Edward Snowden Emerges; Seeks Temporary Asylum in Russia

NSA leaker Edward Snowden attends a press conference at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport with Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, left, July 12, 2013, in this image provided by Human Rights Watch.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden attends a press conference at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport with Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, left, July 12, 2013, in this image provided by Human Rights Watch.

At 5PM (9AM ET) Russian Time, Edward Snowden met with human rights activists and attorneys in Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. Afterward he appeared at a press conference alongside Sarah Harrison of Wikileaks and Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch. He announced that he is seeking asylum in Russian until he can arrange to fly to a Latin American country.

NBC News/AP:

Although the meeting was not public, some of those present posted details to Twitter, including Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch who released a handout image that she said was of Snowden (see above).

Lokshina said Snowden would be making an official request to Russia for temporary asylum, adding that his condition was “just fine.”

The move indicates the difficulties facing Snowden, who has been offered asylum by three countries: Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. He is apparently unable to travel to them without entering airspace controlled by the U.S., risking an enforced grounding that would lead to his arrest.

Also among those present at Friday’s meeting was a prominent Russian lawyer, Genri Reznik, who later told reporters: “I think his claim should be satisfied… The law allows for political asylum.

“The values in the constitution of the US and Russia are similar, so I don’t think that there could be a lengthy conflict if Russia grants him asylum.”

Several hours earlier The New York Times had reported on an e-mail which “purported to be” form Snowden asking for the meeting with human rights organizations.

Several prominent human-rights organizations received e-mailed invitations late on Thursday to meet with Mr. Snowden, though they were initially doubtful about the e-mails’ origin.

No invitation was extended to Russian officials, said Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman. Journalists who asked to be included were told that Mr. Snowden’s team “will be following up with the press shortly afterward.”

Attached to the e-mailed request was a note complaining of U.S. interference with Snowden’s efforts to seek asylum in order to avoid prosecution for stealing and revealing classified information.

The e-mail, signed “Edward Joseph Snowden,” said he had “been extremely fortunate to enjoy and accept many offers of support and asylum from brave countries around the world,” and that he hoped to visit each of them personally to express his thanks. It went on to say that the American government had carried out an “unlawful campaign” to block his asylum bids.

“The scale of threatening behavior is without precedent: never before in history have states conspired to force to the ground a sovereign president’s plane to effect a search for a political refugee,” the note said. “I invite the human rights organizations or other respected individuals addressed to join me on 12 July at 5:00 p.m. at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for a brief statement and discussion regarding the next steps forward in my situation.”

Wikileaks has posted a transcript of Snowden’s statement to the human rights groups. In it he makes clear that he believes he has done the right thing by revealing U.S. espionage methods and targets around the world and says he will accept any and all offers of asylum, and that for now he will apply to stay in Russia.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

The Washington Post questions whether Snowden can meet Vladimir Putin’s terms for allowing him to stay in Russia.

He explained that asylum is the only way he can guarantee his safety to stay in the country, where he’s been since arriving from Hong Kong in late June. “I am only in a position to accept Russia’s offer because of my inability to travel,” he said,according to Lokshina, adding that he ultimately hopes to travel to Latin America, where three countries have offered him asylum.

This puts Snowden in a difficult position: He had previously applied for asylum in Russia but then withdrew his application after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden could only stay on certain terms. “If he wants to remain here there is one condition – he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners,” Putin announced at a July 1 news conference. That was broadly taken as a condition that Snowden stop leaking classified U.S. information.

Snowden’s earlier decision to withdraw his application for asylum in Russia seemed to suggest that he found Putin’s terms unacceptable. It’s not clear what’s changed, but Snowden seems to have his own interpretation of Putin’s conditions. “He has no problem with Putin’s condition because he does not believe he damaged the United States, or is damaging it,” Lokshina told the Post. Her comments to The New York Times also indicated that Snowden apparently believes his past leaks have not harmed the United States and so not violated Putin’s terms.

