The people in charge of the USG (amerikun guvmint) are one exceedingly stupid and paranoid bunch.
If they were smart, they'd just leave Edward Snowden alone. President Obama lives and breathes public opinion polls and focus groups. So, now that more than half the population thinks Snowden is a whistleblowing hero and that the USG has gone overboard with this whole spying thing, does he let up? No, he does not. He may not be scrambling his fighter jets, but he's definitely scrambling to land on the front page of the New York Times and look like an idiot, planting a story about how he's strong-arming Latin American countries to deny asylum to Snowden. If thuggishness is how he wants to be remembered, he is succeeding mightily.
Meanwhile, Snowden is seizing the inept American moment and applying for asylum in Russia -- presumably to gain safe passage, eventually, to one of those South American countries. If the USG maintains its anal-retentive hold on the entire atmosphere, Snowden could just end up traveling overland with Vlad in a protected convoy up to the Arctic Circle, traverse it by dog-sled and ice-breaker, (assuming there's any ice left) and then head down the Pacific Coast to safe haven. (Sarah Palin can wave to them from her house as Putin rears his mighty head in her space.)
Obama may have pretended to end Bush-era torture, but he has simply finessed and expanded it. By effectively trapping Snowden, he is torturing him. In recent days, one federal judge ordered Obama's guards to stop feeling up the private parts of Gitmo detainees. And even fellow Democrats are warning him he's breaking the law by force-feeding them. And now, international human rights groups are in Russia, holding the president up to even more universal scorn for hounding the whistleblower who did nothing more than expose USG malfeasance and speak truth to power.
Maybe Congress doesn't have the cojones to impeach our temporary emperor (Temp Emp), but at long last, he and the corporate American Empire are being tried and convicted in the world court of public opinion. That has to count for something, no matter how hard the Powers That Be try to ignore it and change it and blame the messengers. The whole manufactured consent thing is falling apart at the seams. The only surprise is how long the cheap propaganda thread has held it all together.
Update: More coverage from The Guardian. And here, in its entirety, is Snowden's remarkable statement:
Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president's plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
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.
If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.