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View Diary: The Washington Post Doesn't Understand Why Snowden Would Prefer Exile to Rotting in a U.S. Prison (388 comments)

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    •  Our thoughts on this are identical. (52+ / 0-)

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 12:11:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would like to know who it was... (82+ / 0-)

      ...who resurrected the medieval notion that for something to be worthy it must entail great personal sacrifice.  Why must good come only from the suffering of the one bringing it?  Why should the person bringing a good end -- as I think more control over our surveillance process would have to be considered -- not find reward for doing so?  It's like we've stepped back into hair shirts and flagellations.

    •  Shows no understanding of how this Administration (36+ / 0-)

      Has cracked down on leakers via judicial, well, revenge, I guess. So yeah, he could come back and can go to prison (if he's lucky and they prosecute him via regular, federal courts). He can do his time (a lot). He can get out a convicted felon, with a ruined life and little chance of professional and personal success. He can do all that, or he can try for asylum in a place where he might have a chance at living a somewhat normal life. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

      Perhaps the WaPo is confusing how this DOJ treats the Senior Officials in the Obama administration who disclose classified information designed to make the Administration look good with the way they treat leakers who disclose information that embarrasses or exposes wrong-doing? Beats me.

    •  I *do* reject the concept of asylum for Snowden. (18+ / 0-)

      Asylum is for people who are being unjustly persecuted by their state of origin.

      If you are going to suggest that he falls under that category, then please name for me one major nation on this planet that wouldn't be pursuing criminal charges against one of their citizens if that citizen had done what Snowden did to their country.

      Just one major nation, please, in which everyone who has access to classified information is completely legally free to release whatever information they see fit to the general public.

      Or are you suggesting that all nations are equally unjust in wanting to keep any information at all from the general public?

      On a certain level, I can understand seeing his actions as an act of civil disobedience, but as I'm sure you're aware, an essential component of civil disobedience is accepting the legal punishment for one's actions.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:11:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Asdf (8+ / 0-)


        While I empathize with Snowden, "asylum" implies some extralegal foundation for the request, some basic implied threat of a violation of basic human rights.

        I do not see that in his case.

      •  So you'd have denied asylum to those who did (47+ / 0-)

        similar to the Soviet Union?  I expect not.   All their dissidents were breaking laws of the state as well.   I figure he'd be unjustly persecuted if he returns to the US.  I agree he broke the law but the LAW is UNJUST because it keeps from American citizens what they have a right to know.  All authoritarian nations have unjust laws.  If no one can get asylum for breaking them then there is no political asylum.  

        •  This x 10 to the sixth. (19+ / 0-)

          Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

          by StrayCat on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:57:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The U.S. does not equal the Soviet Union . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          this is sloppy analogizing.

          As far as the law goes, when he revealed top secret information about surveillance of foreign nationals on foreign soil, he wasn't operating within our Constitutional framework (fourth amendment protections do not extend to states outside of the U.S.'s borders -- especially in the case of foreign nationals).

          If the scope of his disclosures just related to domestic spying he would stand on firmer ground.

          •  We're not there YET but we're skidding fast (0+ / 0-)

            down that slippery, slippery slope.

            As for the Fourth Amendment, it says "the people", not "the citizens". - so I wouldn't be too sure that it's as limited as you seem to think.

            If it's
            Not your body,
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            And it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 09:42:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The U.S. Bill of Rights . . . (0+ / 0-)

              has legal validity in Russia for Russian citizens?

              On what legal basis?  Based on what enforcement mechanism?

              Does national sovereignty exist?

              The U.S. Constitution has jurisdiciton within the U.S.'s borders.  It is the controlling legal authority within the U.S.'s borders.

              Maybe in some ideal world, the U.S. Constitution, with its flaws, would serve as the world's governing authority.  But practically speaking it doesn't and it hasn't.  Non-citizens may enjoy these Constitutional protections inside the U.S.'s borders, but those Constitutional protections end where the jurisdiction of the U.S. government ends.  Practically speaking that is how the law operates.  This is one way to determine the meaning of the word "People" in context.  "Citizens" may be too restrictive when talking about the operation of the Bill of Rights inside the U.S.'s borders, but outside of the U.S.'s borders it only tends to restrain the action of the federal government with respect to U.S. citizens.  

      •  When the charges include a realistic (28+ / 0-)

        chance of torture then asylum becomes a reasonable concept. When you look at what other leakers have had done to them it makes sense to flee the country and it makes sense for other countries to offer asylum.

        It isn't his actions that dictate asylum, it's the potential punishment.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:29:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Being denied internet access . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is not tantamount to torture.  Effectively that is what he would be facing.  

          I suspect he could even negotiate a deal pre-trial that allowed him to remain in custody at one of his parent's homes in exchange for facing trial in the U.S.

          •  I bet he would be facing more than that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Do you really think they would let him be in one of his parent's homes? I don't.

            Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

            by splashy on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 08:10:39 PM PDT

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            •  I think it's feasible. (0+ / 0-)

              Not 100 percent certain, but in Thomas Drake's case, which has some parallels to this one, I believe he was released on bail during his trial.

              Functionally, the stay at the parent's home would be treated like a detention, in that he wouldn't be free to travel, and he probably would have a gag imposed.  But he does have some leverage in this case.  Not much, but he can probably negotiate some modest concessions pre-trial.

              •  A plane carrying a Head of State (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nuclear winter solstice

                was forced to change course and make an unscheduled landing when it was denied permission to cross into the airspace of a couple of US allies because they thought Snowden might.... just might maybe be on board. You think they'd release him to stay at his mom's house?

                That's almost funny.

                "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

                by Siri on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 10:14:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What it shows me . . . (2+ / 0-)

                  is that the U.S. is determined that he face trial.  This is true in the other leak cases.

                  I don't think it's outlandish to think that the U.S. would negotiate conditions for return (e.g. either regarding pre-trial conditions or as part of a plea agreement).  In every other case, except for Manning's which was done through the military justice system, the defendants have been out of custody during the pre-trial and trial phase.  The fact that Snowden fled, might hurt his leverage, but maybe not.  There isn't a clear precedent.

                  Would the U.S. rather continue these kind of manuevers, or would they prefer to end this stage of the crisis by getting Snowden into custody?  The U.S.'s endgame is pretty clear: Snowden broke the law, he needs to face trial.  That's the only part that is non-negotiable.

                  There is no indication so far that any negotiations have taken place, so who knows what is actually feasible.

                  A negotiated return may not be feasible, but you don't know until its tried.  At an absolute minimum it would make sense for Snowden to talk to an experienced defense lawyer in order to get a clear-eyed assessment of his options are in the U.S. (something he does not appear to have done at any stage in this process, which has worked wonderfully for him so far).

                  On the other hand, since Snowden knows the law better than people who have spent years practicing (note that Constitutional restriction which says foreign surveillance is only Constitutionally sanctioned if there is a declared war, which I believe is in Article 57 of the U.S. Constitution), why would he bother seeking out their counsel?  

                  Obviously, as he's said, he could be hit by a drone, or, as a civilian, he could be tried in a military court (never mind the Padilla precedent), and his Hong Kong strategy was absolutely flawless.  So  I stand corrected.  Obviously this guy knows what he is doing and he knows what type of outcomes are the most plausible.  His endgame is clearly thought out and he has executed his exit strategy without a single hitch.  The ad hoc approach from the outside is all part of the grand design, I'm sure.

          •  So the US pressures other countries (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Siri, nuclear winter solstice

            To refuse entry to a head of state based on a rumor and you think he's just going to be on house arrest? Are you kidding me? A plea bargain means he pleads guilty and the idea that he would just hang out at his parents house after fleeing the country and releasing classified information is frankly stupid. France refused to allow Morales to refuel. Not even get off the damn plane.

            And what he's facing is the potential for life in solitary. Never seeing the sun again. Never being outside, or even seeing the sky except through one inch gaps in a steaal box for an hour a day, if he doesn't misbehave. I can't even imagine what that's like. Amnesty international has called it torture. Of course, we've redefined torture enough that it doesn't count here anymore.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 08:35:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Call it a "pre-trial agreement" (0+ / 0-)

              if you prefer.  The idea is that there is conditionality based on the decision to turn himself in and face trial.  The agreement would need to be ratified by a judge.  The agreement would not preclude trial or involve an admission of guilt, unless there was a separate plea agreement that involved some admission of wrong-doing.

              Is it feasible that any of the conditions would be granted?  It's impossible to say for sure, but I think some conditions are reasonable.  Aside from Manning, I believe most of the other leak cases have involved people who were out on bail during the trial phase.

              If the U.S. is invested enough in having him face trial that it blocks potential exits from Russia, then another reading is they would make accommodations in order to smooth over his return to the U.S. for trial.

              As far as the outcome of the trial goes, who knows.  Does he have a valid legal defense?  If he doesn't he should seriously consider negotiating a plea bargain prior to returning to the U.S.

              Alternatively he could remain on the lam and hope that he isn't taken into custody someday when his leverage is reduced.  Or he could remain a fugitive and hope that conditions change in a more favorable direction.  In the meantime, he would be well-served by obtaining legal advice from a good criminal defense attorney to know what credible options are.  Waiting for a drone strike to resolve the issue is not realistic thinking, unless he actually plans to follow Al-Alwaki's path to Yemen, which seems unlikely in his case.  

      •  So does every state, so far. (4+ / 0-)

        It's not like there's a consensus that he's a political refugee.

        "We're now in one of those periods when the reality of intense pressure on the middle class diverges from long-held assumptions of how the American bargain should work" --James Fallows

        by Inland on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:34:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  all nations would be equally unjust if they (29+ / 0-)

        had a 4th amendment and violated it, systematically and pervasively, in secret.

        Yes, they would. Because governments are supposed to follow their own legal documents, and if you have a Constitution, that is supposed to be the highest one.

        Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 01:36:35 PM PDT

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        •  That's not the question. (4+ / 0-)

          It is virtually indisputable that many of the practices he has revealed, if he is telling the truth about them, are not at all violations of the Fourth Amendment. No judicial authority in the history of this country has ever interpreted the Fourth Amendment to suggest that it protects foreign nationals on foreign soil.