So does Snowden assume that he can leak anything that he decides will not be damaging to the U.S.? And what about the data that he has already given to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, Barton Gellman of the Washington Post, Der Spiegel , The South China Morning Post, and newspapers in Brazil and Australia? He has also claimed through Greenwald that many individuals around the world have complete copies of the stolen materials. Greenwald himself has stated that Snowden has already completed the leak to The Guardian and that it will be up to them to decide what gets published. According to the Post,

Snowden, or at least the WikiLeaks representative Sarah Harrison who is working with him, might already see hints of these potential contradictions. Snowden asked the attendees at Friday’s Moscow airport meeting to try to intervene with Putin on his behalf, Lokshina told The New York Times.

At least we now know where Snowden is and what his immediate plans are. Now we’ll await Russia’s response.


78 Comments on “Edward Snowden Emerges; Seeks Temporary Asylum in Russia”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Obama and Putin planning to talk by phone.

    With NSA leaker Edward Snowden seeking asylum in Russia, President Obama is poised today to talk by phone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the plans for the call have been in the works for several days and that the pair are likely to talk about Snowden, as well as other issues.

    Snowden met today with human rights groups at the airport and Carney criticized Russia for “providing a propaganda platform” for Snowden, saying it “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 called the meeting “incompatible with Russian assurances that they do not want Mr. Snowden to further damage U.S. interests,” but said the U.S. believes it doesn’t have to disrupt what he called an “important relationship” with Russia.
    He wouldn’t say if there would be repercussions to U.S.-Russian relations if Snowden was granted asylum there, saying he wouldn’t speculate about something that hasn’t yet happened. But he said the US was reiterating to Russia its “strongly held view that there is absolute legal justification for him to be expelled, for him to be returned to the United States to face the charges that have been brought against him for the unauthorized leaking of classified information.”

  2. janicen says:

    “He has no problem with Putin’s condition because he does not believe he damaged the United States, or is damaging it,”

    Heh! So I guess he’s found a loophole and will cleverly bypass Putin’s requirements! I hope he enjoys his new found freedoms in Russia.

    • bostonboomer says:

      How do we know he isn’t defecting?

      • This is exactly what I was thinking BB, forget asylum, just defect.

      • janicen says:

        I’m not sure I understand the difference. Isn’t that defecting when you seek asylum in a foreign country because your own country wants to throw your ass in jail?

        • bostonboomer says:

          I meant that he could have had previous contact with Russia or China and be running an intelligence operation against the U.S. See this piece by Joshua Foust, who writes about national security issues.

          He says the women who runs the “human rights” organization in Russia also does PR for the FSB (secret police). She was present at Snowden’s press conference.

          Quote from Foust:

          As a rule, when a cleared intelligence employee seeks refuge in another country running a hostile intelligence service while carrying gigabytes of top secret documents, that isn’t the behavior of a whistleblower. That is the behavior of a defector. The involvement of known FSB operatives at his asylum acceptance – and the suddenly warm treatment of HRW and Transparency International after months of government harassment – suggests this was a textbook intelligence operation, and not a brave plea for asylum from political persecution.

          The Russians are very good at what they do. And so, to be fair, is Wikileaks. The anti-secrecy organization (well, anti-other-people’s-secrecy considering the draconian NDAs they make employees sign) has a close relationship to a renown holocaust denier named Israel Shamir who brags that he is Wikileaks’ representative to the Russian and Belarussian governments.

          Read more at the link. I’m just throwing this out there–I have no idea what’s happening, but the fact is Snowden has valuable intelligence info and he’s been under Russian protection for a long time now. I don’t believe for one minute the FSB hasn’t interrogated him.

          • bostonboomer says:

            The conclusion of Foust’s piece:

            Snowden told reporters today that he has no desire to harm the U.S., and wants the country to “succeed,” whatever that means. I’m sure the White House is relieved to know a 30-year old IT worker has its best interests in mind as he preaches about human rights from one of the world’s worst human rights abusers.

