US cru­sade to hide the truth of spy­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - CHEN WEIHUA

It has be­come in­creas­ingly clear now why the United States govern­ment is so anx­ious to crack down on whis­tle-blow­ers, pur­su­ing over 20 charges against Bradley Man­ning, a US sol­dier who gave se­cret govern­ment and mil­i­tary doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks, hunt­ing down for­mer National Se­cu­rity Agency con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den who re­vealed the NSA’s vast sur­veil­lance pro­grams around the world, and even try­ing to ar­rest Ju­lian As­sange, the Wik­iLeaks’ edi­tor-in­chief and founder who pub­lished se­cret files.

On Wed­nes­day, Glenn Green­wald, one of the first jour­nal­ists to re­port Snow­den’s rev­e­la­tions in May in the Bri­tish news­pa­per The Guardian, again shocked the world by re­port­ing an­other US se­cret sur­veil­lance pro­gram re­vealed by Snow­den.

The so-called XKeyscore pro­gram is touted by NSA in its train­ing ma­te­ri­als as its “widest-reach­ing” sys­tem for de­vel­op­ing in­tel­li­gence from the In­ter­net. It al­lows an­a­lysts to search with no prior au­tho­riza­tion through vast data­bases con­tain­ing e-mails, on­line chats and the brows­ing his­to­ries of mil­lions of in­di­vid­u­als. This new rev­e­la­tion showed how easy it is for the ad­min­is­tra­tion to ac­cess data­bases, which US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Rogers have bla­tantly de­nied.

An an­a­lyst just has to fill out a sim­ple on-screen form giv­ing a broad jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the search. The re­quests are not re­viewed by a court or any NSA per­son­nel be­fore they are pro­cessed.

The new rev­e­la­tion means that if Snow­den, re­port­edly is­sued Rus­sian en­try doc­u­ment on Thurs­day, is sent back to the US, he will face more charges than Man­ning, whose sen­tenc­ing hear­ing be­gan on Wed­nes­day.

Also on Wed­nes­day, se­nior US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials tes­ti­fied be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on the sur­veil­lance pro­grams and re­leased clas­si­fied doc­u­ments re­gard­ing the mas­sive gath­er­ing of phone records, as re­vealed by Snow­den.

If it were not Snow­den, all th­ese NSA ac­tiv­i­ties against civil­ians would re­main a se­cret. Obama has said he wel­comes a national de­bate on the is­sue, but he is only will­ing to do so now those pro­grams have been ex­posed.

Obama will not say how many more such se­cret sur­veil­lance pro­grams ex­ist in the US, which ex­plains why the US has been in such a hurry to hunt down Snow­den be­fore he dis­closes more pro­grams like PRISM and XKeyscore.

For the past three years, pub­lic protests de­mand­ing the re­lease of Man­ning have been tak­ing place in many US cities. The 25-year-old faces up to 134 years in prison for telling the pub­lic about some of the hor­ri­ble war crimes com­mit­ted by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is ironic is that if Man­ning, Snow­den and As­sange were pur­sued by other gov­ern­ments, such as China and Rus­sia, the White House and Foggy Bot­tom would be ap­plaud­ing them and call­ing them not just whis­tle-blow­ers, but heroes and fight­ers for hu­man rights.

What is also ironic is that As­sange, who has long ad­vo­cated freedom of the press and op­posed govern­ment cen­sor­ship and who now lives in asy­lum in the Ecuadorean em­bassy in Lon­don, is be­ing pur­sued by a govern­ment which likes to claim the same prin­ci­ples.

There is, of course, more irony. Many peo­ple now want to nom­i­nate As­sange, Snow­den and Man­ning for the No­bel Peace Prize, a lau­re­ate that Obama won in 2009 amid much con­tro­versy.

The US’ harsh stance to­ward the three whistle­blow­ers is ap­par­ently in­tended to “kill a chicken to warn mon­keys” to use a Chi­nese id­iom. In this re­gard it has had the ef­fect of putting pres­sure on jour­nal­ists, es­pe­cially those cov­er­ing the national se­cu­rity beat, and po­ten­tial whis­tle-blow­ers of US govern­ment’s wrong­do­ings, to not delve too far into the murky world of “national se­cu­rity”.

When I watched a cer­e­mony on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon staged by US Con­gres­sional lead­ers to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the March on Wash­ing­ton for Jobs and Freedom, I won­dered if any of them still re­mem­bered Martin Luther King Jr’s Let­ter from Birm­ing­ham Jail, in which he called on peo­ple to obey only the just laws and dis­obey the un­just ones. That is ex­actly what Man­ning, Snow­den and As­sange have done. The author, based in Wash­ing­ton, is deputy edi­tor of China Daily USA. chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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