The power of Edward Snowden

Israel/Palestine
on 54 Comments

Consider the power of Edward Snowden. 

Six weeks after Obama declared, “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” he’s canceled a summit because of him. Obama won’t be meeting with Vladimir Putin because Putin extended temporary asylum to Edward Snowden. Some news accounts say it’s a new Cold War.

White House press secretary Jay Carney sought to deny that Snowden was the only factor yesterday, but he wasn’t entirely convincing:

Now, when it comes to the decision to cancel the summit, as I think has been well reported, there were a variety of challenges that led to the assessment that this was not the right time to have a summit.  Obviously, Mr. Snowden was a factor, but he was far from the only factor…

Carney was also on the defensive about the government spying program that Snowden revealed, and some of what he said sounded like Big Brother explaining himself:

the metadata collection represented by [program] 215 is not content, it is telephone numbers and call times…. we have made clear that under FAA 702, the NSA may not intentionally target a U.S. person['s emails].

Carney was only too happy to talk about Russia’s human rights record. He said the president condemns a Russian law that bars LGBT people from “propaganda.” 

The President was very clear about his views on the issues of gay rights, LGBT rights, and concerns that have been raised internationally about laws in Russia,

Again: consider the power of Edward Snowden. A summit between superpowers has been cancelled and the human rights records of both countries are being scrutinized, thanks to a 30-year-old former government data analyst.

I’m sure there’s a price for the cancellation of a meeting of Putin and Obama– maybe even progress on the Iranian nuclear issue. But the benefits are already clear. The Russians and Americans are quarreling openly over human rights and Americans are discussing government actions we have a right to know about, a right that was nullified and that Snowden gave up his job, his comfort and some large portion of his liberty to revive.

Carney’s defensiveness yesterday extended to fundamental character questions about the goodness of the American executive branch and of Edward Snowden’s idealism. Notice how he puts him down: 

He’s not a dissident.  He’s not a whistleblower.  He is wanted on charges for the unauthorized public release of classified information.

Carney does so because Edward Snowden is speaking to Obama’s own base– liberals who believed in change– and he is more believable than a president who seems like an extension of George W. Bush.

Carney knows how inspiring Edward Snowden has been to millions of us. He has stood up for a principle, government’s accountability to its citizens. And he reminds us of the most basic ideal in democracy, that government is by the people. That an ordinary citizen, acting in conscience, can exercise power over a president.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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54 Responses

  1. Citizen
    August 9, 2013, 11:56 am

    You got that right.
    Snowden is just wonderful, and Americans who cannot see that he’s the real thing, a courageous defender of the best US and World values, should keep getting their lives and pockets picked by the status quo US government while they wrap themselves in the flag, both Old Glory and Israel’s. Problem is, they will gladly do this, and put their kids in the front ranks of those who want to die for big banking and Israel.

  2. marc b.
    August 9, 2013, 12:00 pm

    a president who seems like an extension of George W. Bush.

    he is both a natural extension of Bush, and worse than Bush.

    btw, in the realm of spookery, there have been significant developments in the case of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), so often used here as evidence of Iranian intentions towards Israel and jews in general, mostly covered, from what I’ve seen, in the Spanish language press.

    apparently much of the evidence of Iranian involvement originally came from MEK sources. also, see the following (much more in Spanish press but don’t have time to clean up crap google translations.)

    Carlos Corach, who served as interior minister of Argentina under President Carlos Menem and who is Jewish, is to be investigated for his ties to one of the suspects in the 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing. The Buenos Aires Federal Appeals Court last week ordered the probe of Corach, 78, in connection with an illegal payment of US$ 400,000 to Carlos Telleldin, an auto mechanic who was among those charged in the 1994 attack that left 85 dead and hundreds wounded. Telleldin allegedly provided the car bomb that blew up the Jewish center but has not been indicted.

    The three Appeals Court justices called on Federal Judge Ariel Lijo to investigate “the existence of concrete allegations involving Carlos Vladimiro Corach, which have not been investigated until now” regarding the illegal payment to Telleldin.

    Corach was responsible for obtaining the building for the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires and was the main speaker at its inauguration, JTA reports.

    Last year, Menem – who served as president of Argentina from 1989 to 1999 – was ordered to stand trial on charges of obstruction of justice in the AMIA bombing investigation. Da date for the trial has still not be set, and two weeks ago Menem asked for it to be postponed until the findings of the International Truth Commission, which is to be set up jointly by Argentina and Iran, are known.

    corach is also the scumbag who took millions in bribes from siemens while interior minister of argentina under scumbag president carlos menam, and whose brother (supposedly) blew his brains out in a public suicide. (from what I can tell from what little I’ve read, his body was discovered by a passerby, but there were no witnesses to the shooting itself.)

    • Shingo
      August 9, 2013, 5:58 pm

      Thanks Marc,

      Of course, that won’t stop Jon S claiming that Iran did it.

    • MRW
      August 9, 2013, 7:10 pm

      Thanks, marc b. This is significant news. And if Spaniards know about this, the rest of Europe will too. This undermines another reason to be bombing Iran; if America does it, it will be the death of this country.

      • marc b.
        August 11, 2013, 11:30 am

        my mistake, mrw. should say throughout my comment ‘Spanish language’ press, not ‘spanish’. all the ‘spanish’ articles I’ve read on the subject are in south American papers.

        it does seem like a topic worthy of a post here, though, doesn’t it, given how often the bombing comes up?

