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Edward Snowden: 'The US government will say I aided our enemies' [video] (guardian.co.uk)
211 points by hermanywong on July 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 38 comments

The US government will say that Snowden's actions harmed the US, and because the harm pertains to national security, America's enemies will be part of the discussion.

What's missing from this point is intent. If the USG believed that Snowden had set out to aid America's enemies, he'd have been charged with treason.

There is a fair chance they're holding off on any charges that potentially carry the death penalty (which as far as I know still holds true for treason in the USA) as long as there is a chance of getting Snowden extradited.

No country in Europe for instance would extradite if a death penalty worthy charge was made beforehand.

They've charged him with offenses sufficient to incarcerate him for life. If their plan was a bait and switch, they'd have charged him with a parking violation.

This thought also ignores the fact that the USG does not in fact wield the charge of treason casually. John Walker Lindh, for instance, wasn't charged with treason, despite being charged with deliberately planning and conspiring to murder American troops.

Many countries do have a policy not to extradite for charges that carry the death penalty. They don't have such a policy for life incarceration. Meanwhile, having him extradited for only very minor offenses would be very transparent subterfuge considering the extreme rhetoric that's going around. Not that they've been exactly subtle so far.

I'm not saying there is any bait and switch going on (I think they're above petty revenge killing), but are there any previous instances where the USG charged someone for a "parking violation" style minor crime to facilitate extradition?

> I'm not saying there is any bait and switch going on (I think they're above petty revenge killing), but are there any previous instances where the USG charged someone for a "parking violation" style minor crime to facilitate extradition?

I can't remember the exact case but the U.S. has done this before, IIRC, to Canada. Something about a state extraditing someone for trial in a state court (with a firm agreement to leave off the death penalty) and then the Federal prosecutor swoops in out of nowhere to bring Federal charges that do carry the death penalty.

Edit: Take the above with a grain of salt though, I've spent some time searching for this case (which should be quite famous) and have come up with nothing. The closest was the Söring case where the U.K. has to obtain assurances from both Virginia and the U.S. that the death penalty would not be applied... and it wasn't.

True, there have been calls from very senior USG officials to do just that though. Still the chance of that happening near 0 (but not exactly 0) especially given the frequency with which that particular charge is mode.

What senior USG official called for Snowden to be charged with treason? Remember, in our system of government, individual congresscritters aren't officials; they have extremely limited authority to do anything but contribute to the lawmaking process.

Remember, many of the noisest and most obnoxious people in Congress were elected by mere thousands of voters from American backwaters.

Boehner and Feinstein, possibly others.

I don't quite follow the argument that those are not senior officials (the speaker of the house definitely qualifies as such, being second in line after the VP to be named President). The fact that people in a position like that are making such calls surely carries some weight with other, less senior officials and might sway a bunch of them to agree with it if only to not be seen as weak.

The thousands of voters from American backwaters collectively seem to command a rather large chunk of the legislative power in the USA.

Boehner was elected with something like 200,000 votes from Cincinattans. He can say the word "treason" until he's blue in the face, but on the question of what Snowden will be charged with, his words carry no more force than those of a Redstate.com blogger.

The numbers scale up a bit for Feinstein, who at least holds statewide office, but the end result is no different.

This isn't a fiddly technical point. The separation of powers between the Legislative and Executive branches is fundamental to our system of government. In cases where dingbat representatives try to rabble-rouse for unwarranted treason charges, you can see why the founders were smart to divest the Legislature of the power to enforce the laws they enact.

It would be hard to convince european countries that a grave criminal needed to be found at all costs if all he was charged with is a traffic violation. Besides, his leaks are too public for that to hold water. Do I think they'll bait and switch? It's hard to rule out the possibility.

It's hard to rule out any possibility. Such is the nature of ruling things out.

If the USG believed that Snowden had set out to aid America's enemies, he'd have been charged with treason.

And the US government would try anything to get him, like grounding the planes of presidents of other countries on suspicion that he might be there. Er, wait, they actually did that!

Are you really sure that the treason charge won't happen once he's jailed? The treason would expose him to the death penalty, one more good legal ground to give him asylum.

Still whatever the charges against Snowden are, they are going to claim on the court that he aided the enemies, just like in Manning's case ("bin Laden himself wanted to read that, that automatically means Manning aided bin Laden.")

The USG could tomorrow transform itself into a despotism dedicated to the proposition that all men should wear loincloths made of cheese curds. You can't falsify that argument either.

I'm not making a substantive argument about Snowden's charges, except to point out that the notion of "aiding America's enemies" has force only when coupled with intent. Treason isn't a strict liability crime.

>>>>And the US government would try anything to get him.

Trust me, if they wanted to go get him, they would. Right now it's still a very public story, and doing anything in haste would shed more bad light on the admin and vilify what Snowden is doing.

Once the story dies down is when you need to start paying attention.

Just in case you were wondering. . .


