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9 July 2013
The prestigious Sam Adams Award was accorded yesterday 8 July 2013 to Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old whistleblower now being hunted down with relentless ferocity by the wounded lion of a US hegemon outraged at his effrontery in unmasking the empire’s Orwellian Big Brother global espionage network.
The award is given annually by the “Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence”, a group of retired US Central Intelligency Agency (CIA) officers, to an intelligence professional who has taken a stand for integrity and ethics.
It is named after Samuel A. Adams, a CIA whistleblower during the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
Previous laureates include Julian Assange, the Australian found of Wikileaks, now holed up in the asylum of the Ecuador Embassy in London, who published millions of secret US embassy cables that exposed US diplomatic double-talk.
Another recipient was Craig Murray, who was sacked as British ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2004 for exposing alleged human rights abuses by the Karimov regime.
In an article published today in the London Guardian, Snowden, a computer expert who has worked for the US Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, gives an insight into his motivation.
In an interview for the paper, he said he had not fallen out of love with the US, only with its government.
“America is a fundamentally good country,” he told the Guardian. “We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics.”
“I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build and it’s not something I’m willing to live under.”
He also insisted he had waited for political leaders to rein in government excesses. But “as I’ve watched I’ve seen that’s not occurring, and in fact we’re compounding the excesses of prior governments and making it worse and more invasive. And no one is really standing to stop it.”
Which is presumably why he broke cover and let the cat out of the spy bag.
Snowden, who was born in North Carolina in 1983, is an icon for all those anywhere in the world who value individual freedom and admire the courage of individuals prepared to risk everything to expose wrong-doing by the almighty.
It is clear that the full extent of the espionage being carried out by the United States Government – even as we write – will never be known.
We are dealing here with spying, which, by definition, is a clandestine activity whose full ramifications will never see the light of day.
Two other aspects of espionage should not be forgotten either.
Firstly, the full budgets of the intelligency agencies are never published as this would be giving information to the “enemy” – the enemy often being an imaginary foe magicked up out of thin air to justify wasting trillions of dollars of tax-payers money on spy games.
Secondly, there is never any public supervision of the intelligence agencies since, here again, this would be to provide information to the “enemy”.
Thus, what we have in the intelligence community – this is true of all intelligence networks, not just those of the United States – is a secret body responsible to no one and with an inestimable budget dispensed from accountancy oversight.
For anyone prepared to take the president’s shilling and keep mum for the rest of their lives the job of a spook is the sinecure of dreams.
Antigone1984 has an issue with Snowden’s distinction between the American Government (bad, at least in parts) and the American people (good, at least some of them).
We confess to having made this distinction ourselves at times but we now think it cannot be accepted without a caveat.
In countries like the US, where governments change as a result of votes cast into a ballot box, it is the people who are responsible for electing the government. The people cannot subsequently deny their responsibility when the government turns out to be a bad one. They were the ones who put that government in power.
As to America being a “fundamentally good country”, some might not agree: judicially approved executions, abuse of human rights (Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay), invasion of insubordinate countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, etc), encouragement of or acquiescence in coups d’état (Chile, Cuba, Venezuela and now Egypt), an economic system based on dog-eat-dog competition that enriches the rich and impoverishes the poor, and so on.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.