Snowden’s New Talking Point: Nazi War Crimes Trial

Can NSA surveillance be compared to Hitler's genocide?

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Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth tweeted this photo, taken by the organization's Deputy Director for Russia Tanya Lokshina in the Moscow airport on July 12, 2013.

In his Friday statement from Moscow‘s Sheremetyevo International Airport, Edward Snowden revealed that he’s asked for asylum in Russia as he tries to arrange travel to a country willing to host him indefinitely, most likely Venezuela.

Along the way, Snowden framed his situation in striking new terms, citing the 1945-1946 Nuremberg trials that convicted several Nazi leaders of crimes against humanity. Here’s how he put it:

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.

Nuremberg did establish that a person is legally responsible for committing war crimes even if ordered to do so by higher authorities in what is known as the superior orders defense (although the tribunal’s principles do not appear to include the second sentence Snowden attributes to it in several online versions of his statement). Thus, the Nazi officials who condemned Jews to their deaths and pleaded that Hitler had made them do it were hanged without remorse.

As it happens, Snowden is  the first American in recent years to invoke Nuremberg as a justification for controversial insubordination. In 2006, Lt. Ehren Watada of Washington state refused his deployment to Iraq on the grounds that the war itself was illegal. The Army didn’t agree, though after much legal wrangling Watada got off with a discharge in 2009. More creatively, defenders of Lt. Colonel Terrence Lakin cited Nuremberg as a reason why the Colorado native was right to refuse orders to deploy to Afghanistan in 2010 on the grounds that Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

Snowden’s invocation of Nuremberg may not be quite so ridiculous, but it’s still a reach. Snowden’s Friday statement may invoke the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.” But the declaration is not legally binding, and few people would equate government surveillance programs with conquering Europe and committing mass genocide. As Massimo noted yesterday, Human Rights Watch is trying to construct a more compelling defense for Snowden. But it appears HRW is so far avoiding reference to Nuremberg.

Snowden isn’t going to convince the U.S. government to treat him like a conscientious objector or a heroic dissident, of course. He’s fighting a battle for international public opinion, including in Russia and other nations that might help him avoid spending the rest of his life in a federal prison. And if an implicit comparison between modern America and the Third Reich seems like a desperate measure, well, he’s a desperate man.

480 comments
projectfreedomblog
projectfreedomblog

@mantisdragon91 Ok, I can't take it anymore. Your ignorance of our history and arrogance is just one more reason the world doesn't respect us. Not that it matters much, but THIS part DOES and the people in these Western countries need to know the truth....the practices of the small group of men that hide behind the veil secrecy (controlling nearly all of the western media) and run the western countries through their central banks (FED) and controlling their governments, economies and monetary policies, for their own benefit (and for centuries), along with the real reason behind our military-industrial complex reaching out all around the world, killing millions of civilians in the way, for almost strictly economic benefit now vs. humanitarian reasons...is why the world hates the US and parts of Europe, UK etc.

The policies over the last few decades have truly been that of desperation, and now the gig is up (at least the secrecy part) thanks to many great humanitarians like Edward Snowden, John Perkins, Karen Hudes, Russell Tice and many others.  The positive side and purpose of these heroes risking life and liberty, speaking out, is that it's not too late! We the people in mass still have power over the few, but only if we unite, fight back, and push for widespread change and reform now.

As the world awakens to the policies of a few Western countries (driven by a ruling elitist class and oligopoly banks) dead set on world control through the demise of the masses and middle classes using the monetary tools of the central banks (FED), IMF, World Bank, BIS, the CFR, etc. and intimidation or military engagement if there is any resistance or their efforts fail (i.e. Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, etc.)...AND THEY ARE SICK AND TIRED...AND SO SHOULD YOU BE!

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DanSlaby
DanSlaby

Snowden, did a snow job on human rights advocates. He cleverly created the ruse of whistleblower while hiding the theft of NSA operating procedures for disclosure to repressive countries like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and criminal hacker organizations. Cyber spying helped catch the Russian cyber criminals who stole financial information (perhaps Snowden wants to get in on the take), it helped apprehend sex slavery operatives, and many other criminal and terrorist activity. Snowden has no credibility at this point, and it is only a matter of time for the evidence of the consequences to sober up the American press and people. 

jmac
jmac

Siber:  It's Monday night and Putin's out blubbering again.  Why doesn't he just take him in?  Why don't you give him a call?  Write him an email.  A Tweet.  Go on his blog.    Let's get the ball rolling.  What's he waiting for?  

DebbieHanrahan
DebbieHanrahan

His beliefs and story change.  If he really wanted to be a whistleblower he would have stayed in the US.  Being a coward he fled.  Therefore he is a leaker.  I can't buy his story because he had the opportunity to flee to Ecuador before his leaking.  Instead he went for the media game with Hong Kong, then Russia, and blah, blah, blah.  He's  a leaker, not a whistleblower.  He has given up information that he vowed to not reveal.  He's a waste of time for the US.  Let him sit in Russia or any other communist country he will be allowed in. 

TonyWebley
TonyWebley

 Sure, there is no death penalty in Russia, people just disappear or they get mysteriously assassinated in the UK . If Snowden was Russian ,as soon as they got him they would torture him and then throw him live into a furnace  ,Sibir is as bad as baghdad bob .

carolerae
carolerae

Let Snowden stay in Russia.  I'm tired of hearing about him and tired of his idle threats from his friend Greenwald who says he will bring the Country down by releasing more information that Snowden has.  Snowden will receive his just reward from Russia, a fine example of human rights.  When they grow tired of his nonsense, he'll end up in a barrel filled with concrete like a journalist recently did in Russia. 

caseumissedit
caseumissedit

Well, I'm not sure Snowden meant to go all Godwin's Law on us, but Time sure did. However, I do agree that the quote should be called out as the second half was just added on a couple decades ago in a US courtroom (first reference I could find was 3 nuns who had broken into a nuclear missile silo tried to use the Nuremburg defense). It's all just theater though to keep us from paying attention to what really matters - http://theendisalwaysnear.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-year-of-leaking-dangerously.html

jmac
jmac

Ny Times:   Russia wants more control because of Snowden:  “We need to quickly put these huge transnational companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook under national controls,” Ruslan Gattarov, a member of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, or Federation Council, said in an interview."


jmac
jmac

NYTimes:   Amnesty International  and Human Rights Watch   "have had their Moscow offices raided by the authorities in recent months, and some of their local representatives have faced personal threats apparently aimed at curtailing their work."

The article notes Snowden is in "purgatory".    He's being played liked a mouse in a cage.   Whoever advised him to fly to Hong Kong and then to Russia should be feeling a small bit of remorse right now.   Do Wiki and Greenwald care?   They got what they wanted.  

TonyWebley
TonyWebley

 You are confusing arrogance with confidence

  We are the ONLY superpower on this planet

disproving anything negative you wish were true.


   China with their slave labor system is failing

from the inside as her poor people see that they

are being used ,her so called  strong economy 

is based on reports no one can verify. And

her pet pit poodle North Korea who she uses

to strike fear into the region while acting like

she cannot control it is starving to death

while its military is selling anything it can off  


    Russia is lead , no, hijacked , by manipulative 

 Stalin worshiping Ex-kgb mobster who longs for

 the good old days and is trying to drag her 

 kicking and screaming  backwards in time  



  So I state,with a smirk on my face and seeing clearly from this great height that only a citizen of the United States of America can know down to those wish they could be a part of our greatness and because of this hate us because of it , fine, hate us , so long as you fear us and since you clearly do fear us ,we have won.

zade7777
zade7777

Snowden did not say NSA surveillance be compared to Hitler's genocide- that is really twisting and scrambling his statement, which reads, "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.'" see http://wikileaks.org/Statement-by-Edward-Snowden-to.html

fitty_three
fitty_three

Sadness, and no where to put it: Zimmerman was acquitted.  Before anyone says anything about Zimmerman not ever being safe, I'll point out that Trayvon Martin will never be safe, either.

RIP Trayvon.

JosephDillard
JosephDillard

The comparison of justice for Snowden and justice for victims of human rights violations in war is a stretch to this writer because he is most likely an American sympathizer with US nationalism. Most people around the world aren't going to share his response to Snowden's appeal. They will agree with Snowden's appeal to international principles of justice over nationalism. As well they should.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

All you need to know about Snowden can be seen on this thread's comment section. Look how many Putin operatives are on here defending him. Is it typical for a hero to have support from an administration which murders and beats reporters on the issue of transparency?

GCL1
GCL1

The United States and Americans in general are among the LEAST reliable and LEAST regarded people in the world today. Not content with getting into their own citizens' business, they seek out information on non-Americans from overseas as well.

This is not acceptable. I hope anti-American forces are strengthened by Snowden's recent revelations.

It is good the world has Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc. to keep the US in check; otherwise the US is likely to lose all sense of proportion.

As a corollary, it is also in a sense good that terrorist organizations like the Taliban and Al Qaeda exist (if not actually thrive), since their brazen, virulent, and outspoken anti-Americanism is a necessary and welcome countervailing force against American interventionism, interference, and hegemony.


RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@jmac Your way of thinking is that the world must condemn the Russian Government because this Government doesn't want to be checked and shawn the world what this government is doing. Fine, very fine, but now what  the USA is doing with Snowden is it totally different?

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@jmac Where is your sanity? You are implying that the problems facing Snowden are Russian made? Are you insane or you live in the third dimension?

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@TonyWebley What are you smoking? Fear you? Why is your government enacting laws taking away your freedoms?  Is it because the world fear you? Don't be childish. You'd better ask yourself why is your government doing this with its own citizens? Don't evade your responsibility as a citizen for the behaviour of your government in the world through the ages.

PacificSage
PacificSage

@zade7777

I've noticed Time is very misleading in it's headlines. It's something they do across the board on various topics. Time gives one impression, that's a little different or edgy, and then publishes the same base article as other sites. 

