Wolf Richter: Nobel Peace Prize, Asylum For Snowden – Germans Turn Up Heat

Yves here. The last two Snowden revelations have kicked up the public and even official unhappiness over pervasive NSA spying a notch further. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the NSA and hear all the consternation.

The first was that the NSA, often with the help of other nations, had spied on 35 heads of state, including Angela Merkel. Second was that the agency was hoovering up all the data from Yahoo’s and Google’s could servers outside the US, evidently intercepting traffic en route to the data centers. There’s been a diplomatic firestorm, with calls for explanations and increased demands for measures to defend Europe’s privacy standards. There have also been calls to delay negotiations of the EU-US sovereignity sellout trade pact called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. However, at least so far, this appears to be mainly a combination of posturing (both domestically and to get better terms for pet national interests) and diversion (the calls for delay are so far not the result of reservations about the pact as much as not wanting to look like US stooges right now).

But all the positive press attention in Germany over Snowden could have some unintended consequences. First, it keep the spy story in the limelight. Second, Germany pols are making pro-Snowden noises, which means they’ll have to do some very fancy footwork if and when they return to the TTIP.

Similarly, Eric Schmidt of Google has roused himself to say bad things about the NSA. He sort of had to, in that he wouldn’t look like much of leader if he didn’t. So his remarks in a Wall Street interview tonight (basically of the “if this is true, we are really mad, and the yield on all this data collection is so low as to make this look like a ridiculous waste of resources” sort). The real tell will be if we see Schmidt and other CEOs acting in any sort of concerted manner to push back against surveillance state creep. If not, this was just an effort at damage control

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Cross posted from Testosterone Pit.

While the US government wants to get its hands on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and crucify him properly, the German government remains red-faced and tangled up in its own underwear over revelations that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s very own Handy was bugged by the NSA. Yet the German intelligence service, like those of other countries, has cooperated tightly with the NSA and its British sister, the GCHQ, to build an all-encompassing, borderless, seamless surveillance society. And they all have become information omnivores.

So the government is trying to doge this mess. I say “government” in a rhetorical sense because Germany doesn’t actually have a government. The winner in the September elections, the conservative CDU/CSU, and the second largest party, the left-leaning SPD, are still churning their coalition negotiations. Compromises are apparently hard to come by.

Nevertheless, the government that doesn’t yet exist doesn’t want any more of these embarrassing details to bubble up. Germany is a mercantilist state. Exports are more important than anything else. It runs a massive trade surplus with the US. And mucking up the previously cozy transatlantic relationship, as the Snowden debacle is in the process of doing, would be a horror. But Snowden’s revelations trickle out relentlessly like Chinese water torture, and now there is a groundswell of support in Germany to offer him asylum.

And not only that. Die Zeit, the influential paper that is taking the journalistic high road, has proposed on its front page that Snowden should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

We have to thank Snowden for our knowledge of the breadth and depth of the spying operations, guest contributor Malte Spitz wrote. “But we owe him protection.” Snowden is paying a hefty price: he lives on the lam and faces decades in prison for treason. To protect him isn’t “anti-Americanism,” Spitz wrote. “He doesn’t deserve punishment but the Nobel Peace Prize!”

That the NSA bugged Merkel’s Handy made her “living proof” of the “limitless, outrageous, and blunt” work of secret services that are “far removed from parliamentary control” and “governmental oversight.” She grew up in former East Germany under the Stasi spy apparatus. Because of this “biography,” she should have a “fine nose” for the limits that intelligence services must never cross. It should be clear to her that personal liberty “must be protected from the reach of the state apparatus.” And that was also true for encroachments by authorities of other countries.

“The perversion of the fight against terrorism must be stopped,” he wrote. Intelligence services would have to be reined in “so that they won’t further undermine human rights.” And Merkel “must build and lead a coalition of the willing” to negotiate no-spy agreements, cancel existing banking and air-passenger data transfer agreements, and pass laws that would protect whistleblowers.” And she should make sure Snowden gets asylum in Germany.

