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Efforts to arrange asylum in Ecuador for whistleblower Edward Snowden have not gone as well as hoped. But, after revelations this weekend of NSW spying on Europeans, another option may have opened: putting Snowden in a European witness protection program.

Over the last two weeks, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed evidence of massive NSA spying on Americans that appears to violate the U.S. Constitution. This weekend, through some of those documents, the world learned of massive NSA surveillance of European Union offices and computer networks.

Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that the National Security Agency bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, the latest revelation of alleged U.S. spying that has prompted outrage from EU politicians.

The magazine followed up on Sunday with a report that the U.S. agency taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month, much more than any other European peer and similar to the data tapped in China or Iraq.

It also uses data from Internet hubs in south and west Germany that organize data traffic to Syria and Mali.

Jan Phillip Albrecht, a Green Party representative in the European Parliament, called it a "meltdown of the constitutional state" and "demanded that the EU open proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.  Germany's federal prosecutor's office is expected to file criminal charges.

These new developments remind us that Edward Snowden, like other whistleblowers, is a witness to wrongdoing--in this case, the wrongdoing of grave and international importance. A key witness to that wrongdoing has been threatened by U.S. government officials who revoked Snowden's passport, leaving him stranded in a Moscow airport and complicating his efforts to find asylum.

If the EU or Germany were to initiate an investigation, testimony from Edward Snowden, the key witness, would be critical given that the U.S. government has misled its allies. But, U.S. officials have threatened Snowden and any country that would grant him asylum. The proper move would be for European officials to immediately offer to protection to Snowden as a witnesses to what appears to be an international crime. But, will European governments step up in support of the rule of law, or will they satisfy themselves with posturing on the world stage?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting idea (14+ / 0-)

    The US is big enough to bully countries like Ecuador, but the EU as a whole is a completely different matter (500 million people with a bigger economy than the US). In some ways it would be harder to pressure the EU than Russia or China.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 06:36:52 PM PDT

    •  And they have a horse in the race (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, CroneWit, adrianrf, BlueDragon

      Potentially, US spying could hurt EU countries in terms of getting access to communications about trade negotiations, trade secrets and information providing commercial advantages.  Taking a firm stand against US spying would provide some tangible benefit. Whereas Ecuador is a third party, with no horse in the race, and no potential benefit other than increased stature among countries that dislike the US.

    •  The EU isn't going to do anything (4+ / 0-)

      Charges filed with The Hague have no effect because the US isn't a member. Germany is going to file criminal charges against Barack Obama? Really? Germany, and the rest of the EU, will cry outrage to the press and perform a few episodes of political kabuki theater. Nothing substantive will happen.

      Snowden isn't going to go into any witness protection program. If he shows up in the EU they will arrest him and send him back to the US for trial.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:48:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, not witness protection or even asylum (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Louisiana 1976, Dumbo, cynndara

    There's no chance of a meaningful prosecution, and there's no need to politicize it.  The EU should just refuse to extradite him because he did something valuable for the EU.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 06:41:15 PM PDT

  •  Two Senators, Schumer and McCain, threatened... (9+ / 0-)

    ...Ecuador and Russia today.

    McCain, Schumer on Snowden: Russia should pay a price

    Republican Sen. John McCain said Snowden's actions amounted to a "slap in the face to the United States" and called President Vladimir Putin "an old colonel KGB apparatchik" who "dreams of the restoration of the Russian Empire."
    If Ecuador grants asylum to Snowden, Schumer called for the U.S. to cut its trade and foreign aid to the South American country.

    "We ought to be very clear with Ecuador that if they take Snowden, they are going to pay a price," he said.

    It's good to see how much cooperation Snowden has brought in a very polarized DC.  Who would have thought.

    I get the feeling that they will threaten anyone, even the EU.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 06:56:15 PM PDT

  •  EU wouldn't risk trade to US etc, remember there (5+ / 0-)

    economies are in the toilet big time.

    •  really hardly more than most of the rest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deep Harm

      of the world.

      sometimes people stand up.

      this is against the law/constitution of many other countries.

      if they follow their laws, they may be forced to stand up to us.

    •  Because Wall Street flushed them there. (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know the specifics, but the last time this happened, one of the main reasons Europe went under was the load of debt they owed to Wall Street.  At some point they might just decide that rather than having Greece and Cyprus face default alone, they're better off if they just all give Wall Street the flying finger together.  Write off a century's worth of debt, declare themselves free, and get on with their business.  Because the US no longer manufactures anything they need and can't get elsewhere.  They've rebuilt their own infrastructure and aren't bombed-out wastelands, and there's China, India, and Africa for raw materials.  And the US really doesn't want to get into a shooting war with a united Europe.  Wouldn't be good at ALL.

  •  doesn't seem very likely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Deep Harm

    I wish it could happen, but given the deep financial ties and the level of covert data sharing that goes on between the US and all of these EU nations, I doubt that much will come of this in the end. Sure there's going to be lots of outrage, and some trade deals may be delayed until this blows over, but I think Snowden won't find an out in the EU as a witness. But then who knows, stranger things have happened...

    History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

    by quill on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:00:20 PM PDT

  •  I'm Smelling Braveheart. (5+ / 0-)

    On this question I predict the nobles are going to side with their global interests. Surprising how old a story globalization is.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:06:42 PM PDT

  •  This will blow over after the EU rattles their (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm, onanthebarbarian, JackND

    chains to make the masses feel like they are being considered.  Fact is NSA knows what all the EU countries are doing with their own internal and external spying.  I'm sure they don't want that exposed. It's all theater.

    Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:13:50 PM PDT

    •  Yes and no. (0+ / 0-)

      Of course they know the US spies on them.  The problem is that they are beginning to really realize that their interests are no longer aligned with those of the US.  Getting rid of GW didn't fix the problem.  The crazy MF's running the top levels of US policy are still fixated on world domination, and Europe most assuredly doesn't want to be dominated.

      The end-game is starting.  When resources become scarce, former allies fall out.  When there was enough for everyone (Everyone Who Counted, that is), and the US was handing out freebies, the Europeans would have been foolish not to go along for the ride.  But now the train is going places they don't want anything to do with.  And there ISN'T enough for everyone, and the Big Boys are going to start squabbling over the marbles.

      This is just a small indication of what's going to come down the pike.  THINK.  The British built an Empire by encouraging the Europeans to fight each other while standing off and cheering.  They went into (and dragged the US into) two continental "world wars" to prevent Germany from becoming a united Great Power.  Now, finally, it has.  And it's at least papered over its centuries of disagreements with the French, who have drifted more heavily into its orbit instead of Britain's.  Germans and Russians may have to back to some unfinished business, but they may not for a while: there's now a chain of useful buffer states between them.  But IN THE NEW ZERO-SUM WORLD, there's much more goodies to be had by carving up what's left of Anglo-American economic dominance.

      This doesn't mean guns.  I really don't think anybody, especially the Europeans, wants to go at it with guns and bombs again.  But cyberspace offers a nice, safe venue for cutting each others' throats over the things that matter: money and power.  I would advise young people coming out right now to go into Computer Security any way you can.  It's the new War.  And truly talented mercenaries usually get handsomely paid.

  •  They spy on us too (5+ / 0-)

    Do you really think France, Germany and the rest of the EU do not spy on the US.

    France-DGSE-General Directorate for External Security?

    Allies? Really?

    Everyone spies on everyone else. They always have and always will.

    The NSA must maintain-360 degree vision, 24/7/365.

  •  Snowden is increasingly seeming like... (4+ / 0-)

    someone who's willing (if not eager) to destroy the entire US intelligence apparatus, rather than just revealing what he views as constitutional violations.

    The longer this goes on, and the more he sides with Julian Assange and foreign media/governments, the less sympathetic I suspect the American public at large will become towards him.

  •  Great idea (3+ / 0-)

    but I doubt anyone in the EU will have the guts to do that.

  •  We can pull our 60k troops out of Germany if they (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm

    wanted to play that game.

  •  I, for the life of me, don't know why Russia (0+ / 0-)

    offered asylum only to withdraw.
    Party foul.

    It's unnerving and unsavory, but it's amazing how scurred nations of the world are of USA. We're like a global mafia.
    Estonia? North Korea? wtf?

  •  EU stepping in? Great thought -- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deep Harm, Pluto, BlueDragon

    Thanks for sharing this thought with us.  You had two links that were new to me -- 'EU confronts US' on Reuters & 'US Threats to Other Countries not Working on The Americas Blog.

    And your idea that the EU could give Snowden asylum/witness protection -- an interesting thought!  

    I had an idea pop into my head, too far out really, for serious consideration, but -- it popped into my head that the Pope could give him asylum in  Vatican city.  (I know, goofy, huh?)  And he could even put him to work, digging into the banking scandals, pulling data.

    I see several of the usual nay-sayers here in the comments, preaching cynical gloom.  But your 'witness protection' idea is not impossible, and would be a very interesting outcome.  Please keep us posted about any other hints you see coming out of the EU or its member-states.

    •  Thanks, CroneWit (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, CroneWit, BlueDragon, Joieau

      The Vatican is an interesting possibility, too.

      The diary builds on a realization I made quite some time ago--that whistleblower that ostensibly protect whistleblowers (and actually protect only a handful) have obscured the fact that whistleblowers are witnesses to crime. And, very often whistleblowers are threatened witnesses because the crimes are committed by powerful entities:  corporations and the government. But, when the crime is the whistleblower's own government, where can he or she  turn for protection? I don't think the world has given that much thought..until now.

      •  A diary up now on EU/Greens (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlueDragon, Deep Harm, Joieau

        here --

        And I just now noticed that France's Greens, as well as Germany's, are promoting the idea that Europe could 'offer protection' to Snowden. (this at ).

        Thanks for not mocking my Vatican idea too harshly.  It still seems silly to me, and I've slept since writing it.  I think it sprang from my searching my mind for a place that was far enough outside US economic pressure to act independently.  

        It's evident from both the EU spying and the spying on the 2009 G20 conference that the NSA global surveillance is as much about the economic edge as it is about 'terrorism'.  So it's about Greed, which this Pope has already spoken out about.  Snowden's NSA Disclosures are about Speaking Truth.  I can well imagine this Pope crafting a statement against Greed and for Truth, and including the bit from yesterday's Gospel-reading about the Son of Man 'has not where to lay his head', then offering compassionate asylum.  (Just an imaginary scenario.)

        But the idea of a Green-led agreement among European nations AND the EU to bring economic (trade) sanctions against the US, that includes asylum/protection for Snowden as a witness would be an exciting development.

        Thanks for your work, Deep Harm.

  •  ATimes has a good article (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adrianrf, BlueDragon

    Peter Lee of Asia Times has a good article. One excerpt::

    Long story short, if Snowden has encrypted his laptops, even if the Russian and Chinese security services were able to copy the hard drives (access "all the digital information") and get to work on them (and there is no evidence as yet that this has occurred), it is unlikely that they would be able to decrypt them (retrieve "all the documents") unless they have sustained access to, and active cooperation from, Snowden.

    If the United States is really concerned about this happening, that might be a good reason to make some deal with Snowden to bring him home, not to let him continue to hang around Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow under the interested eyes of Russia's FSB.

    The good news is, Snowden has encrypted the data on the insurance files he has salted around the Internet, and it is a safe assumption that he has done the same for his hard drives.

    My opinion: Too many Kossacks are focused on assigning a valence to this. Did Snowden do something good or bad? Did Ecuador screw him? (Etc.) The truth is, we don't know the answers to these questions. More important, IMO, is figuring out what exactly is going on.
    •  Thanks for Lee's article (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, BlueDragon, Joieau

      I had not seen that.  However, I had come to the same conclusion as he, that the US was dangerously inept in how it handled the situation. The only possible explanation, other than stupidity, would be if they wanted Snowden to "leak" certain information to the Russians. But, if that was the plan, it was ineptly carried out, also--creating a worldwide storm over NSA surveillance.  

      The only thing more disturbing than NSA data mining is the realization that our most critical and personal data is in the hands of the Keystone Kops.

  •  Is this the same EU that was partner in many (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JackND, Deep Harm

    our country's war crimes over the past few years?

    Well, it is an interesting idea for sure, if for no other reason than the cognitive dissonance involved.

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