Don't just believe me, check it out for yourself.....

jmac
jmac

@fitty_three Just finished "Devil in the Grove" last night about Thurgood Marshall and the Groveland case in Florida (shed a few tears) and Florida's horrid history of racial discrimination (worse than Georgia you say - yes) and remember living at Eglin AFB and thinking I might as well be in Alabama and remembering the long, long lines for African Americas to vote IN OUR LAST ELECTION and - who's surprised.   Maybe I would have voted with the jury with the evidence given but that doesn't change the fact that Florida has a problem that's embedded in it's history. 

I will never visit the state again.  

fitty_three
fitty_three

@JosephDillard  

Don't forget that he is the bearer of more intelligence goodies for them.  I know that Al-Queda sympathizers are among that group, too.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@GCL1 Yes its good the world has societies that torture, starve and oppress their own citizens while destabilizing everyone else.

jmac
jmac

@RamonRoman @jmac Are you implying that Snowden doesn't have a Russian problem?  He's stuck in a cubby hole in Russian airport hotel transit zone where no one had seen him for three weeks and you're not worried about him after the photo op?    His dad is.  It's written his dad also can't communicate with him but has told the press he wants him to shut up.  There's a report saying people have been stuck there for years.     He can't get into Russia, he can't leave Russia and you don't think he has a Russian problem?  Maybe you also think his every move isn't being watched by Russia?  Maybe they didn't give him a health physical.  Maybe.      Russia has claimed they haven't received his second plea for amnesty.  What a joke.   I'm not condemning Russia - I'm saying Snowden and those who advised him are beyond stupid.  Glenn Greenwald is out with another odd release saying Snowden has no anxiety but that he's tense. Tense indeed!   Greenwald's also saying he's still afraid America will kill him.  Of course, Greenwald hold's Russia's hand, so anything he writes is to be taken with a grain of salt.  

fitty_three
fitty_three

@jmac

I thought you had taken a side trip to see foghorn, am I right?

It's people like him and Trayvon's parents that represent the good side of Florida. I admit to downing the south myself even though I was born there and some of my wife's family live there.

There isn't much good to take away from this but one day this type of stuff will be part of the past; after all, many in my wife's family have witnessed "strange fruit".  It was a fixture of black American life in the south.

One day, their memories and sacrifices will respected. I am sad.

RamonRoman
RamonRoman

@mantisdragon91 @GCL1 Wow, what a mind! There are several ways to oppress your own citizens giving the appearance that your government is protecting them; for example enacting the Patriot Act. Now, as to the part that you say that there are societies that torture their own citizens, where is the difference with societies that torture foreign people for the mere act to combat that society that invade and bomb them to mince bits? And not only this, they keep them in a foreign jail per secula seculorum with no an iota of legal counselling.

GCL1
GCL1

@dakinsky 

Being overweight is not an automatic disqualification. Some of my favorite Americans are overweight: John Candy, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Roseanne. This isn't about physicality or even being moralistic or materialistic.

It is a personality issue. Having dealt extensively with Americans, I know just how difficult it is to deal with them and make them accept that THEY ARE ON THE WHOLE CLUELESS AND WRONG. When that profound cluelessness and abject error is backed up by the force they have at their disposal, I can sort of understand and sympathize with why so many Muslims want to blow Americans up. I would too, if I were one. How else can you deal with a recalcitrant, powerful idiot who refuses to grasp simple facts and keeps making the same mistakes over and over again? You bomb him or her - that is what the Taliban and the Al Qaeda do. That is secretly what every Muslim wants to do. 

You cannot argue sense with an American; their minds are not receptive to facts and reason. What impresses Americans are loud, gaudy displays - loud displays of power, gaudy displays of money and wealth, and finally, excessive displays of violence, which is what the Taliban and the Al Qaeda are good at. Americans never get anything except through the application of force and violence.

jmac
jmac

@Sibir Russia could take him, Sibir.  You know that.   He's asked.  All you have to do is open your arms and take him.  You know Russia doesn't care if he has a passport.  You're being silly.   

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

Snowden has not crossed the border of Russia. His passport was not valid.
What is the purpose of the United States to revoke his passport? The fact that he is still sitting in the transit zone - it is the fault of the U.S. government.

GCL1
GCL1

@roknsteve @GCL1 @dakinsky 

Here we go! Other problems with Americans - CAN'T READ!; confuse "irrelevant physical attribute" for "dead". Attention deficit disorders (especially among "code-breakers"). Dysfunctional.

I mean, I'm sure there were stupid Americans even back in the 60's, 70's, 80's. and '90s, but they were kept hidden away in the closet or a back room, like a retarded relative. These days, with the internet and social media, all the American idiots feel the urge to announce themselves to the entire world! "Hey, look at us! We're DUMB - we can't read - we can't process information! - and, dammit! - We're proud of it!"

GCL1
GCL1

@dakinsky 

Make that Jackie Gleason or Lou Costello instead of John Candy. Candy was Canadian.

See? THAT'S how you do it. When you're WRONG, you admit it and change your position/opinion. It's not so hard, is it, you retarded, dumb, clueless Americans?