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Those are really good questions

Watching the Sunday news shows, which have become all Perfidious Snowden all the time, David Sirota asks some most excellent questions. These two in particular struck me as important:

9. Snowden’s decision to flee the United States has often been depicted as an act of treason unto itself. The idea is that whereas Daniel Ellsberg was a hero for blowing the whistle and remaining in the United States, Snowden is a coward for blowing the whistle and fleeing. Left largely unmentioned is the big change between the time of Ellsberg’s disclosures and today: this White House is waging an unprecedented campaign to criminalize whistleblowing; it sometimes tortures whistleblowers; and it claims the right to extra-judicially assassinate American citizens who criticize the government but haven’t even been formally charged for a single crime. In light of this, why have most media outlets not bothered to even ask whether Snowden’s location outside the United States is, unto itself, a response to these troubling changes in U.S. government policy?

10. And finally, perhaps the most damning question of all: Why are so many media outlets far more interested in the minute details of Edward Snowden’s life and location than in the potential crimes against millions of Americans that he exposed?

Yeah, that last one. On CNN, I saw some jerk standing in front of a map of the world spending 10 minutes tracing the route of Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Moscow, then going through likely countries he might end up in, and talking about the state of their extradition treaties to the US. Why? Are we going to marshal the citizenry to strap on their handguns and fly off to Iceland to patrol the airport?

The US media have become criminal colluders in oppression, instead of the watchdogs for citizen rights that they ought to be.

Comments

  1. dezn_98 says

    The mass media has not “become” anything… they have always willingly colluded with state power. I am kind of surprised that someone thinks that the US mass media is an any position at all to be a “watchdog” for rights.

  2. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I am only just now getting clued in this story, and have been looking for the answer for question 10. I am seriously gobsmacked.
    Wtf, Muricans? I mean, WTF? This should be the unpolarizing story of the year. Tea Party Animals, Libertarians, Christofascists…We are all still pretty much opposed to fascism, right?* Isn’t this like a thing we can at least pretend to agree on? I mean if not in practice, at least as a platform plank?
     
    I’m gobsmacked. Completely slack jawed, agape, and exposing tonsils.
     
    *Im sure the Christofascists are against some forms of fascism. Like, when King Jesus isn’t calling the shots.

  3. Jeremy Shaffer says

    It’s like with the Bradley Manning trial: both the media and government want to make it all about Manning and what ever messed-up emotional issues he may or may not have while staying far the f*ck away from any shady bullsh*t the government was shown to be doing in the information that Manning released or what’s been done to him since he was arrested.

  4. says

    More Prism, more Manning, less Snowden coverage is needed. The US is scaring me, in a fascist way. And Obama is leading the way, that’s the most scary part of it. Collect everyone’s emails and internet data, kill random people in Pakistan and wherever, it’s like Obama read “1984” and mistook it for an instruction manual.

  5. says

    Yeah. This country is fucking schizophrenic. You get the right-wingers yelling about Benghazi with nothing more than allegations of some kind of coverup (when it appears the government did the best it could, under the circumstances). You get ‘em yelling about the IRS investigating non-profits that organize around political ideology, when that’s their fucking job.

    This, though? The NSA potentially treating every single fucking one of us like potential terrorists, treating the 4th Amendment like it was written in crayon by Benjamin Franklin’s three-year-old grandson and included in the Constitution as a rather droll jape? Not one fucking peep.

    It’s like the really important issues wear some kind of DoD-developed invisibility cloak. Or they’re the “Not Me” character from that lame-ass Sunday comic. Whichever it is, my brain feels like it was curb-stomped by that trademarked American apathy.

  6. Zeppelin says

    To anyone who thinks that this kind of media collusion with state propaganda is a new thing in the US I recommend Noam Chomsky’s analyses of the media coverage of the Vietnam war and various central american dictatorships, and the extent of historical revisionism surrounding these events.

    Manufacturing Consent is a really good book if you want to spend a very, very angry afternoon or two. It’s good to have a bit of historical perspective on these things.

  7. says

    Snowden’s decision to flee the United States has often been depicted as an act of treason unto itself.

    Because having seen every whistleblower in the last decade either tortured, imprisoned, or harrassed to near-suicide, maybe he decided to participate in the political process from the outside? It’s not as if he owes “yet another try” to a political process that has failed him and betrayed all of us.

    The treason is being committed by those who betray the people of the country by acting in secret against them. That starts with The President and ends up at the analyst who agreed to keep crimes secret. If you’re committing crimes in secret – even with a presidential pardon – you’re still committing crimes – whether you’re a mafioso or a spook. The treason is people engaging in acts against their fellow citizens that they would not tolerate having performed on themselves. The treason is having bent the judicial system to the point where Bradley Manning is tortured for his crimes – criminals committing severe crimes should not sit in judgement on those who commit lesser ones.

  8. says

    Nigel writes:
    Yeah. This country is fucking schizophrenic. You get the right-wingers yelling…

    Can you imaging the poo-flinging shitfits the right would have if they found out that NSA and FBI have built a database of gun ownership including bore-prints and they correlate that to internet purchases of ammunition and investigate anyone who appears to be hoarding weapons? The omg-ness would be off the Richter scale.

  9. Lars says

    Mass media are just jealous, because people like Snowden are doing their job for them, after they utterly failed to do it themselves.

  10. says

    PS – that scenario is not particularly incredible. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that one of the things PRISM apparently alerts on and triggers for collection is “hacking” – the government is more scared of Anonymous than they are of Al Quaeda and they treat hacking as just as significant a threat indicator. It would be so not hard at all to have FBI surveillance at gun shows – just a subtle camera near the exit – and some facial recognition software tied into the internet ammo/accessory/gun purchase scene and cross-referenced by participation in right-wing causes. Cue teaparty shitfits.

  11. David Wilford says

    Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. To CNN, Snowden is just O.J. on a plane.

  12. brucegorton says

    Become implies they haven’t been this since at least the Reagan administration.

  13. says

    It’s a good reminder to those Americans who voted for Obama and most Democrats as “the lesser of two evils” that they were still voting for evil, and as long as they keep letting the threat of Republicans keep them from voting third party, this is just going to get worse and worse.