          So even if we presume that the kind of "unjust persecution" that would qualify a person for political asylum is revealing that one's government was violating its own constitution, then many of the acts for which American legal authorities are seeking Snowden's extradition still fall outside that category.

          So, I ask again: Please name for me one major nation in which Snowden's actions would not have been against the law, had he been one of their nationals revealing that country's secret information.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 02:21:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Foreign nationals on foreign soil? (9+ / 0-)

            You mean the 51% chance that they would actually be monitoring a foreigner instead of one of us?

            Or are you saying that spying on Americans is also constitutional?

            I'd say that if you reveal that your gov't is violating its own Constitution, and you fear violent reprisal for what is arguably a political act of conscience or civil disobedience, that qualifies you for asylum.

            And it's not about "against the law." Civil disobedience is always against the law; the acts of political dissidents are frequently against the law in their countries of origin. That's what a political dissident often is, because it's often their country's laws that they are objecting to as unjust.

            I question your question, in other words.

            Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 03:33:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, I mean the other things he's revealed... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NotGeorgeWill, Aquarius40

              ...about NSA foreign surveillance where it is all but certain that the surveillance is of foreign nationals on foreign soil, like the thing about intercepting text messages in China. No court in the history of this nation would ever have held that communications sent between foreign nationals in a foreign country are protected by the Fourth Amendment.

              And I addressed the issue of "civil disobedience" in my parent comment in this thread. If Snowden is going to characterize his acts as "civil disobedience," his next phone call should be to the American embassy in Moscow to arrange his arrest and transport back to the USA to stand trial, because one of the tenets of civil disobedience is that one face the legal consequences for one's actions in order to bring attention to the injustice of the law.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:06:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  about civil disobedience: (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, congenitalefty, mollyd, adrianrf

                You are being very sure about things which are apparently not certain at all.  Just from looking at Wikipedia, I found this:

                LeGrande writes that "the formulation of a single all-encompassing definition of the term is extremely difficult, if not impossible. In reviewing the voluminous literature on the subject, the student of civil disobedience rapidly finds himself surrounded by a maze of semantical problems and grammatical niceties. Like Alice in Wonderland, he often finds that specific terminology has no more (or no less) meaning than the individual orator intends it to have." He encourages a distinction between lawful protest demonstration, nonviolent civil disobedience, and violent civil disobedience.[16]
                Here is some specific discussion of civil disobedience in relation to cooperation with government authorities:
                Some disciplines of civil disobedience hold that the protestor must submit to arrest and cooperate with the authorities. Others advocate falling limp or resisting arrest, especially when it will hinder the police from effectively responding to a mass protest.
                Many of the same decisions and principles that apply in other criminal investigations and arrests arise also in civil disobedience cases. For example, the suspect may need to decide whether or not to grant a consent search of his property, and whether or not to talk to police officers. It is generally agreed within the legal community,[36] and is often believed within the activist community, that a suspect's talking to criminal investigators can serve no useful purpose, and may be harmful. However, some civil disobedients have nonetheless found it hard to resist responding to investigators' questions, sometimes due to a lack of understanding of the legal ramifications, or due to a fear of seeming rude.[37] Also, some civil disobedients seek to use the arrest as an opportunity to make an impression on the officers
                Some civil disobedients feel it is incumbent upon them to accept punishment because of their belief in the validity of the social contract, which is held to bind all to obey the laws that a government meeting certain standards of legitimacy has established, or else suffer the penalties set out in the law. Other civil disobedients who favor the existence of government still don't believe in the legitimacy of their particular government, or don't believe in the legitimacy of a particular law it has enacted. And still other civil disobedients, being anarchists, don't believe in the legitimacy of any government, and therefore see no need to accept punishment for a violation of criminal law that does not infringe the rights of others.
                It looks to me like Ed Snowden falls well within at least one accepted definition of a civil disobedient.

                Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:53:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  As far as the revelations about China are (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, tommymet, congenitalefty

                concerned, I'll just repeat what I said in another comment:  you remind me of a man who is alerted to the presence of a burglar in his house, who is ransacking everything. However, the man who awakes you and tells you about the burglar also mentions that the burglar is having an illicit affair. You think his mention of the affair is out of turn, as it's the burglar's business, and everyone's doing it anyway. So instead of trying to get rid of the burglar, or even thanking the man who woke you up, you criticize him for having mentioned the illicit affair.

                This seems, at the very least, to be a mistake in emphasis.

                Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:59:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  These are part of the facts of his case . . . (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  to simply ignore them is to miss a big part of the problem with his disclosures.

                  If people simple can determine what the law is on the basis of their own judgment, then you don't really have a system of law anymore.  

                  Even some of his notions about how spying against foreign governments is only valid during a declared state of war, is on its face an absurd interpretation of the law.  

                  No one elected Snowden to write and interpret laws and then bind everyone else in the community to his interpretation.  

                  People may not agree with the wisdom or the legality of a law that was enacted by multiple Congresses, two presidents, and which has received some Court approval, but laws that are made on the basis at least have some basis for being called legitimate, because they are operating within the Constitutional framework.  Snowden's actions were extralegal at best.

