Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Snowden 2

July 12, 2013

Snowden Manning yes we can Snowden red and blue

I am simply reposting the following from The Guardian in the UK because it is important. This is not something I will normally do. It appears that the White House petition to pardon Snowden is still active, and it now has 130,000 signatures. If you are an American (you need to be) I would urge you to sign this.

And here is the latest from Snowden about how the NSA, CIA, FBI is scooping up your Microsoft Outlook, Skype, etc communications with the active cooperation of the software firms. I reiterate my suggestion to try DuckDuckGo as a search alternative to Google.

The Guardian’s excellent live coverage is here. This will also link you through to a live Russian TV feed from Moscow airport if you are reading this soon after I wrote it.

Mr Obama, you are starting to get yourself on the wrong side of history.


Here, via The Guardian’s live coverage from Moscow, is the quote from Snowden today that I like:

<Snowden is saying he wants to remain in Russia and travel, and he wants international organisations to petition the US and EU not to interfere with that.

Referring to Putin’s condition that he can only stay if he stops harming the US, Snowden apparently has said: “No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US … I want the US to succeed.”

[Snowden] seems to be saying that the only way he can guarantee his safety where he is now, before he heads to Latin America, is to gain temporary asylum in Russia… Ellen Barry of the New York Times reports that Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, who is in the meeting, says Snowden has said he has received offers from Venezuela, Russia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador. He thanks them. He says he accepts all offers, present and future. The offer from Venezuela has been made formally. He wants help in guaranteeing his safe passage to Latin America, she says. He will submit an asylum claim to Russia today, but he plans to go to Latin America eventually, she says.>


Edward Snowden: US officials are preventing me claiming asylum

NSA whistleblower calls meeting with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch at Sheremetyevo airport

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Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow

Passengers wait for their flights at Sheremetyevo airport: Edward Snowden has been stuck in the transit zone for over three weeks. Photograph: Ivan Sekretarev/AP

The NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden has said US officials are waging a campaign to prevent him from taking up asylum offers as he called a meeting in Moscow airport with human rightsgroups.

In a letter sent to groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the former intelligence agency contractor claimed there was “an unlawful campaign by officials in the US government to deny my right to seek and enjoy … asylum under article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and invited them to meet him at 5pm local time.

“The scale of threatening behaviour is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign president’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee,” he wrote to the groups.

“This dangerous escalation represents a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America or my own personal security, but to the basic right shared by every living person to live free from persecution.”

Reuters quoted an airport official as saying Snowden would meet the groups on Friday afternoon in the transit area of Sheremetyevo, where he has remained since flying to Russia from Hong Kong on 23 June.

The 30-year-old former NSA employee is trying to negotiate asylum elsewhere to avoid facing charges in the US, including espionage, for divulging details about US electronic surveillance programmes.

“I can confirm that such a meeting will take place,” an airport spokeswoman said.

Reuters said Amnesty and Transparency International had been invited to meet Snowden, with the former confirming it would attend.

Sergei Nikitin, the head of Amnesty International Russia, said: “Yes, I have received a brief email. It said that he would like to meet with a representative of a human rights organisation – there was not much information there. I’m planning to go.”

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch confirmed she had been invited to the meeting and posted Snowden’s letter on Facebook.

In the emailed letter – which Lokshina said she could not independently verify as coming from Snowden – the former intelligence worker said he had been “extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world”. He added: “These nations have my gratitude, and I hope to travel to each of them to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks we have witnessed an unlawful campaign by officials in the US government to deny my right to seek and enjoy this asylum.”

The email ends with an invitation for rights groups to meet him at the airport at 5pm (2pm BST).

Snowden is still believed to be weighing up his options. Late on Thursday, Venezuela’s foreign minister said the country had yet to receive a formal response to its offer of asylum.

“We communicated last week. We made an offer and so far we haven’t received a reply,” Elias Jaua told Reuters during a regional foreign ministers’ meeting in Uruguay.

Venezuela is one of three countries to offer asylum to Snowden, along with Bolivia and Nicaragua.

