Solomon: The pursuit of Edward Snowden: Washington in a rage, striving to run the world

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By Norman Solomon


Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington’s high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber -- and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable.

Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA’s massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day -- which is exactly what it can’t stand.

The central issue is our dire shortage of democracy. How can we have real consent of the governed when the government is entrenched with extreme secrecy, surveillance and contempt for privacy?

The same government that continues to expand its invasive dragnet of surveillance, all over the United States and the rest of the world, is now asserting its prerogative to drag Snowden back to the USA from anywhere on the planet. It’s not only about punishing him and discouraging other potential whistleblowers. Top U.S. officials are also determined to -- quite literally -- silence Snowden’s voice, as Bradley Manning’s voice has been nearly silenced behind prison walls.

The sunshine of information, the beacon of principled risk-takers, the illumination of government actions that can’t stand the light of day -- these correctives are anathema to U.S. authorities who insist that really informative whistleblowers belong in solitary confinement. A big problem for those authorities is that so many people crave the sunny beacons of illumination.

On Sunday night, more than 15,000 Americans took action to send a clear message to the White House. The subject line said “Mr. President, hands off Edward Snowden,” and the email message read: “I urge you in the strongest terms to do nothing to interfere with the travels or political asylum process of Edward Snowden. The U.S. government must not engage in abduction or any other form of foul play against Mr. Snowden.”

As the Obama White House weighs its options, the limits are practical and political. Surveillance and military capacities are inseparable, and they’re certainly huge, but constraints may cause major frustration. Sunday on CNN, anchor Don Lemon cited the fabled Navy Seals and said such commandos ought to be able to capture Snowden, pronto.

The state of surveillance and perpetual war are one and the same. The U.S. government’s rationale for pervasive snooping is the “war on terror,” the warfare state under whatever name.

Too rarely mentioned is the combination of nonviolence and idealism that has been integral to the courageous whistleblowing by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. Right now, one is on a perilous journey across the globe in search of political asylum, while the other is locked up in a prison and confined to a military trial excluding the human dimensions of the case. At a time of Big Brother and endless war, Snowden and Manning have bravely insisted that a truly better world is possible.

Meanwhile, top policymakers in Washington seem bent on running as much of the world as possible. Their pursuit of Edward Snowden has evolved into a frenzied rage.

Those at the top of the U.S. government insist that Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning have betrayed it. But that’s backward. Putting its money on vast secrecy and military violence instead of democracy, the government has betrayed Snowden and Manning and the rest of us.

Trying to put a stop to all that secrecy and violence, we have no assurance of success. But continuing to try is a prerequisite for realistic hope.

A few months before the invasion of Iraq, looking out at Baghdad from an upper story of a hotel, I thought of something Albert Camus once wrote. "And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions."

Edward Snowden’s honorable course has led him to this historic moment. The U.S. government is eager to pay him back with retribution and solitary. But many people in the United States and around the world are responding with love and solidarity.
 
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

(Bruce B. Brugmann, who signs his blogs and emails b3, is the editor at large of the Bay Guardian.  He is the former editor and co-founder and co-publisher of the Bay Guardian, 1966-2012. He can be reached at bruce@sfbg.com)

Comments

Manning, although I disagreed with his actions, at least was willing to take personal accountability for the, Snowden is a coward, not a hero, and being marooned in Cuba for a lifetime is probably just as bad as serving his time here.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

I love how Aeroflot (the official Airline of Russia) is taking Snowden from China to Cuba to Venezuela - free of charge. He must have given them what they want.

Posted by Richmondman on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

But that doesn't matter when you're a spy and a traitor.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

for travel if the authorities at both ends of the trip or transfer points agree to waive the documentation requirements - as Putin clearly has done already. The fact the US has suspended his passport means nothing - he can always get one from whatever country sponsors him and the odds are he won't be doing a lot of travel anyway.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

That said, I'd say his life from this point on will be one of excruciating tedium and paranoia. And some would say, deservedly so.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

It is not possible to be a traitor when your country is not in a declared war.

