Danny Schechter: Mandela and Snowden – Two Heroes With More In Common Than We Know

By Danny Schechter, who edits Mediachannel.org and blogs at Newsdissector.net. He worked at CNN, ABC News, and CNBC. He has directed 7 documentaries about Mandela, and in the 1960’s was spied on as an investigative reporter for Ramparts by the FBI, CIA and NSA. Please send comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

It’s been called “The Long Goodbye” with the world press suppying hourly updates on Nelson Mandela’s health with lots of speculation about when he will pass on. Now that he has been diagnosed as “critical,” he may not have long.

The massive media interest in Mandela is a remarkable tribute to a very special man who helped end apartheid while thrilling the world with his courage as the prisoner who became a President.

Its been said that Mandela has become, after Coca-Cola, the second best known brand in the world, so perhaps the media obsession is understandable given his popularity and status in the pantheon of liberators. What other ailing political leader gets this kind of sustained attention?

Admired public figures are in short supply these days as we can also see from the media treatment of whistleblower Edward Snowden. Many view as a hero – a majority of those surveyed – while, curiously, a majority of the punditocracy takes a more cynical view.

Many of our “thought leaders” ask if he isn’t really a traitor to be prosecuted rather than an information liberator to be hailed. The host of the “Meet The Press” program even asked Glenn Greenwald who has been reporting on the story, “Why shouldn’t you be in jail?”

Media insiders in high places tend to defer to and protect government officials and detest rebels. They are part of the establishment, not critics of it.

Clearly these two stories are very different, but there are some parallels that almost no one in the media is willing to acknowledge.

Both men are heroes to those who believe in freedom – the right to be free from racist laws in one case, and onerous spying in another.

Both men stood up against the powers to be. One was prosecuted and jailed; the other soon may be.

One was a radical movement and political liberation fighter. The other is more the loner and electronic liberation guerrilla, but also seen a part of a loose anarchistic affinity network that includes Bradley Manning, Wikileaks, Anonymous and many politically-conscious hactivists.

We can’t forget that Mandela was branded a terrorist for years, and hidden from media view. He was tried for treason and acquitted in a widely condemned trial in an apartheid era court that, in retrospect, may have been fairer that the ones Manning and his band of brothers faces (he was tried a second time and found guilty of sabotage).

Snowden, has now been denounced for treason and is now in the media eye but also the target of top politicians and the media syncophants that takes them seriously and who question his motives and impact.

In both cases, they’ve excite admirers who shower them with praise for a gutsy defense of liberty.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma – who has, in many ways, betrayed Mandela’s moral mandates–nevertheless says his country not only admires him but needs him:

“We need him to be with us,” he said. “We are all feeling it, that our president, the real father of democracy in South Africa is in the hospital.” Snowden’s followers seem to be expressing a similar need for someone crafty and willing to put his life at risk to challenge Big Brother.

What many in the media choses not to remind us is that South Africa’s “real father of democracy” was actually caught and imprisoned, thanks to a tip from the very forces Snowden is fighting.

It was the CIA that had been tracking Mandela – with the less sophisticated surveillance technologies available then – and who tipped South Africa’s secret police as to his whereabouts

A June 10, 1990 New York Times report “quoted an unidentified retired official who said that a senior CIA officer told him shortly in after Mr. Mandela’s arrest, ‘We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch. We gave them every detail, what he would be wearing, the time of day, just where he would be.”

AP quoted Paul Eckel, then a senior CIA operative, as boasting that Mandela’s capture “was one of our greatest coups.” There were some earlier press reports in the 80’s about this CIA role too but they never triggered the scandal they should have. Somehow it was considered acceptable then that a secret US agency was in collusion with a white racist state battling freedom fighters.

This is a connection between Snowden and Mandela that may explain why American “intelligence” tends so often to be on the wrong side, or maybe just is the wrong side. Clearly our intelligence overlords had as their priority then what they do today: the protection of the global status quo.

More recently, cables released by Wikileaks published by five leading newspapers worldwide exposed private conversations with Mandela about his desire to meet Margaret Thatcher and correct her attitudes towards the South African struggle.

Another released cable exposed plans by then State President F.W. Deklerk to free Mandela – before those plans were made public.

Clearly we were spying on them but again, The US seems to have been protecting the guardians of white power.

