UPDATE: 01.07.2013 PUTIN CALLS U.S BLUFF
The straight talking Putin, has been as polite and diplomatic as he can while pointing out some people need to grow up. Putin says the self - styled U.S whistle- blower can stay in Russia - if - he shuts up about the Prism Hoax (and so - stops - being a distraction from the real life horror going on in the Middle East.) It is a matter of priorities. Does Snowden value human life first, or warbling on about legislation that government actually published, which is not even a ..leak ? I do not recall that Mr Snowden actually opposes western backed wars.
Isn't it odd that in this day and age of technology, apparently everywhere, that our intrepid whistleblower, Where's Wally is rather ironically not giving us all the benefit of his eternal wisdom on a 24/7 live feed from ....Moscow International Airport.
Perhaps Putin really would then give him a first class ticket to .....?
Anyway, given that the fact is legislation that is published, leading to all else, was never a leak, and was something Snowden could have made a legal challenge to in a court, without going running all around the world, I agree with Webster Tarpley's theory, that the timing of Prism could only have most to do with Syria (and by extension Bradley Manning)
Tarpley had preceded his theory by offering up quite a loaded notion, that To Avoid War with Syria, the CIA’s Snowden story must be neutralized.
Perhaps, that's sort of like, hello Mr Putin. Can you help ?
It is also slightly more delicate than the traditional method of Russian & Western "diplomacy" which for a long time, primarily revolved around, who could drink the other under the table.
Around the recent G8 I dare say Mr Putin's popularity rating in the - UK - was sky high compared to that of Cameron & Co.
Imagine a Russian President standing for UK PM and trouncing UK politicians !
And all because the people do view illegal wars very seriously, and the people do know what the ghastly UK politicians are really doing and the people do not want it.
It was a Russian who pointed out to me not so long ago, relatively speaking, that people may not like Putin, and things are really bad in Russia, but he and others will vote for Putin, because they need someone who will stand up to the West.
It was a Palestinian who taught me even longer ago, that he who digs a hole for his brother will jump into it himself.
Too true with Prism and the Middle East, because people are not generally looking to jump into a hole dug for them by someone else.
It is interesting too, that if you consider history, it is the Russian government, who for various reasons of it's own, has in some sense, in a fine balancing act, done much to stand in the way of there truly being a global community of big business, in every sense.
It's there, but not completely there.
After the Iron curtain fell, the U.S government thought their own way to global dominance would be plain sailing.
A done deal.
A fait accompli.
I am not saying that the Russian government are trying to make it great for people anywhere, let alone everywhere, but perhaps it could well be and get worse without a challenge from someone like Russia.
And if you look at what a tiny country like Cuba quietly plod away doing, sans the almighty U.S, that is quite extraordinary.
Since we, the people are still finding ways to give power back to the people, to make it a global community of people, which in many senses can be infinitely harder and so will take longer, it can be no bad thing when governments like Russia stand in the way of the U.S government, so people's lives can be saved.
Amidst the manhunt for former NSA staffer Edward Snowden, who is presently stuck in the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, some US observers are displaying the hypocrisy that comes with hyper-power, accusing Russia of not being a true ally.
US media is busy typecasting Russia as the villainous antagonist in this made-for-Hollywood tale of non-fiction that pits a lonely whistleblower from the National Security Agency (NSA) against the very government – and even girlfriend - he betrayed.
And as if to purposely taunt his imperial pursuer, Snowden has chosen the longest, most arduous route on the road to Ecuador. Indeed, the 29-year-old - who threw a spotlight on an ultra-secret NSA data-mining surveillance program - did not board a boat to Havana after blowing the whistle on his employer, and not because Guantanamo Bay detention facility is still lurking on the horizon. Snowden was looking for maximum exposure, cause celebre, as it were. And like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks notoriety, he is certainly getting it.
Protesters shout slogans in support of former US spy Edward Snowden as march to the US consulate in Hong Kong on June 13, 2013. (AFP Photo / Philippe Lopez)
First stop: Hong Kong. Snowden's first choice of destination prior to divulging his secrets was not only an intelligence nightmare for the US, it was also a bit embarrassing: As early as May, the US authorities were pointing the imperial finger at Beijing for targeting cyber-attacks on US government computers.
“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” the report read.
Not surprisingly, the Chinese authorities denied the accusation.
However, the embarrassment was nothing when we consider the uncanny knack the Chinese have for copying, and even improving, every gadget under the sun - from sneakers to satellites - which makes Snowden’s choice of the quasi-commie, quasi-capitalist regime all the more sensational and potentially dangerous to long-term American interests. What kind of a gnarly tree will grow out of the kernel of information the Chinese may have skimmed from Snowden’s laptop is anybody’s guess.
Next stop: Moscow. Since Sunday, Edward Snowden has been spending what must be some very uncomfortable nights in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport. Whether the American is permitted to shop around Duty Free between arriving flights is anybody’s guess, but clearly, the life of a whistleblower on the lam is no piece of cake.
People spend time in a waiting room at the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport June 26, 2013. (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)
US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed indignation that neither China nor Russia seems overly inclined to return missing American property.
