Edit: further context:
>Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, promised Wednesday that he would block renewal of the pact should Snowden be granted asylum.
>"Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior," he said in a statement, following other lawmakers who have spent years saying that the pact should be allowed to lapse, partly down to the country's links with Iran. 
If my tentative understanding of events is correct, this economic act of aggression (which would have hurt innocent civilians - does the US even care about that anymore?) was the main form of likely retaliation the US would have pulled in response to Snowden being granted asylum. Preempting this move by giving up the preferential treatment is, IMO, a very astute move by the Ecuadorian government, and puts America in a position of not having that leg to stand on.
For the American people, this is also adding insult to injury. This punishment doesn't only hit the Ecuadorian people, it also hits Americans. Not only are we being spied on, but in the government's fight for its authority to spy, it's also now forbidding Americans from purchasing products that they want (or forcing us to pay higher prices).
Menendez either (a) doesn't understand economics well enough to understand that in trade both sides profit; or (b) really does view this as a war [of the US government] against the American people. Personally, I think it's likely that both are true.
I'll be writing him another letter, this time saying not only that isn't PRISM and other domestic spying unacceptable, but that the necessary remedy is, at a minimum, the repeal of USA PATRIOT and of the AUMF.
EDIT: clarify third paragraph
- Homer Simpson
(robot appears, says) "take me to your Lizard."
Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this... (snip)
"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."
"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"
"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said ford. "It is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in.
"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."
I think CWuestefeld meant that the senator thinks that Ecuador's snub to the US regarding Edward Snowden is the 'war' - not that he and the US government is waging war against the American people.
> (which would have hurt innocent civilians - does the US even care about that anymore?)
There are two sides to that particular story bub, and only one side has taken actual action so far to hurt those civilians... and it was the government charged with protecting those same civilians.
So what you're basically saying is that Ecuador has decided to harm their own innocent civilians in order to head toward granting asylum to a U.S. citizen to poke their thumb in Uncle Sam's face (again).
Which is of greater embarrassment, the alleged behaviour of the NSA, or an offer of asylum to a whistle blower destined for death or Guantanamo?
Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006:
"So was I right not just in supporting the war, but in actively prosecuting it? I’ve been asked a million times since the invasion whether, knowing then what I know now, I would have made the same decision.
And no, I wouldn’t. How could we have agreed to invade Iraq if we had known that there were no WMD there?"
Earlier in the same article:
"As I spelt out the seriousness of the situation and my conviction that we now had to confront Saddam Hussein militarily, my wife Alice and children Will and Charlotte were up in the gallery listening.
None of them shared my view. Each of them would have been among the million or so demonstrators on the recent protest march through London against the war if it had not been for their loyalty to me and their wish not to embarrass me."
Jack Straw, Blair and Straw's family would have been better friends had they caused embarrassment.
Given that Snowden is not destined for either death or Guantanamo I'm not sure how to take your question. The NSA's alleged behavior is at least consistent with what we've known and thought it able to do since the Cold War. The worst I can say about it is that they are pushing right up on the edge of the law and court precedent... but is that worse than flat-out breaking the law or doing things like actually focusing specific IRS attention on specific political-interest groups? Or passing laws to disenfranchise minority voters?
I'm not sure of the answer to that question, but I don't think it's "Yes", given what I know of what our law enforcement and national security teams have already had the fully-legal ability to do.
As for the friendship question, for me that goes back to who is really the 'friend' here. A 'friend' would certainly not castigate another about 'human rights abuses' (as if Snowden were clearly innocent) while at the same time having an asylum process that itself violates basic human rights as claimed by Human Rights Watch .
A "friend" would at least take the stick out of their eye before pointing to others' flaws. And this is why I say that the government of Ecuador has no legitimate friendly intent here. Even if I agreed with Snowden 100%, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and neither is the friend of my friend.
Q: He'll be prosecuted?
Binney: First tortured, then maybe even rendered and tortured and then incarcerated and then tried and incarcerated or even executed. 
