As the NSA and GCHQ hail the 75th anniversary of their alliance, successive presidents refuse to pardon #EdwardSwowden and a growing number of convicted whistleblowers. Were they traitors to their country, or is there another reason?
Edward Snowden is an American whistleblower who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency employee and subcontractor. His new book “Permanent Record” is now available.
the whole mess with Iraq and Afghan wars, and especially everything that Wikileaks exposed about them, is one of the biggest providers of source material for Russian “whataboutism” (see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_you_are_lynching_negroes). In early 00s, it was mainly useful to justify the way Russia handled Chechnya. But from 2008 on, it became more and more important – South Ossetia, Crimea, Donbass, Syria.
.. With that in mind, leaks about any American administration serve those goals. Bush was certainly fair game. As do any leaks that concern any Western countries, their allies, and affiliated countries. Which happens to be exactly what Wikileaks has been focusing on.
. I don’t think Assange is a Russian agent (even though he receives money from RT etc). I think he has his own motives. At the time this was more anti-Clinton that pro-Trump specifically.
More recently his Tweets have become more supportive of Trump personally (although interestingly not really his agendas necessarily). My uncharitable suspicion is that he’s hoping for a presidential pardon.
.. Why do you believe that the Russian reaction to pulling back would be to pull back as well? If anything, all experience shows that they’ll use that to do a power grab in the neighbouring countries instead. Treating “sphere of influence” as a valid concept is immoral, it essentially means allowing Russia to do whatever they want to others against their will; there’s a good reason why their neighbours are allying with the west – it’s because they want protection from being “sphereofinfluenced”.
.. “I mean, the Russians succeeded, I believe, beyond their wildest expectations. Their first objective in the election was to sow discontent, discord and disruption in our political life, and they have succeeded to a fare-thee-well. They have accelerated, amplified the polarization and the divisiveness in this country, and they’ve undermined our democratic system. They wanted to create doubt in the minds of the public about our government and about our system, and they succeeded to a fare-thee-well.”
“They’ve been emboldened,” he added, “and they will continue to do this.”
.. Trump’s rhetoric is “downright scary and disturbing,” Clapper agonized in an extraordinary monologue on live TV in August, amid Trump’s “fire and fury” threats toward North Korea. He questioned Trump’s “fitness for office” and openly worried about his control over the nuclear launch codes. In our conversation, Clapper didn’t back off one word of it, slamming Trump’s lies, “distortions and untruths.”
.. And he is certainly no liberal partisan: just ask Democrats like Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who excoriated Clapper for what appeared to be misleading a Senate committee about the intelligence community’s surveillance of private U.S. citizens, information later revealed by Edward Snowden’s disclosures. (His testimony was “a big mistake,” Clapper now says, but not “a lie.”
.. a tough-minded former Air Force lieutenant general who once said, “I never met a collection capability I didn’t like.”
.. “It’s a very painful thing for me to be seen as a critic of this president,” he told me, “but I have those concerns.”
.. what he did when then-President-elect Trump first started attacking the intelligence community’s Russia findings. He didn’t publicly blast Trump—he called him on the phone.
.. more significant Russian arms-control violations of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. “If you look at what Russia is trying to do to undermine us, and the modernization of their strategic nuclear forces—and they only have one adversary in mind when they do that
.. appearing to lecture Americans on why only that small percentage of citizens who have served in the military could understand the nature of their sacrifice.
.. He took particular issue with White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comment that Kelly’s word about the congresswoman should not be second-guessed because he had been a four-star general, a remark Clapper called “absurd.”
.. worried about the Trump era as the new age of militarized government, not only with Kelly as chief of staff but also a sitting lieutenant general, H.R. McMaster, as national security adviser, and a former general, James Mattis, as defense secretary. Clapper said that while he has “a visceral aversion” to generals “filling these political, civilian positions,” he’s nonetheless “glad they’re there.”
.. he fears that “some of this intemperate, bellicose rhetoric” between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could lead to a “cataclysmic” war.
The risk, he said, came primarily from Kim miscalculating as a result of Trump’s heated words.
.. “Kim Jong Un doesn’t have any advisers that are going to give him objective counsel. He’s surrounded by medal-bedecked sycophants, who dutifully follow him around like puppy dogs with their notebooks open, ascribing his every utterance, and pushing back against the great leader is not a way to get ahead,” Clapper said. “And so I do wonder what Kim Jong Un’s ignition point is, when some insult that’s been hurled at him by the president will just ignite him.”
.. The 25th Amendment that people bring up is a very, very high bar for removal, and appropriately so. And if that were to happen—and let’s just say for the sake of discussion there were an impeachment, even less likely a conviction—all that would serve to do is heighten the polarization and the divisiveness, because the base will never accept that, and that would just feed the conspiracy theories.”
After Defense Secretary Robert Gates had joined other senior officials in lamenting the “grave damage” from Manning’s revelations, Gates was asked by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin to put it in writing. Gates came back with an honest report: Early claims of damage had been, in Gates’s words, “significantly overwrought.”
.. Yet, balancing whatever that “damage” was is the significance of Snowden’s argument that the warrantless bulk surveillance of Americans was illegal under the Constitution and created the risk of a future leader imposing a “turnkey tyranny” on the United States because of all the embarrassing and incriminating information that would be collected on American citizens.
There is now no doubt that Snowden’s constitutional concerns were well-founded and it is not hard to imagine how an unscrupulous politician might make effective use of people’s personal secrets or their unguarded comments.
But it is easier to discredit Snowden by simply portraying him as a Russian spy.
.. Any contact with Russians – no matter how unintentional in Snowden’s case – is regarded as somehow disqualifying.
.. At one point, Epstein glibly says of Snowden, “In signing this [nondisclosure] document, he swore an oath not to divulge any of this information.”
But that’s not correct. The only oath that we, as military or other government officials swear is: “To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Ethicists describe such an oath as a “supervening value,” far more serious than a promise like that embedded in the contract one signs in agreeing not to disclose classified information that could be harmful to US national security. In other words, what do you do when your oath conflicts with the contract language, which one has the priority?
.. Watching what happened to fellow whistleblowers – like Thomas Drake – who tried to “go through channels,” Snowden knew that he had to “get out of Dodge” to have any hope of remaining at liberty long enough to complete his mission.
The whistleblower says the president should grant him impunity because the information he leaked was in service of the public good.
“I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed,” Snowden told The Guardian. “The [US] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result.”
.. In May, Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and a close friend of Obama, said while Snowden’s leak of classified information was “inappropriate and illegal,” the whistleblower had performed a “public service.”
But the two people next in line for the power to pardon don’t agree. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump last year called Snowden a “bad guy” and suggested he be executed. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton says Snowden should return to the U.S. to face trial.