell the WH he knew and took instructions from them until Risen’s book was about to come out and blow the secret anyway. But Bush got slickly re-elected without that potentially political bombshell because of that secret NYT withholding. Both Bush and Obama have committed high crimes and misdemeanors. The mainstream media had and has cronied up with the politicians and protected them from our anger and displeasure as well as the law. Pro-war propaganda ramped up 24/7 especially on those Sunday talk shows seduces citizen “for your own good, trust us” group think. They are still doing it. And at times they are leaking things to us with the administration’s encouragement at convenient for the administration points to keep us in our helpless, confused boiled frog state. (Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair)
4) We have been betrayed by a wimpy Congress that gave up oversight on surveillance along with so many other important needs of citizens. Cheney and John Yoo orchestrated secret domestic spying and a torture program. Cheney “briefed” leaders of Congress on clandestine surveillance when Congress was supposed to be in charge of oversight! Instead they were being told what to do. There was a secret limited group-think among selected leaders and intimidation by Cheney. Most of the Congress were getting lazy positive publicity with GWOT jingoism and didn’t want to be demonized as soft on terrorism. Obama assured Charlie Rose on his last interview the FISA court was transparent with independent judges overseeing the program as well as Congress. Bullshit. ONLY SELECT members of Congress without staff could visit the inner sanctum where the super-classified documents were kept, those chosen few were forbidden to take notes or make copies of anything. Senators Udall and Wyden had been requesting documentation about FISA documents and practices and continued to be stonewalled. Also on Charlie Rose Obama boasted that the NSA was “bigger and better than anybody else and we should take pride in that.” Oy vey. Obama did promise to meet with his Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to begin to set up a “national conversation” on surveillance. Right. Want to buy a bridge leading to Brooklyn? (Renee Parsons)
5) THIS IS A RECENT DISCLOSURE via NYT apparently before Snowden leaks it!!! FBI, IRS, DEA, Dept Health and Human Services and other government agencies for over a decade have been secretly gathering metadata on our SNAIL mail. TOTALLY. MICT -- Mail Isolate Control and Tracking program -- isn’t that special? Images of 160 billion pieces of mail per year according to NYT this past Tuesday. It used to be only suspicious mail was monitored. Now it is all mail indiscriminately. They also can open mail in exceptional cases without a warrant. No judge required. All they have to do is fill out a form with postal authorization. (Thomas Gaist)
6) Bolivian President Morales has threatened to close down the American embassy. He met with leaders of Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay and Suriname. At a rally before the meeting he declared that the CIA had ordered France, Portugal, Italy and Spain to deny access to his plane. Correa of Ecuador said that if it had happened to the US president it would have been a casus belli, a case for war. He said, “They think they can attack, crush, destroy international law.” Morales likened his own situation to a “13-hour kidnapping.” The Bolivian government has lodged a complaint with the UN and planned another to the UN Human Rights Commission. Russia joined Latin American leaders in condemning France, Spain and Portugal. France’s Hollande apologized, explaining there was “conflicting information” about the passengers. Non-apology apology! Washington has refused to comment. The Obama way. Just do stuff and don’t be accountable. The stenographer msm will oblige by not discomforting him about it. The MSNBC crowd likes to blame Bush and the Patriot Act but Obama himself twice voted for the Patriot Act in the senate and extended it twice in the WH (but of course campaigned vigorously against it while running for president). (AFP)
7) In 2006 a series of amendments to the Patriot Act was passed. One allowed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under Section 215 to exand “relevancy” to authorize wider investigations. The court incredibly accepted that “relevant” could include entire databases of records on millions of people. It has taken the position that investigating terrorism justifies pre-empting basic Constitutional rights. In 2009 Eric Holder signed off on more top secret FISA rules. The FISA court was established in 1979 to oversee requests for surveillance with eleven justices to be appointed by the chief justice. One justice is to always be on call 24/7. The court meets in secret, only hears info from the government’s side. Since it began it has rubber-stamped over 33,000 requests and denied ONLY 11. The FISA court applies a “special needs” doctrine resurrected from 1989 from the Supreme Court when extenuating circumstances permitted a minimal intrusion of the privacy of a citizen. Now it is applied broadly and inappropriately to massive amounts of data in supposed pursuit of terrorism. The tendencies toward police-state rule have escalated under Obama from the Bush regime. It is like a Star Chamber, a secret court surveilling the entire world. Targets of spying are never informed in a timely way that they are and why. Shreds the 4th amendment of right to privacy and the 6th amendment right to a speedy trial, to counsel and to confront witnesses against oneself. The court was formed to prevent excesses and instead it has enabled them. The financial oligarchies around the world can’t thrive in a real democratic climate. Important to use cronyism with militarization and secrecy for their protection against justice and equality and transparency and accountability. There is a catch-22 scenario for any who challenge the surveillance. The challenges are said not to have standing because the suers cannot PROVE the existence of the secret operations because they are secret. Isn’t that handy? The FISC also has refused to submit summaries Congress has requested from them, not wanting to generate “confusion” or “misunderstanding.” The real reason is they don’t want to trigger citizen outrage with their disclosures. (Patrick Martin), (Eric Lichtblau), (Eric London)
