FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Snowden Escapes

Not so fast, but very furious – U.S. officials have been checked by the latest move on the part of the Russian government to grant Edward Snowden a year’s asylum. This is not so much cat and mouse as better feline against tricked feline, a combination of various animals and self-interested entities who want Snowden for various reasons. That said, having navigated the labyrinth that is Russian bureaucracy, Snowden finds himself with some paperwork and temporary sanctuary.

With that paperwork, Snowden neatly slipped out of Shremetyevo airport. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told AFP that, “Snowden has left Sheremetyevo airport. He has just been given a certificate that he has been awarded temporary asylum in Russia for one year.” He will be helped, according to his legal help, by “American friends”.

The timing of Snowden has been near meticulous. Disclosures have been scattered like well-timed gifts of merit. True, for a time, it looked like he had slipped in his estimation – the sharp thinking had been blunted after American power pressed, and to some extent succeeded, in encircling him. The Bolivian President Evo Morales fumed. The European authorities complied in attempting to search the plane flown by a sovereign head of state. But from the curiosity that is Sheremetyevo, he managed to resist and ultimately deflect those who so desperately wanted him.

White House spokesman Jay Carney had to put up a brave front, but claimed that the U.S. was “extremely disappointed.” The “reset” with Moscow is not quite setting according to plan. It was imperative now that Washington evaluate “the utility of a summit in light of this.”

Robert Menendez of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee had little patience, claiming that Snowden was “a fugitive who belongs in a United States courtroom, not a free man deserving of asylum in Russia.” Of course, Menendez is simply doing what his colleagues have had a compulsion doing: presume guilt, scream blue murder and hope for the worst.

Time and time again, Snowden’s disclosures have caught the clay-footed dunces in Washington unawares. The shadow of criminality is a long one – it stretches from Washington to Canberra, and bores its way through Europe. Rather than implicating Snowden, it does the opposite. It is the mirror of guilt for those in denial.

The latest was his revelations about XKeyscore, yet another NSA program that has involved the comprehensive collection of U.S. citizens’ data by means of mass retrieval. The Guardian duly reported that the mechanism allowed analysts to “search with no prior authorisation through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals.”

Surveillance, for the Washington establishment, is not as bad as all that – till the NSA admits it is, casting a good portion of egg at the face of those who should better. True, there is a betrayal here, but it tends to be closer to the sort Julian Assange has noted, that of the “young, technically minded”, the hope stuffed generation that wished Obamania was more than just a manic delusion. With that turkey consumed, we best look elsewhere.

The NSA’s own response in a statement asserts that, while Snowden is correct in terms of disclosing the data retrieval program, “the implication that NSA’s collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false. NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – legitimate intelligence targets” (Washington Post, Jul 31). Presumably, friends and enemies are in the jumbled mix. They are not to know.

As if to cover its tracks, the NSA has also claimed that the operation is limited. XKeyscore is only used by “those personnel who require access for their assigned tasks.” Every well qualified thief needs a good crowbar and a few other handy implements.

The Obama security establishment has undergone a dramatic mummification. Snowden was good enough to remind us that the bandages were already well and truly applied. The tomb has been open. The bodies are turning to dust.

Snowden has also reminded his detractors about those “international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience” (Time, Jul 13). Nazi Germany’s officials were told of it, and several made the journey to the gallows for not abiding by them. The criminally delinquent detractors of a democratic state can also receive similar treatment. The legacy of the Nuremberg trials should impress themselves like streaks of thunder. Snowden “did what I believe right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing.”

He is not the only one to refer to the Nuremberg precedent in recent years. Lt. Ehren Watada of Washington State was of similar mind, refusing a deployment to Iraq in 2006 on the basis that the war was marred by illegality. Snowden has reached into the treasure trove of international law, as well as he might. The government of his home country has attempted to delegitimise him; why not return the favour by citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reminds us that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence”? And that is just the start.

In any case, we are bound to see a whole range of “revelations” (are we truly surprised anymore?) come March, when Glenn Greenwald will release his bomb heavy publication with Metropolitan Books. The publishing house has a record of releasing tomes that thumb the establishment with a degree of disdain. Brace yourselves.

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

More articles by:

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

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail