Monday, 1 July 2013

Ed Snowden and brave journalists - resisting the spooks

As the US pursues heroic whistleblower Ed Snowden around the globe, it's good to remember the selfless and invaluable service of such people in helping to expose the omnipotent rise of mass state surveillance and the elite-serving function underlying it all.

As the central figure in breaking Snowden's story, Glenn Greenwald has talked in fascinating detail about his developing dealings with this truly courageous and self-sacrificing young man who now faces a life of fear, exile and persecution.

He also speaks appreciatively of how Snowden's vital evidence has definitively helped prove the very things he and other campaigning journalists have been saying for so long now about the state's actual war: not on 'terrorism', but on its own people.

While Snowden's moral whistleblowing has been called an act of "treason" by much of the US establishment, so too has Greenwald's brave advocacy journalism been similarly condemned. 

Yet, rather than 'betraying one's country', argues Subhankar Banarjee, both have engaged in something much more honourable, a form of Gandhi-type "sedition" in exposing high criminality by "inciting people to rebel against the authority of [the] state."

Snowden's and Greenwald's dutiful exposure of PRISM and other NSA data harvesting also comes with damning revelations of British surveillance operations, notably GCHQ's illicit operation Tempora, which has tapped into huge amounts of fibre optic communications to spy on everyone from other 'friendly' states to its own private citizens.

One notional 'ally',Germany, has condemned GCHQ's monitoring of global internet and phone traffic. Another leaked document from Snowden, via Der Spiegel, offers smoking-gun evidence that American intelligence has been bugging the offices of the European Union and EU country embassies, including France and Italy, inside the US.

With EU officials reportedly furious, and German officials ready to press charges against the US and UK, Alex Thomson, writing the Channel 4 News 'Snowmail 'summary, noted: "The British – supine to the last when it comes to America – are of course silent." A rare instance of a leading broadcast journalist openly denouncing 'our side'. 

The anger and publication from Germany are, perhaps, apposite when we think of the former East Germany's Stasi operations, the scale and sophistication of which pales into insignificance compared with the reach and audacity of current Western spookdom.

This espionage in trade, disputes and commercial rivalry shows not just the extent of state paranoia and subterfuge, but the true corporate-serving function of official spying. It's a world where information and people are being monitored not just for supposed 'security' purposes, but for base, competitive profit. 

Little wonder Snowden is moved to say: "I don't want to live in a world that does these sort of things."

Even America's military own now seem to be in on the leaking, with reports that top ex-US general James Cartwright is the target of prosecution after disclosing US covert cyber attack on Iran's nuclear energy programme.

In 'covering' - rather than uncovering - the story, the BBC, had nothing more to say about America's actual criminality in the matter. Just imagine the repercussions and headlines had Iran been caught in such an act.

Such revelations are also now helping to illuminate the menacing rise of citizen surveillance.

Thus, we learn that British intelligence and the police have been running a National Domestic Extremism Unit to keep detailed tabs on political activists.

As the Guardian reports:
A total of 8,931 individuals "have their own record" on a database kept by the unit, for which the Metropolitan police is the lead force. It currently uses surveillance techniques, including undercover police, paid informants and intercepts, against political campaigners from across the spectrum.
This comes on top of other revelations that undercover officers have been infiltrating leftist organisations. No great news or surprise there, of course. From Northern Ireland to its wider colonial outposts, British intelligence almost 'wrote the manual' of black-ops.

But the scale and detail of recent operations is matched only by its growing and shameless extremity.

For example, Green MP Caroline Lucas has used her parliamentary privilege to expose the undercover work of police officer Bob Lambert who is reported to have planted a bomb in a London Debenhams store to help "bolster his credibility". The activist ex-partner of Lambert, who had a child to him during his undercover activities, said it feels"like being raped by the state".

It's also now been revealed that, while proclaiming its utmost in bringing his killers to justice and stamping out institutional racism, the Met was running an undercover smear operation against the family and friends of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

If the police can do such things to this long-suffering family, just think what the wider law enforcement and surveillance state is capable of doing to others.

With all this massing evidence of Orwellian-watch and dark tricks, one might think journalists at large would be united in praising, protecting and promoting people like Snowden.

Not so. With the inevitable state backlash, note Media Lens, come the inevitable smears. Rather than highlight his brave disclosures and desperate plight, Snowden has, typically, been labelled by much of the media as vain, narcissistic, reckless and a self-deserving fugitive.

Glenn Greenwald has also now been subject to predictable character slurs after his key role in reporting Snowden's case. Yet, still he proves impressively resistant.

As independent journalist Jonathan Cook admirably notes (via Facebook):
One of the notable things about Glenn Greenwald is that, unlike other big-name journalists, he's not shy about highlighting the moral and professional failings of mainstream journalism.
It was a joy to see him pointing out the other day ...that Mika Brzezinski was using "White House talking points" during an interview, and telling David Gregory to his face that he had incited against him and serious journalism by echoing White House claims that Greenwald had committed a crime.

By the day it becomes clearer that the Administration has launched a black ops campaign against Glenn Greenwald (and Snowden) - and that the media are likely to be willing co-conspirators.

Two days ago it emerged that Greenwald's home had been broken into and only his computer taken.

Today he reveals that the New York Daily News and New York Times have been fed a couple of feeble smears by Obama officials. The papers appear keen to print these stories as part of the growing campaign to discredit Greenwald and distract attention from the revelations he published.

In the 1970s the Washington Post came to Daniel Ellsberg's rescue and exposed Nixon's attempts to smear him through the Watergate break-in. This time, it looks more likely the gentlemen and ladies of the press will be holding the torches so the plumbers have their hands free to get on with the burglary.
We need every Snowden, Assange and Manning more than ever, courageously able and willing to whistleblow and spread such information. And we need every serious journalist, like Greenwald, ready to approve and assist in such exposures.

As Greenwald asserts, that energetic "courage is contagious". An already dedicated Greenwald has been further inspired by Snowden, who, in turn, was inspired by Manning, who was inspired by Wikileaks and Assange to do what he did - and, now facing a loaded court and lifetime incarceration, is paying the terrible, painful price of his principles.

All these resistant figures and the many more who campaign quietly and relentlessly with them offer enormous encouragement to concerned others who, despite their fear of extremist states and spooks, will, hopefully, feel inspired to follow in similar moral conscience.


Update (1 July 2013):

Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow

1 comment:

beautifulSakura said...

Well Said John..

Its utterly disgusting how the elite OPENLY Go to war on Truth...Frightning how Blind the masses in this country are ( uk )

I'm sure you would come across this, but just in case, here's Edwards latest Statement

Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow

Monday July 1, 21:40 UTC

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden

Monday 1st July 2013