Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Limits of US Power

by BINOY KAMPMARK

By trying to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the U.S. government is taking on a generation, and that is a battle it is going to lose.

— Julian Assange, quoted in New York Times, Jun 23, 2013

There is no mores striking anger than that which comes from impotence.  This is well illustrated by the bullying line being taken by Washington regarding countries granting passage to Edward Snowden as he veers his way to Ecuador.  Cooperate with us, or else.  Precisely – and what of it?

The case of Snowden is becoming a cornucopia of diplomatic ferment and dazzling excitement.  A senior Obama official, as recorded in The Guardian (Jun 22), threatened that, “If Hong Kong doesn’t act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law.”  This is the obscenity of the absurd: When we spy on you through secret mass surveillance, the law is served.  It isn’t if the public is told about it.

Despite the U.S. request formally requesting Hong Kong authorities to proceed with the extradition process, the whistleblower could still get on a commercial flight on Sunday (hardly anything covert about it) and head to Moscow.  It was brazen, but it was still fabulously ordinary for being so open.  This also came as Hong Kong legislators such as the democratic political activist Leung Kwok-hung urged residents to “take to the streets to protect Snowden.” The final call rested with Beijing, and Chinese authorities were in no mood to comply with the U.S. request.

The key in combating any clandestine culture is to treat matters as normal, open and ordinary.  It is the double bluff – to deceive the deceivers by disregarding their worth, their strength, their ploys.  The prosaic nature of a secret world mocks it to death. Then gather allies, mutual interests and antagonisms.  Journalists getting off the plane in Moscow were thrilled to bits at the adventure, showing passengers happy snaps of Snowden.

No sooner had Snowden touched down in Moscow, he disappeared.  He apparently had the Ecuadorean ambassador, Patricio Chávez, in tow.  The suggestions here are that Snowden will be heading for Quito via Havana.  If this takes place without a hitch, it will be a brilliant coup, one orchestrated by those outside standard government channels.  It will also have the finger prints of Julian Assange over it.

WikiLeaks has provided assistance of a logistical kind to Snowden, delivering special documentation enabling him to travel in the absence of his revoked passport.  WikiLeaks British activist Sarah Harrison was also accompanying Snowden in his flight.  “He is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks.”

The statement released from the organisation on Sunday further explained that Snowden had “requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety.  Once Mr Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.”

And what of Washington’s incandescent fury?  A good deal of egg found its way to the faces of its officials when it came to light that the National Security Agency had hacked Chinese mobile phone companies in an effort to access millions of private messages.  Only some days prior, Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping had spoken about the need to cultivate ties of “mutual trust”.

Snowden has not merely been devastating in his revelations; he has been wise in divvying the detailed muck.  Richly deserved mistrust has been sown.  The South China Morning Post (Jun 23) was the grateful recipient of Snowden’s disclosures on that occasion.  The paper’s editorial (Jun 24) went so far as to regard his “choice of Hong Kong to hole up while he revealed who America was spying on and how its surveillance operations were conducted” as “genius”.

There was also more.  NSA’s cyber snooping had involved attacks on the networks of Tsinghua University and computers at the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, owner of one of the most extensive fibre optic submarine cable systems in the region.  Pacnet’s cables amount to 46,000 kilometres in length linking data centres through mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. Tag one, and you tag them all.

Little wonder then that Beijing is hardly in any mood to cooperate on this score, nor was Hong Kong.  The latter authorities contended that the U.S. arrest warrant was defective at law.  Restraining Snowden, to throw the comment back at the Obama administration, would have been contrary to law.  State media went so far as to label Washington the “villain” of the peace.

Over the weekend, from the detained abode he is residing in London, Assange called for a global effort to assist the likes of Snowden. He is the near perfect genotype of exposure and revelation, indispensable to combating the cocksure goons of secrecy who perforate privacy and undermine personal dignity.  Something stirring is afoot, and the alarums are getting louder by the day.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

 

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]