White House Believes Ed Snowden Shouldn't Have Any Free Speech Rights, Attacks Russia For Letting Him Speak

from the sickening dept

The White House's attacks on whistleblower Ed Snowden have already been pretty bad, but they took it up a notch in response to Ed Snowden's brief press conference with various human rights groups last week from the Moscow airport where he is stranded. There are all sorts of ways that the White House could have responded to this -- and it chose perhaps the worst. It sent out press secretary Jay Carney to scold Russia for allowing Ed Snowden to speak, claiming that it provided him a "propaganda platform."
The White House criticized Russia on Friday for allowing National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to meet with human rights activists, calling it a “propaganda platform” for the man who seeks to avoid prosecution for leaking classified information about secret U.S. electronic surveillance programs.
Think about that for a second. This is the US government, directly trying to shut up a US citizen, who has blown the whistle on various illegal secret surveillance programs. Part of the very basis for the US is supposed to be our support for the First Amendment, and the belief in free speech. That includes speech we don't like, in the belief that speech can be countered by other speech. But the US government seems to think that the First Amendment does not apply to people who criticize them.
“Providing a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality and that they have no control over his presence in the airport,” Carney said. “It’s also incompatible with Russian assurances that they do not want Mr. Snowden to further damage U.S. interests.”
Frankly, the only one spewing propaganda here is Jay Carney and the administration, for claiming that merely allowing Snowden to speak is the equivalent of doing "further damage to U.S. interests." The problem, it seems, is that the White House seems to think that damage to their own reputation and future spying efforts is the equivalent of "damage to U.S. interests." But that's clearly ridiculous. Many in the American public feel that the real damage to U.S. interests was having this illegal and unconstitutional program in the first place.

And, it wasn't just a specific phraseology that Carney just happened to come up with on the spot. The State Department said nearly the same thing:
“We are disappointed that Russian officials and agencies facilitated this meeting today by allowing these activists and representatives into the Moscow airport’s transit zone to meet with Mr. Snowden despite the government’s declarations of Russia’s neutrality with respect to Mr. Snowden,” Psaki said. “Our concern here is that he’s been provided this opportunity to speak in a propaganda platform.”
When the US government is directly trying to silence the speech of an American citizen, and arguing that it's some sort of violation to let him give a pretty basic statement on how the US is persecuting him, is really sickening. What kind of country have we become when the federal government is directly trying to shut someone up like that?


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    Ninja (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    What kind of country have we become when the federal government is directly trying to shut someone up like that?

    I wonder if Germans asked themselves the same question in the past.

    The astonishing part here is how blind the Government is to the damage it's causing to themselves. I know some pretty alienated people living in complete denial and eve those people are outraged.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:05am

      Re:

      The Úlite did. They wanted nothing to do with the horrors, passive or otherwise, of their recent past, for the most part.

       

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    rw (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    It hasn't been all that long ago the Soviet government would have been decrying the US for just this sort of thing. Who would have ever thought the roles would be reversed in such a short time?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:08am

    The U.S government is walking on a very thin line... one slip and the house could come crashing down their head.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 11:15am

      Re:

      But it is better to come out with tightly worded attacks on Snowden than having to face questions about the information brought foreward.

       

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:10am

    Interesting that the government should decry Snowden's "propaganda," considering it's just repealed the ban that prevented it from unleashing its own propaganda machinery on American citizens.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    They're mad because they didn't tap that conversation.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    We shouldn't be surprised by this

    I mean, look at what they're doing to the 4th amendment? That amendment clearly has no meaning to them whatsoever. Is it any stretch at all to believe the 1st amendment also doesn't mean anything to them?

    They are every one of them corrupt to the core, from the top down, every branch.

    It is absolutely sickening. I don't trust any of them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Censorship check. Or are you still trying to silence the voice of your number one critic? Do as you say, not as you do. Right, Mike? You're just as bad as the people you criticize. Funny how you turn into the biggest censor their is when it suits you. Too bad you can't just address my criticisms on the merits and instead have to turn into a censor yourself. I know you see the irony, Mike.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    I have an honest question for Mike and the others at Techdirt. Just how scared are you when you publish these articles decrying the US government?
    After all, you can see the measures they go to to try and stop Snowden from talking. They've revoked his passport, they've prevented him from travelling, they've grounded the official plane of a democratically elected leader all on the baseless assumption he was on it (Snowden was in a completely different airport to that president), all because Snowden is constantly talking about and revealing information on these programs.