      • Annie Robbins
        August 11, 2013, 11:31 pm

        this sounds intriguing:
        link to translate.google.com

        In a resolution issued by Chamber I, composed in this case by associate judges of the Court of Criminal, Jorge Rimondi, Gustavo Bruzzone and Carlos Gonzalez, was assigned to Judge Ariel Lijo investigate the “existence of a specific complaint to the person of Charles Vladimiro Corach, which has not been treated to date “in reference to the already increased criminal trial for unlawful payment of $ 400,000 to the defendant Telleldín and call forwarding” Syrian track “.

        Corach not among those prosecuted for any of the two cases, although they will face trial in undefined date even before the Federal Court in February the former president Carlos Menem, former head of SIDE Jorge Anzorreguy, former presiding judge Juan Jose Galeano and the former head of Ruben laDAIA Beracha, among others.

        In addition, the appellate judges overturned the dismissals of clerks and former Buenos Aires police chiefs who worked with the deposed former federal judge Juan José Galeano in the investigation of the attack on July 18, 1994, judicial sources reported Telam.

        Among the facts in question is the destruction of videotapes recorded conversations with Judge Galeano then stopped Telleldín, in which it was agreed to pay $ 400,000 secret in exchange for a signed statement where Buenos Aires police officers be appointed in relation to the terrorist attack caused 85 dead.

        These videos, by cause, were taken Galeano’s office with a camera hidden behind a screen and were in court until after its existence was made public then judge and current Secretary private counsel them out and Carlos Velazco home destroyed in particular.

        The Chamber ordered re-evaluate and issue a new decision on Galeano secretaries at the time, including Velasco, Susana Spina, Javier de Ranges and Jose Pereyra.

        In the same situation the then were policemen who were part of the investigation as Louis Vicat, former research director of the Buenos Aires Police, Chief Commissioner Armando Calabró.

        It also included the then current lawyer and head of the Chamber of Criminal Cassation Aires Federico Domínguez, who sponsored one of the former Buenos Aires police officers accused of the attack, Bautista Huici, and in that role suggested his client would admit having seen the Trafic van allegedly used in the attack as a police car bomb parked in Buenos Aires, as an attempt to “plant” false evidence.

        oh my..i wonder what “call forwarding” Syrian track” means

      • Annie Robbins
        August 11, 2013, 11:49 pm

        plot thickens!

        gareth porter on link to lobelog.com

        Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman based his 2006 warrant for the arrest of top Iranian officials in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 on the claims of representatives of the armed Iranian opposition Mujahedin E Khalq (MEK), the full text of the document reveals.

        The central piece of evidence cited in Nisman’s original 900-page arrest warrant against seven senior Iranian leaders is an alleged Aug. 14, 1993 meeting of top Iranian leaders, including both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then president Hashemi Rafsanjani, at which Nisman claims the official decision was made to go ahead with the planning of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA).

        But the document, recently available in English for the first time, shows that his only sources for the claim were representatives of the MEK or People’s Mujahideen of Iran. The MEK has an unsavoury history of terrorist bombings against civilian targets in Iran, as well as of serving as an Iraq-based mercenary army for Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

        The organisation was removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist groups last year after a campaign by prominent former U.S. officials who had gotten large payments from pro-MEK groups and individuals to call for its “delisting”.

        the MEK!!!!

      • marc b.
        August 12, 2013, 9:40 am

        yes, annie, that is some strange, spooky stuff. I am going to try to print off some more articles and get a copy of the warrant if possible to see what the eff is up. seems like part of the plan to gin up a war against iran, the ‘plot’ almost identical to the nonsense leading up to Iraq. (instead of agents of Iraq allegedly meeting atta in prague – or wherever – we have Iranian agents directly involved in plots to kill Argentinian jews. supposedly to what end, I have no idea.)

      • marc b.
        August 13, 2013, 9:15 am

        annie, see also this earlier article by porter.

        link to thenation.com

        I spent a few hours last night reading through the press on this case. it’s a ‘rabbit hole’ like the Lockerbie bombing, with falsified evidence, disappeared evidence, multiple false paths erected (like the ‘la pista siria’) by parties supposedly interested in an objective investigation, and theories on the culprits being anyone from the Iranians/hizbollah, Syrians, narco-traffickers screwed out of millions that were supposed to have been laundered for them by argentine businessmen and politicians. one thing that is clear is that the ‘sources’ cultivated on the Iranian connection are largely spurious, like the Israeli claim of having a transcript of the alleged suicide bomber ‘confessing’ in a phone call to his parents that he was going to become a martyr like his brother (which turns out did not exist).

  3. Reds
    August 9, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Great piece.

    It’s interesting that the Obots are using the some of the same justification that the bush supporters did to defend bush. Then when more leaks come out showing President Obama lies they revert to the Jay Carney/WH Script or the “Hey Look over there” diversion. Also the obot attack Snowden for being in Russia yet always fail to mention the fact it because of U.S. bullying of other countries that Snowden is stuck in Russia. While attacking Russia for not handing Snowden over the media and his supporters often leave out the U.S. harbors actual criminals that murdered massive amounts of people or stolen great sums of money and have yet to return such people to countries the U.S. has treaties with. Also notice the Gay Rights and the Olympics only became big and wide reporting after Russia snuffed the U.S.?

  4. Walker
    August 9, 2013, 12:45 pm

    Right on, Phil.

  5. Fredman
    August 9, 2013, 12:53 pm

    Snowden isn’t an ordinary citizen. He was a subcontractor in the Military-Industrial Complex that had access to enormous amounts of data. His power was in his job, not in his citizenship.

