Thursday, July 4, 2013

Toronto Star urges clemency for Snowden. We concur!

Rather than risk more embarrassing U.S. behaviour being exposed, the government might be wiser to offer him clemency. He shouldn’t face a lengthy prison term for exposing government overreach. (from "Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing sparks a debate America needed to have: Editorial", Toronto Star, July 3, 2013, below)
Finally, we have a respected public media organization putting into perspective the "Snowden Affair"....pointing to the U.S. obsessive fear of terrorism and the lengths to which it goes to "protect" itself, ironically while calling itself the "land of the free and the hope of the brave"...
We concur wholeheartedly with the quote above that clemency for Snowden from the United States would demonstrate a renewal of the American "dream" in a world gone mad with both militarism and capitalism unfettered.
It is not only in its pursuit of Snowden as everything up to and including Benedict Arnold, the great American betrayer and model of treason, that the U.S. has poisoned any hope of either clemency or a fair trial, should he be brought back to American soil for an examination under the American legal system. It is also in secretly assisting in the closing of air space to the Bolivian president attempting to return home from "gas talks" (wouldn't Ron James have fun with that metaphor!) that the U.S. has further contaminated diplomatic waters, as the biggest bully on the planet. Even Russian President Putin, taking the high road, has told Snowden that should Russia grant him politician asylum, he would have to cease release of documents harmful to "our American partner".....hardly the voice of the heavy-handed pugilist, the world knows him to be.
The public debate over excessive surveillance is long overdue, the details of which will keep another "army" of drones digging in the bowels of the Homeland Security offices for decades, without turning up a shred of useful evidence for the prevention of further terror attacks. So, one is prompted to ask, with the unemployment figures so high, and so many people simply withdrawing from even seeking work, has the U.S. government not so incidentally and not so accidentally, created a make-work scheme to keep the numbers from driving Wall Street markets into the Hudson River?
The right wing "hawks" are winning the "public relations" war in the U.S. as the president and the Democrats beaver away at a pitiful attempt to out-gun them with policies and practices that seem calculated to even out-Cheney-Bush. And the repercussions on Obama's presidential legacy will be rippling negatively in history books for decades, if not centuries.

Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing sparks a debate America needed to have: Editorial

Whatever Edward Snowden’s fate, he has done his nation a service. The United States has never had an informed public debate about subordinating privacy to national security to such a degree.
Toronto Star Editorial, July 3, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama presides over this week’s Independence Day festivities under a cloud. Fully one in two Americans no longer thinks their commander-in-chief is “honest and trustworthy,” as the full scope of Washington’s vast telecommunications surveillance program sinks in. That’s the biggest show of mistrust since he was first elected. America’s image as a nation that vigilantly cherishes civil rights is in tatters. And key European and Asian allies are unsettled at finding that they, too, are targets.

The U.S. authorities are feeling a world of hurt, and rightly so, now that whistleblower Edward Snowden has exposed just how far Washington has gone in its obsessive war on terror. As the Star noted on June 9 when this story broke, this is “surveillance gone wild.” Many Americans, especially a younger generation, were appalled to hear Obama try to shrug off the spying as “modest encroachments” on privacy. They are anything but.
The former National Security Agency contract employee leaked documents to the Guardian and Washington Post that exposed a massive dragnet of Americans’ phone records, and monitoring of the contents of foreigners’ Internet communications. It came as a shock to many Americans, who were unaware of the scope of the snooping, although the Obama administration defended it as legal under the sweeping U.S. Patriot Act, known to Congress’ security leaders and vetted by security courts.
Snowden’s latest revelation in Der Spiegel magazine that the NSA bugged European Union offices in Washington and New York has given Washington a fresh spasm of heartburn.
All this has led to pointed questions abroad, including here in Canada, about security agency activities and the degree of scrutiny they receive. Rather than accept bland assurances that all is well, Parliament should revisit the issue in the fall. Creating an Orwellian surveillance state is not the way to fight terrorism.
It is a shame that Snowden and his character have now become the story, distracting attention from the broader issues. He’s been marooned in a Moscow airport in geopolitical limbo, his U.S. passport revoked, petitioning some unsavoury regimes to grant him asylum. He’s been hailed as a whistleblower, called un-American, vilified as a traitor, mocked as a disloyal naïf and branded a thief.
U.S. officials have charged him with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person — crimes that carry 10-year prison terms.
Even if Snowden manages to reach asylum he knows U.S. agents will hunt him to the ends of the Earth. Arguably he would be better off taking his chances in a U.S. court, where he can argue that he was morally if not legally justified in alerting Congress and the world to what the administration has been up to. “My sole motive,” he told the Guardian, “is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” Rather than risk more embarrassing U.S. behaviour being exposed, the government might be wiser to offer him clemency. He shouldn’t face a lengthy prison term for exposing government overreach.
Whatever Snowden’s fate, he has done his nation a service. The American public and many lawmakers had no idea that the government was continuously and indiscriminately collecting the phone records of most citizens and scouring U.S. Internet companies for foreign emails and social media postings. There was never an informed public debate about subordinating privacy to security to such a degree. If anything, officials tried to minimize the scope of the programs. Now they are trying to justify the snooping by saying it has prevented terror attacks.
In light of Snowden’s revelations, there have been calls for Congress and the courts to rein in this overreach to better protect freedom of expression and the press, as well as privacy rights. “I welcome this debate, and I think it’s healthy for our democracy,” Obama now says. Maybe so. Yet but for Snowden, there would have been no debate.

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