            Most of Snowden’s most prominent defenders were in touch with him long before he chose to leak; Wikileaks, which has developed deeper ties to the Russian and Belorussian governments, apparently helped Snowden travel to Moscow. This looks like the first trickle of information before a bizarre — and complex — intelligence operation gets blown open in the public. That doesn’t mean Wikileaks wittingly participated (useful idiots abound) but I bet money U.S. counterintelligence officials are now wondering just how deep the Russia connection to Snowden — and, to Wikileaks — really goes.

            I’m not sure what to think. The one thing I know for sure is that if Snowden was really in the airport all that time, it could only have been with Russia’s blessing. They were in control, and anyone who believes other wise is naive or stupid.

          • janicen says:

            Thank you for posting this along with the link. This is absolutely fascinating.

            As an aside, if you haven’t seen season one of the Amerikans on FX look out for it on DVD or wait for the reruns because I’m sure they will rerun season one before they play season two. It’s an awesome TV show about Soviet spies in the U.S. during the early 1980s. Not what you would expect but a really interesting take.

      • janicen says:

        Oh, okay. I see your comment below. That explains it. Sorry for being thick. I’m just a blue collar girl from Buffalo!

        • bostonboomer says:

          What you are is a very smart woman!

          • janicen says:

            Why thank you! And thank you for persistently educating us on this matter. As I have said before the mention of Edward Snowden makes my eyes glaze over but thanks to your reporting about him, I’m paying closer attention.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I know the feeling. I can’t even read spy novels because they’re too complicated.

      • Fannie says:

        So what is the difference? One is when you’re wanted in your Home country……….the other is like being on military terms? Or like the defectors who went to Canada in order to avoid the draft during Vietnam War? What would be the legal ramifications?

  3. bostonboomer says:

    The Guardian on Snowden’s “Catch-22” situation.

    Snowden’s strategy – to appeal for temporary asylum in Russia to allow him to file for asylum elsewhere – is a reaction to these conditions. He is responding to Putin’s conditionality by insisting he has no intention of harming the true interests of his home country, but it is not clear whether he would agree to a temporary gag while in Moscow. Judged on his record so far, it would seem out of character, but he may have little choice, and a Russian member of parliament has suggested the American fugitive was prepared to agree to such a deal.

    Temporary haven in Russia would give Snowden protected status so that even if there were a sealed Interpol warrant waiting for him when he emerged on to the streets of Moscow, his pending asylum request should, under international law, take precedence and be ruled on before any extradition requests.

    Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said Snowden has a good prima facie case for asylum, based on a well-founded fear of political persecution. Snowden’s public statement at Sheremetyevo, couched in the language of the US constitution and international law, will have served to entrench that case.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Greenwald still plans to publish massive amounts of information over a period of months.

    Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who has worked with Snowden to report on the NSA programs, told ABC News that their work is not even half done.

    “The majority of it remains to be done, and that includes stories that are at least as significant, if not more significant than the ones we’ve already done,” Greenwald said.

    Greenwald said that for the past six weeks he has carried around “for every second of everyday” a highly encrypted electronic copy of the secret documents leaked to him by Snowden – some 10,000 documents from the NSA. Greenwald said that he has other copies should anything happen to the one he carries around, and Snowden has previously said that other encrypted copies of the documents have been given to other journalists for safe keeping.

    If Obama is so ruthless, why is Greenwald still walking around with the data? Greenwald is in Brazil. How can he be sure some other nation’s intelligence service won’t waylay him?

  5. bostonboomer says:

    From Human Rights Watch: Russia: Worst Human Rights Climate in Post-Soviet Era

    http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/24/russia-worst-human-rights-climate-post-soviet-era

  6. peej says:

    Thanks for this, Bostonboomer. I entirely concur with speculations about Snowden’s involvement in clandestine operations hostile to American government. The potential exists. I don’t take Snowden at face value – there’s more to him and what he has done than meets the eye.