We certainly haven't known what the NSA capabilities are. We may have thought or suspected. Even now we don't really know, note Nadler's turnaround and the language used:
"Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that." "
"I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, _as I have always believed_, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans' phone calls without a specific warrant."
Did he not believe what he said in the first statement?
You're saying that because this fresh new, now known abuse, is no worse than other existing abuses, it's not an embarrassment. That seems like fallacious reasoning to me.
See Clapper's lying on camera to the senate here, and his subsequent claim that lying was the 'least untruthful' option. An embarrassment. 
The allegation that all calls are recorded for playback is startling, that would also be very embarrassing if it were proven.
Asylum has nothing to do with innocence, rather: evading persecution, i.e. the law in one place being an ass.
America is no slouch in the human rights hypocrisy department either. Having a clean slate in that department is not a prerequisite for doing the right thing. Ecuador would be doing the right thing to grant asylum, and it would be an act of mercy and friendship, and truer friendship than simple pandering.
A meaningless technicality. You can't seriously be arguing that the US' continued hegemonic paternalism toward Ecuador isn't a major source of their population's problems.
Ecuador hasn't yet taken in Snowden. So no, your analogy doesn't fit: They are rejecting bullying outright.
By the way, Ecuador is a cool country. It's quite poor and they use the US dollar. I spent several weeks in Quito and everyone was quite friendly.
From the WSJ:
Mr. Obama said he hasn't called Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping concerning Mr. Snowden, who has been charged by U.S. authorities with stealing and passing on government secrets.
President Barack Obama dismissed the idea of using the U.S. military to pursue NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
"I shouldn't have to," Mr. Obama said, addressing a question raised during a news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall. "This is something that is routine."
Of course, as you noted, it never works like that, here or anywhere else.
It's not really about the mere involvement of an economic treaty, that can certainly be a part of the negotiations. It's just that, in this particular situation, it's a blatant attempt to use our economic muscle to bend a smaller entity to our will on a completely unrelated matter. (Again, I don't find it surprising or unexpected in any way)
The problem is that I don't think the U.S. has a lot of carrots at any given time (what are we going to do, lodge a formal protest?), and you'd certainly not want to start off with the stick.
Our two party (err, one party) system is set up to preserve the status quo in its entirety. To not do so is certain death, politically.
While I agree with you that the US government has overstepped its bounds for too long and they should not be policing anything but their own arrogance, it is inevitable for our government to have to do some sort of ridiculous posturing over this.
But when Ecuador does this preemptively, it's an astute move?
There own innocent civilians? Generally yes, though they consider them all to be potentially not at all innocent.
Other country's innocent civilians? Not unless it is politically or industrially/commercially expedient to seem to care. This has always been the case, and is the same for any other power.
 Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lago_Agrio_oil_field
When do I stop getting excited when someone hurts my country?
I'm all for the USG to try to improve the position economically and politically in the world so long as they respect certain bounds of decency while doing so. Spying the the politicians and citizens of other countries in order to gain advantage is not decent or fair, the same way you wouldn't want your boss or your co-workers to spy on you to keep you from a raise or promotion.
The US, China, Russia and the UK are among the biggest sociopaths insofar as countries interacting with other countries go. I'm not proud of that, and I would hope we could meet with other countries and their leaders on a fair playing field and discuss things as adults instead or resorting to bullying.
What it crosses to me is the boundary between loyalty to one's leaders and loyalty to one's country. Obama is going after Snowden, and I can either support or not support that action, that's my right as a citizen. But when another country takes action against my country, that suddenly becomes an act of agression directed at me, and every other citizen of the US.
That's not "nice", or "classy" at all.
Ecuador is providing protection to a whistleblower that is trying to help you question an unconstitutional program and reign in abuses. In a way that makes Ecuador a greater defender of the US Constitution than the USG.
I don't know about you, but my loyalty is to the system of governance and rights laid out by the Constitution before some amorphous geographic shape determined by natural boundaries and history. I see Ecuador as helping the person that is helping protect the Constitution. I don't necessarily know their motivations or agree with the reason they may be acting the way they are, but I do know that the World needs more people like Snowden, and people willing to go to bat for Snowden, if we are going to be able to defend the Bill of Rights and other documents/policies outlining basic human rights.
