Snowden needs safe haven

Since Washington has already ordered the employment of air piracy in its attempts to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden, no country has subsequently offered to fly him out of Russia, where he has been trapped for three weeks at Moscow’s airport.

Snowden, who is currently negotiating with the Russian government for temporary sanctuary, told human rights groups his reasons for exposing massive domestic and international spy programs conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency:

“I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell U.S. secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.” (The Guardian, July 12)

Spy programs like the NSA’s PRISM are actually a form of illegal warfare conducted against governments and people abroad and at home. As such, the post-WWII Nuremberg Convention obligates those who discover such programs to do all that they can to stop them. To prosecute heroes like Snowden and Pfc. B. Manning is in itself another war crime.

Snowden faces three felony charges, two of which are from the infamous 1917 Espionage Act. That’s the same law the government is using to prosecute Manning in a secret military court, that it used in the 1950s to railroad and execute Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg, and that it used in the 1970s against Daniel Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers. The law provides no protection to whistleblowers — those who expose atrocities and other crimes conducted by the U.S. military and other government branches.

Some of the U.S.’s European allies voiced outrage, others raised questions over the massive NSA spying programs that Snowden revealed. But U.S. pressure not only quieted the complaints but induced some of these governments to violate international protocol by forcing down the Bolivian presidential plane when Snowden was suspected of being on board. European rulers have all refused to grant Snowden asylum, even though he exposed illegal NSA spy programs that targeted them.

Despite an intense U.S. campaign threatening harsh economic sanctions, three Latin American countries — Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia — have offered Snowden sanctuary. The government of Ecuador, which is currently giving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sanctuary at its London embassy, has also offered to consider a sanctuary request if it comes from Snowden.

Snowden has disclosed a massive NSA spy program targeting Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Brazil, as well as nationally owned companies in those countries, such as the oil companies in Mexico and Venezuela. And the U.S. has a long history of open and secret brutal interventions in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and elsewhere.

New documents released by Snowden about the NSA PRISM data mining program reveal that:

· Microsoft helped the NSA circumvent Microsoft’s own encryption on its new Outlook.com portal to allow PRISM to monitor chats.

· Microsoft arranged pre-encryption access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail.

· Microsoft worked with the FBI to allow the NSA PRISM program to access Microsoft’s “cloud” storage service SkyDrive.

· There is a massive increase of the PRISM “collection” of Skype video calls. (Guardian, July 12)

While these massive government computer spy programs may seem to make the U.S. banks, corporations, military and government invincible, it is vital to remember that it is the international working class that produces all the wealth of the planet, and none of these programs can stand against the massive force of the workers fighting for their own benefit and for an end to this entire rotten profit system.