    And now to wait for the inevitable defense of voting out of fear of Republicans…

  14. yoav says

    The US media have become criminal colluders in oppression, instead of the watchdogs for citizen rights that they ought to be.

    You give them way too much credit. They have long ago fired all of the actual reporters and only have marketing and computer graphics left so your average US “news” organization no longer have anyone who actually know to do anything other then repeat press releases and produce slick looking commercials masquerading as news stories.

  15. Steve LaBonne says

    How ironic that the former teacher of constitutional law, who was supposedly going to run the most transparent administration ever, has escalated the War on Leakers to an unprecedented level of intensity. And as already noted, how unsurprising that our overstuffed lapdog “journalists” are cheering him on. This country makes me sick in so many different ways.

  16. trucreep says

    @11 Marcus:

    Absolutely – that is totally within the realm of possibility. While they may not have a specific database that houses just those specific data, one would have little in the way of getting that information with these programs. If you have a CCW/CPL – your finger prints are readily accessible. If you’ve visited any online sellers of ammunition – cross reference with credit card purchases. Been to a gun show recently? Use geolocation provided by the cell phone that you were guaranteed to have used (it only needs to be ON regardless) while there, and again cross reference with credit card purchases. If you used cash, they can still check out bank statements/ATM withdrawals.

    So while there may not be a single location where this sort of specific information is stored, all of that information IS stored – just need to piece it together.

    Haha I mean FUCK!

  17. stevem says

    Re Snowden vs NSA:

    Why is Snowden a “traitor” for revealing the NSA violation of the 4th Amendment? All I can think of is that by revealing the listening by the NSA of all those terrorists who thought they were so safe behind US citizenship and IP addresses and would openly speak to each other about their plans for the next terror event, will now start speaking “in code” making discovery by the NSA so much harder than it was before Snowden leaked the NSA monitoring _to_ them. Doesn’t that make Snowden an accomplice, “in collusion”, with the would-be-terrorists?

    re 4th Amendment:
    John Oliver, sitting in for Jon Stewart, on “The Daily Show”, had a pretty witty ‘takedown’ of the whole “amendment war” thing. Noting that the NSA collecting all our emails is MUCH better than a database of gun purchases(according to the TEA Party and NRA); declared the 2nd Amendment the WINNER of them all, the 4th being the clear loser of the “amendment war”

    re @1:
    But the mass media is SUPPOSED to be a “watchdog” of rights. That was the whole point of the 1st Amendment (the ‘free speech’ clause, anyway). To prevent the newspaper from becoming just propaganda pieces of the government, for the government, by the government. The papers are intended to be “voices of dissent”, to keep government “honest”, and all that. What has happened to make papers only attack voices of dissent and not publish what the dissenters are actually saying, nor investigate the truth behind the dissenter’s words? I guess if the 2nd Amendment has won, the 1st also lost.

  18. tulse says

    Can you imaging the poo-flinging shitfits the right would have if they found out that NSA and FBI have built a database of gun ownership

    Exactly, and as trucreep says, I don’t know why gun nuts think this isn’t actually happening.

    How is it that congressmen can fight so hard against the government collecting a small bit of information about one purchase, but are all for them reading emails and recording telephone call details? It’s absolutely absurd. If I were a libertarian Second Amendment supporter, I’d be screaming about the NSA’s activities, as it’s a far greater practical threat against the citizenry than a mere gun registry.

  19. says

    @Tabby:

    Goddamn I hope you’re not being serious.

    Yes, we vote for the lesser of two evils. No, we can’t get a third party candidate into office right now. America is dominated by the Democratic and Republican parties. What little we can do is try to get third party candidates into lower offices.

    Protest votes don’t work, third party votes are literally voting for the other guy. If everyone upset with Obama enough to vote third party had done so – Mitt Romney would have won the presidency. He wouldn’t have even balked at sending men and women to die in Syria. He wouldn’t refuse to defend DOMA. He wouldn’t be in a place to put actually sane Justices on the Supreme Court when the current Justices inevitably begin to retire.

    Obama may not be the most transparent, otherwise hyper-noble progressive candidate that you and I wish could be in office, but compared to the realistic alternatives, he’s the best we could hope for.

  20. coldthinker says

    The American government has been very eager to deny they’ve been spying on American citizens. Never even trying to deny their spying on the citizens of all the other countries of the world. Apparently they happily admit they have been spying on me and neighbours, and apparently most Americans seem to this this is just fine and dandy.

    Frankly, I don’t really care how much the US government spies on its own citizens. It’s their sad internal affair. But when I’m considered fair game to be spied on by the US government, I do take an objection to it. I have seen no regrets, no apologies, not even feeble attempts to deny that the privacy of innocent and friendly citizens of other countries is not constantly being invaded on.

    How dare the US demand anything from the Chinese or the Russians? After the US has betrayed everybody’s trust? Why isn’t the US on its knees asking for forgiveness and understanding? Why would anyone offer any friendship to a dog that bites — and keeps on biting with no remorse?

    The USA seems to be declaring itself an enemy of the rest of the world. It is more than sad. It is insane. Is this how the Americans really want it?

  21. anchor says

    @rorschach

    Lets not pretend we don’t remember where all this started…

    http://www.accuracy.org/release/john-poindexters-plan-for-total-information-awareness-in-effect-by-another-name/

    etc.

    Are we gullible enough to summon any extra outrage over what this Snowden character has supposedly revealed? Is any of it really that surprising? Its as if people think that a switch is thrown simply because they cast a vote.

    But, yeah, if Obama can’t be held accountable for dismantling that shit by the end of his first term then the situation is a hell of a lot scarier than even the most naïve among us think.

  22. alkaloid says

    @22

    You’ve told yourself to keep voting for the lesser evil for decades and now and look at where we are now. How can you possibly say that this approach is anything but totally bankrupt?

  23. says

    @Alkaloid:

    Actually I’ve told myself to vote for the lesser evil for a little over 2 and a half years. I VOTED for the greater evil the previous 8 and a half. (I’m only 29 and only became sane recently.)

    I agree that it’s bankrupt and we have issues with our current governance, but you have to be realistic. Every vote that would have gone to one candidate but goes to a third party is one you may as well have cast for the opposite candidate.

    100% of the people voting for Obama would not have voted for a third party. Even if 100% of the people voting for Obama voted for third party candidates, they would not have voted for the SAME third party candidate. It would take a lesser miracle to put a third party candidate into office.

    America is, sadly, a two party system. Those two parties are going further and further to the right – where our president is currently pretty much the same political position of the Republicans thirty years ago. (Heck even Bob Dole was almost less to the right as Obama.) The only way to fix this is to build up from the bottom. We will not get a third party president for a long time, so we need to elect third party local candidates first.

  24. says

    I said…

    And now to wait for the inevitable defense of voting out of fear of Republicans…

    And sure enough, Katherine @22, you defended it right down to invoking fear of Republicans. But ask Alkaloid @26 has pointed out, look at where things are now. Yes, there are large differences between the parties, but the GOP are pulling the Dems to the right, and the Dems are pushing the GOP further into wingnut territory. It’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish the Democrats from the actual Reagan Republicans of the 80s, and 20 or 30 years ago Obama himself would likely have been a Republican. I find it incredible that “BUT REPUBLICANS…!” still works when the lesser of the two evils is turning into the party that very much resembles the “BUT REPUBLICANS…!” of not too long ago.

    And if Obama is the best that you can hope for at this time, Darwin help America…

  25. erik333 says

    @20 stevem

    Yes, some half-witted terrorists might otherwise have used plaintext emails to plan their attacks. But I don’t think there are many who would actually be *that* stupid.

    @26 alkaloid

    Well, it seems to me that it is a problem inherent in your election process – the third option is basically equal to voting for the worst option. Neither party will help you change it, since that undercuts their own power.

  26. alkaloid says

    @Katherine Lorraine, #27

    No matter how many local third party candidates are elected, though, the inevitable reality that needs to be confronted is that the Democrats will have to lose one way or another for things to ever get better in this country because those local third party candidates inevitably will need to run for (and win) major political office against Democrats. In fact, this “logic” can be used even against local third party efforts-since after all, if you don’t support Democrats locally, then how can they hope to compete with the Republicans by developing candidates with experience in the pipeline?

    As a result, your line of thinking results in attempting to feebly plead with the Democrats to do the right thing exactly when they are least likely to listen to you-after you’ve voted them one more time.

    Here’s another wonderful example of a politician coasting by on nose-holding votes:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/6/24/where_is_edward_snowden_glenn_greenwald

    “SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I have seen no abuse by these agencies, nor has any claim ever been made, in any way, shape or form, that this was abused. You know, it’s interesting to me because, I mean, I’ve been going to China for 34 years now trying to increase relationships between our two countries. There is no question about China’s prowess in this arena. There is no question about their attempts to get into our national defense networks, as well as major private businesses.

    AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Feinstein on Face the Nation. Glenn Greenwald, your response to some of her points?

    GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, Dianne Feinstein is outright lying when she says that she doesn’t know of any instances of abuse at the National Security Agency. Leaving aside the fact that there have been several different reports by ABC News, by The New York Times, of the NSA abusing its eavesdropping powers over the last four years, there is a 2011 opinion, 80 pages long, from the FISA court, the secret court that oversees the NSA. And what it ruled, although the court—the opinion is top-secret and hasn’t been publicly released. What it ruled is that the way in which the NSA is spying on American citizens is in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, as well as in excess of the limitations imposed by the statute, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. In other words, what the NSA is doing is both unconstitutional and illegal. And so, although the public doesn’t have access to that opinion—shockingly, that in a democracy you could have a court rule the government has violated the law and the Constitution and keep it all a secret—Dianne Feinstein has access to that opinion. And so, when she says into the camera that there’s no evidence that she is aware of that the NSA has abused its spying powers, she’s simply lying, because she knows that the claim she’s making is false.

    Secondly, the—as far as the outrage that she expressed, that Obama officials routinely express, over the fact that China is hacking into our military installations and the like, she’s right. They are doing that. But one of the things that these documents exposed—I mean, that Mr. Snowden exposed to China is that the United States is not only hacking into China’s military systems but also its civilian systems. And part of the reason why the Chinese government was unable to turn Snowden over to the U.S., even had they wanted to, was because public opinion in China and in Hong Kong was so enraged by that revelation—that their text messages are being directed into NSA repositories—that they simply couldn’t, consistent with public opinion, hand Snowden over to the United States.”

  27. trucreep says

    @Katherine;

    I see your point, and I agree voting for an Independent or a third party on the national level is usually a vote for the Republican or Democrat (by denying a vote for the Republican it puts the Democrat one vote ahead or what have you). I do not find this a strong or persuasive reason to vote for what is called the lesser of two evils.

    However, I do think you’re on the right path when you talk about local elections, and there are several ways to work within the system (and to exploit the two-party system that exploits us) to bring about change. I think this is best illustrated by the Tea Party.

    They use the primary system in their respective states to advance the issues they find important. I think it’s a safe assumption that most readers here despise the Tea Party and a lot of what they stand for – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t learn from them. You can see just how much they have upset the “balance” of the establishment, and whether you like it or not, have successfully gotten issues they care about (taxes, deficit) on the national stage. And you can see Republicans from all over the country practically falling over each other to appeal to this group.

    If you can let Congressmen know that they absolutely have to answer to the people that elect them to office, the suddenly start paying attention.

  28. trucreep says

    @32

    Very, very well said. And that was a great exchange with Greenwald – all of his TV appearances have been such a breath of fresh air; he refuses to even entertain the bullshit coming from the White House.

  29. says

    @Alkaloid:

    Yes, but are you willing to be the minority or poor person alive when the current group of Republicans gets the power of the White House, the House, the Senate, and the Court?

