Praise

A very good discussion on Charlie Rose this afternoon

with Alan Rusbridger Editor in Chief of the Guardian newspaper, and Janine Gibson also an editor there and closely involved in the Edward Snowden release of documents regarding NSA and the rest of the Alphabets spying on Americans.

The first and most interesting thing (to me at least) is that Snowden is not Julian Assange, is not a grandstander and his motivation was not personal aggrandizement or any sense of "playing the hero" at all. He spoke to Glenn Greenwald (a lawyer/journalist) and Ms Gibson about this probably ending up with him in jail (or gaol if you're English) but he wasn't going to court martyrdom.

When asked if he had given any documents to the Chinese, he said, "Oh for heaven's sake, if I'd done that I'd be living in a palace in Beijing petting a phoenix." Which they took to mean No.

His entire motivation was to cause a national debate and discussion about the massive erosion of Civil Liberties, particularly the First Amendment which has resulted from the reaction to 9/11 and the Patriot Act. He was appalled and gravely troubled by the change in Americans ability to discuss things freely and without the oversight of Big Brother.

The Guardian sent one of their tough scarred old reporters to assess his character, "a tough Scots Presbyterian who's been a reporter for decades" who apparently came back and said "I think he's just what he claims to be. A very worried young man troubled by changes in American legislation and in American attitudes to freedom of information, freedom of speech, and the fundamental inviolability of the individual.

Regrettably, Libertarianism has been hi-jacked by its conservative adherents, and the Left Liberal believers in LIbertarianism have been pushed out of the nest as if they're not Libertarians at all. Since Saul Alinsky has come up here before, Saul Alinsky is a perfect illustration of a Liberal Libertarian. Anti- big-government very pro Civil Liberties (which also explains the ACLU).

I wish it were common to hear the issues discussed with both the intelligence and the deep commitment both of the British Editors displayed, by the American media. Even the best American newspapers can't touch the Guardian for independence, for intelligence and intellectual rigour and for knowledgability. And American television, can't touch even American newspapers on those criteria.

If there's a way to watch Charlie Rose on-line, I'd very much recommend you watch it, whether you agree with what Edward Snowden did or not. It at least will give you a more realistic view of the issues involved and Mr. Snowden's character as evaluated by the Editors of the Guardian and the Guardian's own wrestling with the idea of publishing "secrets". It would also assure people that the Guardian submitted its intention to publish, and the pages of the Prism documents it intended to publish, and got no complaints from the NSA.

I found their reasoning persuasive, and a remarkable contrast to Robert Novak publishing Valerie Plame's identity. They said that guarding the secrecy of individuals who might come to harm and not putting them in jeopardy was a primary concern.

And what exactly is the situation with Bradley Manning? Is he still being held in jail without charges, what, 3 years after being arrested. There's the Sixth Amendment's assurance of a speedy trial violated for starters besides being deprived of due process.

The praise isn't for what was done, but for the way in which it was done, with care and discussion with the agencies involved and great care for people who might be endangered and great self-examination regarding the principles underlying both British and American ideas of Freedom. Alan Rusbridge is a great proponent for the First Amendment, as opposed to the legal protections in the UK which are not nearly so broad or so liberal. "Prior restraint" is something British papers have to live with.

Rob

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