She wouldn’t even have to pick him up at the airport or invite him to the Chancellery. She merely should call Obama and explain to him that the cornerstone of democracy, the rule of law, is crumbling, and that her decision about Snowden “is to be accepted.”

Not to be outdone, the Spiegel, largest German magazine and recipient of numerous Snowden documents, published on Sunday “A Manifest for the Truth,” a one-page text – behind its paywall – that Snowden had written in Moscow and had sent to the Spiegel via “an encrypted channel” [the quotes are my re-translation back into English, normally a total no-no]:

While the NSA and the GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – as the documents that are now public suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a global problem and needs a global solution. Such programs are not only a threat to privacy, but they also endanger the freedom of opinion and open societies.

At the beginning, “some governments” felt exposed by the revelations of “mass surveillance systems” and initiated a “persecution campaign without precedent” to repress the debate, intimidating journalists and criminalizing the publication of the truth. “Today we know that this was a mistake,” Snowden wrote. “The debate that they wanted to prevent is now taking place in countries around the world.”

And he closed, naively perhaps, that “speaking the truth is not a crime.”

US government officials and lawmakers weren’t impressed. “Mr. Snowden violated US law; he should return to the US and face justice,” said White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday. The White House would throw the book at Snowden.

Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Select Committee on Intelligence, told CBS that Snowden, if he’d been a real whistleblower, would have reported his quibbles to her committee. “We would have seen him, and we would have looked at that information. That didn’t happen, and now he has done this enormous disservice to our country,” she said, furious that her committee never had the chance to immediately suppress everything. “The answer is no clemency,” she said.

So, last week German Green party MP Hans-Christian Ströbele surprised everyone by heading to Moscow and meeting with Snowden and then revealed that Snowden would be willing to brief the German government on NSA spying activities. Ströbele had shown Merkel what could be done if someone just wanted to do it. And suddenly everyone wanted to do it and head to Moscow and talk to Snowden.

To add to the increasingly hot debate, the Spiegel greeted Merkel Sunday morning with “Asylum for Snowden: ‘Welcome Edward.’” It trotted out all sorts of German luminaries, from politicians to musicians. Axel Schäfer, deputy chief of the SPD, told the Spiegel: “Snowden is a hero, not a traitor” and exhorted the government to find a way to grant him asylum. Others chimed in. Then there was former CDU General Secretary, now part-time apostate, Heiner Geißler. It’s “imperative” that Snowden receive asylum in Germany, he said. Sure, the transatlantic relationship might suffer, but what the heck. “Snowden has done the Western world a great service,” he said. “Now it’s up to us to help him.”

How the German government, once it finally exists, will deal with it remains uncertain. Snowden’s revelations have trampled on some nerves, have revealed too much about German data gathering activities, and have left Merkel red-faced. Germany is unlikely to abandon its mercantilist nature, and the collective power of Germany AG is unlikely to remain silent for long, just to save Snowden’s hide. So a Nobel Peace Prize, sure, why not. It has been awarded to all sorts of people. But he better stay in Russia.

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  1. from Mexico

    Germany is an interesting case.

    There are three Western countries which are prime candidates to be the first to bolt from the US/NATO/anglophone alliance. These are Germany, Spain and Australia.

    Granted, Germany, what with its mercantilist economy, currently needs US markets. But running consistent trade surpluses and recycling the surpluses to deficit countries is not sustainable.

    But there’s another factor, and that is that Germany also needs natural resources, something which Russia has in spades. As the US military continues to demonstrate its incompetence and inability in controlling the flow of oil and gas out of the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia into Europe, Germany might just do its own “pivot,” towards Russia and/or Asia.

    It’s interesting that Germany didn’t jump on either the Iraq or Libya bandwagons, and that it was in the lead-up to the Iraq war that the US began spying on the intransigent German leaders.

    The BBC special The Spies Who Fooled the World does a wonderful job of deleniating the differences which separate the German intelligence agencies from those of the US and the UK in that lead-up to the Iraq war.

