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Chomsky says ‘Snowden should be honored’ for ‘telling Americans what the government was doing’

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Noam Chomsky spoke yesterday at the Geneva Press Club in Switzerland. Ilene Cohen pointed me to Chomsky’s comments on Edward Snowden, at 1:22:00.

My own opinion is that Snowden should be honored. He was doing what every citizen ought to do, telling. [Applause] He was telling Americans what the government was doing. That’s what’s supposed to happen.

Governments as I mentioned before always plead security no matter what’s going on. The reflexive defense is security. But anyone who’s looked at– first of all, you take a look at what he exposed. At least anything that’s been published, it’s not any kind of threat to security, with one exception, the security of the government from its own population. And in fact if you look at anyone who’s spent any time poring through declassified records– I have, I’m sure many of you have– you find that overwhelmingly the security is the security of the state from its own population and that’s why things have to be kept secret.

There are some cases where there’s authentic security concerns. But they’re pretty limited.

The plea of the US government in this case for the surveillance and so on, is that it’s security against terror. But at the very same moment the US policy is designed in a way to increase terror. The US itself is carrying out the most awesome international terrorist campaign, ever, I suppose– the drones and special forces campaign. That’s a major terrorist campaign, all over the world, and it’s also generating terrorists. You can read that and hear that from the highest sources, General McChrystal and scholars and all, so on.

Of course the drone campaign is creating potential terrorists, and you can easily understand why. I mean, if you were walking through the streets of Geneva and you don’t know whether five minutes from now there’s going to be an explosion across the street that’s run a couple thousand of miles away and it will blow away some people and who ever else happens to be around– you’re terrorized. And you don’t like it. And you may decide to react. That’s happening all over the regions that are subjected to the Obama terror campaign.

So you can’t seriously on the one hand be not only carrying out massive terror but even  generating potential terrorists against yourself and claim that we have to have massive surveillance to protect ourselves against terror. That’s a joke. It should be headlines.

Then comes the interesting question of extradition. The US has just announced again that they’re going to punish anybody who refuses to extradite Snowden.

At the same time the US is one of the leaers in refusing extradition. Bolivia is an interesting case. The US has imposed pressure at least… to try to block the Bolivian plane because they want Snowden extradited. For years Bolivia has been trying to extradite from the United States the former president who’s already indicted in Bolivia for all sorts of crimes. The US refuses to extradite him.

In fact it’s happening right in Europe. Italy has been trying to extradite 22 CIA agents who were involved and in fact indicted for participating in a kidnaping in Milan. They kidnaped somebody, sent him off I think to Egypt to be tortured.  And agreed later he was innnocent…

Extradite the people involved, the US of course refuses. And there’s case after case like this… There are a lot of cases where the U.S. just refuses…

In fact one of the most striking cases is Latin America, again, not just Bolivia. One of the world’s leading terrorists is Luis Posada, who was involved in blowing up a Cubana airliner which killed 73 people and lots of other terrorist acts. He’s sitting happily in… Miami, and his colleague Rolando Bosch also a major terrorist… is happily there…  Cuba and Venezuela are trying to extradite them. But you know. Fat chance.

So for the U.S. to be calling for others to extradite Snowden is let’s say a little ironic. Again, these ought to be headlines.

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21 Responses

  1. Gien
    July 27, 2013, 3:12 pm

    The president of Germany, Joachim Gauck, agrees with you.

    ‘Gauck, who has little power but great moral authority, said people who work for the state were entitled to act according to their conscience, as institutions sometimes depart from the law.

    “This will normally only be put right if information is made public. Whoever draws the public’s attention to it and acts out of conscience deserves respect,” he told Friday’s Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.’

    • Citizen
      July 28, 2013, 2:25 am

      @ Gien


      “Opposition parties have accused Merkel of failing to press Washington for answers about the scale of NSA activity.

      Reports that German spies cooperated with U.S. agents caused an outcry and one crucial question is how much she or her chief of staff knew. So far she has offered few answers.

      The issue has potential to damage Merkel in the election, although opinion polls show little impact so far on a double-digit lead for her conservatives over the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD).

      Referring to communism and Nazism, Gauck said Germany had painful experiences of living in a security state where no one was safe to speak out:

      “We Germans have had to experience the abuse of state power with secret services twice in our history. And therefore we are sensitive (to this) and our American friends must accept that.””

