US Violates Int’l Law, Grounding Bolivian President’s Plane in Pursuit of Snowden

John Glaser, July 03, 2013

Cochabamba Bolivia World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

The appalling hubris of the imperial mindset in Washington was on full display yesterday when the U.S. government apparently pressured the governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny a plane carrying Bolivia’s Evo Morales permission to pass through their air space. The plane was thus redirected, in flight, and forced to land in Vienna. The reason? Morales said he would consider granting political asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the suspicion was that Snowden was on the plane with the Bolivian president.

That suspicion was flat out wrong. But even if it was correct, the move, according to the Guardian, went ”above international law and the rights of a president of a sovereign nation.” Unsurprisingly, Washington yet again has violated international law and abused the rights of weaker nations.

“Bolivia has denounced what it calls a ‘kidnap’ operation of its president by imperial powers that violates the Vienna convention and its national sovereignty,” writes the Guardian‘s Jonathan Watts. “Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay have joined in the condemnation. Angry headlines have been splashed on newspapers across the region.”

“Politicians and commentators in the region are already adding the action to a long list of interventions, invasions and ‘policing actions’ by Latin America’s giant northern neighbour, alongside the Monroe Doctrine, the annexation of half of Mexico, the Bay of Pigs invasion, support for Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and other dictators and the ousting of democratically elected leftist governments in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and elsewhere,” Watts adds.

In a statement yesterday, Amnesty International said the U.S. government’s pursuit of Snowden is a gross violation of his rights and international law:

The U.S. authorities’ relentless campaign to hunt down and block whistleblower Edward Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum is a gross violation of his human rights. It is his unassailable right, enshrined in international law, to claim asylum and this should not be impeded.

The U.S. attempts to pressure governments to block Snowden’s attempts to seek asylum are all the more deplorable when you consider the National Security Agency (NSA)whistleblower could be at risk of ill-treatment if extradited to the U.S.

No country can return a person to another country where there is a serious risk of ill-treatment. We know that others who have been prosecuted for similar acts have been held in conditions that not only Amnesty International, but UN officials considered cruel inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of international law.

Meanwhile, the focus on Snowden is continuing to serve as a distraction from the fact that the NSA is violating “the constitutional rights of everybody in the country,” in the words of NSA whistleblower William Binney.

The ACLU reminds us today that the NSA’s collection of intelligence on Americans is not “inadvertent,” as they claim. Under the authority of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, “the NSA claims only to intercept American communications ‘inadvertently,’ but this is a clever fiction: the surveillance program has been engineered to sweep up American communications in vast quantity, while giving the NSA cover to claim that it is not intentionally targeting Americans.”

This deliberate collection of Americans’ communications happens in at least three ways. First, the government can target foreigners on the other end of Americans’ international communications. So, if you call or email family, friends, or business associates abroad, the NSA can intercept those communications so long as it doesn’t intentionally target a specific, known American in another country. The surveillance must also relate to “foreign intelligence,” but this term has been construed so broadly as to be all but meaningless.

Second, the government has set a dismally low bar for concluding that a potential surveillance target is, in fact, a foreigner located abroad. By default, targets are assumed to be foreign. That’s right, the procedures allow the NSA to presume that prospective targets are foreigners outside the United States absent specific information to the contrary—and to presume therefore that those individuals are fair game for warrantless surveillance.

Third, the procedures allow the NSA to collect not just the communications of a foreign target, but any communications about a foreign target. This provision likely results in significant over-collection of even purely domestic communications. So, rather than striving to protect Americans, the procedures err on the side of over-collection and less respect for privacy rights.

Hopefully some good will come out of the U.S.’s overreach in grounding Morales’s plane. Maybe this will push forward the Bolivian government’s consideration of asylum for Snowden. What would be great is if Morales issued a formal complaint at the United Nations. The U.S. should be as embarrassed about this ordeal as possible.




24 Responses to “US Violates Int’l Law, Grounding Bolivian President’s Plane in Pursuit of Snowden”

  1. > The U.S. should be as embarrassed about this ordeal as possible.

    But they will have a copy of the letter first.

  2. Snowden is a Russian. On one hand it shows what lengths the US is prepared to go in the pursuit of Snowden, at the same time it also shows how little if no energy at all the Americans used in regards to Assange, demonstrating clearly at this stage in the game .

  3. Hopefully it leads other countries to really come together in opposition to the U.S..

  4. [...] Antiwar Blog [...]

  5. "The appalling hubris of the imperial mindset in Washington was on full display yesterday when the U.S. government apparently pressured the governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny a plane carrying Bolivia’s Evo Morales permission to pass through their air space."