    Congratulations, the Democrats lost. We really showed them that we want them to be more progressive. Now we’re going to sit around for the next ten years as our social safety net is destroyed and as all the rights we’ve fought for the past fifty-plus years are eroded and the rich get super rich and our economy takes a nose dive.

    Way to show the Democrats! Yay! Now maybe we can vote in a third party! Right after we pick up the pieces of all of our broken lives.

  30. alkaloid says

    @Katherine Lorraine, #35

    Nice fear-mongering by the way. Unfortunately, I’ve heard it before and I’m not convinced by it. At all by now. So to answer your question: yes, I am, as both an atheist as a black man, because I know the hard way that the Democrats (and those people that are closest to them in mindset) aren’t going to do anything to help me or anyone like me whether they are in power or not. I am not represented by President Huxtable now, I was not represented by those who thought like him during the Bush administration and did nothing against it, and I won’t be represented by their like after Obama retires to what will undoubtedly be a comfortable life of speaking appointments and such. They have been useless, they have given every indication that they will continue to be useless, and I feel nothing for them except for derision and contempt.

  31. alkaloid says

    “Congratulations, the Democrats lost. We really showed them that we want them to be more progressive. Now we’re going to sit around for the next ten years as our social safety net is destroyed and as all the rights we’ve fought for the past fifty-plus years are eroded and the rich get super rich and our economy takes a nose dive.”

    The Democrats aided and abetted a lot of that, though. In fact, even when the Obama administration of late had the chance to do the right thing or even try to do the right thing they went out of their way *not* to do it. When the first Obama administration started, Elizabeth Warren was clearly qualified and honest? What did the Obama administration do? Most of the people that he brought in were the likes of Rahm Emanuel and the unrepentant sexist Lawrence Summers-and both of them, to varying to degrees, have been associated with everything that’s wrong with the Democratic Party, whether in terms of winnowing out any actual liberals or leftists or enthusiastic support for neoliberal economics.

  32. says

    @alkaloid:

    It’s a difference between people who aren’t doing anything to help you and those who are going to do everything in their power to hurt you.

    Do you honestly want the current branch of Republicans to be in power? The branch of Republicans who are trying to push the 40th or so bill to stop Obamacare (which flawed as it is, is better than nothing) and the ones trying to push forward a bill to make all abortions after 20 weeks illegal? The ones trying to defund Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid? The ones trying to make voting while black either illegal or so goddamned hard it’s pointless to try.

    The Democrats are at least trying.

  33. David Wilford says

    The claim that things have to get worse before they can get better politically reminds me of how those who currently push for austerity measures for the economy claim the same thing. It’s magical thinking in both cases as far as I’m concerned.

    In politics the choice is between the preferable and the detestable, and you’ll never get what you really want in either case. But you’ll get less of what you don’t want at least.

  34. alkaloid says

    #40, David Wilford:

    “In politics the choice is between the preferable and the detestable, and you’ll never get what you really want in either case. But you’ll get less of what you don’t want at least.”

    So you prefer the NSA spying? In fact, the Obama administration is actively expanding the program through the construction of a massive facility in Utah. (I’ll find a url later).

    In fact, this really isn’t a choice between the preferable and the detestable any more. In reality, its more of a choice between the “more honestly and up-front detestable” and the “equally committed to being detestable, but in different ways, and being a bit more competently secretive about it.”

    What in this is actually worth continuing the charade? For me it is absolutely nothing.

  35. says

    @coldthinker
    Is this how the Americans really want it?

    What the Americans get and what their leaders do and want to do, are two different things. As you can see by the exchange above between trucreep and Katherine, the US Government has been taken over by a two party system that has crowded out all other parties, and offers the people a hobson’s choice between a repellent right-wing corporatist ideology and a batshit insane right-wing religious corporatist ideology. We have as much of a chance of successfully pulling off a “regime change” as the Syrian population or the Egyptian population.

    Sure, we have tons of patsies who buy the party lines that are being sold by the two parties. In fact, the patsies are the majority, which makes the situation even worse by removing one of the great political justifications for overthrowing the status quo. Practical suggestions short of revolution would be welcome.

  36. David Wilford says

    alkaloid, I’m not a single-issue voter. If you want to make the NSA all that matters to you, that’s your call. I doubt that’s all you care about though.

  37. alkaloid says

    #38, Katherine Lorraine

    “It’s a difference between people who aren’t doing anything to help you and those who are going to do everything in their power to hurt you.”

    So Obama signing the bill that contained the NDAA, which made “legal” indefinite detention of American citizens without due process isn’t hurting me?

    So the Obama justice department maintaining that they have the “right” to arbitrarily kill me as an American citizen (a series of statements that, by the way, were barely challenged in Congress and one of the biggest challengers against this was, as abhorrent as his economic politics are, a Republican) isn’t hurting me?

    Rahm Emanuel is going out of his way to shut down upwards of thirty schools in Chicago that, by an amazing coincidence, are located in overwhelmingly black and Chicano districts. Is that supposed to magically be less hurtful because he has a (D) after his name instead of an (R)?

    “Do you honestly want the current branch of Republicans to be in power? The branch of Republicans who are trying to push the 40th or so bill to stop Obamacare (which flawed as it is, is better than nothing) and the ones trying to push forward a bill to make all abortions after 20 weeks illegal? The ones trying to defund Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Medicare / Medicaid? The ones trying to make voting while black either illegal or so goddamned hard it’s pointless to try.

    The Democrats are at least trying.”

    A lot of the time: no they’re not-and when they do try, they often do so in such a lackadaisical way, such as the recall effort against Walker in Wisconsin that it almost seems like they don’t even *want* their efforts to succeed. This is in addition to all the times when they’re _actively working against their own voters_ or people who might otherwise be on their side-like degree to which the police brutality against Occupy protesters looked roughly equivalent whether the mayors were democrats or republicans.

  38. timanthony says

    How about this theory: the government has realized that a warming, waring, thirsting, starving world of multiple disparate sets of conditions cannot be expected to withstand Global Warming much longer at all.

    As banks, food crops and the world’s fresh-water systems look to increasingly fail on massive and global scales, the government has left itself little choice but to begin arming itself against a disenfranchised, soon-to-be hungry majority, no longer concentrating behind the scenes on courting its votes.