                  •  No one elected the NSA or Booz Allen (0+ / 0-)

                    or any of the other contractors to interpret the Patriot Act and then bind everyone else in the community to their interpretation.

                    As for "extralegal," Martin Luther King's actions were "extralegal" in his time, too.

                    Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

                    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 08:08:00 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Sure . . . (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      they are tasked with executing a law that is written by Congress with presidential consent and Court authorization, not interpreting it.

                      Most of the NSA personnel fit into the non-legal category as well.  They are following a set of rules that others have established.  Those who are hired to make legal interpretations can trace their Constitutional authority on the basis of our nomination and selection process (by elected officials), or through civil service rules which were established by elected officials.  Those judgments can be checked by other branches of government.  The NSA itself is a creation of Congressional action.

                      That doesn't mean that there aren't bad laws, dumb interpretations, etc.  But we have processes for revising dumb laws.  e.g. elections, court challenges, etc.

                      MLK wasn't going "extralegal".  He was operating within the law in order to change the law.  When King was confronted with jail or a criminal charge, he called attention to the absurdity of the law by serving time or fighting it in court, not by going on the lam and saying that the law was invalid and that it failed American aspirations and that he would enjoy a more comfortable life in Canada.  Some people might have even understood if he did that in order to avoid a greater personnel burden.  But King demanded a lot of himself and served as an example for those who were part of the movement.  If he had left for Canada instead, his impact on the American political system likely wouldn't have been nearly as significant.

                      King also could have been a great attorney, if he had chosen that route.  He understood politics and law (as did Gandhi who had legal training).  He clearly relied on a legal strategy in coordination with NAACP legal counsel and the SCLC several decades in the making in order to challenge segregation and a doctrine of "separate but equal".  

                      Snowden's opinions about the law and the American Constitutional system are obviously not as deeply considered, although he probably understands network architecture and technology better.  

                      Granted King and the civil rights pioneers set a very high bar.

                  •  But I think Snowden would say the law is bad law. (0+ / 0-)

                    Congress is showing Zero disposition to reviewing it. That's the only reason I'd grant any slack at all to Richard Snowden. (Had he tried a less blatantly provocative approach and failed, he'd likely have a much larger group of sympathizers than he has now.)

                    What Snowden is calculatedly doing - following what is reportedly a year of spying on the spies and gathering material for his cascade of disclosures - is challenging whether the US has any right to do any of what he's disclosing. He's bathed himself in extra-legality to ventilate what his judgment holds is extra-legality. Why would he show any inclination to trust the government he is so critical of ... and why would any government, ours included, ever trust him?

                    In that, he is a self-made pariah who no one is likely to trust in the future.

                    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

                    by TRPChicago on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 03:52:06 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Meh, false dichotomy in your 'Or' paragraph. (9+ / 0-)
        Or are you suggesting that all nations are equally unjust in wanting to keep any information at all from the general public?
        'any', 'at all' is hardly the same as 'the information that they are conducting widespread spying operations on their own populations'.
      •  This line of argument is the weakest line of all (6+ / 0-)

        legal is not an argument if the law is being used to coerce, oppress and lie to the people. Everything that has been done by every repressive regime in history has been legal, slavery, genocide, war, it was all legal, child labor, crucifixion, wife beating, all legal. The weight of legal actions by governments against their own people is a tonnage that can't readily be calculated from the first writing of history to the present.

        The offense taken by this government is not about security, it is about having their game exposed and being embarrassed by that. This spying program is not about terrorism, it is about global economic and political domination through social control. This program is about power not freedom, and when that choice is in the balance, then freedom is the one I choose.

        Freedom to know what my government is doing in the name of the country I love. The freedom to democratically debate the things the government wishes to do, before they do them and register an informed position with my representative prior to them acting. The freedom to reconsider ill considered actions of my government and protest them and try to get them changed. None of these things can be done when what is being done, is  done in secret.

        That Edward Snowden has embarrassed the government of the US is not a reason to invoke a greater punishment than the Lex Talionis, which has been rejected since the enlightenment. It is time to actually start looking at these programs in the "public debate," that the President says he so eagerly awaits and stop beating the geek.    

        "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

        by KJG52 on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:25:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is the alternative? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WakeUpNeo, Aquarius40, TRPChicago

          Rule made on the basis of personal whim?

          Yes, laws can be unjust -- even in societies that have a representative framework and a system of checks and balances.  But the existence of unjust laws does not render all laws made in a representative democracy illegitimate.  We have a process for overturning and modifying laws.  What is the utopian alternative for creating a system of purely "just" laws?

          To say that this law had no basis in preventing "terrorism" is equally absurd.  Even if you don't think that the law was primarily about preventing terrorism, and even if you don't think that the balance of the law justified whatever intrusiveness it entailed, preventing terrorism was clearly one demonstrable aspect of the law.  It's a lot more plausible than some grand silly conspiracy involving "global economic and political domination through social control".  

