Edward Snowden, a profile in courage

It took a lot of guts for Edward Snowden to go up against the United States government, when the examples of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange showed him what he might expect.

President Obama regularly signs death warrants of persons he deems threats to national security.  He has authority under U.S. law to order fugitives seized and brought them back to the United States even if this violates the laws of the country they’re in.   Obama has prosecuted more whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act than all his predecessors put together.

Recently Attorney General Eric Holder assured President Vladimir Putin that if Snowden was given over to U.S. custody, he would not be executed or tortured.  Imagine—the highest-ranking law enforcement official of the United States gives assurance to a former officer of the Soviet KGB that the United States will not torture a wanted fugitive.  What does it say about the United States that Holder has to give such an assurance?

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

Now the fact that Edward Snowden is brave does not prove that he was right.  Maybe you believe that the National Security Agency is exercising its just powers when it puts all the world’s electronic communications under surveillance and keeps the fact that it is doing so a secret.  If you’re right, then Snowden is in fact a criminal and should be brought to justice.

But not everybody thinks that way.  The governments of France and other European countries that object to NSA surveillance do not think that way.  The editors of the Washington Post and other newspapers that made use of Snowden’s leaks do not think that way.  If they’re right, Snowden is not in fact a criminal.

But they nevertheless agree with treating Snowden as a criminal and bringing back to the United States.  This is a profile in cowardice.


Below is a menu of links to recent articles on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency.

Obama Starting to Lose It Over Snowden by Yves Smith on naked capitalism.

The Snowden Effect: what he set in motion by what he did by Jay Rosen on his Pressthink blog.

XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’ by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian.

The crux of the NSA story in one phrase: ‘collect it all’ by Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian.

NSA Spying Directly Harms Internet Companies, Silicon Valley, California … And the Entire U.S. Economy by Washington’s Blog.

The Government is Spying on ALL Americans Digital and Old-Fashioned Communications by Washington’s Blog.

Snowden Saga: By Employing Big Stick, Obama Has Emboldened Latin Left by Nikolas Kozloff for the Huntington Post.

In Obamaland, the ‘Rule of Law’ Is for the Other Suckers by Dave Lindorff for Counterpunch.

The fact that Snowden has been given asylum in Russia does not mean that he is safe.  President Vladimir Putin has said that Snowden will not be extradited, but that is conditional on his not doing anything to harm the United States.

What about Glenn Greenwald’s continuing new reports on the National Security Agency?  Presumably this is based on information that Snowden already has given The Guardian and so does not technically constitute new action that harms the United States.  But Putin could choose to interpret it differently if, for example, the U.S. government offers him an attractive swap for Russian spies in U.S. custody.

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2 Responses to “Edward Snowden, a profile in courage”

  1. John Pennington, San Francisco Says:

    It is necessary to give assurances that Snowden wouldn’t be tortured because torture is exactly what we did to Bradley Manning.


  2. fromthecolony Says:

    Reblogged this on fromthecolony.


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