Edward Snowden has secured his highest endorsement yet in the US when former vice-president Al Gore described the leaking of top secret intelligence documents as “an important service”.
Asked if he regarded Snowden as a traitor or whistleblower, Gore veered away from the “traitor” label. He refused to go as far as labelling him a whistleblower but signalled he viewed him as being closer to that category than a traitor, saying: “What he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the US constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed.”
Snowden, the former CIA and National Security Agency computer specialist, leaked US and British documents to the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, starting a worldwide debate on the balance between surveillance and privacy. His revelations have led to proposed changes in legislation in the US and a backlash against government surveillance by major telecoms and internet companies.
But he remains a polarising figure in the US. An NBC poll a fortnight ago showed 24% backing him and 34% disagreeing with his actions, with 40% having no opinion. Among the younger generation there was more support, with 32% backing him and only 20% opposed, with 47% having no opinion. Some members of Congress have welcomed the revelations but refuse to go as far as supporting Snowden, who is wanted by the US and has sought asylum in Russia.
Gore, interviewed at the Southland technology conference in Nashville, Tennessee, was asked if he viewed him as a whistleblower or a traitor. “I hear this question all the time. I’m like most people: I don’t put him in either one of those categories. But I’ll be candid and give you want you want. If you set up a spectrum. ”
The interviewer interrupted: “How would you define it?”
Gore replied: “I would push it more away from the traitor side. And I will tell you why. He clearly violated the law so you can’t say OK, what he did is all right. It’s not. But what he revealed in the course of violating important laws included violations of the US constitution that were way more serious than the crimes he committed.
“In the course of violating important law, he also provided an important service. OK. Because we did need to know how far this has gone.”
The documents released by Snowden showed massive government surveillance but also the extent of co-operation between the government and the large telecoms and internet companies.
Gore called on the internet companies to work with the public to help draw up a “digital Magna Carta” that provides protection of freedoms. “They need to pay attention to correcting some of these gross abuses of individual privacy that are ongoing in the business sphere,” he said.
Snowden’s hope of a return to the US is dependent on a change in a major shift in opinion that would allow him to escape a lengthy prison sentence. His supporters will seize on Gore’s comments to help make the case that he is a whistleblower and should be allowed to return to the US as a free man.
Do politicians actually care about your opinions? This researcher says no
Earlier this month, a New York Times op-ed written by two political science professors, Ethan Porter of George Washington University and Joshua Kalla of Yale, discussed their troubling research findings: State legislators, the two claim, don't much care about the opinions of their constituents, even if they're given detailed data regarding their views.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Black Georgia lawmaker accuses white man of demanding she ‘go back where she came from’ in supermarket diatribe
On Friday evening, Erica Thomas, and African-American Democratic lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives, was shopping at a Publix supermarket in Mableton when a white customer came up to her and shouted at her, telling her to "go back where you came from" — words echoing President Donald Trump's recent racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color.
Thomas' crime? She had too many items for the express checkout line.
Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!
Trump offers to guarantee bail for rapper A$AP Rocky
US President Donald Trump offered Saturday to guarantee the bail of rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden on suspicion of assault following a street brawl.
Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who he said gave assurances that the singer would be treated fairly.
"Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative," Trump wrote.
There is no system of bail in Sweden.
Trump said he and Lofven had agreed to speak again over the next 48 hours.
Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have campaigned for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest on July 3 following the fight on June 30.