Ecuador Faces U.S. Pressure on Snowden Asylum Bid June 27
Ecuador is facing U.S. pressure to reject the asylum bid of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. On Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that welcoming Snowden “would severely jeopardize” U.S. trade preferences for Ecuador. Menendez said: “Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior.” Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, meanwhile says his government could take anywhere between a few days to a few months to decide on Snowden’s asylum bid. Snowden is believed to remain in a transit area of a Moscow airport. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Snowden has damaged the United States, and urged Russia to hand him over.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: “I would hope that the Russians do the right thing here and turn Snowden over to the United States. General [Martin] Dempsey said, others, yes, there was damage done to this country by the Snowden leaks. And we are assessing that now, but, make no mistake, this violation of our laws was a serious security breach in our national security apparatus.” Editor’s Note: Hagel conveniently ignores the violation of the Constitution, especially the First and Fourth Amendments in talking about “the violation of our laws.” The Constitution is also “our law” and prevails over the illegal dictates that allow for its violation in the case of mass surveillance. See the response of Ecuadorian President Correa below.
The following are from June 28:
NSA Swept Up Mass Internet “Metadata” Until 2011
The latest disclosures from National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian show the U.S. government collected bulk “metadata” on the emails of millions of Americans for about 10 years. Under a program that fell under the overall NSA domestic surveillance operation known as “Stellar Wind,” the government swept up information including email accounts and IP addresses, but not the contents of the messages themselves. The program began by targeting emails with at least one party outside the United States, but expanded in 2007 to domestic messages. The Obama administration continued the effort after taking office before shutting it down in 2011. The disclosures confirm the claims of William Binney, the career NSAofficial turned whistleblower. Binney has said the NSA took an electronic surveillance program he developed, ThinThread, and used it to conduct mass surveillance on a national scale. He resigned from the NSA in 2001 in opposition to what he called illegal spying. According to The Guardian, the collection of Internet metadata appears to have triggered the famed March 2004 confrontation in the hospital room of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft when he refused to sign off on re-authorizing the warrantless surveillance program.
Ecuador Renounces Trade Benefits After U.S. Questions Ties over Snowden Case
Ecuador is defiantly resisting U.S. calls to reject the asylum bid of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. On Thursday, the Ecuadorean government said it would waive preferential trade rights after U.S. officials suggested they could be revoked. In Washington, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration will evaluate Ecuador’s eligibility for trade benefits and review a petition calling for their revocation. Forman’s comments came one day after Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said that welcoming Snowden “would severely jeopardize” U.S. relations with Ecuador. In Quito, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said his country’s “dignity has no price.”
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa: “All of a sudden, trade tariffs became an instrument of blackmail: behave or leave the free trade movement. In the face of threats, insolence and arrogance of certain U.S. sectors, which have pressured to remove the preferential tariffs because of the Snowden case, Ecuador tells the world: We unilaterally and irrevocably denounce the preferential tariffs. Our dignity has no price.”
Correa’s government followed up with a dig at the Obama administration by offering to donate millions of dollars for human rights training in the United States on matters of “privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity.” Later in the day, Correa said Ecuador cannot evaluate Snowden’s asylum bid until he is within Ecuadorean territory. Snowden is believed to remain in a transit area of a Moscow airport.
Obama Plays Down Snowden Extradition Bid
Speaking during his visit to Senegal, President Obama said he expects other countries to hand NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden over without having to resort to diplomatic wrangling, but played down talk of an international rift over Snowden’s fate.
President Obama: “My continued expectation is that Russia or other countries that have talked about potentially providing Mr. Snowden asylum recognize that they are part of an international community and that they should be abiding by international law. And we’ll continue to press them as hard as — as hard as we can to make sure that they do so. But let me — one last thing, because you asked a final question: No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.” Editor’s Note: As U.S. actions continues to flagrantly flaunt international law by creating the “enemy combatant” category for Guantanamo prisoners and with drone warfare, among several violations, it is ironic that Obama asks the international community to abide by international law when the U.S. continually does not.
For other interviews on the topic of Edward Snowden, security, and the NSA on Democracy Now!, clickhere.