In a separate email to Reuters, Snowden confirmed that the meeting with human rights groups would go ahead but said it would be closed to the press. He said he planned to speak to the media later.

The letter told the groups to bring identification and meet at 4.30pm at Sheremetyevo airport in Terminal F, “in the centre of the arrival hall [where] someone from airport staff will be waiting there to receive you with a sign labelled G9”.

Stallone, Johnny English, Q, the works

July 3, 2013

obama downcast Johnny English Cameron finger raised

Q Dr Evil

Excellent piece in The Guardian about Da Americun Armee’s efforts to prosecute Bradley Manning into non-existence and how Sly Stallone, or whoever their lawyer is, ain’t making the case so well. If the prosecution team needs a new job after this, they could fit right in in Italy.

Meanwhile the Ecuadoreans claim to have found a bug in the London embassy where Julian Assange has been living for almost a year. Brave Dave Cameroon, we are told, does not comment on security matters, because if he did he might have to admit to being a bit of a tosser. The Ecuadorean Foreign Minister put it more diplomatically: ‘We are sorry to say so, but this is another instance of a loss of ethics at the international level in relations between governments.’

And Evo Morales was ‘kidnapped by imperialism‘ cos they thought he was giving Snowden a lift to La Paz.

Who needs Ian Fleming books, or Mike Myers or Johnny English movies, with all this going on?

BTW, have they managed to catch the guy below yet?




Philip Stephens in the FT (sub needed) has a sensible opinion piece to offer. When the FT concludes ‘whatever his motives, Mr Snowden has done the rest of us a service’, I don’t exactly feel out on a limb. Meanwhile, what is the betting that tomorrow’s Economist will be to the right of the FT? Now there is a thing…



June 19, 2013

This guy (below) from City University in Hong Kong knows what he is talking about, relates Snowden’s place in US society to the development of institutions in Hong Kong.

I’ll be in the US next week and look forward to asking various government people what they plan to do about the fact that James Clapper lied to congress. I am not clear why it is taking so long to prepare the warrant for his arrest. (Have a look at the Guardian on this,  and the Washington Post.)

It’s pretty clear what Obama needs to do: pardon Manning and Snowden and put Clapper in the can for six months to send a message to anyone else having Nixon-like ideas about how to run America. He don’t even need a cigarette on the roof of the White House to think this one through. Of course Obama should also send the message that any more leaks are likely to lead to decades of prison. The big cats on Iraq and cyber surveillance are probably already out of the bag.

What Snowden can teach the Occupy Central movement

Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
Comment›Insight & Opinion
Surya Deva
Surya Deva says civil disobedience has a rightful place in the democratic playbook, and Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement can learn a thing or two from Snowden’s approach

Since Edward Snowden first broke cover in Hong Kong, many people have been puzzled about his choice of this city to take on the US government. Despite being wedded to the rule of law and having independent courts, Hong Kong is not a “safe haven” against extradition to the US by any means. Nor is the Hong Kong government known for treating asylum claims or refugees very humanely.

Snowden’s initial explanation that he chose Hong Kong because of its “strong tradition of free speech” also could not be the tipping point; there are many other jurisdictions with similar or even higher levels of protection of free speech.

If used properly, civil disobedience can achieve what judicial reviews and elections may not accomplish

So why Hong Kong? Was it to embarrass the US about its own human rights record? After all, human rights defenders – like the blind activist Chen Guangcheng – have looked to the US for protection from repressive and authoritarian regimes.

Snowden’s recent interview with the Post brings more clarity on his rationale for choosing Hong Kong. He said: “I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.”

What Snowden is seeking to do resonates clearly with civil disobedience, and Hong Kong is not a bad place to practise this. The idea of civil disobedience has been popularised here of late by the Occupy Central proposal. Nevertheless, the debate in the media about its propriety has generally shown a lack of a clear understanding of this concept.