    But yes, I’m glad to see Obama hoisted on his own petard.

  6. David Doppler
    August 9, 2013, 1:01 pm

    Great post, Phil. I would add that Snowden has catalyzed a broad range of activity by the administration that further demonstrates its fundamental weaknesses.

    1. A weak executive. The campaign against Snowden has been mainly rhetorical, with blunder after blunder when it comes to executive action – failure to revoke his passport until he was in Moscow of all places; “not going to scramble jets” comment, undercut by blocking flight path of Bolivian president’s jet, based on faulty intelligence (was the US misled by Russians? or by wikileaks?); transparently trying to show why NSA surveillance is so valuable by shuttering numerous embassies based on intercepted vague communications (demonstrating that Al Queda has the power to shutter numerous embassies just by violating their otherwise very careful communications protocols to let the Americans think they’ve eavesdropping); cancellation of summit due to their own prior blunders.

    2. Progressive disclosure of where the real powers are in DC and how it is exercised. – NSA and other security state operations plainly will practice deception with Congress, the public, and other arms of the executive – it’s all part of the “plausible deniability” plank at their foundation. Our weak executive doesn’t have what it takes to control the surveillance state, and instead tries to manage political control over the series of embarrassments that attend each revelation. – Congress’s response to a coup in Egypt, requiring a cut off of foreign aid under US law, is flatly derailed by AIPAC opposition, demonstrating that our elected officials put Israel’s perception of its security interests above following our own laws, with John McCain asking whether a US Senator better understands Israeli security interests than Israel does, and demonstrating that Israel has a remarkable degree of direct control over US action, regardless of what US law requires. Again, our weak executive doesn’t have the power to control Israel, while it has the power to control our Congress and Executive, and instead tries to exercise political control over the fall-out.

    3. The spreading realization that our own government has ceased to be the real government, and is instead merely a political face put on lawless power with access to our every keystroke, and the ability to end the career of almost anyone in government who dares protest. Shifting groups of the Imperial Elite inside the beltway exercise power – initiating invasions and cyber-attacks, directing aid, securing Congressional action, directing propaganda through our media – all without accountability, except for dissidents/whistleblowers like Snowden and Manning, and blogs like Antiwar.com and Mondoweiss, and organizations like Wiki-leaks.

    • marc b.
      August 9, 2013, 2:11 pm

      slight disagreement on no. 2. all this domestic spying, for lack of a better term, the voracious gobbling up of info is part of a public-private partnership. the telecoms, etc. are sharing information with the government. it’s a two-way street. what they’re up to, besides coming up with better schemes to sell soap flakes or more expensive data plans to us citizens, i’m not yet sure.

    • piotr
      August 9, 2013, 3:26 pm

      I second the sentiments of David, but I object to his framing.

      1. Weak executive? This is really a wrong example. However strong, American power has some limits. Exposing those limits is usually foolish, and the way they were exposed in Snowden case was very foolish.

      2. It is highly unconvincing that the surveillance state is some rogue operation that is out of control. Citizens at large do not exercise control over our secretive government, but it is also arguable that this is because they like it that way. It remains to be seen how it will change after Snowden’s revelations. In the case of Egypt, American power encountered one of the strongest limitations: one cannot achieve goals that contradict each other.

      3. Unaccountable government is the essence of Empire. And since we do not know much, it is hard to tell that we see “shifting groups of the Imperial Elite” as opposed to entrenched groups that are perpetual members. The balance of available evidence suggest that we have entrenched groups that indeed do very well for themselves.

  7. David Samel
    August 9, 2013, 1:47 pm

    What a contrast between the straightforward, morally-based pronouncements of Snowden and the dubious, morally inconsistent and sometimes indefensible garbage spewed from Obama and his spokespersons.

  8. hophmi
    August 9, 2013, 2:05 pm

    Why do leftists always fall for people like this? The guy broke the law. There is no reason to believe that he couldn’t have accomplished the same thing without putting American security at risk. It’s not enough to argue your principle. You have to put the guy on a pedestal.

    Russian has an awful human rights record, and Putin is doing all of this to make Russia seem like a bigger deal than it is. They support Bashar Al-Assad, among other things.

    Is there any US critic you won’t adulate?

    • piotr
      August 9, 2013, 3:38 pm

      First, there ARE REASONS TO BELIEVE that Snowden could not accomplished what he did without breaking the laws. After all, he disclosed secrets that are protected by American law (but not by the Russian laws, USA does not protect Russian secrets after all).

      By the way of contrast, I do not know the reasons to believe that Snowden
      “put American security at risk”. Or more precisely, that he put Americans at risk, as opposed to the well-being and comfort of our “security” apparatus.

      Russian record on human rights is mixed rather than awful. It compares favorably with such allies of USA as Colombia, Honduras or Egypt (I skip those allies that do not even aspire or pretend to be democratic). In the realm of political repressions, they give a lot of 15 day sentences to demonstrators, which is pretty mild, and some trials where one may argue that the charges are trumped up. USA operates differently. In some ways, the Imperial Elite does not need to try opponents with trumped up charges, the system here operates for more that 200 years as opposed to Russia 20 years. But if you displease the Lords of Goldman Sachs, yes, you can get 8 years in prison without parole on trumped up charges. As a recent article in Vanity Fair shows, if you want to move from Goldman Sachs to a competing company, you may be well advised to head straight for Moscow.

