Edward Snowden (Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras/The Guardian)
Edward Snowden’s father Lon Snowden, in an open letter co-authored with his lawyer, compared his son’s leaks to Paul Revere warning of incoming British troops, “summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny and one branch government.”
The letter, released to news organizations, lauded Edward Snowden as following the “honorable tradition” of “brave men and women refusing to bow to government wrongdoing or injustice, and exalting knowledge, virtue, wisdom, and selflessness over creature comforts as the North Star of life.”
Much of the letter focused on criticizing the Obama administration, arguing it has revoked Snowden’s passport in order to make him “de facto stateless” and to “penalize [Snowden's] alleged violations of the espionage act.” Lon Snowden and his lawyer and co-author, Bruce Fein, pledged that they would be “unflagging in efforts to educate the American people about the impending ruination of the Constitution and the rule of law unless they abandon their complacency or indifference.” The letter implied that the Obama administration is seeking “planetary domination through force, violence or spying.”
In an aside, the letter also compared American politics to “a football game with winners and losers.”
According to the Associated Press, Lon Snowden released the open letter because he was “frustrated by his inability to reach out directly to his son.” It’s not clear why Snowden, who is in Moscow, would be unable to communicate with his father. Also according to the AP, Snowden’s father expressed concern that WikiLeaks, members of which have been working closely with Snowden in Moscow and whose founder Julian Assange has advocated publicly on his behalf, may not have his son’s best interests at heart.
Here is the letter in full:
I, Bruce Fein, am writing this letter in collaboration with your father in response to the Statement you issued yesterday in Moscow.
Thomas Paine, the voice of the American Revolution, trumpeted that a patriot saves his country from his government.
What you have done and are doing have awakened congressional oversight of the intelligence community from deep slumber; and, had already provoked the introduction of remedial legislation in Congress to curtail spying abuses under section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. You have forced onto the national agenda the question of whether the American people prefer the right to be left alone from government snooping absent probable cause to believe crime is afoot to vassalage in hopes of a risk-free existence. You are a modern day Paul Revere summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny and one branch government.
In contrast to your actions, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded last March as follows to an unambiguous question raised by Senator Ron Wyden:
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper testified, “No sire, it does not.” Wyden asked for clarification, and Clapper hedged. “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.”
Director Clapper later defended his stupendous mendacity to the Senator as the least untruthful answer possible. President Obama has not publicly rebuked the Director for frustrating the right of the people to know what their government is doing and to force changes if necessary through peaceful democratic processes. That is the meaning of government by the consent of the governed. “We the people” are sovereign under the U.S. Constitution, and government officials are entrusted with stewardship (not destruction) of our liberties.
We leave it to the American people to decide whether you or Director Clapper is the superior patriot.
The history of civilization is a history of brave men and women refusing to bow to government wrongdoing or injustice, and exalting knowledge, virtue, wisdom, and selflessness over creature comforts as the North Star of life. We believe your actions fall within that honorable tradition, a conviction we believe is shared by many.
As regards your reduction to de facto statelessness occasioned by the Executive Branch to penalize your alleged violations of the Espionage Act, the United Stated Supreme Court lectured in Trop v. Dulles (1958): “The civilized nations of the world are in virtual unanimity that statelessness is not to be imposed as punishment for crime.”
We think you would agree that the final end of the state is to make men and women free to develop their faculties, not to seek planetary domination through force, violence or spying. All Americans should have a fair opportunity to pursue their ambitions. Politics should not be a football game with winners and losers featuring juvenile taunts over fumbles and missteps.
Irrespective of life’s vicissitudes, we will be unflagging in efforts to educate the American people about the impending ruination of the Constitution and the rule of law unless they abandon their complacency or indifference. Your actions are making our challenge easier.
We encourage you to engage us in regular exchanges of ideas or thoughts about approaches to curing or mitigating the hugely suboptimal political culture of the United States. Nothing less is required to pay homage to Valley Forge, Cemetery Ridge, Omaha Beach, and other places of great sacrifice.
Very truly yours,
Bruce Fein, Counsel for Lon Snowden
BINNENKIJKEN IN APPARTEMENT HELEEN MEES, ‘SCHIJNBAAR BLUT EN ZONDER VRIENDEN’ (FOTO’S)
‘Seemingly flat broke and friendless’ is Heleen Mees, aldus de New York Daily News, de krant die woensdag het nieuws brak over de vermeende stalkster. Aangezien haar borg niet is betaald, zit ze nog vast.
Mees zit vast omdat ze Citibank-econoom Willem Buiter al jaren zou lastigvallen nadat hij de buitenechtelijke relatie met haar verbrak. De borg was vastgesteld op $5.000, maar noch zijzelf noch iemand anders heeft dat bedrag opgehoest, aldus de Amerikaanse krant. Volgensde Volkskrant is het niet voor het eerst dat Mees in verband wordt gebracht met stalken, ze zou eerder zijn aangeklaagd voor het lastig vallen van een Haagse wethouder.
