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Fisher reports: "Much of the letter focused on criticizing the Obama administration, arguing it has revoked Snowden's passport in order to make him 'de facto stateless' and to 'penalize [Snowden's] alleged violations of the espionage act.'"

A bus drives past a banner supporting Edward Snowden in Hong Kong's business district, 06/17/13. (photo: Kin Cheung/AP)
A bus drives past a banner supporting Edward Snowden in Hong Kong's business district, 06/17/13. (photo: Kin Cheung/AP)

An Open Letter From Edward Snowden's Father

By Max Fisher, The Washington Post

05 July 13


dward Snowden's father Lon Snowden, in an open letter co-authored with his lawyer, compared his son's leaks to Paul Revere warning of incoming British troops, "summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny and one branch government."

The letter, released to news organizations, lauded Edward Snowden as following the "honorable tradition" of "brave men and women refusing to bow to government wrongdoing or injustice, and exalting knowledge, virtue, wisdom, and selflessness over creature comforts as the North Star of life."

Much of the letter focused on criticizing the Obama administration, arguing it has revoked Snowden's passport in order to make him "de facto stateless" and to "penalize [Snowden's] alleged violations of the espionage act." Lon Snowden and his lawyer and co-author, Bruce Fein, pledged that they would be "unflagging in efforts to educate the American people about the impending ruination of the Constitution and the rule of law unless they abandon their complacency or indifference." The letter implied that the Obama administration is seeking "planetary domination through force, violence or spying."

In an aside, the letter also compared American politics to "a football game with winners and losers."

According to the Associated Press, Lon Snowden released the open letter because he was "frustrated by his inability to reach out directly to his son." It's not clear why Snowden, who is in Moscow, would be unable to communicate with his father. Also according to the AP, Snowden's father expressed concern that WikiLeaks, members of which have been working closely with Snowden in Moscow and whose founder Julian Assange has advocated publicly on his behalf, may not have his son's best interests at heart.

Here is the letter in full:

Dear Edward:

I, Bruce Fein, am writing this letter in collaboration with your father in response to the Statement you issued yesterday in Moscow.

Thomas Paine, the voice of the American Revolution, trumpeted that a patriot saves his country from his government.

What you have done and are doing have awakened congressional oversight of the intelligence community from deep slumber; and, had already provoked the introduction of remedial legislation in Congress to curtail spying abuses under section 215 of the Patriot Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. You have forced onto the national agenda the question of whether the American people prefer the right to be left alone from government snooping absent probable cause to believe crime is afoot to vassalage in hopes of a risk-free existence. You are a modern day Paul Revere summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny and one branch government.

In contrast to your actions, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper responded last March as follows to an unambiguous question raised by Senator Ron Wyden:

"Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Clapper testified, "No sire, it does not." Wyden asked for clarification, and Clapper hedged. "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly."

Director Clapper later defended his stupendous mendacity to the Senator as the least untruthful answer possible. President Obama has not publicly rebuked the Director for frustrating the right of the people to know what their government is doing and to force changes if necessary through peaceful democratic processes. That is the meaning of government by the consent of the governed. "We the people" are sovereign under the U.S. Constitution, and government officials are entrusted with stewardship (not destruction) of our liberties.

We leave it to the American people to decide whether you or Director Clapper is the superior patriot.

The history of civilization is a history of brave men and women refusing to bow to government wrongdoing or injustice, and exalting knowledge, virtue, wisdom, and selflessness over creature comforts as the North Star of life. We believe your actions fall within that honorable tradition, a conviction we believe is shared by many.

As regards your reduction to de facto statelessness occasioned by the Executive Branch to penalize your alleged violations of the Espionage Act, the United Stated Supreme Court lectured in Trop v. Dulles (1958): "The civilized nations of the world are in virtual unanimity that statelessness is not to be imposed as punishment for crime."

We think you would agree that the final end of the state is to make men and women free to develop their faculties, not to seek planetary domination through force, violence or spying. All Americans should have a fair opportunity to pursue their ambitions. Politics should not be a football game with winners and losers featuring juvenile taunts over fumbles and missteps.

Irrespective of life's vicissitudes, we will be unflagging in efforts to educate the American people about the impending ruination of the Constitution and the rule of law unless they abandon their complacency or indifference. Your actions are making our challenge easier.

We encourage you to engage us in regular exchanges of ideas or thoughts about approaches to curing or mitigating the hugely suboptimal political culture of the United States. Nothing less is required to pay homage to Valley Forge, Cemetery Ridge, Omaha Beach, and other places of great sacrifice.

Very truly yours,
Bruce Fein, Counsel for Lon Snowden
Lon Snowden your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

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Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+29 # brux 2013-07-05 14:39
Either we have electronic democracy,
or we get electronic tyranny!
-26 # Maturus 2013-07-05 17:03
Thank goodness they didn't lapse into hyperbole.
+19 # blizmo1 2013-07-06 01:03
Quoting Maturus:
Thank goodness they didn't lapse into hyperbole.

Warrantless wiretapping, spying = hyperbole?
Warning of the impending irrelevance of the Constitutiom = hyperbole?
Merging of the Police State with the Espionage state = hyperbole?

Dude -- study history. Factuality will give you a whole new proportional context.

Just don't be surprised when it all goes down as ordained, with your inactive acquiescence...
-4 # Maturus 2013-07-06 08:27
'Dude' -- study humour.
0 # ishmael 2013-07-06 02:08
Or cliche.
+2 # Okieangels 2013-07-06 08:55
-2 # Maturus 2013-07-06 11:00
Please elucidate.
0 # RLF 2013-07-08 06:36
Your in the pot...with water and it's getting is no f#&king hot tub!
+77 # margpark 2013-07-05 21:39
I do not want Edward Snowdan to come back to the country until he is released from his current charge.

We all know how the goverment has treated Bradly Manning.
+12 # AreYouMadEnoughYet 2013-07-06 00:11
Exactly. Making him Stateless is not fair either; but they don't play fair, now, do they?
+15 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-07-06 05:21
So sad, but so true, margpark. Your comment reminded me of what folks in Iceland said to their member of Parliament, Hon. Brigitta Jonsdottir, a plaintiff in the Hedges, et. al. v. Obama, et. al. 'case of the century'. This brighter than bright MOP, a woman dedicated to justice for all, protected and supported Julian Assange, one of our great heroes. But such truth telling and outing heroes, and their supporters, are now deemed to be 'terrorists' by the evil, villainaire rulers and their bought off minions.

Stay away from the U.S. of A., unless you want indefinite detention (a.k.a. perpetual detention), with no charges, due process (trial), etc.. This country I now call the U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction), is absolutely not a democracy any longer. Rule of law and liberty and justice for all gone bye bye.
+21 # Art947 2013-07-05 22:03
It is a shame that Barack Obama is effectively destroying any good aspects of his legacy. Those of us who put any faith in the "good" of this man have been disappointed more and more as his term continues. It is only the thought that the nature of the other major party in American politics is far worse that saves this president from our utter contempt!
+10 # Moefwn 2013-07-06 11:15
I couldn't agree with you more, Art, except that I am slipping closer to utter contempt every day.

On the "small victories" list, however, I point out that that this administration has made a huge step forward for racial equality by irrefutably demonstrating that a rich black man with power is not arguably different from a rich white man with power.
+1 # Merschrod 2013-07-07 08:06
Oh, such a low blow, but all too true. Better yet, the poer elit will use a person of any color or gender to further thei agenda - sort of clo blind in that egard - pobably gendr-wise too. We justmight se with Hillery. Heck, Condy already demonstrated the lack of gnder and racial bias.
+20 # jwb110 2013-07-05 23:14
Revoking Snowden's citizenship has effectively made him guilty before proven innocent. Any faith I may have had in the Washington DC cabal has long since vanished. Certainly, whipsawing the rest of the world hasn't helped the problem.

The People of this country should be very much afraid of what is happening in this country in the name of Patriotism. As the adage goes, "Patriotism is the last bastion of Scoundrels".
Language in the US has become so weaponized that nothing means what it actually says. The Patriot Act was meant to gut our Constitutional rights. What is so patriotic about that. Homeland Security!? Aside from its Germanic overtones, it also has cut the heart out of the basic documents that guarantee Americans free agents in their lives, the right of privacy, free press and free speech and free assembly have long since ripped from the fabric of the US.
The issue is not Snowden. The issue is living under an increasing military dictatorship. Everybody should be voted out of office in the next two elections. The whole bunch have lost sight of the oaths that many of them have broken.
+4 # womyn 2013-07-06 09:59
+4 # Moefwn 2013-07-06 11:16
Hear, hear!
-10 # Milarepa 2013-07-06 00:38
'What you have done and are doing have awakened congressional oversight ...' Lon Snowden and his attorney (who he?) ought to brush up on their English, of course it should be 'has awakened', since it refers to 'What'. Beyond that they should simply shut up. Lon Snowden has been messing thoughtlessly with his son's situation from the beginning when he allowed himself to be photographed with a framed picture of Edward maybe ten years old. My guess is Edward and Lon have no contact because Edward doesn't want to. Lon Snowden should respect that.
0 # Maturus 2013-07-07 04:45
I suspect the 'open letter' actually says "we've got a book deal, Ed, don't talk to anyone else"
+3 # conniejo 2013-07-08 07:42
The verb "have" before "awakened" refers both to what he has done and what he is doing, which, as two items, merit the use of "have." Could we please hold a reasoned conversation without inserting irrelevant comments on someone's spelling and/or grammar? Being insulting, even if one is right, does not contribute to enlightenment on the real issues.
+10 # Spence 2013-07-06 01:00
Excellent letter. It really says it all. Now we know where Edward Snowden got both his strong moral fiber and his bravery. Surely over the family dinner table. The place where character is planted.
+11 # lobdillj 2013-07-06 06:09
Bruce Fein is an authority on the US Constitution and International law. Google his name.

