John Kerry Should 'Man Up' And Admit He's Wrong About Snowden
from the nothing-wrong-with-admitting-you-were-wrong dept
In two separate TV interviews, Secretary of State John Kerry made some ridiculous arguments about how Ed Snowden should “man up” and come back to the US. This was in response to Snowden’s claims that the only reason he’s in Russia is the US State Department pulling his passport — an argument that no one in the US government has ever denied. Given the chance to respond to this, Kerry effectively changed the subject, saying that Snowden can and should come home to face charges. Here was his statement on NBC’s Today show:
QUESTION: Well, Mr. Secretary, what about it? Does he have a point? He’s basically saying but for the U.S. State Department revoking his passport, he wouldn’t be in Russia at all.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, for a supposedly smart guy, that’s a pretty dumb answer, frankly. Look, I’m not going to get into the – who he was, what he was. Let me just say this: If Mr. Snowden wants to come back to the United States today, we’ll have him on a flight today. We’d be delighted for him to come back. And he should come back, and that’s what a patriot would do. A patriot would not run away and look for refuge in Russia or Cuba or some other country. A patriot would stand up in the United States and make his case to the American people. But he’s refused to do that to this date, at least.
The fact is that he can come home, but he’s a fugitive from justice, which is why he’s not being permitted to fly around the world. It’s that simple and he knows it.
QUESTION: Have you softened your stance at all with regard to his alleged conduct here? I noticed earlier this year you said that there were disclosures about the NSA made because of Snowden that you yourself were not aware of that constituted NSA overreach. Does that change the calculus at all for you?
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s entirely up to the justice system. Let him come back and make his case. The fact is that he should – if he cares so much about America and he believes in America, he should trust in the American system of justice. But to be hiding in Russia, an authoritarian country, and to have just admitted that he was really trying to get to Cuba, I mean, what does that tell you, really? I think he’s confused. I think it’s very sad.
But this is a man who has done great damage to his country, violated his oath which he took when he became an employee, and yes, in fact, stole an enormous amount of information and released it to the public, to the detriment of his country.
Then, in an interview with CBS he effectively said the same thing, including the ridiculous “man up” statement, which is perhaps even stronger than his silly “that’s what a patriot would do” statement above:
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about Edward Snowden. He has now given an interview in which he says he was trained by the United States as a spy. How damaging is this disclosure?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s not – it’s the same disclosure that everybody’s known. He very cleverly wraps it into his language about: I was a technical person; I didn’t go out there and work with humans, with other people; I wasn’t working and interacting with human beings. Basically, what he was doing is computer stuff, and that’s exactly what he says. So he wraps it into this larger language.
The bottom line is this is a man who has betrayed his country, who is sitting in Russia, an authoritarian country, where he has taken refuge. He should man up and come back to the United States if he has a complaint about what’s the matter with American surveillance, come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case. But instead he is just sitting there taking potshots at his country, violating his oath that he took when he took on the job he took, and betraying, I think, the fundamental agreement that he entered into when he became an employee. And the fact is he has damaged his country very significantly in many, many ways. He has hurt operational security. He has told terrorists what they can now do to be able to avoid detection. And I find it sad and disgraceful.
I’m not even going to touch “what he was doing is computer stuff” quote, because that just kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
But of course, for all this “manly” (actually: sexist and misogynistic) talk, Secretary Kerry is being dishonest and disingenuous. As we’ve detailed a few times now, Snowden has been charged under the Espionage Act and, as such, he is not allowed to present a “public interest” or “whistleblowing” defense. His motive isn’t even allowed to be used in the case at all. So all this talk about “making his case” is ridiculous. Snowden knows damn well that “our system of justice” on issues like this is inherently unfair and biased. Kevin Gosztola has highlighted examples of others who stayed and “made their case” under Espionage Act charges, showing how they were railroaded by a system that is not fair and does not allow them to actually present their case.
Similarly, as one of Snowden’s legal advisors, Ben Wizner of the ACLU, points out, no matter what Kerry claims above, Snowden isn’t dumb:
“He isn’t blind,” Wizner said. “Snowden saw what happened to other people who faced prosecution under the Espionage Act, and he saw the state of the law, which would not have allowed him to either to challenge the government’s improper withholding of this information in the first place, or to hold up the enormous public value of these disclosures. All that would have been irrelevant.”
So if we’re going to use ridiculous misogynistic phrases like “man up,” can we at least ask if Secretary Kerry will “man up” and admit that his claims about what Snowden would face back home were not even close to accurate? Or do real “men” like Secretary Kerry think it’s appropriate to aggressively lie and mislead the American public? If so, perhaps it’s time for someone to “woman up” instead. Though, as Glenn Greenwald points out, Kerry appears to be arguing that a female whistleblower in Snowden’s shoes “wouldn’t have the same obligation to return home.” Or, perhaps (just perhaps) none of this has anything to do with manliness, and folks in the government could stop the macho aggressive bullshit and actually deal with the reality: Snowden blew the whistle on a program that all three branches of government have now admitted were illegal (and potentially unconstitutional). If someone has to “face the music,” shouldn’t it be the US government?