Snowden’s Passport and Political Asylum – Whistleblowers News Conference
WASHINGTON - Nine months after revocation of his passport by the Obama administration, a news conference in Washington will call for a change in the U.S. government stance toward NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
When: Tuesday, March 25 at 1 p.m.
Where: National Press Club (Zenger Room), National Press Building
The news conference will feature three speakers:
* Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was one of four American whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, who met with Snowden in Russia on October 9 to present him with an award for integrity in intelligence.
* Coleen Rowley -- a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures -- was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq.
* Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, a U.S. organization sponsoring a pair of petitions about Snowden.The petitions, with a combined total of 100,000 signers, will be presented at the Justice Department and the State Department the morning after the news conference.
“The past nine months of heavy labor, on the part of Snowden and the journalists in whom he put his trust, have birthed an easily recognizable image of Snowden as a patriot,” McGovern says. “Secretary of State John Kerry ought to be man enough to recognize that he made a big mistake in pulling the passport of an American patriot and making him stateless. The shocking truths revealed over the past nine months about government abuse amply show that Edward Snowden should get his passport back.”
Rowley warns: “The out-of-control ‘security state’ now threatens the balance of power set up under the Constitution -- as well as the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The President needs to fulfill his promises to change the rotten system that has resulted from years of deceitful ‘war on terror.’ A good first step would be to listen to Edward Snowden and other government whistleblowers instead of threatening them with prison terms equating them with being spies. Instead of magnifying the vilification of Edward Snowden -- who happens, for better or worse, to have no option but to remain in a country of asylum -- Obama ought to recognize that Snowden and earlier NSA whistleblowers are the ones who possess the insights to help him climb out of this rabbit hole, fix the constitutional mess and restore the rule of law.”
Although Attorney General Eric Holder may consider the statement in his letter of July 23 to the Russian Justice Minister that “Mr. Snowden will not be tortured” a magnanimous pledge, some critics say it speaks volumes -- as does Holder’s promise not to have Snowden executed. In a March 14 letter requesting a meeting with Attorney General Holder to present one of the petitions, McGovern, Rowley and Solomon wrote that “the human right of political asylum is well-established.”
The RootsAction.org petition to Holder, also addressed to President Obama, urges them “in the strongest terms to make an unequivocal public commitment not to interfere with the travels or political asylum process of Edward Snowden.”
The petition addressed to Secretary of State Kerry says: “I urge you to immediately reinstate the passport of Edward Snowden, a U.S. whistleblower who has educated the public about threats to our privacy and precious constitutional rights.”
Action for a Progressive Future (the organization that runs RootsAction) is a nonprofit, progressive, public policy advocacy group that will engage citizens in the democratic process and help make sure legislators hear their voices.