    • Ecru
      August 9, 2013, 3:57 pm

      He broke the law? You do know that Schindler broke the law, that the family that hid Anne Frank broke the law and that the Nazis would have said they both put the Reich’s security at risk? Oh you forgot that bit did you? Or how about the people who ran the Underground Railroad – they were breaking the law too. Sometimes laws NEED to be broken as I’m sure you’d agree; if only when the illegality benefits Jews.

      And yes Russia has an awful human rights record. It arrests people without charge, it locks them away for years without trial, it tortures them and is horrible to its minorities…….sorry lost my train of thought there am I still talking about Russia or have I moved onto the USA and Israel?

      • Shingo
        August 10, 2013, 9:51 am

        Great post Ecru.

    • Donald
      August 9, 2013, 4:25 pm

      “Why do leftists always fall for people like this? The guy broke the law. There is no reason to believe that he couldn’t have accomplished the same thing without putting American security at risk.”

      It’s just purely a coincidence that that in the last few months there’s been an explosion of debate over the issues that Snowden raised. The debate that Obama claims to welcome and did everything he could to suppress. The information that Democratic senators like Wyden wanted to release years ago, but couldn’t, because it was against the law. Yeah, why didn’t Snowden work through channels? It so happens that internet companies can’t even talk about the legal arguments they make when the US government wants them to give access to their data, but sure, Snowden could have done triggered this debate in some other fashion. Unfreakingbelievable.

      So Snowden broke the law. Shocking. What about the torture and other war crimes that Obama refused to investigate? Where do “liberals” like you come from, who are so shocked when Snowden “breaks the law” and don’t care that the US government refuses to investigate its own war crimes and won’t allow an honest debate about NSA spying until someone like Snowden spills the beans. What Snowden has done, among other things, is reveal just what sort of problems future whistle-blowers and investigative journalists are going to face if they expose yet more US wrongdoing.

      And then you use the “Russia has an awful human rights record” card. Yes they do (I won’t argue with piotr about this–he probably knows much more than me about the details, but I’m thinking of things like the war in Chechnya, which wasn’t that long ago.) So does the US. What does this have to do with Snowden? Are you one of the people who think that he has no right to flee to a place that has a bad human rights record? So if a refugee from a communist country fled to the US during the 1950′s, they had to be hypocrites, because black people were lynched and couldn’t vote in the South?

      • hophmi
        August 9, 2013, 4:31 pm

        “Where do “liberals” like you come from, who are so shocked when Snowden “breaks the law” and don’t care that the US government refuses to investigate its own war crimes and won’t allow an honest debate about NSA spying until someone like Snowden spills the beans.”

        From the place that says that when you have personal misgivings about issues related to national security, you don’t place the country at risk by leaking classified information.

        “What Snowden has done, among other things, is reveal just what sort of problems future whistle-blowers and investigative journalists are going to face if they expose yet more US wrongdoing. ”

        No, he hasn’t. He’s revealed that like most people who break the law, he’s not willing to face the consequences.

        ” So does the US.”

        Sorry, Donald, but I don’t think the US human rights record and Russia’s ought to be mentioned in the same sentence. Russia’s is much worse. It’s not a free society.

        “Are you one of the people who think that he has no right to flee to a place that has a bad human rights record?”

        No, I’m one of those people who believe that people who break the law should be prosecuted and also thinks that a Russian Snowden probably would be disappeared by now.

      • Shingo
        August 10, 2013, 9:59 am

        No, he hasn’t. He’s revealed that like most people who break the law, he’s not willing to face the consequences.

        Yes we hear this often from the nut jobs supporting Obama. Unless Snowden is willing to commit suicide or submit to torture, he isn’t honorable.

        Daniel Elsberg, and many others, have acknowledged that there is no way Snowden is going to get a fair trial, but you Hop, say he should settle for a show trial anyway right?

        Sorry, Donald, but I don’t think the US human rights record and Russia’s ought to be mentioned in the same sentence. Russia’s is much worse. It’s not a free society.

        Oh really? Tell that to the hundreds, if not thousands who are gunned down by police every year without trial or the thousands the US has put to death with drone attacks on mere suspicion of being AQ affiliated.

        No, I’m one of those people who believe that people who break the law should be prosecuted and also thinks that a Russian Snowden probably would be disappeared by now.

        So would an American Luis Posada Carriles. You are simply being an obstinate fool Hop. Do you believe those who helped Jews escape in WWII from Poland and Nazi Germany should have been prosecuted – you know – for breaking the law?

      • Donald
        August 10, 2013, 10:52 am

        “From the place that says that when you have personal misgivings about issues related to national security, you don’t place the country at risk by leaking classified information.”

        Rubbish. You dodged my point. The country is now having the debate about the NSA that Obama pretends he wanted, precisely because Snowden broke the law. Senators Wyden and Udall (I think–I forget which two) have been trying to tell America for years that we’d be amazed and shocked about what is going on, but they couldn’t, because of the law. It took Snowden breaking the law to have a serious debate. You pretend otherwise, but all the facts are against you, and even the mainstream press finds Obama’s claims about wanting a debate, but doing it through proper channels to be ludicrous given the actual history.

        “No, I’m one of those people who believe that people who break the law should be prosecuted and also thinks that a Russian Snowden probably would be disappeared by now.”

        A Russian Snowden might be disappeared–and a Russian Snowden would be given asylum here. Bradley Manning was badly mistreated–Snowden has every reason to fear similar mistreatment. After all, he’s a horrible traitor (not like, say torturers and people who launch unjustified wars) and he might need to be questioned to find out what other data he released, whether he has any confederates, etc… And again, you dodged another point. All this concern about the law being broken, and yet one of Obama’s first decisions was not to prosecute or even investigate the use of torture during the Bush era. Nobody should respect the national security apparatus of a government which goes after people like Snowden and Manning and ignores its own war crimes. But I seriously don’t expect you to understand this. “Liberals” like you are authoritarians at heart–you blather about the law when someone upsets the government, but you brush off war crimes committed by that very same government.

