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State Dept. Whistleblower Peter Van Buren: Edward Snowden is One Of Us

Peter Van Buren

Edward Snowden today made clear both his own bona fides as a whistleblower, and the hypocrisy of the United States in its manhunt for him.

Whistleblower? Snowden’s remarks reinforce the basic tenet of whistleblowing, that is an act of conscience. He made clear what he gave up– home, family, perhaps even his liberty and life– and what we gained, learning what a government which claims to be “of the people” is doing to the people.

Snowden still loves America, if not its government and its intelligence services. He reinforced that idea that one courageous act of conscience might make a difference in a nation gone astray.

Hypocrisy? Of the countries that offered to help Edward Snowden, the U.S. itself has accepted 3,103 of their own asylees, 1,222 from Russia and 1,762 from Venezuela.

The U.S. took those people in without a hint of regard for anyone’s opposition. This is in fact how the asylum system, codified by various UN treaties the U.S. has signed, should work.

The concept of asylum reaches back to the original democracy, Greece, and it is shameful that the United States today, in only this one case, refuses to recognize it as a fundamental right of a free people.

Our Founders, who pledged their own lives, fortunes and sacred honor to such ideals, would weep.

Irony? During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was notorious for refusing to grant dissidents passports, while the U.S. regularly waived such requirements when they escaped to the West.

Indeed, it was only about a year ago that the U.S. gave Chinese dissident Chen Guang Cheng refuge in our own embassy in Beijing before allowing him to enter the United States.

Snowden also touched on the most fundamental of points: that the America he is defending is not limited to physical safety, but extends deeper, to the freedoms from unwarranted search and seizure that define America.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

State Dept. Whistleblower Peter Van Buren: Edward Snowden Is One of Us

Peter Van Buren

Edward Snowden today made clear both his own bona fides as a whistleblower, and the hypocrisy of the United States in its manhunt for him.

Whistleblower? Snowden’s remarks reinforce the basic tenet of whistleblowing, that is an act of conscience. He made clear what he gave up– home, family, perhaps even his liberty and life– and what we gained, learning what a government which claims to be “of the people” is doing to the people.

Snowden still loves America, if not its government and its intelligence services. He reinforced that idea that one courageous act of conscience might make a difference in a nation gone astray.

Hypocrisy? Of the countries that offered to help Edward Snowden, the U.S. itself has accepted 3,103 of their own asylees, 1,222 from Russia and 1,762 from Venezuela.

The U.S. took those people in without a hint of regard for anyone’s opposition. This is in fact how the asylum system, codified by various UN treaties the U.S. has signed, should work.

The concept of asylum reaches back to the original democracy, Greece, and it is shameful that the United States today, in only this one case, refuses to recognize it as a fundamental right of a free people.

Our Founders, who pledged their own lives, fortunes and sacred honor to such ideals, would weep.

Irony? During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was notorious for refusing to grant dissidents passports, while the U.S. regularly waived such requirements when they escaped to the West.

Indeed, it was only about a year ago that the U.S. gave Chinese dissident Chen Guang Cheng refuge in our own embassy in Beijing before allowing him to enter the United States.

Snowden also touched on the most fundamental of points: that the America he is defending is not limited to physical safety, but extends deeper, to the freedoms from unwarranted search and seizure that define America.

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Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren has served with the Foreign Service for over 23 years. He received a Meritorious Honor Award for assistance to Americans following the Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, a Superior Honor Award for helping an American rape victim in Japan, and another award for work in the tsunami relief efforts in Thailand. Previous assignments include Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the UK and Hong Kong. He volunteered for Iraq service and was assigned to ePRT duty 2009-10. His tour extended past the withdrawal of the last combat troops.

Van Buren worked extensively with the military while overseeing evacuation planning in Japan and Korea. This experience included multiple field exercises, plus civil-military work in Seoul, Tokyo, Hawaii, and Sydney with allies from the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. The Marine Corps selected Van Buren to travel to Camp Lejeune in 2006 to participate in a field exercise that included simulated Iraqi conditions. Van Buren spent a year on the Hill in the Department of State’s Congressional Liaison Office.

Van Buren speaks Japanese, Chinese Mandarin, and some Korean (the book’s all in English, don’t worry). Born in New York City, he lives in Virginia with his spouse, two daughters, and a docile Rottweiler.

Though this is his first book, Peter’s commentary has been featured on TomDispatch, Salon, Huffington Post, The Nation, American Conservative Magazine, Mother Jones, Michael Moore.com, Le Monde, Daily Kos, Middle East Online, Guernica and others.

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