Now the tables seem to have turned, at least in some respects, because of the courage of whistleblowers who took on a government committed to massive spying.

Despite his many detractors in the intelligence “business,” and its supporters in Congress and rationalizers in the press, Snowden’s actions seems to have turned him into a popular figure, writes Gary Stamper:

Edward Snowden…is coming across as the all-American hero according to a poll today that showed 70% support for him and his actions with the American public. Compare that with the popularity of Congress who is mostly calling for Snowden’s Bradley Manning moment. If he continues to elude the CIA and American Security Apparatus can’t catch him soon, his stock will soar as Americans pretty much love a heroic underdog.

One of the reporters from the Guardian newspaper who arranged with Snowden to meet in Hong Kong for interviews told the Associated Press that he had been contacted by “countless people” offering to pay for “anything [Snowden] might need.”

Congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian who Snowden supported with a campaign donation, fears for his life:

I’m worried about, somebody in our government might kill him with a cruise missile or a drone missile… we live in a bad time where American citizens don’t even have rights and that they can be killed, but the gentlemen is trying to tell the truth about what’s going on.

The while world is watching as Snowden so far eludes capture; Mandela, when underground, had been branded the “Black Pimpernel” when he avoided capture until the CIA turned him in.

Today, millions of Mandela’s supporters are bracing for the end of his life because of his age and an infirmity he contacted in prison. Sadly, Mandela has had not only has heath issues but also a family revolt on his hands with two daughters suing his lawyer and close friend who are administering a trust that he set up looking for money for themselves.

What is widely perceived as their greed is evidence of how the values Mandela fought fore are being corrupted in the new South Africa. When he was more politically active Mandela spoke out against this betrayal of the struggle that was his life.

He is a political genus, fortunately, with good genes, that allowed him to live long enough to complete what he called his “long walk to freedom.” He has written that that journey is not over for South Africa, even though it may be ending for him.

Snowden knows his travails may just be starting as he becomes an international outlaw, but one with access to secrets that the powerful want to keep secret. He faces many challenges to stay one step ahead of his pursuers who are indignant because he has so far outmaneuvered him.

Snowden’s stance grew out of his sense that the public was being abused by the rise of a technocratic and out of control surveillance leviathan.

The 94 year old Mandela and the 29 year old Snowden come from different parts of the world and fought differently in different eras. In their own ways, both Mandela (whose exploits will be featured in a major motion picture, out this fall) and Snowden have seized the public imagination.

Both are rebels of their eras. Both were denounced and denigrated for opposing governmental abuse, and, yet remain widely respected and admired.

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  1. Ray Duray

    BBC World News service just now reporting that Russian FM Lavrov stating that Edward Snowden did not cross into Russian territory last weekend.

        1. susan the other

          So maybe Snowden is one of two things: he is an NSA wedge driven between US hawks and Russian hawks, or he is a very privileged freedom fighter. But NO way is he the equivalent of Mandela. That is so offensive I could almost barf. Mandela is one of the greatest, most courageous people who ever dared to raise his own head above the muck. Snowden is not.

  2. nobody

    “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.”

    — George Orwell

    “It [took] Mr. Mandela more than a year to admit that he had ordered African National Congress security guards at ANC’s political headquarters in Johannesburg to shoot and ‘kill, if necessary’ a crowd of marchers from the mainly Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Eight were killed.”


    “During 1991–92 western governments, western think-tanks, the World Bank, and a range of business leaders put enormous energy into wooing Mandela and other ANC leaders with junkets and workshops where they were fed a steady diet of neoliberal economics. In addition, white South African businessmen formed the Brenthurst group that successfully wooed and co-opted key members of the ANC’s leadership, including Mandela… By the end of 1992 Mandela and Mbeki had been sold the neoliberal agenda. Thereafter they set to work realigning the ANC…so as to bring it into line with the Washington Consensus.”


  3. middle seaman

    Mandela represent a life long of struggle, imprisonment and establishment and leadership of a large democratic country. He finally broke superiority of the violent white people over non whites.

    Snowden risked his liberty and intentionally his life to reveal a major government secretive and undemocratic program. He is courageous. He is not Mandela.

    I find the comparison and the post bizarre.

