Heightened Russia Bashing
By Stephen Lendman
Doing so suggests reinventing the Evil Empire. It's back to the future. It's the new Cold War. It doesn't surprise.
Media scoundrels march in lockstep with America's worst policies. They do so disgracefully. They shame themselves repeatedly.
They lack legitimacy. They're managed news manipulators. They're not credible journalists. They never were. They're not now.
They're venting over Russia granting Edward Snowden asylum. They criticize what deserves praise.
The New York Times called Russia "defiant." Granting Snowden safe refuge ignored "pleas and warnings from President Obama and other senior Americans."
Russia gave him "an international platform to continue defending his actions."
Wall Street Journal editors headlined "Snowden's Russian Protectors," saying:
"Russia's decision to grant Edward Snowden asylum is a hostile act against the United States."
"If it forces the Obama Administration to shed its blinders and rethink America's indulgent relationship with Vladimir Putin's 'regime,' then at least this sorry affair might have a silver lining."
Note: despotic ruling authorities America supports are called "governments." Independent nations are called "regimes."
New York Post editors headlined "A withering America," saying:
"Is America still a superpower? Russian President Vladimir Putin sure doesn't think so. (He has) no fear of consequences."
"One thing's clear: The world is watching Obama's response. And America ultimately will feel the consequences of that."
He hasn't "helped on other vital matters, like stopping Iran's nuclear drive or ending the brutality of Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Quite the opposite." Putin supports what America opposes.
Los Angeles Times editors headlined "What Next for Snowden," saying:
"Russia's decision frustrates - for now - the Obama administration's attempt to return him to the US to stand trial."
"We believe the administration is right to try to bring Snowden to justice. (I)n a society of laws, those who engage in civil disobedience should be prepared to accept some legal consequences for their actions."
"That principle assures that individuals will think seriously, as they should, about whether lawbreaking is justified by a higher cause."
"Snowden is entitled to his day in court, but that won't be possible as long as Russia shelters him on the mistaken premise that he is a victim of political persecution."
Christian Science Monitor editors headlined "Snowden asylum in Russia: What now for US?"
Snowden "thr(ew) his lot with Russia, at least for a while‚§|A majority of Americans disagree with (his) actions or motives, according to polls."
False! A new Quinnipiac University poll showed 55% of Americans consider him a whistleblower. Another 34% agree with congressional critics.
"Snowden said he acted to protect 'Internet freedom and basic liberties of people around the world.' But if he had acted as a true whistle-blower, he would have first used" available legal channels.
"He didn't. (H)e fled both the United States and its espionage laws. He fears years in prison more than standing up for his values in court."
He's "hardly qualified to assess whether ending the NSA practices will put the US in jeopardy. For that, he would need to understand the purpose of other values besides liberty."
Snowden's a heroic whistleblower. He's one of his nation's best. He upheld a noble tradition. America's a lawless police state. Mass surveillance threatens fundamental freedoms.
Exposing government wrongdoing is a national imperative. So is resisting tyranny. It's a universal right. In his "Right of Revolution," John Locke said:
When governments fail their people, their "trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the Power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security."
According to St. Thomas Aquinas:
"If the law purports to require actions that no-one should ever do, it cannot rightly be complied with; one's moral obligation is not to obey but to disobey."
Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" remains a landmark essay.
"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree resign his conscience to the legislator," he asked?
"The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right."
"All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable."
"Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?"
Mass surveillance is longstanding US policy. It's unconstitutional. Laws and practices in violation of constitutional provisions lack legitimacy.
Whistleblowers are obligated to expose them. They're not criminals. They're upholding a noble tradition. They're heroic. They reflect exemplary patriotism. They deserve praise, not persecution.
Snowden helped expose America's dark side. Out-of-control NSA spying reflects its worst. It "hacks everyone everywhere," said Snowden.
"Everyone, everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten - and they're talking about it."
Lawlessness pervades Washington. Everyone's potentially vulnerable. No one's safe. Exposing wrongdoing is essential. So is sustained commitment to stop it.
On August 1, Russia granted Edward Snowden asylum. It did so responsibly. It's temporary for one year. It's renewable annually.
He's able to stay in Russia permanently. He can make it his new home. He can travel freely. He'll be treated fairly.
He'll be afforded the same rights as Russian citizens. He'll be protected. He'll need it from America's long arm. He deserves that much and more.
According to Snowden's legal counsel Anatoly Kucherena:
"I cannot say where Snowden is at the moment and where he plans to live in the future. I can only say that he has a lot of American friends here who are ready to ensure his secure living here."
Kucherena's arranging for his father's planned visit. He's securing visa permission to do so.
"As soon as the visa is ready," he said, "I am ready to meet Edwards' father and his American lawyer."
On August 1, Russia Today headlined White House 'extremely disappointed' with Snowden asylum."
Obama's "re-evaluating" whether to participate in planned one-on-one talks with Putin. They're scheduled in Moscow ahead of the September 5 - 6 St. Petersburg G20 summit.
According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:
"We are evaluating the utility of the summit in light of this." The administration is "extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step." It's an "unfortunate development."
"We will obviously be in contact with Russian authorities expressing our extreme disappointment in this decision and making the case clearly that there is absolute legal justification for Mr. Snowden to be returned to the United States."
At the same time, he suggested Snowden's asylum won't alter US/Russian relations. They include "important and broad" issues.
At the State Department's daily press briefing, deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf called Snowden's asylum "very disappointing."
