By Juan Cole
This piece first appeared on Juan Cole’s website, Informed Comment.
The US government charged Edward Snowden with theft of government property and espionage on Friday.
Snowden hasn’t to our knowledge committed treason in any ordinary sense of the term. He hasn’t handed over government secrets to a foreign government.
His leaks are being considered a form of domestic spying. He is the 7th leaker to be so charged by the Obama administration. All previous presidents together only used the charge 3 times.
Charging leakers with espionage is outrageous, but it is par for the course with the Obama administration.
The same theory under which Edward Snowden is guilty of espionage could easily be applied to former vice president Dick Cheney.
Cheney led an effort in 2003 to discredit former acting ambassador in Iraq, Joseph Wilson IV, who had written an op ed for the New York Times detailing his own mission to discover if Iraq was getting uranium from Niger. (The answer? No.)
Cheney appears to have been very upset with Wilson, and tohave wished to punish him by having staffers contact journalists and inform them that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was secretly a CIA operative. While Cheney wasn’t the one whose phone call revealed this information, he set in train the events whereby it became well known. (Because Cheney’s staff had Plame’s information sitting around in plain sight, Armitage discovered it and then was responsible for the leak, but he only scooped Libby and Rove, who had been trying to get someone in the press to run with the Plame story.
What Cheney did in ordering his aides Scooter Libby and Karl Rove to release the information about Plame’s identity was no different from Snowden’s decision to contact the press.
And yet, Cheney mysteriously has not been charged with Espionage. Hmmm….
AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta