Several weeks ago, contemporaneously with the release of Oliver Stone’s excellent movie Snowden, friends and admirers of Edward Snowden launched a campaign to have President Obama pardon him for disclosing the NSA’s super-secret illegal surveillance scheme to the American people and the world. The reasons for the pardon request were excellently summarized in an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times entitled “Pardon Edward Snowden” by Kenneth Roth and Salil Shetty.
Not surprisingly, the US national-security establishment and its assets within the mainstream press oppose a pardon for Snowden because, they say, he endangered “national security” with his disclosure of the NSA’s top-secret illegal surveillance programs.
But notice something important: Every time someone discloses “national security” state secrets, the east coast doesn’t fall into the ocean, California isn’t hit by earthquakes, and the federal government isn’t taken over by communists, terrorists, Muslims, illegal immigrants, or drug dealers. Nothing ever happens! That’s because, as I point out in my ebook “The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State, ever since the federal government was converted into a national security state in the 1940s, the term “national security” has been nothing more than a way to shield criminal wrongdoing on the part of the national-security establishment.
Remember MKULTRA? It was a highly classified operation on the part of the CIA. It involved drug experimentation on unsuspecting Americans. It was enveloped within the concept of “national security.” It was also a criminal operation. Once it came to light, the CIA ordered the destruction of all MKULTRA records so that the American people would never discover all the dark and sordid details of this Nazi-like program. The United States remained standing notwithstanding the revelation of the CIA’s national-security state secret.
Consider the CIA’s assassination attempts, in partnership with the Mafia, against Cuba’s president Fidel Castro during the 1960s. Those assassination attempts were national-security state secrets. They were also criminal in nature. In fact, they were no different, in a criminal sense, from the assassination of Orlando Letelier by Chile’s DINA, the Chilean CIA-NSA type organization with which the US partnered in the aftermath of the US national-security state’s coup that brought military strongman Augusto Pinochet into power in 1973.
Did the United States collapse when the CIA’s assassination plots were revealed to the world? No more so than Chile collapsed when DINA’s assassination plots were revealed to the world.
Speaking of DINA, for years the US national-security establishment kept its role in orchestrating the coup in Chile secret from the American people. CIA Director Richard Helms even knowingly lied to Congress when asked about the CIA’s activities in orchestrating the coup.
Why did Helms intentionally lie to Congress? To protect “national security,” of course. The CIA’s position was that if people were to discover the role that the US government played in orchestrating the Chilean coup, “national-security” would be threatened.
But when the US role in the coup was ultimately disclosed, what happened? Nothing! Well, except for the fact that Helms got convicted for lying to Congress. He was lucky though. They let him off the hook with a misdemeanor plea and probation. When he returned to the CIA, he was hailed by his subordinates for his heroic effort to protect “national security.”
Of course, he wasn’t as lucky as DNI Chief James Clapper, who didn’t get prosecuted at all for lying to Congress about the existence of the NSA’s illegal surveillance scheme. Why did Clapper lie to Congress? To protect “national security,” of course. But when the super-secret illegal scheme ultimately came to light, what happened to the United States? Nothing! Another false and fraudulent use of the meaningless term “national security.”
It was no different with respect to the CIA’s kidnapping-murder of Rene Schneider, the overall commander of Chile’s armed forces. The CIA felt that it needed to keep its plot against Schneider secret on grounds of “national security,” including its smuggling high-power guns into the country and later its paying off the killers to keep them silent.
Once again, they maintained, “national security” dictated secrecy. But when the CIA’s role in Schneider’s kidnapping-murder was ultimately discovered, nothing happened. The United States continued standing. Interestingly, not one single US official was ever charged in the felony-murder of Rene Schneider, whose only “crime” was standing in the way of the US national security establishment’s illegal and unconstitutional (in both Chile and the United States) plot to replace a democratically elected president with a brutal unelected US-supported military general whose forces proceeded to round up, incarcerate, torture, rape, execute, or assassinate tens of thousands of innocent people — that is, people whose only crime was believing in socialism.
It was the same with the murder during the coup of two American men, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, a murder in which US national-security state officials were complicit. Of course, they kept their involvement in the murder secret under the principle of “national security.” Horman’s “crime” was that he had learned of US complicity in the coup and planned to disclose it to the world. In the eyes of Chilean and US national-security state officials, that obviously constituted a threat to “national security.” Teruggi’s “crime” was that he was a socialist who had opposed the US government’s war in Vietnam. Despite the fact that a top-secret US State Department investigation revealed that US intelligence had played a role in their murder, not one single US official has ever been indicted, much less summoned to appear before Congress to explain why they murdered two innocent American citizens.
In a moral sense, it’s not Snowden who needs a pardon. It is the US national-security state that needs a pardon from him … and from the American people for converting our nation into a charnel house of secret, dark, illegal, nefarious actions under the guise of the sham term “national security.”
Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.