    A few discursive observations:

    First, Snowden’s assertion that he has not damaged the United States: not coincidentally reminiscent of Libertarian duplicitous and equivocal parsing of “public good” continually reframed from “we” to “I” – entirely inconsistent with 18th century conceptions of liberty – public liberty, individual liberty and the common good. Like Greenwald’s perspective, the only justification for such a view is a narcissistic frame of liberty where government is never “We the People” but always adversarial “Other” and, when convenient, arbitrary. Also where the Bill of Rights is a license for distrust and an bludgeon of accountability where “individual” rights/liberties supersede the rights/liberties of “we the people” collectively as a society of individuals. Again, entirely inconsistent with founding principles of liberty, patriotism, and common good – not only inconsistent but antithetical. For that Libertarian construction, in my estimation, is a species of “insulated patriotism” as Dickinson put it in 1788. And, as Dickinson explained – such non-polis formulations of “I” rather than “we” would render the newly formed Constitution ineffective and the new republic impossible to sustain.

    Let’s not forget also that from the moment Snowden emerged as the NSA leaker he (with considerable help from Greenwald) presented himself as a martyr, already persecuted, victimized and he “predicted” further persecution and victimization on the part of the U.S. government. A regular Nostradamus, ain’t he?

    Nor should we forget that he did immediately justify his leaks in political language with political motivations. He does not appear to have followed the rule of law with respect to “whistle-blowing” and he has consistently positioned himself in opposition to the rule of law. Just some re-contextualization regarding the rule of law – its antecedent and the principle the rule of law intended to replace was divine law – the distinction between the two: law applying to everybody (the rule of law) in contradistinction to any individuals being above the law (divine law). Snowden considers himself above the law – his “conscience” trumps public good. And does he not tacitly admit he’s broken U.S. law by shamefully resorting to the Nuremberg principle, to wit:

    “Individuals have international duties which transcend obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

    A bit hollow given his silence on the fact that the architecture of pervasive surveillance is erected from within the private sector. A bit shallow given his silence on the authoritarianism and “Stasi” mentality ensconced within nearly every human resources division, administration, and senior management division throughout “corporate america.” A tad bit difficult to swallow given the “criminality” of pervasive surveillance, does not, in his mind, extend to the private sector where all our private lives are daily bought, sold, bartered and leveraged as commodities on the “free market.” But, I digress.

    Not only is he above U.S. law – he’s above the law of any and all governments: “… my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum.” Hmm. Stateless is looking pretty good there – announcing formal acceptance to all offers of asylum past and future somehow renders him above the law anywhere in the world at all times. But then again…

    He says, “I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression.” Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Pfft. He rendered himself stateless when he betrayed the American people. I would remind Snowden that stealing from the American people is a crime. As I understand it, Snowden didn’t just reveal what was available to him at his security level, but hacked into NSA systems using fabricated keys in order to access files beyond his level of clearance – that’s according to The Jester, the anti-Snowden hacker. I can’t vouch for the reliability of that information. If it is true, then leaking classified information isn’t his only crime. But dishonest Greenwald has also finally admitted that Snowden isn’t some low-level analyst as he was made out to be in the initial reveal of Snowden’s identity. So perhaps, Snowden did have a higher clearance level, yet he was only in training at Booz A Hamilton, so who knows – food for thought.

    I’d again remind Snowden that it is “We the People” – the combined citizenry – who authorize his travel as we do all citizens. Passports are issued and revoked upon the terms of an individual’s relationship to society – as in its laws. The process is called “rights” and “responsibilities.” No arbitrary government nor any specifically tyrannical government has prevented him from doing anything. His actions are his own and he’s accountable for them just as any other citizen would be. He’s never been stateless. He simply refuses to honor or acknowledge the rule of law which governs his nation. “We the People” haven’t hounded Snowden. “We the People” seek the extradition of an alleged criminal.

