Global ‘Bully': As Snowden Seeks Asylum, Critics Blast US for Manhunt


says law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law's Marjorie Cohn, Snowden has "a well-founded fear of persecution in the US."

And citing the treatment of another well-known whistleblower, Pfc. Bradley Manning, Cohn suggests Snowden can "probably make a good case for political asylum in Ecuador."

Norman Solomon, whose group Roots Action is circulating a petition calling the Obama administration to keep its "hands off" Snowden, decried the diplomatic bullying described by Ratner and others.

"The same government that continues to expand its invasive dragnet of surveillance, all over the United States and the rest of the world," Solomon wrote on Common Dreams, "is now asserting its prerogative to drag Snowden back to the USA from anywhere on the planet. It’s not only about punishing him and discouraging other potential whistleblowers. Top U.S. officials are also determined to—quite literally—silence Snowden’s voice, as Bradley Manning’s voice has been nearly silenced behind prison walls."

He continued, “Those at the top of the U.S. government insist that Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning have betrayed it. But that’s backward. Putting its money on vast secrecy and military violence instead of democracy, the government has betrayed Snowden and Manning and the rest of us.”

In addition to the petition effort by Roots Action, more than 113,000 people as of Monday afternoon had signed a petition on the White House website calling for President Obama to pardon Snowden.

"Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs," the petition read.

Though the petition received a large enough number of signers to mandate an official response from the White House, the president is not likely to heed its urging.

That leaves Ecuador the most likely candidate candidate to offer asylum to Snowden, though its been reported that he's considering applications for other countries as well.

Mark Weisbrot, an expert on Latin America and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, was pointed in why supporters of the public's right to know should support both Snowden and the country—whether Ecuador or another—if and when they grant Snowden political asylum.

“It is important that everyone who believes in freedom to defend Ecuador from Washington’s threats, which are very likely if the Ecuadorean government grants asylum to Snowden," said Weisbrot. "Other governments around the world – whose citizens’ rights have been violated by NSA surveillance overreach – should stand behind Ecuador if it chooses to grant Snowden asylum, as should NGO’s. To charge Snowden with espionage is a severe form of political persecution."

In the end, while the intrigue over Snowden's whereabouts and the question over whether or not he is captured by the US or receives safe passage to a country willing to protect him, Ratner was among the many commentators in the progressive community on Monday who were concerned that the focus on Snowden as an individual was partially thwarting the bigger and more important story about the contents of what Snowden's actions have revealed.

"What we should be discussing, unlike what seems the attention primarily in the media right now—Where's Ed Snowden? What country is he going to?—is the massive surveillance system being carried out by the US, the UK, and perhaps other countries all over the world and the violations of rights of people all over the world," Ratner said.

Ratner blasted the media's fixation on Snowden—his whereabouts, whether he's a "traitor" or not, and other aspects of his personal life that were a distraction to the real story which according to Ratner is the existence of a "massive worldwide surveillance system."

And as Solomon concluded:

Top policymakers in Washington seem bent on running as much of the world as possible. Their pursuit of Edward Snowden has evolved into a frenzied rage.

Those at the top of the U.S. government insist that Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning have betrayed it. But that’s backward. Putting its money on vast secrecy and military violence instead of democracy, the government has betrayed Snowden and Manning and the rest of us. 

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