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‘Control That Narrative’: US Actions Against Whistleblowers Snowden, Manning ‘A Sign of Weakness’

© REUTERS / Fabrizio BenschEdward Snowden speaks via video link as he takes part in a discussion about his book "Permanent Record" with German journalist Holger Stark in Berlin
Edward Snowden speaks via video link as he takes part in a discussion about his book Permanent Record with German journalist Holger Stark in Berlin - Sputnik International
While on an international digital press tour for his new memoir “Permanent Record,” former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden managed to once again attract the attention of the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which doesn’t seem likely to budge and grant the whistleblower’s single-item request.

On Tuesday, the US filed charges against Snowden and those who printed his book, MacMillan Publishers and Holtzbrinck Publishers, for violating his non-disclosure agreements with the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency. It also noted that Snowden never submitted his work for “pre-publication review” and continued to give public speeches on matters of US intelligence.

However, according to the department’s release, the US government “does not seek to stop or restrict the publication or distribution” of the book, but instead simply wants to “recover all proceeds earned by Snowden” and fill its own pockets.

In response, Snowden took to Twitter and used the DoJ’s charges as a selling point for his memoir.

“The US considered me the biggest criminal in the country, which is crazy, because the crime they accused me of was basically aiding and abetting the act of journalism,” Snowden said in a live Berlin video conference about his book, recounting his 2013 leaks of classified information.

But despite all this and more, Snowden has also expressed that his “ultimate goal” is to return to the United States.

“But if I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison, then one bottom line demand that we all have to agree to is at least I get a fair trial,” Snowden said in a pre-taped “CBS This Morning” segment that aired Monday. “And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won't provide access to what's called a public interest defense.”

Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News, joined Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary on Tuesday to give his thoughts on why he believes journalism is being put on trial and comment on Snowden’s recent offer to return to the States.

“What are they worried about protecting, as far as information goes, when most of it is out there already?” Lauria asked hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon after explaining that Snowden has already made people aware of “the mass surveillance that takes place” by the NSA, despite it being “against the Fourth Amendment.”

Lauria went on to remind listeners that whistleblower Chelsea Manning is currently behind bars for refusing to testify regarding “what appears to be … more charges against [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange,” who was ordered on Friday to remain in Her Majesty's Prison Belmarsh due to his "history of absconding,” according to British District Judge Vanessa Baraitser.

Assange was previously expected to be released on September 22, but will now remain behind bars until the February 25 hearing on his potential extradition to the US.

“The issue is [Assange is being held] in a maximum security prison, not in a normal holding place for someone facing extradition. That is certainly not a maximum security situation,” Lauria contended. “And this is, of course, a nonviolent crime he is being alleged to have committed.”

Following September 22, Assange is “only in jail for publishing true information,” Lauria highlighted. “This is something that should be alarming to everyone in a society that pretends to be a democracy, and the illusion of democracy - which they always kept up - is now crashing down even more when they openly imprisoned a journalist for publishing classified information.”

Worries about “social unrest” have made the neoliberal government within the US retreat to common tactics, such as blaming “a foreign power, which they did with Russia, and they will do anything to crush that dissent,” Lauria noted. Such unrest is being fueled by the release of truthful information and resistance by WikiLeaks and individuals such as Assange, Manning and Snowden.

“It’s a sign of weakness, ultimately, that they’ve reacted this way. To try to use private companies like Twitter and Facebook to censor, essentially, people who are questioning the official narrative,” he insisted.

“It sounds silly to think that somebody on Twitter could be a threat, but in aggregate, when they are so weak right now and there’s so much anger in the land about the way politics have gone, they have to try and control that narrative.”

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