Notes From the Margins…

Leaving Edward Snowden to the Wolves

  • July 03, 2013
  • by

Who will stand up for Edward Snowden?   Not the American media, that fearless and forensic instrument of truthtelling, which has been generally too busy poring over Snowden’s ‘narcissism’ and character flaws, or arguing that surveillance is good for us, to consider the broader implications of his revelations.

Nor tough guy Vladimir Putin, who won’t do anything to help Snowden unless he stops leaking secrets about the US government.   Nor Rafael Correa, who after an entertaining bit of theatrical sparring with the Imperium has effectively backed off and dumped him also.  

Not Italy, France, Spain and Portugal,   whose governments have taken the incredible step of refusing to allow the Bolivian president Evo Morales to fly through their airspace in the presidential plane, because Snowden might be on the plane.   Spain even had the gall to demand ‘revision of the presidential plane’ as condition to allow it to pass through its airspace.

Can you imagine any of these governments behaving like that towards another European country that might, in a parallel universe, be suspected of offering Snowden asylum?     In your dreams.     But it’s clearly another matter when we are dealing with some little Third World country with a leftist president.

What a gutless shower of imperial lackeys these governments are.   Some of them may well have been spied on themselves, as part of the NSA’s bugging operations in the EU.     Some, like France, have even expressed their ‘concerns’ about these surveillance programs.

Yet rather than defend the man who revealed their existence, they have intervened to try and hand him over to the government who spied on them.   Of course the US has denied suggestions that it bullied any country to reject Snowden, and insisted, according to the Guardian, that ‘it has simply impressed upon possible host countries the seriousness of the crimes that Snowden has been charged with.’

You bet it has.     And now the Guardian, which originally published Snowden’s revelations, has effectively abandoned him too, in an editorial that is steeped in rank hypocrisy and bad faith.   The editorial oozes concern for its source, and rejects the Imperium’s accusations of espionage, on the grounds that

Mr Snowden is clear that he leaked his information in order to alert the world to the unprecedented and industrial scale of NSA and GCHQ secret data trawling. He did not, he insists, leak in order to damage the US, its interests or its citizens, including those citizens in harm’s way. Nothing of this sort has been published. Nor should it be.

But then it drops in a little question mark over Snowden’s intentions, since

As long as he remains in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, however, the real issue remains clouded. This damages Mr Snowden’s cause, which this newspaper supports. He should therefore leave Russia as soon as he practically can.

So the fact that Snowden is trapped in ‘Vladimir Putin’s Russia’ could mean that he might be spying, even though the Guardian supports his ’cause.’     And why can’t he leave Russia?   Because, according to the Guardian

The United States is deliberately not making this as easy as it could.

In another context this could be black humour, but more likely it is simply sheer cowardice.     Because to say that the Obama administration is not making Snowden’s onward journey ‘ as easy as it could’ somewhat understates the case just a teeny weeny bit.

After all we are talking about a government that has just revoked Snowden’s passport and made him stateless – something that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany once did during the interwar years in order to isolate and destroy the citizens their didn’t want, whether they were political opponents or Jews.

Then, as now, these governments knew that to make someone stateless was to condemn them to legal non-existence, without the right to go anywhere or be anything.     The only way out of this situation was to be granted asylum.     By leaning on its allies and its enemies alike, the US has done everything it can to deny that possibility to Snowden.

So when Obama says he doesn’t want to scramble fighter planes to bring Snowden to the United States,   it’s because he knows he doesn’t have to.   The Guardian knows this perfectly well, but it then makes this breathtakingly dishonest observation:

Mr Snowden has always accepted that he will have to face the music for what he has done. This is likely to happen sooner or later. But it needs to happen in a way which respects Mr Snowden’s rights, and civilian status, and which, above all, also recognises the high public seriousness of what he has decided to do. His welfare matters.

Not to the Guardian it doesn’t.     Otherwise it might have considered ways to help him before it published the stories that it has profited from.     If Snowden ‘has always accepted that he will have to face the music for what he has done’, then why has he sought asylum from more than 21 countries?

The Guardian goes on to say that:

Mr Snowden is not a spy. Nor is he a foreign agent. He is a whistleblower. He has published government information. And it is as a whistleblower that he will eventually have to answer to the law.

Did the Guardian journalists tell him that he would ‘have to answer to the law’ when they interviewed him?     Hasn’t the Guardian also ‘published government information’ – and therefore isn’t it as ‘guilty’ as Snowden himself?     Why doesn’t it offer to send its journalists, or perhaps Alan Rusbridger himself to the United States to ‘face the music’ and test whether their ‘rights and civilian status’ will be upheld?

Of course it has no intention of doing any such thing.     It has made its killing, and now it clearly as willing to leave the messenger to the wolves like everyone else, even if it allows itself a few liberal crocodile tears in the process.

All of which is pretty shameful and disgusting.   And now it is beginning to look more and more likely   that Snowden’s one-man moral crusade will take him back to the United States to receive the Bradley Manning treatment and a very long prison sentence, unless some government shows a level of real political courage that has been conspicuously absent these last two weeks.


You may also Like

1 Comment

  1. alrightjim

    4th Jul 2013 - 12:24 pm

    Just when the guardian was in danger of denting my cynicism they start back pedaling.

    I was also extremely disappointed (but unfortunately not surprised) by the decision of the government here in Ireland to refuse Mr. Snowden’s asylum request.

    Apparently you have to be in the state before you can apply for asylum. And since the fact that his passport has been cancelled means it will be impossible for him to enter the state they can conveniently refuse his request without ever having to take a stand on either side of the issue.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  • No events
Sharing Buttons by Linksku