Wie haar wil helpen het geld op te halen, zou kunnen overwegen haar appartement te huren. Dat staat namelijk op Airbnb (na Funda een van onze favoriete websites). Voor €198 per nacht kunt u verblijven in haar 'unieke designers loft'. Bij zo'n twintig nachtjes is de $5.000 binnen. Foto's vindt u hier. Overigens is Airbnb onlangs verboden in New York, dus wellicht volgen nog nieuwe juridische problemen voor Mees.
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Egypt in Danger, 8 Reasons Why
There are hundreds of thousands of pro-Morsi supporters still holding their grounds. (Photo: Reuters via Aljazeera)
By Abdelrahman Rashdan
Egyptians are again amazing the whole world with their abilities to change their political realities; yet this time might be to the worse.
The military coup that took place in response to the mass demonstrations in Egypt which lasted for few days came in to mark a new fundamental change in the political life. It seems now that the streets have become the ballot box, and military helicopters have now become the tool for counting the vote, while the results get announced by uniformed military personnel.
The reasons why Egypt reached this stage are numerous and can be tackled in another analysis, yet what is more important now is to underscore the looming danger that the country is heading towards.
Here are the reasons why I think Egypt's political future is in danger:
1 -Military coup is different from the January 25 revolution:
Egyptian people are divided now between supporters and opponents and each side has its own reasonable arguments. It is not black and white as it was before, not a dictator that has been abusing his people for 30 years.
2- Ballot boxes lost credibility:
Egyptians that have stood in endless lines for hours to cast their votes in three elections and two referendums have their votes simply replaced by the eyes of the military looking down their helicopters for the past few days to estimate the number of people on the streets, and determine which bloc has the majority: the opposition or supporters of the democratically elected president.
At the same time, there is a big portion of the masses supporting the Islamic movements, especially youth, which only participated in the democratic process because it was the only option available although they see it as a mean that contradicts Islamic Shari'ah. The military coup just proved them right now; they have all the Islamic and pragmatic reasons to reject democracy. I wouldn't be surprised if new solutions found increasing popularity in Egypt soon.
3- Referendum on early presidential elections not considered:
Detentions and media bans after the coup was launched say a lot about the democracy and rule of law that Egypt will witness for the upcoming period.
If the opponents of President Morsi represent the majority of Egyptians, as claimed by the military coup, then why did not the military allow all the Egyptians an equal chance to say their opinion about conducting early presidential elections? This way it would have been a democratic process to oust Morsi instead of an army boot stepping on the mouths of all other Egyptians, who have also filled up streets in masses since July 1st.
4- Unholy relationship between the opposition and Mubarak's regime:
It is a return of Mubarak's regime in a new face, if one wishes to say it bluntly. In reality, Dr. Mohamed al-Baradie - opposition leader who was invited during the military's declaration of the coup - declared it clearly days before the June 30th demonstrations; he said that Egyptians have to start a process of national reconciliation with "what is called the old regime," except for those who committed crimes.
Considering the fact that most of the figures of the old regime have been surprisingly granted acquittals from charges levied against them, so al-Baradie won't have a problem in letting them on board, contributing again to pushing the political wargon. In fact, , scores of influential figures from Mubarak's regime did participate in the June 30th demonstrations that culminated in the removal of Morsi through being in the streets or propagating it through media.
So it would not be a surprise to witness, very soon, well-funded and publicized political parties with Mubarak's men on top, or appointed in key positions and ministries.
5- Absence of unifying national figure to lead the country:
The last time all Egyptians stood together hand in hand was during the 18 days of the January 25 Revolution. Since then, divisions have been increasing by time with figures rising and others falling; the division reached its unprecedented peak during the June 30 events where some members of Islamic and other groups got killed in the streets in day light for their political affiliations.
Now, after the military coup, Egyptians stand even more divided between supporters and opponents of the coup. It is absolutely impossible to reach national agreement, or even comforting majority, on any figure, which brings Egypt to presidential elections results close to the level that brought Morsi to power -almost 52 percent - and the cycle repeats itself.
6- Military above the state:
For the second time in two-and-half years the military comes in to settle, mainly peaceful, political disputes. The June 30th demonstrations asked for the intervention of the military from its beginning, some demonstrators were even camping in front of the ministry of defense in an attempt to pressure the defense minister to step in.
Such military intervention in the political life sets a golden rule for Egypt: the state is still under the military and not vice versa. In fact, this has been the sole demand of the January 25th Revolution, to make Egypt a a civilian state after decades of being ruled by presidents with military background and support.
