Thursday, August 01, 2013

Temporary asylum for Ed Snowden

 ed snowden

This morning, Ed Snowden (above) has left the Moscow airport he has been at since June 23rd.  He's been granted asylum in Russia.  Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reports, "The temporary refugee status allows Mr. Snowden to move freely within the country and is valid for one year, Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer assisting Mr. Snowden with the asylum request, said in a telephone interview."  BBC News adds, "Despite the heavy presence of news organisations at the airport, his departure was apparently not spotted by media."  Today's news follows July 24th's reports of Ed being granted asylum then (see "Snowden granted temporary asylum," for example) only for those reports to fall apart.  Since his attorney is saying he's left the airport, hopefully, the temporary asylum has been granted.  In addition, WikiLeaks has Tweeted:

Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia for a year and has now left Moscow airport under the care of WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison

 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."

The more Barack attempted to defend the spying, the more ridiculous he came off.  Mike Masnick (TechDirt) reviewed Barack's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show and observed of the 'explanations' offered, "None of that actually explains why this program is necessary. If there's a phone number that the NSA or the FBI gets that is of interest, then they should be able to get a warrant or a court order and request information on that number from the telcos. None of that means they should be able to hoover up everything."  As US House Rep John Conyers noted, "But I maintain that the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure to mean that this mega data collected in such a super aggregated fashion can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation before you do anything else.  You've already violated the law, as far as I am concerned."  Barack couldn't deal with that reality but did insist, in the middle of June, that this was an opportunity for "a national conversation."  He's always calling for that because, when it doesn't happen, he can blame the nation.  It's so much easier to call for "a national conversation" than for he himself to get honest with the American people. And if Barack really believes this has kicked off "a national conversation" then demonizing Ed Snowden is a really strange way to say "thank you."

Not everyone will be pleased with today's news.  For example, the very sorry excuses for Senators Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein  will not be happy.  The CBS News on air who laughed on air yesterday about what the Bradley Manning verdict might mean to Ed is not pleased (to be clear, the on air was caught laughing on audio -- the camera was on Bob Orr while she laughed).

But not everyone's unhappy, Ed's father Lon spoke to Rossiya 24 (Russian television) yesterday:

Lon Snowden:  I would also like to thank President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for the -- what I believe -- the courage and the strength and the conviction to keep my son.  Like any mother or father who loves their child, I love my son.  And I will be forever grateful for what you have done for my son. But considering the actions taken, particularly with grounding [Bolivian President] Evo Morales' airplane when they thought my son was on that, I feel that Russia has the strength and resolve and conviction to protect my son, to keep him out of the reach of those who would wish him harm.  That's why I would, if it were me, I would stay in Russia and that's what I hope my son would do.

RT reports, "With his newly-awarded legal status in Russia, Snowden cannot be handed over to the US authorities, even if Washington files an official request. He can now be transported to the United States only if he agrees to go voluntarily."  Again, for the CBS 'talent' (as opposed to reporter) who laughed on air yesterday morning, today's news must be devastating.  But no doubt, wasting everyone's time with celebrity gossip and puff interviews -- which really is CBS This Morning -- will have her mended and back on the superficial track in no time at all.

 WikiLeaks Tweeted:

  1. We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle--now the war.

RT notes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange spoke (via video link) at a conference yesterday:

The world is witnessing the creation of a new world order that involves the security state apparatus as an overwhelming force, Julian Assange said during his speech at OHM2013 Observe, Hack, Make conference.
“We are seeing the doubling of the power of the national security agency every four years,” Assange said, adding that even some experts might not have “enough perspective about what is going on."  

A statement from Barack's administration -- one offering no thank you to Russia -- is expected later this morning.  Ben Brumfield (CNN) reports:

Snowden's father told Anderson Cooper that the FBI had wanted to fly him to Moscow to encourage the National Security Agency leaker to come home to the United States.
But Lon Snowden said he backed out because it was not clear he would be able to speak to his son.
When he asked FBI agents if they would be able to set up communications, they hesitated, he said. It made him suspicious.
"I'm not going to get on a flight and go to Moscow and sit on a tarmac to be an emotional tool for you to use against him. I want to first be able to speak to my son," he told them.

If you're not getting how disgusting Barack and his administration are (I'll guess you've missed the whole Drone War), RT reports on 46-year-old Shaker Aamer who has been held at the US prison on Guantanamo Bay for 11 years now and is in the midst of a hunger strike to protest the treatment at Guantanamo (despite being held for 11 years, he has never been charged with anything):

Aamer also described the techniques Gitmo guards use in violent searches.
“Mostly, that’s just an assault, sometimes a sexual assault. We call it the Gitmo massage,” Aamer said. “There is meant to be a board, like a wooden stretcher, and they are meant to roll me on. But now they don’t have them.”
Former Gitmo prisoners and human rights activists claim that guards have many chances to inflict pain on prisoners they handle with force at the facility, for instance when FCE teams are carrying them.
“They are meant to do a fireman’s lift, but they actually seize an arm or a leg and just yank,” Aamer said in the phone call with his lawyer. “You are on your side, so one of them tends to be doing a half-nelson on me, in handcuffs. It’s like the Spanish Inquisition torture Strappado – you feel as if your shoulder is being dislocated.” 
There are other violent techniques to assert control over the prisoners, Aamer said.

Press TV reports on it here.  What a proud moment for Barack -- he's a mini-gestapo with his own little concentration camp.

Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, the following community sites --  plus Dissident Voice, Pacifica Evening News, Jane Fonda,  Black Agenda Report, The Diane Rehm Show, On the Wilder Side,, Jody Watley and the ACLU -- went up:

This is noted today because we were in a Senate hearing yesterday morning and I didn't have time to do the above yesterday morning. 

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