His stance on the issue of NSA surveillance is worthy of consideration.
+13 # Citizen Mike 2013-07-06 07:03
Good for you, Pop! You raised your boy with correct principles that you both support. And now, subjects have been injected into our national discourse that were previously not discussed.

Let's remember what Louis Brandeis said: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." And conversely,we must know that secrecy in government is darkness that rots democracy.
+11 # RMDC 2013-07-06 08:01
Nice to see Bruce Fein working on this. He's a Reagan lawyer who somehow woke up and saw what the neo-cons are up to. More people need to wake up to the reality that the American regime is descending very rapidly into fascism. I'm sure it is past the point of no return, although Fein thinks it can return. I hope he is right.

Snowden can never return to the US. I hope the citizenship in Iceland worked out and he can go there and live free. No one lives free in the US. I was at the train station yesterday and was accosted by a GESTAPO armed to the teeth and with a snarling and vicious dog. I was ordered not to move. I could not hear what the Homeland Security thug was saying because the dog was snarling and barking too loudly, so I just ignored the cop and kept moving to the train. This is what Amerikkka looks like. People can't even board a train without being harrassed by really viciously armed police and dogs.
+7 # Phlippinout 2013-07-06 09:05
You gotta love that other people from other countries protested for him. It gives me hope that only Americans are the ones with their heads in the sand. Please, let there be others paying attention, the US cannot be trusted nor can its citizens, they are mush and good for nothing. We have lost all rights, police state is here!
-5 # hoosierinva 2013-07-06 12:07
Oh please! Don't besmudge Paul Revere's name like this!
+5 # roger paul 2013-07-06 14:07
There is a line from Simon & Garfunkels 1965 hit "Sounds of Silence" that is pertinent to this issue. It reads like this: "Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows..."

The cancer that has been growing in our country has been there a long time, the only way to excise it is to speak out. Citizens of America, let your voices be heard, from the halls of Congress and through out our land.
+2 # Merschrod 2013-07-07 05:49
The issue of having a passport revoked is a serious concept, that is, taking away one's identity as a citizen (although I do not think thsat technically his citizenship has been removed) Of course, he has the document intact to prove who he is. A decent country's border crossing agents should recongnize it and probably would when implementing interpol dragnets.

The letter is a reminder of both the traditions and also the breach of the concept of innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and judged by peers. That concept seems to have been erased by the PAtriot Act an what has become jurisprudence under Bush and then expanded and really overworked by the Obama administration.
We are in a sad state of affairs - congressional abdication, Supreme court complicity and senatorial sinility. Tricky Dick would have loved this and probably wonders how Obama and Bush have escaped impeachment, after all, Tricky Dick just spied on another party of rascals - not the American people! Go figure!
+3 # mdhome 2013-07-07 18:00
The prosecution of Bradley Manning and Ed Snowden will go down in history as a black spot on the Obama legacy.
0 # hoosierinva 2013-07-08 07:34
"...down in history as a black spot..." ? Depends on who is being asked, who is giving the opinion. Don't you think? My view/opinion is that both of these guys have broken legitimate laws and therefore need to stand in court.
-2 # George D 2013-07-08 11:17
Has Snowden helped me/America or hurt us? I guess it depends on two things; Your own perspective and the actual, real world, results.

If you believe that exposing America's entire intelligence gathering and espionage program to other countries that may have similar activities going on about us was "heroic" then I guess you side with Snowden.

If you think Snowden is nothing more than a weasel that has harmed America's standing in the world, damaged our ability to stay one step ahead of people that wish to do us (all of us) harm, and is not an honest broker in his own cause, then you may believe, as I do, that he is no "Paul Revere" but rather a "Benedict Arnold".

So the government spies on people? Duh! It's only been going on for decades. Has that data gathering damaged anyone that you know?

I know; "It's a slippery slope" and I sure didn't like hearing about this when Bush/Cheney started most of it. But most of us know, Obama isn't Hitler, the government CAN and DOES act to protect us, and none of this is a perfect system.

If Snowden wasn't a self serving little traitor, he would have used the Daniel Ellsburg method and not the Julian Assange model for exposing problems in the system.

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