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Snowden is a hero in NY hall, but AP exec won’t touch him with a bargepole


In the last week we covered two Snowden-related events: I went to a celebration of Edward Snowden’s actions at Cooper Union in New York, at which the national surveillance state was compared to Nazi totalitarianism; and Peter Voskamp watched a discussion by an Associated Press executive at the National Press Club about the Justice Department’s investigation of AP reporters’ phone records over alleged national security leaks.

Needless to say, the AP exec distanced himself from Snowden, even as he said that people will “rise up” against government overreach. While in New York they were doing just that– rising up. I’m combining the two reports in one post as they touch on similiar issues.

I. First the Emergency Event in support of Snowden, at Cooper Union last Wednesday, June 19.

Debra Sweet of World Can’t Wait said: 

“When we heard the news ten days ago about this vast surveillance network being revealed [we thought] It is time to get moving. It is time that we pulled people into the streets… Looking back to 1972, [I reflected that this] could be a bit of a Watergate moment… It [Watergate] was a tiny article in the Washington Post… It became a huge scandal. This has got to be an even bigger scandal. This is a scandal. The data of billions of people being vacuumed up to keep us quiet and silent in the service of war crimes is completely intolerable…. That which you do not resist you will learn or be forced to accept.”

Sweet noted that we probably would not be talking about Guantanamo prisoners today if not for Snowden. In March, maybe 12 people in New York were thinking about those prisoners and sincerely working to free them, she said. Now their cause was getting wide attention, because of Snowden’s intervention.

Author and activist Dennis Loo. (Video of his statement here). When you say that you have nothing to hide, you are “giving up your individual right to privacy and everyone else’s right to privacy too.” What Snowden has revealed is much worse than the nightmare that George Orwell exposed in 1984.

Loo was reminded of Eliot Spitzer. He was poised to expose the wheeling and dealing on Wall Street that led to the financial collapse. He was warned to stop his investigation. He refused. The bank interests revealed that information about his sexual practices “to get him out of the way.”

Heidi Boghosian of the National Lawyers Guild and Law and Disorder radio explained that Constitutional rights were designed to shield us from an overreaching government, and not the other way round.

Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst, denounced the elites and compared the surveillance state to German totalitarianism. 

His Irish grandmother warned him about the elite when he was caddying in the Hamptons as a boy: “The upper crust is a bunch of crumbs held together by a lot of dough.”

He was encouraged by the crowd of 200 in the hall. We shall overcome, he declared. The intelligence establishment and the elite are “all in this together… and we have to put a stop to it.”

There have been 34,000 requests for surveillance made to the US Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act Court [FISA] since 1979, and only 11 have been turned down. 

McGovern likened public passivity to that in Nazi Germany. When he served in Germany he asked good people how they had allowed the Nazis to take over. “We couldn’t say anything.” Well: “We face that situation now.” He told the story of the marytr Albrecht Haushofer, a professor of geopolitics in Berlin who kept his mouth shut till he saw his colleagues being dragged away. Then he came out against the Nazis, and he was imprisoned and later asked to confess before he was shot. He confessed in the form of a sonnet that survived him, which McGovern read in German, and translated:

I am guilty,
But not in the way you think.
I should have earlier recognized my duty;
I should have more sharply called evil evil;
I reined in my judgment too long.
I did warn,
But not enough, and clear;
And today I know what I was guilty of.

McGovern said, “We’re not going to be obedient Germans. We’re going to seek the truth and we’re going to act on it.”

Sweet played a portion of Snowden’s interview with the Guardian, in which he explained that he had come forward after seeing routine abuse of privacy by the National Security Agency: 

over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about. And the more you talk about the more you’re ignored. The more you’re told its not a problem until eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public and not by somebody who was simply hired by the government.”

When the hall exploded with applause, Sweet said:

That was hearty applause from the big apple, from the belly of the beast for this courageous man, Edward Snowden. The story may not be about him ultimately, but if he had not done what he had done we would not be here tonight. This is really a big deal… This is a potential change in the whole climate of acceptance so that what happened 80 years ago in Germany does not have to happen now.

II. Voskamp’s report on Associated Press executive Gary Pruitt, speaking at the National Press Club last Wednesday.

Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt said that the Department of Justice’s secret sweep of AP phone records may seem “minor” in comparison to the recent NSA revelations. However, he argued that the DOJ’s tactics in the AP matter were nevertheless quite troubling because they involved a “specific criminal investigation” into alleged leaks of national security information — not an all-consuming data sweep to feed into a computer.