  2. just
    July 27, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Chomsky is correct again. He’s been correct so very many times over the course of his long life. Both he and Snowden deserve our respect and thanks, as do you Phil. I look forward to listening to the entire talk later today when I have more time to relish his intellect.

    (wonder when our own National Press Club will invite Mr. Chomsky to speak)

  3. calm
    July 27, 2013, 5:06 pm

    I believe that this is the first song about Edward Snowden

    Every Call You Make


  4. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    July 27, 2013, 7:02 pm

    Q: …what the government was doing’

    R: yeah, a good thing they stopped doing it…

    Too bad Chomsky doesn’t really care who did 9/11 or killed JFK.

    I used to respect and admire this man, but as of late, I simply can’t [may be my bad, but there it is].

  5. John Douglas
    John Douglas
    July 27, 2013, 10:27 pm

    I wonder if anyone has ever seriously studied the consequences of blatant hypocrisy by a government upon its foreign policy goals.

    The U.S. cannot now, without hypocrisy, criticize others for torture, arrest without trial, assassination even of its own citizens, violations of the most basic human rights due to its material support for Israeli opprsssion, lying to its own people and to other branches of its government, corrupt support for the wealthy, legal bribery of politicians by the wealthy, a tax system that does not require the wealthy to pay at the same level as the middle class. The list is huge and when the president gets on his holy high horse and lectures about rights and fairness everyone, inluding him, knows that he is excepting himself and his government, which is the definition of hypocrisy.

    How can someone achieve anything on the world stage in this situation except by brute force? At least GW’s neocons were honsest about it.

    • just
      July 28, 2013, 12:00 am

      Our hypocrisy will be our ruination if allowed to continue………it’s already made us suspect all over the world. We have no standing to mediate anything, really.

      We are far from honest. I just wonder when the American people will ever wake from their complacent slumber.

    • Citizen
      July 28, 2013, 2:32 am

      Yeah, Obama and all government leaders are pathetic. No wonder less than 10% of Americans trust them. Surely the world trusts them even less. Soon, the USA will be as corrupt and untrustworthy as Israel, which is the leader in lack of trust and corruption.

      Latest piddly aspect: IRS trying to get its workers (including all the new ones hired to enforce Obamacare) am exemption from Obamacare. Did Congress get one? I know they were trying.

      • Antidote
        July 28, 2013, 11:02 pm

        “Soon, the USA will be as corrupt and untrustworthy as Israel, which is the leader in lack of trust and corruption.”

        you got that backwards. again

    • Antidote
      July 28, 2013, 3:07 am

      “The U.S. cannot now, without hypocrisy, criticize others for torture, arrest without trial, assassination even of its own citizens, violations of the most basic human rights due to its material support for Israeli opprsssion….”

      Not “now”? At what point in history could the US make any claims to moral superiority without hypocrisy? In fact, is it the height of hypocrisy to claim that “support for Israeli oppression” marks some sort of watershed deviation from American virtue. Some American 8 graders are more enlightened than most MW commenters about their country’s history

      Or have a look at the “Making the world safe for hypocrisy” blog, for starters

      • libra
        July 28, 2013, 12:45 pm

        Antidote: Or have a look at the “Making the world safe for hypocrisy” blog, for starters

        What’s the message of this blog? Why, it’s that the previous ruling class of the USA was essentially a bunch of Nazis. Especially the Bush family. Yes, that really explains the actions of Dubya.

        You have to be very naive if you don’t know the purpose of such blogs. Especially as there is no mention of what the new ruling class is up to. Or even that there is a new ruling class.

        And in the context of Mondoweiss, it’s just Hasbara propostion number 3 “You suck”. Well done for smuggling it in, whether you realize what you’re doing or not.

    • piotr
      July 29, 2013, 12:11 pm

      As hypocrisy is so vital to the governmental efforts, the question arises if this is a renewable resource, and even if it is, can it be catastrophically depleted as it happen with cods in the North Atlantic? Like fish, should hypocrisy be somewhat fresh (and stinks like hell when it is not)?

  6. Qualtrough
    July 28, 2013, 12:48 am

    I am glad that Chomsky mentioned the Luis Posada case. Every presidential press conference should have at least one reporter asking the President why this man walks free in the US.

  7. MHughes976
    July 28, 2013, 7:50 am

    There are certainly dark shadows over every society. But for a time it did seem as if the United States had means of shining light into its dark corners and of cleaning some of them up – these being comparatively open debate, a lively literary scene, the academic tenure system, competition among elite groups, a legal system which many social forces could exploit – lacking elsewhere. So from the days of the Civil Rights movement to the days of the War on Terror I cherished certain hopes. Perhaps that just shows I was resistant to disillusion.

