Sunday, June 30, 2013

LASSIE, WHERE'S TIMMY? Wait, do you have fleas?

Wow. Talk about precognition. I rarely watch news shows- other than Jon Stewart's Daily Show, which I never miss- but this morning I caught a promo for ABC's this week with George Stephanopolous, who was interviewing Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, now holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden (it's complicated).

So I watched- and there was Julian, being amazingly rational, knowledgeable, and objective, who had to respond to allegations raised by George about irrelevant side issues- whether or not Ecuador as a country was becoming repressive to journalists (talk about a non-sequitur), about where Edward Snowden is now (he's in Hong Kong- no, Moscow, no, he's at the airport, he's on a flight to Cuba!, nope, it's an empty seat- watch the Daily Show recap of the photo of the empty seat on an airplane to do full justice to that one &

To see what a disconnect the "interview" was- it was hardly a conversation, as Stephanopolous never reacted to anything said by Assange, read a transcript about what Assange said- which was basically: hey, this isn't about the person who tells you that you have a serious problem with government invasion of your privacy, it's about the problem itself, then read Stephanopolous' somewhat snarky remarks and dogged tunnel vision, never straying from his script, which had nothing to do with NSA and gov't abuses both nationally and world wide.

To ABC's credit, they also had on a former Justice Dept. lawyer, Jesseyln Radack, who is an advocate for human rights. She made the point- as did Assange- that there is little or no hope for a fair trial or justice for a whistleblower who has already been demonized by the government and the press/media (Bradley Manning, Assange himself, and now Snowden).

There is a real conversation there- how can a person be charged with "espionage" and imprisoned for life for revealing illegal and secret government programs to the press? Radack made the point that one of her clients was charged with espionage after he had had tried to blow the whistle with his boss, the inspector general of his agency, the inspector general of the Department of Defense, then finally went to the press when all else failed.

"STEPHANOPOULOS: [REFERRING TO SNOWDEN] That's not what he's saying, sir. He has also broken the law. Let me bring that now to Jesselyn Radack, who is also here with me right now. Julian Assange mentioned Edward Snowden's father, who has also written -- his attorney has written a letter to Eric Holder, the attorney general, saying that he believes that his son would be willing to come back to the United States if he would not be detained or imprisoned prior to trial, if he would not be subject to a gag order, if he would be tried in the venue of his choosing. Do you think it would make sense for Snowden to return under those circumstances?

RADACK: I actually don't. I have represented people like Thomas Drake, who was an NSA whistle-blower, who actually did go through every conceivable internal channel possible, including his boss, the inspector general of his agency, the Defense Department inspector general and two congressional committees, and the U.S. turned around and prosecuted him. And did so for espionage and threatened to tie him up for the rest of his life in jail. I think Snowden's outlook is bleak here, and instead of focusing on Snowden and shooting the messenger, we should really focus on the crimes of the NSA. Because whatever laws Snowden may or may not have broken, they are infinitesimally small compared to the two major surveillance laws and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution that the NSA's violated."

Yes, let's have that conversation.


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