This started out as a story of government spying programs exposed by a daring whistleblower, akin to the famous Pentagon Papers of 1971. This clearly pitted “us”, the citizens and residents of the United States, against “them”, an abusive, unaccountable government violating our rights and our constitution in secret. The citizens of other countries who had their rights violated by NSA spying, such as in Europe and, now we learn, Brazil, also became part of that “us”.
But over the last few weeks powerful media outlets, mirroring the efforts of the US government, have shifted the narrative to more convenient terrain. “Us” now means “America”, led by our national security state, which – if possibly overzealous sometimes – is trying to protect “us”. “Them” is our adversaries – terrorists, of course, but also any government that is independent enough to be branded as “anti-American”. And Edward Snowden – the “fugitive leaker” at best, or “traitorous spy” at worst – has, in some unexplained manner, helped “them”, and seems to be getting help from “them” (in this case, governments that are “anti-American”; that is, independent of Washington).
Never mind that even Russia didn’t want to get involved in the whole thing, and insisted that Snowden could only stay there if he would “cease his work aimed at damaging our American partners”, the cold war rhetoric is too irresistible for journalists steeped in its patriotic fervor. Like Mike Meyers’ Austin Powers, who woke up after a decades’ long nap and didn’t know that the cold war was over, they are ready to do battle with America’s “enemies”.
One of the most influential human rights organizations in the world,Amnesty International, didn’t buy this media narrative. Last Tuesday, it accused the US government of “gross violations of [Snowden’s] human rights”, for trying to block him from applying for political asylum. Amnesty declared:
“It appears he is being charged by the US government primarily for revealing its – and other governments’ – unlawful actions that violate human rights …
“No one should be charged under any law for disclosing information of human rights violations … Snowden is a whistleblower. He has disclosed issues of enormous public interest in the US and around the world.”
The leading media outlets virtually ignored this voice and the legal issues that it raised.
The media can often determine what most people think on most issues, if given enough time and insufficient opposition. So, it is not surprising that the number of people who think that Snowden “did the right thing” has fallen over the past few weeks.
At this point, there is only one person who can turn this around: that is Edward Snowden himself. He has recorded only one interview, the one with Glenn Greenwald in which he took responsibility for the disclosures. It was a brilliant interview: he was crystal clear – morally, politically, and rhetorically.
“I’m no different from anybody else. I don’t have special skills. I’m just another guy who sits there day to day in the office, watches what’s happening and goes, ‘This is something that’s not our place to decide, the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.'”
The sincerity of his appeal convinced millions that he was “us” – and that the people who now want to put him behind bars for life are “them”.
It is understandable why he hasn’t given any media interviews since then. He didn’t expose these programs, despite some ridiculous punditry to the contrary, to promote himself. He wants the focus to be on the crimes committed in secret by government, not on him. But sometimes, there is no avoiding center stage.
Snowden is the only person right now who can reach hundreds of millions of people with a truthful message. The media is currently hungry for his words; they are eager to ignore most of the other truth-tellers, like Amnesty International; or to disparage them. They have demonized Julian Assange, who has yet to be even charged with a single crime, not even a misdemeanor. They will eventually destroy Snowden if he does not forcefully speak out and defend himself.
This has practical, as well as political, consequences. On Friday, Venezuela and Nicaragua offered asylum to Snowden, followed by Bolivia on Saturday. And there are an unknown number of other countries – including Ecuador – that would almost certainly grant him asylum if he showed up there. There are a number of ways for him to fly to these places without passing over any country that takes orders from Washington. But will the US government violate international law again, and risk innocent lives, by trying to force down a plane in international air space?
This decision may depend on the Obama team’s forecast of how the media would portray such a crime. If Snowden explains to the world why his actions were a legitimate and eminently justifiable exposure of government criminality, the White House may think twice about further illegal and possibly forceful efforts to block Snowden’s right to political asylum.
The Obama team did not comment on the offers of asylum. This was very smart, since it was a safe bet that the media would respond for them, framing the issue not as one of independent governments exercising their right and obligation to offer political asylum to a whistleblower, but rather “them” trying to poke a finger in the eye of the United States.
But there are millions of Americans, and many more throughout the world, who can see through this crusty cold war retread. Snowden can reach many millions more with the truth. He needs to speak – not only to save himself, but also future whistleblowers whom the Obama administration wants to silence by punishing him. What is at stake is the whole cause of human rights, especially the right to asylum. The citizens of the world need to see that triumph over the intimidation from those who believe that raw power is all that counts.