    1. borkman

      The author is an expert on Mandela, so perhaps you should think twice.

      Snowden may never be tested the way Mandela was in prison, so this is an early call by Schechter. But Mandela made this statement at the end of his Rivona trial:

      “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

      Snowden says he is willing to die for his cause too. And he is at real risk of death or harsh imprisonment. It may not be as big and noble as Mandela’s but we have very few poeople willing to take that kind of risk for principle any more.

    2. from Mexico

      The thing that both Mandela and Snowden have in common is that they were, in the tradition of Socrates or Saint Francis de Assisi, willing to risk everything worldly, including life itself, for some higher calling. And I think it is irrevelevant whether that higher calling be articulated in secular or religious terms.

      Both Socrates and St. Francis were revolutionary and anarchistic, and subversive to the ruling order. Socrates was offered the option of desisting from his public examination of things, which doubtless spread uncertainty about established customs and beliefs. But he refused, claiming instead that “an unexamined life is not worth living.”

      Saint Francis asserted that the individual ought to obey God rather than man, with the will of God determined not by the teachings of the high priests, but by one’s own lights. Saint Frances (unlike another cleric of the high middle ages who came to similar conclusions, Peter Waldo) was more compliant than Socrates. St. Francis went to Rome and humbly submitted himself to the Pope. The Pope gave him permission, but with the caveat that he and his followers could only preach in dioceses where they had the permission of the local bishop. St. Francis obeyed the injunction, trusting that God would guide him and his brothers through this directive.

      The followers of St. Francis, however, were not so fortunate. Pope John XXII, for instance, excommunicated William of Ockham and condemned and hunted down the most zealous Franciscans, the so-called Fraticelli. But, as Michael Allen Gillespie points out:

      The church attempted to suppress nominalism, but these efforts had little impact. Ockham’s thought was censured in 1326 and repeatedly condemned from 1339 to 1347, but his influence continued to grow, and in the one hundred and fifty years after his death nominalism became one of the most powerful intellectual movements in Europe.

      As Gillespie goes on to point out, humanism, another important intellectual movement of the 14th century, “grew alongside and also out of nominalism.” Even though it resonated more with the secular philosophy of Socrates, it nevertheless also placed a focus on the individual and the human will.

      1. from Mexico

        The champions of the noble and the priestly castes of course didn’t take nominalism and humanism lying down. Chief among the defenders of conservatism and monarchism was the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. As Michael Allen Gillespie explains:

        Hobbes knew that the most natural human passion is fear. It is intrinsic to the way in which we are in the world, and in order to improve our lot, we need to acknowledge this fact. Hobbes believed that his contemporaries were unwilling to do so because they were misled by three false doctrines. The first was the scholastic vision of a harmonious world that was a manifestation of divine reason and justice. The second was the humanist idea that we can attain immortality through glorious deeds. The third was the teaching of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that portrayed death in the service of God as a form of martyrdom that guaranteed salvation… Such deceptions, however, could be exposed and overcome, thereby legitimizing our fear of violent death and promoting the use of reason to minimize or eliminate it.

        MICHAEL ALLEN GILLESPIE, The Theological Origins of Modernity

        Each person in Hobbes’ view is thus a self-interested individual who seeks self-preservation and to maximize his own powers and satisfaction. Questions about the afterlife, however, posed tremendous problems for political stability since the possibility of gaining eternal life in some cases could outweigh the desire to preserve this life.

        Moreover, in reducing human action to the pursuit of self-interest, Hobbes diminishes the importance of higher motives and like Machiavelli lowers the sights of the modern age.

  4. Velse

    Does it bother anyone that these young libertarians seem unaware that Ron (and Rand) Paul are only troubled by *government* spying? They’d have no problem with Verizon spying on its own accord, and object strenuously if the government tried to intervene… I’m certain that Mandela is far more sophisticated in his understanding of political issues.

    1. rob

      Libertarians don’t seem to notice anything.They don’t even really exist anymore.Like the tea party.Sure they can fill a stadium at a rally paid for by their corporate sponsors,but to ask any of them about their inconsistancies in thought.Their illogical conclusions that some things speak to freedom, and others are not for them to interfere with.This type of superficial critical analysis,makes me say they, as a group are “posers”.They are “posing”, to be what they are pretending to be.

