Did you hear Edward Snowden’s inspiring speech the other day in Moscow airport? Another example from him of what it means for a citizen to commit himself to principles. Snowden explained why he had abandoned a home in “paradise” for a life on the run, in the name of the people’s right to know:
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
And did you hear the White House saying he’s a propagandist? For what– democracy? Jay Carney:
I would simply say that providing a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality
You’d think that the duty of people of conscience with a platform in the west is to give support to Ed Snowden. If you agree that this spying program needed to be exposed, rather than deliberated in secret– that as Snowden says, below, justice must be seen to be done — then you must give him support, now, when he needs it most to keep speaking out.
But here is Melissa Harris-Perry at MSNBC urging Snowden to return to the United States, where she promises he will be treated well in prison. Because his case has become a distraction. She dares to question his altruism, this man who sacrificed so much. Her Tom Hanks link is to the Spielberg film, The Terminal. The MSNBC anchor penned a letter to Snowden:
And maybe your intentions were completely altruistic–it’s not that you wanted attention, but that you wanted us, the public, to know just how much information our government has about us. That is something worth talking about. But by engaging in this Tom Hanks-worthy, border-jumping drama through some of the world’s most totalitarian states, you’re making yourself the story.
We could be talking about whether accessing and monitoring citizen information and communications is constitutional, or whether we should continue to allow a secret court to authorize secret warrants using secret legal opinions.
But we’re not. We’re talking about you! And flight paths between Moscow and Venezuela, and how much of a jerk Glenn Greenwald is. We could at least be talking about whether the Obama administration is right that your leak jeopardized national security. But we’re not talking about that, Ed.
As if Snowden wanted this ordeal he is in the midst of; as if Snowden did not consciously make himself a fugitive in order to call attention to abuses.
More from Snowden’s opening statement in Moscow airport the other day, saying that the most essential principle of justice is that it must be seen to be done. Yes and none of this would have been seen except for him.
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
Thanks to Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, who says that Melissa Harris-Perry’s statement makes him “despair for America.”