Not only that Egypt has failed again to create a healthy and democracy-based relationship between its government and military, it has reached a worse situation where people beg the military to take over and sort out matters that are supposed to be originally and purely civilian and peaceful in nature.
It is a return of Mubarak's regime in a new face.
In one of the international reactions to this event, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague noticed the looming danger; he told BBC, "If one president can be deposed by the military then of course another one can be in the future - that's a dangerous thing."
7- Weakening the military:
Continuous intervention in the political life will definitely make the Egyptian military distracted from its sole purpose: protecting the country against foreign enemies. The resources of the military are getting consumed in internal struggles while Egypt's borders are heating up from almost all its fronts, east, west, and south.
8- No clear roadmap:
Although the Defense Minister Al-Sisi declared the presence of a very clear road map in case the political parties were not able to settle their dispute, 48 hours before the coup, he failed to state any dates for any step, including the presidential and parliamentary elections. This reminds Egyptians with the promises of Tantawi to hand in the state to an elected government very soon, which turned out to be a painful year-and-half.
Not only that, as soon as the Sisi military coup was broadcasted on the television, pro-Morsi channels were blackened-out and their staff detained, and the Freedom and Justice Party newspaper banned. This is in addition to the reports of arresting and detaining big number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and placing them on travel ban; something that says a lot about the democracy and rule of law that Egypt will witness for the upcoming period.
There are hundreds of thousands of pro-Morsi supporters still holding their grounds in the streets amid complete media blackout. Their news is being leaked through social media and some non-Egyptian satellite channels that have not been cutoff. It is not up yet; events are escalating hour-by-hour as people are increasingly realizing that Egypt is back to square one.
- Abdelrahman Rashdan is an academician of the Future University in Egypt. He holds a Master's degree in International Affairs and a Certificate in Middle East Studies from Columbia University. (This article was first published inOnIslam.com on July 04, 2013)
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Egypt Army Closes Gaza Border
The Egyptian army on Friday closed the Rafah crossing on the Gaza border until further notice due to unrest in Sinai.
Egyptian military officials informed the Palestinian side of the closure, said Maher Abu Sabha, Palestinian director of crossings and borders.
Due to Israel's blockade, the Rafah crossing is the only exit for most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian director of the Rafah terminal, Sami al-Mitwali, said the crossing was closed due to security unrest.
An Egyptian soldier was killed early Friday in coordinated rocket and machinegun attacks by Islamist militants on army checkpoints and a police base in Sinai.
Militants also attacked a military intelligence building in Rafah, witnesses said.
Two other soldiers were wounded when Islamist militants fired on an army checkpoint near the north Sinai village of al-Gura. Elsewhere, militants attacked a police base with rockets, security sources said.
Some militants in Sinai had threatened a violent response after Egypt's army toppled Islamist President Mohammad Mursi on Wednesday.
Chief justice Adly Mansour, 67, was sworn in as interim president on Thursday until new elections, at a ceremony broadcast live from the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup against Mursi, Egypt's first democratically elected but controversial president, following massive protests calling for the Islamist's ouster.
Mursi's Musim Brotherhood movement has called for peaceful protests on Friday against the "coup," as police continue to hunt its leaders.
Egypt's military appealed for conciliation and warned against revenge attacks, as police rounded up senior Islamists.
The military said "exceptional and autocratic measures against any political group" should be avoided in a statement on its spokesman's Facebook page.
"The armed forces believe that the forgiving nature and manners of the Egyptian people, and the eternal values of Islam, do not allow us to turn to revenge and gloating," the army statement added.
Police arrested the Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie "for inciting the killing of protesters", a security official told AFP.
Former supreme guide Mahdi Akef was also arrested, state television reported.
Mursi himself was "preventively detained" by the military, a senior officer had told AFP early Thursday, hours after his overthrow the night before, suggesting the ousted president might face trial.
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(This article is adapted from a commencement speech by Noam Chomsky on June 14, 2013, at the American University of Beirut. )
With wrenching tragedies only a few miles away, and still worse catastrophes perhaps not far removed, it may seem wrong, perhaps even cruel, to shift attention to other prospects that, although abstract and uncertain, might offer a path to a better world - and not in the remote future.
I’ve visited Lebanon several times and witnessed moments of great hope, and of despair, that were tinged with the Lebanese people’s remarkable determination to overcome and to move forward.
The first time I visited - if that’s the right word - was exactly 60 years ago, almost to the day. My wife and I were hiking in Israel’s northern Galilee one evening, when a jeep drove by on a road near us and someone called out that we should turn back: We were in the wrong country. We had inadvertently crossed the border, then unmarked - now, I suppose, bristling with armaments.
A minor event, but it forcefully brought home a lesson: The legitimacy of borders - of states, for that matter - is at best conditional and temporary.