          •  The alternative is the exposure and debate of (0+ / 0-)

            unjust law, moving socially to act politically as we have done as a society for centuries: redressing the immoral and unconstitutional actions of our government, to redress our grievances openly e.g. Japaneses internment camps, medical experiments conducted on prisoners without their knowledge or consent, women's suffrage, the anti-Vietnam War movement, the fight against slavery, the fight for the rights of women, Civil Rights, Native Americans rights, child labor, even prohibition, the fight to redress these injustices were actions of an aroused and awakened populace against perceived social injustice and government dysfunction.

            I am not seeking utopia, I am fighting for an open and transparent government that responds to the needs of its people, not to the perceived need to preserve an "American" way of life that boils down to economic and military domination of the world, while ignoring the educational, ecological, health, civil rights and economic needs of the people.

            I do not want to wake up every morning and feel the country that America has at times, brilliantly been, being crushed under the bootheel of "pragmatists" and power seekers who don't have anything but the preservation of power within the status quo as their guide.

            "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

            by KJG52 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 02:50:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In general terms . . . (0+ / 0-)

              I don't disagree.  Yes, we need transparency and exposure of wrongdoing.

              In this specific case though there's the question of the legality and wisdom of the surveillance state, and then the means by which Snowden helped to trigger the discussion.

              In the case of the atomic bomb, which is another end of the debate, should we have disclosed to the world that we were building one, and shared the recipe too?

              Surveillance may lead to abuses, but when it comes to international surveillance programs, they can also prevent wars as they help governments to vet public claims and actions of governments.

              •  To me, Snowden's actions or someone like him (0+ / 0-)

                were inevitable, if you close off real avenues of raising principled questions about the actions of institutions then you guarantee this type of reaction. I find the whole act of international espionage distasteful; however, in the world we live in, it can save lives, after all, knowledge is power, especially knowledge of your enemy's intention eg MK Ultra in WWII.

                We are not in an existential crisis comparable to WWII or even the "Cold War," and our action of trying to create a "Total Information Awareness," apparatus, that essentially treats every threat, no matter what its actual dimension, as equal to WWII or the "Cold War," is self defeating and destructive of our democratic system. We are literally throwing the baby out with the bath water.

                "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

                by KJG52 on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 03:11:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  He didn't even attempt to explore those other . . (0+ / 0-)

                  avenues.  No attempt to work through Congress (as Ellsberg did).  No attempt to work through the Inspector General.

                  The evidence seems to suggest that he took the job, precisely with the goal of stealing as much information as he could during a three month period.  And then, based on his own judgment, he decided which top secret information he would disclose.

                  I agree with you that TIA and other unchecked forms of surveillance are self-defeating and too prone to abuse.  It is not clear to me that this particular program as it evolved from 2001 to 2011 (with greater oversight and more restrictions), fits that criteria.  This is a separate question.

                  •  Knowing the fate of other "whistle blowers" and (0+ / 0-)

                    having the institutional experience that Snowden had, it would seem that he knew that moving through IG's and other institutional methods would immediately trigger an FBI investigation and make him the subject: a pariah in his own company and probably cost him his job and maybe his freedom, with no appreciable public policy result.

                    If the abuse wasn't there, his going to work to expose it wouldn't matter. Whether he went for three months or thirty years is immaterial and speculation on his state of mind and motivations is pointless. Whether he is "evil" or "good" is always going to depend on the sociopolitical context and perceptions of the audience viewing his actions; however, there is no doubt that the information he has brought forth is disturbing.

                    Stalin accused Hitler of the very Katyn forest massacre that he ordered the NKVD to perform on the Polish intelligentsia and officer corps. It was known that both parties in this dispute were not credible, in neither their accusations nor their denials, but that didn't make the Poles any less dead. The motivations of Snowden are less important than the information he has exposed and the resultant debate that must be had to ascertain the scope and risk associated with these programs to the people of the US.

                    The record of the US government on surveillance and "war time," actions regarding civil liberties in the US on its citizens is not unblemished and deserves scrutiny. That it took the actions of an "outlaw" to bring the information out into the public view is unfortunate, but doesn't preclude examination. It is still my view that Snowden's actions were apparently necessary for debate to be started on this very troubling set of intrusions into the information of people world wide and the motives, and effects, of this intrusion.    

                    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

                    by KJG52 on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 12:59:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not much institutional experience. (0+ / 0-)

                      He was only in this particular job for 3 months, during which time, his primary purpose was apparently to steal as much information as possible and then release parts that he felt were relevant to the press.

                      Thomas Drake was able to beat his charges with a misdemeanor plea.  Charges against Thomas Tamm were dropped.  Russ Tice, William Binney, and Mark Klein were never charged.  So, there are ways he could have released information that minimized his legal liability (e.g. focusing on controversial programs like domestic surveillance and avoiding disclosure of international programs, which are pretty clearly legal).

                      I agree that a "good" vs. "evil" framework isn't really that useful.  I see this as more along the lines of "constructive" versus "destructive".  One one side of the balance sheet his disclosures about domestic surveillance have the potential to play a constructive role by focusing attention on the issue.  As it relates to the international programs, I see the balance as mostly negative as the disclosures are likely to compromise programs that have some intelligence value and which are clearly going to damage relations with other countries.  

                      If he decided to fight the charges in the U.S., which may still happen, I suspect his case might be more constructive than the decision to flee the country, which moves the frame from the disclosure to his fugitive status.  Motivations do matter, but outcomes matter more.  I agree with that much.  

