Evo Morales of Bolivia joins in Offering Leaker Snowden Asylum

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, on Saturday said that he would offer Edward Snowden asylum if asked. He joins the presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua in that offer.

Morales said that he made the decision as a just protest against his own treatment last week, when his jet was denied overflight rights in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy as he returned from energy discussions in Moscow. He was forced to divert to Vienna, and says the Spanish ambassador to Austria demanded to search his plane. Morales implied that the Europeans disrespected him because he is an indigenous Bolivian, and said they sought to humiliate his country after 500 years of looting it. They cannot, he said, because its people have gained a sense of sovereignty and dignity.

Morales is calling the Spanish ambassador to La Paz on the mat. Six South American countries met Thursday and demanded a public apology from the four European governments that tried to block Moraeles.

The US intelligence bright idea of telling Western European allies that Snowden was on the Bolivian jet has therefore backfired. France has hinted that the CIA misled Paris by not telling them it was Morales’s plane they wanted searched.

Snowden, now stuck at Moscow airport, is wanted by the United States government for leaking the PRISM and TEMPORA electronic surveillance programs of the National Security Agency, which involve sweeping up petabytes of contextual data from ordinary people in the US and around the world, in contravention of the Fourth Amendment of the US constitution. The Obama administration says it has to have all this data to fight a handful of terrorists, which is not plausible. The real question is what in the world they are actually doing with it.

Morales in the past has accused the US of attempting to overthrow him and other left of center leaders in South America.

37 Responses

  1. Oh, gods be good; the U.S. is terrified of its own citizens.
    As well they should be; but this is for all the wrong reasons…
    Earth to George O; you were right…

  2. Why refer to Snowden as a ‘leaker’ which disparages his courage as a whistle blower. He is reporting criminal activity and should be praised for that.

  3. Everything I wrote about Venezuela’s Maduro, three articles down, applies in spades to Morales. Morales’s pathetic (not to say bathetic!) suggestion that the Europeans disrespected him because he is an indigenous Bolivian is too cute for words and demonstrates his self-pitying lack of understanding of why his plane was searched.

    Regarding the statement that, “The US intelligence’s bright idea of telling Western European allies that Snowden was on the Bolivian jet has therefore backfired,” lacks any supporting evidence. I seriously doubt that US intelligence told Western European allies that Snowden was “on the Bolivian jet.” More likely, US intelligence advised European allies of the possibility that Morales took Snowden with him on his plane, in which case Morales would be aiding and abetting the flight of a fugitive from US justice, without having undergone the process of granting him political asylum.

    Were that to be the case, Morales would be an accessory to a crime (aiding and abetting a fugitive). Given Morales’s past statements, both against the US and in support of Snowden, that was not a possibility to dismiss lightly. Morales’s plane was denied overflight permission and forced to land in Vienna in order to see if Snowden was on it, not because anyone “knew” he was on it.

    • ” Morales implied that the Europeans disrespected him because he is an indigenous Bolivian, and said they sought to humiliate his country after 500 years of looting it. They cannot, he said, because its people have gained a sense of sovereignty and dignity.”

      Readers of this blog may have wrongly assumed that the book I recommended – Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” – is an anti-American screed. The appalling abuse of Latin Americans was not limited to United States corporations. Western European capitalists were just as, if not more, guilty. And the pillage continues.

      Man’s inhumanity to Man is universal and not limited to the US.

    • Once again, the pseudo-legalistic “justification” and apologia for the activities of the increasingly idiotic Imperium.

      Ozymandias’s “people” and those Roman sycophants probably espoused the same kind of stuff.

      Hey, look over here! Pay Attention Only To What I Say! Forget about erosion of “rights,” impoverishment of the most of us (even though those not actually living on the streets due to greed-induced economy collapse or theft-by-illegal-unlawful-foreclosure might have a refrigerator and microwave in their rental space and be dumbed down enough to do a payday loan to get the latest iDreck, with the hanging threat of combustion-induced climate “dysfunction,” and a broad view of “our” history that dis-includes all those wonderful Dulles-Donovan-Helms-Bush-Casey-Etc. “Stratagems” and “Programs” run from “desks” in HQ and local stations. Ask a native American or Black or little Central American democratically elected government or whatever about our proud broad history.

      Bush and Cheney are fugitives from the justice of other nations, can’t go certain places because those places take “war crime” seriously. Even the narrow International Law definitions of the offenses. And so we are to understand that the “blowhards” of Central and South America, having cultural and personal experience of US invasions and sponsored terrorism, are exposed to “US haw-haw justice” as aiders and abetters, or even accessories to alleged “crimes” that Justice is having some apparent difficulty fitting into the elements of various offenses and that gee whiz, have not even been how you say adjudicated yet?