What was especially galling to Pruitt was that the DOJ not only obtained the phone records in secret without notifying AP (which it is lawfully called upon to do… except in, well, exceptions…), but that it later argued that to do so would have potentially tipped off the government “leaker.” But, Pruitt argued, that risk is always is in play in these situations, so “the exceptions would swallow the rule.”

He suspects that in their zeal to identify their quarry, DOJ prosecutors simply “overlooked the First Amendment.” He said rules must be reformed to allow for judicial oversight in such matters: “Deciding Constitutional rights by Executive fiat is no way to go,” Pruitt, himself a First Amendment lawyer, said.

Among his suggestions was a federal shield law “to protect reporters from such unilateral and secret actions.” The DOJ “should not criminalize reporters.” “No one should ever be prosecuted for committing journalism.” The DOJ’s tactics have already had a chilling effect upon sources, Pruitt said, who don’t want their phone numbers revealed through phone records.

If these DOJ tactics remained unchecked, then “The public will know only what the government wants us to know.” In fact, he argued that the DOJ’s actions could not have been more “tailor-made” to provide comfort to authoritarian regimes around the world — “The U.S. does it, too.” He said that the Obama administration was elected “on a platform of transparency,” but, “like past administrations, has not lived up to those promises.”

He suggested that when the American people “sense that the government is overreaching, it offends their sensibilities… and they rise up.” He was asked which was worse: the DOJ’s actions against AP, or its treatment of James Rosen at FOX News. Pruitt said both had their disturbing aspects. In the AP’s case, the DOJ’s action was broad, overreaching and secret (where by law such subpoenas are supposed to be narrowly tailored), and in the FOX case, a journalist was accused of being a “co-conspirator under the Espionage Act.”

When asked about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Pruitt declined comment, ostensibly on the grounds that as the head of renowned wire service, to do so would be tantamount to editorializing. “I’m not going to speak to that.”

He said that what he thought about Snowden was “frankly, not important.” He would only go so far as to say that he “would agree with President Obama — I welcome that debate.”

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10 Responses

  1. Citizen
    June 28, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Pruit and Obama “would welcome that debate” yet there’d be no debate in the offing if Snowden (& Manning) had not blown the whistle on US government’s vast data collection on us all.

    Pruit sure has a selective notion of “editorializing.”

  2. American
    June 28, 2013, 1:26 pm

    Eks! …..another ‘leaker’…..military, intellgence…US institutions leaking all over. Must mean something.

    Former 4-star targeted over leak of Iran cyberattack
    Jun. 27, 2013 – 06:00AM |

    Retired Marine general James Cartwright is under investigation for allegedly leaking details of a U.S. computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear program in 2010. (Jewel Samad/Getty Images)
    By Pete Yost
    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — A former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about a covert cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to media reports.

    Retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright has been told he is a target of the probe, NBC News and The Washington Post reported Thursday. A “target” is someone a prosecutor or grand jury has substantial evidence linking to a crime and who is likely to be charged.

    The Justice Department referred questions to the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore, where a spokeswoman, Marcia Murphy, declined to comment.

    The investigation of the leak about the Iran cyberattack is one of a number of national security leak investigations that have been started by the Obama administration, including ones involving The Associated Press and Fox News.

    In June 2012, the New York Times reported that Cartwright was a crucial player in the cyber operation called Olympic Games, started under President George W. Bush.

    Bush reportedly advised President Obama to preserve Olympic Games.

    According to the Times, Obama ordered the cyberattacks sped up, and in 2010 an attack using a computer virus called Stuxnet temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

    Congressional leaders demanded a criminal probe into who leaked the information, and Obama said he had zero tolerance for such leaks. Republicans said senior administration officials had leaked the details to bolster the president’s national security credentials during the 2012 campaign.

    The Times said Cartwright was one of the crucial players who had to break the news to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that Stuxnet at one point had escaped onto the Internet.

    An element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it out on the Internet, the Times reported. After the worm escaped onto the Internet, top administration officials met to consider whether the program had been fatally compromised.

    Obama asked if the program should continue, and after hearing the advice of top advisers, decided to proceed.

    Cartwright, a four-star general, was cleared in February 2011 of misconduct involving a young aide. An anonymous accuser had claimed Cartwright acted inappropriately during a 2009 overseas trip on which the aide traveled as a military assistant. Several sources confirmed that the former aide was a young woman.

    The Pentagon inspector general quickly cleared Cartwright of the most serious allegations, which involved claims that he may have had an improper physical relationship with the woman. The report did find that Cartwright mishandled an incident in which the aide, drunk and visibly upset, visited his Tbilisi, Georgia, hotel room alone and either passed out or fell asleep on a bench at the foot of his bed. Cartwright denied any impropriety and was later cleared of all wrongdoing.

