A petition calling for the pardon of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has surpassed the threshold set by the White House for an official response on the matter.
The petition, titled simply “Pardon Edward Snowden”, states:
“Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.”
It was posted to the WhiteHouse.gov website on June 9th, and within two weeks has easily reached over 111,000 signatures, meaning that the Obama administration will be required to issue a formal response.
Back in January, the Obama administration raised the threshold for the number of signatures needed on petitions before they are deemed to merit a response.
The White House decided to quadruple the number of signatures required from 25,000 to 100,000 on its We the People website, after a surge in its popularity saw the number of users more than double in the last two months of 2012.
Nevertheless, the Pardon Snowden petition has still sailed passed the new threshold, following sustained media attention and debate on the treatment of the man many are either calling a hero or a traitor.
A similar petition, started by Infowars, demanding the resignation of the president over NSA wiretapping revelations and the violation of the Fourth Amendment has surpassed the old threshold, but still requires a significant number of signatures before July 7th in order to trigger a White House response.
Please sign the petition if you have not done so already. You can read the full article on the petition here.
Today Snowden hit yet more headlines after failing to show up on a flight from moscow to Havana. The whistleblower was expected to take the trip and eventually end up in Ecuador, but seemingly gave journalists the slip as a way of staying undetected.
Immediate fears that Snowden had been seized by Russian authorities at the behest of the US government were somewhat allayed by a statement from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. According to Assange, himself afforded sanctuary by Ecuador, Snowden is “healthy and safe” and waiting to hear whether he’ll receive asylum in the country.
Assange told reporters that Snowden’s application for asylum was being “carefully considered” by the Prime Minister of Ecuador. and that the whistleblower had “possibly” also submitted requests to other countries. The US State Department has issued a directive to several nations, warning them not to take Snowden in.
“Today we have seen a range of extreme bellicose statements from the U.S. administration attempting to bully Russia and other nations from facilitating Mr. Snowden’s asylum,” Assange said in a phone call from the Embassy in London that he has been unable to leave for a year.
“Every person has the right to seek and receive political asylum…it is counterproductive and unacceptable for the Obama administration to try and interfere with those rights,” he added. “It reflects poorly on the U.S. administration and no self-respecting country would submit to such interference or bullying.”
“This morning the U.S. Secretary of State [John Kerry] called Edward Snowden a traitor,” Assange continued. “Edward Snowden is not a traitor. He is not a spy. He is a whistleblower who has told the public an important truth.”
“The Obama administration was not given a mandate by the people of the United States to hack and spy upon the entire world, to breach the U.S. constitution and the laws of other nations in the manner it has,” he said. “To now attempt to violate the international asylum law by calling for the rendition of Edward Snowden further demonstrates the breakdown of the rule of law by the Obama administration.”
The Obama administration has instituted one of the most extreme under the radar crack-downs on dissenters and whistleblowers in history.
It is a well documented fact that Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama’s top Justice Department official, has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act during his tenure than all of his predecessors combined. The ongoing case of Bradley Manning has provided the exclamation point on this vicious crack down.
In a very informative piece back in September, London Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, the man who broke the Snowden revelations, noted:
“In 2008, candidate Obama hailed whistleblowing as “acts of courage and patriotism,” which “should be encouraged rather than stifled as they have been during the Bush administration.”
“President Obama, however, has waged the most aggressive and vindictive assault on whistleblowers of any president in American history,” Greenwald clarifies.
In addition, as journalist Peter Van Buren has pointed out,
“Obama’s zeal in silencing leaks that don’t make him look like a superhero extends beyond the deployment of the Espionage Act into a complex legal tangle of retaliatory practices, life-destroying threats, on-the-job harassment, and firings. Lots of firings.”
In addition to secret warrantless spying, at the heart of Obama’s war on whistleblowers is protection of his continued undeclared and unauthorized secret drone war.
The revelation last week that Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings was working on a story about the CIA before his death and had contacted a Wikileaks lawyer about being under investigation by the FBI hours before his car exploded into flames has bolstered increasingly valid claims that the 33-year-old was also targeted as part of the crack down on those who are intent on exposing government secrets.
Before his suspicious death, Hastings had been all over the alternative and national media talking about Obama’s “war on the press”:
Other journalists who have proven to be a thorn in the side of the establishment have met the same fate, from Andrew Breitbart who was about to release damaging pre-election information about Barack Obama before he collapsed and died in strange circumstances, to Gary Webb, the Pullitzer prize-winning author who exposed the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade and subsequently committed “suicide” after apparently shooting himself in the head – twice.