The Snowden Tug-Of-War

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by MarkPavelovich, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    I am very keen on seeing some discussion here about this "anti-gay" law and all the "crackdown" stuff.
  2. mls13

    mls13 Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    I'm just fascinated by the whole "strange bedfellows" angle on both sides of the Atlantic. Lindsey Graham and John Boehner on the same side as President Obama against some weird coalition of far-left progressives, far-right conservatives and libertarians; human rights activists encouraging the Kremlin to grant Snowden asylum; and the variety of pressures simultaneously pulling Putin and Obama apart while simultaneously pushing them together....

    Lots of fun! Get 'cher popcorn!
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  3. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    It is fascinating, and it's interesting to speculate what has driven them to such an uneasy and unacknowledged arrangement. Obama, I suppose, is just trying to exit his presidency with a minimum of brickbats being hurled at him about how much he was like Bush with his snooping and drone assassinations. Lindsy Graham has always done faux outrage fairly well, or maybe he actually believes the things he says, which is even more comical. You notice he is staying right away from the gay-bars-pulling-Russian-vodka, though, even as he doubtless approves; Mr. Graham is already a lightning rod for gay accusations himself from extremists in his own party who don't like his voting record and consider him too moderate. Whenever John Boehner manages to say anything without bursting into tears partway through, it's a little personal victory.

    I maintain that the USA needs Russia much more than Russia needs the USA - the USA needs Russia to intercede as honest broker with Iran and Syria, needs Russian goodwill to keep things going in Afghanistan until the pullout and needs Russia to keep the global energy environment stable.
  4. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Not all human rights activists support Russia's stance over Snowden.

    There's the apparently revered and much respected leader of the the Moscow Helsinki group, US and Russian citizen Lyudmila Alekseeva, who, like the very good sock puppet that she is, very early on in this Snowden affair stated that the man was a criminal and should be sent back to the USA in order to stand trial.

    Alekseeva has since modified her position on Snowdon. Upon his receiving temporary asylum in Russia, she stated it was necessary that his rights be protected, but then, in criticizing Russia's human rights record, she queried the wisdom of his accepting asylum in that land.

    Then there's...

    Well, I'm sure there are other human rights organizations and agitators that oppose the granting of political asylum to Snowden...aren't there?
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  5. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    I think attitudes towards human rights abuses in the West are an excellent "shit test" as to the actual motivations and values of Russian human rights activitists.

    They fall into the three following groups:

    (1) Don't comment on anything HR-related in the West period.
    This is a valid and respectable stance. They live in Russia, not the West; they have no obligation to comment on what is happening in another country.
    Who does this apply to? A majority of Russian HR activists, I would estimate. Most Russian NGO's such as Memorial, Golos, Soldier's Mothers.

    (2) Condemn HR abuses wherever they happen.
    This is a valid and respectable stance. An organizational example is Amnesty International. I recall that when an RT television crew was arrested outside Fort Benning while covering a protest, oppositionist Ilya Yashin wrote about it in his blog to condemn it. I respect him for that. So did Boris Nemtsov. Likewise. But all too many of his commentators, regretfully...

    (3) Condemn Russian HR abuses; support (or cheer on) Western HR abuses.
    ... Did this. They are human rights activists of convenience, only concerned about them only insofar as they advance or retard the interests of their sponsors - that is, the US. This describes Alekseeva, Novodvorskaya, and Von Eggert, as well as the organizations HRW and Freedom House (which was until recently chaired by a former CIA director LOL). As far as I'm concerned they should be free, of course, to promote their views (because Russia calls itself a free country); but they likewise have no business whatsoever in forming or influencing Russian policy (Alekseeva, let us recall, sat on the Presidential Council on Human Rights during Medvedev's Presidency). For the same reason that the US itself has no obligation to take into account the arguments of, say, FSB-linked Anatoly Kucherena.

    In short, groups (1) and (2) should be actively engaged with. (3) should be cold-shouldered or called out for their hypocrisy as merited.
  6. john smith

    john smith Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Frankly Russia made a mistake in giving sanctuary to Snowden and should have pushed for him to seek political asylum in Europe with the usual countries priding themselves on their asylum policy putting the pressure on them.

    Russia should never have allowed Snowden to enter Russia from Hong Kong and has absolutely nothing to gain from it that was organised and came to prominence from the hostile anti-Putin/Russian Guardian newspaper and will serve as an excuse to block US entry into the families of those involved in the Boston bombing and that of Ibragim Todashev that will force documents and hard question surrounding CIA involvement in supporting Chechen terrorist groups especially like 9/11 it lead to the Boston bombing itself that will blow open the whole facade regarding the war on terror.

    So far it has already been revealed that Uncle Ruslan worked for USAID on behalf of British/ US interests in Kazakhstan and operated a front Chechen organisation securing anti-mining boots to Bin Ladins arm trafficker through terrorist front organisation run from CIA agent Graham Fullers house who the US had been working with at least since the Balkans war when Croatian police arrested him and his subsequent escape from Croatian prison.
  7. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I would like to discuss the legalities of the Snowden case since I think it explains better Russia's decisions and also the responses of agencies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

    1. Snowden has exposed a massive surveillance operation by the NSA, which he believes violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution. Few agree with him viz the Fifth Amendment but there is a powerful current of legal opinion that he is right about the Fourth Amendment. This basically prohibits surveillance without a valid court warrant. What has been happening is that the FISA Court has in secret been granting the NSA warrants for surveillance of ever wider scope in a manner that is not subject to review or appeal. This is legally dubious to say the least and I understand there is some discussion about whether the FISA Court has in secret been usurping some of the functions of the US Supreme Court.

