Below are my tweets from a conference call yesterday with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his team, about the National Security Agency's whistleblower Edward J. Snowden. The tweets are in reverse order (the oldest tweet is at the bottom).
All the mainstream media were on the call, and after the presentations, one by one, they took up all the available time for Q&A (the CNN reporter didn't respond when given the opportunity). Collectively, the MSM asked pretty good questions of Mr. Assange and his team, although the repetition of: "Where is Mr. Snowden right now?" got a bit tiring: He's at my house. (Just kidding.)
Does the U. S. Government really not know where Edward Snowden is? Am I to believe the NSA, which knows everything about everyone, and logs virtually every phone call made globally, has lost the most famous Waldo of all? And little old WikiLeaks, probably the most watched organization in the world, has found him?
Presumably they don't want to fly a drone directly into Moscow or Hong Kong, or wherever he happens to be. Why drone strikes are okay anywhere, I don't know. Looking at the dead and disfigured "collateral damage" -- photos shown all over the world but never in America -- I cannot possibly imagine that drone strikes, with their callous disregard for human life young and old, can possibly be legitimate or fruitful acts of foreign or domestic policy. I do not see how they foster good relationships with other countries. I do not see how drones can possibly stop terrorism: Instead, with every strike (and there have been hundreds in Pakistan alone) they plant the seeds of future terrorism, which is bred from hopelessness and despair.
Presumably the American government will not resort to using Polonium-210 against Mr. Snowden, like somebody used seven years ago to kill Russian KGB whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko. His gruesome death probably came at the hands of his former employers, but we'll never be sure.
Why is the world watching this rat-and-mouse game? Is it because only Nik Wallenda is more exciting -- but that only lasted 22:14?
Edward Snowden is a whistleblower of the highest and finest order. Whoever is running this automated, mechanized, remote-controlled war-machine known as "The U.S. Government" has got to stop harassing its whistleblowers!
I know quite a few whistleblowers. Some of my best friends are whistleblowers on nuclear reactor dangers. Serious stuff. Some are afraid to come forward.
What's happening to Snowden ("bellicose words" (as Mr. Assange put it), the revoking of Snowden's passport, etc.) is clearly meant to be a warning to all would-be whistleblowers. The warning says: "No matter how much we talked in public about our freedom, you were actually a member of a closed society, a special group, the rulers of the world: You had to obey OUR rules. If you step out of our circle jerk, if you tell "the others" about what we are and what we do, you'll be hunted down and severely punished just for telling the truth. We are above the old laws. We are the law now. Globally."
China and Russia both said, "hold on a second" and gave Snowden a free pass through their land. Where is he now? Will he make it to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum? Did he meet "Tank-Man" while he was in China? I doubt it.
And what about Glenn Greenwald? Other so-called journalists are attacking him, suggesting he should also be charged under the espionage act for reporting what Snowden revealed to him.
What's happening to Snowden, Manning, Assange, and Greenwald is an affront to all journalists as well as all whistleblowers, and is an affront to all citizens of the United States, and to all of humanity. Whistleblowers and the journalists who report what the whistleblowers discover need and deserve the freedom we all cherish in America. If they don't have that, the populace can't possibly have it either, because it's nearly impossible to make a difference in this world without garnering media attention about your cause, even -- or maybe especially -- in this age of the Internet.
In many ways, what journalists don't report might as well not happen -- or can't be stopped. Abu Ghraib was a routine torture cell until it became a media event. Try being sure of what happened somewhere -- anywhere you can't observe firsthand -- without journalists. Try understanding the world without them. Try knowing what's going on in society without them. Journalists must not be targeted! They need freedom, including the freedom to talk to whistleblowers and then report what the whistleblowers are saying.
Press freedom is a fundamental principle of a free society. It is one of the most important checks on power there is. But what if the journalists have nothing to report because all the whistleblowers are afraid to talk to them?
The author is a U. S. citizen.
All tweets from the press conference have been included. A few minor spelling errors and other typos have been corrected.
"He should have felt that the U.S. gov't would protect him...He was right to think it wouldn't...Bradley Manning...WikiLeaks experience..."
The right to privacy is a basic right. To claim that one right has unlimited precedence over all others is not right.
"The U.S. press has exposed that many of those justifications are false" -- Assange on U.S. assertions that spying saved lives.
"We have six years of experience" in these sorts of things, [says] Assange, as to why
Snowden might seek WikiLeaks' help.
"Is it in Snowden's best interest to be binding himself to the WikiLeaks org.?" JA: "Mr. Snowden is now involved in a very grave situation."
"I have been at the Ecuadorian Embassy for over a year." Julian Assange on his own whereabouts.
"I believe Mr. Snowden was well-advised to go public when he did, to protect the journalists involved." Julian Assange, WikiLeaks.
"He has expressed no regret...about what he has done. None." Julian Assange about Edward Snowden.
"You used the term 'rendition.' Is there any evidence that any US forces have tried to
snatch him." "My comments...related to language." JA
"What advanced comms did you have with Russian officials?" "In relation to safe passage, there was no communication prior to him lvng HK."
"Mr Snowden's material was secured by the relevant journalistic organizations prior to travel" -- Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder
Faux News: "Was there any kind of debriefing by the Chinese Authorities in HK?" "That is false." responds Assange.
"Was there any 'cloak and dagger' involved?" "That is a fascinating story, which will be told one day, but not today" says Assange, about HK
"We don't see the irony" responds Assange. Reporter asks a follow-up but Julian sticks to his response that the US has much to answer for.
"What do u make of the irony of seeking asylum thru China & Russia...are u happy to use those countries to "stick it in the eye" of the US?
"We have secret courts, secret interpretations, secret oversight, and secret laws." Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional [Rights]
"The NSA is violating United Nations agreements, American law, other country's agreements... and attempting to protect the people involved."
storing it, indexing it, processing it... leads to a concentration of power... that must not be allowed... totalitarian infrastructure built
NYT asks: "Do you object to ALL types of spying?" "There's only one type of human being; that's why we protect HUMAN rights." says M. Ratner
"We are aware of where Mr. Snowden is. He is in a safe place...Due to the bellicose threats from the U.S., we cannot go into detail." -- JA
MSM asks Assange: Why did Snowden not go to the USAG or something? Because he did not want to be treated as a spy in the US, says Julian.
Obama is attempting to make news organizations criminally liable for what they do. CNN asking GG why he shouldn't be charged?!? Jen Robinson
It is outrageous that a person that reveals the NSA spying program be facing what Bradley Manning is now facing, which is also outrageous.JR
The real story is the "incredible revelation" that Snowden has revealed to the world, says Kristinn Hrafnsson.
"Countries and the press have an obligation to assist Edward Snowden." Julian Assange also assured the world that Snowden is safe right now.
Using the espionage act against journalists must be condemned. Obama has used it 8 times, >2 times all others since it was enacted (1917).
"Let us not forget that today, while Edward Snowden is seeking asylum, that Bradley Manning is on trial for bringing us the truth." J.A.
"This morning the Sec. of State called Edward Snowden a traitor... He is not a traitor. He is not a spy. He is a whistleblower." J. Assange
"We have seen extreme bellicose statements" from the US about Snowden. "Every person has the right to seek asylum" through treaties US sgnd
"There's no legal basis for-" & "asylum trumps-" extradition, says Ratner. "We should be discussing the massive worldwide surveillance."
Whistleblower activities are "protected activities" & entitled to asylum around the world under the "Refugee Convention." This is political.
Listening to WikiLeaks news conf. Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks people will be speaking. Michael Ratner, Ctr for Const. Rgts. on now.
© Ace Hoffman