    Think about your job, and other skills and attributes. Does the government need you? I mean, when they have to choose between you and another person for a job, amidst 99.5% private sector unemployment, will you be allowed to feed your family? Yourself?

    Of course, I could be wrong. But these are the conversations we’re not having, so it’s certainly too soon to be at all sure. We all complain about how economists are educated blind idiots leading the rest of us blind idiots because they never take into account the simplest idea: that resources are finite. Which just makes the rest of us even dumber for doing the same thing as we point our fingers at them. WE don’t get “finite” very well either.

    The planet became unsustainable some time ago.No one noticed. Still haven’t. Nothing left to do but think about hoarding.

  39. alkaloid says

    #43, David Wilford

    You’re absolutely right that the NSA eavesdropping isn’t the only issue I care about.

    How many meaningful prosecutions have there been of the bankers who crashed the economy under the Obama administration-as compared to prosecutions against whistleblowers?

  40. David Wilford says

    alkaloid, if that’s what you care most about, vote accordingly. Just don’t come crying about how bad the Republicans are afterwards.

    BTW, I’m a Wisconsin resident who worked on the recall elections and let me assure you it was anything but a lackadaisical effort and it did work but for the fact that the Republicans were able to redraw legislative districts after the 2010 census to their partisan advantage. Frankly, we would have been better off not to have held Walker’s recall election until the 2012 general election when Democrats have an easier time getting their base vote out thanks to there being a Presidential election (that’s why Tammy Baldwin won the U.S. Senate election in 2012). Unfortunately hotter head prevailed and Walker won by the same margin he did in 2010, when he should have done better given it was a special election.

  41. alkaloid says

    #47 How much support did you get from the national Democratic Party, though?

  42. Stacy says

    America is, sadly, a two party system….The only way to fix this is to build up from the bottom.

    The way to fix this, as I’ve said many times, is to change our voting system.

    Katherine Lorraine is absolutely right that a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for the major-party candidate you like least. Those of you who have a problem with that are quarreling with mathematics.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/01/verdict-our-voting-system-loser

    The problem isn’t that people are too naive or cowardly to vote for a third-party candidate, it’s that our voting system sucks. We are not going to get out of this impasse until we change it, and yet the problem is so far beneath the radar most people are unaware of it.

    Ed, please consider reading Poundstone’s book and doing a post about the voting system problem.

  43. Stacy says

    Oh jeez, I’m sorry PZ, for calling you Ed. (But everybody on FtB are really your sockpuppets anyway, right? Including commenters like me….)

  44. David Wilford says

    alkaloid, no campaign lacked for resources in terms of advertising and getting out the vote efforts, and in fact more was spent for the recall elections than for ALL of the WI state House and Senate races in 2010. Trust me, there were plenty of ads, mailings, emails, etc. Most of the support came from within Wisconsin and even if the national party had contributed a few million more dollars it wouldn’t have had a noticeable effect.

  45. rexlittle says

    I strongly suspect that if NSA spying were happening under a Republican President (which of course it would, in spades), the response of the news media would be rather different.

  46. says

    Snowden is big news in Hong Kong (obviously). A politician named Albert Ho Chun-yan is claiming responsibility for negotiating Snowden’s safe exit from Hong Kong. (Link to The Standard, see also front page.)

    Kerry is really looking like a buffoon here (even if he is actually forced by circumstance to talk shit). The US government has been illegally spying on Hong Kong. That is the real matter at hand from a Chinese perspective. Snowden is completely innocent of any crime here, unlike the US government.

  47. anchor says

    One must add this:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2013/06/07/u-s-never-really-ended-creepy-total-information-awareness-program/

    We have been soaking in it for near a dozen years…and only now we whine upon it???

    feh

    Item: Terrorists aren’t stupid. They know exactly how to dismantle their enemy, by a sufficiently strong single impulse…and they sit back and watch the ensuing insanity consume their enemy.

    And so it has thus far transpired, favorably according to their plan, not at all according to our pathetic reaction (nope, not a decent plan, response, or anything remotely resembling the kind of stolid resolve shown, for example, by the British during continuous bombing)

    What’s interesting is how politicians play the peril for gain.

  48. says

    The double standards of the Washington Post: Snowden case highlights Ecuador’s double standard

    Mr. Snowden should be particularly interested in [some point of Equadorian Law]

    … had Mr. Snowden done his leaking in Ecuador…

    The point, it appears, is to malign Snowden’s character, by association, for his fleeing to Equador. That somehow this is a reflection of Snowden’s “real” character, rather than Equador being the only country that has stepped forward, so willingly, to protect him from incarceration and torture in the USA.

    Another point seems to be a variation on the “Dear Muslima” argument. “Other countries crimes are worse than our own, therefore we do not owe the truth to our own citizens.”

    What a bunch of pathetic, carping, toadies the editorial board of the Washington Post have hereby proven themselves to be. Not only do they betray their journalistic integrity, defending the US government’s crimes against their own citizens (and those of many other countries), they do it with such puerile argumentation that they insult the intelligence of their readers too.

    Snowden did their job, exposing the immoral and unethical behaviours of those in power. He did this at great personal, risk and with great courage, on behalf of everyone. The editorial board of the Washington Post (link to their names), should now hang their heads in shame.

  49. says

    Snowden committed treason, pure and simple. He broke the law. Nobody is saying he DIDN’T break the law. You can’t cherry-pick which laws to observe or enforce.

    There are whistle-blower programs for those who want to report violations of the law. There’s a very good reason why Snowden did NOT avail of such programs or other alternatives . . . there was no violation of the law in the first place. Embarrassing revelations, yes. Criminal activity, no. At no time, since this story broke, has any specific violation of U.S. law been credibly alleged.

    I’m tempted to say that Snowden made a mistake. But he didn’t. He flew the coop BECAUSE he knew he was committing treason. He acted intentionally and with full knowledge of what he was doing. With his security clearance, he was well aware of the consequences of his actions.

