Shameful Day to Be a US Citizen
By Dave Lindorff
July 28, 2013
Clearing House -
I have been deeply ashamed of my country many times. The Nixon
Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong was one such time, when
hospitals, schools and dikes were targeted. The invasion of Iraq
was another. Washington’s silence over the fatal Israeli
Commando raid on the Gaza Peace Flotilla--in which a 19-year-old
unarmed American boy was murdered--was a third. But I have
rarely been as ashamed and disgusted as I was Saturday reading
that US Attorney General Eric Holder had sent a letter to the
Russian minister of justice saying that the US would “not seek
the death penalty” in its espionage case against National
Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, promising that
even if the US later brought added charges against Snowden after
obtaining him, they would not include any death penalty, and
vowing that if Snowden were handed over by Russia to the US, he
would “not be tortured.”
So it has come to this: That the United States has to promise
(to Russia!) that it will not torture a prisoner in its control
-- a US citizen at that -- and so therefore that person, Edward
Snowden, has no basis for claiming that he should be “treated as
a refugee or granted asylum.”
Why does Holder have to make these pathetic representations to
his counterpart in Russia?
Because Snowden has applied for asylum saying that he is at risk
of torture or execution if returned to the US to face charges
for leaking documents showing that the US government is
massively violating the civil liberties and privacy of every
American by monitoring every American’s electronic
Snowden has made that claim in seeking asylum because he knows
that another whistleblower, Pvt. Bradley Manning, was in fact
tortured by the US for months, and held without trial in
solitary confinement in a Marine military brig for nearly a
year, part of the time naked, before being finally put on trial
in a kangaroo court, where the judge is as much prosecutor as
jurist, and where his guilt was declared in advance by the
President of the United States -- the same president who has
also already publicly declared Snowden guilty too.
It is incredibly shameful that we US citizens have to admit that
we live in a country that tortures its prisoners, that casually
executes people who are mentally retarded, who are innocent, who
had defense attorneys who slept through their clients’ trials,
whose prosecutors slept with the judge, who were denied access
to DNA evidence that could have proven their innocence, or who
were convicted based upon the lies of prosecutors and
This country’s “justice” system has become so perverted and
politically tainted that the rest of the world, including
Russia, knows that Snowden is telling the truth when he says he
cannot hope to receive a fair trial here. Indeed, Congress has
passed laws, and the President has signed laws, giving this
government the power to lock someone like Snowden up
indefinitely without trial, to torture him, and even to kill
him, not through a jury decision on capital punishment, but
simply on the basis of a secret “finding” by the President that
he has aided or abetted terrorism.
No wonder Russia and several other countries, including
Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, have offered or are
considering offering Snowden asylum.
And no wonder that, in its obsession with getting its tyrannical
hands on him, this government is willing to promise not to kill
him or torture him (for what a promise from the US government is
worth, especially since when Holder makes his promise of "no
torture" we have to remember that Holder and the US don't define
such horrors as waterboarding, stress positions, keeping someone
naked in an unheated cell, or employing prolonged sensory
deprivation are not "torture").
Shame and anger are the only appropriate responses to that
letter from Holder.
If this were a country that honored the rule of law, Attorney
General Holder would not need to promise not to torture. He
would need only to point to the US Constitution, with its ban on
“cruel and unusual punishment.” He would not need to promise a
fair trial to Snowden, with no capital punishment on any
charges. He could point instead to the Constitution’s promise of
a presumption of innocence and of a public trial by a jury of
the accused’s peers, to make the case against the granting of
In such a country, someone like Snowden, with the help of a
crack legal team, would have a fair shot at proving to a jury
his innocence of the government’s frivolous espionage charges.
He’d have a fair chance of convincing at least one juror of his
absolute innocence of any crime, making his conviction
But that is not what this country is, especially today.
In today’s US courts, we know the “Justice” Department would
seek to bar testimony about Snowden’s motives in leaking the
documents he downloaded from the NSA’s computers. They would ask
the judge to limit defense arguments and testimony in the case
to the narrow issue of whether or not he downloaded and leaked
files, not to whether those files exposed Constitutional
violations and needed to be brought to the public’s attention.
Our judges, nominated by presidents and confirmed by senators,
Democrat and Republican, who want jurists who favor government
secrecy and who generally side with the government against the
people, can be counted on to grant the government’s motions.
In such circumstances, a defendant like Snowden, facing charges
of espionage or theft of government secrets, has no ability to
defend himself. The trial would be like in a Lewis Carroll
event: “Verdict first, trial later!”
Hopefully President Vladimir Putin will not be pressured by the
US into pretending that Snowden has nothing to fear in going
back to face “justice” in the US.
It is bad enough that we Americans have to hang our heads in
shame as our Attorney General pretends, against all evidence to
the contrary, that there is still a fair legal system operating
in the US, and that the US respects human rights and the rule of
We should not have to also endure yet another kangaroo court
trial, this time of Edward Snowden.
Snowden should be granted asylum in Russia, or should be allowed
to travel to one of the other countries of his choice that have
had the courage to offer him asylum.
If we’re going to have trials on the issue of spying in the US,
let them be of Holder himself, and of President Obama.
dad: ‘This story is far from done’
Lon Snowden, father of
Edward Snowden, who leaked classified NSA documents more than
six weeks ago, talks about his son, saying he’s thankful for
anyone “providing him with assistance” and that “Americans don’t
know the full truth, but the truth is coming.”
This article was originally published at
This Can't Be Happening!
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