Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson were the most prominent Republicans appearing at last Saturday’s far-left anti-NSA rally, staged in honor of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Johnson, who is also a libertarian, was introduced to the crowd as an advocate of legal marijuana, and drew applause and cheers.
Amash was also a favorite, but clearly seemed uncomfortable on stage as he was surrounded by “Stop Watching Us” activists holding thousands of anti-NSA petitions. Numerous “Thank you Edward Snowden” banners were visible in the crowd before him.
Amash gave a speech, staged a brief photo op with some of the participants who formally presented the anti-NSA petitions, and then quickly walked away in order to avoid interviews with the press.
This didn’t stop NBC News reporter Michael Isikoff from following the Michigan congressman after his speech and trying to corner him about whether he regards Snowden as a criminal, traitor, or hero. Isikoff’s cameraman was filming the exchange while walking backward.
Only one small part of the exchange with Amash aired on NBC News. The Michigan Tea Party-backed Representative was overheard telling Isikoff that Snowden had “very few options, but the issue is not whether he did the right thing or not. I think he’s certainly broken some laws.”
Yet, the rally was designed specifically for the purpose of supporting Snowden and his criminal disclosures.
Snowden is the subject of a sealed criminal complaint charging him with espionage and theft of government property. He fled to Chinese Hong Kong and then Russia, where President and former Soviet KGB officer Vladimir Putin gave him asylum. Snowden’s disclosures about the nature and extent of U.S. surveillance programs have clearly benefitted America’s enemies and damaged America’s international standing in the world.
The small crowd, which assembled near Union Station and then marched to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, was led in chants of “They say wiretap. We say fight back.”
USA Today said “thousands” had rallied against the NSA, but several hundred was a more accurate estimate. The crowd included members of Code Pink, the Marxist organization that frequently demonstrates against aid to Israel; extremists from the Lyndon LaRouche organization (with posters showing Obama with a Hitler mustache); ACLU activists; and advocates for American “political prisoners” such as convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard (a member of the Black Liberation Army who escaped to Cuba).
Other official sponsoring organizations included the ANSWER Coalition, a front of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the International Socialist Organization (ISO).
Glenn Greenwald, one of the individual endorsers of last Saturday’s rally, has been Snowden’s handler and conduit for leaks to the media. He has also spoken at several ISO conferences, declaring on one occasion that the “weakening of America” is a “very good thing.”
Evan Gahr reported for AIM that Greenwald is speaking at the November 16 “Faith in Freedom” banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood organization. CAIR was also an official sponsor of Saturday’s rally.
The October 26 event was emceed by Kymone Freeman, director of something called the “National Black LUV Fest,” and featured a statement by Snowden from Moscow. “It’s about our right to know, to associate freely, and to live in an open society,” said Snowden. His statement, however, said nothing about government surveillance in Russia, conducted by the former KGB, now known as the FSB.
The Snowden statement was read by Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who claimed, during a brief interview, that the U.S. government is at fault for Snowden fleeing to Moscow, that the Russians are not controlling the former NSA contractor, and that Putin has played the role of peacemaker regarding Syria. When pressed on her claims and asked about the Putin regime murdering independent journalists who oppose his rule, she said she had to go, and fled with the help of her own handler.
Radack’s discomfort was nothing compared to that of Amash, who apparently didn’t realize how extreme the crowd was going to be.
Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, who calls Snowden a traitor, has said, in regard to his latest disclosures about alleged NSA monitoring of the telephone calls of certain world leaders, “It doesn’t bother me at all…it is the duty of the President…to take steps to protect America and if that means conducting espionage, even on friends, absolutely.”
Amash has become a favorite of the far-left for partnering earlier this year with Democratic Rep. John Conyers (MI) in an effort to defund the NSA’s surveillance programs. Analyst Trevor Loudon notes, “Conyers has a more than 40 year history of collaborating with the Communist Party and almost as long with the Democratic Socialists of America.”
Since the Amash-Conyers amendment went down to defeat, Amash is now supporting another legislative maneuver to gut the ability of the NSA to conduct surveillance programs. It carries the long title of “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act,” also known as the USA FREEDOM Act. This bill has been introduced by Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin in cooperation with Conyers.
Loudon has said that he finds it ironic that “millions of American patriots, motivated by genuine constitutional concerns, have been turned into attack dogs against one of their few remaining effective means of national defense. America’s enemies must be laughing uproariously over this.”
In this case, the anti-NSA activists have the support of a bipartisan lobbying firm, the Smith-Free Group in Washington, D.C. Philip G. Kiko, who served as Chief of Staff to Sensenbrenner, is leading the lobbying campaign against the NSA.
But while Kiko’s job is to give the appearance of Republican support for the Conyers-Sensenbrenner legislation, the far-left is actually calling the shots. The Washington, D.C. rally, for example, was organized by the George Soros-funded Free Press, the main organization behind the “Stop Watching Us” coalition.
The group claimed to have “both sides of the political spectrum” represented at the rally, but the only groups from the conservative side were the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Freedom Works—and they did not have speaking parts.
However, another featured speaker was former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, now a Fox News commentator. Kucinich was perhaps best known for sponsoring legislation to create a Department of Peace in the executive branch.