    Another thought comes to mind – Dr. Strangelove – Snowden has inexplicably positioned himself as a “doomsday machine” – unalterable destruction – any effort to dismantle will set off ultimate chaos. Snowden’s entire approach to government is kind of terroristic in a way, isn’t it? Continually hostile, incessantly threatening more damaging leaks. A pretty antagonistic position to take against “We the People.” And quite peculiar. Snowden, Assange, Greenwald and all the unnamed recipients of the looming, mind-blowing information all threatening imminent and devastating leakage. Kind of an insensibly odd “safeguard” for Snowden – if anything “happens to him” – the flow of information will be triggered. I mean, gee, really. What kind of deterrent is that to hostile foreign governments or to other stateless interests hostile to the American government? Wouldn’t it be of interest, then, for something to “happen to him” thereby setting off the torrent of American espionage secrets…. the “doomsday shroud” as it were….?

    Finally, on the stateless and the supranational – given his alignment with the stateless but inherently political Wikileaks and the offers of assistance from international elites Snowden has received – I can’t help but ponder how hazardous and inimical to democracy and republicanism (small “r”) are supranational interests – be they individuals or corporations. It seems to me that there isn’t much of a difference between the hazards of supranational interests ensconced within the TransPacific Trade Partnership Agreement or the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership than those embedded in Wikileaks and their ilk – both deeply terroristic and extortionist, unrelenting and uncompromising. Speaking of the TPP and TTIP – if any good comes out of Snowden’s betrayal it might be in derailing these treacherous “trade agreements.” Also, seriously scaling back on government contracting in every sphere – not just intel.

    With that in mind, I haven’t any doubt the Revolutionary Era internationalists like Paine, Franklin, and Jefferson would have a great deal of sympathy for global cooperation, peace, citizenship et cetera – but in such a way as Marx would later articulate – not dominated by individual will or hegemonic interests but by unions of or societies of individuals. Snowden and Wikileaks do not represent those Painite, Jeffersonian, or Franklinesque sentiments in the least.
    ~Peej

    • let see what has snowden done he forced a conversion into the public that USA I spying on it own citizens’ to an extent that is mind-bowling in portions. if its not illegal it should be. and there is no evidence anywhere that he did harm the USA.

      • the spotlight needs to be put on the NSA . that’s the real story

        • RalphB says:

          boogie, useful idiots abound and your opinion of “harm” is proof

          • bostonboomer says:

            Just the public embarrassment is harmful to US ability to negotiate with other countries. We have no idea what kinds of harm may follow if Snowden defects to Russia. I just love all these people who cavalierly act as if there should never be any secrecy in foreign affairs.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Very interesting comments, peej. You’ve articulated a lot of what I’ve been feeling only viscerally. You’re right about the terroristic nature of the threats about copies of the information all over the world that could be released at any time. I never thought of that.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I think this might be a conservative site, but it’s a very good argument and somewhat similar to yours.

          http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/edward-snowden-plays-monopoly-8720

          • peej says:

            bostonboomer,

            Thanks for the link – my, but you are the dynamite researcher! 🙂 Yes, the National Interest argument is similar to mine. I entirely concur with their assessment of Snowden’s puerile understanding of government. His child-like attitude and petulant politicking toward government (Obama in particular) was abundantly clear in the first reveal of his identity. He “suggested” that Obama’s lack of leadership pushed Snowden into being a leaker and a “leader.” Essentially, “it’s not my fault. It’s Obama’s.” Too, I found his utter denial of European sovereignty quite telling – as if France, Italy, Portugal etc. are incapable of decision-making independent of the United States. Latin America deserves a good deal of scrutiny as well – I can’t remember which – Maduro maybe offered Snowden asylum specifically and directly in retaliation for Europe controlling its own air space during the Bolivian upset.

            Vigilante is a good term for Snowden. Couching his actions in “conscience” really doesn’t cut it given the potential ramifications for a “leak” of this scale. Really, there should be another term for it – “leak” doesn’t suffice. Fostering discussion or more accurately commandeering the national discourse (really international discourse) doesn’t add up either – and then desiring to disengage from the conversation (as subject of discussion), but all the while injecting his perspective, in addition to Greenwald’s and Assange’s and Wikileaks’.