P.S. Threatening economic sanctions isn't "nice" or "classy" either. The US is as guilty as Ecuador for making this into an adversarial tete-a-tete.
No. This is a standard tactic the US has used to economically intimidate Latin/South America for political, but usually economic reasons. After the disaster in Haiti, the government decided to raise taxes on gas/oil exports(forget really) to help recovery, but that would affect our profit margins so we threatened them economically into submission. I believe something similar happened with raising the minimum wage by a few cents for textile workers in Haiti, but there was no way in hell we'd have that.*
Menendez represents me. Not that I'm surprised that he'd protect his monied interests over the welfare of innocents or anything.
*edit: found the source http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/06/us-haiti-wik...
Unless in some parallel Snowden is still in the CIA and we wanted to check HK, Russia and now Ecuador regime with a spy that would be excused due to the leaks (might also learn more about WikiLeaks).
In the end, our enemies knowing we track everything hasn't really hurt them, it just let them know the long arm is longer than they expected or they knew it already. The only people it hurt were innocent Americans that now have assurance everything is being tracked, US cloud business trust and now poor farmers in Ecuador.
Seems it could have been handled better.
That's a big part of why Manning was treated so horribly and without any sense of proportion to what he did. It simply wasn't (all) about him. It was about the people who might be thinking of following in his footsteps.
Sign the petition if you haven't (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snow...), and don't stop there: write letters, make phone-calls, visit your officials' offices, get involved at the party level and see about pushing things there, give money to organizations like the EFF. If anyone else has other suggestions (or more details about how to do any of the above, or interest in coordinating any of the above), please add!
 Congressional oversight is a joke when money is so important in politics and the only people who will know about the decision are the contractors who will be contributing to your or your opponent's campaign next cycle based on whether you let them keep the contract.
Join if you're in the area, start a parallel group otherwise.
Similarly, if there was proof that no real effort is being expended to identify citizen data vs non-citizen data, it would be 'worse'.
At least in the eyes of those who are following the traditional media account and are still giving the government the benefit of the doubt and buying their defenses. 
 At least he hadn't presented any, thus far. Just a document outlining the technical capability of bulk copy and 'intercept' existed and his assertion that he could initiate those intercepts without any oversight, let alone legal basis.
 Which is something alleged by another whistle-blower, but again, without iron-clad proof. Which is apparently what you absolutely have to have, for the mainstream media to pay any attention to the story. (And even then, they'll probably just talk about you, personally.)
 Despite those defenses having to be walked back time and again for containing falsehoods and no corrected defenses being offered.
Kids in America are quite literally taught to go to war at every possible juncture, like it's a valid way to solve some conflict.
Edited to add: don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming you're lying, just that your experience doesn't necessarily generalize.
You also don't realize that swearing allegiance to a country is a very, very bizarre and backwards thing to be doing. The rest of the developed world is shocked by this practice, but you were taught so young you don't even know it's strange and wrong.
Many countries have bowed to US demands in the last years due to threat of losing trade benefits.
After the Australian Prime Minister agreed to (illegally) send troops into Iraq with Dubya, 16 US Trade Negotiators came to Australia within a week and negotiated previously unseen trade deals to benefit Australia. When questioned directly about this, the Australian Prime Minister shrugged and said "What was I going to do?"
After living in South America for a year, I'm very excited to see those countries develop more and more, and reject US rule and meddling more and more.
As an American, I have to agree.
"In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training."
Facebook needs some "Made in Ecuador" stickers methinks.
Is it grandstanding? sure, but if you agree with human rights it is exactly the right kind of grandstanding.
Also, I have no problem with people considering themselves humans before they consider themselves members of a nation-state, even government officials of a nation-state.
At the margin, it seems incredibly likely. You don't cut yourself off from the largest wealthiest market in the hemisphere and continue to sell exactly as many flowers as before at exactly as high a price...
