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Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong 519

Posted by timothy
from the where-liddy-was-wrong dept.
Daniel Ellsberg, no slouch himself in bringing to public awareness documents that reveal uncomfortable facts about government operations, says that "Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time." Ellsberg says, in an editorial at The Guardian pointed out by reader ABEND (15913), that Snowden cannot receive a fair trial without reform of the Espionage Act. According to Ellsberg, "Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying. As I know from my own case, even Snowden's own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people." Ellsberg rejects the distinction made by John Kerry in praising Ellsberg's own whistleblowing as patriotic, but Snowden's as cowardly and traitorous.
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Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong

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  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:07PM (#47143573)

    Unlike evil Tricky Dick Nixon, President Obama is a constitutional scholar. You have nothing to fear.

  • which further reduces the changes of Snowden having any chance at a life, or a glimpse of sunlight. IMPHO he can only come home after being granted a full and unconditional pardon. try that in the face of spy bureaucracy in full sway.

    • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:58PM (#47143849)

      It's not just the spy bureaucracy. According to polls most of the American people do not approve of his actions. And this is a democracy, so that matters.

      Snowden's core problem is that the American people approve of a good half of the programs Greenwald has outed. Spying on people like Angie Merkel is the entire reason we instructed our Congress to spend $30-$40 per person on an NSA. Period. End of story. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Same goes for most of the other NSA revelations (spying on Brazil's government, helping the Aussies spy on Indonesia, etc.). Pretty much the only thing he's revealed that most Americans actually care about was the mass surveillance on US Citizens, and a lot of that was oversold [zdnet.com].

      It doesn't help that he ended up in Russia. With the Crimea mess he just looks like Putin's puppet. To an extent that can be blamed on the "spy bureaucracy," but if Snowden knew he was gonna piss of the State Department, and he knew that he'd only be allowed to travel if State didn't revoke his documents, then he probably should not have gone through Moscow. Moreover I suspect our spy bureaucracy is actually good enough to get the timing right on that. There wasn't that much time between boarding a plane in HK and switching flights. I suspect the Chinese didn't want him, so they let him through with revoked documents, and then Putin him decided to keep him in a glass box.

      To an extent I sympathize with him, but what's that old saying about the Game of Thrones? You win or you die? Snowden could have chosen to leak his documents anonymously through a Congressman. Amash would have loved to blame Obama for evil. Wyden is always good on these issues. And he probably could have done so anonymously, because the NSA can't piss off Congress or they all get fired, and Congress doesn't like it when the Executive branch hinders them in their core duty of making life difficult of said Executive branch. But he went through the media, which meant nobody in power in the US had any particular reason to protect him, so now he's Putin's bitch. It would be nice if this was Star Trek and shit like this didn't happen, but it ain't.

      • by mendax (114116) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:34PM (#47143995)

        It doesn't help that he ended up in Russia. With the Crimea mess he just looks like Putin's puppet. To an extent that can be blamed on the "spy bureaucracy," but if Snowden knew he was gonna piss of the State Department, and he knew that he'd only be allowed to travel if State didn't revoke his documents, then he probably should not have gone through Moscow.

        If I were Edward Snowden I would not want to route a series of flights to South American, where he was originally intending to go, that would take me through airports in American-friendly countries. Going to Russia on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow and then to Cuba and then from there to somewhere in South American would have been the smartest thing to do. I doubt the US would be willing to piss off the Russians by sending out the F-15s to intercept a Russian-flagged airliner. And as Snowden has pointed out, once in Russia he was unable to go any farther except back to the US because the State Department had revoked his passport. However, it is rather fortuitous that Snowden is in Russian. That is probably the best place for him to be, especially now because Putin is not going to be doing any favors for the American government.

      • by Uberbah (647458) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:34PM (#47144237)

        It's not just the spy bureaucracy. According to polls most of the American people do not approve of his actions.

        Which is why calls were 100 to 1 against telecom immunity in 2008, from across the ideological spectrum. Because if there's one thing a majority of Americans want, it's corrupt unaccountable Big Brother spying on the entire planet. And that's before getting to the naked hackery of NBC's polling. You run a poll asking 'do you support Snowden taking classified documents to Putin's Russia?!?!?' and are surprised at the results? How about 'do you support whisteblowers when they reveal top officials breaking the law hundreds of times a second every day of the week'?

        Spying on people like Angie Merkel is the entire reason we instructed our Congress to spend $30-$40 per person on an NSA. Period. End of story. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

        Is this perfromance art, or did you bring enough hallucenegic drugs for everybody? Cuz you're on some mighty powerful acid if you're seriously suggesting we need to spend hundreds of billions to tap the personal communications of our closest allies.

        It doesn't help that he ended up in Russia.