“It would be deeply troubling, obviously, if they had adequate notice, and notwithstanding that, they make the decision willfully to ignore that and not live by the standards of the law,” Kerry said
Meanwhile, US media continues to bemoan Washington’s inability to sway Moscow and Beijing to behave in accordance with its "will."
“For the moment, Moscow appears to be holding firm against Washington’s demands,” lamented The Washington Post. “Within the United States, that’s prompted some alarm over not just Russia’s refusal – which is not shocking – but America’s apparent inability to force its will on the issue.”
After all, it has almost become second nature for the United States to resolve its issues with foreign countries not with the subtlety of the diplomatic pen, but increasingly with the brutality of the sword.
“From Washington’s point of view, Snowden is an American fugitive wanted on serious charges, hanging out at the Moscow airport, and we can’t even compel his release,” the article continued. “Whatever happened to American power abroad?”
After reading this hunk of hubris on steroids one is tempted to believe that defense industry contractors will be receiving a windfall in government subsidies just because of a young, idealistic computer technician.
Russian officials say they lack the legal authority to detain Snowden - whose passport has been canceled by US authorities - no less to hand him over.
“The Americans can’t demand anything,” human-rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax, saying that as long as Snowden did not leave the Moscow airport’s transit zone, he was not officially on Russian soil and could not be seized.
Meanwhile, another US commentator said Moscow is not cooperating in the Snowden case because it enjoys the spectacle of humiliating Washington.
According to Michael Hirsh, writing for The Atlantic, “The Russian leader enjoys humiliating Washington, so the Obama administration shouldn't expect much help from him in nabbing the NSA leaker.”
Yet, as Hirsh admits, Vladimir Putin himself emphasized he didn't want the NSA whistleblower loitering around a Russian airport, saying "the sooner he chooses his final destination, the better it is for him and Russia."
Nevertheless, the author jumps to the conclusion that “Russia's foreign policy is largely shaped by its leader's desire to meddle with America and its designs around the world.”
Hirsh uses as examples global hotspots, specifically in Syria (“with Putin backing Bashar Assad against the US-aided rebels”); Iran (“where Moscow opposes too-stringent sanctions and is building a reactor”); or missile defense (“where Putin pressured President Obama to retreat from a missile-defense system, angering the Poles and the Czech Republic”) where Moscow and Washington hold different views on what course of action should be taken.
But for Hirsh, Moscow daring to question Washington’s decisions - which were proven to be occasionally wide of the mark, especially after the intelligence failure that led to the disastrous war in Iraq, and later in Libya – is exactly the source of the problem: Another country – Russia - is actually attempting to second-guess and even disagree (gasp!) with America’s “designs around the world,” as Hirsh not-so-delicately puts the matter.
Meanwhile, the revelations made available by Snowden show without a doubt that Washington has not always been a straight-dealing partner with Moscow, even at the best of times.
As The Guardian reported, “American spies based in the UK intercepted the top-secret communications of the then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to Britain for the G20 summit in London, leaked documents reveal.” So much for trusting gratuitous internet cafes at international summits.
The details of the intercepted messages were shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, it noted. It goes without saying that this information drew some raised eyebrows in Moscow, exactly as it did in European capitals.
Although the intelligence gleaned from the surveillance may have amounted to nothing more interesting than what the Russian leader ordered for lunch, the reports of eavesdropping did nothing to invigorate the lackluster US-Russia reset. Despite these reports, it is the US that thinks Russia is trying to “humiliate” it over the Snowden affair.
Considering the history of Russia-US bilateral relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union, is it really fair to say that Russia in general and Putin in particular “enjoys humiliating Washington”? It seems, if we’re going to split hairs on the matter, that exactly the opposite is true.
It is enough to consider the ongoing controversy over the US missile defense shield going up in Eastern Europe, just miles from the Russian border, together with the eastward spread of NATO, which some say should have been disbanded following the demise of the Warsaw Pact.
On the question of missile defense in Europe, Obama initially shelved the plan back in 2009; it didn’t stay on the shelf long (and to set the record straight, it was not Putin who angered the Czechs and the Poles over missile defense, as Hirsh suggests, but rather their own governments, who were pushing for the US system despite heated local objections to the plan. Not only that, but Dmitry Medvedev was Russia’s president at the time).
Today, as with so many other seamless transitions between the foreign policy objectives of Bush and Obama, the system is not only a reality, it threatens to trigger another arms race as Russia fully understands that nuclear-missile disarmament in the face of a mighty shield on the frontier is, potentially, geopolitical suicide on the grand chessboard. Why is the United States and its NATO allies so determined to push ahead with an unproven missile system, to defend against an unproven enemy, with the risk of permanently alienating Russia, a proven ally? It makes no sense.
The issue goes beyond merely the question “humiliating the United States,” of course, which is probably the worst offense that may be committed against a ego-tripping superpower. America has become so arrogant in its demands that it accuses Russia of "humiliating" behavior because Moscow refuses to give Washington strategic advantage!