Almost all borders have been imposed and maintained by violence, and are quite arbitrary. The Lebanon-Israel border was established a century ago by the Sykes-Picot Agreement, dividing up the former Ottoman Empire in the interests of British and French imperial power, with no concern for the people who happened to live there, or even for the terrain. The border makes no sense, which is why it was so easy to cross unwittingly.
Surveying the terrible conflicts in the world, it’s clear that almost all are the residue of imperial crimes and the borders that the great powers drew in their own interests.
Pashtuns, for example, have never accepted the legitimacy of the Durand Line, drawn by Britain to separate Pakistan from Afghanistan; nor has any Afghan government ever accepted it. It is in the interests of today’s imperial powers that Pashtuns crossing the Durand Line are labeled “terrorists” so that their homes may be subjected to murderous attack by U.S. drones and special operations forces.
Few borders in the world are so heavily guarded by sophisticated technology, and so subject to impassioned rhetoric, as the one that separates Mexico from the United States, two countries with amicable diplomatic relations.
That border was established by U.S. aggression during the 19th century. But it was kept fairly open until 1994, when President Bill Clinton initiated Operation Gatekeeper, militarizing it.
Before then, people had regularly crossed it to see relatives and friends. It’s likely that Operation Gatekeeper was motivated by another event that year: the imposition of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is a misnomer because of the words “free trade.”
Doubtless the Clinton administration understood that Mexican farmers, however efficient they might be, couldn’t compete with highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness, and that Mexican businesses couldn’t compete with U.S. multinationals, which under NAFTA rules must receive special privileges like “national treatment” in Mexico. Such measures would almost inevitably lead to a flood of immigrants across the border.
Some borders are eroding along with the cruel hatreds and conflicts they symbolize and inspire. The most dramatic case is Europe. For centuries, Europe was the most savage region in the world, torn by hideous and destructive wars. Europe developed the technology and the culture of war that enabled it to conquer the world. After a final burst of indescribable savagery, the mutual destruction ceased at the end of World War II.
Scholars attribute that outcome to the thesis of democratic peace - that one democracy hesitates to war against another. But Europeans may also have understood that they had developed such capacities for destruction that the next time they played their favorite game, it would be the last.
The closer integration that has developed since then is not without serious problems, but it is a vast improvement over what came before.
A similar outcome would hardly be unprecedented for the Middle East, which until recently was essentially borderless. And the borders are eroding, though in awful ways.
Syria’s seemingly inexorable plunge to suicide is tearing the country apart. Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, now working for The Independent, predicts that the conflagration and its regional impact may lead to the end of the Sykes-Picot regime.
The Syrian civil war has reignited the Sunni-Shiite conflict that was one of the most terrible consequences of the U.S.-U.K. invasion of Iraq 10 years ago.
The Kurdish regions of Iraq and now Syria are moving toward autonomy and linkages. Many analysts now predict that a Kurdish state may be established before a Palestinian state is.
If Palestine ever gains independence in something like the terms of the overwhelming international consensus, its borders with Israel will likely erode through normal commercial and cultural interchange, as has happened in the past during periods of relative calm.
That development could be a step toward closer regional integration, and perhaps the slow disappearance of the artificial border dividing the Galilee between Israel and Lebanon, so that hikers and others could pass freely where my wife and I crossed 60 years ago.
Such a development seems to me to offer the only realistic hope for some resolution of the plight of Palestinian refugees, now only one of the refugee disasters tormenting the region since the invasion of Iraq and Syria’s descent into hell.
The blurring of borders and these challenges to the legitimacy of states bring to the fore serious questions about who owns the Earth. Who owns the global atmosphere being polluted by the heat-trapping gases that have just passed an especially perilous threshold, as we learned in May?
Or to adopt the phrase used by indigenous people throughout much of the world, Who will defend the Earth? Who will uphold the rights of nature? Who will adopt the role of steward of the commons, our collective possession?
That the Earth now desperately needs defense from impending environmental catastrophe is surely obvious to any rational and literate person. The different reactions to the crisis are a most remarkable feature of current history.
At the forefront of the defense of nature are those often called “primitive”: members of indigenous and tribal groups, like the First Nations in Canada or the Aborigines in Australia - the remnants of peoples who have survived the imperial onslaught. At the forefront of the assault on nature are those who call themselves the most advanced and civilized: the richest and most powerful nations.
The struggle to defend the commons takes many forms. In microcosm, it is taking place right now in Turkey’s Taksim Square, where brave men and women are protecting one of the last remnants of the commons of Istanbul from the wrecking ball of commercialization and gentrification and autocratic rule that is destroying this ancient treasure.
The defenders of Taksim Square are at the forefront of a worldwide struggle to preserve the global commons from the ravages of that same wrecking ball - a struggle in which we must all take part, with dedication and resolve, if there is to be any hope for decent human survival in a world that has no borders. It is our common possession, to defend or to destroy.