If you have "no place to go," come here!

So who, exactly, re-routed Evo Morales's plane?

MsExPat's picture

updated below, 8:28pm

Imagine if the Chinese put the screws on a couple of China-friendly African countries to refuse airspace for Obama's Air Force One because they suspected Liu Xiao Bao or some other dissident was aboard. And that the US President was forced to make an emergency landing for fuel as a result. And when he landed the local authorities forced a search of Air Force One. Major headlines, right? 24 hour carpet coverage. We'd probably have half the Pacific Fleet headed to the South China Sea.

Well, that scenario is more or less what's just happened to Bolivian president Evo Morales as he tried to fly across Europe on the way home from Moscow.

Longtime Correntians will notice that all the media coverage so far--mostly from Euro sources, as the US media has relegated it to second or third tier news-- lapses into that oh-so-convenient lack of agency passive voice. For instance, from the France 24 coverage linked above:

Bolivian President Evo Morales took off from Vienna on Tuesday after being diverted [By whom?] and held up [names, please!] for more than 14 hours amid suspicions that US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board his jet.

China Daily even comes up with an interesting new locution to describe what amounts to a diplomatic airjacking: "Deroutage"! The Guardian is a little better on the cause and effect:

France and Portugal prevented the plane's passage from Russia to Bolivia on Tuesday, suspecting that whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. Bolivian vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera says the plane was 'kidnapped by imperialism'

What I'd like to see (I'm not holding my breath) is a reported account, step by step, of what actually happened. Why did France, Portugal (and possibly) Spain refuse, seemingly at the last minute, to let Morales' Bolivian Air Force One enter their airspace? Who made the decisions, and under whose orders? And why did anyone think that Snowden was on a plane that left from a different Moscow airport on the opposite side of the city from the one he's marooned in?

I'm not expecting we'll get much truth out of anyone, but I'd at least like to see the French, Portuguese, Spanish, Austrian--and of course the US officials responsible for this outrageous action forced to account for it.

The question I'd really like to get the answer to is this: What's this 30 year old hacker got in his hard drives that is worth risking an international kerfluffle? Or is this simply the last nail in the coffin of our arrogance: that the USA has reached the point where we don't even think twice about doing whatever we want, wherever it suits us. Remember those long ago days of cover ups and covert actions? So much extra work and bother. Thank goodness those days are over. Send in the drones.

Happy fourth of July.

update, 8:28pm
From the NYT, more fuzzy agency (in italics. With all those reporters expensively posted in all those cities, why isn't anyone addressing the question of who triggered the detention of President Morales, and for what purpose?:

Mr. Snowden has been holed up at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for more than a week, hoping to receive a positive response to the asylum requests he has made to several countries, and Mr. Morales’s remark may have set off suspicion [whose suspicion? The US? If not the US, why would any other nation be concerned about this?] that he was bringing the fugitive aboard.

After taking off from Moscow, Mr. Morales’s plane asked permission to land in France to refuel, according to Carlos Romero, the minister of government in La Paz. But France refused and denied the plane permission to enter French airspace, Bolivian officials said. Portugal had also previously refused to let the plane land for refueling in Lisbon.

Mr. Morales was finally given permission [again, by whom?] to land in Vienna, where he spent the night. Mr. Morales told reporters in Vienna that he had not met Mr. Snowden in Moscow and that he had previously known little about the case.

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athena1's picture
Submitted by athena1 on

Remember those long ago days of cover ups and covert actions? So much extra work and bother. Thank goodness those days are over. Send in the drones.

Maybe this was what was meant by "the most transparent administration evah"?

Submitted by cg.eye on

-- that without a big stick of nationally-controlled resources, or atomics, the US will treat anyone on this planet like a tourist accidentally leaving a full bottle of shampoo in a carry-on bag -- full, warrantless search n' seizure.

We used to call these things "international incidents", didn't we? Back when we thought diplomats were more than shills for covert agencies?