    So why did he do it? Either he really believes the reasons he’s given via the press or he wanted fame or notoriety. If he really believes himself, that’s no excuse for committing treason: he can’t single-handedly undermine his own government based on a personal assessment. This is not civil disobedience we’re talking about here: it’s not merely an unauthorized protest. It’s an action that undermines our government and damages programs developed to fight terrorism.

    Our government was authorized to pursue the measures they’ve pursued for our national security. It’s a known fact that clandestine activities are carried out by all the major players on the world geopolitical stage. It’s not pretty but how can it be? This is the war on terrorism after all. It’s, by nature, clandestine and pushes the legal/political envelope.

    Should our government be doing the things he’s revealed? That’s a matter of opinion. Has Snowden committed treason? That’s a matter of law.

    Our government, like any other, doesn’t always make the best decisions. If you think you can do better, run for office. In the final analysis, we are accountable for our actions . . . and that includes our government. Our democratic system provides ways to correct itself — they’re often slow and cumbersome or even ineffective — but none of those systems allow for an attention-seeking high school graduate to commit treason.

  50. says

    @ jimashby

    there was no violation of the law in the first place.

    Speak from a ‘Merkin perspective shall we?

    This is the war on terrorism after all.

    This excuses more iniquity than it prevents. The US war on terror has led it to commit multiple acts of terror.

    It’s, by nature, clandestine and pushes the legal/political envelope.

    Stop fucking around. The words are “criminal” and “unethical”, not weaselly “pushes the legal/political envelope”!

    Should our government be doing the things he’s revealed?

    Hell No!

    That’s a matter of law.

    USA-ian laws allowed for slavery in the past. They still allow for all manner of institutionalised bigotry and the most appalling acts of terror. You are not doing the US a favour by acting as an apologist. Rather fight to change things (including lousy or immoral laws) for the better. The US is once again looking like the land of bullying buffoons, to the rest of the world.

    Our democratic system provides ways to correct itself

    Actually your country’s constitution is pretty fucked up and outdated. Large numbers of your leaders spend every waking moment seeking to undermine both democracy and human rights, within and without the USA. Keep feeding your exceptionalism by patting yourself on the back, but don’t expect to fool anyone but yourself.

  51. says

    theophontes @ 60: Thank you! Excellent takedown! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when the stupid putrid authoritarian cowards* squeak about heroes like Snowden, but it makes me sad every time to hear their pathetic bleating that somehow our civil rights are null and void because, after all, we’re fighting bad guys and also anything the government declares legal is totally legal, even if it’s not constitutional, but don’t worry because we’re giving up our rights and freedoms to DEFEND THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE!!!!1!! And somehow they can say that with a straight face.

    There was another stupid putrid authoritarian coward whining on Friendly Atheist, on one hand agreeing that the programs Snowden exposed were terrible but that they were legal because the government said they were, and we need to change the laws if we don’t like them, but on another hand declaring that Snowden is totally a traitor and that it was objectively morally wrong for him to expose those programs and those laws. And he couldn’t get it into his stupid putrid head that we can’t CHANGE what we don’t KNOW ABOUT! Somehow we need to band together as We the People to change these unjust laws and abuses of power, but any move towards making We the People aware of those unjust laws and abuses of power is Wrong and Not the Way to Go About It (because surely the Government Knows Best and is protecting us from the Evil Muslim Conspiracies and meddling fools like Snowden and Manning will ruin the Grand Plan to keep us all Safe dontchaknow–kind of like how God has a plan for the Family that involves Male Dominance, so the woman has to do whatever The Man wants and never question it, because surely God has a Good Plan and everything will turn out fine, so just get into that car when your husband decides to take a trip during a blizzard–stupid putrid authoritarian cowards think alike, whether their authority is on earth or an invisible friend living in the sky), especially if the government decides that creating such awareness is a criminal act. We’re supposed to magically vote to change things we’re not aware of, without making any effort to be informed or to make sure others are informed because That Would Be Bad.

    How do you argue with such stupid putrid authoritarian cowardice anyway? Like the stoner in Cabin in the Woods said, the human race is just too chicken shit to survive.

    *Been watching a lot of Futurama lately!

  52. John Morales says

    [meta]

    jimashby:

    Snowden committed treason, pure and simple. He broke the law. Nobody is saying he DIDN’T break the law. You can’t cherry-pick which laws to observe or enforce.

    What does it say about a country when one of its citizens revealing to the citizenry how the government secretly spies on them is a treasonous act?

  53. says

    You just have to stop and appreciate the lovely fecal scented authoritarian, binary thinking deposited this lovely Tuesday morning. Without jimashby’s brave, heroic stance none of us would be aware that treason is a crime. We might have sat in our delusional worlds continuing to believe that this victimless crime is overshadowed by and justified given the blatant unconstitutional actions our government has engaged in. Thankfully we were rescued from the edge by our ally, a true right thinking American, one who knows good from evil, but no shading between them…jimashby!

  54. madscientist says

    Yup, this has got to be the weirdest non-story since accusing Julian Assange of espionage. My disappointment with president Barack Dubbyah Bush grows by the microsecond. The guy only said that the gubb’mint is spying on citizens contrary to the provisions of the law. If anyone should be tried for treason it should be the president and his enablers.

  55. says

    @ demonhype

    Actually I am doing a good job of restraining myself. Kerry has come fucking close to saying “if you’re not for us, you’re against us”. It has been most sad to see how the Hawk’s have taken control of things. Sadder still to see Obama being led by the nose.

    the stupid putrid authoritarian cowards … Been watching a lot of Futurama lately!

    I just want to check that you know about Altemeyer’s “The Authoritarians”. It is a little dated, but still relevant and a good starting point from which to investigate this invidious phenomenon.

  56. says

    I just love how glibly folk here resort to logical fallacies. Revealing classified information makes you guilty of the crime of treason. Period. Not up for debate. It’s not a matter of opinion. Just a simple fact.

    Am I concerned about sacrificing or endangering our rights for security? Sure. Of course. I don’t agree with some of the post-9/11 measures taken by the U.S. government. But that is separate from the crime of treason. Maybe we’ll see some needed reforms in homeland security because of Snowden. If so, he will have prompted something beneficial.