      Better not to “make statements against the US, or in support of Snowden.” That might be taken to amount to Treason Against The Empire…

    • Ah yes, all those European governments are so concerned about possibly being accessories to (US) crimes. Extraordinary rendition doesn’t bother them so much. “Intelligence” gleaned from torture? A-OK. The list goes on and on.

    • “More likely, US intelligence advised European allies of the possibility that Morales took Snowden with him on his plane [...] Were that to be the case, Morales would be an accessory to a crime (aiding and abetting a fugitive).”

      What is lacking in your analysis is:

      (a) Acknowledgement of the sovereignity of Bolivia (the aircraft carrying the country’s executive is, to the best of my knowledge, sovereign territory of Bolivia), and

      (b) A proper analysis of the PROBABILITY – NOT ‘POSSIBILITY’ of Snowden’s presence aboard the aircraft.

      In order to make a proper analysis of the probability, you would need to provide the hard numbers that went into your calculations … the sources for those hard numbers … and the mathematical algorithms used to calculate those probabilities.

      Lacking those three elements, you’re just another flunky stringing words together – the Internet equivalent of a county cop asserting he has ‘probable cause’ to search your car, because he stopped you in ‘his’ county.

      Is that what we, as a nation, want to be seen as? Podunk County?

      Just sayan’.

      • “What is lacking in your analysis is: (a) Acknowledgement of the sovereignity of Bolivia (the aircraft carrying the country’s executive is, to the best of my knowledge, sovereign territory of Bolivia)”

        Morales’s plane is not considered sovereign territory of Bolivia, as an Embassy is, for example. His plane must request and receive permission to overfly the territory of sovereign countries such as France, Portugal, and Austria, and the aircraft must land if so requested. And under international law and convention, a request can be (and was) made to search it.

        “(b) A proper analysis of the PROBABILITY – NOT ‘POSSIBILITY’ of Snowden’s presence aboard the aircraft. In order to make a proper analysis of the probability, you would need to provide the hard numbers that went into your calculations … the sources for those hard numbers … and the mathematical algorithms used to calculate those probabilities.”

        The United States does not need to engage in the mathematical gymnastics suggested by your comment above (algorithms!) to posit the possibility (not probability, possibility is enough) that Snowden might be on the plane. That possibility was enough to justify the action taken.

    • And yet, if Air Force One was treated similarly while on a visit to China because of the mere possibility that a dissident was on board, you would freak out, Bill.

      • “And yet, if Air Force One was treated similarly while on a visit to China because of the mere possibility that a dissident was on board, you would freak out, Bill.”

        The United States has not, and does not, spirit dissidents out of China or anywhere else on Air Force One.

        • ” The United States has not, and does not, spirit dissidents out of China or anywhere else on Air Force One.”
          Neither does any other head of state’s plane. Certainly not Bolivia’s. And how exactly would anyone know that about Air Force One anyway?

    • And what of the 4th amendment to the Constitution in all of this? Why is Snowden the fugitive? Why are we even discussing this and not why the head of the NSA is not under indictment for lying to Congress? How has application of the law and equality under it gotten to be a lost tree in this forest? How has it come to the point where those who want the application of such laws are labelled shrill, or told to grow up? All this intensive discussion and scrutiny about Snowden and where he will go is a distraction, and feeds a tabloid mentality that has come to degrade our political life with no serious discussion of the implications of what has been revealed. It is reminiscent in the extreme of the treatment given to Bradley Manning in which it becomes all about the messenger, not about the revelation.

    • Morales’s pathetic (not to say bathetic!) suggestion that the Europeans disrespected him because he is an indigenous Bolivian is too cute for words and demonstrates his self-pitying lack of understanding of why his plane was searched.

      Oh, bull. I’d say it demonstrates a rather brilliant understanding of how to play the media and his domestic constituencies, as well as maximize international sympathy.

      He’s playing this brilliantly. If I was his campaign advisor, I’d be telling him to do exactly what he’s been doing.

  4. The CIA or whoever, how did they make such mistake? It looks as if somebody trick them into a humongous international PR blunder.

  5. Many in the U.S. are to afraid to think about it. Many find comfort in their ignorance. Many do not want to, or think about challenging their government, its like challenging the church…you’ll go to hell…maybe heaven, maybe…Many (U.S. Americans) don’t want to think about all of the porn and nasty things that they do and say on the internet over their “too” smartphones could be used against them. What the NSA and it corporate contractors are doing is silencing threats, setting up coercion, and possibly predicting future crimes.

