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10 Oct, 2013 12:45

'US unchained itself from constitution': Whistleblowers on RT after secret Snowden meeting

Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA surveillance programs prove that the US has abandoned the rule of law, betraying its own constitution, whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake, told RT.

A group of US whistleblowers and activists has present Snowden with a Sam Adams Award for ‘Integrity in Intelligence’ in Moscow on Wednesday.

“The irony is that the US has abandoned the rule of law,”
Drake, who also revealed NSA secrets in the past, said of Snowden’s leaks. “They’ve unchained itself from their own constitution – the mechanism by which we govern ourselves. And when you ban the real law and use a secret law and secret interpretations of law, we’re in a whole new ball game. It’s a Pandora’s Box.”

Snowden “had to escape the US to ensure any chance of freedom,” Drake said. “And it wasn’t his plan to end up here. It was the US, who made him stateless by revoking his passport. And Russia – to its credit – actually recognized the international law and granted him political asylum.”

The NSA whistleblower is currently staying at an undisclosed location In Russia, reportedly under heavy security. The whistleblowers, who had the chance to meet with him, say that Snowden has no regrets about the path he has chosen.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has called Snowden “an extraordinary person,” who has “made his peace” with what he did.

“He’s convinced that what he did was right. He has no regrets. And he’s willing to face whatever the future holds for him,” McGovern said.

Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and whistleblower, noted that Snowden was “remarkably centered,” while Jesselyn Radack, of the Government Accountability Project, described him as “brilliant, smart, funny and very engaged.”

“He looked great,” Radack said.

Whistleblowers Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Andrews Drake, Ray McGovern and Coleen Rowley (L to R) and presenter Kevin Owen (C) in RT’s studio in Moscow (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)

McGovern said that Snowden already knew that he was going to receive the award, and the problem was getting it to him. The award is “a candlestick holder for someone, who has shone bright light into dark corners,” McGovern said.  

“The reception we’ve got [from Snowden] was just so heartwarming,” he said. Snowden is “a person who now realizes that he has very senior people – some of the ostracized… but very senior people, who speak for a lot of people still within those organizations that admire greatly what Edward Snowden has done and, hopefully, will summon the courage to follow his example.”   

Despite the fact that “it’s a dangerous time for whistleblowers in the US,” Snowden’s revelations have had a big effect as “courage is contagious,” Radack said.

“We have more and more whistleblowers coming to the Government Accountability Project than we have had before,” she said. “I really thing [Snowden] has had a wonderful effect [on] the US and the world.”  

The whistleblowers also commented to RT on the recent statement by the head of Britain’s MI5 secret service, Andrew Parker, who said that actions of whistleblowers harm security and help terrorist organizations.

RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy

Radack rejected Parker’s claims, saying: “We hear this in every single whistleblower case that there’s going to be blood on people’s hands and it has damaged security,” but there has been “no demonstrative evidence” of that.

“It’s exactly the opposite,” said Rowley. “There’s quite a lot of evidence building now that violations of the law hurt security. And lack of sharing of information… That’s actually the lesson of 9/11. It was a lack of sharing of information not only between agencies, but with the public, that enabled the 9/11 attacks. Everyone has forgotten that.”

McGovern said that Parker’s comments were “a political statement that exaggerates danger for political purposes.”

Edward Snowden’s father, Lon, has also arrived in the Russian capital, expressing hope that he’ll soon see his son for the first time since Russia granted him asylum in August.

The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award has been presented annually since 2002 to an intelligence professional who has taken a stand for integrity and ethics. The prize is named after Samuel A. Adams, a CIA whistleblower during the Vietnam War.

Drake, Radack, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been among the recipients of the award in recent years.

Snowden’s whistleblowing activities also won him a nomination for the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, which is given to individuals or organizations who have dedicated themselves to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought.