Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jimmy Carter defends Snowden and adds "America has no functioning democracy"

The original article is in Der Spiegel.  A translation is available here.  In my mind it's a pretty significant story.  Here Obama is aggressively attempting to arrest Snowden, going so far as to force a plane carrying the Bolivian President to land, merely on the suspicion that Snowden was aboard the plane.  Yet the former President is critical.  I see no mention of this in the mainstream, corporate press.  Why is it that the corporate press isn't interested?  Readers know how I would answer that question.

But to give the corporate press a little credit, for once we do have some coverage of Obama's drone program.  The grandfather of the 16 year old American droned is asking why it is that our government can kill our citizens and yet doesn't have to explain itself.  Read his editorial entitled The Drone that Killed My Grandson.

Also worth checking out is An Open Letter to the Media signed by a number of scholars and Latin American professionals that addresses our media's treatment of the so called "irony" of whistleblowers seeking asylum in places like Ecuador and Venezuela, places that are portrayed as hostile to free speech.  You may have heard that Hugo Chavez "shut down" a whole network that was critical of him.  It's totally bogus, and touched on in this letter.  Chomsky addressed it in an interesting way.  He has been asked about it and he says yeah, such a thing could never happen in the US.  His interviewer likes the sound of that and is excited, but then Chomsky continues in a way that makes his statement unpublishable in mainstream press.  He says in similar circumstances our government wouldn't revoke their license.  It would take everyone involved and line them up in front of a firing squad.  This TV network in Venezuela fomented a coup against Chavez, the democratically elected President.  Imagine if such a thing happened in the US.  Obama was kidnapped, Congress was disbanded, and then a popular uprising restored Obama and the Congress.  What do you think would happen to the people involved with a network that supported the coup?  It's pretty obvious.  And yet Chavez didn't do what our government would have done.  What he did was he didn't renew their broadcast license, which meant they had to switch to cable.  They still function, still remained openly hostile to him, but they were relegated to cable.  This shows how Venezuela doesn't value press freedom. 

Meanwhile in Britain Julian Assange sits at the Ecuadoran Embassy, staked out by British police at a cost to the British taxpayers of $18,000 per day.  That's what real press freedom looks like I suppose.


Jonathan said...


What's your thoughts on Snowden vs. Assange? Personally, I think Snowden is a hero, but Assange was reckless and I wouldn't mind seeing him arrested. Bradford Manning? I see him a lot closer to Snowden as being justified in his actions (although admittedly I haven't followed his story as close as Snowden).

So I guess my questions to you would be 1) Do you think that there is any info a government should be able to keep secret from the public 2) Do you feel that any info that Assange released was wrong to do, or he should not have released?

Jon said...

You don't like Assange? Why? Arrested? Wow, that's pretty strong. The press even in this country is allowed to publish classified info, and Assange wasn't even in this country.

I'm sure there are some secrets worth keeping, like nuclear launch codes and the identities of agents that would be killed if exposed. Obviously I'm assuming those agents are doing things that are right and approved through some sort of democratic process.

As far as Assange's release, as I understand he was trying to release in a very careful way, vetting everything. This is all legal. So the initial releases were very slow. But of course our government attacked him, compelled credit card companies to not allow others to donate to him. So he had to make a choice. Do I dump what I have or do I allow the US government attacks to prevent me from publishing this. He wants to vet, but basically can't. And you can see how much good came of his prior disclosures. Criminals prosecuted, democratic movements initiated in regions where dictators reign. Not a single instance of physical harm or damage to US interests. On the other hand you do risk exposing things like what I describe. A covert agent perhaps, one that could be killed as a result. So it's a tough call, but in my mind it was the right decision, and I don't think any agents have been harmed.

Our government is not stupid and probably knew that if they made it impossible to vet things properly he may dump them. They probably knew it and didn't care, possibly because they knew nothing that bad would happen, or perhaps they hoped something bad would happen and they could use it for propaganda purposes. Nothing bad has happened to my knowledge. So why would you have a problem with Assange.

Examinator said...

the one thing out of your discussion was that Wikileaks actually told the US Government what they had in advance and asked them to help them redact the 'life threatening' details but the Government refused. Just demanded all the data and their source's name.
Clearly from that the govt simply wanted confrontation i.e. a head to kick and to hell with issues like security and the public needing to know what was being done in their name.
NB Considering the politics in all this I very much doubt that POTUS has/had much say in the issue.

Capitalism NEEDS conflict not negotiated solutions... no profit in the latter.

Jon said...

Good point, Ex. I'd forgotten about that. Honestly I have to say that I really don't think our government is concerned about causing physical harm to Americans, CIA agents, or whatever. If their actions lead to such people being harmed they'd perhaps prefer that because now they can paint Assange negatively. Their complete unwillingness to help redact or their efforts which compelled Assange to do the full dump kind of shows that. And terrorism is no different. Are they really interested in reducing the threat of terrorism? No. Terrorists threats are a tool that can be exploited so their power can be expanded.

Jonathan said...

Jon wrote:

" Are they really interested in reducing the threat of terrorism? No. Terrorists threats are a tool that can be exploited so their power can be expanded."

Who is "they"?

Jon said...

You just being a pain? Sounds like a question HP would ask, while naturally ignoring the questions put to him. :) Anyway, I think you know what I mean, but to spell it out, it's the sectors of our society that have power and privilege. Wealthy people are interested in protecting their wealth. They fear things like democracy, which can deprive them of their wealth, so they do often consider means of preventing that. You undermine people's ability to organize, implement things they prefer. To do that you use fear to tell them they must submit to you for their own safety. They use these security measures to implement their goals of protecting their own power and authority.

So what's up with your views on Assange? Perhaps you were under the mistaken impression that he'd done something that resulted in physical harm or something along those lines. Perhaps the added information I've provided has allowed you to reconsider.

Jonathan said...


Yeah - I probably won't end up answering the questions posed, I'll admit that.

I'm actually up to my eyeballs in playing the capitalistic game of building my business while I try and escape my 9-5. I've been getting up at around 5:30am to work on it, and up until 2am some nights. I'm trying to convince 10 folks to pay me $500 bucks to go through a 5 week bootcamp before November 1st. If I can make $5k by then, then that's a good test case that my biz is viable, at least in it's current incarnation. But to get from $0 to $5,000, I'm developing some smaller products, a sales funnel, a product launch plan, and generally doing way more than I should try and cram into a given week. But I'm loving every min of it.

Anyway - I'd love to play the contrarian here and more into Assange. My impression is that he's just trying to be more vindictive and punitive towards the US. I could be wrong, and maybe if I dig more into the details, my position might shift.

Unfortunately I don't have the luxury to do that right now, so I figure by throwing some questions out there, I might get the cliff note's version of you and Ex's position, and possibly another random folk or two to mull over.

Why ask who are "they"? Simple - it's one thing to point to an individual's actions and say they are wrong, it's another to try and ascribe intention and motive. Same thing with a group. Even more so when the group is vague.

So if you want to claim a group of people might get some financial gain from terrorism, ok - but when you shift to claiming a whole chain of motive, benefit, intent, and just call them "they" I say "prove it". Or at the very least define your terms better. I think you'd expect no less of me ;-)