8) MLK once emphasized that everything done by Hitler in Germany was “legal”. That obedience to the law should not be absolute. Our obligation to our consciences and basic human rights is stronger than our obligation to obey the law. Otherwise we are obeying a Nazi ethos, the legal principles of the Third Reich. Daniel Ellsberg has coined the phrase the United Stasi of America since the Snowden scenario. Bill Van Auken compared the treatment of Bolivia and its president as similar to how Hitler treated small nations and their leaders in the late 1930s and 1940s. Daniel Ellsberg has shared that when he was arrested he was out on bail soon after. For the two years he was under indictment he was allowed to be out and about presenting his case, working against the war. Allowed to speak to a media that was more empathetic than today’s. Ellsberg points out that Snowden wouldn’t even be granted bail. He would be in a prison cell facing the horrors that Manning faced. Manning was confined almost 3 years, the entire first year naked (institutionalized sexual torture) and in solitary confinement, no letters, no interviews, no phone calls, no writing materials and a gag order slapped on his lawyers so he could not communicate with anyone through them or be communicated to from them. (Shamia Leibowitz), (Bruce Dixon), (Bill Van Auken), (Daniel Ellsberg), (Glenn Greenwald)
9) Director of National Intelligence James Clapper perjured himself to Congress. That is a violation of federal law. Intentionally lying to Congress is a felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison for EACH offense. Some officials served time for Reagan’s Iran-contra scandal. Sports stars have been prosecuted for lying to Congress. There have been other occasions. Clapper is not the first senior official to lie to Congress. And yet these individuals lying about the policies of the Bush and now Obama regimes are not held accountable for the crime of perjury? The lies often involve our foreign policy. This hubris and presumptiveness of being above the law is a variation of the Nixon syndrome. Apparently whatever the Executive Branch and its representatives decide to do and say is considered legal and must prevail. It uses the Patriot Act as a blank check for every illegitimate action. The Obama administration has announced it will arm the Syrian “rebels” and perhaps create a no-fly zone (bombing corridor on populated areas). The American public, no matter Democrat, Republican, Independent is overwhelmingly opposed to this decision. Under the Constitution and the War Powers Act, in the absence of an attack directly on the U.S., only Congress, NOT the President has the power to authorize the use of military force. But Obama has assumed that power unchallenged! Obama hastens to assure everyone that we will only arm the “good rebels” not the “bad jihadists” fighting Assad with our armaments. More bullshit. FINALLY 4 biparisan senators and 4 bipartisan Congresspeople have organized to block Syrian intervention. We should urge Congressional authorization and public discussion of such a monumental military course. (Robert Naiman), (Glenn Greenwald)
10) European governments are lying when the say they were unaware of the extensive NSA wiretapping. Many of their own intelligence services work closely with the NSA. The NSA according to Snowden even has its own department that works closely with foreign intelligence agencies. The Foreign Affairs Directorate. Echelon surveillance programme is jointly run by US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada with regular NSA monitoring, capturing half a billion communications every month. The NSA helps Germany with MidEast data. India’s response to Snowden's disclosures has been subdued, disrespectful of international law, “cavalier” about international espionage. India used to be more vigilant about protecting international law. What is especially disgusting is that many of these countries have allowed their airspace to be used for clandestine extraordinary rendition flights of kidnapped foreigners by the US with no due process on their way to blacksites to be tortured. But there they were, willing to go against international law and stop a plane with the sovereign head of a country in it to accommodate the US CIA and Obama administration's anti-international law willfulness. (Vijay Prashad), (Thomas Gaist), (Peter Schwarz)
Just as a postscript to this collection of revelations -- sorry, just one snip but of human interest -- Jamie Doward in “US Attempts to Block Edward Snowden are ‘Bolstering’ Case for Asylum” writes:
Meanwhile, spotting Snowden is becoming a popular game among people passing through Sheremetyevo airport.
"I offered my kids $200 to get a picture of him," said Simon Parry, a Briton who expressed sympathy for Snowden after spending a couple of hours in the airport.
"The wireless internet is appalling, the prices are awful, and people never smile," Parry said. "So I commend him for making it 24 hours, let alone two weeks. I might rather face trial."
[cross-posted on open salon]