Bård Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen, two Norwegian politicians (Socialist Left Party), have nominated NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden (above) for the Nobel Peace Prize. An October win would be a way for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to restore some of the luster they lost when they prematurely awarded US President Barack Obama a Nobel Peace Prize Award in 2009. For those who don't know, the nominations can be made through February. In other words, Barack was wrongly awarded a peace prize for basically one week of work in January 2009 and for the month of February 2009. They made the Nobel Peace Prize a joke. This is a chance for them to improve on that.
Ed Snowden is an American citizen and whistle-blower who had been employed by the CIA and by the NSA before leaving government employment for the more lucrative world of contracting. At the time he blew the whistle, he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton doing NSA work. Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) had the first scoop (and many that followed) on Snowden's revelations that the US government was spying on American citizens, keeping the data on every phone call made in the United States (and in Europe as well) while also spying on internet use via PRISM and Tempora. US Senator Bernie Sanders decried the fact that a "secret court order" had been used to collect information on American citizens "whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing." Sanders went on to say, "That is not what democracy is about. That is not what freedom is about. [. . .] While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans." The immediate response of the White House, as Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported, was to insist that there was nothing unusual and to get creaky and compromised Senator Dianne Feinstein to insist, in her best Third Reich voice, "People want to keep the homeland safe." The spin included statements from Barack himself. Anita Kumar (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Obama described the uproar this week over the programs as “hype” and sought to ensure Americans that Big Brother is not watching their every move." Josh Richman (San Jose Mercury News) quoted Barack insisting that "we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about." Apparently not feeling the gratitude, the New York Times editorial board weighed in on the White House efforts at spin, noting that "the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights." Former US President Jimmy Carter told CNN, "I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial." Since August, he has temporary asylum status in Russia.
Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize
We hereby nominate Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize.
As former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corigan-Maguire said, «peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the active creation of something better». Our leaders are not merely actors on a global stage of preserving self-interest, they are also political leaders whom we need to trust, and hold accountable. Their responsibilities go beyond realpolitik and zero-sum games, their actions have real consequences for real people.
The new information technologies of the past few decades bring new possibilities for democratization, transparency and freedom of expression. But it also introduces new tools of oppression, surveillance, and espionage. Massive surveillance of ordinary people’s communication, and targeted surveillance against allied leaders, is now possible on a scale that we wouldn’t be able to imagine two or three decades ago. When democratic countries make widespread use of these possibilities without regard to people’s rights to free expression, and the basic principles of the rule of law, they undermine their own legitimacy, and ability to effectively criticize and change the oppressive politics, massive surveillance, not to mention the cencorship, of authoritarian regimes.
A peaceful world order depends on trust between nations and trust between people. Peace brokering would be impossible without a basic level of trust. International agreements on non-proliferation and disarmament would be impossible without a basic level of trust. And peaceful resolutions to emerging security threats would be impossible without a basic level of trust.
Edward Snowden has revealed the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance. The level of sophistication and depth of surveillance that citizens all over the world are subject to, has stunned us, and stirred debate all over the world. By doing this, he has contributed critical knowledge about how modern surveillance and intelligence directed towards states and citizens is carried out.
There is no doubt that the actions of Edward Snowden may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term. We do not necessarily condone or support all of his disclosures. We are, however, convinced that the public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden’s whistleblowing has contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order. His actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies. Its value can’t be overestimated.
A country’s legitimate need for reliable intelligence to preserve its own security, must always be balanced against the people’s individual freedoms – and the global need for trust – as an integral condition for stability and peace. Edward Snowden has made a critical contribution to restoring this balance.
Bård Vegar Solhjell, member of the Norwegian Parliament
Snorre Valen, member of the Norwegian Parliament
Snorre Valen, member of the Norwegian Parliament
Publisert 29. januar 2014