Challenging US Lawlessness
by Stephen Lendman
It’s vital today more than ever. America’s a rogue terror state. It’s ruthlessly out-of-control. It spurns rule of law principles. It mocks democratic rights. It honors its worst. It persecutes its best.
It acts unconscionably. It threatens freedom. It menaces world peace. It endangers humanity. It’s guilty of worldwide espionage on a massive, unprecedented scale.
Edward Snowden revealed it. Everyone needs to know. He did it heroically. He accepted great risks. He acted responsibly. He did so because it matters. He’s a role model for others. Hopefully he’ll embolden others to come forward.
Political Washington vilified him. He’s excoriated for doing the right thing. Media scoundrels piled on. They’re unprincipled. They’re vicious. They’re unrelenting. They front for power. They support America’s worst crimes. They mock legitimate journalism doing so.
Snowden has millions of world supporters. Important nations respect him. His legitimate rights matter. Russia, China, Ecuador, Venezuela, and other countries stand tall.
They’ve done so in his behalf. Hopefully they’ll keep doing it. Perhaps others will join them.
Snowden flew to Moscow. He’s in Sheremetyevo Airport’s transit area. He hasn’t crossed Russia’s border. Doing so requires clearing customs. Moscow has no extradition treaty with Washington.
It’s justifiably critical of US extradition policies. Viktor Bout’s case made headlines. He’s a Russian citizen. Washington wrongfully convicted him.
America notoriously manufactures spurious “evidence.” It does so to groundlessly indict, prosecute, convict, and imprison. When evidence doesn’t exist, it’s invented.
America’s gulag is filled with thousands of wrongfully incarcerated victims. Washington called Bout the “Merchant of Death” and “Lord of War.”
Hyperbole substitutes for facts. Juries are intimidated to convict. Right-wing judges go along. America’s criminal justice system’s corrupted. Targeted victims haven’t a chance.
In Bout’s case, there was no plot, no crime or intent to commit one. He was lawlessly entrapped to make it look that way. In November 2011, he was groundlessly convicted of conspiring to sell weapons to Colombia’s FARC-EP.
Obama’s Justice Department lied. It said “(h)e aimed to sell weapons to terrorists for the purpose of killing Americans.”
Bout ran a legitimate air cargo business. He operated legally. Charges against him were fabricated. He never had a chance. Snowden faces the same challenge. When America wants someone convicted, injustice triumphs.
Russia called charges against Bout “baseless and biased.” Complaints lodged fell on deaf ears. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at the time:
“Despite insufficient evidence and the unlawful nature of (Bout’s) arrest in Thailand, which involved agents of US security services, and his subsequent extradition, the US justice system, acting clearly on political orders, ignored defense attorneys’ arguments and numerous appeals from different levels in defense of a Russian citizen.”
She added that Moscow would make “every possible effort” to free him. He remains unjustifiably imprisoned. He’s locked in America’s gulag.
Russia accused Washington of lawlessly kidnapping Konstantin Yaroshenko. He’s a Russian pilot. He was suspected of attempting to bribe Liberian officials and smuggle cocaine.
US special forces detained him. They did so in Monrovia. They did it lawlessly. They kidnapped him. They took him to New York. They did so extrajudicially.
At the time, Russia’s Foreign Ministry called it “unacceptable that the Russian side had not received proper notification on the arrest of our fellow citizen as is prescribed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the bilateral consular convention.”
Russia’s New York Consul General, Andrey Yushmanov, added:
“We were also notified that the conditions in which our citizen was held were beyond all ethical norms and were unacceptable.”
According to his lawyer, Yaroshenko’s innocent of all charges. He was denied food and water for two days. He was beaten. He was forced to sign papers.
These actions reflect cruel and unusual punishment. It’s common US practice. Torture is official American policy. No holds barred cruelty reflects it.
Venezuela’s the latest nation to extend Snowden support. President Nicolas Maduro may offer him asylum.
“We would consider it,” he said, “because the asylum is a measure of humanitarian protection and is a mechanism of the international humanitarian law, which is popular in Latin America and was always used to protect helpless.”
“No one has the right to spy after someone else and this youngster (Snowden), who told the world about it, deserves humanitarian protection.”
He added that Snowden so far hasn’t requested it. International law protects refugees and asylum seekers.