                      As far as legality is concerned, that also matters.  If you engage in civil disobedience, you better know what you are doing, and you better know the law and be willing to pay the price.  In Snowden's case, I do not get the sense that he really thought through the implications -- aside from the fact that he was aware something bad might happen to him.  The leaks about international surveillance and spying are what gets me, because legally, there is no issue with these.  If there's an ethical or moral concern, then why join a government agency involved in that kind of work in the first place?

    •  So you're saying that heroes like Mandela and MLK (5+ / 0-)

      who faced exponentially worse treatment than Snowden should have fled? They stuck it out, stood up for what they believed in, and won important battles against worse odds. Snowden should have stayed here to fight it out instead of hiding; he'd be more respected that way

      •  I think (8+ / 0-)

        The point is that if Mandela had fled to the United States, it wouldn't have justified apartheid.

      •  MLK and Mandela had the masses behind them; (7+ / 0-)

        whom did Snowden have?  He would've been arrested and disappeared before the first return call from a reporter.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 03:05:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  MLK and Mandela WORKED (5+ / 0-)

          to get the "masses behind them". It didnt just come to them...

          •  So you think Snowden should've spent (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nellgwen, tommymet, adrianrf, gerrilea

            several decades building up a constituency before going public with public with the NSA outrages?

            Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

            by corvo on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:30:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think Snowden should have had his ducks (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NotGeorgeWill, Aquarius40

              in a better row if he wants to be some Libertarian hero!

              •  Sounds like he did the best he could. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                aliasalias, Fairlithe, tommymet, gerrilea

                He is admittedly up against one hell of a powerful foe.

                Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

                by corvo on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:34:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Funny, he voted for Obama...believing he would (0+ / 0-)

                change things.  

                His only crime, that I can fathom. being an idealist.

                Glenn Greenwald's most recent talk explains his motives.


                Your attempts to smear him by claiming he "wants to be some Libertarian hero" distracts us from the facts.  Our government has lied to Congress and all of us.  They are sweeping up every communication, including this posting I'm making right now.

                How's this protect me again?  

                How's this Constitutional?

                What crime have I been suspected of committing?

                Where's the sworn testimony, as IS required by the 4th Amendment?

                Might I ask, is being a Libertarian evil now???

                I'm a Constitutional Democrat, does this mean I'm evil as well?  I expect our created government to follow the rules we gave them contained within the US Constitution.  Not make up their own rules as they go along to INTENTIONALLY subvert said piece of paper.

                -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

                by gerrilea on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 03:35:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  "he'd be more respected"???? (19+ / 0-)

        By whom? YOU?  

        How is staying here and being tortured in any way "honorable" or "respectable", that' ludicrous and insane.  I was raised a Catholic and I know the "martyr syndrome" when I see it...You'd wish he be a sacrificial lamb at the table of our Rogue Government?  Haven't enough people suffered and died from their illegal actions already????

        1+ million in Iraq, 450,000+ in Afghanistan....millions more in South America and the Far East.  

        Shall we test to see if he's a witch and tie rocks to his feet and see if Satan(tm) saves him?  If he drowns, we know he wasn't a witch and we should bless his soul for being with God(tm) now?

        Does your critique address the information he's so heroically provided to the entire world???

        What do you plan on doing about it?  Whine on the intertubes that he wasn't your type of hero and therefore you don't have to think about anything he's told us???


        -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

        by gerrilea on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 03:07:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How much do you know about Mandela? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cynndara, tommymet, adrianrf

        Mandela, for much of his life, was a violent revolutionary.  He sought arms and money from Mao.  He was underground, hiding from the authorities.  He slipped out of SA incognito.

        He was more like Bill Ayers in the Weather Underground than MLK.

        He was not a Baptist preacher practicing nonviolent resistance out in the open.

        •  Muhammed Ali risked it all and went to jail (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Matt Z, cynndara, NotGeorgeWill

          for his stance against the U.S. actions in Viet Nam.

          •  And he has been one of my heroes for 40+ years. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg, cynndara, Shockwave, ancblu, adrianrf

            And he was among many in my generation who faced those choices with respect to Vietnam.  Ali not only resisted, but he was a brilliant spokesman for why so many of us didn't want to go--"Ain't got not quarrel..."

            I considered these issues personally--Canada, jail, dodging--but a high lottery number made it all moot.

            For that, I'm thankful.

            I was not going.  I'm not sure which route I would have chosen.

            Resisting an unjust State is a good thing regardless of the choice taken short of violence.  Who chastises Einstein for "running" from the Nazis?  

            •  are you equating US with the Nazis now? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NotGeorgeWill, Aquarius40
              •  Who knows what this country is going to be? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Fairlithe, tommymet, ancblu, adrianrf

                Many people jumped all over Einstein at the time for emigrating because it was before the war and the worst of the Nazi atrocities.

                Are you one of the proponents of American Exceptionalism who believes "it can't happen here?"