  8. atime forpeace
    atime forpeace
    July 28, 2013, 1:56 pm

    The Amash amendment was a close call…205 yea 217 no and 12 no votes. Ted Deutch who reps my area actually voted yes, when i contacted his office they told me that they were getting quite a few calls asking him to favor the amendment which really surprised me for some reason.

    “you find that overwhelmingly the security is the security of the state from its own population and that’s why things have to be kept secret.
    There are some cases where there’s authentic security concerns. But they’re pretty limited.”

    I have been amazed and am astounded by the fact that so many of the Natsec state guys that i follow on twitter are nothing but a bunch of tools for the state…It seems that they have this sense of being our saviours at some level, and that without them the world as we know it would be lost…when in the real world it’s them and their profession that has caused the world as we once knew it to have morphed into a condition where it may as well be counted as lost. You are so right Phil they can only keep secrets from us “we the people”.

    The so called cuban terrorist don’t count as terrorist cause they are our terrorist. Possible sarcasm there. These old dudes; troglodytes now, since they never miss an opportunity to learn from the failed activities and strategies of the past, have served their CIA masters very well.

    “According to Marita Lorenz, Bosch became a member of Operation 40, a CIA assassination squad. One member, Frank Sturgis claimed: “this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents… We were concentrating strictly in Cuba at that particular time.”

    “Lorenz pointed out that a few days before the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a group including Orlando Bosch, Frank Sturgis, Guillermo Novo and Pedro Diaz Lanz, travelled to Dallas. She also claimed that Bosch was at a motel in Dallas when Kennedy’s murder was planned.”

    I once met Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz who was Chief of Castros Air Force at a Born again Christian church he attended in Miami and invited him over to the house a few times for conversation a very interesting man who seemed to have walked away from the lifestyle, i believe. He ended up supposedly committing suicide many years later. Quite a few of those guys died strange deaths, in some cases just before having to testify before some Kennedy investigative committee.

  9. atime forpeace
    atime forpeace
    July 28, 2013, 2:17 pm

    Sen Ron Wydens speech the other day seems to be a timely warning to “we the people”. The first link is the actual speech while the second is a transcript.

    • Antidote
      July 29, 2013, 11:09 am

      Wyden’s speech is a typical example of confusing historical myth with reality in American political culture. Excerpt:

      “We find ourselves at a truly unique time in our Constitutional history. The
      growth of digital technology, dramatic changes in the nature of warfare and
      the definition of a battlefield, and novel courts that run counter to
      everything the Founding Fathers imagined, make for a combustible mix.
      At this point in the speech I would usually conclude with the quote from
      Ben Franklin about giving up liberty for security and not deserving either,
      but I thought a different founding father might be more fitting today.
      James Madison, the father of our constitution, said that the the
      accumulation of executive, judicial and legislative powers into the hands
      of any faction is the very definition of tyranny.  He then went on to assure
      the nation that the Constitution protected us from that fate.”

      Compare with Chomsky on Madison:

      QUESTION: Do you see much evidence of a revolutionary spirit in the America of the 1990s?

      CHOMSKY: You didn’t find evidence of it in the America of the 1790s. The Revolutionary War was an important event. But it was in the first place, to a significant extent, a civil war, as most revolutionary wars are. And it was a war of independence, as opposed to a revolution against the social structure. The social structure didn’t really change significantly. There were problems right after the war was done. For example, Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion and so on were challenging the social structure, and there were efforts on the part of radical farmers to take seriously the meaning of the words in the revolutionary pamphlets, but that was pretty well quieted down.

      If you go back to the record of the Constitutional Convention, which took place in 1787, almost immediately after the end of the war, you see that they are already moving in another direction. James Madison — who was the main framer, and one of the founding fathers who was most libertarian — makes it very clear that the new constitutional system must be designed so as to insure that the government will, in his words “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority” and bar the way to anything like agrarian reform. The determination was made that America could not allow functioning democracy, since people would use their political power to attack the wealth of the minority of the opulent. Therefore, Madison argues, the country should be placed in the hands of the wealthier set of men, as he put it.

      QUESTION: Isn’t that erection of barriers to democracy woven through the entire history of the United States?

      CHOMSKY: It goes back to the writing of the Constitution. They were pretty explicit. Madison saw a “danger” in democracy that was quite real and he responded to it. In fact, the “problem” was noticed a long time earlier. It’s clear in Aristotle’s Politics, the sort of founding book of political theory — which is a very careful and thoughtful analysis of the notion of democracy. Aristotle recognizes that, for him, that democracy had to be a welfare state; it had to use public revenues to insure lasting prosperity for all and to insure equality. That goes right through the Enlightenment. Madison recognized that, if the overwhelming majority is poor, and if the democracy is a functioning one, then they’ll use their electoral power to serve their own interest rather than the common good of all. Aristotle’s solution was, “OK, eliminate poverty.” Madison faced the same problem but his solution was the opposite: “Eliminate democracy.”

      QUESTION: Madison actually expected more of the rich, didn’t he?

      CHOMSKY: Madison was sort of pre-capitalist. He was a person of the Enlightenment, kind of like Adam Smith. And his picture of what the wealthy would do with their power was very different from what they did do. He thought they would be enlightened gentlemen, benevolent philosophers and so on. By the early 1790s, he was already very upset, and he was deploring the depravity of the times. He saw people becoming the tools and tyrants of government, as he put it. They were using state power for their own ends. That’s not the way it was supposed to work. But the opposition had already been pushed back by then. Although there were radical democratic elements, they were pretty much marginalized pretty fast.

      QUESTION: We really see that happening across history, don’t we?

      CHOMSKY: It’s a battle right through history. It’s not just the United States, of course. It was the same struggle in the English Revolution, which came before the revolution in the United States, and in every popular struggle since. And it’s going on right in front of our eyes today. It’s a never-ending struggle.

      • philweiss
        July 29, 2013, 11:27 am

        Thanks much for this Antidote, this is very helpful Revolutionary War reading by Chomsky

  10. MB.
    July 29, 2013, 1:59 am

    Snowden has told us NOTHING we didn’t already know. Even in mainstream society, people have known for a long time we are all being spied on : everyone I meet, everyone I work with,from the admin to the mothers and housewives, to the workaday golf-playing squares and drones, even those with absolutely no interest in politics whatsoever — they have all been aware of the US/UK spying strategies.

    So — can anyone on M’Weiss tell me ANYTHING new that Snowden has told us?

    He’s not for real. Putin know it, which is why he distanced himself from him as soon as possible. The Chinese know it too, and were glad to be rid of him. The South American states initially showed an interest, but that has lessened as the penny has dropped.

    For all Snowden’s posturing and publicising, he has told us NOTHING, ZILCH, ZERO.

  11. MB.
    July 29, 2013, 2:00 am

    Is Snowden for real, or just a farce ?

    M’Weiss readers really should check out the following video before they dismiss it.

    …did Snowden tell us anything new? For all his posturing about ‘spilling the beans’ giving us the details about the US secrets that are going to change the whole game, he STILL hasn’t told us anything WE DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW.

    I am still waiting for him to tell us what he found out from all his diligent spying.

    All he tells us is that the NSA, American power, google et al are spying on us, with the assistance of the UK…

    Well, no sh*t Sherlock…

    Who’d a thunk it…

    No — I will believe Snowden when he actually tells us something.

  12. MRW
    July 29, 2013, 8:54 pm

    Starting at around 1:27:00, Chomsky makes a preposterous statement.

    He says that the difference between advanced nuclear power plants and weapons is “pretty slight by now.” And then something to the effect that if you’re giving technology to the power plants, you’re giving it to the weapons system.

    100% wrong. Just completely off-the-wall (which oughta’ tell you where he really is with Israel and Iran).

    The output of gas centrifuges used in the production of nuclear fuel is gas/fuel.

    You cannot make a nuclear weapon out of fuel. Impossible. You must use metal. The former needs a uranium enrichment of 5% to work. The latter must be over 92%. The processses are completely different and require different equipment, which have specific signatures (given their manufacture) visible by spy satellites from space.

    Don’t believe me? Call Oak Ridge Labs and talk to their public relations dept. Tell them you’re a science teacher and you just want to confirm it for your kiddies.

    EDIT: I think the name of the guy that Chomsky is parroting from 2003 or 2005 or whenever the Bush admin gave nuclear power aid to India was Albright, but don’t hold me to it. Whoever it was, he was laughed out of the room back then for making that assertion by real nuclear scientists. I guess Chomsky didn’t get the message.

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