        “Sorry, Donald, but I don’t think the US human rights record and Russia’s ought to be mentioned in the same sentence. Russia’s is much worse. It’s not a free society.”

        Spoken like a middle class white American. One thing I don’t quite agree with around here is the sharp contrast drawn between the US and Israel–given our social problems and our vast prison population, far out of line with other Western countries, sometimes this “free society” claim rings a little hollow. Sure, we are better than Russia in many ways, but we’re both hypocritical on human rights, we both support vicious regimes when it suits us and we both commit massive war crimes.

        But I could concede that Russia has a much worse record and it wouldn’t justify your hyperventilating on Snowden. You’ve got more in common with those Russian authoritarians than you think.

      • Donald
        August 10, 2013, 11:22 am

        I accidentally deleted my reply to Hophmi. Version two–

        “From the place that says that when you have personal misgivings about issues related to national security, you don’t place the country at risk by leaking classified information.”

        Rubbish. You’re evading the facts–we have a vigorous debate about surveillance precisely because Snowden broke the law. Two senators (I think it was Wyden and Udall) have been telling us for years we’d be shocked by what the government is doing, but they couldn’t go into details, because of the law. Companies which fight the government in secret court aren’t even allowed to tell the world or their own customers what the issues are. Obama claims he welcomes a debate, but this is such transparent BS even the mainstream press is expressing its disbelief. The government had set up a secret system with secret rubber stamp courts and nobody could even talk about the issues publicly in any meaningful detail because of “national security”. You have to be really stupid to swallow Obama’s line, or a convinced ideologue, but I repeat myself.

        “No, he hasn’t. He’s revealed that like most people who break the law, he’s not willing to face the consequences.”

        I seriously wonder how intelligent people can spout such hypocritical nonsense without blushing. We’re talking about a national security state which launched a war on false pretenses and practiced torture and one of Obama’s first decisions was that not only would torturers not be prosecuted, but there would be no official investigation into what happened. We had to look forward, not back. But when people like Manning and Snowden break the law and embarrass the government, they throw the book at them and in Manning’s case, they go further. They mistreated him. Snowden has every reason to expect the same treatment–after all, he’s a real criminal, not like the torturers and war criminals who merely made debatable policy choices. You really have to have a strong authoritarian streak to go along with this.

        “Sorry, Donald, but I don’t think the US human rights record and Russia’s ought to be mentioned in the same sentence. Russia’s is much worse. It’s not a free society.”

        Irrelevant, though I think that the US is a much freer society for middle class white people than it is for some others. Our prison population is amazingly high for a free society. And our record of war crimes and support for mass murderers and oppressive regimes is comparable to Russia’s. But I could concede that Russia’s domestic policies are worse than ours–it’s not relevant to the point.

        “No, I’m one of those people who believe that people who break the law should be prosecuted and also thinks that a Russian Snowden probably would be disappeared by now.”

        A Russian Snowden would be offered asylum. Bradley Manning was treated abusively and charged with aiding the enemy, a charge worthy of a totalitarian government. Snowden could reasonably expect the same. A Russian Snowden would be offered asylum. Hell, we’ve given asylum to war criminals and terrorists.

        As for prosecution, authoritarians are in favor of prosecuting those who break the law when they are dissidents. They don’t care about prosecuting the powerful when they commit war crimes. So please forgive me for not taking your concern for the law to be anything other than hypocritical. If we lived in a society where the government seriously investigated its own war crimes, I’d be a lot more willing to go along with the notion that people like Snowden and Manning should have gone through channels. But we don’t have checks and balances that work. We have a system that crushes the Snowdens and lets the torturers go free. US interference in other countries that tried to prosecute our war criminals is in fact one of the things that Manning revealed.

      • Citizen
        August 10, 2013, 1:39 pm

        @ Donald

        Wise comment!

      • Shingo
        August 9, 2013, 6:36 pm

        Great comment Donald.

        One has to wonder how Hop would justify gay men being arrested for having sex decades ago because there were laws against it. So what comes first Hop, the law or human rights?

        And what would be have to say about Daniel Elsberg – who also broke the law?

        What does he says note the executive order Obaba signed declaring privacy to be a human right – the rights he is now violating.

        Or how about the fact secrecy is being used to keep an 80 page finding by FISA that these spying programs violate the 4th Amendmemt and the law?

        So it is possible that these programs are illegal, but this government has made it illegal for us to know.

      • Donald
        August 10, 2013, 10:56 am

        Thanks Shingo, but Hophmi at his worst is an easy target–even the stodgy mainstream press doesn’t pretend that we’d be having a vigorous debate about surveillance without Snowden’s “lawbreaking”. And of course Hophmi dodged the most substantive points and went after the areas where he could argue (like whether Russia is worse than the US, something he might be right about, but isn’t really relevant.) He also recited the mantra about prosecuting lawbreakers–somehow the law is only sacred when the powerful want to use it to break a dissident, never when powerless people are afflicted by the powerful.

      • seanmcbride
        August 10, 2013, 12:12 pm

        Donald,

        Hophmi at his worst is an easy target

        Didn’t you mean at his best? :)

        One notices that many pro-Israel activists are also pro-total surveillance state, pro-Iraq War, pro-Iran War, pro-ethnic nationalism, pro-religious nationalism, pro-torture, pro-”Global War on Terror,” etc.

