Monday, June 24, 2013

Snowden and the intelligence debacle: A declining empire's travails

Snowden: being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is an honor
by Richard Mellor

So it appears Edward Snowden, who, like Bradley Manning, has done us all a favor by exposing the rotten nature of the regime in Washington, is somewhere between Russia and Cuba or Cuba and Ecuador.

The whole affair reveals the declining influence of US imperialism on the global stage as bullying and threats have so far failed to produce Mr. Snowden.  Hong Kong authorities allowed him to leave and Russia refused to hand him over. Ecuador is harboring another journalist, Julian Assange in its embassy in London and had indicated it will likely offer Snowden asylum.

This is all very embarrassing for US capitalism but it is also part of the blowback from an arrogant global presence, violating the sovereign rights of mostly poor former colonial countries and proclaiming itself the cradle of democracy and democratic rights, the two million people in US prisons notwithstanding.

An NSA spokesperson made it clear when he announced the charges against Mr. Snowden that they, send a clear message……In the United States, you can’t spy on people.”  It’s a bit like a Monty Python skit and gets worse, “Only by bringing Mr. Snowden to justice can we safeguard the most precious of American rights: privacy” said the spokesperson.  And as Andy Borowitz points out, it is all said with a straight face.

The affair also raises some serious issues about the nature of US intelligence gathering, after all, unmanned drones have assassinated numerous figures (along with killing hundreds of civilians). “Snowdens unexpected flight to Moscow” , the Wall Street Journal points out today, “…exposed the apparent limits of America’s diplomatic and intelligent gathering reach”.

Oh dear, might it be the case that the successful “taking out” of suspected enemy combatants or “alleged” militants as they are often called, that are based on US intelligence sources, might not be as precise and accurate as we are told? And what about the Guantanamo inmates?  We know that the US offered so much a head to their thuggish allies in Afghanistan to go find terrorists and sure enough, they found them. The level of deceit and deception on the part of the US government with regards to its own population is staggering

There is no doubt that the whole affair is a big embarrassment for the US intelligence gathering agencies, “I guess we were so busy monitoring the everyday communications of every man, woman, and child in the nation that we didn’t notice that a contractor working for us was downloading tons of classified documents,” the agency spokesman said. “It’s definitely embarrassing, for sure.”  (The Borowitz Report)

There is a scramble not to try and contain the damage and tough talk is abundant, “Jennifer Psaki, a US State Department spokesperson warns that Snowden, “Should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”

The US was “double crossed” by Hong Kong says one prominent extradition lawyer.

So far Snowden has been charged with theft of US government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information. The last two charges according the media are espionage related.

The US ruling class is very upset at the refusal of some nations to comply with its requests.  Little Ecuador is already putting up Julian Assange at its embassy in London and it appears that Snowden will find refuge there if he can make it. 

As workers we will be asked as part of our patriotic duty to support the 1% and their political

Nancy Pelosi
representatives in Washington and call for Snowden’s head.   But the US public is not so easily persuaded.  Liberal Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, was booed by her own supporters when she defended the NSA’s spying at a meeting in Silicon Valley.  One man was removed from the hall, “Leave him alone! Secrets and lies! No secret courts! Protect the First Amendment,” the audience members shouted, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

And we should stop and think for a minute about the activity of the US intelligence and spy agencies around the world and how that effects what people think of us, from the retina scans they force on people in countries the US occupies to the kidnapping of individuals around the world, sometimes in other countries without the permission of their governments.  Obama and the CIA have been bombing Pakistan with unmanned drones violating that country’s sovereignty and refuses to even acknowledge it despite pleas to halt the practice.  This activity, the torture, renditions, drone warfare from Somalia to Pakistan, is what is driving terrorist activity and anti-American feeling.  The l% and their political representatives in the two Wall Street parties don’t care that we as Americans can’t travel in numerous countries throughout the world due to the activities of our own government, they are well protected and taken care of, primarily through US taxpayer funds.

By coming out in to the open Snowden may have made it more difficult for the CIA to assassinate him but they would clearly like to take him out, but he has considerable support at home and that will not happen without consequences, one of them increasing the distrust and dislike of the folks in Washington among their base at home.  There is already a lot of anger beneath the surface of US society at the bankers and politicians for their role in the Great Recession and the bailout.

Snowden, like Manning are national heroes.  We must not fall prey to this false patriotism and United We Stand mantra.  We must defend these Americans from the wrath of the US ruling class and their government.

As I wrote in an earlier piece, the leaders of the organized Labor movement continue their criminal silence on this issue.  It is being discussed in bars, on the job, in the streets and the papers of the world yet the heads of the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win coalition say nothing, their websites write nothing.  They should be organizing mass protests in the defense of Manning and Snowden.  We know of course that they will do nothing of their own volition except assist the bosses’ with the austerity agenda.  They abandon these heroic figures as they abandon their own members.  We cannot rely on them, or the Democrats to lead a fight against the capitalist offensive and the elimination of our civil liberties that go along with it.  We must organize and build for the American Spring.  The bosses will not let up.  They must make us more competitive globally as workers which means driving down wages and conditions even further which is something we naturally resist.  The attack on our rights and civil liberties is to render this resistance harmless.  The only protests or actions the bosses and their politicians accept are those that are ineffective.

Defend our rights. Defend Edward Snowden. Free Bradley Manning. Defy anti-Union laws and legislation through mass direct action.  Fight austerity.  

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