Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The truth shall set you free, Edward Snowden. Hopefully.

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Edward Snowden, stuck in Russia, keeps taking his lumps back home -- from media types who think that journalism amounts to nothing more than passing along government propaganda; from defenders of the surveillance state of all types, including the apologists on the left who are shamefully taking a stand against freedom; from Obama supporters who think the president can do no wrong and so must be right about this; from ordinary citizens who have swallowed the government's propaganda without any doubt at all.

And the U.S. -- more specifically, the Obama Administration -- is ratcheting up the pressure. Obama stupidly called him a "hacker" recently, but, then, he has proven himself time and time again to be a proponent of the national security state, a continuation of Bush-Cheney, enabling the authoritarianism that threatens American democracy and principles of liberty enshrined in the Constitution. And Biden personally intervened to try to talk Ecuador out of providing asylum to Snowden.

The latter seems to have worked. Ecuador is now saying it won't provide asylum and that helping him was a "mistake." Oh, really? Just what threats did Biden make? Or, rather, what promises did he offer in exchange for this?

Russia, for its part, continues to protect Snowden, but one wonders for how long, and at what cost. In response to Snowden's request for asylum in Russia, Putin, finding him in a tough spot (what's worse for him: driving a wedge into relations with the U.S. or appearing to bow to U.S. pressure?), said this:

If he wants to go somewhere and they accept him, please, be my guest. If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must cease his work aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, as strange as it may sound from my lips.

I would say that he is doing a great service to the U.S., and it's interesting that Putin, who has been an admirable voice on the Snowden saga, chose those words, implying that Snowden may be "inflicting damage" specifically on the U.S. government ("our American partners") but not on America beyond that, and certainly not in any universal sense.

But will Snowden comply this this? He may be on the run, but he's a whistleblower, a truth-teller, a reporter of what the powers-that-be would rather remain unreported. Would he really just... stop?

Apparently he's made a request for asylum to 15 different countries. According to an official at the Russian Foreign Ministry:

In the document Snowden reiterated once again that he is not a traitor and explained his actions only by a desire to open the world's eyes on the flagrant violations by U.S. special services not only of American citizens but also citizens of European Union including their NATO allies.

I hope he finds a welcoming home. I really do. It would be awful were he to be returned to the U.S. to face nothing like a fair trial and to be held up as a traitor for having the courage to expose the flagrant transgressions of his homeland. That would be unwarranted vindication not just for Obama but for the national security state generally, allowing the American people once more to close their eyes to what is being done in their name.

For his part, Snowden issued a statement yesterday, via Wikileaks. It concludes:

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

This isn't just about the Obama administration, it's about what it stands for, about what it's doing. It's the national security state that is afraid -- afraid of the people, afraid of genuine democratic rule.

Be informed. Be angry. Demand constitutional government.

A lot of us stand with you, Mr. Snowden. Stay strong.

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