        It doesn't work to blame Snowden for ending up in Putin's Russia when it was Clinton's State Department who canceled his passport on his way to South America. And for having the president of Ecuador's plane forced down because he might have been carrying Snowden on board.

      • by PPH (736903) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @08:38PM (#47144249)

        According to polls most of the American people do not approve of his actions. And this is a democracy, so that matters.

        Its a Constitutional Democracy. So what the mob thinks doesn't make it right. We have a Bill of Rights which Snowden (and others) claim is being violated.

        Opinion poll results to the effect that Snowden did wrong point out another problem with him returning: How is he going to get a fair trial with practically every potential juror having read stories (propaganda) about him and having an opinion already?

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:21PM (#47144399) Journal

        Spying on people like Angie Merkel is the entire reason we instructed our Congress to spend $30-$40 per person on an NSA. Period. End of story. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Same goes for most of the other NSA revelations (spying on Brazil's government, helping the Aussies spy on Indonesia, etc.).

        [Citation Needed]
        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/wh-us-not-monitoring-german-chancellor-angela-merkels-phone/ [cbsnews.com]

        Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be "a serious breach of trust" if confirmed. The two leaders spoke by phone, Carney said.

        "The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said Carney. "The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."

        Why did Obama promise not to spy on Merkel if that's what "we instructed our Congress to" do?
        (Who's "we" by the way? I sure as hell didn't instruct anyone do to that.)

        7 months later and Merkel is still pissed off about it:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/03/world/europe/merkel-says-gaps-with-us-over-surveillance-remain.html [nytimes.com]

        Ms. Merkel, who last fall declared that âoespying between friends is simply unacceptableâ and that the United States had opened a breach of trust that would have to be repaired, said at the news conference that âoewe have a few difficulties yet to overcome.â One remaining issue, she said, was the âoeproportionalityâ of the surveillance.

        • by ScentCone (795499)

          Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof

          You don't need extraordinary proof. It's the basic bones of the NSA's charter. They monitor overseas communications with an eye on collecting information that can help people in this country make informed security, military, and foreign policy decisions and actions. That's their entire reason for existing. It's why they're separate from the FBI.

          Why did Obama promise not to spy on Merkel if that's what "we instructed our Congress to" do?

          Because, as he's caught red handed doing on a regular basis about all sorts of things, he was once again lying. Of course our intelligence operations will continue

          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            You don't need extraordinary proof.

            Of course we need extraordinary proof.
            That's why Snowden's documents are so explosive. Finally! Proof!

            It's the basic bones of the NSA's charter.

            Then provide a link to the NSA's charter and quote the portion you think is relevant.
            Argument by Assertion is not an argument, which is exactly what I called out the GGP for.

            Of course our intelligence operations will continue to try to learn what other governments are up to, just like they do to us and everyone else.

            I'm talking specifically about spying on Heads of State,
            so if you're saying that other governments are tapping Obama's cellphone,
            don't even bother to hit reply, call your local FBI field office and give them your proof.

        • "The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor," said Carney. "The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges."

          Ms. Merkel asked whether the US had been monitoring her phone, and Obama replied that the US is not doing so. The omission of the past tense was glaringly obvious at the time - essentially an admission that the US had, in fact, being doing so

      • by Bugler412 (2610815) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:11PM (#47144553)
        whether he is guilty or not is not a subject of voting and opinion polls. The percentages in favor or not have nothing to do with whether he guilty of committing a crime, whether the laws used to prosecute him are appropriate and constitutional, whether the governments efforts at pursuing a conviction are proper and correct, whether the public service and expression of rights done by Snowden overrides the intent of the law, etc. etc. All having nothing to do with a focus group or opinion poll
      • Snowden could have chosen to leak his documents anonymously through a Congressman. Amash would have loved to blame Obama for evil. Wyden is always good on these issues. And he probably could have done so anonymously, because the NSA can't piss off Congress or they all get fired

        That'd be the same Wyden who already knew a lot of what Snowden revealed and felt he couldn't say anything because it was all classified? The same Congress that discovered they'd been lied to, openly, baldly and repeatedly, and did diddly squat because it was a high ranking member of the security state who did it?

        Good one. Snowden did what he did because the entire US political structure has been subverted by the military to such an extent that there is nobody left who will hold them genuinely accountable. The press won't do it. Congress won't do it. The courts won't do it. The only guy left who will do it was a 30 year old former spy. That's what America is, now.

      • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:39PM (#47144669)

        helping the Aussies spy on Indonesia

        In that case it was to get a trade secret about the manufacture of clove cigarettes. Still happy about your taxpayer dollars at work? Risking relations with two allies presumably because someone in the NSA got bribed by a cigarette company.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You point out widespread malfeasance among the ruling class, and you will be made an example of.

    Until the American public stands up and demands that the people responsible for turning the USA into a surveillance state ALSO see their day in court, there can be no fairness. That needs to happen not for some low level NSA guy made to take a fall, but to the very top, up to and including the current and former POTUSes.

