The United States pressured Hong Kong on Saturday to act quickly on its request to extradite Edward Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor charged with espionage for exposing secret U.S. surveillance activities.
“If Hong Kong doesn’t act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law,” a senior Obama administration official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Sources say Snowden, who has been hiding in Hong Kong, has sought legal representation from human rights lawyers as he prepares to fight attempts to force him back to the United States to face trial.
U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told CBS News the United States had a “good case” against Snowden and expected Hong Kong to comply with its 1998 extradition treaty with the United States.
“We have gone to the Hong Kong authorities seeking extradition of Snowden back to the United States,” Donilon said.
What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.
Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution.
The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. In the first week of October, I had an extraordinary conversation with NSA’s lead attorney. When I pressed hard about the unconstitutionality of Stellar Wind, he said:
“The White House has approved the program; it’s all legal. NSA is the executive agent.”
It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. “You don’t understand,” I was told. “We just need the data.”
In the first week of October 2001, President Bush had signed an extraordinary order authorizing blanket dragnet electronic surveillance: Stellar Wind was a highly secret program that, without warrant or any approval from the Fisa court, gave the NSA access to all phone records from the major telephone companies, including US-to-US calls. It correlates precisely with the Verizon order revealed by Snowden; and based on what we know, you have to assume that there are standing orders for the other major telephone companies.
Edward Snowden says he wants to ask the people of Hong Kong to decide his fate after choosing the city because of his faith in its rule of law.
The 29-year-old former CIA employee behind what might be the biggest intelligence leak in US history revealed his identity to the world in Hong Kong on Sunday. His decision to use a city under Chinese sovereignty as his haven has been widely questioned – including by some rights activists in Hong Kong.
Snowden said last night that he had no doubts about his choice of Hong Kong.
“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.
“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.
Snowden says he has committed no crimes in Hong Kong and has “been given no reason to doubt [Hong Kong’s legal] system”.
“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” he said.
“Be lawyered up to the max… find a place where it’s going to be that much more difficult for the US to make arrangements for his return… and and always check your six,” is the warning (advice) that Thomas Drake offers Edward Snowden, adding that, “it’s now validation of this vast, now systemic, industrial-scale leviathan surveillance system.”
As Reuters reports, Drake is one of the few people who understands from personal experience what the NSA Whistleblower is going through – the 56-year-old was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in 2010 for allegedly revealing classified information about the agency’s sweeping warrantless wire-tapping program. The government later dropped all but a misdemeanor charge.
“Always make sure you know what’s behind you,” he adds, “when you offer up information about the dark side of the surveillance state they don’t take too kindly to it.” Drake, whose life was “essentially destroyed,” is now a technical expert at an Apple store, but he still believes what he did was worth it, having no doubts: “Is freedom worth it? Is liberty worth it? Is not living in a surveillance society worth it? You’ve got to stand up and defend the rights and the freedoms that prevent that from actually happening.”
Thomas Drake is one of the few people who understands from personal experience what the future may hold for Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old former NSA contractor who exposed the U.S. government’s top secret phone and Internet surveillance programs.
His advice for Snowden: “Be lawyered up to the max and find a place where it’s going to be that much more difficult for the United States to make arrangements for his return,” Drake said. “And always check six, as we said when I used to be a flyer in the Air Force. Always make sure you know what’s behind you.”
Drake, a 56-year-old former intelligence official at the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act in 2010 for allegedly revealing classified information about the agency’s sweeping warrantless wire-tapping program. The government later dropped all but a misdemeanor charge.
“We know all this already,” I stated. He looked at me, giving me a look like I’ve never seen, and actually pushed his finger into my chest. “You don’t know jack,” he said, “this is bigger than you can imagine, bigger than anyone can imagine. This administration is collecting names of sources, whistle blowers and their families, names of media sources and everybody they talk to and have talked to, and they already have a huge list. If you’re not working for MSNBC or CNN, you’re probably on that list. If you are a website owner with a brisk readership and a conservative bent, you’re on that list. It’s a political dissident list, not an enemy threat list,” he stated.
“Based on what I’ve seen, most of which I should not have seen, the DHS is co-ordinating efforts with other federal agencies to begin to threaten American citizens with incarceration for non-compliance. You know the old talk of color coded lists? Well, this is what they will be using. People exposing the truth about Benghazi, killing the U.S. Dollar, even those questioning Obama’s legal status and eligibility to be President are the current targets. And they’ve had five long years to get to this point. The ugly truth is that these policies and practices did not start under Obama, but long before. This is about the killing of our Constitutional Republic. The murder of our country and the stripping of our rights. While many have been preoccupied with one issue, few have seen the bigger issue. This is the ‘end game,’ for all the marbles,” he stated.