Submitted by jawbone on

Blogger Sabine Becker* has this translation of what the president of Argentina, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, wrote on Facebook:

’m back from La Rosada. Olivos, 9:46 p.m. They tell me President Correa is on the phone.

“Rafael? Give me the call.”

“Hi, Rafa, how are you?”

He replies something between angry and upset. “Don’t you know what’s going on?”

“No, what’s happening?” I’m all out to sea. Unusual, because I’m always alert, and vigilant. But I’ve just gotten back from a meeting.

“Cristina. They detained Evo with his plane, and they won’t let him leave Europe.”

“What? Evo? Evo Morales detained?” Immediately his latest photo comes to mind, him in Russia with Putin, Nicolás Maduro, and other heads of state.

“But what happened, Rafael?”

“Several countries revoked permission for him to fly, and now he’s in Vienna,” comes the reply.

They are all definitely out of their minds. A head of state and his airplane have total immunity. This degree of impunity cannot be.

Rafael tells me he’s going to call Ollanta Humala, urgently, for an emergency UNASUR meeting.

I call Evo. On the other end of the line, his voice responds calmly: “Hello, comrade, how are you?” Did you catch that? He asked me how I was doing!

He has thousands of years’ worth of civilization on me. He tells me the situation. “I’m here, in a little room in the airport, and I won’t let them check out my airplane. I’m not a crook.” Simply perfect. Stay strong, Evo.

“Let me call the Foreign Ministry. I want to see jurisdiction, Treaty and Tribunal. I’ll call you back,” I say.

“Thanks, comrade.”

“Hello, Susana.” That’s Susana Ruiz Cerruti, our expert in international legal matters for the Foreign Ministry.

She confirms that Evo has absolute immunity by customary right, received by the Convention of 2004, and the Hague Tribunal. If Austria doesn’t let him go or wants to check his plane, they have to appear before the International Court in The Hague, and ask.

Yesss! A precautionary measure. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You know what precautionary measures are for.

Fine, let’s see if we can send some judge from here. Mother of God! What a world!

I call Evo again. His Ministry of Defence is taking notes. In Austria it’s 3 a.m. They’re going to try to talk with the authorities.

I talk with Pepe Mujica. He’s indignant. He has a right to be. It’s all very humiliating.

I talk to Rafa again. He tells me that Ollanta is going to call an UNASUR meeting. It’s 12:25 in the morning. Tomorrow is going to be a long, hard day. Stay calm. They won’t win this one.

Craig Murray writes that interfering with a head of state's overflights is clearly illegal under international law, but the US seems to feel it is above all that international legal stuff -- unless it wants to use that law.

The forcing down of the Bolivian President’s jet was a clear breach of the Vienna Convention by Spain and Portugal, which closed their airspace to this Head of State while on a diplomatic mission. It has never been thought necessary to write down in a Treaty that Heads of State enjoy diplomatic immunity while engaged in diplomacy, as their representatives only enjoy diplomatic immunity as cyphers for their Head of State. But it is a hitherto unchallenged precept of customary international law, indeed arguably the oldest provision of international law.

To the US and its allies, international law is no longer of any consequence. I can see no evidence that anyone in an official position has even noted the illegality of repeated Israeli air and missile strikes against Syria. Snowden, Manning and Assange all exposed illegality on a massive scale, and no action whatsoever has been taken against any of the criminals they exposed. Instead they are being hounded out of all meaningful life and ability to function in society.

The title is "All Law is Gone: Naked Power Remains."

*Via commenter Northern Night Owl at Moon of AL

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

" lleva miles de anos de civilizacion de ventaja"

I'd translate that passage a bit more colloquially: Cristina's saying:
"Dude's in Austrian detention, his plane's been forced down, and he's asking me how I am?! Much respect: That's a couple thousand years of civilization talking, there."

Hmmm, but does that mean that Evo Morales might be the world's coolest president evah?

Thanks for that great link!