    Our society was built around not having a "ruling class" except from the law, and a "ruled cl

    • by log0n (18224) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @10:31PM (#47144635)

      "Until the American public stands up and demands"

      I see this partial slogan bandied about all the time, that we only have ourselves to blame. How the fuck exactly do we stand up and demand? Most of us do already .. voting doesn't fix things. Peaceful protest doesn't fix things. Hell, the only real power we do have is w/ $, and that doesn't fix things. Snowden has done what few of us are capable of, mainly because we're peons, and it's still not fixing things.

      "Until the American public stands up and demands" means the only real way things will happen will be through violence.

  • RE: Traitor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scotts13 (1371443) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:39PM (#47143733)

    If Mr. Snowden is a traitor, we need to fix the laws until he ISN'T a traitor. He performed a valuable service to the citizens of this republic, and to the citizens of many other nations around the world.

    • Re: Traitor (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:59PM (#47143853)

      He isn't a traitor.

      Treason is defined in the Constitution (Article 3, Section 3. Learn it, love it, live it), and what he allegedly did doesn't fit the definition.

      And this ignoring the fact that a treason conviction requires (according to Article 3, Section 3) two witnesses to the same (treasonous) overt act.

      Since there aren't two witnesses to what he did, and what he did does NOT fit the definition of treason, he can't be convicted of treason no matter how hard the Constitutional Scholar tries....

  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @06:58PM (#47143847)

    I think it would be easier to ask "Does anyone think Snowden would get a fair trial?" It would be a much shorter list. And most of the people answering yes can be easily identified as flat out liars. (Kerry and pretty much any politician.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:47PM (#47144065)

    If he returns to the US, Snowden will never again see the light of day. Look at what happened to insiders like Thomas Drake (an NSA guy with 30 years in) who developed an analysis tool named "Thin Thread". He added constitutional protections. The NSA removed them. He complained. He was then threatened with 1000 years in prison by Federal Prosecuters (Persecutors?). Included was gag orders on just about everything, constant surveilence, seizure of this computers (home/work/wherever). Wiretaps, harrasment, intimidation, threats of physical violence, physical violence, etc. And he was an inside guy. Then take a look at what happened to the guy who was running Lavabit [wikipedia.org]. Gag orders prohibiting him from talking to his lawyer, gag orders preventing him from talking to anyone, judges imposing arbitrary fines of $5000 per day, he isn't even allowed to see the charges against him! This is sick! The US Constitution is an ideal that the US Government cannot live up to (and they have no intention of trying). If he returned to the US, what would happen to Snowden would best be described as "Punitive, Vindictive, and Arbitrary".

  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @07:57PM (#47144123)
    Traitor or not, he Pwned their ass. The NSA look like complete idiots, and continue to do so, and Snowden has shown them up at every turn. Remind me what we are paying billions of dollars for again? Whether or not you can lock up Snowden, the NSA needs its plug pulled for utter incompetence.
  • by matbury (3458347) on Sunday June 01, 2014 @09:00PM (#47144333) Homepage

    I think there's a tendency to lose sight of why Snowden blew the whistle: The NSA, CIA, Homeland Security, DEA, and thousands of private security contractors that've sprung up since 9/11 are creating the aparatus of a security state. It's important to take a good, hard look at the other end of that road. Where does the security state lead to? I haven't heard it put better than this: "Christopher Hitchens - The Axis of Evil revisited", Fora.tvt, 2009 https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    It's worrying that Washington is doubling down on its efforts to establish its security state now that it's been made public.

  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Monday June 02, 2014 @12:30AM (#47144989) Homepage Journal

    At least all the whistle blowers are giving us the transparency Obama promised but failed to deliver.

    I cant even watch the news, its all playing the public for fools. Democrats this, Republicans that. Corporation ABC gets approval to fuck more customers with blessing of its bought and paid for chairmen in power. Corruption in our courts and police are on par with third world countries. Every day we have more innocent people being slaughtered by police officers.

    Where are the Military men with honor running our Country? We get lawyers, LAWYERS, the scum of the earth who sold their soul and ideals for money.

    There is no Honor in our Government. How many people are still going to prison for minor drug offenses for non violent use, Obama said he would stop that, he hasn't.

    And all you people will still vote a Democrat or Republican into office thinking things will change.

    Why anyone thinks they can get a fair trial, a system that makes you plead so you dont get LIFE in prison. We have the largest prison population in the world and its not from finding people innocent. We have an estimated 12-15% of innocent men in prison so what, 220,000 thousand innocent people in prison. How many extra are there for non violent drug use? 50%?

    I'd like to bitch more, but Game of Thrones is on. Maybe I'll rant on facebook, that will do just as good as my slashdot post.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:26AM (#47146993) Journal

    Or was he simply lying?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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