  6. The Obama administration says it has to have all this data to fight a handful of terrorists, which is not plausible. The real question is what in the world they are actually doing with it.

    And Target trains video cameras on the aisles of its stores, collecting thousands of hours of video of ordinary shoppers every day. They say they are doing this to fight a handful of shoplifters, which is not plausible. The question is what in the world they are actually doing with it.

    Because, Lord knows, when one looks for a needle in a haystack, one must really be going after the haystack itself; after all, that’s where one is looking. Ergo, looking for a needle in a haystack means one thinks haystacks are made of needles.

    • Considering that nearly all foiled terrorist plots (many of them non-Islamic, mind you) are the result of good police work and not mass surveillance, yes, they must value the haystack itself. I mean they haven’t found any needles besides the ones they place there (see: FBI entrapment). In Seattle, some good cops ran a guy’s plates, searched his stolen truck, and found guns, explosives and Molotovs. Yet, this same man was questioned and released a few days earlier when a background check came up blank. The claim that this is for protection or, ya know, works is getting to the point of being insulting.

      • Considering that nearly all foiled terrorist plots (many of them non-Islamic, mind you) are the result of good police work and not mass surveillance, yes, they must value the haystack itself.

        The first set of your sentence does not demonstrate the second half. Because most Xs are Ys, no Xs are Zs, and nobody thinks that some Xs are Zs. Most foiled break in are the result of a barking dog, yes, the people who buy security systems are not actually trying to prevent break ins. That’s what you’re arguing, and it is a logical fallacy.

        BTW, looking at things like security camera footage and call data is done all the time in police investigations. It’s a subset of “good police work.”

        I mean they haven’t found any needles besides the ones they place there

        ORLY? When did you get your security clearance, and how many investigations did you include in your data set? Or are you just blowing hot air?

        • Afraid it’s the NSA, FBI and DHS that are blowing the hot air, old chap. Every one of their claimed successes are comfortably indistinct (much like our shadowy enemies). Those examples that happen to be served up to the public with details are cases of entrapment. The FBI specifically, is great at foiling plots they set up themselves after spying on mosques in NY and Dearborn. The NSA then claims to have foiled a “second Boston”. I implore everyone to think about how absurd that is for a moment.

          In fact, it’s their failures that, sadly, are quite unambiguous. Surveillance failed in Boston. It failed the people gunned down at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. It failed everyone in Newton. It failed in Seattle only to be bailed out by the sound detective work of the UWPD.

          There is no logical fallacy, you see; it just seems that you need everything spelled out for you and, like all good government lackeys, prefer the world of the hypothetical. If surveillance has proved ineffective (feel free to argue it hasn’t; the burden of proof is yours), and the authorities persists in this practice, it’s not unreasonable for Americans to suspect it has a different purpose than that which is stated.

  7. The NSA is , demonstrably, working in contravention of the Fourth Amendment of the US constitution. So what is Snowden’s ‘ crime ‘ ? Can it be considered ‘ treasonous ‘ to expose an organisation which works in contravention of the Fourth Amendment of the US constitution ? Not in a just and logical world. Is our world just and logical ? Yes, provided that we don’t allow the unjust and the illogical to call the shots.

    • There has never been a court case or law passed by Congress defining the collection of transactional data as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

  8. “PRISM and TEMPORA surveillance programs ….in contravention of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.”

    I know of no federal court that has passed on the legality of that program.

    However, United States District Court Judge Anna Diggs-Taylor in Detroit several years ago declared the ECHELON surveillance program of the NSA in violation of the Fourth Amendment. She was later reversed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

      • None.

        It was abolished by the 13th Amendment.

        Very few cases cited this provision after it went into effect in 1865.

      • The same court which found the German ‘Nuremburg Laws’ to be illegal. Which, is to say, none at all.

      • Slavery wasn’t unconstitutional. That’s why Congress had to pass the 14th amendment.

        “Unconstitutional” and “bad” are two different concepts.

        • “Slavery wasn’t unconstitutional. That’s why Congress had to pass the 14th amendment.”

          Actually the 13th amendment, passed in 1865, abolished slavery, thereby rendering it unconstitutional.

          The 14th amendment, passed in 1868, addressed citizenship rights, due process, and equal protection.

        • I guess nobody sensed maybe a little irony in Professor Cole’s opening question in this sub-thread, or cared to take it seriously…

  9. Speaking of south America, Glen Greenwald co-authored an article yesterday in a major Brazilian daily, O Lobo, spilling more Snowden beans. Yes, NSA was trolling for terrorists in that country too. You never know what you’ll find among records of tens of millions of Brazilian communications.