Everyone needs to reflect on the United States having become obsessed with national security, even to the extent of gutting our Bill of Rights and turning the country into a “surveillance society”. It is long past time that serious consideration be given to dismantling DHS and returning the organization of our government to its far saner past.” – Jim Fetzer
[Editor’s note: While I would like to believe that Douglas Hagmann is exaggerating, all the evidence is against it. From my point of view, it is astounding that the major media has said nary a peep about the report of the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Intelligence, which was released on 3 October 2012. After a review of 680 “fusion center” reports from 2009-2010, they found NO INDICATIONS OF ANY DOMESTIC TERRORIST THREAT, as I have reported here at Veterans Today. NONE! ZILCH! NADA! NOT ONE!
That none of the major networks–ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, or MSNBC–has said a word about this tells me that the government’s control of the media is complete and comprehensive and that these seemingly interminable attacks at Sandy Hook, Boston and now Santa Monica are intended to create the FALSE IMPRESSION that we have a serious problem with domestic terrorism. Well, we do have a serious problem, but it lies in another direction, as Douglas Hagmann explains.]
7 June 2013: Something quite unexpected happened just hours ago, in the dark of night, during a two-day layover in Washington, DC. My son and I are scheduled to take part in a seminar outside of Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend, so we combined our travels to include a side-trip to DC for a business meeting we had previously arranged. It was during this layover that something seemingly ripped from the pages of a spy novel took place.
While I was in the middle of a perfectly good and well needed sleep in the very early hours of this morning, I received a message. I cannot disclose how I received this message, at least not now. The discerning reader will understand why, which, by the way, would make a very interesting story alone. The message was extremely clear and precise. I was to meet my high level DHS insider at a very specific location in Washington, DC at a time when most “normal” people, except third-shift workers are still asleep. And, I was to come alone and make certain that I was not being followed, and I was to leave any cell phone or electronic device behind.
Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “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.”
Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”
Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his disclosures. “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.” He added: “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
‘I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made’
Suddenly embroiled in too many scandals to even list, and humiliated by a publicly-exposed (because everyone knew about the NSA superspy ambitions before, but with one major difference: it was a conspiracy theory…. now it is a conspiracy fact) surveillance scandal that makes Tricky Dick look like an amateur, earlier today, as expected, Obama came out and publicly declared “I am not a hacker” and mumbled something about “security”, “privacy” and “inconvenience.” He went on to explain how the government “welcomes the debate” of all three in the aftermath of the public disclosure that every form of electronic communication is intercepted and stored by the US government (now that said interception is no longer secret, of course) but more importantly how it is only the government, which is naturally here to help, that should be the ultimate arbiter in deciding what is best for all.Yet the PRISM-gate scandal which is sure to only get worse with time as Americans slowly realize they are living in a Orwellian police state, meant Obama would have to do more to appease a public so furious even the NYT issued a scathing editorial lamenting the obliteration of Obama’s credibility. Sure enough, the president did. Reuters reports that the first course of action by the US government will be to… shoot the messenger.
Reuters reports that “President Barack Obama’s administration is likely to open a criminal investigation into the leaking of highly classified documents that revealed the secret surveillance of Americans’ telephone and email traffic, U.S. officials said on Friday.”
And how did Reuters learn this: from “law enforcement and security officials who were not authorized to speak publicly.”
The mimetic absurdity of the narrative is just too surreal to even contemplate for more than a minute before bursting out in laughter: the administration’s plans to launch criminal charges against those who “leaked” its Nixonian espionage masterplan involving every US (and world) citizen using the Internet, revealed by another group of sources leaking in secret. Pure poetry.
The attempts to limit the press during the Bradley Manning trial have been somewhat ridiculous. The press hasn’t been allowed to record anything, even though someone clearly did so surreptitiously. Furthermore, there’s been no plan for an official court transcript of the proceedings either. About a month ago, the Freedom of the Press Foundation launched a crowdfunding campaign to try to hire their own professional stenographer to attend the trail to make a transcript. They even had some top press publications, including the Guardian, Forbes and the Verge, apply for an extra press pass for the crowdfunded stenographer. The military refused. But, more ridiculously, they claimed it was a space issue, though that’s an issue they could easily fix.
Greetings from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania. I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy. But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.
The prison population is much like you might expect. Loretto has 1,369 prisoners (I never call myself an “inmate.” I’m a prisoner). About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic, and 20% are white. Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the white prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran ponzi schemes.
What follows is a rather brief, but incredibly interesting letter from John Kiriakou, the only person to be jailed in a torture related case in the U.S. Of course, he wasn’t involved in torture, he blew the whistle on it. For that offense he has been caged, while those actually involved in allowing torture roam free. I first highlighted John’s plight last year before he was jailed in my piece: Have You Heard of John Kiriakou? I suggest reading that post before getting into the letter below. Enjoy.
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