    But he still should stand trial treason and should imprisoned for it, like any other criminal, if found guilty. Nobody is above the law. Not Presidents and certainly not Snowden.

  57. Nick Gotts says

    Revealing classified information makes you guilty of the crime of treason. – jimashby

    According to the constitution of the USA:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

    Now Snowden clearly has not levied war against the USA, nor has he “adhered to their enemies”. There’s nothing in the definition – evidently intended to be restrictive (see that “only”?) – about revealing classified information. So unless we take the authority of jimashby’s arse over that of the American constitution, he has not committed treason.

  58. says

    jimashby:

    Revealing classified information makes you guilty of the crime of treason. Period. Not up for debate. It’s not a matter of opinion. Just a simple fact.

    citation needed

  59. rr says

    jimashby:

    But he still should stand trial treason and should imprisoned for it, like any other criminal, if found guilty. Nobody is above the law. Not Presidents and certainly not Snowden.

    The NSA has been breaking US law for years. Should the NSA obey the law too?

  60. says

    @ jimashby

    Revealing classified information makes you guilty of the crime of treason. Period. Not up for debate. It’s not a matter of opinion. Just a simple fact.

    You are being fucking obtuse. Every two-bit dictatorship has an endless litany of ethically sound actions deemed illegal. That is why they are deemed repressive. USA is supposed to be an open democracy with a responsibility to “We The People”. It is not supposed to play Big Brother. And bye-the-bye, fuck you very much for disregarding the 6,6-billion non-‘Merkin peoples ‘ right to privacy in their communications. You may, falsely, feel your government has a right to pry into your fellow citizens lives, but you – even in your own most right-wing fantasies – have no right to even think that about the rest of us.

    But that is separate from the crime of treason.

    When upholding the interests of the commonwealth is deemed treason by the powers-that-be, you know that you are living in a repressive dictatorship.

    If so, he will have prompted something beneficial.

    He has. His patriotism is questioned only by the corrupt and the dissolute.

    But he still should stand trial treason and should imprisoned for it, like any other criminal, if found guilty.

    jimashby I grew up in a repressive state. I need to ask you this: What do you think it is like to live in a repressive state? Do you not think that every form of repression is justified? Or that the law makes the most egregious outrages against human decency acceptable? The “Other” is always out there when you live in a repressive state.

  61. says

    jimashby:

    Revealing classified information makes you guilty of the crime of treason. Period. Not up for debate.

    Hmmm.

    Nobody is above the law. Not Presidents and certainly not Snowden.

    So, for the President to hide illegal activity, all he needs to do is make the evidence classified.

    Interesting.

    Ignoring the fact that the first quote is quite desperately wrong, your statements seem to be at odds with each other. I guess consistency isn’t your strong suit, is it?

  62. rexlittle says

    Snowden clearly has not levied war against the USA, nor has he “adhered to their enemies”.

    The second half of this statement is debatable, but the first step in framing that debate is to define the term “their enemies.” Lacking any such definition in the text of the Constitution, it seems to me that it must mean either “anyone the President says is an enemy” or “those with whom the USA is at war.” Using the latter definition, the US currently has no enemies, unless Congress declared war while I wasn’t paying attention. (Terms like “war on terror”, “war on drugs” and “war on poverty” are metaphorical.) In that case, the question of treason is moot.

    This raises an interesting question (well, I think it’s interesting, anyway): if Congress does declare war, must it be against a sovereign nation? In the wake of 9-11, could they have declared war on Al-Qaeda?

  63. alkaloid says

    “Nobody is above the law. Not Presidents and certainly not Snowden.”

    Nobody would’ve even really known about the crimes of warrantless surveillance (aside from all of the people that were completely prepared to look the other way, which is a big part of the problem) if Snowden hadn’t come forth and confirmed what a lot of people suspected, but couldn’t say for sure, what was happening.

    Indirectly, your allegedly high-minded respect for the “law” defaults to “we’re the government: trust us.” No fucking thanks.

  64. David Marjanović says

    Can you imaging the poo-flinging shitfits the right would have if they found out that NSA and FBI have built a database of gun ownership including bore-prints and they correlate that to internet purchases of ammunition and investigate anyone who appears to be hoarding weapons? The omg-ness would be off the Richter scale.

    QFMFT!!!

    And now to wait for the inevitable defense of voting out of fear of Republicans…

    You can’t wish the two-party system away.

    Wishing harder won’t help.

    But ask Alkaloid @26 has pointed out, look at where things are now.

    What, if anything, makes you think they couldn’t possibly be worse?

    And if Obama is the best that you can hope for at this time, Darwin help America…

    Exactly!

    Refusing to believe that the situation sucks doesn’t make the situation not suck!!!

    Voting for a third party is almost equivalent to voting against the party you don’t want to get into power. It’s a shitty system, and it’s built into the power structure of both parties.

    It’s built into the big-C Constitution itself! By failing to separate the head of state from the head of government and thus making the government dependent on the president instead of on Congress, it inevitably turns every election for a new government into a duel between two candidates, each of whom has a party behind them for support, a party that continues to exist after the election and then fields a candidate next time.

    You The People of the United States can’t get out of this manure tank till you amend the Constitution, and I know how ridiculously hard that is!

    In the meantime, why aren’t you protesting in the streets like the Turks are?

    The claim that things have to get worse before they can get better politically reminds me of how those who currently push for austerity measures for the economy claim the same thing. It’s magical thinking in both cases as far as I’m concerned.

    More specifically, it’s the Leninist doctrine of “heightening the contradictions”.

    There are whistle-blower programs for those who want to report violations of the law. There’s a very good reason why Snowden did NOT avail of such programs or other alternatives . . . there was no violation of the law in the first place.

    [citation needed]

    And if there wasn’t, if somehow it actually doesn’t violate the 4th Amendment, perhaps the law is evil and needs to be changed? Just saying.

    This is the war on terrorism after all.

    It’s so silly to call that a war.