    The US and UK intelligence agencies are merely propaganda tools. Their sole purpose is to manufacture the lies and misinformation to justify perpetual war. Germany’s intelligence agencies, if the documentary is to be believed, haven’t yet sunk to that level.

    The documentary can be seen on Youtube:


    1. Jim Haygood

      My sentiments exactly. NATO’s raison d’être ended when the Soviet Union collapsed. No longer protecting Europe from any credible threat, NATO now uses German soil as a forward air base for wars of aggression in southwest Asia.

      Germans have enough sense to stop prostituting their national sovereignty to a military occupier that combines the external aggression of the Hitler regime with the internal surveillance obsession of former East Germany’s Stasi.

      Good riddance, NATO. As in every hypertrophied bureaucracy, NATO’s American leadership didn’t know when to declare victory and go home.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Well said. Unfortunately, the Empire doesn’t care to release its grip just yet, and so NATO, along with the various regional commands of the US military are not just going to wither away. Rather, they are are likely to remain there precisely so that the Empire can squat down like the proverbial dog in the manger astride the channels of commerce, since our own national Elites have chosen to deindustrialize our own economy (to the detriment of the citizenry) and stake their fortunes with transnational corporations and cartels, intellectual property vampirism, and the freedom to shuffle the hot money around to advantage themselves. US citizens they now despise as lesser beings since they have superempowered themselves through these strategems, but they still find the threat of US military power useful to advance their aims.

        Peace dividends ain’t in the cards, and never were; the interests of the Elites run counter to the interests of the general citizenry and their aspirations for the well-being of themselves and their offspring. Frankly, the Elite view US citizens as having no role other than as milk cows for taxes needed to sustain their Ponzi schemes of State capture (Wall Street bailouts and such), cannon fodder for the military they use as a club abroad, and useful idiots persuadable to voting against their own interests and thereby perpetuating the rigged system of Elite control.

        Our Misleaders don’t give a flying fuck about the welfare of the citizenry. In their innermost thoughts, they believe that the extension of the franchise was a gross mistake, something that they saw come back to bite them with FDR. In order to cement their stranglehold over the nation, they preserve the APPEARANCES of a functional Republic (with some little irony), but behind the scenes they do everything that lies within their power to deprive the citizenry of authentic access to the levers of power and policy making.

    2. different clue

      My understanding of events is that the spies did not manufacture the lies. Their supervising politicrats and directorcrats manufactured the lies. Actual spies and analysts were telling all kinds of truths to McClatchey Newspapers. Cheney tried pressing them very hard for the needed lies. This is discussed now and then on Colonel Lang’s Sic Semper Tyrannis blog.

    3. Fiver

      Agree, and have argued here at NC for a long time that relentlessly aggressive US policy from Iraq to Climate Change to the disaster that a generation of US/European policy-makers set in motion with the Trans Atlantic Union project, of which the EU was Phase 1, through the fall of the Soviets, re-unification, and above all the financial crisis, Germany has been treated to a steady stream of policy defeats or rebuffs whenever the US takes a seat at the table – which is always, as we now know. Germans also saw Japan blown apart financially, exposing the grim reality that, as you say, absent resources, and absent a global trade regime designed by decent human beings which can’t be manipulated by the largest player, advanced industrial economies either export, or head straight into a debt cycle with no bottom.

  2. Adriannzinha

    Color me a skeptic.

    Among the masses and real working people, sure I’ll take a flyer that Snowden’s profile has risen significantly and for good reason.

    Germany though? It doesn’t really pain me to say as it is rather clear that their interest in Snowden is nothing but a grand photo-op to prop up Frau Merkel. Oh and Mr. Obama they’ll say, we need to change that pending European free-trade agreement from 80-20 to 70-30 thanks to all these messy spying allegations.

    Perhaps the most laughable aspect, and there have been many, of this entire affair is the fake outrage from other countries who found out the NSA fancied their every word. All of them – Germany, Brazil with Rousseff in a tiff, all readily denied Snowden asylum but now take his revelations as justification for anger.