        It’s a familiar profile. Many of the most ardent defenders of total surveillance and the destruction of basic American privacy rights are “liberal Zionists” in the Democratic Party.

        Zionism and Americanism are radically incompatible ideologies.

      • David Doppler
        August 10, 2013, 4:01 pm

        “The guy broke the law.” I hope Snowden gets the chance to argue this case to the Supreme Court. All elected and appointed federal officials take an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of the United States. If a statute violates the constitution, as parts of the Patriot Act do, then one is acting legally by refusing to uphold the law, provided one wins the legal case demonstrating illegality. To put it another way, if Congress enacts unconstitutional laws, and government agencies implement them, they’re engaged in unconstitutional activity, they’re violating their oath of office. Snowden was no longer a federal official, he was a defense contractor employee, but the agency he was working for was ordering him to do things that are plainly unconstitutional. So I don’t agree that it is clear he broke the law, or that he broke a legitimate law. I think he will have a defense that the law he broke was unconstitutional, or was being used inappropriately to hide unconstitutional activity. I think the people who prosecute him should ask themselves whether they violating their oath of office by trying to hound him down. He’s clearly uncovered one of greatest all time violations of the constitution by government agencies.

    • Woody Tanaka
      August 9, 2013, 4:53 pm

      “The guy broke the law.”

      So what? So did Rosa Parks. So did the people who hid Jews from the Nazis. Breaking the law isn’t necessarily an immoral thing. Often it is the only moral option available.

      “There is no reason to believe that he couldn’t have accomplished the same thing without putting American security at risk.”

      First, demonstrate that he actually did put American security at risk.

      “Russian has an awful human rights record, and Putin is doing all of this to make Russia seem like a bigger deal than it is.”

      Who cares? Just because Russia is sometimes wrong doesn’t mean it is always wrong and doesn’t mean that the US is right.

      • Citizen
        August 10, 2013, 1:48 pm

        @ Woody Tanaka

        Transcript snippet from NPR interview:
        ELLSBERG: The whole focus has been on the risks of truth telling, the risks of openness, which are risks of democracy and a separation of powers. I’ve really heard nothing at all about the risks of closed society, of silence, of lies.

        WERTHEIMER: Well, let me ask you about that. What do you think are the secrets that should be kept, circumstances that must not be leaked?

        ELLSBERG: Oh, very specifically, the overhearing of suspected terrorists, people you have probably cause or reason to believe are associated with terrorism. No problem getting warrants for that. And of course, that needs to be kept secret. The secrecy of getting everybody, listening to everybody, protects no one. As Senator Leahy has pointed out, they have been able to come up with no convincing evidence that that dragnet program has prevented any terrorism. As I say, these risks of advantage to terrorists, I wouldn’t say totally implausible or unreal, but hypothetical, not realized, whereas the risks of our closed policy are measured in real blood.

        Remember, they talked about Manning and then later Assange and then later also Snowden as having blood on their hands. Well, they haven’t found any, whereas the hands of the people who are using their judgment to keep these secrets from the American people are bloody up to their elbows.

      • Woody Tanaka
        August 12, 2013, 12:48 pm

        “Remember, they talked about Manning and then later Assange and then later also Snowden as having blood on their hands. Well, they haven’t found any, whereas the hands of the people who are using their judgment to keep these secrets from the American people are bloody up to their elbows.”

        That’s exactly right. I am more than willing to consider the effect that someone like Snowden has on national security, but only if it is proven to me that there is such a link. Absent that proof, some who screams “national security” is really asking me to shut off the rational part of my brain and act like a frightened animal. FUgg that.

      • mijj
        August 13, 2013, 3:43 pm

        > “I am more than willing to consider the effect that someone like Snowden has on national security ..”

        we also need to consider what is meant by “national security”. It’s becoming clear that each nation is actually 2 nations: the People, and the Power Elite and its Security/Propaganda/Political-Economic-Control apparatus. (It’s the latter who have an interest in remote, foreign wars, not the former.) Typically “national security” means maintaining the security of the Power Elite against the interests of the People. Ie. any political change that emerges from the People that might threaten the status quo will be a “national security” issue.

    • libra
      August 9, 2013, 6:28 pm

      hophmi: Why do leftists always fall for people like this? The guy broke the law. There is no reason to believe that he couldn’t have accomplished the same thing without putting American security at risk.

      Does hophmi pay Phil for letting him hang out his shingle on Mondoweiss and tout for business? I think we should be told.

    • MRW
      August 9, 2013, 7:16 pm

      There is no reason to believe that he couldn’t have accomplished the same thing without putting American security at risk

      He didn’t put American security at risk. Not by a long shot. Not even in this universe. He identified the name and purpose of a couple of software programs doing things that the NSA heads told Congress last March they weren’t doing.

      It isn’t as if the rest of the world doesn’t know this is going on. Snowden merely confirmed it with names. It is the American populace that was ignorant about these programs, believing anyone who stated it to be a conspiracy theorist. The tin foil hatters were right.

    • mijj
      August 9, 2013, 7:30 pm

      if doing the right thing means screwing the law, then screw the law.

      if going through proper channels means doing the right thing is choked, then screw the proper channels.

      Ie. be loyal to the people, not those who make the laws

    • Sumud
      August 9, 2013, 9:56 pm

      Why do leftists always fall for people like this? The guy broke the law.