    A major bonus in Glenn’s Guardian article is a link to a Charlie Rose interview with two Guardian editors key to the Snowden story. Charlie threw every significant establishment cliche at them, and they hit ‘em all out of the park. Definitely worth watching.

    link to guardian.co.uk

  10. Why is Spain involved in this matter at all? Spain would be within its right to deny an aircraft overflight privileges but Spain is not a party to Snowden’s activities (unless perhaps he has unreleased information on corruption or illegal activities by members of the Spanish government or royal family). If the Spanish ambassador to Austria demanded a search of Morales’ jet on the basis of rumors or unverified information Austria should request that he be replaced for conducting unbecoming a diplomatic representative. And perhaps Bolivia should declare the Spanish ambassador non grata. If third parties understand there are potential costs to doing the dirtywork of the US perhaps they will be more resolute in avoiding it.

  11. at 07/07/2013 at 5:46 pm, Bill sez:

    “The United States has not, and does not, spirit dissidents out of China or anywhere else on Air Force One.”

    From what I read, neither did Evo Morales. But that is just as irrelevant as your statement.

    The point seems to be that it is not illegal for Morales to do so.
    Folks in other countries do not have to obey our laws, do they ?

  12. “at 07/07/2013 at 5:46 pm, Bill sez: “The United States has not, and does not, spirit dissidents out of China or anywhere else on Air Force One.” From what I read, neither did Evo Morales. But that is just as irrelevant as your statement. The point seems to be that it is not illegal for Morales to do so. Folks in other countries do not have to obey our laws, do they?”

    It is not a matter of “obeying our laws,” Brian. Snowden is an international fugitive from justice, and the United States has a right to request the assistance of other countries to ensure, to the extent possible, that he is not spirited out of Moscow under some subtrefuge, even on Morales’s aircraft.

    Morales does have the right to grant Snowden asylum in Bolivia, should Snowden legitimately reach Bolivian soil. But just because Morales is President of Bolivia does not give him diplomatic immunity in order to aid and abet Snowden’s flight from US justice aboard his aircraft. As it was, Morales did not, but the US had the right to ensure that he did not.

    • I question that he does not have “diplomatic immmunity”.

      I can recall that an Israeli official with an arrest warant against him issued by a British court sat in a plane in an airport and was allowed to depart back home to Israel when it had been discovered by the official that the warrant existed and he was advised not to disembark.

      I can also recall an incident where the U.S. government tricked a Lebanese national whom it charged with complicity in the 1985 Beirut TWA hijacking to going onto a boat in international waters where he had to be taken via the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean to the U.S. without touching foreign soil – otherwise the U.S. had no continuous jurisdiction over him.

      The Achille Lauro incident concerned the murder of a U.S. national, however it was an Italian court that adjudicated the matter – and dismissed charges against Palestinian
      Liberation Front leader Mahmoud Abu Abbas but convicted two others in the incident.

      Many, if not most,extradition treaties will not extradite for crimes of a “political character” and the Department of Justice has cleverly attempted to avoid this exception by also charging Snowden with theft.

  13. More likely, US intelligence advised European allies of the possibility that Morales took Snowden with him on his plane, in which case Morales would be aiding and abetting the flight of a fugitive from US justice, without having undergone the process of granting him political asylum.

    Were that to be the case, Morales would be an accessory to a crime (aiding and abetting a fugitive).

    Which part of that is not a claim that Morales, and by simple logic the rest of the planet, is not subject to US law? And of course just to put the other slice of bread on the rhetorical sandwich, what is this to be taken to mean?

    But just because Morales is President of Bolivia does not give him diplomatic immunity in order to aid and abet Snowden’s flight from US justice aboard his aircraft. As it was, Morales did not, but the US had the right to ensure that he did not.

    • “Which part of that is not a claim that Morales, and by simple logic the rest of the planet, is not subject to US law?”

      You really must learn the difference between being “subject to US law” and “aiding and abetting an international fugitive who is subject to US law.” Snowden’s activities in the US render him subject to US law. Morales, were he aiding and abetting Snowden’s flight from justice, would be acting in contravention of international norms and conventions. While he would not be subject to US law, those very international norms and conventions grant the US the right, in concert with allies, to ensure that he is not aiding and abetting Snowden’s fugitive flight from justice.

      • So, Gitmo ain’t the only locale where torture is ongoing. It’s happening right here on this blog.

        Bill,
        what do you hope to gain by strapping LOGIC onto the waterboard ?

  14. The US does NOT have the right to ensure that the President of Bolivia isn’t aiding and abetting anything in the air over Europe any more than the rest of the world would be allowed to act on similar hunches. Otherwise everyone would be subject to search and seizure at all times at anyone’s whim. Ludicrous.

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