Target: Senators John McCain and Charles E. Schumer
Goal: Publicly apologize for provocative comments about Edward Snowden and Russia, made after the whistleblower was granted asylum.
The case of Edward Snowden, National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, is at this point no secret, and many global citizens have expressed concern about the US surveillance programs he viewed as dangerous enough to expose to the public. Instead of acknowledging or responding to the allegations of privacy invasion and rights violations, the US government has been excoriating Snowden and threatening foreign governments that might offer him asylum. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have spoken out against Washington’s reaction, and Amnesty’s Director of Law and Policy Michael Bochenek has said that as a whistleblower, “It is [Snowden’s] unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.”
Snowden is being demonized in the media, more often called a “leaker” than a “whistleblower,” and in the wake of Putin’s decision to grant Snowden political asylum (in accordance with obligation to international law and basic human rights), US officials have taken to hurling dramatic insults at both Snowden and Putin, and calling for harsh repercussions for Russia. Senator John McCain recently released a statement alleging that “‘Russia’s action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States. It is a slap in the face of all Americans.” Senator Charles Schumer announced that “Russia has stabbed us in the back,” and called Snowden “a coward who has chosen to run.”
Besides being overly and needlessly dramatic, these remarks proactively condemn Snowden, damaging his chances of a fair trial, and ridiculously assert that Putin has done something other than uphold international human rights law. The only petty actions in this situation originate with the US government and its officials, who need to face the facts. By signing this petition, you will show Senators McCain and Schumer and other officials that name-calling and bullying is not an appropriate approach to foreign policy. You will declare that abusing citizens who rightfully seek political asylum represents not only an improper use of power on the global stage, but also an impediment to fair hearings.
Dear Senators McCain and Schumer,
I am sincerely disappointed in your recent remarks toward Edward Snowden and the Russian government. Not only have you preemptively condemned Snowden as a criminal and traitor, potentially ruining his chance for a fair trial in the United States, but you also have excoriated him as a coward for invoking his basic human right under international law to political asylum. Snowden shared knowledge that he found pertinent to the experiences of human beings around the globe, namely because the programs he exposed exist in violation of privacy and freedom of speech.
Your tirade against “Putin’s Russia” for granting Snowden the political asylum that, again, is his human right, represents another example of the bullying and petty name-calling that has become a favorite tool of US foreign policy in the last few administrations. I am urging you to retract your inflammatory statements and issue apologies for your lack of professionalism and respect for human rights. I am calling on you to build and project a new image of a respectful, transparent, and responsible United States.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML via Flickr