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Monday, July 29, 2013

A Shameful Day To Be A US Citizen

A Shameful Day To Be A US Citizen

By Dave Lindorff
Information Clearing House
Monday, July 29, 2013

I have been deeply ashamed of my country many times.

The Nixon Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong was one
such time, when hospitals, schools and dikes were targeted.

The invasion of Iraq was another.

Washington’s silence over the fatal Israeli Commando raid on the
Gaza Peace Flotilla, in which a 19-year-old unarmed American boy
was murdered, was a third.

But I have rarely been as ashamed and disgusted as I was Saturday
reading that US Attorney General Eric Holder had sent a letter to
the Russian minister of justice saying that the US would “not seek
the death penalty” in its espionage case against National Security
Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, promising that even if the
US later brought added charges against Snowden after obtaining him,
they would not include any death penalty, and vowing that if Snowden
were handed over by Russia to the US, he would “not be tortured.”

So it has come to this:

That the United States has to promise (to Russia!) that it will not
torture a prisoner in its control -- a US citizen at that -- and so
therefore that person, Edward Snowden, has no basis for claiming
that he should be “treated as a refugee or granted asylum.”

Why does Holder have to make these pathetic representations to
his counterpart in Russia?

Because Snowden has applied for asylum saying that he is at risk of
torture or execution if returned to the US to face charges for leaking
documents showing that the US government is massively violating
the civil liberties and privacy of every American by monitoring every
American’s electronic communications.

Snowden has made that claim in seeking asylum because he knows
that another whistleblower, Pvt. Bradley Manning, was in fact
tortured by the US for months, and held without trial in solitary
confinement in a Marine military brig for nearly a year, part of the
time naked, before being finally put on trial in a kangaroo court,
where the judge is as much prosecutor as jurist, and where his guilt
was declared in advance by the President of the United States -- the
same president who has also already publicly declared Snowden guilty
too.

It is incredibly shameful that we US citizens have to admit that
we live in a country that tortures its prisoners, that casually
executes people who are mentally retarded, who are innocent,
who had defense attorneys who slept through their clients’
trials, whose prosecutors slept with the judge, who were denied
access to DNA evidence that could have proven their innocence,
or who were convicted based upon the lies of prosecutors and
prosecution witnesses.

This country’s “justice” system has become so perverted and
politically tainted that the rest of the world, including Russia,
knows that Snowden is telling the truth when he says he cannot
hope to receive a fair trial here.

Indeed, Congress has passed laws, and the President has signed
laws, giving this government the power to lock someone like
Snowden up indefinitely without trial, to torture him, and even
to kill him, not through a jury decision on capital punishment,
but simply on the basis of a secret “finding” by the President
that he has aided or abetted terrorism.

No wonder Russia and several other countries, including Venezuela,
Bolivia and Nicaragua, have offered or are considering offering
Snowden asylum.

And no wonder that, in its obsession with getting its tyrannical
hands on him, this government is willing to promise not to kill
him or torture him (for what a promise from the US government
is worth, especially since when Holder makes his promise of "no
torture" we have to remember that Holder and the US don't define
such horrors as waterboarding, stress positions, keeping someone
naked in an unheated cell, or employing prolonged sensory
deprivation are not "torture").

Shame and anger are the only appropriate responses to that letter
from Holder.

If this were a country that honored the rule of law, Attorney General
Holder would not need to promise not to torture.

He would need only to point to the US Constitution, with its ban on
“cruel and unusual punishment.”

He would not need to promise a fair trial to Snowden, with no
capital punishment on any charges.

He could point instead to the Constitution’s promise of a
presumption of innocence and of a public trial by a jury of
the accused’s peers, to make the case against the granting
of asylum.

In such a country, someone like Snowden, with the help of a crack
legal team, would have a fair shot at proving to a jury his innocence
of the government’s frivolous espionage charges.

He’d have a fair chance of convincing at least one juror of his
absolute innocence of any crime, making his conviction impossible.

But that is not what this country is, especially today.

In today’s US courts, we know the “Justice” Department would
seek to bar testimony about Snowden’s motives in leaking the
documents he downloaded from the NSA’s computers.

They would ask the judge to limit defense arguments and testimony
in the case to the narrow issue of whether or not he downloaded
and leaked files, not to whether those files exposed Constitutional
violations and needed to be brought to the public’s attention.

Our Judges, nominated by Presidents, and confirmed by Senators,
Democrat and Republican, who want jurists who favor government
secrecy and who generally side with the government against the
people, can be counted on to grant the government’s motions.

In such circumstances, a defendant like Snowden, facing charges of
espionage or theft of government secrets, has no ability to defend himself.

The trial would be like in a Lewis Carroll event: “Verdict first, trial
later!”

Hopefully President Vladimir Putin will not be pressured by the US
into pretending that Snowden has nothing to fear in going back to
face “justice” in the US.

It is bad enough that we Americans have to hang our heads in
shame as our Attorney General pretends, against all evidence
to the contrary, that there is still a fair legal system operating
in the US, and that the US respects human rights and the rule
of law.

We should not have to also endure yet another kangaroo court trial,
this time of Edward Snowden.

Snowden should be granted asylum in Russia, or should be allowed
to travel to one of the other countries of his choice that have had
the courage to offer him asylum.

If we’re going to have trials on the issue of spying in the US, let
them be of Holder himself, and of President Obama.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35684.htm

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