      Pathetic. You squawk about “the law” over a whistleblower like Edward Snowden exposing how the NSA is operating in violation of the US Constitution.

      But the biggest international law violator of all, the country in violation of the most UN SC resolutions, Israel – well, do you support BDS yet? Didn’t think so.

      • Shingo
        August 10, 2013, 10:02 am

        But the biggest international law violator of all, the country in violation of the most UN SC resolutions, Israel – well, do you support BDS yet?

        Or how about dragging Israeli leaders before the ICC? Of course not. Hop would squeal about how they wouldn’t get a fair trial. Of course, there is no way Snowden would either, but when it comes to Snowden, he should take his medicine like a man – fair trial or now.

    • Egbert
      August 10, 2013, 3:01 am

      So we are self-hating Americans now? Geez, your diversion is pathetic.

    • Qualtrough
      August 10, 2013, 3:02 am

      Henry David Thoreau broke the law. Rosa Parks broke the law. Daniel Ellsberg broke the law, Martin Luther King broke the law. There is a long and glorious list of Americans who ‘broke the law’ to make our country a better one, and it’s not just ‘leftists’ who fall for people like that.

    • Citizen
      August 10, 2013, 1:44 pm

      @ hophmi

      Published: August 03, 2013
      by Scott Neuman

      Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who in 1971 leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers detailing the history of U.S. policy in Vietnam, tells NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday that unlike Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, he “did it the wrong way” by trying first to go through proper channels — a delay that he says cost thousands of lives.

      “I really regarded [it] as anathema … leaking as opposed to working within the system,” Ellsberg says, speaking to NPR’s Linda Wertheimer. “I wasted years trying to do it through channels, first within the executive branch and then with Congress.”

      “During that time, more than 10,000 Americans died and probably more than a million Vietnamese,” Ellsberg says.

      “That was a fruitless effort, as it would have been for Manning and Snowden,” he says.

      Ellsberg, then an analyst with the RAND Corporation, leaked a study of U.S.-Vietnam relations from 1945-1967, known colloquially as the Pentagon Papers, handing over the document to The New York Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers.

      The release of the Pentagon Papers proved politically embarrassing for President Richard Nixon and the Watergate break-in, which eventually led to Nixon’s resignation, was part of a broader White House effort to identify the source of such leaks.

      Ellsberg was eventually charged with espionage, theft and conspiracy, but the charges were later dismissed, unlike the case of Army Private Bradley Manning, who was convicted on similar counts last week for releasing secret diplomatic cables and other material to Wikileaks.

      The decision to go public with the Pentagon Papers — which detailed a pattern of deception regarding Vietnam and the Vietnam War that spanned several presidential administrations — was a difficult one, according to Ellsberg.

      “I decided it was worth a life in prison to do that,” he says.

      Asked whether he thinks Manning and Snowden, the CIA contractor who leaked details of secret U.S. electronic surveillance activities to The Guardian newspaper, had been discerning in what they chose to release publicly: “Yes, that’s obvious with Snowden,” he says.

      “The public has been very misled about Manning, I would say,” Ellsberg says. “They talk about his being indiscriminate. That’s simply false. Like me and like Snowden, he had access to communications intelligence higher than top secret. He gave none of that out.”

      Since The Guardian’s exposés, based on information obtained from Snowden, first broke in June, “the whole focus has been on the risks of truth telling, the risks of openness, which are the risks of democracy, of separation of powers,” Ellsberg says.

      “I’ve really heard nothing at all about the risks of a closed society, of silence, of lies,” he says. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

    • mijj
      August 10, 2013, 9:11 pm

      > “Putin is doing all of this to make Russia seem like a bigger deal than it is.”

      .. lol .. the US’s tomfoolery and arrogance combined with a detachment from reality made Russia a big deal.

      However, re your Putin/Russia myth: there’s been a noticeable amount of similar myth-making taking place in blogs and comments along this line.

      Is the Mythology under construction a part of a new grand strategy to try and derail the significance of the uncovered crimes against the people? The new Myth seems to be that Russia masterminded this whole Snowden episode to strike at innocent, peace-loving, human rights respecting, US. The proud and hurt US is crying that Russia is doing this to start a new Cold War.

      Is it hoped that the patriotic US citizen will put aside her disgust at being spied upon, and rush to the defense of her injured country? Will despite of the spying organizations turn into despite of Russians for their evil onslaught on freedom? Is it hoped the people will demand that their every move be monitored to prove to Russia that its dirty plan has failed?

      I guess, for people who haven’t been paying attention, this might work!

      • Shingo
        August 11, 2013, 12:23 am

        Brilliant comment mijj.

        It seems the BS about evacuating embassies hasn’t been the success the administration hoped it would be – to vindicate the NSA and it’s value – so they’re going for plan B – demonize the Old Russian Bear.

        It’s amazing that the same people who condemned Snowden for alerting the terrorists that they were being listened to are praising the leaking of how the NSA “foiled” the plot when they intercepted electronic communications between Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of core al Qaeda, and Nasir al Wuhayshi, a high level operative in the Yemeni affiliate.

        It seems few are buying the so called threat. The harder the try, the worse they are making it for themselves.

  9. ritzl
    August 9, 2013, 3:10 pm

    Meanwhile, as Obama descends US Russian relations to their lowest point ever (and China and Japan are getting into it, but Russia is enough to make the point), S0S Kerry is spending vast amounts of diplomatic energy getting the euros to back off their settlement-acknowledgement policy, arranging a known-in-advance dead and irrelevant peace process, and ratcheting up pressure on Iran. All for Israel.

