ROBERT LEVERING – Without the friendships he forged in the antiwar movement, Daniel Ellsberg might not have found the courage and support he needed to help end the Vietnam War.
WILLIAM J. ASTORE – Ever since 2007, when I first started writing for TomDispatch, I’ve been arguing against America’s forever wars, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that, despite my more than 60 articles, American blood is still being spilled in war after war across the Greater Middle East and Africa, even as foreign peoples pay a far higher price in lives lost and cities ruined. And I keep asking myself: Why, in this century, is the distinctive feature of America’s wars that they never end? Why do our leaders persist in such repetitive folly and the seemingly eternal disasters that go with it?
SAM HUSSEINI – A new film depicting the whistleblower Katherine Gun, who tried to stop the Iraq invasion, is largely accurate, but the story is not over, says Sam Husseini.
ANN WRIGHT – President Trump is becoming the third post-9/11 president to prosecute bloody conflicts in the Mideast and impose mass surveillance at home, with no end in sight.
JESSELYN RADACK – It is the leakiest of times in the Executive Branch. [A little over a week ago], Wikileaks published a massive and, by all accounts genuine, trove of documents revealing that the CIA has been stockpiling, and lost control of, hacking tools it uses against targets. Particularly noteworthy were the revelations that the CIA developed a tool to hack Samsung TVs and turn them into recording devices and that the CIA worked to infiltrate both Apple and Google smart phone operating systems since it could not break encryption. No one in government has challenged the authenticity of the documents disclosed.
REBECCA SOLNIT – I began talking about hope in 2003, in the bleak days after the war in Iraq was launched. Fourteen years later, I use the term hope because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of pessimism, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both. Optimism assumes that all will go well without our effort; pessimism assumes it’s all irredeemable; both let us stay home and do nothing. Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we don’t actually know what will happen, but know we may be able write it ourselves.
MEL GURTOV – How should we evaluate Obama’s foreign policy record? Right-wing critics will of course excoriate Obama for all the usual things—weakness against adversaries like Russia and China, negotiating with instead of subverting Cuba and Iran, eviscerating the US military, undermining relations with Israel. On the left, Obama is already being cast as another liberal leader whose actions failed to deliver on his promises, from Guantanamo to the Middle East. Historians will have plenty of things to quarrel about, but we need not wait.
EWEN MACASKILL – Whistleblower Edward Snowden received several standing ovations in the Swedish parliament after being given the Right Livelihood award for his revelations of the scale of state surveillance.
ABBY ZIMET – May Day saw the Berlin unveiling of Anything To Say?, a public art project and “monument to courage” featuring life-size bronze statues of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, all of whom have “lost their freedom for the truth.” The installation in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, a project conceived by American journalist Charles Glass and created by Italian sculptor Davide Dormino, features the three whistleblowers upright on chairs, with a fourth empty chair inviting passersby to express their solidarity or their views, to “stand up, get a better view and share their courageous stance.” Says Dormino, “It is for you.”
JOHN HANRAHAN – On Monday, April 27, seven prominent national security whistleblowers called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be free from government spying. Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus — for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell — underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.
WINSLOW MYERS – Very stirring and eloquent words at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Mr. President, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. President Obama: “What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.” Not only that nonviolent change is possible, Mr. President, but that nonviolence is by far the most effective route to change both at home and abroad. So stop sending those drones to kill innocent children in faraway desert lands, murders that create more terrorists than they eliminate!
TREVOR TIMM – The sweetheart deal the Justice Department gave to former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking top secret information compared to the stiff jail sentences other low-level leakers have received under the Obama administration has led to renewed calls for leniency for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And no one makes the case better than famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
ANITA KUMAR – [January 13, 2014] A new analysis of 225 terrorism cases in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks indicates that the National Security Agency’s massive collection of phone records had a “minimal” on preventing acts of terrorism, according to a report released Monday by the New America Foundation, a Washington nonprofit group.
ERIC HOLTHAUS – So it’s come to this. Last year, a researcher presented a paper on climate change at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting entitled ”Is Earth F**ked?” which advocated “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.”
RT.COM – A group of former National Security Agency insiders who went on to become whistleblowers have written a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a meeting with him to offer “a fuller picture” of the spy agency’s systemic problems.
JONATHAN STEMPEL – (Reuters; Dec. 27, 2013) – A federal judge ruled that a National Security Agency program that collects records of millions of Americans’ phone calls is lawful, calling it a “counter-punch” to terrorism that does not violate Americans’ privacy rights.
ANTHONY D. ROMERO – Edward Snowden is a great American who deserves full immunity for his patriotic acts. When Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA, he single-handedly reignited a global debate about government surveillance and our most fundamental rights as individuals. On Monday, a federal judge vindicated Snowden’s actions by declaring unconstitutional the NSA’s spying program, labeling it “Orwellian”-adding that James Madison would be “aghast.”
NORMAN SOLOMON – Ever since the first big revelations about the National Security Agency five months ago, Dianne Feinstein has been in overdrive to defend the surveillance state. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she generates an abundance of fog, weasel words, anti-whistleblower slander and bogus notions of reform — while methodically stabbing civil liberties in the back.
JOHN LAFORGE – The U.S. Army School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia is a notorious training operation for Latin American officers and soldiers. It’s associated with some of the worst dictatorships and human rights violators in the hemisphere. Over the past 20 years, the grassroots School of Americas Watch (SOA Watch) has grown into one of the most dynamic, multi-generational, cross-continental movements against militarism in the Americas (SOAW.org/November).
ROGER WILLIAMS – Without remembering — without telling and retelling America’s complete history, including the important role of whistleblowers — we Americans, all of us, become cultural and ethical amputees.
CONGRESSMAN ALAN GRAYSON (D, FL) – Members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight. On the contrary, “oversight” has become “overlook.” Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I’ve learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from “intelligence” briefings.
NORMAN SOLOMON – When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.
LAURA POITRAS – The detention of David Miranda — partner of the Guardian journalist
involved in the NSA revelations — and the destruction of hard drives in the British newspaper’s basement reveal one thing: Governments do not want their citizens to be informed when it comes to the topic of surveillance.
NORMAN SOLOMON – At the top of the federal government, even a brief shutdown of “core NSA operations” is unthinkable. But at the grassroots, a permanent shutdown of the NSA should be more than thinkable; we should strive to make it achievable. And since “Total Information Awareness,” in the form of content storage at the NSA’s Bluffdale, Utah, complex, is technologically within reach, we should at least demand closure of the agency’s mega-Orwellian center in Bluffdale.
ED PILKINGTON – While Bradley Manning, the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of secret disclosures, was cleared of the charge of ‘Aiding the Enemy,’ he faces a possible maximum sentence of 136 years in military jail after he was convicted of most other charges on which he stood trial.
JONATHAN D. SALANT – A majority of U.S. registered voters consider Edward Snowden a whistle-blower, not a traitor, and a plurality says government anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, a poll released recently shows.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Rarely has any American provoked such fury in Washington’s high places. So far, Edward Snowden has outsmarted the smartest guys in the echo chamber — and he has proceeded with the kind of moral clarity that U.S. officials seem to find unfathomable. Bipartisan condemnations of Snowden are escalating from Capitol Hill and the Obama administration. More of the NSA’s massive surveillance program is now visible in the light of day — which is exactly what it can’t stand.