    Sure, sure, there is some real anger about this among foreign governments, but mostly because they understand that all of this getting out in the eyes of the public undermines their supposed independence. They also put 2 and 2 together to sum up that they are being spied on for the financial behest and benefit of American corporations.

    Snowden going to Germany would IMO be a dubious prospect for him. The Germans, nor the Brazilians are really seeking any sort of independence from Washington – I think they’d just like to have better terms for the deals. Merkel would hand over Snowden or rather perhaps conveniently let him be (pick your poison: disappeared, extradited ) if it suited her purposes.

    1. Banger

      I wouldn’t blame Brazil or any other country that chose not to offer Snowden asylum. They were all threatened with trade sanctions and worse so it would not have been a good idea, particularly for Brazil.

    2. Fiver

      That view, that it’s all a big, hypocritical “show of anger” is precisely what the US, its various intel agencies, its Executive Branch, and mainstream media want you to believe.

      You leave out of your analysis:

      1) It has been revealed the US has a preferential agreement with other Anglo nations, forming the “Five Eyes” global surveillance network. Germany, Brazil, France, the rest of non-Anglo NATO do not have such sweeping arrangements. By its very nature, it is deeply tribal, exclusive and therefore threatening.

      2) Do others spy? Yes. But with toys relative to what the US is able to pull off given the truly gigantic sums of money spent. That has been true since the end of WWII. The US spent the Soviets into the ground, and they intend to use its Empire’s resources to do the same with China and a revitalized Russia. Allies would not dream of targeting US officials in the same manner as the US has to all 35 countries named to date.

      3) As alluded to above, it was the US which embarked on a globally dominating trajectory. In truth, everyone, including “allies” has been on defense ever since – Israel excepted.

      4) At least some politicians care deeply about their countries, and, playing defense, must take full advantage of strategic opportunities. I believe Merkel would love nothing better than to be out from under US dominion, a sentiment clearly resonating with the public mood in Germany. Every time Germany is the public object of US power politics as if it was still guilty of something and second-rate to boot brings the day the German elite parts ways closer.

      5) Even if this or that Government sleazes it up entirely, even embracing the total spectrum belligerence of current US policy, say Canada’s Prime Minister Harper’s gleeful acceptance of everything the NSA or Drones or the neocons have to offer, that simply exemplifies a case of abuse of power so great as to be the obligation of the next Government to reverse in the name of the public interest, with the perpetrators rounded up and brought to justice for deliberately destroying the future of the country – exactly what Obama failed to do at the outset, the greatest political failure of all time.

  3. from Mexico

    Yves said:

    Similarly, Eric Schmidt of Google has roused himself to say bad things about the NSA.

    That’s an about face for Schmidt, because just a couple of months ago he was downplaying the crimes of the NSA and was out front and center in attacking Dilma Rousseff’s proposals to wean the world off of the US’s dominion of the internet:

    When Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff postponed her official visit to the US in protest of National Security Agency spying activities on Tuesday, it seemed like a routine bit of diplomatic posturing.

    But another one of her proposals could perhaps be more significant: a set of measures intended to extricate the internet in Brazil from under the influence of the US and its tech giants….

    “The hope that Brazil has is that the measures would curb the control the US has in terms of infrastructure and that maybe it will be a pressure for the United States to change its practices that came to knowledge after the Snowden leak,” said Marilia Maciel, a researcher who works on Internet security policy at Brazil’s Fundacao Getulio Vargas.

    To do this, Rousseff proposed a set of ambitious, and controversial, measures that include: constructing submarine cables that do not route through the US, building internet exchange points in Brazil, creating an encrypted email service through the state postal service and having Facebook, Google and other companies store data by Brazilians on servers in Brazil.

    “I think that there is a feeling that the US has always had a prominent role in internet governance and they want to change that,” Maciel said. “The conversation is under way, and it became prominent last year at Dubai.”

    It’s the conversation at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) Dubai that has internet executives offering alarmist warnings about a balkanized internet that suppresses online freedom. There, Russia and China explicitly stated their hopes to take control of the internet away from the US.

    At a discussion in New York last week, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said he was more concerned about a balkanized internet than NSA surveillance and government spying.

