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'Presstitutes' and spies.

My column last week was headlined 'Whistleblowers are not traitors'.

Some people have used those terms synonymously.

Much of the recent status of whistleblowers has arisen out of the difference in the handling of Edward Snowden by both the mainstream media and the fairer columnists writing on the Internet and the local Press outside America.

Snowden has been portrayed in the mainstream Western media as a "narcissist", a "scheming traitor", a "Russian agent", a "Chinese spy", "a clueless high school dropout", an "anti-government extremist" and more.

One might expect that the truths revealed by Snowden about America's spying on everything and everybody would arouse a much fairer reaction.

Snowden's revelations include Washington's use of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and other technology firms to spy on almost everyone. That disclosure alone should have provided a major shock for us all.

All it got from the mainstream media amounted to a few days of minimal attention, much of which was negative about Snowden.

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post wrote: "Edward Snowden is no hero. Unlike others who broke the law on principle, he lacked the courage to suffer the consequences."

She compares (or contrasts) Snowden with Martin Luther King and Socrates, neither of whom were whistleblowers.

One might expect more from a writer for a major American newspaper.

Would she have Snowden locked up and silenced in torture cells like Bradley Manning?

A "liberal" TV channel like MSNBC might at least be even-handed when, in fact, they sounded more like "talking head" robots who couldn't stand the news.

Usually reasonable Ed Schultz blasted Snowden by name-calling him "a punk and a coward". He growled that Snowden should come home and "face the music".

One commentator got it right when he said: "Ed Shultz, the so-called liberal/progressive television personality, came out today and exposed himself as just another 'presstitute' for the government."

Melissa Harris-Perry replaced a question for a guest with a long rant against both Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, who had the National Security Agency (NSA) secret published by the Guardian.

Greenwald accused Harris-Perry of being part of a media outlet dedicated to defending the Obama agenda.

Rachel Maddow was more interested in whether James Clapper, director of intelligence, lied to congress about what Snowden leaked than she was about the NSA's secret data collection on everybody.

Several earlier whistleblowers that very few have heard of make the attention given to Snowden remarkable.

Thomas Drake, Bill Binney and J Kirk Wiebe were all whistleblowers within the past decade.

Unlike Snowden, they got almost no public attention.

President Obama has charged more government employees under the provisions of the antiquated 1917 Espionage Act than all of his predecessors combined.

Eight leakers have been charged with espionage under Obama, compared with three under all previous presidents.

On her way to the Russian airport where Snowden is holed up, the Human Rights Watch representative received a call from the US Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr Snowden that the US government does not categorise Mr Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken US law.

Hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world have fallen victim to the NSA spying programme, whether through their telephone records or through the PRISM program that grants the spying agency direct access to stored Internet activity of nearly anyone, anywhere.

It is "a global, ubiquitous surveillance system that has as its goal the elimination of privacy worldwide", wrote Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jul 27, 2013
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