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EDWARD SNOWDEN: A TRAITOR? January 24, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Internet Age.
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Many events occur, with some having more historical significance than others. Perhaps representative of a pervasive maladroitness richly on display by Australian Federal Ministers, it nonetheless interesting, if trivial, to hear the Australian Foreign Minister describe Edward Snowden as a “traitor”.

Mr Snowden, having been born in the United States and not of immigrant parents, but with a privileged ethnic pedigree, is an American citizen. He has a sworn allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, which among other considerations is very particular on the who is a traitor, the 1917 Espionage Act notwithstanding, and may in fact be subject to legal challenge. Of course, sadly, the protections of the Bill of Rights in relation to privacy and public assembly are not as once believed to be. Perhaps the later French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen summarized as “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” might have been a more efficacious and comprehensive claim of human dignity.

Surely this is not a question that the Foreign Minister of an alien, or foreign, country should entertain. There are other possibilities which are demeaning to any sense of Australian independence and usefulness to the common cause of humanity, but it is the case that the globalization of communication and the intersection of American and Australian history, although not complete, are factors in the presumption made.

I may be misrepresenting Ms Bishop, who has the intellectual resources of DFAT to support her. In this case her speech is spin rather than substantive, so it may be attributed to her advisers, whoever they are. Katherine Murray reports in The Guardian:

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has branded the National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, a traitor – but also welcomed moves in the US to review intelligence gathering.

Bishop, who is in the US, described Snowden’s actions in leaking classified material as “unprecedented treachery”. The foreign minister declared Snowden had shamefully betrayed his country while “skulking in Russia”.

“He is no hero,” she said at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.

“Snowden claims his actions were driven by a desire for transparency, but in fact they strike at the heart of the collaboration between those nations in world affairs that stand at the forefront of protecting human freedom,” she said.

While blasting Snowden, the foreign minister welcomed announcements by the Obama administration aimed at boosting privacy protections for citizens and imposing more oversight on the intelligence agencies. “We welcome President Obama’s statement last Friday on your signals intelligence reviews,” she said.

Bishop also acknowledged that, given the community concern prompted by the Snowden disclosures, governments had to be prepared to make the public case why intelligence gathering happened.

Espionage was necessary to protect national security and the national interest, Bishop said. Intelligence gathering, she said, was “about saving lives”.

The article continues to say that Ms Bishop defended Australian intelligence gathering practices and membership of the five-way intelligence agreement between the US, UK, Canada and NZ. The Anglophone party line listening to the rest of the world. Of course, if we go to war with Indonesia, they will have our back, although I would take exception to rank stupidity and interpersonal incompetence. The latter is a rather surprising attribute of supposedly successful politicians, particularly a prime minister. I don’t know what good the sucking up to the Empire does, other providing the genuflection required before its altar. Not quite the behavior of that Jewish bloke in Palestine those many centuries and generations ago. In fairness, he might have been more upset with the Temple elite than the occupying army.

Julie Bishop diminishes her humanity and Australia, which in the circumstances is what her job description requires. Impossible to imagine that she take a stand against the “collateral damage” of the unremitting drone murders, as she observes justified similarly to pervasive surveillance as “saving lives”. That would require calling into question a world order based on violence, domination and the repercussion of past and present behavior. Best not to take history too seriously, as if it might have any relevance to the present. Truth is dangerous, as bespeaks a infamous sequence of assassinations, including Martin Luther King. What does it mean when truth is the enemy?

Of course, Bob Carr, the former occupant, would have been equally grovelling. Somethings do not change despite elections and new occupants.

Opinions differ on the hero/traitor dichotomy in relation to Edward Snowden’s decision to act as whistle blower. The following observations were made on Fox News:

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