    The real danger [from] the publicity about all of this is that other countries will begin to put very serious encryption – we use the term ‘balkanization’ in general – to essentially split the internet and that the internet’s going to be much more country specific,” Schmidt said. “That would be a very bad thing, it would really break the way the internet works, and I think that’s what I worry about.”


    1. Banger

      Google has its own plan for world domination–using the national security state to help bring it about–they are very much into the Singularity.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I agree it’s a change, but saying bad words in public in the face of that level of theft, because that’s what it amounts to, is the MINIMUM response Schmidt could make. Silence would be taken as tacit approval and their cloud computing model was already in trouble before this.

      This is just noise. If he starts organizing his fellow Silicon Valley execs, that would mean something. You need splits in the elites to have any hope of change here.

    3. different clue

      I am an analog refugee in this digital world. I can only suppose these methods would work if there were zero physical connection of any kind between the new cables Roussef proposes and the systems these new cables link and
      any cable or machine of any sort which makes any contact with the present internet system. In other words it would have to be a whole separate parallel sealed-off physical system.

  4. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Eric Schmidt must fall into that category of people who say, “I have nothing to hide, why worry?” Any political or corporate leader now should be terrified of the implications of an unaccountable clique of authoritarian Generals who can frame up anyone for anything.
    All these secret military tribunals will eventually make their way back home just like all the other poisonous instruments of tyranny employed by the Anglo American elites. What’s Eric going to do when the media is suddenly ablaze with stories of whatever he /does/ have to hide? Because that’s what we’ll find happening to people near the top who question any of this stuff with too much seriousness.

  5. oliverks

    What I can’t wait to see is when Feinstein and company realize that they have been “special” targets of the NSA spying.

    Logically, as their funding source, the NSA should hover up every bit of data on senators and congress people on the intelligence committes. Not just what are they thinking, but what they buy, who are their spouces sleeping with, who are they sleeping with. What shows they watch, what they read, what they eat, how they feel, what their health problems are. Everything and anything that can give them an edge in negotiations.

    Their houses, cars, and offices should be bugged and videoed. If the NSA isn’t doing this they would but their own funding and ambitions at risk. If any attempt is made to control them, the NSA just needs to rattle a few skeletons to calm down their “overseers”.

    It is logical to assume the NSA is doing this, given the revelations thus far. I do hope this is the Snowden papers, because the look on Feinsteins face will be priceless when it hits her.

    1. bdy

      “What I can’t wait to see is when Feinstein and company realize that they have been ‘special’ targets of the NSA spying.”

      Trust they’ve already been informed in no uncertain terms.

    2. different clue

      The only way it would hit her is if Snowden could release some personal dirt on Feinstein herself and say he got it from the NSA.

    3. Fiver

      Feinstein’s apoplectic reaction hasn’t received nearly enough analysis. Quite apart from destroying whatever reputation with “progressives” she may have retained through the last decade’s debacles, it’s evident from her views as she’s expressed them recently that she has had nothing but contempt for the core ideas of the American people’s democracy and rights all along – does that volcanic anger simply provide cover, or is there something else she knows and fears will come out even more?

  6. diptherio

    So, if Snowden gets the Peace Prize, would that be the first time in history that one Peace Prize winner (Obummer) is actively trying to hunt down another (Snowden)? I think Snowden deserves the prize on objective grounds, but really I just want to see him win it for the delectable absurdity that would be sure to follow.

    1. Banger

      The Nobel committee has become very politicized so it would depend on how Euro governments react. I don’t see them moving towards Snowden. Most governments in the world are to one degree or another vassals to the U.S. The U.S. guarantees the trade routes and the flow of oil through its military domination of the world. The U.S. has also made it clear that it supports the current ruling elite in each country–wandering away from the U.S. is a dangerous prospect particularly for the Europeans. Look how quickly they turned around on the Iraq War issue–look how they held back from criticizing Wall Street after 2008.

