Sabbath Message 20/5/36/120

Dear Friends,

Recently Daniel Ellsberg, made famous by the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, made public statements regarding Edward Snowden’s decision to flee the US and seek asylum in another country, which were published in the Washington Post.

He made the following declarations:

"It was a less punitive kind of America when I disclosed the Pentagon Papers in the 1970's. I hope Snowden's revelations will spark a movement to rescue American democracy.

Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavourably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don't agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.

After The New York Times had been enjoined from publishing the Pentagon Papers - on June 15, 1971, the first prior restraint on a newspaper in US history - and I had given another copy to The Washington Post (which would also be enjoined), I went underground with my wife, Patricia, for 13 days. My purpose (quite like Snowden's in flying to Hong Kong) was to elude surveillance while I was arranging to distribute the Pentagon Papers to 17 other newspapers, in the face of two more injunctions. The last three days of that period was in defiance of an arrest order: I was, like Snowden now, a  'fugitive from justice'. Yet when I surrendered to arrest in Boston, having given out my last copies of the papers, I was released on personal recognisance bond the same day. Later, when my charges were increased from the original three counts to 12, carrying a possible 115-year sentence, my bond was increased to $50,000.

But for the whole two years I was under indictment, I was free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures. I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my pre-eminent concern. I couldn't have done that abroad, and leaving the country never entered my mind.”

Ellsberg also said:

“There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon's era - and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment - but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to 'incapacitate me totally’).

I hope Snowden's revelations will spark a movement to rescue American democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed in the US. There is zero chance that he would be allowed out on bail if he returned now and close to no chance that, had he not left the country, he would have been granted bail. Instead, he would be in a prison cell like Bradley Manning, incommunicado. He would almost certainly be confined in total isolation, even longer than the more than eight months Manning suffered during his three years of imprisonment before his trial began recently.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture described Manning's conditions as ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’. (That realistic prospect, by itself, is grounds for most countries granting Snowden asylum, if they could withstand bullying and bribery from the United States.)
Snowden believes he has done nothing wrong. I agree wholeheartedly. More than 40 years after my unauthorised disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, such leaks remain the lifeblood of a free press and the American republic. One lesson of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden's leaks is simple: secrecy corrupts, just as power corrupts.

In my case, my authorised access in the Pentagon and the Rand Corp to top-secret documents - which became known as the Pentagon Papers after I disclosed them - taught me that Congress and the American people had been lied to by successive presidents and dragged into a hopelessly stalemated war that was illegitimate from the start.

Snowden's dismay came through access to even more highly classified documents - some of which he has now selected to make public - originating in the National Security Agency (NSA). He found that he was working for a surveillance organisation whose all-consuming intent, he told The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, was 'on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them'.

It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist 'German Democratic Republic', whose goal was 'to know everything'. But the mobile phones, fibre-optic cables, personal computers and internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi's heyday.

As Snowden told The Guardian, 'This country is worth dying for.’ And, if necessary, going to prison for - for life. But Snowden's contribution to the noble cause of restoring the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments to the constitution is in his documents. It depends in no way on his reputation or estimates of his character or motives - still less on his presence in a courtroom arguing the current charges, or his living the rest of his life in prison.

Nothing worthwhile would be served, in my opinion, by Snowden voluntarily surrendering to US authorities given the current state of the law. I hope that he finds a haven, as safe as possible from kidnapping or assassination by US special operations forces, preferably where he can speak freely.

What he has given us is our best chance - if we respond to his information and his challenge - to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.”

Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. He was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act for copying the Pentagon Papers. The trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct was introduced in court.

It is important that we realise that the “Five Eyes”  (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) have been systematically spying on each other in order to circumvent the constitutions of each others countries since the early 1970s.  They then extended that surveillance to every nation on the planet and they have totally disregarded ethics and the rule of privacy and have even turned the CIA and other espionage agencies from spy work to organised murder. We are now in a world of out of control with surveillance to implement a New World order of control and evil beyond belief.

We are also in a dreadful situation where religion is corrupted and sectarianism is being used to subjugate minorities and other sects and the unscrupulous among them use the divisions for criminal purposes, and to subjugate and to control.  We should all consider what your obligations are regarding the laws of God and the responsibility to make alive, to protect and to defend under Law and the Sixth Commandment (No. 259), Law and the Seventh Commandment (No. 260), Law and the Eighth Commandment (No.261) and Law and the Ninth Commandment (No. 262).  Next Sabbath I will discuss our obligations to each other as a world heading into the brink of individual oblivion and human slavery.  How do we treat each other as refugees and how do we treat each other as neighbours both locally and internationally?

It is important we get the answer right. It is important also that we control these Sectarian animals that seek to destroy others and subjugate their own women and minorities. God will judge us on these aspects as he did when he sent the three sons of God as Messengers to Sodom and Gomorrah and then destroyed the cities. We are now as bad as they were and our judgment is very near.

Wade Cox
Coordinator General