Over the years, many renowned thinkers and political activists – from Henry Thoreau to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin – have articulated the contours of civil disobedience or practised them. Although their ideas vary, in my view the following six key conditions should determine whether civil disobedience is a justified device in a democracy:

  • It must challenge an unjust action (a law, decision or policy) of the government. The action may be regarded as “unjust” with reference to a higher authority, such as one’s conscience, or furthering justice, human rights or any other core constitutional value.
  • The unjust action should be a matter of wider public interest, rather than affecting the interests of only a selected few. This condition will, in turn, imply a certain degree of public support.
  • Civil disobedience should be pursued with the objective of pressuring the government to change the unjust action.
  • Civil disobedience aimed at challenging an unjust action should be announced openly and publicly with advance notice.
  • It is vital that civil disobedience is peaceful and the people taking part are willing to bear all legal consequences of breaking what is perceived to be an unjust action.
  • Finally, civil disobedience should generally be employed as a last resort.

When considered within these boundaries, civil disobedience can strengthen the rule of law and constitutionalism, rather than being a threat to them. In fact, it is arguable that people in a democracy not only have a right but also a duty to resist unjust, albeit legal, measures taken by the government in certain circumstances.

I believe Snowden’s action and rationale fall within the above contours of civil disobedience. It appears that the National Security Agency has been exercising sweeping surveillance powers without many checks and balances. This, in turn, has unreasonably curtailed several human rights.

In view of the extraterritorial reach of the surveillance measures, the matter is of global public interest. Snowden’s disclosures are apparently driven by a desire to change the status quo rather than securing monetary benefits or cheap publicity. There can hardly be any doubt about the peaceful nature of his actions.

By declaring his identity and whereabouts, Snowden is willing to face the consequences of breaching US laws if a fair trial can be guaranteed. Nevertheless, it is legitimate for him to seek asylum under international law and/or contest before the local courts his extradition to the US to avoid persecution for political reasons.

It is true that Snowden did not give advance public notice of his disclosures. But is it reasonable to expect advance notice in such special circumstances? Perhaps not.

Could Snowden have tried something else first? It is unlikely he could have succeeded in exposing (and potentially changing) the surveillance system while remaining in the US or by complaining to higher authorities. The US courts have not proved to be a robust guardian of human rights amid the “war on terror”.

What could the Occupy Central organisers learn from Snowden? First, they need to identify more clearly the unjust action the proposed civil disobedience seeks to assail. They should also engage the public in diverse settings and without setting artificial limits on their participation.

On this front, too, Snowden played a master stroke by expressing his intention to rely not merely on the courts, but also on “people of Hong Kong to decide [his] fate”. Snowden is trying to secure what is necessary for successful civil disobedience: mass support for a public cause.

Moreover, the Occupy Central organisers should articulate exactly what it wants to achieve, how people would benefit and why the fears expressed by the pro-establishment camp are groundless. Apart from ensuring the peaceful nature of the movement, the organisers have to explain which other means they considered to achieve genuine universal suffrage before embarking on the Occupy Central path.

The civil disobedience discourse also has advice for governments. Dworkin, for example, argues that the government should show tolerance and act with caution. If there are prosecutions, Rawls contends that courts should take into account “the civilly disobedient nature” of the protest and reduce or suspend legal sanctions.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said Occupy Central is likely to be unlawful and non-peaceful. In other words, the government will not tolerate it.

It is time to recognise that civil disobedience, within well-defined boundaries, can play a constructive role in controlling power and furthering constitutional objectives. In fact, if used properly, it can achieve what judicial reviews and periodic elections may not accomplish.

How the Hong Kong government and its courts deal with any US extradition request for Snowden, and how they treat people participating in Occupy Central, will define not only the future of Hong Kong’s autonomy, but also its status as the bastion of freedoms and the rule of law within China.

Surya Deva is an associate professor of the school of law, City University of Hong Kong


The only thing I have written about Manning.

Here is the best-known signature campaign to pardon Snowden. 85,000 signatures already. 15,000 more by July 9 and Obama will have to make some kind of formal response. I am not signing at this point because I think it ought to be 100,000 Americans who sign (Be helpful and post a comment if you know whether non-Americans can sign).

The manning signature campaign has been less well organised, less well-worded. Here it is.

Pilling frames the moral debate in the FT (sub needed).

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