      Ron paul, while sometimes saying something right.Has always then screwed up what he was saying by his allegience to a non-critical assumption that the gov’t doesn’t need to “do anything”.For the last ten years, ron paul has been more visibly bending over to make nice with the establishment.I say the reason why is his aquiesence for the sake of his sons political career.
      Rand paul is a pure creation of nepotism.He has no other reason to exist.He is a total hack.Completely hypocritical.A tea party pretender, who lives on the largesse of a gov’t job.
      Ron paul could have been a better instigator if he wasn’t securing a job for life for his son.a common pitfall.

    2. from Mexico

      And why is it so difficult for the defenders of bad government to acknowledge the fact that the opponents of bad government can, when government is bad, find common cause with those who are opposed to all government, good or bad? As Aristotle noted, “the good man can be a good citizen only in a good state.” And the converse is true as well: In a bad state, a good man is a bad citizen.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its simple. If the Obots acknowledge Snowden as a hero in any way, it makes Obama a villain or makes the Obots themselves morally culpable for applauding Obama’s every step. If they are religious, they are trying to fool God through technicalities and by arguing over the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin (its 17).

        Libertarians have a long history of being republicans who don’t want to be called republicans, and they are trying to paint everyone with that brush to avoid the morally responsibility they have brought on themselves.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      At the moment they are making common cause, so I don’t particularly care.

      In case you were confused, the guy who came out this kind of behavior won in 2008 along with historic majorities running on the same message of opposing this violation of civil liberties. Excuses about the other views and intellectual laziness of libertarians is an attempt to subvert from the point of “quis custodiet ipsos custodes.” This is the story, not the hypocrisy of libertarians or Republicans because that is well known, and they can be beaten on a positive message without the appearance of pandering.

  5. mad as hell.

    Obama once again finds himself between a rock and a hard place. What are supposed to be the some of the best US security agencies in the Western World and yet are unable to locate a lone whistle blower could qualify for a script for a Will Farrell movie. Can you say Boston Marathon Bomber? Maybe you can get congress to approve a few billion for training.

    If some how the Keystone Kops do stumble upon Mr. Snowden and ” bring him to justice” the protests and the rallies against the administration will cause a black eye upon the Obama government that will be quite painstaking and revealing.

    All in all Mr. President just another example of your legacy.

  6. rob

    My guess is that these two men were heros, of circumstance.They were heros because they knew right from wrong.They were heros because they saw fit to put personal security at stake to address,however they could to attempt to fight the injustice before them.Circumstances, allowed them to make the headlines,which then allowed them to be known.My guess is that most people who make heroic stances,die.get buried in an unmarked grave, or some other means to oblivion.
    They don’t have to be perfect.They just had to be.
    Look at ghandi,martin luther king,and anyone else who spoke for freedom of the human spirit.Even jefferson and madison, wrote for the freedom of the human spirit.they penned the bill of rights.The part of a document that made “american way” have a meaning.This despite the genocide which was to last for a century.or the enslavement of a race, which was also around for centuries.
    As “from Mexico”,pointed out, this “american way”, was around since the days of socrates.and inluded a jew named jesus.but, like socrates,jesus, cincinattus, and all the rest. Those fighting for an equality,a fairness…are usually jailed/killed by the powers that be.
    Americans are being taught not to believe in the “american way”, any more.generations now, believe in the king and his rule of law…They don’t know right from wrong.Hopefully more people wake up to the fact that what snowden and manning and wikileaks are doing is a chapter in this “american way”.
    The united states is falling short of the promise of the bill of rights.It seems like the americans who are promotong the “good” side , are doing it in the southern continent.

  7. TomDor

    The security state always has to make some shit up to convey how important they are to the safety of the nation. Of course, they have to make sure to scare enough people, so the people will swallow the BS. Apparently, they have to do this in secrecy because, if the truth came out, they would be exposed for what they are — sort of like the Wizard of Oz hiding behind the curtain — a big production for effect and nothing more. Of course the private corporations that wish to profit big-time need to maintain the illusion.

    Any politician that wishes to give up freedoms for a little security (to paraphrase Ben Franklin), deserve neither. So I propose to call out those pundits and politicians who play the scare game for who they are —- Scare mongers and COWARDS, self interested idiots and treasonous asses.