            And stating that he’s received no compensation from any foreign governments or any other as yet unidentified players (supranational or otherwise) doesn’t make it so. We don’t know that he hasn’t yet or won’t in the future receive compensation from some unknown source(s).

            And he hasn’t engaged in civil disobedience, at least not in any Thoreau-esqe sense anyway. Instead he’s been playing his own international relations game to a tee – with Greenwald’s and Assange’s assistance, of course. Even Greenwald admits Snowden revealed Intel specific to China and Hong Kong to ingratiate himself while he temporarily inhabited their territorial domain. Greenwald’s Brazilian article in El Globo also well-timed just as South and Central American governments expressed interest in offering Snowden asylum. I tend to think Greenwald is the hapless pawn in all of this, whatever this is, but I’ll reserve judgment until the entire picture is complete. Even then, I’ll not be too confident of the canvas as painted by Greenwald.

            LIke you, I don’t buy for one moment that China would have simply let him go without first acquiring at least one little niblet from at least one of those four laptops. I don’t think Russia has been left in the cold either. Greenwald first led the world to believe that Snowden was a low level analyst (I always questioned that – Greenwald’s casual reference to Snowden’s “diplomatic cover” was suspect in my book for one) and now he’s so underestimated – imagine that. Greenwald claims he’s more clever than anyone could possibly have imagined. I’d say. Clever enough to outwit China and Russia and clever enough to have evaded North Korea, Iran, and every other government on the planet including the United States. Something isn’t right here. If I were the gambling sort, I might speculate on some sort of BRICS operation (possibly sans India) – I mean BRICS has been systematically building a competitive Eastern alliance to rival the neoliberal EU/Western alliance. I dunno. Just another thought that comes to mind – I haven’t thought that one through yet. But it certainly would benefit any comparable BRICS agreements if the TPP and TTIP were to fall through – though I don’t think even the aftermath of the mighty Snowden could accomplish such a feat. That’s probably too conspiratorial – I’m just trying to brainstorm BRICS angles – I suppose there’d be many – weaken the ties and trust between U.S. and EU, between U.S. and Central/South America. Weaken the U.S. itself during a period of massive and possibly unreconcilable political division… I guess I’m thinking outside Greenwald’s lines and more toward who might benefit most from the kinds of leaks released thus far?
            ~Peej

      • peej says:

        Disagree, boogieman. The contours of what Snowden released were already known or easily gleaned for anyone who was paying attention. For the most part he’s released only Intel – releasing Intel isn’t transparency. It’s espionage. As for the “real” story – Snowden is very much part of the story. You’re buying into the deflection maneuver. He and Greenwald preemptively cast all criticism that might be leveled against them as a smear campaign in order to nullify any and all speculation or legitimate critique. Propagandistic Nonsense. Even if one is to regard NSA as the “real” story – one cannot disregard Snowden or one isn’t synthesizing what he revealed. Greenwald has ceased practicing journalism and has entered into the realm of propaganda, propaganda that nicely suits his adversarial agenda. I give him credit for some fair analysis in the past, but his entire handling of Snowden and what Snowden revealed has been lean at best, slanted and not well rounded in the least. I’d go as far as to say phenomenally irresponsible approaching criminal.

        A related note – David Gregory’s query to Greenwald regarding criminalization of the media for printing classified Intel was perfectly sound. Liberty of the Press was never intended to create a special class of persons nor was Liberty of the Press intended to pertain only to journalists. Thomas Paine addressed both these points succinctly. In addition, there’s Supreme Court precedent attesting to the interpretation of Freedom of the Press in that it doesn’t extend to national security. If Greenwald so desires dialogue about Snowden’s revelations as he claims, perhaps he would do well not to decide for everyone else what should or should not be discussed about this affair – be it criminalizing the media or be it Snowden.