    Our little Israel problem is going to do us real harm here pretty soon. Political slap-down time is coming. We just can’t afford to go too far down this road before bad policy formation and its zealous implementation becomes an irreversible, harmful, and self-perpetuating process.

    Great article. I was hoping MW would note this. It really shows how completely and, imho, terminally out of whack our identification and relationship is with Israel, Zionists, Zionism, and their collective destructive priorities and self-destructive motivations.

  10. Taxi
    August 9, 2013, 3:45 pm

    Good words, Phil, good words.

    Edward is the opposite of Obama. That Snowdon’s got balls of steel and truth. The nerve and conscience of the man is truly extraordinary.
    Jesus woulda done the same – and I say this as an atheist.

    Here’s what our Glenn Greenwald has to say:
    link to readersupportednews.org

  11. Ecru
    August 9, 2013, 4:01 pm

    And the US Govt has just forced Lavabit Email to close down because the proles can’t be allowed secure email.

    link to zdnet.com

    And as for that NSA not targeting individuals – oh yes it does.

    link to rawstory.com

    I’d dearly love to know how many figures in the security establishment have strong ties to Israel cause I have a sneaky feeling it’s a lot more than most people would expect.

  12. PilgrimSoul
    August 10, 2013, 3:44 pm

    Tablet ran a story smearing Greenwald, first, because he criticizes Israel, and secondly, because he defied specific individuals in the national security establishment, and the surveillance state generally. Tablet went out of its way to point out that loyalty to Israel means loyalty to whatever the US national security establishment says, since the two are now joined at the hip. I see Glenn Greenwald as a fundamentally prophetic type, and with legal training yet! This is the biggest scoop in modern journalism, and Snowden/Greenwald have given every step in breaking it a great deal of thought.

    I agree with Phil that this incredible series of events is deeply troubling to a great many American liberals, because of the egregious manner in which it violates the Fourth Amendment–and liberal values generally. That tends to explain the hysteria at MSNBC, whose main audience are liberal Democrats. Lawrence O’Donnell hates Snowden and never misses a chance to smear him. I will always be partial to Alex Wagner, the best news analyst and commentator I’ve seen in a long time, but I’m getting sick and tired of O’Donnell shutting people down, especially women, when they express mild disagreement with his position on Snowden. O’Donnell exhibits the same mounting fury, the same tantrums, the same controlling behavior, as Bill O’Reilly. In fact, I have O’Donnell pegged as a social-democratic version of Bill O’Reilly, because they’re both selling the same rancid product, which is rampant patriarchy.

    And now, Lavabit is being put out of business. The worst thing about Lavabit Email being shut down is that the courageous owner, who threw away ten years of hard work building up his business, is prohibited by the government from talking or writing about why it all happened. Now we’re getting into the soup, people…when the government can tell you what you can or can’t talk about, and it’s all going down on American soil, we’re in real trouble.

    • Shingo
      August 10, 2013, 7:15 pm

      Tablet ran a story smearing Greenwald, first, because he criticizes Israel, and secondly, because he defied specific individuals in the national security establishment, and the surveillance state generally. Tablet went out of its way to point out that loyalty to Israel means loyalty to whatever the US national security establishment says, since the two are now joined at the hip.

      Dershowitz also attacked him an anti American.

      Fascinating how Snowden and Greenwald’s critics are also in bed with Israeli propagandists isn’t it?

      • seanmcbride
        August 11, 2013, 10:02 am

        Shingo,

        Fascinating how Snowden and Greenwald’s critics are also in bed with Israeli propagandists isn’t it?

        Neoconservatives, neoliberals and the Israel lobby are heavily invested in building a maximum/total surveillance state that protects and advances their narrow interests at the expense of American democracy and constitutional values.

        These are the kind of people who would have been enthusiastic functionaries or supporters of Stalin’s police state apparatus.

        It never occurs to them that this maximum surveillance state could be turned on themselves — they tend not to be long-range thinkers and have no appreciation of historical irony.

        Look at how many “liberal Zionists” in the Democratic Party have come out of the woodwork during the last month or so in favor of extreme surveillance in support of the neoconservative “Global War on Terror.” These people are so predictable in their attitudes and behavior — they are driven completely by paranoia and self-interest, not by principles of any kind.

      • Shingo
        August 11, 2013, 11:19 pm

        It never occurs to them that this maximum surveillance state could be turned on themselves — they tend not to be long-range thinkers and have no appreciation of historical irony.

        That is perfectly illustrated by their alliance with Christian end fo times dispensations who believe Jews will have to accept Christ or burn in hell at the end of times.

      • seanmcbride
        August 12, 2013, 2:26 pm

        Shingo,

        That is perfectly illustrated by their alliance with Christian end fo times dispensations who believe Jews will have to accept Christ or burn in hell at the end of times.

        I think their attitude is, exploit any immediately exploitable political advantage or opportunity and worry about the consequences later.

  13. jayn0t
    August 11, 2013, 1:02 am

    “Carney does so because Edward Snowden is speaking to Obama’s own base– liberals who believed in change– and he is more believable than a president who seems like an extension of George W. Bush.”

    “Obama’s own base” are as likely to support NSA spying as his opponents. Obama doesn’t ‘seem like’ an extension of Bush, any more than Bush seemed like an extension of Clinton. They are all the same. Only a hopelessly deluded Democrat could read the overwhelming evidence of this to mean anything else.

  14. crone
    August 11, 2013, 8:53 pm

    congrats Phil on having this article spotlighted at anti-war.com !!

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