Wrong, Mr. Snowden, Just Wrong.

I’ve tried to stay out of this, but now Snowden has blundered into areas of my expertise and about which he either knows nothing or chooses to lie.  This is not a matter of policy or morality or political persuasion.  This is just something he asserts as a fact that simply is not true.

As reported by Time and many others, yesterday he stated:

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have  international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience.  Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent  crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Espionage is not a crime against peace and humanity.  Espionage is not a crime under International Law.  This is not my opinion or my position.  This is not something about which reasonable people disagree.  It is just a fact.  There is no authority whatsoever for the proposition that espionage is a violation of International Law. Espionage is not a crime under International Law.

Moreover, as Time continues:

Nuremberg did establish that a person is legally responsible for committing war  crimes even if ordered to do so by higher authorities in what is known as the superior orders defense  (although the tribunal’s principles do not appear to include the second sentence Snowden attributes to it in several  online versions of his statement).  (emphasis added)

So, he claims he did what he did, because of a non-existent duty to violate domestic laws that conflict with non-existent international law.

Just wrong.

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4 Responses to “Wrong, Mr. Snowden, Just Wrong.”

  1. wcsnyder says:

    An anonymous friend wrote something like this: “You cannot say you can freely violate the constitution of the US by labeling something espionage. The pursuit of espionage is as constrained by the constitution as is the pursuit of any other violation. And it does not matter what the NSA has to say about espionage is too important to be constrained by the constitution. They say that for a living.”

    To which I responded:

    The Constitution, obviously, is not International Law. As even the Time article notes, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not have the force of law. There are no treaties and no international statutes that forbid spying on anyone. Since there is no international law about this at all, there can be no duty imposed by international law to violate conflicting national law.

  2. […] such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance.”  On Facebook and on this blog at “Wrong, Mr. Snowden, Just Wrong,” I explained that International Law simply does not criminalize espionage or military […]

  3. […] Similar to a post about Snowden from a few weeks back, The Moscow Times writer exclaims, “[T]he type of spying on foreigners that Snowden revealed is not a violation of any international law, treaty or convention.” Rather, the reporter explains, such “protests against the NSA are reduced to a simple argument: It is ‘bad’ to spy on others.”  This particular article was discussing Russia rather than Brazil or Mexico; however, Foust borrows the language of “spying as a sovereign right” in further asserting that spying is, indeed, “fundamental” to international relations. […]

  4. […] “Benni” addressed just last month.  Blog administrator “Prof. Snyder” also delved into some of Mr. Snowden’s comments to reporters.  Specifically, as articulated by “Prof. Snyder,” Mr. Snowden “claims he did what he did, […]

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography