| Edward Snowden’s letter to the president of Ecuador – full text!

Edward Snowden’s letter to the president of Ecuador – full text ~

  • Press Assocation, guardian.co.uk.

    The NSA whistleblower, who is currently in Moscow, has written to Rafael Correa regarding his request for political asylum.
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    Text of a letter by Edward Snowden to the President of EcuadorRafael Correa. Written in Spanish; obtained and translated by the Press Association, London.
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    “There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world.

    I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government’s action in considering my request for political asylum.

    The government of the United States of America has built the world’s largest system of surveillance. This global system affects every human life touched by technology; recording, analysing, and passing secret judgment over each member of the international public.

    It is a grave violation of our universal human rights when a political system perpetuates automatic, pervasive and unwarranted spying against innocent people.

    In accordance with this belief, I revealed this programme to my country and the world. While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression.

    As I face this persecution, there has been silence from governments afraid of the United States government and their threats. Ecuador however, rose to stand and defend the human right to seek asylum.

    The decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong – I could never have risked travel without that. Now, as a result, and through the continued support of your government, I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.

    No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realise a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank.

    Please accept my gratitude on behalf of your government and the people of the Republic of Ecuador, as well as my great personal admiration of your commitment to doing what is right rather than what is rewarding.”

    Edward Joseph Snowden.
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| NSA surveillance: The US is behaving like China!

NSA surveillance: The US is behaving like China ~ 

Both governments think they are doing what is best for the state and people. But, as I know, such abuse of power can ruin lives.

  • Hong Kong front pages 11 June 2013
    NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Barack Obama appear on the front pages of local papers in Hong Kong on 11 June 2013. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

    Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.

    I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a centre for free thinking and creativity as a result.

    In our experience in China, basically there is no privacy at all – that is why China is far behind the world in important respects: even though it has become so rich, it trails behind in terms of passion, imagination and creativity.

    Of course, we live under different kinds of legal conditions – in the west and in developed nations there are other laws that can balance or restrain the use of information if the government has it. That is not the case in China, and individuals are completely naked as a result. Intrusions can completely ruin a person’s life, and I don’t think that could happen in western nations.

    But still, if we talk about abusive interference in individuals’ rights, Prism does the same. It puts individuals in a very vulnerable position. Privacy is a basic human right, one of the very core values. There is no guarantee that China, the US or any other government will not use the information falsely or wrongly. I think especially that a nation like the US, which is technically advanced, should not take advantage of its power. It encourages other nations.

    Before the information age the Chinese government could decide you were a counter-revolutionary just because a neighbour reported something they had overheard. Thousands, even millions of lives were ruined through the misuse of such information.

    Today, through its technical abilities, the state can easily get into anybody’s bank account, private mail, conversations, and social media accounts. The internet and social media give us new possibilities of exploring ourselves.

    But we have never exposed ourselves in this way before, and it makes us vulnerable if anyone chooses to use it against us. Any information or communication could put young people under the surveillance of the state. Very often, when oppressive states arrest people, they have that information in their hands. It can be used as a way of controlling you, to tell you: we know exactly what you’re thinking or doing. It can drive people to madness.

    When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That’s dangerous for human development.

    In the Soviet Union before, in China today, and even in the US, officials always think what they do is necessary, and firmly believe they do what is best for the state and the people. But the lesson that people should learn from history is the need to limit state power.

    If a government is elected by the people, and is genuinely working for the people, they should not give in to these temptations.

    During my detention in China I was watched 24 hours a day. The light was always on. There were two guards on two-hour shifts standing next to me – even watching when I swallowed a pill; I had to open mouth so they could see my throat. You have to take a shower in front of them; they watch you while you brush your teeth, in the name of making sure you’re not hurting yourself. They had three surveillance cameras to make sure the guards would not communicate with me.

    But the guards whispered to me. They told stories about themselves. There is always humanity and privacy, even under the most restrictive conditions.

    To limit power is to protect society. It is not only about protecting individuals’ rights but making power healthier.

    Civilisation is built on that trust and everyone must fight to defend it, and to protect our vulnerable aspects – our inner feelings, our families. We must not hand over our rights to other people. No state power should be given that kind of trust. Not China. Not the US.

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| Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America!

Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America ~

Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an ‘executive coup’ against the US constitution!

Link to video: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that includes the Pentagon Papers, for which I was responsible 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.

Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, and with the broadest possible interpretation. This makes mockery of the rule of law, let alone of the bill of rights. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”

For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is a nonsense – as is the oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. The fact that their leaders were briefed on this and went along with it, without question, only shows how broken the system of accountability is in this country. As thefounder James Madison wrote:

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

When national security is invoked in the United States, that is what we now have. In effect, Congress has delegated its responsibilities and powers to the executive. The oversight structure has been shown to be a total sham: the congressional committees concerned have been totally co-opted. They are simply black holes of information that the public needs to know.

The surveillance revealed by Snowden’s disclosures exposes this executive coup: that this is done with Congress briefed, but without the ability to resist or even debate the measures openly, makes a mockery of the separation of powers. What has been created is the infrastructure of a police state.

I do not say that the United States is a police state. We have not seen the mass detentions that would complete that process. But given the extent of this invasion of people’s privacy, we do have the electronic and legislative infrastructure of one. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – I fear for our democracy. If the government had then had the capability that it has now, I do not doubt there would have been mass detentions. These powers are extremely dangerous.