    So, for the President to hide illegal activity, all he needs to do is make the evidence classified.

    Interesting.

    Quite!

    Ignoring the fact that the first quote is quite desperately wrong, your statements seem to be at odds with each other. I guess consistency isn’t your strong suit, is it?

    I’m not sure if he thinks he’s Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil. Anyway, I think he’s Lawful Stupid.

    This raises an interesting question (well, I think it’s interesting, anyway): if Congress does declare war, must it be against a sovereign nation? In the wake of 9-11, could they have declared war on Al-Qaeda?

    That is interesting, and I’m pretty sure the Founding Fathers never thought of this – even the pettiest Mediterranean pirates were officially supported by city-states on the Moroccan-to-Libyan coast in their time.

  65. rexlittle says

    The problem isn’t that people are too naive or cowardly to vote for a third-party candidate, it’s that our voting system sucks. We are not going to get out of this impasse until we change it

    One small, simple change would do it: require a majority of the votes cast to win an election. If no one gets a majority, hold a runoff between the top two finishers (or put in an “instant runoff” system, where voters name a second choice along with their original vote).

    Example: a Democrat, a Republican and a Green are running. Republican gets 48%, Democrat 47%, Green 5%. With our current system, the Republican wins, and the Democrat has a legitimate beef that the Greens cost him the election. If instead there was a runoff, and 80% of the Greens picked the Democrat in that (a conservative estimate, I should think), the Democrat would win 51-49.

  66. says

    Jimashby:
    Can you tap into that inner well of humility to admit you were wrong about treason?

    For my part, I feel Snowden acted in the interests of the citizens of the U.S. The government was (is?) engaged in unconstitutional activities against the very citizens it is supposed to be protecting. Your unwavering patriotism is preventing you from understanding just who has been wronged in this situation. Do I deny that Snowden engaged in illegal activity? No. But quite frankly, balanced against the violation of our rights–IN THIS SPECIFIC SITUATION-I feel he was justified.

    All of the above is why I said your view is so binary. You see no shades if grey (at least not in this situation).

    (By the way, what are the logical fallacies you made reference to? As you did not explain yourself-preferring to assert your opinion-I am left to assume you pulled that out of your ass. Or maybe you just do not recognize fallacies. Or heck, *both*

  67. says

    There is no citation needed for treason. We all know what it is. If it were a special word, then, perhaps, citation would be needed. Nonetheless, I’ll go with the citation provided by Nick Gotts (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/06/24/those-are-really-good-questions/comment-page-1/#comment-643287). According to Wikipedia . . .

    The Constitution does not itself create the offense; it only restricts the definition, permits Congress to create the offense, and restricts any punishment for treason to only the convicted. The crime is prohibited by legislation passed by Congress. Therefore the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 states “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

    By injuring or compromising our capacity to prosecute the war on terror, Snowden has ‘adhered to our enemies’ AND given them ‘aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere’. Admittedly, the damage appears to be mostly indirect and not catastrophic, so prosecutors will likely go after a lesser charge under the Espionage Act.

    Regardless, if we ever get him back, I’m sure he’ll be prosecuted for the criminal that he is and I’m sure that a jury will find him guilty as charged. Time will tell.

  68. gravityisjustatheory says

    By injuring or compromising our capacity to prosecute the war on terror, Snowden has ‘adhered to our enemies’ AND given them ‘aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere’

    [citation needed]

    That looks like something for a court to argue over, rather than a clear fact.

    (And your interpretation – taken to it’s logical extreme – would mean that anyone who does anything that makes the US less effective at war would be “adhering to your enemies”, which seems to be stretching the language to breaking point).

  69. says

    Regardless, if we ever get him back, I’m sure he’ll be prosecuted for the criminal that he is and I’m sure that a jury will find him guilty as charged. Time will tell.

    It’s a rather sad observation that the “criminals” are the only ones acting in our best interest.

  70. says

    Some of us:
    1. value our right to privacy and believe there was insufficient justification to violate our rights.
    2. understand that Snowden may have committed a crime, but he is not guilty of treason.
    3. Grok that the ‘war on terror’ has been executed poorly, and has resulted in the loss of innocent lives and the erosion of our personal freedoms.
    4. Understand the governments violation of our constitutional rights is far more egregious an offense than making this knowlege public.
    5. Realize the government has alienated other countries.
    6. realize that you cannot ‘prosecute’ a war on terror.
    7. Believe the US’s actions will one day create more, not less, terrorists.
    8. Understand that blind support of our government is not a virtue.

  71. says

    Der Spiegel:

    The US is, for the time being, the only global power — and as such it is the only truly sovereign state in existence. All others are dependent — either as enemies or allies. And because most prefer to be allies, politicians — Germany’s included — prefer to grin and bear it.

    What, exactly, is the purpose of the National Security Agency? Security, as its name might suggest? No matter in what system or to what purpose: A monitored human being is not a free human being. And every state that systematically contravenes human rights, even in the alleged service of security, is acting criminally.

    Soft totalitarianism is still totalitarianism.

    [My emphasis.]

    Contrast this article with the shit ‘Merkin media is spewing.

  72. rexlittle says

    The crime is prohibited by legislation passed by Congress.

    Does that legislation specify who is considered an “enemy”? I still think that needs to be settled before we can talk about treason.

  73. David Marjanović says

    By injuring or compromising our capacity to prosecute the war on terror,

    Show that he has in fact done that. “It seems obvious” isn’t evidence.

    Assuming he has…

    Snowden has ‘adhered to our enemies’ AND given them ‘aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere’.

    Define “enemy” in the light of comment 73.

  74. David Marjanović says

    Blockuqote. This is a short one, so I’ll try again:

    By injuring or compromising our capacity to prosecute the war on terror,

    Show that he has in fact done that. “It seems obvious” isn’t evidence.

    Assuming he has…

    Snowden has ‘adhered to our enemies’ AND given them ‘aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere’.

    Define “enemy” in the light of comment 73.

  75. rexlittle says

    Tony:
    He was able to identify the relevant legislation and quote from it. That’s more than I could have done.