American Hypocrisy on Extradition

Edward SnowdenGlenn Greenwald wrote a very insightful article yesterday on the hypocrisy of the United States government and and media. It circled around this business of Obama calling off the summit with Vladimir Putin. The White House gave a number of reasons for this including the fact that Russia is persecuting homosexuals. But everyone accepts the fact that it is just that Russia was given Edward Snowden temporary asylum. Since when did the United States government give a flying fuck about the treatment of the powerless anywhere, even in the United States? After all, it was only last year that Obama “evolved” on the issue of gay marriage. As it is, Obama is perfectly fine with locking up cannabis and cocaine users for decades at a time—even though he has quite publicly admitting to doing the same thing himself. So it’s all about Snowden, because if there is one thing that the administration does care about, it is punishing whistleblowers, or as Obama calls them, “people involved in espionage.”

Greenwald noted that the United States and Russian do not have an extradition treaty. So Putin isn’t doing anything unusual, much less illegal. But guess who the United States does have an extradition treaty with? Italy. And yet, our great nation of laws broke its treaty when the Italian government asked for the extradition of Robert Lady and other CIA operatives who were convicted in absentia of kidnapping for the purpose of torture. And last year, the United States refused to extradite Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to face genocide charges in Bolivia. And a couple of years before that, we wouldn’t extradite terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela.

But we need to have our priorities. These three examples are only kidnapping for the purpose of torture, genocide, and terrorism. Snowden is accused to leaking potentially embarrassing documents. And let us not forget, these three men only harmed poor and weak people. Snowden annoyed some very powerful people. That’s the kind of crime that must be punished!

Meanwhile, the press is right there to stoke anger at Russia without providing any context. Even last night’s The Daily Show was on it. But more generally, the media have gone out of their way to attack Snowden and put what he’s done in the worst possible light. Check out this great argument between Greenwald and James Risen against the entirely typical mainstream apologetics of Jeffrey Toobin. Note how Toobin’s arguments devolve into, “You gotta be kidding me!” Because all right-thinking journalists know that the government is always right. And notice also that Piers Morgan is only one tiny step more reasonable than Toobin:

So we continue on with the United States government acting like the corrupt super power that it is. Meanwhile the media spew out their usual happy talk about how we are all good and the evil Russian government just won’t follow the law. I grew up during the Cold War. One of the things that we celebrated was that we had a free press whereas the Soviet Union had the government run Pravda. But even then, our press provided one-sided news that rarely came close to the truth. It is the same now—at least if you get your “news” from the television.

Afterword

Jeffrey Toobin’s claim is that it is great that we are talking about all of this stuff. Additionally, he admits that we are only discussing this stuff because of Edward Snowden. But he thinks that Snowden is a criminal who shouldn’t have leaked the documents. James Risen counted him (and most in the mainstream press), “That’s the thing I don’t understand about the climate in Washington these days. People want to have debates on television and elsewhere. But then you want to throw the people who start the debates in jail.” Morgan bails out Toobin by immediately pushing a straw man, “Is there no limit?!”

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “American Hypocrisy on Extradition

  1. Everyday I read articles or watch news segments that really piss me off, sometimes to the point of yelling at whatever screen the information is coming from. But there are some subjects that so anger and depress and exasperate me that I just tend to avoid them to preserve my already compromised sanity. This is one of those subjects.

    I have a somewhat conservative relative that I talk politics with once in a while. We actually agree more than you’d think, but this is one subject we have totally opposing views on. We got into an argument over Snowden and the Surveillance State and he brought up that common talking point: "Well, I don’t care if the government listens in on my phone calls because I don’t have anything to hide." I tried pointing out to him that he may actually have something to hide that he doesn’t realize. I told him about there being something like over 27,000 different laws in the books, and that he may be violating one or more of them without realizing it. And if the government ever wanted to prosecute him, they could find something to charge him with. I also pointed out that even if the current administration were to be only using the metadata to prevent terrorism, the next administration might use it to prosecute drug users and dealers, and eventually those who dissent politically.

    He still seemed to be coming up with talking points and apologetics, so I bluntly asked him if he wouldn’t mind having cameras, or just listening devices, in each room of his house. "Well, that’s different," he said. I asked how it was any different, how it was any more of a privacy invasion, and why that would be bad if he wasn’t doing anything wrong? He couldn’t come up with an answer to any of my questions.

    Once in a while I’ll break through to him on certain topics. I challenged him every time I got the chance when it came to his racism, and he has really turned around in that regard. Sometimes pointing out the ridiculousness of racism can actually work, it seems. But it’s been difficult to change his views on Muslims. He seems to intensely fear terrorism, and there hasn’t been much that would work to change that. I think that his fear of Muslims is at the heart of why he is in favor of the surveillance programs.

    Another thing I pointed out to him is this: he is very fearful of the government, almost conspiratorial. And being that he is an anti-government type, I asked him how, if the government is so bad, can he trust them with the power that comes with constant, blanket surveillance of the American public?

    I really don’t understand why so many of these anti-government people trust the government when it comes to surveillance, police, and military matters. It’s almost as if they don’t realize that the military is a part of the government.

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