President Obama and Edward Snowden don’t see eye to eye on much, but they have at least one thing in common: Both have been nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell, two members of Norway’s Socialist Left Party, announced on Facebook Wednesday that they have nominated the former National Security Agency contractor for helping to restore the balance between national security and individual freedoms.
“Edward Snowden has revealed the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance,” the pair wrote. “The level of sophistication and depth of surveillance that citizens all over the world are subject to has stunned us and stirred debate all over the world. By doing this, he has contributed critical knowledge about how modern surveillance and intelligence directed towards states and citizens is carried out.”
Yet even in announcing their nomination, the duo admits that Snowden is a controversial figure whose actions are not necessarily entirely pure. There is “no doubt” Snowden “may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term,” they said, adding they “do not necessarily condone or support all of his disclosures.”
Despite such concessions, the nominators concluded:
“A country’s legitimate need for reliable intelligence to preserve its own security, must always be balanced against the people’s individual freedoms — and the global need for trust — as an integral condition for stability and peace. Edward Snowden has made a critical contribution to restoring this balance.”
The nomination further suggests that, despite the administration’s best efforts, debate over the proper size and scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers is here to stay in 2014. Earlier this month, Obama enumerated several NSA reforms he hopes to complete in the coming months, but many privacy advocates were left unsatisfied. Meanwhile, Snowden-fueled leaks about “leaky” apps and the British government’s ability to tap into cables transferring international Web traffic continued this week.
Snowden was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last July by a Swedish sociology professor for showing “that individuals can stand up for fundamental rights and freedoms.” That nomination, which came one month after major publications around the world began disclosing top-secret documents about the NSA’s surveillance programs bestowed upon them by Snowden, was submitted after the Feb. 1 deadline, however.
The winner will not be announced until the second week of October, leaving us months to speculate about what a Snowden acceptance speech in Oslo might look like.
In 2009, Obama won the prize, delivering a speech that famously noted, “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man; and the limits of reason.”
“I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.”
Journalist and Snowden confidant Glenn Greenwald shared his thoughts of the nomination on Twitter:
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."