        As to your no-harm fallacy – there’s harm everywhere in diplomatic relations alone. NSA has already indicated that its current operations have been compromised, and the damage to future operations are incalculable. Where there is no demonstrable harm is how NSA operations have affected the lives of individual Americans – NSA’s programs haven’t harmed American citizens because the object of NSA’s programs isn’t to harm American citizens. This government has always engaged in massive espionage – even on its own citizens from day one – and in proportion to the complexities of the time. 2013 is no different.

        America hasn’t been beloved by much of the world for quite some time – not unwarranted criticism ranging from imperialist bully to rogue state… from terrifying (Reagan/Bush Sr.) to modestly respectable (B. Clinton) to laughing-stock buffoon-state (George W.) and we were just starting to recover under Obama – though arguably the adoration with which Western Europe regarded him had already declined by the time Snowden leaked classified Intel.

        Then there’s the unknowable, unseeable, and unforeseeable backlash harm – retaliatory offenses that the general public may or may not ever become aware of. Honestly, I’d worry about inciting a Woolwich incident on American soil. Good god, that alone should have given pause to anyone with any inclination to leak – even of lesser kind or scope than what Snowden did. In sum, your assessment isn’t reflective of the reality that is 21st century globalism nor does it realistically address the practical and pragmatic aspects of national security nor does it address the proper objects of the NSA which aren’t confined to terrorism, but also global crime networks and global crime syndicates – the latter might even be more damaging (ongoing) than terrorism itself. Frankly, I’d like to see the national security apparatus crack down on potential domestic terrorism, human trafficking, and a slew of other global crime schemes. I’d like to see more not less.

        What NSA is doing isn’t mind-blowing at all if one ventures out of an insular, isolated context.

    • janicen says:

      As a rule, I skip extra long comments but I’m so glad to have read this one. You have articulated the random thoughts that have been swirling through my head for the past several weeks. Thank you. If my printer worked I would print your comment and put in on my fridge. Well said.

  7. Livestream: Texas Senate Abortion Debate http://www.texastribune.org/

  8. RalphB says:

    Sen Jane Nelson is certifiably nuts and a total nincompoop!

  9. roofingbird says:

    Watson, this has been a hard slog–Traitions and rules ensure that a motion doesn’t become a rule. The majority in this session and governor could not pass an unconstitutional 20 week ban, The claims of this bill are bogus. the true aim of this bill is to reduce abortions.

    He is really speaking to those watching outside.

    Its a power grab, and to declare victory no matter what happens to women.

    He uses an example as to how under normal circumstances the opposite side would work to compromise.

    I didn’t mention that Vander Puittes bill would have allowed contraction to teen moms 15 and older.

  10. RalphB says:

  11. roofingbird says:

    Zaffirini- prolife but against this bill because she thinks its wrong to close the clinics.

  12. roofingbird says:

    Over 5700 watching on Utube.

  13. roofingbird says:

    Patrick for the bill. – no will abstain. Watson you and others had a chance to craft this bill. this isn’t about politics its about TAKING THE LIFE OF AN INNOCENT CHILD!!! Getting noise form the gallery. women taken out. Oh Patrick will pray for her.

  14. roofingbird says:

    Patrick- no one supports “Late term abortion”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_termination_of_pregnancy

    But no one agrees on the term so its an easy political football.

    wiki says virtually no baby survives before 21 weeks, virtually all survive at 27-28

  15. roofingbird says:

    Whitmire- to Patrick don’t question my faith, you crossed the line.

    Estes – you know this is a god fearing Senate, and all want to do right.

    Why do you (I) get up to speak when you(I) already know the out come? Gallery is wrong to outcry, but we are surrounded by women who must sometimes do desperate things.

    Estes was disgusted during Davis’s reciting of women who had an abortion because they had no money to support baby.

    • roofingbird says:

      A number of senators sitting here how have never had to counsel a women in this position.

      In 1970, a woman just moved to Texas found out she was pregnant and boy friend left her.

      Whitmire is listing several instances he has witnessed of women making these life choices.

  16. I’ve put up a new thread if you need room…just fyi.

  17. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for liveblogging TX debate you guys!!