    Yeah, John calls it…….. Like some low life gangsters with a fake roadblock…….. Only to phuck it up at showtime…… Sad… Sad……….. Sad…… Stupid me, I would never have thought Portugal would be party to such lowlife Chicago style thuggery……. Are they in on all the crimes too….????? Renditions?, Torture?, Rape?, Disappearances?, Illegal Detentions?…….Too many crimes to list…!!!!

    And this latest prank makes Obama look sophmoric…..empty……. He could have been a contender…… but chose imperial pretense and hypocrisy instead……It looks like he sold his soul waay… waay long ago……
    Here's another big one for his legacy………. "on full display yesterday when the U.S. (president)
    apparently pressured the governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny a plane carrying Bolivia’s Evo Morales permission to pass through their air space."…………. And highlighted what a clueless tone deaf autocrat not of the people that he has become……Et Tu Portugal…?????

  6. So how far will the US government go to get Snowden? They would have downed the Bolivian president's plane with the president in it. What if it had been the Brasilian president, or a the German Chancellor?

    From what I understand this is a very serious aggressive act in international relations and I would hope that Bolivia takes the corresponding actions against those countries as well.

    Remarkable how quickly the US rogue government got these European nations to obey their master's orders. Astonishing to see France on the list, too, run by Socialist big mouth Hollande who turned out to be a big time hypocrite neocon in disguise.

    So who's the villain and who's the hero again?

  7. The US government never respected the international law as it sees itself the international law. The illegal wars, cooperating with terrorism, conducting cup de Etta's, torturing people, Abu gharib prison, Guantanamo, the afghan secret prisons, the other secret prisons, surveillance and etc, indicating the fact that USA is no longer willing to force or respect the international laws, if it did then many of the USA presidents and their advisors will be behind bars for good. Like Barack Hussain Obama, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and many more. And if the Democratic Party would have any respect for international laws then many of the high ranking politicians should report themselves to ICC.

  8. From what I understand this is a very serious aggressive act in international relations and I would hope that Bolivia takes the corresponding actions against those countries as well.

  9. And then the USA is surprised, WHY non-Americans dislike (hate) them so much!

  10. So much for that "total awareness" claptrap; the "intelligence" resulted in another false report. So far this "War on Terror" has only resulted in tearing up the rights of people to live free.

  11. Predictable Fascistic Totalitarianism from Nobel 'Hope+Change' Con artist Obama. This is blatant unmitigated AIR PIRACY conducted in concert with the Criminal Corporate Oligarchy's multiple Presidential Flunkies in Europe! EVIL, ILLEGAL, DANGEROUS and NEFARIOUS from any point of view!. Like Morsi in Egypt, Obama and his entire regime MUST be deposed and eliminated!. Enough is enough!

  12. The governments of Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy need to grow spines and tell the US government where to get off with their bullying. I am ashamed to show the new US passport I just received – so there NSA, are you going to get Kerry to cancel it?

  13. Absolutely incredible! Every time I think that USrael can't go any lower-they do
    This is an act of aggression,no doubt.
    I wait now for the White Brothel comments:
    "He should be happy they didn't shot him down"
    Putin v Obongo 10 :0

    Jerzy

  14. Happy, thoughtless, ignorant-of-reality Fourth of July.

    Land of the Free…my ass!

  15. Obama is just doing what he has to do (for his Masters). An important part of his mission is to bring the USraeli Empire out of the closet. To put it a different way, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

    The object is to completely destroy the tenets of international law and the concept of "national sovereignty". The world must be made to understand that we're going by a new set of rules nowadays- might makes right – and Washington DC (on behalf of its owners) will be giving the orders.

  16. Though those of us with any sense also hate our government.

  17. SEEMS THE ONLY GUY WITH BALLS TO REFUSE THE OLD MEN OF D.C. IS OUR '''PARTNER''' IN RUSSIA—PUTIN

  18. once again though, Snowden managed to make complete asses of "the most powerful man in the world" and all his lackeys, such as the presidents of France, Spain, etc.
    Not only do they expose themselves as utter fools but they gíve themselves away as, at best complete tools of the US or at worst, co-conspirators in the anti democratic espionage on their own people. And I bet the actual tip that Snowden was on board the plane came from the KGB (or whatever they call themselves nowadays) – who says spies don't have a sense of humor ?

  19. I just wish the federal reserve would stop printing greenbacks so the mortgage industry would pick back up.

  20. I just wish the federal reserve would stop printing greenbacks so the house industry would pick back up.

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  22. Makes you wonder really though what it is Washington DC does not want the rest of us to know. Arrrgh! The US is heavily invested in many of those country's. Wonder if President obama has anything to do with cashing in those "chips."

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