Mid-Air Imperialist Thuggery:
U.S. Stops Bolivian Presidential Plane in Search of Edward Snowden

July 5, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


In a blatant act of imperialist thuggery, the U.S. government apparently orchestrated a high-altitude "stop-and-frisk" of Bolivian President Evo Morales as part of their attempts to get their hands on Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who has exposed how the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is massively spying on phone and Internet communications here in this country and all over the world.

Morales was in Moscow attending a conference of countries that export natural gas, and while there he told Russian television that Bolivia was open to granting political asylum to Snowden. After the U.S. government charged him with three felonies, Snowden left Hong Kong where he had made the NSA revelations and is reportedly now in a transit area at a Moscow airport. By just mentioning the possibility of asylum for Snowden, Morales became a target of the U.S.

On July 2, the diplomatic plane carrying Evo Morales took off from Moscow to head back to Bolivia. The plane was supposed to make refueling stops in Portugal and Guyana. But while in mid-flight, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy all refused to allow the plane to enter their airspace. The Bolivian government later said these countries refused the plane transit because they suspected that Edward Snowden was on board. With no way to continue the flight, Morales' plane was left circling over Europe looking for a safe place to land as the fuel ran lower. The plane was finally allowed to touch down in Vienna, Austria, and did not take off again until 14 hours later. Officials attempted to search the plane to look for Snowden (Morales said they were not allowed to do so). The Bolivian government said Snowden was never on the plane.

It is virtually unprecedented for the leader of a sovereign nation to be denied permission to fly over countries with which it is not at war. And it is an even more shocking violation of international norms and protocols to demand that a presidential plane be searched.

All five countries involved are close allies of the U.S. There is no way something like this happened without the U.S. behind it, and in fact U.S. officials are barely denying it at this point.

A few things stand out about this:

1. Think about if some other country had done this to a diplomatic plane carrying a U.S. president—and all the outcries about "terrorism" that would be coming out from the White House, Congress, and the bourgeois media.

2. The U.S. imperialists are deeply stung by Snowden's leaks, which exposed that the U.S. is spying on virtually everyone in this country as well as governments, institutions, and people around the world. And they are very worried about what further revelations Snowden may have in store. Obama tried to act all cool about it at a recent press conference, saying, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." But the U.S. is obviously ready to do a lot to get Snowden, even risking a major international incident on the hunch that they might get their hands on him.

3. The U.S. claims that no one has to worry that it is collecting the private information of hundreds of millions of people because this is a country of the "rule of law" and this information will only be used under close supervision in the pursuit of dangerous terrorists. But the reality is that when the U.S. imperialists feel their interests are at stake, they will act in completely and shockingly lawless ways, the better to try to scare the shit out of anyone who considers resisting their crimes in any way.

4. In spite of their very real power, including their ability to basically dictate to their allies and to threaten and even "detain" leaders of any country, they do NOT have everything under control. The action against the Bolivian president's plane revealed the U.S. rulers as thuggish gangsters, and this outraged millions around the world, while Snowden remains out of their grasp, at least for now. And the very next day, there was a stunning new revelation about how the U.S. Postal Service has been photographing every single envelope mailed in the U.S. in the last eight years, at the request of the NSA.

5. All this points to the tremendous courage and heroism of people like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and others who put their lives on the line to let the world know the crimes the U.S. is carrying out behind closed doors.

6. The U.S. efforts to spy on, control, and intimidate the masses of people here and around the world must be met with widespread and determined opposition. A number of Latin American governments justifiably condemned what one Bolivian official called an "imperialist hijack" by the U.S. What is much needed is greater manifestations of society-wide protest against the massive surveillance by the U.S. government and the persecution of those who dare to expose these and other crimes by the U.S. rulers.


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