"Abu Omar was abducted on February 17, 2003, in Milan by the CIA.[1] and transported to the Aviano Air Base, from which he was transferred to Egypt, where he was secluded, interrogated and allegedly tortured and abused"


"Al-Masri, a former car salesman and a father of five, said he was abducted on Dec. 31, 2003, at the Serbia-Macedonia border while on vacation. He said he was taken to a hotel in the Macedonian capital of Skopje where he was imprisoned and tortured for 23 days before being flown to Kabul, Afghanistan."

Nice! This just made my day. I must have listened to part 1 dozens of times to try and extract every bit of information, and I admit I enjoy hearing his voice. Notice this is still from the June 6th interview; Snowden's proved to be so prescient, especially with regards to the response by the US government. Also, the planning on the Guardian's part is quite commendable.

Just a minor note, Snowden has been in no way prescient. Everyone that works with confidential information has to be briefed on export control and the associated consequences for security violations. I know he's pretty popular around here, but the fact of the matter is he would be facing most (if not all) of the charges just for leaving the country with top secret data even without adding any penalty for releasing some subset of said data to the public.

Of course you meant June

You're right, thank you. Edited.

So this interview was released today but it was recorded on the same day as the previous interview?

Around 3:50 mark -- Snowden talks about NSA PRISM access and US tech giants. This might have been the underpinning of the "direct access" quotes made by The Guardian and The Washington Post in the past.

Also, Glenn Greenwald is a great story teller. He releases documents, lets the public digest and understand them, and then he releases a second video, which builds on our existing understanding.

No, the underpinning is the slide [1] which explicitly states "collection directly from the servers"

[1]: http://cdn-static.zdnet.com/i/r/story/70/00/016565/new-prism...

I think there are good odds we will see privacy related whistleblowing happening at US tech giants in the coming years.

"From your mouth to God's ears" as my grandmother would say.

It'll be interesting to see this Laura Poitras film when it comes out with a full set of interviews. According to this tweet by Greenwald [1] she has hundreds of hours of footage which she's no doubt in the process of editing. I hadn't seen this video before either by Poitras about Binney, done for the NYT, he gives a nice explanation of the way this sort of multi-domain surveillance is more intrusive than what came before. [2]

[1] https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/354275009826533377

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-secur...

If you haven't seen the Binney video, note the date the video was published, then watch it. Try to identify the claims already public then that you first became aware of just by following the story about Snowden. I was surprised.

I think you meant 'he'.

I meant she, the tweet is about Poitras and as the film-maker she has the video, not Greenwald.

Ah of course, sorry!

I love that this video was recorded in advance of the US government actually saying all the thing he predicted.

It deflates the whole argument that Snowden "aided the enemy" in a way that would not work if he responded to the accusation after the fact.

What I believe is truly interesting is the plain fact that:

We have heard many companies, politicians and even directors of three letter orgs specifically say things that contrast this video. Direct back end access to corporations data without their knowledge.

I love the fact that we are hearing these things in parts. Because after the first video we heard plenty of things from those mentioned above, but then Snowden comes out in part 2 and says those things they have said in the past month, that are directly contradicting and therefore lying.

Any idea why they delayed the release of this second video?

I think it's just good journalism. The story needs to stay popular for as long as possible. They are storing and reading all our private communication, for crying out loud.

Part 2 people, the Guardian should get a Golden Globe for this highly organized (and entertaining) delivery of the news.

so this undermines the statement made by Larry or has he been kept in the dark ? "First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday."

So if someone predicts the actions of some other party, does that in itself make that other party's actions invalid?

I'll try, then: "The US government will conduct a census in 2020".

Or on a more humorous vein, the normal joke about the car driver who convinced the cop who pulled him over to call for backup, and later mentioned to the supervisor "I'll bet that asshole told you I was speeding, too".

So if someone predicts the actions of some other party, does that in itself make that other party's actions invalid?

Where was that claim made in this video?

Upvote, that's a funny joke. I hadn't heard it.

As for your first sentence, I'm not really sure what you're saying. Should we disbelieve when the US government says Snowden aided the enemy, just because he predicted it? I had to really struggle to get that interpretation out of what you said.

> Should we disbelieve when the US government says Snowden aided the enemy, just because he predicted it? I had to really struggle to get that interpretation out of what you said.

To be more clear (as I had very little time when I was writing the original), the title of the article implies that Snowden is prophesying; that he is predicting some future event based on something that he, and those of us waiting on his every word, alone are able to foresee.

This is a fairly normal propaganda ploy to build up our heroes: We see that future! He saw it too! My hero, thank $DEITY he too can unmask the Man Behind the Curtain!

Instead I'm saying that what he really predicted is of the same degree of difficulty as predicting the sun will rise tomorrow (especially given that he knew before the government what he would be leaking). Even Miss Cleo's antics are more impressive than that.

Unfortunately I never did get to see the video in the time I had thanks to the 'third world' Internet that my branch of the government gets to work with, so it's possible Snowden himself was insightful and prescient. But the title wasn't, IMHO.

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