Article I of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees calls them:
“A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.”
Post-WW II, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established to help them.
To gain legal protection, they must:
- be outside their country of origin;
- fear persecution;
- be harmed or fear harm by their government or others;
- fear persecution for at least one of the above cited reasons; and
- pose no danger to others.
Asylum and refugee status are closely related. Everyone granted asylum must meet the definition of a refugee. Snowden’s entitled to political refugee and asylum rights.
Ecuador granted him refugee status. He’ll have no trouble gaining asylum. It remains to be seen where he’s headed. His plans are closely held.
His intentions are secret. It’s for his safety. He’s very much threatened. Maximum precausions are vital. Protecting him depends on them. America won’t relent until he’s captured.
Snowden knows what he’s up against. So do loyal supporters. They’re going all out to help him. Vladimir Putin said he flew to Moscow. He’s in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone.
“He arrived as a transit passenger. He does not need a visa or any other documents. As a transit passenger, he has the right to buy a ticket and fly wherever he wants.”
“He did not cross the state border. Therefore he does not need a visa. Any accusations aimed at Russia are nonsense and absurd.”
“Mr. Snowden is a free man.” He can do whatever he wishes. He can pick his ultimate destination freely. Perhaps he’ll choose Russia.
“Our special services have never worked with (him) and are not working with him today,” Putin added. He “has not committed any crimes on the Russian Federation territory.”
Putin compared him to Julian Assange, saying:
“As well as Snowden, he considers himself a human rights defender and is fighting for circulation of information. Ask yourself: should such people be extradited to be jailed or not?”
Moscow won’t hand him to US authorities. It’s hard imagining it being considered. Putin knows he’ll be wrongfully persecuted. He won’t aid lawlessness.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Washington saying:
“We deem absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable the attempts we are witnessing to accuse the Russian side of violation of US laws and almost a conspiracy, which, above all, are accompanied with threats. There are no legal grounds whatsoever for this behavior of US officials.”
Snowden revealed plenty. He exposed massive US criminality. He has volumes more documented evidence. He made arrangements to ensure others get encrypted copies.
According to journalist Glenn Greenwald, he took “extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.”
His documents are “highly encrypted.” Passwords permitting access haven’t so far been distributed. “(I)f anything happens to Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”
He has thousands more documents to reveal. It remains to be seen what’s in them. Hopefully in the fullness of time we’ll know.
Challenging US lawlessness matters most. Forty years ago, Senator Frank Church discovered lawless NSA spying. He warned, saying:
NSA’s “capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left.”
“(S)uch is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”
Presidents could “impose total tyranny.” They’d “be no way to fight back,” he said.
America today reflects Church’s worst fears. Constitutional rights don’t matter. Everyone’s spied on lawlessly.
Full-blown tyranny’s a hair’s breadth away. Bipartisan rogues threaten fundamental freedoms. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter.
America’s unfit to live in. Being here’s unsafe. Challenging lawlessness is dangerous. Doing the right thing is criminalized.
It risks being accused of aiding and abetting America’s enemies. It risks being called a traitor. Arrest and imprisonment may follow.
Obama’s “Insider Threat Program (ITP)” targets whistleblowers. In October 2011, he did so by Executive Order. He considers them America’s enemies.
He launched it quietly. It followed Bradley Manning’s revelations. It mandates federal employee spying on each other. Doing so reflects police state lawlessness. It’s Big Brother writ large.
On June 1, 2012, the Defense Department said:
“Hammer this fact home. (L)eaking is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States.”
On May 16, Obama lied saying:
“Leaks related to national security can put people at risk. They can put men and women in uniform that I’ve sent into the battlefield at risk.”
“They can put some of our intelligence officers, who are in various, dangerous situations that are easily compromised, at risk.”
“So I make no apologies, and I don’t think the American people would expect me as commander in chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed.”
ITP makes revealing vital information harder. Watching others makes federal employees fear who’s watching them. Any activity can be called suspicious.
Having a bad day isn’t safe. Disgruntled staffers may falsely accuse others. Police states operate that way.
Group think is prioritized. Information people need to know is stifled. Wrongdoing goes unmentioned. Out-of-control lawlessness prevails.
Doing the right thing’s criminalized. Rogue states operate this way. America’s by far the worst. It’s hard imagining its grand experiment ended this way.
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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