Noam Chomsky: Is Edward J. Snowden aboard this plane?
August 1, 2013
On July 9, the Organization of American States held a special session to discuss the shocking behavior of the European states that had refused to allow the government plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales to enter their airspace.
Morales was flying home from a Moscow summit on July 3. In an interview there he had said he was open to offering political asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former U.S. spy-agency contractor wanted by Washington on espionage charges, who was in the Moscow airport.
The OAS expressed its solidarity with Morales, condemned “actions that violate the basic rules and principles of international law such as the inviolability of Heads of State,” and “firmly” called on the European governments - France, Italy, Portugal and Spain - to explain their actions and issue apologies.
An emergency meeting of UNASUR - the Union of South American Nations - denounced “the flagrant violation of international treaties” by European powers.
Latin American heads of state weighed in, too. President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil expressed the country’s “indignation and condemnation of the situation imposed on President Evo Morales by some European countries” and warned that this “serious lack of respect for the law . compromises dialogue between the two continents and possible negotiations between them.”
Commentators were less reserved. Argentine political scientist Atilio Boron dismissed Europe as “the whore of Babylon,” cringing before power.
With virtually identical reservations, two states refused to sign the OAS resolution: the United States and Canada. Their growing isolation in the hemisphere as Latin America frees itself from the imperial yoke after 500 years is of historic significance.
Morales’ plane, reporting technical problems, was permitted to land in Austria. Bolivia charges that the plane was searched to discover whether Snowden was on board. Austria responds that “there was no formal inspection.” Whatever happened followed warnings delivered from Washington. Beyond that the story is murky.
Washington has made clear that any country that refuses to extradite Snowden will face harsh punishment. The United States will “chase him to the ends of the earth,” Sen. Lindsey Graham warned.
But U.S. government spokespersons assured the world that Snowden will be granted the full protection of American law - referring to those same laws that have kept U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning (who released a vast archive of U.S. military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks) in prison for three years, much of it in solitary confinement under humiliating conditions. Long gone is the archaic notion of a speedy trial before a jury of peers. On July 30 a military judge found Manning guilty of charges that could lead to a maximum sentence of 136 years.
Like Snowden, Manning committed the crime of revealing to Americans - and others - what their government is doing. That is a severe breach of “security” in the operative meaning of the term, familiar to anyone who has pored over declassified documents. Typically “security” means security of government officials from the prying eyes of the public to whom they are answerable - in theory.
Governments always plead security as an excuse - in the Snowden case, security from terrorist attack. This pretext comes from an administration carrying out a grand international terrorist campaign with drones and special operations forces that is generating potential terrorists at every step.
Their indignation knows no bounds at the thought that someone wanted by the United States should receive asylum in Bolivia, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S. Oddly missing from the tumult is the fact that extradition works both ways - again, in theory.
Last September, the United States rejected Bolivia’s 2008 petition to extradite former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada - “Goni” - to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. It would, however, be an error to compare Bolivia’s request for extradition with Washington’s, even if we were to suppose that the cases have comparable merit.
The reason was provided by St. Augustine in his tale about the pirate asked by Alexander the Great, “How dare you molest the sea?” The pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an Emperor.”
St. Augustine calls the pirate’s answer “elegant and excellent.” But the ancient philosopher, a bishop in Roman Africa, is only a voice from the global South, easily dismissed. Modern sophisticates comprehend that the Emperor has rights that little folk like Bolivians cannot aspire to.
Goni is only one of many that the Emperor chooses not to extradite. Another case is that of Luis Posada Carriles, described by Peter Kornbluh, an analyst of Latin American terror, as “one of the most dangerous terrorists in recent history.”
Posada is wanted by Venezuela and Cuba for his role in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana commercial airliner, killing 73 people. The CIA and FBI identified him as a suspect. But Cubans and Venezuelans also lack the prerogatives of the Emperor, who organized and backed the reign of terror to which Cubans have been subjected since liberation.
The late Orlando Bosch, Posada’s partner in terrorism, also benefited from the Emperor’s benevolence. The Justice Department and FBI requested that he be deported as a threat to U.S. security, charging him with dozens of terrorist acts. In 1990, after President George H.W. Bush overturned the deportation order, Bosch lived the rest of his life happily in Miami, undisturbed by calls for extradition by Cuba and Costa Rica, two mere pirates.
Another insignificant pirate is Italy, now seeking the extradition of 23 CIA operatives indicted for kidnapping Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian cleric in Milan, whom they rendered to Egypt for torture (he was later found to be innocent). Good luck, Italy.
There are other cases, but the crime of rendition returns us to the matter of Latin American independence. The Open Society Institute recently released a study called “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition.” It reviewed global participation in the crime, which was very broad, including among European countries.
Latin American scholar Greg Grandin pointed out that one region was absent from the list of shame: Latin America. That is doubly remarkable. Latin America had long been the reliable “backyard” for the United States. If any of the locals sought to raise their heads, they would be decapitated by terror or military coup. And as it was under U.S. control throughout the latter half of the last century, Latin America was one of the torture capitals of the world.
That’s no longer the case, as the United States and Canada are being virtually expelled from the hemisphere.
