Americans are becoming more concerned that government ‘anti-terror’ programmes are actually restricting civil liberties.
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2013 11:33
By Mark Weisbrot: Opinion
NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden and Sarah Harrison (L), a legal researcher for WikiLeaks, leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after Snowden spent nearly six weeks in hiding there [Reuters]
“It is a slap in the face of all Americans,” said Senator John McCain (R – AZ), referring to Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden. He demanded that the Russians face ” serious repercussions ” for their decision.
Well, turn the other cheek, I say. McCain ran for president in 2008 promising to be more belligerent towards the Russians, so this is normal for Dr.Strangelove and his crusty Cold War foaming at the mouth.
Not to be outdone, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that Russia had “stabbed us in the back,” and that “each day that Mr. Snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife”.
Twist and shout! The Russians did a big favour for the freedom-loving peoples of the world, including those in the US who can still think with our own brains. The self-righteous pundits who complain about Russia’s own human rights record, as if this were even remotely relevant, might try to recall how Snowden ended up there in the first place. He was passing through Moscow on his way to South America, and it was only by virtue of Washington’s “gross violations of his human rights,” as Amnesty International called it, that he got stuck there.
Indeed, the whole chase scene is symbolic of the difficulties in which Washington finds itself immersed. Unable to win their case in the court of public opinion, the self-styled leaders of the free world resort to threats and bullying to get their way – which kind of sums up American foreign policy in the second decade of the 21st century. And the spectacle of US attorney general Eric Holder trying to offer Russia assurances that his government would not torture or execute Snowden speaks volumes about how far the US government’s reputation on human rights – even within the United States – has plummeted over the past decade. …
Mainstream media in the US seems to be more interested in the character of the leaker than in the content of the leak.
Before Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA’s extensive surveillance programmes on American citizens, he travelled to Hong Kong to escape the reach of the United States’ justice system.
Perhaps he was mindful of the fate of Bradley Manning, who faces life in prison for releasing thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. But while Snowden may have outrun the long arm of the law, he could not avoid trial by media.
Snowden has been described as a “weasel”, a “narcissist” and a “punk” – not by US politicians or officials but by the journalists and newscasters leading the debate over his actions. And the discussion in the mainstream media seems more focused on Snowden’s pole-dancing girlfriend and high school record than on one of the most comprehensive telephone and online surveillance programmes in human history.
It raises the question: Why focus on the character of the leaker and not the content of the leak? Is the media once again, shooting the messenger? …
Silent Circle shuts after Lavabit amid reports US government is attempting to access whistleblower’s messages.
A second United States email service has shut down amid reports that the US government was attempting to gain access to encrypted messages sent by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
A company named Silent Circle on Friday said it would close its secure email service, hours after Lavabit said it would shut down rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people”.
“We see the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail,” the statement said on Friday, citing the Lavabit decision.
“We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.”
Snowden is reported to have used the Lavabit service to communicate with journalists and share information about the National Security Agency’s huge spying programme targeting American citizens and millions of foreigners.
The owner of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, said in a statement on Thursday: “I have been forced to make a difficult decision. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.”
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