He stopped being a spy when he left the employ of the for-profit private contracting spy firm for hire, Booz Allen.

I will grant you, however, that under your loose definition of traitor, the elected officials and their courtesans who are shredding what's left of our constitutional and human rights are traitors to humanity.

I hope you enjoy reading this Barack, you empty suit.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

If that's not a definition of guilt, then I do not know what is.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

Because he's facing 30 years in prison for leaking information which should never have been classified anyway? Because the full weight of the US government will be brought to bear against him - with him probably placed in solitary confinement for months or years BEFORE he even receives a trial - the end of which is preordained due to the state secret privilege the government will invoke again and again, with him being found guilty?

The Terrorists already knew the US government was monitoring their online communications anyway. What most people weren't aware was the complicity of corporations in this surveillance.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

Nor were most people aware that it was not just terrorists, but themselves, who were the ones under surveillance.

Posted by anon on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

The guy in Portland who the FBI accused of being behind the bombing in Madrid, despite the fact he had never been to Spain? The FBI blamed him despite a complete lack of evidence and seemed mainly convinced he was involved because he had converted to Islam when he married an Egyptian woman (he had also served in the US Army for years). They tossed his house, surveilled him and his family using FISA court authorizations and arrested and held him all under false pretenses. He had nothing to do with it and eventually was awarded a $2 million judgement.

We should keep him in mind when we think about why we don't want NSA reading our emails - they can draw incorrect conclusions because they've done it before. And FISA, which is supposed to protect the rights of Americans, is a joke of a kangaroo court with a 100% record of compliance with government requests.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 9:18 pm

Snowden disclosed the biggest (yawn) story of the year - there is no privacy on the internet. The news is that the "US Govt is doing the same thing private companies have been doing for years- checking on your personal shit. Welcome to the internet age.
Snowden also disclosed to foreign countries that the US is looking at their shit, too. That is where the whole spy thing came from.
So is he a patriot or a traitor? Probably a little of both, but not much of either.

Posted by Richmondman on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

listen to my phone calls anyway. Total non issue.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

Snowden IS in fact taking personal accountability.
...he is a person and he is accountable first of all to himself.

Accountability is responsibility- giving an explanation for what you did.

What most here speak of is not personal responsibility but collective responsibility. You see him as an American so he ought to come back and face American Justice. Think about it......That is NOT personal accountiblity!
There is more to life on earth than blind obedience to any nation state

If a person only does what other people approves he is not being himself. Accountable to ones Conscience is the foundation of self-hood. A coward hides within the group. Snowden is far more individual than most. ADMIRED!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

Snowden IS in fact taking personal accountability.
...he is a person and he is accountable first of all to himself.

Accountability is responsibility- giving an explanation for what you did.

What most here speak of is not personal responsibility but collective responsibility. You see him as an American so he ought to come back and face American Justice. Think about it......That is NOT personal accountiblity!
There is more to life on earth than blind obedience to any nation state

If a person only does what other people approves he is not being himself. Accountable to ones Conscience is the foundation of self-hood. A coward hides within the group. Snowden is far more individual than most

Posted by Guest-all the kings horses on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

And that makes him a coward with no real conviction that he did the right thing.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 5:58 am

It is not a crime to disclose information that proves a crime.

Posted by anon on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

This comment is to the author, if you don't like it here, why don't you go somewhere where you would be happier, safer, able to express yourself more openly. JUST GO.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 6:53 am

No I think it is you that should go. The author is speaking out in defense of ppl having more freedom from control of govt - since you are speaking out against him for expressing that viewpt, that means you are speaking out against ppl having freedom from ridiculous and probably unconstitional govt intrusion into the privacy the constitution supposedly gives us.

JUST GO you traitor to the principles this country was founded on. JUST GO to some country run by an authoritarian ruler and kiss his or her ass, you weak POS.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

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