              •  Please stay on subject (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                aliasalias, AoT, tommymet, ancblu, adrianrf

                The question is whether one should stay or flee. Many have stayed and fought. Others, including Einstein, have fled. Those who chose to flee include Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

                It might also be pointed out that many of those who stay, people such as Steve Biko, meet untimely deaths. Even here, on a progressive blog, there are those who believe that Snowden should be executed.

                A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                by slatsg on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 04:57:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  If found guilty of treason yes he should be... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  as anyone who is  should. I also do not put snowden in the same league as Tubman or Douglas...

                  •  You clearly don't know what Treason is (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ancblu, varro

                    if you think he has any chance of being found guilty of treason. He hasn't even been charged with treason.

                    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                    by AoT on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 05:23:01 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Again you miss the point (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ancblu, Chi

                    Whether or not Snowden is in the same league as Douglass or Tubman is irrelevant. The question is what are the risks of staying rather than fleeing.

                    More than that, choosing to stay or flee does not make one's cause just or unjust.

                    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                    by slatsg on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 06:17:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  but taking said information to even MORE (0+ / 0-)

                      Repressive and Authoritarian countries of Russia and China does suggest otherwise doesn't it?

                      •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

                        The chances of Snowden being incarcerated, being brutalized or tortured, or executed, are much less likely in Hong Kong or Russia than they are in the US. You know it. I know it. Snowden knows it.

                        And finally, let's be honest. Most of those who say that Snowden would have more credibility if he returned would not support him or give him more credibility if he did return.

                        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                        by slatsg on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 08:58:01 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  say WHAT????? (0+ / 0-)

                          head shakes gotta be shittin' me. You better talk to some recent immigrants from Former Soviet Union and China!

                          Have you heard the things that go on under Putin?

                          •  Because the damage has already been done..... (0+ / 0-)

                            he did what he did....

                            What do you think would happen to a Chinese or Soviet if Snowden was one of them and he passed on what he claims is top secret information to the U.S.?

                          •  You mean to ask (0+ / 0-)

                            what would happen to a Chinese or Soviet citizen if they had divulged information about their home country to the US, and were exiled in the US?

                            They'd me immediately granted asylum and hired by the NSA.

                          •  I believe you are being deliberately obtuse (0+ / 0-)
                            The chances of Snowden being incarcerated, being brutalized or tortured, or executed, are much less likely in Hong Kong or Russia than they are in the US.
                            Do you actually dispute that statement?

                            A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                            by slatsg on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:41:42 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  He's actually more in the league... (0+ / 0-)

                    ....of Daniel Ellsberg, exposing an unpleasant truth that many Americans would not want to hear.

                    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

                    by varro on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 11:24:56 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  It is on subject. (0+ / 0-)

                  If you are going to mention the Einstein precedent, it's kind of important to note that he fled Nazi Germany, not Britain circa the early 20th century.  

                •  Let's not make up historical stuff to score points (0+ / 0-)

                  Snowden is Snowden. He's not comparable to ANYONE mentioned in this thread -- Einstein, Mandela, Tubman or Douglass -- and it does their memory a disservice when people who don't understand their histories invoke them to score cheap rhetorical points on an internet discussion board.

                  For example,

                  Those who chose to flee include Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
                  This is just factually wrong, and comparing Snowden to them is absurd.

                  Tubman didn't "flee." She escaped slavery and then returned to the slave south clandestinely 19 times to rescue other slaves from slavery. That's hardly "fleeing." She was also a spy for the Union in the slave south during the war.

                  Neither did Douglass "flee." He escaped slavery and stayed in the US north where he lectured and wrote widely, making his whereabouts known even though he was subject to recapture at any by slave catchers under the Fugitive Slave Law.

                  Can we leave them out of this, especially if we're going to make up nonsense history about them, please?

          •  No he didn't. (9+ / 0-)

            He was stripped of his boxing title.  He was humiliated by the press (remember when Bob Broeg, lead sports reporter at the St. Louis Post Dispatch, announced on radio that he would refuse to call Ali anything but "Cassius Clay" until he consented to be drafted?)

            But he didn't go to jail.  He took his conviction to court and won an 8-0 decision in the Supreme Court.  (The grounds the SCOTUS argued were arcane and bogus in order to get unanimity, but he won anyway).

            He certainly didn't accept his fate as a martyr.  He fought back every step of the way.  

            He eventually had his title re-instated (can't remember whether he had to sue or threaten suit to get that).  He went on to fight again and even, IIRC, won another heavyweight championship boxing match.

            Don't know whatever happened to Bob Broeg, or whether he's still calling Ali "Cassius Clay".

        •  What utterly ignorant bullshit. You have no idea (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          who Nelson Mandela actually is do you? Please just admit it and get it over with.

          Nelson Mandela was not "for much of his life, was a violent revolutionary."

          That's an extravagantly stupid comment even by DK standards when African events are under discussion.

          Nelson Mandela was "for much of his life" a civil rights lawyer -- the co-owner of the first black law firm in Johannesburg, Mandela & Tambo.

          He was the head of the African National Congress Youth League when the ANC was a perfectly legal non-violent organization. His main contribution was to help convert the ANC from a small, elite organization with good connections and lines of communication with white politicians to a mass action organization pursuing Gandhian non-violent mass resistance.

