Tom Dispatch: Two more perspectives on Snowden

Picture released by Human Rights Watch shows US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden during a meeting with rights activists at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport Friday. (Photo: Tanya Lokshina AFP/Getty Images)

Picture released by Human Rights Watch shows US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden during a meeting with rights activists at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Friday.
(Photo: Tanya Lokshina AFP/Getty Images)

Please see this —

Former Army Sergeant Tim Gatto on Bradley Manning

— for what I consider to be the perspective that anyone who is still breathing needs to pay attention to. It’s guaranteed to make our hearts race. Time will be needed to calm them. And then we each have to decide: what next? How do I personally respond to what I am learning?

Note: It’s important to realize that none of us has to (or can) “save the world,” but that all of us must do what’s really hard to do right in front of us. The single action that disturbs our comfort zone; the one that our conscience requires. From that first impossible step, and it feels like a leap off the cliff like the Fool in the Tarot Deck, the next steps will come floating towards us, magically, landing just underneath us, providing the new ground to stand upon as we make our way, still blind, but with a homing instinct equal to those of birds, to forge the co-created new world for which we have all been longing.

Meanwhile, here are two more perspectives on Ed Snowden, both of great value. The first, Tom Engelhardt, who has been documenting the vast extent of the U. S.A. corporatized Military Industrial Empire for some time now.

Thanks to Ben, for the pointer.

Now You See Him, Now You Don’t Living in a One-Superpower World (or Edward Snowden vs. Robert Seldon Lady)

Excerpt:

Don’t make the mistake, however, of comparing Washington’s positions on Snowden and Lady and labeling the Obama administration’s words and actions “hypocrisy.” There’s no hypocrisy involved. This is simply the living definition of what it means to exist in a one-superpower world for the first time in history. For Washington, the essential rule of thumb goes something like this: we do what we want; we get to say what we want about what we do; and U.N. ambassadorial nominee Samantha Powers then gets to lecture the world on human rights and oppression.

This version of how it all works is so much the norm in Washington that few there are likely to see any contradiction at all between the Obama administration’s approaches to Snowden and Lady, nor evidently does the Washington media. Its particular blind spots, when it comes to Washington’s actions, remain striking — as when the U.S. effectively downed the Bolivian president and his plane. Although it was an act of seemingly self-evident illegality, there wasno serious reporting, no digging when it came to the behind-the-scenes acts of the U.S. government, which clearly pressured four or five European governments (one of which may have been Italy) to collude in the act. Nor, weeks later, has there been any follow-up by the Washington media. In other words, an act unique in recent history, which left European powers disgruntled and left much of Latin America up in arms, has disappeared without explanation, analysis, punditry, or editorial comment here. Undoubtedly, given the lack of substantial coverage, few Americans even know it happened.

The lucky Mr. Lady’s story has followed a similar trajectory. Having vanished in mid-air, he has managed so far not to reappear anywhere in the U.S. press. What followed was no further news, editorial silence, and utter indifference to an act of protection that might otherwise have seemed to define illegality on an international level. There was no talk in the media, in Congress, or anywhere else about the U.S. handing over a convicted criminal to Italy, just about how the Russians must return a man Washington considers a criminal to justice.

This, then, is our world: a single megapower has, since September 2001, been in a financing and construction frenzy to create the first global surveillance state; its torturers run free; its kidnappers serve time at liberty in this country and are rescued if they venture abroad; and its whistleblowers — those who would let the rest of us know what “our” government is doing in our name — are pilloried. And so it goes.

_____

Next, Rebecca Solnit, who brings a woman’s heart and soul to her compassionate and empathic meditation on Edward Snowden, his great deed, and his probable fate.

Prometheus Among the Cannibals: A Letter to Edward Snowden

Excerpt:

What’s striking about your words on video, Edward Snowden, the ones I hear as your young, pale, thoughtful face speaks with clarity and incisiveness in response to Glenn Greenwald’s questions, is that you’re not talking much about what you hate, though it’s clear that you hate the secret network you were part of. You hate it because it poisons what you love. You told us, “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions… [but] I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.” You love our world, our country — not its government, clearly, but its old ideals and living idealists, its possibilities, its dreamers, and its dreams (not the stale, stuffed American dream of individual affluence, but the other dreams of a better world for all of us, a world of principle).

You told us where we now live and that you refuse to live there anymore:

“I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build, and it’s not something I’m willing to live under. America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics.”

Which is to say you acted from love, from all the things the new surveillance state imperils: privacy, democracy, accountability, decency, honor. The rest of us, what would we do for love?

What is terrifying to the politicians at the top is that you may be our truest patriot at the moment. Which makes all of them, with their marble buildings and illustrious titles, their security details and all the pomp, the flags, the saluting soldiers, so many traitors. The government is the enemy of the people; the state is the enemy of the country. I love that country, too. I fear that state and this new information age as they spread and twine like a poison vine around everything and everyone. You held up a mirror and fools hate the mirror for it; they shoot the messenger, but the message has been delivered.

“This country is worth dying for,” you said in explanation of your great risks. You were trained as a soldier, but a soldier’s courage with a thinker’s independence of mind is a dangerous thing; a hero is a dangerous thing. That’s why the U.S. military has made the Guardian, the British newspaper that has done the key reporting on your leaks, off limits to our soldiers overseas. Whoever made that cynical censorship decision understands that those soldiers may be defending a set of interests at odds with this country and its Constitution, and they need to be kept in the dark about that. The dark from which you emerged.

When the United States forced the airplane of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s democratically elected head of state, to land in Austria, after compliant France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy denied him the right to travel through their airspace, all South America took it as an insult and a violation of Bolivia’s sovereignty and international law. The allied president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, tracked the incident in a series of tweets that demonstrated an openness, a principledness, and a strong friendship between Morales, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa, and her. It was a little window onto a really foreign continent: one in which countries are sometimes headed by genuinely popular leaders who are genuinely transparent and governed by rule of law. It’s a reminder that things in our own blighted, corrupted, corporate-dominated country could be different.

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