By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
During a conference held to award Journalist Glenn Greenwald the Siebenpfeiffer Prize for Journalism, Greenwald reported a conversation in which German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. In this the Vice Chancellor commented to him that the United States threatened Germany with withholding vital intelligence of terrorist activity if the nation granted asylum to Edward Snowden or otherwise allowed him to travel to Germany.
The event shows the extreme measures the Administration is willing to take regarding whistleblowers and others labeled as threats.
The revelation began when Vice Chancellor Gabriel, speaking of the plight of Edward Snowden, was interrupted by an audience member who asked why Snowden was not offered asylum in Germany. Gabriel replied that Germany would be required to extradite Snowden to the United States.
Here is a video via Saarbrücker Zeitung containing excerpts of the Vice Chancellor’s and Mr. Greenwald’s speeches.
Later, when Greenwald had an opportunity to speak to the Vice Chancellor in person, he enquired about the asylum issue. Greenwald later revealed to the public this conversation via Greenwald’s news service.
In the article, Mr. Greenwald wrote of some truly troubling behavior on behalf of the Obama Administration:
Afterward [the ceremony], however, when I pressed the vice chancellor (who is also head of the Social Democratic Party, as well as the country’s economy and energy minister) as to why the German government could not and would not offer Snowden asylum — which, under international law, negates the asylee’s status as a fugitive — he told me that the U.S. government had aggressively threatened the Germans that if they did so, they would be “cut off” from all intelligence sharing. That would mean, if the threat were carried out, that the Americans would literally allow the German population to remain vulnerable to a brewing attack discovered by the Americans by withholding that information from their government.
This is not the first time the U.S. has purportedly threatened an allied government to withhold evidence of possible terror plots as punishment. In 2009, a British national, Binyam Mohamed, sued the U.K. government for complicity in his torture at Bagram and Guantánamo. The High Court ordered the U.K. government to provide Mohamed’s lawyers with notes and other documents reflecting what the CIA told British intelligence agents about Mohamed’s abuse.
In response, the U.K. government insisted that the High Court must reverse that ruling because the safety of British subjects would be endangered if the ruling stood. Their reasoning: the U.S. government had threatened the British that they would stop sharing intelligence, including evidence of terror plots, if they disclosed what the Americans had told them in confidence about Mohamed’s treatment — even if the disclosure were ordered by the High Court as part of a lawsuit brought by a torture victim. British government lawyers even produced a letter from an unnamed Obama official laying out that threat.
The full article may be read HERE.
Later, the Vice Chancellor’s office declined to comment to the German medium Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the asylum issue and declared there was no legal basis to offer Edward Snowden asylum.
Deutsche Welle reported the Obama administration has denied the accusation of threatening to withhold information from Berlin, according to Washington newspaper The Hill, which quotes a statement from a senior official calling the suggestion that the US threatened to withhold intelligence “baseless.”
But the question of how “baseless” Glenn Greenwald’s or Vice Chancellor Gabriel’s assertions are is not certainly arguable considering the actions of the Obama Administration in the Snowden matter. All one has to do is look at the past actions of The Administration for guidance.
We have an Administration that declares that the accusations are baseless, yet the same administration’s NSA tapped into Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, ordered the grounding and search of the aircraft of a head of state on mere suspicion that Edward Snowden might be aboard, and made a similar threat to another NATO ally, the United Kingdom.
The row comes down to a matter of credibility of either side in the Edward Snowden controversy. Who is the more trustworthy, The Obama Administration or Glenn Greenwald?
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