So now that it has been revealed that the NSA was actively collecting surveillance on Russian leaders at prominent international gatherings, this may not be the best time to criticize Moscow’s lack of enthusiasm, or its desire to “humiliate” the US, when it comes to the handling of Snowden.
In the final analysis, whistleblowers are always going to be with us, at least until the computers can do without the need for human intervention. No matter what kind of security firewalls we place on our sophisticated computer systems, no foolproof system has been devised that could remove the judgment of individuals - complete with conscience and reasoning abilities - from the final analysis. For security experts, the human being represents the weak link in their system; for civil rights groups, the human component is a safety valve, the last line of defense, as it were, that prevents us from being victimized by some Orwellian surveillance state.
Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which examines the dangerous consequences of extreme corporate power now prevalent in the US.
In the vintage movie Casablanca, the Vichy French official played by Claude Raines is “Shocked! Shocked!” to discover that gambling is going on in Rick’s American Bar, a notorious gambling den. He is then handed his winnings of the night, a hefty wad of banknotes. Some of the same incongruity which have made this scene so famous suffuse the limited hangout psy-op now being constructed around the dubious figure of the alleged NSA-CIA defector Ed Snowden. Mr. Snowden is presented as a reformed warmonger who in 2004 wanted to kill Iraqis in the name of freedom, but has now – presumably with some inspiration from the austerity ghoul Ron Paul, his new hero — turned over a new leaf to the point of being deeply concerned about the erosion of civil liberties in the United States.
On June 5, 2013 – the same day as the liberation of Qusayr in Syria – Snowden was the beneficiary of a high-powered media rollout assisted by the left-liberal gatekeeper Glenn Greenwald, and later by the foundation-funded documentary filmmaker Laura Poiret. This was the beginning of a series of high-profile stories featured on the front page of the London Guardian, the notorious British intelligence conduit.
And what were the revelations? First, Snowden shocked us with the news that the NSA is carrying on wiretapping of Americans and foreigners through Verizon and other companies! But of course, this was nothing but the warrantless wiretap program once called Operation Stellar Wind which had been revealed by the New York Times in December, 2005. The Obama regime even claims there is a difference in that the current wiretaps are based on warrants issued by a federal judge. In any case, nothing new.
On June 6, 2013 Greenwald and Snowden struck again, this time with a devastating power point account of PRISM, the NSA’s sweeping effort to read e-mails. Of course, more than a decade after the exposure of the Echelon snooping alliance, after the post-9/11 Authorization to Use Military Force Act, and after the Patriot Act and its implementing legislation, it was only the most naïve subjects who still assumed that their e-mails were secure. All old news.
But Greenwald and Snowden had more arrows in their scandal quiver: just before the first meeting of Obama with Chinese President Xi, Snowden revealed that the US was hacking Chinese targets! Naturally, a low level cyber war has been ongoing between Washington and Beijing since the latter part of 2009, at the latest, with mutual recriminations frequently exchanged. But this new broadside by Snowden was enough to put the Sino-American Summit under stress. A well-worn cliché.
And then, in a rousing crescendo on the eve of this year’s G-8 conference in Northern Ireland, Greenwald and Snowden flabbergasted world public opinion by revealing that the British GCHQ of Cheltenham, working together with the NSA, had access to phone calls and e-mails of world leaders attending the G-20 conference in Britain in 2009! Self-evident.
Apart from a few obvious exaggerations and rhetorical flourishes, Greenwald and Snowden had thus managed to add virtually nothing to our awareness of institutionalized electronic eavesdropping. But the media circus they helped to create emerges in a sinister light when we realize that it was offered as a diversion of world public opinion from the really urgent question on the world historical agenda: would the British, the French, the Israelis, and the neocons be able to push the reluctant and vacillating Obama into the thankless role of leading a token NATO coalition in an attack on Syria, Hezbollah, and perhaps Iran? The suspicions grew stronger in the light of the media follow-up, which betrayed the clear intent of weakening Obama with a view to softening him up and diminishing his ability to resist the demands for immediate all-out aggression being issued by the forces just named. As a result, the antiwar forces who might have devoted their energies to counterattacking the British, French, Israeli, neocon, and militarist warmongers were instead primarily focused on attacking Obama – in effect, driving him into the arms of the aggressor faction. It was a market of dupes in grand style.
The operations of secret intelligence agencies aiming at the manipulation of public opinion generally involve a combination of cynical deception with the pathetic gullibility of the targeted populations.
There is ample reason to believe that the case of Edward Joseph Snowden fits into this pattern. We are likely dealing here with a limited hangout operation, in which carefully selected and falsified documents and other materials are deliberately revealed by an insider who pretends to be a fugitive rebelling against the excesses of some oppressive or dangerous government agency.
But the revelations turn out to have been prepared with a view to shaping the public consciousness in a way which is advantageous to the intelligence agency involved. At the same time, gullible young people can be duped into supporting a personality cult of the leaker, more commonly referred to as a “whistleblower.” A further variation on the theme can be the attempt of the sponsoring intelligence agency to introduce their chosen conduit, now posing as a defector, into the intelligence apparatus of a targeted foreign government. In this case, the leaker or whistleblower attains the status of a triple agent.