  8. LAS

    In its response to Snowdon, our government leaders reveal themselves as run amuck. Their self-justifications are foolishly made and their accusations of other persons and nations are not carefully made. IMO, they’ve done themselves greater damage than Snowdon has done them. I do not have a clear concept of Snowdon’s true motives, but the motives of our government officials seems not what it should be, unhinged even.

    First, I can’t get past thinking that a direct tip from Russia on the Boston marathon bomber was paid too little heed by US security agencies. Whereas these same agencies maintain a neccessity to apply surveillance on millions of Americans under no suspicion whatsoever and even save that surveillance for possible later perusal. Officials have produced NO evidence that the only way to keep America safe is surveillance as opposed to lawful investigative and they seem more distracted than targeted.

    Second, how is it that government and corporate secrets are so much more precious or worthy than personal secrets of individual people? Is it that surveillance of 300 million persons is of less consequence than 1 person surveilling the surveillance? Why should the American people be passive and accepting of surveillance when the American officials doing it are so obviously not themselves?

    Justice depends on our understanding of this. When I vote, I don’t mean it as choosing a controlling agent but a representative of we the people. Justice is in the respect and reciprocity between individuals and entities. Law really comes second.

  9. Z

    Just thought of an excellent way for us subjects to taunt our rulers: wear Edward Snowden masks!


  10. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for this article, Danny Schechter. It is not a comparison that is readily obvious. I hope Mr. Snowden has not been “disappeared”, as has occurred historically elsewhere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_War

    His revelations and the potential for their abuse are deeply troubling.

  11. JEHR

    People aren not “brands.” Mandela is more important than coca cola–more in a league with Winston Churchill, I would say. I am pretty sick of people always using business terms to describe everything they see!

  12. clarenceswinney

    Can she use Bill and duplicate this outstanding record?
    GDP–rose from 6300 to 11,600
    NATIONAL INCOME-5,000 to 8,000 Billion–took 20 years to grow 2500B before Clinton
    JOBS CREATED–over 22 million–record by far
    AVERAGE WEEKLY HOURS WORKED–never hit 35.0–hit that  mark 4 times in 80’s
    UNEMPLOYMENT–from 7.2% down down down to 3.9%
    WELFARE TO WORK—11,533,710 on federal roll in 1996 and 3,880,321 in 2007.
    MINIMUM WAGE–$4.25 to $5.15
    MINORITIES–did exceedingly well
    HOME OWNERSHIP–hit all time high
    DEFICIT–290 Billion to whoopee a SURPLUS
    DEBT—-+28%—300% increase over prior12 years
    FEDERAL SPENDING–+28%—80% under Reagan- who da true conservative?
    DOW JONES AVERAGE–3,500 to 11,800  all it’s history to get to 3500 and Clinton zooms it
    NASDAQ–700 to 5,000—all of it’s history to get to 700 and Clinton zooms it
    VALUES INDEXES– almost all bad went down–good went up in zoom zoom zoom
    FOREIGN AFFAIRS–Peace on Earth good will toward each other—Mark of a true Christian–what has Bush done to Peace on Earth?
    POPULARITY—highest poll ratings  in history during peacetime in  AFRICA, ASIA AND EUROPE even 98.5% in Moscow–left office with highest gallup rating since it was started in 1920’s.
    STAND UP FOR JUSTICE–evil conservatives spent $110,000,000 on hearings and investigations and caught— ONE— very evil man who took a few plane rides to events.
    BOW YOUR HEADS–Thank you God for sending us a man of Bill Clinton’s character, intelligence, knowledge of governance, ability to face up to crises without whimpering and a great leader of the world.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Or his wife over Obama. Of course Bill never broke 50% in 92 or 96. He ushered in Republican Congresses and the further corporatization of the Democrats. Dean’s tenure at the DNC was a rejection of Clinton era hacks.

        Bill’s popularity is shallow but widespread.

  13. mac

    I can find nothing in common between Snowden and Mandela!
    I do not agree with the actions of either of them but at least Mandela had
    better intentions.

  14. TC

    How about parallels with Oswald? Is Snowden being sheep dipped?

