White House Responds to ‘Pardon Edward Snowden’ Petition with Character Assassination

Screen shot of Lisa Monaco speaking at Aspen Institute event
Screen shot of Lisa Monaco speaking at Aspen Institute event

The White House finally responded to a popular petition at WhiteHouse.gov urging President Barack Obama’s administration to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, the response is a bald-faced attempt to use the petition as a platform to assassinate Snowden’s character.

First off, the petition to pardon Snowden had nearly 168,000 signatures. Only a few petitions responded to by the White House have more signatures (for example, address gun violence through gun control legislation and legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

The petition was posted on June 9, 2013, and was largely inspired by the revelation that the NSA was collecting the metadata of phone calls of millions of Americans, who have Verizon as their phone carrier. Nevertheless, it took the White House more than two years to respond to this petition.

The response focuses on the “serious consequences” Snowden’s whistleblowing has had on “national security.” It includes a statement from Lisa Monaco, the President’s Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

“Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” Monaco declares.

“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions,” Monaco adds. “He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.”

Monaco concludes, “We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.”

Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer for Snowden, a Justice Department whistleblower, and the director of the Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Division, reacted to the White House’s response.

“The government loves to fear-monger, but has failed to articulate any clear harm from Snowden¹s revelations,” Radack stated. “The closest it has come, ironically, is a fully-redacted Defense Intelligence Agency internal assessment.” (more…)

LGBT Community Boos Undocumented Transgender Activist for Interrupting Obama at Pride Event

An undocumented transgender woman and activist interrupted President Barack Obama while he was speaking at the White House’s annual LGBT Pride Month reception.

Jennicet Gutiérrez, who is a founding member of Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, was in the audience listening to Obama say how wonderful everything was for the LGBT community. Gutiérrez protested.

“President Obama, stop the torture and abuse of trans women in detention centers!” Gutiérrez shouted. “President Obama, I am a trans woman. I’m tired of the abuse.”

Obama responded, “You’re in my house. As a general rule, I am just fine with a few hecklers, but not when I’m up in the house.”

The LGBT community at the reception erupted into loud applause and cheering. The president scolded Gutiérrez, “It’s not respectful when you get invited to somebody’s [house].” Plus, “You’re not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this.”

People who one would think might show solidarity with a person like Gutiérrez booed. Obama escalated his open berating of Gutiérrez, “Shame on you! You shouldn’t be doing this!”

The community of the people launched into a chant. “Obama! Obama! Obama.”

Seeing how that did not convince Gutiérrez to stop trying to get Obama to address a critical issue, the detention and deportation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants, Obama asked security to escort Gutiérrez out of the reception. She was removed while many in the room stood around laughing at what happened.

Remarkably, Obama stated later in his speech, “We know that transgender persons still face terrible violence and abuse and poverty here at home and around the world.” A person in the audience shouted, “The transsexuals love you.” Everyone applauded and Obama reacted, “Well, that’s the kind of heckling I can always accept.”

After applause, Obama continued, “Seriously, too many folks are still targeted, and transgender women of color are particularly vulnerable. So that kind of ugliness simply doesn’t belong in America. That’s not who we are.”

Apparently, Obama could not have said that when Gutiérrez protested. He had to patronize and shame her for dissenting against him.

In an interview for The Advocate, Gutiérrez said it was the crowd that “most frustrated” her. “I’m just very disappointed with the way it was handled.”

“I’m part of the LGBT community, and they didn’t back me, instead they were booing, which to me was like a slap in the face to all these people in detention centers,” Gutiérrez added.

Initially, Gutiérrez did not plan to protest at the reception. She was able to get on the list of attendees through someone at the group, GetEQUAL. But she “couldn’t help but think about the conditions,” which “LGBTQ Latino/Latina, especially trans women of color, are facing in detention.”

“To me, that was the moment I had to speak up. I had to raise awareness to the President and to everyone else watching that I’m not just going to celebrate, when my trans sisters are facing a lot of violence in the detention centers. [Trans women are facing] sexual and physical abuse, and I just had to send a message.”
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