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Shooting the Messenger

Posted on Dec 8, 2013
AP/Kin Cheung

A supporter holds a picture of Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret information about U.S. surveillance programs, outside the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong on June 13, 2013.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

The Snowden case differs substantially from Manning’s. The Snowden leaks are top secret. They expose the National Security Agency’s wholesale abuse of privacy across the world and repeated lies told by senior officials, including President Barack Obama, to cover up the massive capture, monitoring and storage of electronic communications of Americans and others. Snowden’s revelations, unlike most of the revelations from Manning and WikiLeaks, detail current, ongoing operations. And these violations are being committed not only against foreigners but against us. Snowden is hated as much as any of the other leakers by the security and surveillance apparatus. He has done, arguably, far more damage than WikiLeaks by exposing the illegality of our surveillance state. It will not assist him if he or his supporters try to parse his way out of his legal problem—some of the charges against him are under the Espionage Act, which was used to charge Manning—by attempting to differentiate himself from other courageous whistle-blowers. The government propaganda machine, working feverishly to discredit Snowden, as well as Greenwald, the reporter who made public the Snowden documents, considers all leakers and their allies to be traitors. It doesn’t make distinctions among them. And we shouldn’t either.

The attempt to paint Snowden as prudent in his disclosures and Manning, Assange, WikiLeaks and Hammond as reckless will not protect Snowden. It myopically lends credibility to the relentless attacks by the government against Manning, Assange, WikiLeaks and others, such as Hammond, who has courageously and at great personal sacrifice opened a window into the nefarious world of the power elite.

If the corporate state were legitimate it would be worthy of more judicious and careful consideration. If the corporate state truly cared about the common good it would have to be treated with more deference. If the war on terror was, in actuality, a war to protect us rather than an excuse to enslave us we could take as serious our leaders’ warnings about loss of secrecy. But our corporate overlords are gangsters in pinstriped suits. They care nothing for the rule of law. They have put into place the most sophisticated system of internal security in human history. They have shredded our most basic constitutional rights and civil liberties. They have turned the three branches of government into wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. They have seized control of the systems of information to saturate the airwaves with lies. They distort the law and government regulations to advance their own pillage and exploitation of us, as well as the ecosystem, which now totters toward global collapse. They have arrogated the right to assassinate U.S. citizens and to rain terror and death from the skies across the planet even though we have not declared war on any state that is being attacked by drone aircraft. There is no internal mechanism left, whether the courts, electoral politics, the executive branch of government or the traditional press, by which these corporate elites can be reigned in or held accountable. The corporate state, in theological terms, is about unchecked exploitation and death. And if the corporate state is not vanquished, and vanquished soon, the human species will not survive.

The most crucial point about the leaks from Assange, Manning, Hammond and Snowden is that they expose egregious crimes by the state and a concerted attempt by the government to mask and lie about its criminal activity. We have a legitimate right to be informed about these crimes. And those who live in foreign countries have a legitimate right to know about the crimes we have carried out and are carrying out against them. But we live in a state where the rule of law no longer functions. We live in a state where those who commit crimes are the persecutors and those who expose them are the persecuted. This is the nature of all totalitarian states. Manning, Assange, Snowden and Hammond, whatever their differences, function as our prophets. They are the voices crying out in the wilderness. And they are the ones the state intends to martyr. Just as the differences between Jeremiah and Amos in the Hebrew Bible did not diminish their courage and their voices, the differences among Snowden, Manning, Assange and Hammond should not be permitted to diminish the vital importance of all their acts.   


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