    Gee, manufactured anomosity with China and Russia Snowden is creating seems rather a vexing curiosity, particularly as these two nations are breaking an Anglo-American imperialist drive in Syria to increase sectarian violence throughout the Middle East. Weakening a president who at least has shown willingness to resist war mongerers in Congress is not my idea of sound political posture.

    Rather than paying too much tribute to Snowden’s “revelation” of things already known to anyone not brain dead (see Naomi Wolf’s “End of America”), our energies might be better spent pressing for a criminal indictment against Senator John McCain for his recent excursion into Syria to meet with that nation’s disjointed insurrectionists who haven’t even the decency to put forward a Declaration of Independence before cutting out the hearts of their oppressors and eating them.

    The breach of civil liberties putting Obama’s anti-war base in a tizzy is rather less vexing than the continuing drive to destroy the authority of the sovereign nation state being waged by a Venetian-modeled oligarchy whose recent years’ efforts have been centered on imposing a banking dictatorship with impunity, through policies possessing very little resemblance to those whose effect surely would fortify mankind’s inalienable rights. So, rather to counter this, in addition to calling for McCain’s criminal indictment we should be insisting on the nationalization of the Fed and its transformation into a Hamiltonian national bank.

    Today’s long-established state of permanent war bankrupting the nation and furthering a parallel effort to destroy the principal and authority of the sovereign nation state without whose existence there can be no civil rights protection is the first order of resistance. Although I’m no supporter of this president’s policy initiatives generally speaking, his resistance to escalating war in Syria is useful, paricularly as both the bankrupt British and French are pushing for greater U.S. involvement, as ever showing their willingness to fight to the last American. So, as much as civil rights breaches are a concern, war promoting a weakening of the sovereign state–both that of the target and of its prosecutors–is a bigger problem still. Better to resist this first than get behind a crowd whose intention plainly is directed toward weakening the institution of the U.S. presidency. Snowden’s effect vividly reveals this intention, while his background tragically is being given a free pass from effective scrutiny. Coming from the mainstream media, this is to be expected, particularly when he’s an asset of the “all things are not what they seem” variety. Truth is credible threats to the national security state always, always, always are villified in the mainstream media. We should never forget this. How does a high-school dropout earn $200k at the NSA and CIA then become a so-called whistleblower? If we’re not gonna be dupes, we need answers. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Weakening a president who at least has shown willingness to resist war mongerers in Congress ”

      What President is this? Obama’s current efforts to backtrack on Syria came after polling has demonstrated no one wants to go to Syria. Obama came up with the red line crap 7 months ago.

      1. TC

        Seven months ago… Saying what had to be said in order to be re-elected, that criticism from Reb Romney might be diffused? After all, there’s no logic to Assad using chemical weapons, so what harm is there creating a “red line” the president could be fairly certain would never be crossed?

        Not to suggest any president is ever afforded the luxury of passing the buck assigning responsibility for reprehensible actions, but the intricacies of the U.S. presidency are becoming evident to me in a way like I have never before understood. The extent to which a president is an ambition manager rather than a promulgator of his or her own ambition probably is the measure by which we could judge the strength or weakness of the institution of the U.S. presidency. Supposing the use of armed drones in Pakistan and Yemen, the murder of American citizens absent due process, warrantless detention of U.S. citizens, the overthrow of foreign leaders and the cold blooded murder of one at the conclusion of an undeclared, unconstitutional war, as well as a blind eye turned to rampant fraud and criminality exposed throughout the banking system, etc, etc, etc are not this president’s ambition, his position of weakness is better understood. Not until Obama’s purge of high ranking military officers at the start of his second term (responding to the Benghazi coup attempt), then this Snowden thing seeking to weaken his base for the sake of pressuring the president into aggressive action against Syria did I really give deserved consideration to this matter of the president’s “strength” or “weakness” from a practical perspective taking into account the greater ambition of the various elements making up the institution of the presidency.

        So, supplementing my original comments, we might conclude a weakened institution of the U.S. presidency lies at the root of civil liberties abuses. Obviously, the so-called “rogue state” principally is responsible for this, pursuing ambition with little or no regard for constitutional principle. That’s why rising above the Snowden tide offers promise of frustrating the oligarchy who animate this subversive body, as it is likely Snowden is one of their own, whether he knows it or not.

    2. allcoppedout

      There were days when we Brits and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys just happened to have 80,000 strong armies killing time near the Suez Canal. The fighting to the last American stance is a product of not letting us invade most of the middle east back then under the false flag ‘policing action’.
      British ‘balance of power’ lunacy generally involved encouraging Germans and Russians to fight each other to a standstill and inviting Americans late to the party. I think it more likely French and UK roles are as US stooges now.

      Otherwise spot on TC.

      1. TC

        Point well taken. Henceforth I will refrain from such rhetoric. Your clarification alludes to that “leading from behind” posture the left in the U.S. ruling class are characterized taking as witting parts forwarding imperialist agendas. Yet even on the left occasionally are signs of overt brazenness. To wit, take Bill Clinton’s recently calling Obama a “whimp” if he doesn’t attack Syria. No doubt seeking to aid the presidential aspirations of his wife, Jackboots Jane. Nevertheless, a dispicable stab in the back from a former U.S. president who should know better than directly impose his views in this manner.

  15. allcoppedout

    We have more surveillance in the UK. Nearly all our legislation concerns warrants that will justify the intelligence as evidence in court, rather than stopping or prosecuting agencies doing surveillance without warrant.

    I’m not sure Snowden had told us anything not already in the public domain. I’m not sure about Mandela as South Africa is more or less a one-party State. I doubt Churchill as a great figure for that matter.

    Of course, we should be on the streets protesting and de-Googling. We ain’t. Even Machiavelli argued for countervailing forces in his republic. I’ve lost all faith in higher morality stuff because it is so easy to fake.

  16. rich

    Dirty Wars author Jeremy Scahill: is journalism being criminalised? – video interview

    In the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA files, Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and featured reporter in the new documentary film of the same name, says under the Obama administration journalists are being intruded upon and whistleblowers are being charged with crimes. Scahill is also a national security correspondent for the Nation


  17. skippy

    Russia and China deny helping Snowden

    Tues 25/06/13: Russia and China have both lashed out tonight after they were criticised by the US Government over the handling of the Edward Snowden saga. Hamish Macdonald speaks to Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Age


    skippy… Rule of Law… barak… Rule of Law… barrrak~

  18. skippy

    Russia and China deny helping Snowden

    Tues 25/06/13: Russia and China have both lashed out tonight after they were criticised by the US Government over the handling of the Edward Snowden saga. Hamish Macdonald speaks to Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Age


    Skippy…. New beer drinking game: every time someone says – Rule of Law – you drink. That way were so diminished that nothing matters anymore… burning in the flames of lies and deceit… but giggling as our critical thinking melts…

  19. Elliot

    Thank you Mr. Schecter for this.

    Well said.. by someone who knew much more about Mandela than the Obotians currently pissing themselves to denigrate Snowden. (Here’s a tip, y’all: Obama will not reward your loyalty with loyalty.)

    I used to be bemused that anyone ever voted for Obama, now I am angry at those who voted for him twice.

    And thank you, from Mexico, for your insights.

  20. RBHoughton

    Thank you Mr Schechter for the background to Mandela’s arrest. I did not know that.

    I have been perplexed by what has been published of the history of ANC dissent and rise to power. Mandela’s own book ‘long road to freedom’ clarifies details of the non-violent and violent struggle but the question remains – why, after such a long and debilitating civil war, did the ANC instantly hand-over the country to the bankers and commodity brokers who presently run it? That was a gross offence to those who had helped remove the Nationalists and the South African people are still paying for it, as though no revolution occurred at all.

    Your revelation of CIA involvement allows one to make some assumptions about that.

  21. Kunst

    The host of the “Meet The Press” program even asked Glenn Greenwald who has been reporting on the story, “Why shouldn’t you be in jail?”

    “Because your leaders are criminals and I helped expose them. I would be in jail in Russia or China, Turkey or Egypt. Is the US all that different?”

  22. Kunst

    I wish I lived nearer to DC. I would take a day off work to walk back and forth in front of the White House with a two-sided sign:

    1) Edward Snowden is a patriot. You are George III.

    2) I am Edward Snowden.

  23. Kunst

    Our founding fathers were all traitors who “betrayed their country” in the eyes of the English crown. Go back and read the Bill of Rights, especially the Fourth Amendment in this context. They risked their lives for what Snowden has stood up for.

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