In 1975, Senator Frank Church spoke of the National Security Agency in these terms:

“I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

I would say we have, in fact, fallen into that abyss. The NSAFBI and CIAhave, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers that the Stasi in the former East Germany could only have dreamed of. What has been feared and warned about has come to pass. The so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America.

The question now is whether Senator Church was right or wrong that crossing the abyss was irreversible. Three days ago, I would have agreed that effective democracy was now impossible. But with this brave man Snowden willing to put his life on the line to get this information out, creating the possibility that others will join him, I think we can get back across the abyss.

Whereas Bradley Manning‘s access was very much more limited, to field-level information, Snowden’s knowledge of his field is deep and extensive. The material he has released is higher in classification than what I had with the Pentagon Papers.

There are reasons for secrecy that have legitimacy, but what is not legitimate is to use that secrecy to hide action that is unconstitutional. Neither the president nor Congress may revoke the fourth amendment – but that’s why what Snowden revealed was secret. His action does not deserve prosecution or punishment; rather, he deserves our thanks and admiration. “Courage on the battlefield,” said Bismarck, “is a common possession”, but even “respectable people are lacking in civil courage.” Snowden has displayed enormous civil courage.

What I said 40 years ago was that I didn’t care what they said about me; “just read the documents”. To protect other people, I revealed what I had done so that I could say, “I did this on my own,” without the knowledge or help of other people who might be suspected. We already know that the Department of Justice has ordered an investigation into the leak. So Snowden has done the same.

By being out in the open, Snowden could now testify before Congress under oath – if it calls on him. He could not do that if he were still anonymous, or if he were in this country. In 1971, I was on a $50,000 bond for my role in the release of the Pentagon Papers, but in this climate Snowden would not be on a bond; he would be in jail – just like Brad Manning – without bail and incommunicado.

Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect.

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| NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I do not expect to see home again!’

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I do not expect to see home again’ ~ , The Guardian.

Source for the Guardian’s NSA files on why he carried out the biggest intelligence leak in a generation – and what comes next!

Link to video: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’

Edward Snowden was interviewed over several days in Hong Kong by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.

Q: Why did you decide to become a whistleblower?

A: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

Q: But isn’t there a need for surveillance to try to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks such as Boston?

A: “We have to decide why terrorism is a new threat. There has always been terrorism. Boston was a criminal act. It was not about surveillance but good, old-fashioned police work. The police are very good at what they do.”

Q: Do you see yourself as another Bradley Manning?

A: “Manning was a classic whistleblower. He was inspired by the public good.”

Q: Do you think what you have done is a crime?

A: “We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me. They have narrowed the public sphere of influence.”

Q: What do you think is going to happen to you?

A: “Nothing good.”

Q: Why Hong Kong?

A: “I think it is really tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People’s Republic of China. It has a strong tradition of free speech.”

Q: What do the leaked documents reveal?

A: “That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America. I believe that when [senator Ron] Wyden and [senator Mark] Udall asked about the scale of this, they [the NSA] said it did not have the tools to provide an answer. We do have the tools and I have maps showing where people have been scrutinised most. We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians.”

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Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA

Q: What about the Obama administration‘s protests about hacking by China?

A: “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries.”

Q: Is it possible to put security in place to protect against state surveillance?

A: “You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying. We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify your machine. You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”

Q: Does your family know you are planning this?

A: “No. My family does not know what is happening … My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner. Anyone I have a relationship with …

I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I am not going to be able to communicate with them. They [the authorities] will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night.”

Q: When did you decide to leak the documents?

A: “You see things that may be disturbing. When you see everything you realise that some of these things are abusive. The awareness of wrong-doing builds up. There was not one morning when I woke up [and decided this is it]. It was a natural process.

“A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party. But I believed in Obama’s promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor.”

Q: What is your reaction to Obama denouncing the leaks on Friday while welcoming a debate on the balance between security and openness?

A: “My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it.”

Q: What about the response in general to the disclosures?

A: “I have been surprised and pleased to see the public has reacted so strongly in defence of these rights that are being suppressed in the name of security. It is not like Occupy Wall Street but there is a grassroots movement to take to the streets on July 4 in defence of the Fourth Amendment called Restore The Fourth Amendment and it grew out of Reddit. The response over the internet has been huge and supportive.”

Q: Washington-based foreign affairs analyst Steve Clemons said he overheard at the capital’s Dulles airport four men discussing an intelligence conference they had just attended. Speaking about the leaks, one of them said, according to Clemons, that both the reporter and leaker should be “disappeared”. How do you feel about that?

A: “Someone responding to the story said ‘real spies do not speak like that’. Well, I am a spy and that is how they talk. Whenever we had a debate in the office on how to handle crimes, they do not defend due process – they defend decisive action. They say it is better to kick someone out of a plane than let these people have a day in court. It is an authoritarian mindset in general.”

Q: Do you have a plan in place?

A: “The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me … My predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values. The nation that most encompasses this is Iceland. They stood up for people over internet freedom. I have no idea what my future is going to be.

“They could put out an Interpol note. But I don’t think I have committed a crime outside the domain of the US. I think it will be clearly shown to be political in nature.”

Q: Do you think you are probably going to end up in prison?

A: “I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison. You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will.”

Q: How to you feel now, almost a week after the first leak?

A: “I think the sense of outrage that has been expressed is justified. It has given me hope that, no matter what happens to me, the outcome will be positive for America. I do not expect to see home again, though that is what I want.”


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