John Pilger – Imagine the aircraft of the president of France being forced down in Latin America on “suspicion” that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.
Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the “international community”, as the governments of the west call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.
The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane – denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to “inspect” his aircraft for the “fugitive” Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.
In Moscow, Morales had been asked about Snowden – who remains trapped in the city’s airport. “If there were a request [for political asylum],” he said, “of course, we would be willing to debate and consider the idea.” That was clearly enough provocation for the Godfather. “We have been in touch with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country,” said a US state department official.
The French – having squealed about Washington spying on their every move, as revealed by Snowden – were first off the mark, followed by the Portuguese. The Spanish then did their bit by enforcing a flight ban of their airspace, giving the Godfather’s Viennese hirelings enough time to find out if Snowden was indeed invoking article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
Those paid to keep the record straight have played their part with a cat-and-mouse media game that reinforces the Godfather’s lie that this heroic young man is running from a system of justice, rather than preordained, vindictive incarceration that amounts to torture – ask Bradley Manning and the living ghosts in Guantánamo.
Historians seem to agree that the rise of fascism in Europe might have been averted had the liberal or left political class understood the true nature of its enemy. The parallels today are very different, but the Damocles sword over Snowden, like the casual abduction of Bolivia’s president, ought to stir us into recognising the true nature of the enemy.
Snowden’s revelations are not merely about privacy, or civil liberty, or even mass spying. They are about the unmentionable: that the democratic facades of the US now barely conceal a systematic gangsterism historically identified with, if not necessarily the same as, fascism. On Tuesday, a US drone killed 16 people in North Waziristan, “where many of the world’s most dangerous militants live”, said the few paragraphs I read. That by far the world’s most dangerous militants had hurled the drones was not a consideration. President Obama personally sends them every Tuesday. …
Spain says it and other European countries were told that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board the Bolivian presidential plane that was diverted to Austria this week, causing a diplomatic row.
The foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, said on Spanish National Television on Friday that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside”.
The minister did not say who supplied the information and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the United States. But he said European countries’ reactions were based on this information.
The Bolivian president, Evo Morales, claims the US pressured European countries to deny the plane flyover permission on Tuesday on suspicion that Snowden was using the flight as part of his bid to seek asylum.
Morales has warned he might close the US embassy in his country over the forced landing, which he called a violation of international law. He had been returning from a summit in Russia during which he had suggested he would be willing to consider a request from Snowden for asylum.
“We met with the leaders of my party and they asked us for several measures and if necessary, we will close the embassy of the United States,” Morales said on Thursday. “We do not need the embassy of the United States.”
Morales made his announcement as the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay joined him in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for a special meeting to address the diplomatic row. At the end of the summit a statement was issued demanding answers from France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The US was not mentioned in the statement.
Morales has said that while the plane was parked in Vienna, the Spanish ambassador to Austria arrived with two embassy personnel and they asked to search the plane. He said he denied them permission.
García-Margallo said on Thursday that Spain did not bar Morales from landing in its territory.
France sent an apology to the Bolivian government. But Morales said “apologies are not enough because the stance is that international treaties must be respected”.
Morales said he never saw Snowden when he was in Russia, and Bolivia had not received a formal request from him for asylum.
Despite the complaints, there were no signs that Latin American leaders were moving to bring Snowden to the region that had been seen as the most likely to grant him asylum.
Edward Snowden has disappeared. The NSA whistleblower, who was presumed to be on a flight from Hong Kong to Moscow and thence to Havana did not board the flight to Havana. Some doubt whether he actually went to Moscow and suggest that though he had left Hong Kong, his alleged flight to Russia was a feint, misinformation to throw the press and governments off his tail. Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Snowden has applied for asylum in Ecuador.
What a fiasco. There are supposed to be protections for whistle blowers within our own government so people like this don’t have to leave the country and compromise our national security.