    Cartwright, once considered the leading candidate to become Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, resigned from the military in August 2011.

    NBC said Cartwright did not respond to request for comment and that his attorney, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, said he had no comment

    • American
      June 28, 2013, 2:06 pm

      Here something to go along with the growing leaker phenomenon by those who have seen the bowels of USA.

      “I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This”: A Soldier’s Last Words

      Daniel Somers 6/22/13 11:12am Saturday 11:12am g 308,877L 568Edit
      Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.


      ”I am sorry that it has come to this.

      The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. …..
      You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of……

      This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried.

      I am free.”

      * This is a portion of his letter than also struck me….he had thought about the possibility of using his military skills and turning them back on the evil forces of the US. People use what they have I suppose against evil when it tries to fool the world into thinking that it isnt the evil it really is, … military skills, public position, journalistic careers. Somers was still thinking, searching for a way to do something to turn it around to right up to the day he gave it up.

      ”The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.”

      This best dying for the evil rest must end.

      • MRW
        June 29, 2013, 3:44 am


  3. DICKERSON3870
    June 28, 2013, 2:48 pm

    RE: “Needless to say, the AP exec distanced himself from Snowden, even as he said that people will ‘rise up against government overreach. While in New York they were doing just that– rising up.” ~ Weiss and Voskamp

    AN EARLY SUMMER EVENING’S MUSICAL INTERLUDE, proudly brought to you by the makers of the new Über-Xtreme Ziocaine Ultra SR (Sustained Release) Transdermal Patch®: Let The Good Times Roll!™

    So much pain
    We don’t know how to be but angry
    Feel infected like we’ve got gangrene
    Please don’t let anybody try to change me . . .

    . . . Lost hope and found need
    Grounded by our surroundings
    Did the walls scream universities
    Or you and I ‘verse the ‘t’s

    React automatic and we burst when squeezed
    And make 9-11 each emergency
    Urgency amber to red like the turning leaves
    Oh please let the hurting cease

    Don’t let apathy police the populace
    We will march across
    Those stereotypes that were marked for us
    The answers obvious
    We switch the consonants
    Change the sword to words and lift continents . . .

    . . . Rise, together we rise
    Together we rise, together we rise
    Together we rise, together we rise
    Together we rise, together we rise ~ Flobots, 2008

    ● Flobots: Rise [VIDEO, 4:08] –

  4. yourstruly
    June 28, 2013, 9:38 pm

    Obama should be impeached and progressives should lead the way.

    • Sumud
      June 30, 2013, 11:38 am

      Obama should be impeached and progressives should lead the way.

      This is true.

      My American friends, the time for the second revolution is NOW.

      Remember, Obama has granted himself the right to kill American citizens with zero judicial oversight or review. Your constitution is now worthless, destroyed by Bush and Obama.

      Everything else is hasbara, and the state apparatus exists to do just one thing now: extract and syphon your money to the mega-rich, to make them even richer.

  5. yourstruly
    June 28, 2013, 9:39 pm

    no ifs, buts or maybes, this phony, Obama, should be impeached and progressives can lead the way.

  6. MRW
    June 29, 2013, 3:59 am

    When you say that you have nothing to hide, you are “giving up your individual right to privacy and everyone else’s right to privacy too.”

    “When you say that you have nothing to hide,” which I have heard for so long as an argument, is the uttering of an idiot. The target isn’t this hapless unimportant schmuck with nothing to hide, and who is of no interest to anyone.

    The target is the House of Representatives and the Senate, the people who represent this unthinking idiot. With metadata and an issue, the NSA can track in real time what people around the country are thinking and getting angry about; they can, therefore, control it. [The British version of the NSA did this with the G8 meeting a couple of years ago, using call pattern data to find out who was calling whom and besting the situation, reported in the last few weeks.] With the FISA permission granted the NSA to “disseminate their findings” to whomever, or whatever agency, they deem important–political parties? pro-Israel groups? Aipac? Republicans? Democrats?–the NSA can override the democratic process in this country.

    NSA head General Alexander becomes more important than the president. It has nothing to do with national security. It’s a coup d’état under the guise of national security. That’s the real danger here.

  7. Andreas Schlueter
    Andreas Schlueter
    June 29, 2013, 5:38 pm

    It appears as if the story about the mad manhunt is meant to cover the real scandal of generalized spying. But at the same time it seems to show the reflexes of a mad gone severely hurt Rhino. They are not aware how ridiculous the demands to this and that country for handing Snowden over appear to the world:
    Andreas Schlüter
    Berlin, Germany

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