    2. Snowden has been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. The Espionage Act was passed in wartime basically to deal with spies. It was not intended to be used against whistleblowers and until the 1970s it never was. However the wording of the Espionage Act is very loose making it possible to prosecute whistleblowers like Snowden under its provisions.

    3. The reason the administration is however charging Snowden under the Espionage Act is because he cannot plead a Public Interest Defence (ie that his actions were justified because he exposed illegal activity undertaken contrary to the Fourth Amendment) in any prosecution brought under the Espionage Act. The only defence Snowden would be able to plead is that a prosecution under the Espionage Act violates his right of free expression contrary to the First Amendment. US courts have struggled with this defence in whistleblower cases since the early 1970s when the US first used the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers and have never come to a clear view.

    4. Any prosecution brought under a statute that is intended to deprive a whistleblower of a Public Interest Defence he ought to have to disclose the government's own wrongdoing is problematic to say the least. On that ground alone Snowden has a strong case for saying that he has legitimate grounds to fear that if he was returned to the US he would face persecution for his political actions. The US authorities have made matters worse by some of the things they have said about Snowden, which contradict the presumption of innocence and which call into question his prospects of a fair trial.

    5. The 1951 Refugee Convention prohibits the return of someone who has a well founded fear of persecution to the country or countries that might persecute him.

    In the light of all of this, Russia would have been acting illegally and contrary to its treaty obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention if it had returned Snowden to the US or had sent him to a west European country that would have returned him to the US. Russia was obviously also entitled in the circumstances to grant him asylum.

    Viz the comment that John Smith has made, I think one should be extremely careful before saying that a country has committed a mistake by acting in accordance with its legal obligations. What is being suggested is that Russia should out of considerations of Realpolitik break the law. To my mind that is simply appeasement and undermines Russia's entire international position, which is that of the defender of the existing system of international law in the face of persistent western attempts to change it in a way that suits western interests.
  8. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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  9. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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  10. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Brilliant!

    After reading this spluttering tirade coming directly after Julia Ioffe's equally ludicrous one can anyone doubt that granting Snowden asylum was the right thing in presentation terms for Russia to do?
  11. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Obama on Tonight Show transcript here
    http://hypervocal.com/news/2013/obama-leno/

    Couple of points of interest.
    Obama. “I was disappointed because even though we don’t have an extradition treaty with them, traditionally we have tried to respect if there’s a law-breaker or an alleged law-breaker in their country, we evaluate it and we try to work with them. They didn’t do that with us.”
    I know he didn’t have TOTUS along to think for him, but what do you suppose that means?

    Q And Putin seems to me like one of those old-school KGB guys. THE PRESIDENT: Well, he headed up the KGB. (Laughter.)
    Well, actually he didn’t. But that’s pretty hard-wired these days, isn’t it?
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  12. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    It seems to me that Obama has been in a sulk ever since it became clear that Putin would return to the Presidency. He made a foolish decision to back Medvedev against Putin (a no hoper as anyone with any knowledge of Russia could have told him) and has never got over it when it didn't turn out as he wanted.

    Beyond this, it seems to me that behind the façade of the cool, rational, calculating man Obama has a peevish side. The Snowden affair has exposed this spectacularly. Obama has let his anger rule his head in a way that is totally counterproductive. When Snowden first made his revelations I was one of those who did not take them very seriously if only because I always assumed that the surveillance programmes Snowden exposed were happening anyway. I would go further and would say that on balance I think they might not be an altogether bad thing. There are all sorts of dangerous people lurking around and I can understand why the security agencies might want to keep tabs on mobile phone and internet traffic in order to keep an eye out for them. As for the revelation that the US electronically spies on other countries, in what possible way is that news to anyone?

    It seems to me that what the US administration's obsessive pursuit of Snowden has done has been to transform a small and containable story into a major international one and to make many people who were otherwise uninterested in the story feel that Snowden must have exposed some really serious wrongdoing after all for the US administration to be so obsessed with him.

    Incidentally I have come round to your view that the present campaign against the Russian law on homosexual propaganda is largely a response orchestrated by the US administration to embarrass Russia in the wake of the Snowden affair. Evidence for that is mounting (Obama's interview itself provides it) and others are starting to notice this as well.
  13. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    So Obama has cancelled meeting Putin.

    According to RT 24 hours ago: Obama ‘disappointed’ with Snowden asylum, says no domestic spying program in US

    And Komsomolskaya Pravda in an earlier report about what that the US President had said about a new Cold War:


    “Иногда мне кажется, что наши отношения скатываются на уровень холодной войны. И тогда я говорю президенту Путину, что такое мышление уже в прошлом и что для нас важнее будущее. Нет никаких препятствий на пути дальнейшего эффективного сотрудничества наших государств», – оптимистично заявил хозяин Белого дома.”

    ["Sometimes I think that our relationship is slipping towards the level of the Cold War. And then I say to President Putin that such thinking is in the past and that the future is more important for us. There are no obstacles in the way of further effective cooperation between our countries", said the White House resident, optimistically.]


    The future is important to us – but I’m not talking to you, so nerrr!


    :)


  14. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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  15. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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  16. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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  17. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    Is it just me, or is anyone else just a tad... amused... by the fact that Obama has swapped Russia for Sweden? Of all other possible places. In relation to this particular quarrel.
  18. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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  19. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Are you referring to Assange?
  20. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Don't take this too seriously. He is strongly disliked by certain people because of what they choose to see as his anti Israeli stance and consequently he has the usual Wikipedia "hit" biography.

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