Source: The Guardian
NSA ‘in bed’ with German intelligence says US whistleblower Edward Snowden – and GCHQ operates a ‘full take’ data monitoring system
The fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden alleged on Sunday that the National Security Agency was “in bed together” with German intelligence despite claims by politicians in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition that they were shocked by the extent of American spying in Germany.
In an interview with Der Spiegel , Snowden claimed that the NSA provided German intelligence, with analysis tools to help the organisation monitor data flowing through Germany. “The NSA people are in bed together with the Germans,”” he told the magazine.
He added that the NSA’s foreign affairs directorate, which is responsible for relations with other countries, had set up a system whereby political leaders “could be insulated” from the backlash if spying became public and helped to play down how grievously they were “violating global privacy.”
Snowden also claimed to shed further light on the extent of British spying activities saying that the UK’s GCHQ was the only organisation which operated a so-called “full take” system of information monitoring which stored all data crossing its path for a total of 30 days.
The allegations seemed certain to cause further shock waves in Germany, where the issue of NSA spying is fast turning into a thorny political campaign issue in the run up to the September general election.
German MPs have expressed outrage at the extent of British and American spying on German internet and phone traffic and NSA spying on European Union offices. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Interior Minister is scheduled to fly to Washington this week to obtain an “explanation” from the US authorities.
Ms Merkel has herself complained that the extent of US and British spying is reminiscent of the Cold War and demanded that it be brought under control. However it is well known that German intelligence has been able to prevent planned terror attacks on German soil with the help of NSA intelligence.
Snowden is believed to be still holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. He has been trying to find a country to give him sanctuary since arriving there from Hong Kong on June 23. However his Russian hosts appear to be becoming irked by his continued presence.
On Sunday Alexei Pushkov, an influential Russian MP who often speaks for the Kremlin said he would encourage Snowden to accept Venezuela’s recent offer of asylum, saying it was probably his “last chance”.
Source: The Independent
Edward Snowden Encouraged By Russian Official To Accept Venezuela’s Offer Of Asylum
MOSCOW — An influential Russian parliament member who often speaks for the Kremlin encouraged NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Sunday to accept Venezuela’s offer of asylum.
Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia’s parliament, posted a message on Twitter saying: “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Saturday his country hasn’t yet been in contact with Snowden, who Russian officials say has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong two weeks ago. He has been unable to travel further because the U.S. annulled his passport.
Jaua said he expects to consult with Russian officials on Monday about Snowden’s situation.
Pushkov’s comments appeared to indicate that the Kremlin is now anxious to be rid of the former National Security Agency systems analyst, whom the U.S. wants returned to face espionage charges.
There has been no response from the Kremlin or Russian Foreign Ministry to the asylum offer made by Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in the early hours of Saturday, Moscow time.
For Snowden to leave for South America, he would need for Venezuela to issue him travel documents and he would need to find a way to get there. The only direct commercial flight from Moscow goes to Havana, Cuba, and Snowden had booked a seat on this flight the day after arriving from Hong Kong, but failed to show up.
The Moscow-Havana flight goes over Europe and the U.S., which could cause complications. Some European countries refused to allow Bolivian President Evo Morales to fly through their airspace on his way home from Moscow last week because of suspicions that Snowden was onboard his plane.
Pushkov joked that if Snowden doesn’t find shelter in Venezuela, “he will have to stay and marry Anna Chapman,” the redheaded Russian spy who was among 10 sleeper agents deported from the U.S. in 2010. The 31-year-old Chapman proposed to Snowden, who just turned 30, on Twitter last week.
Snowden has applied for asylum in more than two dozen countries, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, according to WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling website that has been advising him.
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he wasn’t surprised that those three Latin American nations were offering asylum.
“They like sticking it to the United States,” Menendez told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He also mentioned re-examining U.S. trade policies and foreign aid to any country that might take in Snowden.
Brazil’s foreign minister said his government is worried by a newspaper report the U.S. has collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in his country and promised an effort for international protection of Internet privacy.
“The Brazilian government has asked for clarifications” through the U.S. Embassy in Brazil and Brazil’s embassy in Washington, Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said.
The spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Brazil’s capital, Dean Chaves, said diplomats there wouldn’t have any comment.
Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas, Venezuela, Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia, and Jenny Barchfield in Paraty, Brazil, contributed to this report.
Source: Huff Post
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.