The Snowden farce just gets more farcical by the day. In the most recent episode he was given the “Sam Adams Award.” No, this has nothing to do with beer, let alone an American patriot. Instead, it is granted to an American whistleblower.
There was no press coverage inside the event (tell me of another awards ceremony you can say that about). The attendance was extremely limited, apparently consisting of Ed, his lawyer Kucherena, Sarah Harrison, and four previous recipients of the award.
Conspicuously absent from the event was Snowden’s father Lon, who was in Moscow and had met with Kucherena prior to the ceremony. Al Jazeera also reports, based on anonymous reports, that Lon and Ed met on Thursday, before the ceremony. The event must have required some advanced planning, to get all of the Americans there. Lon’s visit also presumably required considerable planning, just to deal with the visa issues. The pointed non-invitation of Lon Snowden to an event he could have been invited to and was available to attend is very puzzling. Even more puzzling if he’d already seen Ed.
The only documentation of the event is a couple of minutes of video fragments provided exclusively to Wikileaks. One of the clips is silent, for crying out loud.
A few thoughts on this charade:
- The fact that the video was provided exclusively to Wikileaks demonstrates the close cooperation between Assange/Wikileaks and the Russians/FSB. It bolsters the case that Wikileaks may have been conspiring with the FSB all along to bring Snowden to Russia. The primary open question is when that conspiracy began. Perhaps it began in Hong Kong. Perhaps Assange or his representative Harrison suggested that Snowden go to the Russian consulate. But it plausibly began earlier.
- This Wikileaks-FSB nexus is a big deal. Not that you’d know about it from the media. Why won’t a single journalist point this out and do some serious investigation here? Is the Snowden narrative just too good to question? I’m looking in particular at Luke Harding, who knows first hand the evils of the FSB which he has described in detail, and who works for a publication that Assange screwed royally. Is it because the Guardian is so invested in the Snowden story that he/they won’t question this connection?
- Why wasn’t Laura Poitras there to film the event? You’d think it would be great material for one of the three documentaries she tells sycophantic interviewers she’s working on. And why wasn’t Greenwald there to hook up with his friend Ed, whom he claims to communicate with daily?
- Even American civil libertarians should take considerable comfort in what passes for a whistleblower in the US. If the four present at Ed’s ceremony are those with the most damning secrets to reveal about US evils, we’re in pretty good shape. The most prominent, Ray McGovern, is a 911 Truther loon. Thomas Drake is a more equivocal figure, but (a) he hasn’t been able to point out one breathing victim of the surveillance apparatus he disclosed, and (b) has been prosecuted, but due to the protections of the American legal system he succeeded in fighting off the most serious charges, and received a light sentence. The two women really push the envelope of the whistleblower definition. Coleen Rowley blew the whistle on FBI incompetence in the Moussaoui investigation, not on any government violation of the law, or of the rights of any American citizen. (She eventually went off the rails, falling in with Cindy Sheehan.) Jesselyn Raddack was a DOJ attorney who objected to the ethics-not the legality-of the FBI’s questioning of Johnny Walker Lindh (“the American Taliban”) without the presence of an attorney after his capture in Afghanistan. Contrast this lot to, say, Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars by Russian tax authorities and ended up dead in his cell, or Alexander Litvinenko, who disclosed Russian turpitude in the Caucasus, and alleged that the FSB was behind the bombings of several Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and ended up dying horribly from polonium poisoning. The comparison between the American and Russian whistleblowers, both with regards to the substance of their disclosures and their fates, is that there is no comparison.
- Perhaps because they are starved of independent information on Snowden, due to the very strict control imposed over him, mainstream publications give uncritical attention to participants in the charade, quoting them liberally, without mentioning the very fact that their participation in a Russian-produced piece of agitprop calls into question their reliability. Nor do they report critically on the backgrounds of these people. For instance. Seriously, WSJ: shouldn’t readers know that McGovern is a vehemently anti-American Truther?
- Finally, won’t anyone point out in a serious publication the utter absurdity of giving Snowden this award in the Land of SORM, which makes Prism and everything else Snowden (and McGovern and Binney and Drake) has disclosed look like a piker? SORM collects both metadata and the contents of phone and email communication, and you know that there are no procedural or legal or constitutional safeguards in place that limit the use of that information by the FSB in the way that elaborate measures protect the illegal use of material collected by the NSA. Irony is far too frivolous a word to apply here: even calling it flagrant hypocrisy seems entirely inadequate.
The Snowden story is bad enough. The shockingly ignorant and uncritical coverage is even worse. It’s enough to drive one to drink, and I guess that in the event, Samuel Adams would be the beverage of choice. As a reminder.