Monthly Archives: July 2013

Orwell, Obama and the abiding by international law

Concerning asylum for Snowden, Obama called on the international community to abide by international law:

“My continued expectation is that Russia or other countries that have talked about potentially providing Mr Snowden asylum recognise that they are a part of an international community and they should be abiding by international law,”[emphasis added]

 The Orwellian mindset could not be more outspoken.

 Under Obama the US is spying on all the world including its own citizen breaking the 4th amendment and violating international law1, but Obama calls on other countries to abide by the law.

 Snowden is accused of haven broken the 1917 Espionage act. He is considered a spy? This is a US-(Orwellian)-syllogism: NSA spies, Snowden uncovers, therefore Snowden is a spy. I see my dirty shares already rising2: BP pollutes the sea, Greenpeace uncovers, ergo: Greenpeace made an oil disaster.

 Seeking asylum is a basic right, enshrined in international law3. Yet the US is going against international law by hunting down and blocking Snowden’s attempt to seek asylum.

 Under Obama, the US engages in illegal drone warfare, breaking international law4.

 Rabindra Singh, a joint secretary in India’s external spy agency, handed over documents to the CIA. To avoid arrest, Singh and his wife were smuggled into Nepal, given false papers and brought to the US5. Any country that would give Snowden false papers and smuggle him out, would do as the US did – with the difference that it would protect a whistle-blower, not a spy.

 A presidential plane enjoys immunity according to international law. But not, as it seems, when you are from a third world country and do not bend to US orders … Again, this incident was a massive breach of international law.

 Let us compare the situation to the Swiss whistle-blower Christoph Meili. Celebrated as a hero, the US Congress passed a special law (private law 105-1) to grant him and his family permanent residency in the US6. Abide by the law … or just create a new one.

Switzerland should follow US example and pass a special law to grant asylum to Snowden.

 In 1986, the U.N. called on all states to observe international law. The U.S. vetoed the resolution.7

In other words, the US openly declared that it rejects or does not care about international law.

 But we do not have to go so far into the past: Before Gulf war II the US under Bush declared that “the United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security,” and “[…] when it comes to our security we really don’t need anyone’s permission” or – even more clear – in the words of Andrew Card, “the UN can meet and discuss, but we don’t need their permission.” 8

 International law – in the view of the US – is only binding for non-US countries, in the same way that the UN is simply irrelevant if not in accordance with US policy.

1From compliancecampaign : The modern privacy benchmark at an international level can be found in Article 12 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifically protects territorial and communications privacy. Numerous other international human rights treaties recognize privacy as a right: Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, Article 14 of the United Nations Convention on Migrant Workers, and Article 16 of the UN Convention of the Protection of the Child. Regional conventions that recognize the right to privacy includes Article 10 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Article 11 of the American Convention on Human Rights, Article 4 of the African Union Principles on Freedom of Expression, Article 5 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, Article 21 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, and Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

2Hypothetical, I do not have any shares.

3Article 14 of the Universal Declaration and Article 1 of the UN Convention relating to the status of Refugees

6In a remarkable speech, Sen. Grassley defended Meili’s action with the following words:

The situation we have here with Mr. Meili, albeit everything that he has brought to our attention has worldwide implications, but a person like him acted out of bravery, or maybe the bravery comes after he has acted because he has had to withstand the mental torture of what has gone on since then. But it reminds me of a lot of things that happen in our own Government, and I realize his is a private sector situation, but I like to think that we keep our Federal Government honest when we have people in our Government who, when something is wrong, will be willing to come forward and say what is wrong.

We speak of these people in our Government as whistleblowers. Maybe, originally, that was to denigrate them, but as far as I am concerned the word “whistleblower” is a description of somebody who wants to seek the truth, who wants to make sure that all of the facts and circumstances are known so that a wrong can be corrected.

7See Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, Chap. 4: “Following the US rejection of the World Court orders, Nicaragua— still eschewing violent retaliation or threat of terror—took its case to the Security Council, which endorsed the court’s judgment and called on all states to observe international law. The US vetoed the resolution. Nicaragua then approached the General Assembly, whichpassed a similar resolution with only the US, Israel, and El Salvador opposed; and another the following year with only the US and Israel opposed. Little of this was even reported, and the matter has disappeared from history.”

8Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival, Chap. 2,

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