  7. diptherio

    Somewhat apropos: I came across this article on BI just now:

    Google Employees Confess the Worst Things About Working at Google

    “… I used to joke with my colleagues that Larry & Sergey go out on their yachts – tie them together, sit back on the same recliners you’ll find on their jumbo jet, each on his own yacht/set of yachts, smoke cigars, and put up pictures of Googlers with little snippets like “was a GM at muti-national telecomm company, got a Harvard MBA and is now answering Orkut tickets.” and then they would erupt in laughter and clink their cigars & Scotch together in celebration. This, of course, is highly unlikely given neither of them would ever smoke a cigar or drink Scotch. Remainder is plausible.”

  8. jfleni

    RE DiFi payback etc.:
    Political rumour (true or false??)in CA:
    “Plan is for Dianne to resign & Jerry Brown appoint her daughter to Senate seat.”

  9. Hugh

    I agree with Adriannzinha: “All of them – Germany, Brazil with Rousseff in a tiff, all readily denied Snowden asylum but now take his revelations as justification for anger.”

    Any of them could make Snowden a citizen and give him a diplomatic passport and a plane ticket, if they wanted to. They obviously don’t want to. So yes, it is all BS and posturing, Merkel in particular. Forget her growing up with the Stasi. When the stories came out that the NSA was spying on tens of millions of Germans, her response was muted. It was only when it came out that she herself had been targeted that she showed any anger.

    Personally, I don’t see Germany and Merkel granting Snowden asylum. The bottomline is that Germany remains a US military protectorate. And Europe’s dirty little secret is that the US continues to be the glue that holds the European project together. The US, not Germany, is the hegemon. Germany profits enormously from the current relationship, while the US, as hegemon, incurs its costs.

    Then too, it is important to understand that Germany is every bit a kleptocracy as the US. Kleptocracies loot. It is laughable to imagine a kleptocracy doing the “right” thing because it was the right thing to do.

    1. Fiver

      The US is a hegemon of a certain type, though. It has so over-reacted from the moment it rocketed to the top in WWII, as if in constant threat of losing its position regardless of how absurd the perceived “threat” that it has created the conditions for its own fall. The US can destroy anyone, but is nonetheless very rapidly losing the ability to compel anything – in fact every effort to do so is further undermining its rather tattered legitimacy or that of its “visin” – I suggest a huge factor in its inability to generate any forward momentum at all economically.

      The TPP smacks of a desperate, ill-conceived strategy to lock down Chinese economic expansion and power projection while in turn blowing apart the sovereign independence of countries critical to China’s economy and/or the US economy. Obama is determined to advance the goal of a US-centred corporate super-state before the publics of all the nations involved can mount any effective defense. This is all deadly serious, as all nations that also view themselves as “peoples” will recoil should any real discussion and debate occur.

      For further contrary observations, including the hugely assymetrical ability of nations to “spy”, see my response to Adriannzinha above.

      1. bh2

        “The US can destroy anyone,”

        Not least itself. Those whom the gods would destroy they first drive to madness.

  10. Brooklin Bridge

    Somewhat unrelated to this, I heard a snippet on NPR today where they were talking about the up and coming way of logging in to computers will be by fingerprints. I’ve been wondering how long it was going to take before the possibilities became obvious to TPTB. One or more keys would be sensitive enough to analyze one’s thumb or finger or some combination before you could even log on to your machine. Or, they could use retina scans, or camera shots (mug shots). This would have fairly serious legal implications since it would be an obvious lead in to ultimately requiring user identity as an implicit or not so implicit legal prerequisite for using a computer.

    The technology is pretty much there already with off the shelf components. All that’s needed is the propaganda pitch that would convince everyone that such positive identification is in their interest. You can expect a blitz of negative press about the antiquated password mechanism and how it is favored by 9 out of 10 terrorists in every survey taken. And, based on the amazing indifference much of the public seems to take to the subject of privacy abuse, it’s doubtful such a draconian measure would be too hard to legislate into law.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      My wife and I just upgraded our cell phones to smart phones this weekend; me because my old phone was becoming unreliable, and this was unacceptable since I need to be reliably in touch on behalf of my aging father, her mainly because she needed this to stay in step with the technology in her workplace (an Ivy League academic library).