"(W)e continue to work, to talk to the Russian Government about this today, and we will in the future as well."
"In terms of whether that would be part of (a September) summit, we're still reevaluating that right now. (N)o final decision has been made."
In light of Snowden's asylum, "it behooves us to evaluate where the relationship is, whether the summit makes sense."
"(W)e and President Putin himself have been clear that we donít want this issue to broadly negatively affect our bilateral relationship."
"(W)e don't want (this) to adversely affect the whole relationship. (W)e continue to press with the Russian Government that Mr. Snowden needs to be returned to the United States where he will face a free and fair trial."
Chances for judicial fairness are ZERO. Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. It's the world's largest. It's harsh.
It reflects injustice writ large. Cruel and unusual punishment is official US policy.
Senators John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R. SC) are two of Capitol Hill's worst. McCain wants "repercussions." He wants penalties imposed. He want US/Russian relations reevaluated, saying:
"Russia's action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States."
"It is a slap in the face of all Americans. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putinís Russia. We need to deal with the Russia that is, not the Russia we might wish for."
"We should push for the completion of all phases of our missile defense programs in Europe, and move expeditiously on another round of NATO expansion, including the Republic of Georgia."
Earlier he accused Putin of showing "disdain for democracy." He called US/Russian relations reminiscent of Cold War days.
He insulted Putin saying he's "an old KGB colonel apparatchik that dreams of the days of the Russian Empire and continues to stick his thumb in our eye."
"Todayís action by Putin's Russia should finally strip away the illusions that many Americans have had about Russia the past few years."
"We have long needed to take a more realistic approach to our relations with Russia, and I hope today we finally start."
Graham called Snowden's asylum a "game changer."
"Todayís action by the Russian government could not be more provocative and is a sign of Vladimir Putin's clear lack of respect for President Obama." †
"It is now time for Congress, hopefully in conjunction with the administration, to make it clear to the Russian government that this provocative step in granting Snowden asylum will be met with a firm response."
He wants September's St. Petersburg G20 summit relocated. He suggested boycotting next year's Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics.
"If you go back in time," he asked, "would you have allowed Adolph Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany?"
Perhaps Graham forgot. In 1936, Berlin hosted the summer event. America participated. On August 1, Hitler presided over opening ceremonies.
He hoped the games would showcase Nazi racial supremacy. Jesse Owens embarrassed him. He proved otherwise. He won four gold medals. Hitler refused to congratulate him.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez said:
"Regardless of the fact that Russia is granting asylum for one year, the action is a setback to US-Russia relations."
House Speaker John Boehner said:
"Mr. Snowden's actions have hurt the ability of our country to protect our citizens. And I would hope that President Obama would engage President Putin on this issue and resolve it in a way that's satisfactory to the American people."
Heritage Foundation's James Jay Carafano called Putin "petty and spiteful. (He's) either up to something or really wants to make Obama look like Jimmy Carter."
According to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace vice president Andrew Weiss:
"I think we're headed for a very rocky period in US Russian relations over the near term. I think the second shoe to drop will be some sort of a decision to cancel part of the President's trip."
"Then you'll see a period of disengagement and recrimination and it's really more a question of how bad the tit for tat is and how bad the deterioration is."
"We're nowhere near the deterioration that happened in 2008 but we're headed for a period of disengagement."
On August 2, Itar Tass headlined "Snowden situation not significant enough to affect Russia-US relations," saying:
"Obama is scheduled to come to Moscow in early September to meet with President Vladimir Putin ahead of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg."
"On July 8, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said he was busy preparing Obama's visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg."
"On July 17, White House Spokesperson Jay Carney officially said that Obama was not planning to cancel his upcoming trip to Russia in September but did not say whether he would only attend the G20 summit in St. Petersburg or travel to Moscow as well."
"Obama will visit Russia in September, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said."
A Final Comment
On August 1, London's Guardian headlined "Exclusive: NSA pays ($150 million) in secret funding for GCHQ."
It's Britain's top secret spy agency. It colludes with NSA. It's well paid for doing so. It got at least $150 million over the last three years. It may have been much more.
It lets NSA "secure access to and influence over Britain's intelligence gathering programmes."
Payments are top secret. Documents included a strategy briefing saying "GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight."
Paymasters decide policy. Washington's influence "raise(s) fears about the hold (it) has over the UK's biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain's dependency on the NSA has become too great."
UK ministers deny GCHQ does NSA's "dirty work." Documents suggest otherwise. They show:
"GCHQ is pouring money into efforts to gather personal information from mobile phones and apps, and has said it wants to be able to 'exploit any phone, anywhere, any time.' "
"Some GCHQ staff working on one sensitive programme expressed concern about 'the morality and ethics of their operational work, particularly given the level of deception involved.' "
"The amount of personal data available to GCHQ from internet and mobile traffic has increased by 7,000% in the past five years - but 60% of all Britain's refined intelligence still appears to come from the NSA."
"GCHQ blames China and Russia for the vast majority of cyber-attacks against the UK and is now working with the NSA to provide the British and US militaries with a cyberwarfare capability."
GCHQ "seems desperate to please its American benefactor, and the NSA does not hold back when it fails to get what it wants."
He who pays the piper calls the tune. NSA/GCHQ relations are too cozy for comfort. They're partners in crime. They're waging war on free societies.
They work cooperatively with other Western spy agencies. They operate against their own people. They do so secretly, destructively and lawlessly.
They target freedom. They subvert fundamental civil and human rights. It's the new normal.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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