          He was prosecuted for Gandhian non-violent mass resistance in the first "Treason Trial," at which he was acquitted.

          After the Sharpville massacre, he founded the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation or MK in 1961), which at the time carried out only "armed propaganda," that is attacks on things, like power and telephone lines, but never people beginning in December. He received military and returned, but was captured August 1962. He admitted the factual elements of the case against him giving a speech from the dock explaining why (unlike, say Snowden) he was prepared to accept the consequences of his illegal action. He was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government.

          He spent 27 years in prison, where among other things, he educated hundreds of prisoners who rotated through on non-racialism.

          After being released he helped negotiate the outline of the new democratic system, ran for president, served one term, and then devoted himself to humanitarian work.

          So tell me, oh great expert on all things Nelson Mandela, how a 94 year old man who spent roughly 8 months carrying out sabotage "for much of his life, was a violent revolutionary."

          Just what kind of arithmetic or long division gives you an answer of 8 months being "much of" a 94 year old man's life.

          Every day, I get more and more disappointed by the sheer ignorance, the abject lack of accurate information that people spew around here.

          •  Seems you want to sweep the real Mandela (0+ / 0-)

            under the rug and remake him as Gandhi or MLK.

            From his "I Am Prepared to Die" speech:

            The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom.'

            Firstly, we believed that as a result of Government policy, violence by the African people had become inevitable, and that unless responsible leadership was given to canalise and control the feelings of our people, there would be outbreaks of terrorism which would produce an intensity of bitterness and hostility between the various races of this country which is not produced even by war. Secondly, we felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or take over the Government. We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer with violence.

            From his memoirs describing his life as a revolutionary living underground:
            The key to being underground is to be invisible. Just as there is a way to walk in a room in order to make yourself stand out, there is a way of walking and behaving that makes you inconspicuous. As a leader, one often seeks prominence; as an outlaw, the opposite is true. When underground I did not walk as tall or stand as straight. I spoke more softly, with less clarity and distinction. I was more passive, more unobtrusive; I did not ask for things, but instead let people tell me what to do. I did not shave or cut my hair. My most frequent disguise was as a chauffeur, a chef, or a "garden boy." I would wear the blue overalls of the fieldworker and often wore round, rimless glasses known as Mazzawati teaglasses. I had a car and I wore a chauffeur's cap with my overalls. The pose of chauffeur was convenient because I could travel under the pretext of driving my master's car.
            He was an admirer of Che and Fidel.  He courted help from Mao.

            I don't include these things as criticisms.  His reasoning is valid as far as I'm concerned.

            What's wrong is trying to remake him into something that fits some other paradigm.

            •  More absurdist nonsense (0+ / 0-)

              No one tried at any point to "sweep the real Mandela under the rug" and turn him into King or Gandhi.  You seem to have no idea who the "real Mandela" was.

              The delusional statements in your post and the one you seem to be sticking to, are that he was for much of his life a violent revolutionary.

              Mandela is 94 years old, or 1128 months old. He engaged in armed struggle for 8 months. That's just over 1/2 of 1% of his life.  Even if you meant his adult life, 8 months is under 1% of his life between the ages of 20 and 94.

              Just how was Mandela a violent revolutionary for much of his life?

              As for his period of carrying out armed struggle, I mentioned it (accurately rather than in your wildly inflated way) and wrote about it previously on DK:


              but in the context of his earlier careers as both a lawyer and a practitioner of Gandhian civil disobedience -- or are you unaware of his leadership of the Defiance Campaign, the crackdown on which is what led him to conclude for the need for limited armed struggle?

              Also, how did Mandela "court" Mao Zedong? He never went to China under Mao, and when China of the Maoist era did decide to provide support in southern Africa, it was generally for pan Africanists alternatives to the ANC like the PAC, while the ANC, which was in alliance with the more orthodox South African Communist Party, was supported by the Soviet Union, because the two communist countries for competing for influence in Africa during the Sino Soviet split.

              You seem not to know what "paradigm" -- actually several paradigms -- Mandela fits into.

              But please stop spouting absolutely inaccurate and crazy rantings about the man while he's on his death bed.

              •  You're forgetting what he was doing just before (0+ / 0-)

                he was imprisoned.  It's explained in the quote I provided.  He was engaging in violent, revolutionary activity.

                Of course, his ability to continue on that course was quite limited once he was in prison.

                Would you like to produce a quote from Mandela disavowing his revolutionary activity?

    •  CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou agrees. (25+ / 0-)

      Just insane how people can know about Manning, know about Kiriakou, and still preach that Snowden has ruined his cause by running like hell instead of staying here to be disappeared into the Prison Complex.

      Kiriakou's Open Letter to Snowden here.

      "It puts the lotion on its skin, or it gets the GOP again." - The Democratic Party (Nada Lemming and lotlizard)

      by Rick Aucoin on Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 02:01:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How do you arrive at that conclusion? (0+ / 0-)

      This seems to be underwear gnome logic.

      1) WaPo opines on specific fugitive would be "better off" trying to cop aplea deal than running.

      2) Something happens.

      3) WaPo regents the concept of very concept of poliitcal asylum.


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