    Given that it is now clear there is no protection for free speech rights in the US, how worried do you guys get? Do you have genuine worries that suits in black cars will show up and shut down Techdirt?

     

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      out_of_the_blue, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:43am

      Re:

      @ "Given that it is now clear there is no protection for free speech rights in the US, how worried do you guys get? Do you have genuine worries that suits in black cars will show up and shut down Techdirt?"

      Well, NO.

      a) Techdirt isn't as influential as you seem to believe. They (whoever "they" are) don't bother with small outlets that actually reduce social pressure by it being expressed.

      b) To me, Techdirt, run by Ivy League Mike, looks more loyal opposition than danger to the gov't. It's the Rush Limbaugh method: build credibility with obvious items that your audience likes, only to spend it on a few key points that "they" want to put over to entrench tyranny. With Limbaugh it was NAFTA, which he promised would slow immigration from Mexico and build industry here too by selling products to them. Ross Perot was right, though, about the "giant sucking sound" of jobs leaving the country. -- With Mike, what he pushes is obviously Google, the SPY AGENCY, key source for NSA.

      c) "suits in black cars" apparently shut down Michael Hastings, who Google says shows up here in only 9 mentions, none of them as topic of a piece.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:54am

        Re: Re:

        For a site you believe to be so toothless and uninfluential, you spend a shitton of time acting like Masnick peed in your oatmeal or something.

         

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          out_of_the_blue, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:05am

          Re: Re: Re:

          @ "For a site you believe to be so toothless and uninfluential, you spend a shitton of time acting like Masnick peed in your oatmeal or something."

          As I've said before, you needn't worry about my wasting time here. Everyone needs a vice; this is one of mine.

          Techdirt has a nice mix of wacky and contradictory features, all the web in one place. And comment is still free, unlike most of the rest of the web requiring log in up to Facebook credentials. Free comment is my one definite point of agreement with Mike -- or at least I utilize his own "platform" to undermine his credibility (as much as I can with honest disagreement on his notions), which recursively tests his notions on free comment.

          And it's definitely a SMALL enough pond that I'm a big frog here, drawing many comments, though most are trivial, vulgar, and off-topic, such as yours.

           

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            dennis deems (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You're not a big frog here. You're the equivalent of an unruly boy making fart noises at a wedding.

             

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            Rikuo (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "or at least I utilize his own "platform" to undermine his credibility"

            Thanks for admitting to being a tool. You're not here to point out flaws with stories, or to show mistakes, you're merely here to try and shoot the messenger. So it doesn't matter to you if Mike reports a true story of governmental abuse, you've got to undermine how credible he is as a source, rather than letting his own reporting and writing do that for him.

             

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            Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Time and time again you reveal that your only purpose is to be a contradictory asshole. And to think, this is what embodies the speech horse with no name wants protected and respected.

            Thanks for once again verifying that there is no reason to take any of your lot seriously, period.

             

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            techflaws (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 10:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            or at least I utilize his own "platform" to undermine his credibility

            LOL, no you're not. You fail at this every . single . time.

             

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        Rikuo (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:09am

        Re: Re:

        "loyal opposition"

        Wouldn't those two words cancel each other out like matter and anti-matter?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:45am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not in a constitutional monarchy, where loyalty is to the reigning monarch, rather than to the government in power.

           

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        DP, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re:

        Total waffle and twaddle, as usual, from the paranoid OOTB

         

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 10:09am

      Re:

      I have an honest question for Mike and the others at Techdirt. Just how scared are you when you publish these articles decrying the US government?

      Generally don't worry about it. The government actually does tend to take criticism well (I know that sounds strange given this story, but...) and, if anything, is actually much more open to having discussions about these things than anything else (i.e., fairly frequently, people from the administration have reached out to "explain their side of the story," including just this weekend, but never tried to do anything to stifle or change what we've written).

      I think most of the focus by the government is on stopping whistleblowers themselves, not the people who criticize them for the government's actions. For whatever it's worth, that has remained from our general respect for free speech. I think they're completely wrong to try to silence whistleblowers, and will continue to make that clear. But I don't think that has expanded beyond the focus on whistleblowers.

