Konstantin GORDEEV - Independent analyst and researcher
Edward Snowden, a young American, grabbed the world attention in the wink of an eye making the revelations on US global surveillance come into the open. The world telecommunications are under constant surveillance carried out by the watchful eye of US special services. The snooping is ubiquitous encompassing US citizens and people in other countries of the world. It’s really complete, there is no exaggeration here, it spreads on bums and presidents, bitterest enemies and bosom friends - all of them watched at any given moment. Phone calls are eavesdropped, fax messages, including the coded ones, are tapped, Internet networks and electronic messages are intercepted, bank transactions are followed, each and every thing is under the eagle eye, there is no escape and no exclusion from the rule.
No surprise, many in America think Snowden is a «traitor» and a «spy». But there is something else that is important: according to polls, over 40% of US citizens say no to the persecution of Snowden, they approve his actions and think he is the one who has revealed the illegal activities of US special services (1). What has he done to make the US authorities exert pressure on other countries so that they would land foreign presidential planes or make the United States threaten everyone who dares to grant him political asylum at the time tens of thousands Americans come out to show their support for Snowden and his courageous deed? That’s what the Americans say in their in website and blogs posts comparing the US administration actions with fascism, in particular, that’s what an article published by the Truthout says (2). A petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon admitted state secret leaker Edward Snowden and stop his persecution has passed 100,000 signatures. (3-4)
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have announced they support him. (5) Many celebrities (including such stars as Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Naomi Campbell, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden and Danny Glover) backed by 26,000 other (mostly) Americans, signed a letter to Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, urging him to say yes to the Snowden's request for political asylum and expressing readiness to join in a good will human flotilla mission escorting the whistleblower on a flight from Moscow to guarantee his personal security. (5)
It’s not all. The US has invalidated the Snowden’s passport so he needs documents for transition. The Washington-based World Government of World Citizens, a non - profit organization, has issued him an ID recognized internationally by at least four states, including Ecuador. (6) Snowden enjoys support among the US establishment too. Republican Senator Rand Paul called on Americans to launch a lawsuit against the government accusing it of violating privacy and promised to support the motion personally by asking Internet providers and phone companies to join. (8)
US human rights advocates also side with Snowden. Before his revelations there had been no real evidence the total surveillance was actually taking place. Many suits had been rejected by courts - the plaintiffs had failed to come up with evidence to prove the fact of being snooped on because the related information was classified. It had served as a pretext to legally hinder the access to whatever could prove the fact. Now it has all changed. For instance the American Civil Liberties Union has already used the revelations to fight the human rights violations in general. It has also used it as the evidence to support its individual suit (the Union considers itself to be a victim being a client of Verizon Wireless, a company which has cooperated with US special services). (8)
International secure.avaaz.org, known as human rights defender, (9) has collected at least 1, 5 million signatures to support the «pardon Edward Snowden» petition to be sent to President Obama.
The list could go on, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, articles published worldwide, press-conferences conducted and statements made, including at the highest state level, aimed to support Snowden…All of it has little effect on the tough stand of US special services, the State Department and President Obama ready to go to any length in order to get the former secret services employee back.
Edward Snowden explained his actions, «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 US 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». (10)
The story goes on, but some of the motives could be summed up as follows:
1. Snowden provided documental evidence of the fact that the US government is involved in snooping on US citizens and worldwide no matter the social standing of watched individuals or if the states under surveillance were close allies.
2. The proof is here to justify stating that the US upper ruling circles have undermined the fundamental values like the rights for privacy and equal opportunities.
3. It has become clear that the US government is not so much after countering terrorist activities or deterring a potential adversary but rather applies efforts to ensure unilateral advantages in its relations with partners and allies being involved in the practice of espionage activities of the widest ever scale.
4. The fact that Booz Allen Hamilton, a private company, worked for the National Security Agency goes to show the US-conducted espionage is actually privatized. It’s not the state only the «big brother» can bank on, but rather transnational capital that serves as a pillar of the military-industrial complex.
5. The US corporations have taken part in the global surveillance efforts, the list includes: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, Yahoo!, Apple, AOL, YouTube, VISA, MasterCard, Verizon, AT&T etc. They have evidently pursued the goals of boosting competition capabilities and the extent of their involvement into monitoring the world information network is striking imagination. The fact that this information has become public knowledge is especially important against the background of the plans to merge the free trade zones surrounding Eurasia – the Transatlantic and Transpacific.
6. Snowden has made come to surface the whole range of NSA activities providing a chance for others to erect protection against non-sanctioned intrusion and access to confidential information, perhaps rendering useless PRISM, no matter how great the expenditure to create it was.
7. The information made public by Snowden may harm the idea of Transatlantic partnership or, at least, make Europeans put forward the conditions to diminish the compatibility of US corporations and US leading role within the future structure.
8. There is a split in US public opinion engendered by the contempt displayed by ruling upper circles towards the Constitution and the cherished values when it comes to self-interests and profits.
All the said above is a devastating blow against the US economy, major financial groups and the military-industrial complex.