The U.S. surveillance debate is constantly distorted by the fact that national-security officials hide, obscure, and distort so much of what they do. Occasionally a journalist is able to expand the store of publicly available information, most recently thanks to Edward Snowden’s indispensable NSA leaks. But even public information about government surveillance and data retention is difficult to convey to a mass audience. It involves multiple federal agencies with overlapping roles. The relevant laws and rules are complicated, jargon is ubiquitous, and surveillance advocates often don’t play fair: They use words in ways that bear little relation to their generally accepted meaning, make technically accurate statements that are highly misleading, and even outright lie, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did before Congress.
Their distortions continue in part because no matter how many times President Obama, NSA Director Keith Alexander, Clapper and others egregiously mislead the public in their statements about surveillance, news organizations treat them as honest men and report on subsequent statements as if they’re presumptively true. For all these reasons, journalists who take the time to understand the truth and the way government officials are distorting it find that their work has just begun. They need to find comprehensible ways to explain complicated distortions, even as more hard to understand information becomes public each week. Absent this asymmetry, surveillance-state critics would be in a much stronger position.
Enter a new report published by Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. “What the Government Does With Americans’ Data” is the best single attempt I’ve seen to explain all of the ways that surveillance professionals are collecting, storing, and disseminating private data on U.S. citizens. The report’s text and helpful flow-chart illustrations run to roughly 50 pages. Unless you’re already one of America’s foremost experts on these subjects, it is virtually impossible to read this synthesis without coming away better informed.
The text gives detailed answers to questions like, “What does the NSA do with all the emails and phone calls of American citizens that it collects?” Then the information is summed up in graphics like this one.
The rules in place are often just as worrisome as the cases of national-security officials breaking them. “Policymakers remain under significant pressure to prevent the next 9/11, and the primary lesson many have taken from that tragedy is that too much information was kept siloed,” the report notes. “Often lost in that lesson is that the dots the government failed to connect before 9/11 were generally not items of innocuous information, but connections to known al Qaeda or other foreign terrorist suspects.” Nevertheless, the federal government is now awash in innocuous private details about the lives millions of innocents.
Often they can be legally retained for years or even decades—and shared with different federal bureaucracies in ways that make them virtually impossible to ever erase.
And it isn’t just the NSA. The FBI, the National Counterterrorism Information Center, and other agencies besides come in for criticism due to their alarming behavior. As Peter Moskowitz aptly put it, the report “synthesizes much of what Americans have been learning about piecemeal for the last few months,” and anyone looking to understand the facts more clearly ought to go give it a look. If there is ever a time when a majority of Americans understand its contents, this country will no longer accept the surveillance policies shaped by the Patriot Act, extralegal information hoovering, and what is effectively a massive coverup. As facts are better explained, the whole effort will only seem more imprudent.
this is coming from an Israeli, I do not agree with your anti-Israel jokes. We are not all bad.
They weren’t jokes
And even so, if you can take a country, you can take a joke
To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I’.
The meaning of that sentence is contained in the whole of The Fountainhead. And it is stated right in the speech on page 400 from which you took the sentence. The meaning of the “I” is an independent, self-sufficient entity that does not exist for the sake of any other person.
A person who exists only for the sake of his loved one is not an independent entity, but a spiritual parasite. The love of a parasite is worth nothing.
- Ayn Rand (via leadbyeg)
Only Ayn Rand could make claims as preposterous as these.
The Prophet (ص) would not sleep until he had expressed his affection to Fatima (س), rested his head on her chest, and prayed for her.Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (ع) Jila al-Ayoon v. 1, p. 180 (via shiaislam)
Ashura In Karbala 2012.
In October 2012 Venezuela faced a choice: whether to deepen the Bolivarian Revolution that under the leadership of Hugo Chavez, has brought dignity, health, education and hope - or to return to a brutal, unequal, neo-liberal society where oil wealth lined the pockets of multinational companies and Venezuelan elite. The people of Venezuela who voted for Chavez, voted to fight for socialism.
The Revolutionary Communist Group was on the streets of Caracas throughout the presidential elections in October 2012. We joined hundreds of thousands as they thronged the city, braving torrential rain or baking sun, to express their support . This film takes you on that journey, through the barrios, universities and workplaces to meet the political activists, students and workers who are changing their future.
The film premièred in London on 25 October where 150 people packed out Bolivar Hall to hear speakers from the RCG, the Venezuelan and Cuban embassy discuss the movement in Latin America and its relevance to the struggle here in imperialist Britain. It continues to screen all around the country, picking up momentum, not only increasing our understanding of the struggle in Venezuela, but helping us understand the tasks that face us here in Britain.
Our solidarity with the struggle for socialism takes this form – publicising the example of the Bolivarian Revolution and through films, articles and leaflets; bringing the message to the streets as we struggle against capitalist cuts, the parasitic banking system, imperialist war and occupation here in Britain, the belly of the beast.
As the capitalist crisis bites in Britain, Venezuela provides an inspiring example of how the fight against austerity can develop into a fight for socialism.
We encourage everybody, students, workers, activists, in Britain and around the world to use this film, spread the word and seize this opportunity to to highlight Venezuela’s role in breaking the chains of imperialism. Alongside the achievements of socialist Cuba, Venezuela illustrates that not only is another world possible, but this world is being built today in Latin America!
Our fight is one fight – towards socialism, internationalism and unity!