Our prissy Secretary of State John Kerry, hair carefully coiffed for his interview, told NBC’s Brian Williams last week that fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should “man up” and return to the US to “stand in our system of justice and make his case.”
The supposedly ‘manly’ Kerry (whose claim to ‘courage’ is having employed the high-calibre machine gun mounted on his Mekong River gunboat to blow away unarmed fishermen and lightly armed Viet Cong freedom fighters, or having called in air strikes on them) has been hiding his later youthful history of standing up against the Vietnam War, and of condemning American war crimes there. He surely knows from his carefully buried past as a critic of the Vietnam War plenty of fellow American veterans, as well as Vietnam-era deserters and also draft resisters, who did just that – they ‘made their case’ in ‘our system of justice’.
And Kerry also surely knows what happened to them: most ended up getting shuffled off to jail by an American “justice” system that, particularly when it comes to national security and opposition to the state, operates on the Lewis Carroll principle of “verdict first, trial afterwards.”
Yet Kerry, in that same NBC interview with Williams, forged right on and, as the fourth man in line under the US constitution to assume the Presidency if something were to happen to the president, vice president and speaker of the House, declared that Snowden is guilty as charged, saying, “This is a man who has betrayed his country.”
Um…What trial decided that, Mr Secretary? The one you want him to come submit to?
And Kerry is not alone in convicting Snowden in absentia and without a trial. He is only echoing the sentiments of his boss, President Barack Obama, who has already made it clear that he thinks Snowden is guilty under the Espionage Act – that hoary World War I-era law that his administration has revivified from a legal crypt to prosecute whistleblowers and under which Snowden has been indicted by the US Justice Department.
The nation’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, has also said he thinks Snowden belongs in the slammer (though he promised Russia that Snowden, if handed over to the US for arrest, would not be tortured, and that if convicted, would not be executed).
As Holder put it, in a question-and-answer session worthy of Lewis Carroll held at the University of Virginia Law School, his office would be “willing to discuss” a deal with Snowden, but only if Snowden first pleaded guilty! As he said in a statement released by the Justice Department, “If he is prepared to plead guilty (to federal charges related to leaking an enormous amount of NSA documents), the Justice Department is prepared to discuss with his lawyers how he could return to this country.”
And that is the legal/prosecutorial machine which Secretary of State Kerry is referring to when he suggests Snowden should come home and agree to “face the music” in “our system of justice.”
Let’s be clear here. As Kerry surely knows, Snowden, under the Espionage Act, would not even be allowed to present – even at the sentencing phase of any trial – an argument justifying his decision to copy the NSA data, and to provide it to journalists. Nor, under the Espionage Act, would he be permitted to argue that the data had been unconstitutionally obtained by the NSA, or that it was improperly classified as secret. None of that would be permitted. All he would have a right to do would be to attempt the impossible and try to prove that he did not steal the data.
That is not a genuine trial. That is a witch-hunt. It is a star-chamber trial, like those routinely orchestrated in Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia. Snowden doesn’t need to prove his machismo. He has displayed more guts in singlehandedly exposing the staggering crimes of the NSA and the Obama administration against the American people, and the people of the world, than John Kerry has shown in his entire sorry life.
By: Dave Lindorff
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