      She liked the iPhone, but declined the iPhone5s largely because it unlocked with a fingerprint reader, and went with the iPhone5c instead. We openly discussed the NSA’s nefarious snooping with our saleslady. Of course, the snoopers will still know who you are without too much effort, but the thought of HANDING it to them on a silver platter was a bridge too far. As e.e.cummings had a conscientious objector in WWI say, “There is some shit I will not eat…”

    2. different clue

      Would such biometric keys be needed to get onto the stand-alone computers of the future with zero connection or access to any other computer anywhere? Pre-internet desktop standalones?
      If not, then samizdata could be typed up on one computer,
      copied onto memory devices and transported by hand by couriers to other standalone computers.

  11. WorldisMorphing

    [ “…;he should return to the US and face justice,”]

    Is that humor or cynicism ?

    I think it’s probably humor, because I clearly recall one of Obama’s first public address as President; asking the citizens to not lose hope and give way to cynicism. So one must conclude it’s humor; you know, being a country that locks up people for drug possession for *years* in appalling conditions and all… face justice…haha get it ?… I know Bradley Manning does !

  12. ToivoS

    It should be totally irrelevant that the recent disclosures by Snowden on NSA spying is really not that bad because (one) the Europeans also spy on us and/or (two) their spy agencies collaborated with the US in this massive surveillance. The fact that the rot at the core of our intelligence agencies is also found among our allies does not detract one bit from Snowden’s information. In fact it makes it even more important. Not just the US but Europe has a big problem and it is going to require a major effort to clean it up. The means for cleaning house will have to be through grass roots direct action — the bureaucracies and establishment political parties are part of the problem.

  13. different clue

    Snowden should stay in Russia. He would be no safer in Germany than Kennedy in Dallas or King in Memphis or Kennedy
    in Los Angeles.

  14. Fiver

    I wouldn’t dismiss German (or Brazilian, or French, or the other 32 countries) fuming re NSA spying. The “they all do it” canard ignores clear US technical superiority, maintained for 70-odd years by threat of death, among other things.

    In addition, the particular communications monitored, those of Chancellor Merkel herself, are precisely the sort of conversations an “ally” would deem exempt from hacking as an expression of the importance and “closeness” of the relationship, if that ally was actually an “ally”, of course, as opposed to an Overlord.

    The US and Germany have been out of synch since the fall of the Soviets on a range of vital European issues, Germany always with dead ancestors’ history thrown all over the backdrop of the story whenever the current issue involves a failure of Germany to see things the good old American way. And now, with both the US and Europe still fragile to any new, major shock, we have a stunning attack by the US Treasury on Germany, coincident with the NSA/Merkel revelations, all within the context of continuing moves by BRICS and others to seriously pursue an alternative path to this form of criminal corporate globalization that has ushered forth from the US.

    Neither Germany nor Japan, nor Russia, nor Turkey, nor Brazil, nor India, nor Mexico…. have infinite patience with the idea that their wishes are irrelevant – push it too far and one of them will go. Then another. And another, until the failure is such that history takes a very big turn.

    1. bh2

      …much like what will likely happen with the EU. Despite Obama allegedly having put it to Cameron that the UK should not leave the EU, it’s likely UKIP will accomplish that result, directly or otherwise. That success will likely start of crumbling. (In the US, it may begin with the sovereign power of the collective states expressly defined in the tattered US Constitution.)

      The most probable direction of the western world is therefore toward devolution owing to entropy, not toward further consolidation owing to power. This will come as just as large a surprise as it did to the majority of Romans left among the ruins.

      The Soviet Union and British Empire are most recent examples of governments which gained sweeping jurisdiction by force of arms over millions of people and vast territories, but eventually failed for shear lack of competency and energy to hold it together.

      When they finally collapsed in bankruptcy of both their financial and administrative credibility, their corrupt rule rushed to end in a whimper and only feeble influence in the world.

      Useful cultural equipment carries on, but governments and their fake protection rackets come and go.

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