      What worries me more is if that begins to change over time as we chip away at various protections. It doesn't take much to move away from there, but for now I don't see anything to be particularly worried about.

      Yes, they're not happy with Snowden, but it's a bit of a stretch to say "it is now clear there is no protection for free speech rights in the US." For the most part, there are still strong protections for free speech in the US -- stronger than most of the rest of the world. And, as such, I have no specific worries about speaking out, beyond the concern that such rights need to be vigorously guarded over time, and that future governments may look to really stamp them out.

       

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    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    "What kind of country have we become..."

    Evidently you've missed the decade of illegal, causeless, Iraq and Afghan wars for empire, in which at the very least the entire city of Fallujah was destroyed using depleted uranium and white phosphorous to kill alleged "insurgents", which is the military term for patriotic resistance to foreign invasion; torture, drone strikes, and wiping out entire villages are routine, systematic horrors worse than the Nazis.

    You can't expect gov't to respect rights of citizens while savagely murdering people overseas.

    You seem to have been silent on those wars with your precious "free speech" during that decade, but now you're upset that one Snowden is target of harsh comments from the White House? ... Well, again, I can only sum up by repeating the John Galt line from Atlas Shrugged, after his speech on how the people let The Rich steal their liberty by slow degrees: "Brothers, you asked for it!"



    By the way, part of the overarching plan is to tear down the United States of America as symbol of liberty, and make it hated and despised. -- If the globalists can take over here, they can take over anywhere. -- I regret helping in that, but facts are facts.

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:31am

      Re: "What kind of country have we become..."

      Completely outside the scope of this website. While horrible, Techdirt doesn't talk about the wiping out of villages, unless there's a free speech angle to the story, such as military/government leaders preventing reporting of the incidents.

       

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        identicon
        out_of_the_blue, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re: "What kind of country have we become..."

        Sheesh! Make up your mind, sonny! 8 minutes prior, YOU introduced "men in black suits" who'd arrive to shut down Techdirt! To which I took time to answer (see), though you won't care for my answer. I just make obvious connections with a "country" question.

        Appears that you know all about editorial policy here, but in fact you're just projecting your notions and goals as Mike's, while his remain largely a mystery.

        In the intelligence biz, we trust no one.

         

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    Steve R. (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:24am

    An Unexplored Question

    When did the US government ever return a Soviet/Russian/Chinese/North Korean spy who defected to the US?

    While not a direct US issue, Jordan granted asylum to a Syrian pilot who "stole" his airplane by flying into Jordan.

    CNN reported: "Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said, "We welcome this pilot's decision to do the right thing. We have long called for the military and members of the Syrian regime to defect and abandon their positions rather than be complicit in the regime's atrocities." So the US supports "illegal" acts on one hand, but then capriciously condemns them on the other hand. Outrageous.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/21/world/meast/syria-unrest

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Just the logic they are using is ridiculous. "Russia has no control over Snowden's presence in the transit zone." would by default mean "Russia cannot prevent him from speaking to people in the transit zone." Thus you cannot blame Russia for not preventing him from doing anything within the transit zone.

    Furthermore, the complaints about Russia "allowing these activists and representatives" into the transit zone runs afoul of the fact that Russia has no legal basis for barring them from the transit zone.

    Really from the sounds of it, the US is complaining that Russia hasn't shut down the transit zone, and turned it into a prohibited area so that Snowden will have no one to talk to.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Are we talking about the same President Obama who recently made Susan Rice, the person who fed false information about the Benghazi attack, to the American People. Then Obama 'rewarded' her by appointing her his Chief National Security Adviser?

    What about James Clapper, who flat out lied to Congress and the American people, while under federal oath. He seems free to spread false 'propaganda' and I haven't heard a peep from the White House over his crimes.

    If anyone is spreading false propaganda, it's the White House. The credibility of US Officials is near 0% right now. Whenever they open their mouths, all I hear is lies flowing out of them like a river now, because that's what their words are, lies.

    We need to rid government of these parasitic leeches who suck the life blood from the hard working American People, by voting them out of office next election cycle.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Todays spindoctors are not worth a damn.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    You need a revolution in the US is what you need.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Russia is in a situation much like Mexico was in the 1980s, when it had one Puerto Rican indepdence nationalist in the country and wanted him out, but did not want to send him to the USA, because they disagreed with the sentence he could have received. They Mexican government convinced Cuba to take him.

    I would not be surprised if Russia is trying to find a country somewhere that will take him being that they want him out, but don't want to hand him over to the USA.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    In reality, they're mad that someone else than them was granted a government-funded propaganda platform. Jealousy at its finest.

     

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    Joseph Ratliff (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Kinda like Prenda...

    The U.S. Government is starting down the same slope as Prenda I think.

    Shooting themselves in the foot.

    Reading this information, and how our Government is trying to silence a critic (a critic with evidence), does NOT make me proud to be an American.

     

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    Nobel Prize for Snowden, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:40am

     

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      Steve R. (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 10:16am

      Obama Unearned Noble Peace Prize

      To think that Obama received a Noble Peace prize by simply being elected without actually having accomplished anything to promote world peace

      Furthermore, Obama has kept the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going (though we have recently withdrawn from Iraq). Now he is arming the Syrian rebels which will keep that civil war going, which will raise the body count. Obama is not accomplishing anything that would promote world peace.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Think about that for a second. This is the US government, directly trying to shut up a US citizen, who has blown the whistle on various illegal secret surveillance programs.

    I love how you have no problem stating definitively that the NSA surveillance is unconstitutional and illegal, yet you are completely unwilling to defend your position in the comments on the merits. LOL! Whatcha scared of, Mikey?

    Part of the very basis for the US is supposed to be our support for the First Amendment, and the belief in free speech. That includes speech we don't like, in the belief that speech can be countered by other speech.

    Unless it's me criticizing you, in which case it's censor hard and censor fast and sweep those dissenting views under the rug. Oh yeah, and don't forget to run away rather than engage on the merits, right? Do as Mikey says, not as he does. Typically two-faced zealot.

    What kind of country have we become when the federal government is directly trying to shut someone up like that?

    And what kind of website are you running where you censor critics rather than discuss the issues with them on the merits? Bawk, bawk, Mikey.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Maybe they are just mad because their propaganda platform hasn't been fully built yet with the new DOJ rules about who is and isn't a reporter.

     

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    TasMot (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    With a slow wave from Uncle Sam

    "There's no illegal spying here. The criminal you want is Edward Snowden over there. Go look over there. There is no illegal wiretapping going on, we pardoned them and made it legal with a new law." Ignore that man behind the curtain and pay attention to me repeating "There is no illegal spying going on, you really should be paying to the secret trial of Bradley Manning because we told you he is bad." STOP LOOKING AT ME, look over there at the whistleblowers for the REAL bad guys.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 11:24am

      Re: With a slow wave from Uncle Sam

      If Snowden went to the moon NSA would instantly throw a team of CIA and NASA people together and follow him. The man is gonna get maximally secluded from everything the official USA can pressure. We have already seem Greenwald getting a treason sticker by US media and I am sure that he is now on several naughty lists and his personal history is getting turned upside down to find dirt. Being targeted by secret services is no fun and the most nasty secret services you can find are the most technologically developed.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Oh, how times have changed.

    In the past, people fled from the Soviet Union (hint: That includes Russia) into the US.

    Today, people flee from the US into Russia.

    What does that tell you?

     

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    Sychodelix (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Good job poking the Putin with a stick. It's not like we were in a long, dangerously frightening cold war with Russia or anything.

    Human rights activists are allowed in just about every situation there is, and it's usually the US pushing for it to happen. But now the NSA is butthurt because Snowden let their dirty laundry air, and thinks those same things don't apply.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    I'm kinda glad the NSA spies on me because all I do now is search fucked up shit on Google all day. Though I do wish I could spy back just to see the look on the agents face.

     

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    McCrea (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    U mad comrade?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Holy crap, did they actually say the human rights groups are now a "propaganda platform"? And also the same government that has just repealed its own anti-propaganda laws?

    Can we call United States a totalitarian state yet?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    The evidence is all there

    Propaganda directed toward citizens
    Unrestrained spying of citizens
    Ability to declare martial law in time of peace
    Indefinite detention of citizens in military prison
    Lying to the public about innumerable subjects
    Criminalizing speech

    America is in the early stage of a totalitarian state. Enjoy!

     

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    bytes (profile), Jul 15th, 2013 @ 10:33pm

    You can lead them to Capital Hill, but you can't make them think.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2013 @ 10:16am

    United States of America is the ultimate fascist country.

     

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