Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eric Holder Promises Not to Kill or Torture Edward Snowden: I Feel So Much Better!

President Obama has tried to play down the Edward Snowden saga, saying he would not scramble jets to capture a 29 year-old hacker. But Edward Snowden, the high-tech whistleblower, is a very big deal indeed.

I solemnly promise not to torture Edward Snowden.

The U.S. accused Snowden of spying after he fled the country for Hong Kong. Now he is in Moscow hoping to make his way to one of three South American countries that have offered him asylum.  Vice President Joe Biden made personal phone calls to South American leaders trying to persuade them to turn Snowden away.

And now Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has seen fit to promise the Russian justice minister that the U.S. will not execute or torture Snowden if the Russians turn him over to us.

Can you imagine? America's top justice official feels compelled to assure Russia--Russia, for God's sake--that we won't kill or torture an American citizen!

Personally, I hope Snowden obtains asylum in a friendly country.  I am convinced he is a whistleblower and not a spy; and a lot of Americans agree with me.

But any conversation about extraditing Snowden from Russia should take place in the context of a larger conversation about America's lawless policies all over the world--including its policy of practicing 'extraordinary extradition' by kidnapping people and taking them to a third country to face torture.

The Italians, you recall, prosecuted several Americans for involvement in the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan.  Robert Lady, head of the CIA's Milan office, was convicted for his participation in that crime and sentence to 9 years in an Italian prison.

But will the Americans turn Lady over to the Italians? It will not. In fact, the U.S. managed to get Lady out of Panama just a few days ago after he was detained there while Panamanian officials  considered whether to honor an Interpol request to send him back to Italy.

And let's not forget those drone attacks. The U.S., the mighty protector of human rights--has launched drone attacks all over the world, killing hundreds of people, including U.S. citizens. 

And it has the effrontery to ask the Russians to hand over Edward Snowden?

Before the Russians comply with the U.S. demand to return Snowden, the U.S. should be required to make three public promises;

1) It will not prosecute or persecute Edward Snowden in any way.
2) It will turn over Robert Lady to the Italians.
3) It will stop all drone attacks in countries with which we are not at war.

Why is this a Catholic issue? Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, founders of the Catholic Worker movement, believed we all have an obligation to make the world a little better, to help make the world a place where it is easier to be good.

The United States, by its arrogant disregard for human rights, is offending people all over the world--especially the Muslim world.  I think we would take a big step toward a more peaceful world if the United States behaved like a good global citizen. After all, the U.S. can't kill all its enemies with drones.  It needs to work to turn at least some of our enemies into friends.


Greg Miller & Karen DeYoung. Panama releases former CIA operative wanted by Italy. Washington Post, July 19, 2013.  Retrieved from:

Michael S. Schmidt and Steven Lee Myers. U.S. Letter Says Leaker Won't Face Death Penalty. New York Times, July 27, 2013, A4.

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