The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Thursday to slam sanctions on any country aiding NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, marking a serious escalation in a global manhunt which has stoked almost as much international outrage as the US spying scandal itself.
The 30-member Senate panel reached complete consensus on the measure—brought forward by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)—which will be tacked onto a spending bill that still has several steps to go through before becoming law.
The bill would require the State Department to work with Congress to develop a plan for imposing sanctions against countries that help Snowden escape extradition to the US.
Sanctions could threaten standing trade agreements by including "revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences."
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While the details of what this bill would mean in practice are not yet determined, the vote is an unmitigated threat to Bolivia, Venezuala, Nicaragua, Russia, and any other country that has not fallen in line behind US demands to track down and hand over Snowden.
Yet so far, the US's global search has only succeeded in uniting people and governments outraged by their bullying tactics, inspiring a Latin American gathering following the forced-downing of the plane carrying Bolivia's President Evo Morales, in which heads of state declared to the US, 'We are not your colony!'
A new poll shows that the US people are overwhelmingly outraged at the phone and internet surveillance, yet policy-makers move forward with measures to uphold the spying amid growing opposition. This includes the narrow defeat in the House Wednesday of a measure to curb the NSA's warrantless spying,
Snowden, who has garnered global support, is stranded in a Moscow airport where he awaits permission to enter Russia.