The removal of the agreement wouldn't then be embargo/sanctions, it would mean normally trade that other countries conduct with the US. So the price for US importers would increase and so at the margin as you rightly point out there would be some loss of profit and some loss of sales. We don't know how much though, and we don't know if those could be replaced by other purchasers and if so at at what price reduction.
In any event it wouldn't be a loss of $23m a realistic estimate might be closer to 10% of that so around $2-3m. For a country with $5bn in oil exports that's chump change and given that its a leftist government any local workers that suffer will probably be have a decent social safety net in place until they get back on their feet.
? Where are you getting this $23m from? The article says that they export to the USA "$166 million of cut flowers". 10% of that would be $16.6 million, not $2 million...
In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.
The funding would be destined to help "avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity," Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.
I'm not sure the $23m applies only to the flower industry - it reads like it applies to the value of the total agreement to Ecuador. - I do mention upthread that without actually knowing the details of the agreement we're all just speculating.
But you asked where I got $23m from... and the answer was the article.
and my larger point still stands anyway... Ecuador apparently sell $5 billion in oil to the US... BILLION not million. A loss of $23million is still chump change. A loss of $230m probably wouldn't affect much.
Oh, and buy Fair-Trade if possible.
Which makes the move even less sensible from the U.S. side, because the U.S. program is not only some kind of selfless charity, but an attempt at reducing drug trafficking. Placing tariff barriers on legal exports like flowers and fruits just shifts the curve of how economically attractive illegal exports like coca look in comparison.
Why do you assume this money is set aside and actually exists when it sounds like a simple stunt?
China and others have their own set of problems, but they might make for better trade partners than the U.S., and China in particular is really lobbying itself as an option... lots of multibillion dollar government works and stuff that usually went to U.S., Europe, Japan or Korea by default are going to China now.
And Ecuador is now selling its oil to China, not the U.S.
The U.S. is losing control of its "backyard", which used to be economic colonies.
However, Ecuador is uniquely tied to the U.S. by having adopted the dollar, and the U.S. still imports twice as much as China, so yes, this will hurt.
The U.S. is a few Dick Cheneys away from getting worse than China.
Not to mention many people over here still HATE the U.S. because of their support to the murderous dictatorships of the 70's - I don't think China is going to get much worse than that. I was born in 1981 so I obviously don't have memories of the time, but the current Uruguayan president was a former guerrilla fighter from that time, so the memories are ever present.
You may not believe yet that China could be bad. I would love to dream of a benificent Chinese world hegemon. But if China can't even give freedom to its own people, what's it going to do to others?
The US is, in my view, the least worst option by a long way.
So far China is worse in its regard for ecology and human rights, but the U.S. is backwards in shoving down our throats absurd legislation, especially copyright and patent laws (one of the main reasons Uruguay doesn't have a preferential trade treaty with the U.S.), and it's almost a radical religious country in some points (Uruguay is secular), and extremely self-absorbed (much like China!).
It is ironically easier for me as an Uruguayan citizen to visit China than the U.S. due to increased visa restrictions and xenophobia.
I didn't say Chinese hegemony was good, they're probably not much better, but I do think and see them getting better, while I see the U.S. sliding down. At which point Chinese would be more tolerable (the lesser evil, not necessarily better or good) than the U.S., I don't know, but they're getting nearer than an U.S.-centric view might lead you to believe.
Maybe it provides morale for the average Ecuadorian, some faith and pride in their government. I wish ours would sometimes take a stand on human rights in the face of a more economically convenient option. However, I'll admit I'm not very familiar with Ecuador's political climate, it very well could be a hollow scheme.
Heck, journalist alone will probably spend a million over the next several years following Snowden around
I consider myself a patriotic USA citizen, but our government's cracking down on whistle blowers in the last 4 or 5 years has really gone too far. Our laws + punishments for whistle blowers is way out of whack with the rest of the world (I think the crimes Snowden is accused of carry a maximum sentence of 2 years in the UK, and less in most other European countries).
Has anyone seen an Ecuadorian press release?