Submitted by lambert on

.... is that Obama doesn't trust Putin, and if they've cut some kind of deal, Obama doesn't think it's a firm one ("An honest politician is one who stays bought").

That is the meaning IMNSHO of the two airports, since Snowden would have had to cross Russian territory to get from one to the other, and that could hardly have been done without Putin's permission.

Either that, or whichever intel faction set this in motion was so stupid they didn't realize which airport Morales would have left from. I can believe anything, at this point.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Because "stupid" tends to increase exponentially with arrogance.

Submitted by lambert on

... are completely craven, or acting on the ancient political principle: "When your enemy's drowning, throw 'em an anvil."

Perhaps a little bit of both. International conferences between heads of state will either (a) exhibit some crankiness or (b) they're all in on it.*

NOTE * If the NSA is sharing or better yet selling all that data to other countries, say.

athena1's picture
Submitted by athena1 on

There's a great deal of overlay between the civil liberties/human rights reporting and the reporting on the financial crisis. (not so much of a "crisis" since "we've" just redefined the "natural" level of unemployment upwards).

But a thing that sticks out to me is how there are no "human rights" in our new market state, outside of ethnic cleansing/genocide. "Political asylum" and things like that are just relics of a failed constitutional order. In fact, people who cry for such relics are terrorists.

Wild times, nevermind interesting.

Submitted by jawbone on

externally only unless there's a warrant to open mail, but photos of ALL mail sent in US.

Who knew? We oughta know by now....

This, alonh with tracking every credit card purchase.... See QH about Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its tracking via high cost contractors.

Submitted by lambert on

I hear they re-opened the Statue of Liberty! Though not everyone can get tickets....

wanderindiana's picture
Submitted by wanderindiana on

When Snowden's info first came to light, I half-joked that they'd shut down the USPS in order to better check our content.

To see this, especially in front of Independence Day, is sickening.

I know I have avoided VoIP service because I am sure it is easier to record, but snail mail, too?

Carrier pigeons? Private messenger service?

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

I like it. Sounds so much more...civilized than "rendition" or "secuestration". I think the China Daily folks are on to something.

Submitted by lambert on

John Avarosis, bless his heart, seems to have a good catch:

What set off alarm bells for journalists was that Snowden’s statement from Moscow, published by Wikileaks, used a verb tense that an American would never use (emphasis added) – though a European would:

For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum.

Note the use of the US as plural.

Second, the date at the bottom:

Monday 1st July 2013

That’s a European way of writing the date – putting the day before the month.  Americans write:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Avarosis is, however, a big Obama supporter....

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

All it means is that probably Sarah Harrison, the (British) Wikileaks rep who is with him, helped draft and/or edit it.

I live among Aussies, Canadians, Americans and Brits, and we're constantly slipping back and forth between British-isms and American style. I myself am on a personal crusade to bring back "whilst" to American English.

Submitted by lambert on

... has anyone seen Harrison lately? I thought she was on the plane to cuba.

Submitted by lambert on

Independent European Daily Express:

WASHINGTON, Jul 02 (IPS) - Late on Monday night, Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks activist, hand-delivered 21 letters to Kim Shevchenko, the duty officer at the Russian consulate office in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, on behalf of Edward Snowden, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

I didn't do it your way, I posted a screenshot. Why should that make all the straight linking disappear? It's not that code (which is the same as tweet url plus a # at the end). Also, all the replies to that tweet have disappeared on MM's twitter. Also, the tweet itself has disappeared from his twitter feed on front page. Whoops, I refreshed and it's back. What's going on?

(Meanshile it's up to 402 retweets :-)

Submitted by lambert on

414 tweets.

For whatever reason, the https links don't show. I assume that's because twitter wants us only to use their embedded markup.

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

427 428 retweets -- your embedded tweet keeps updating itself

(thanks for explanation -- it's Twitter? funny how they can make it piggytail back to here?)

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

Testing testing testing

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

Seriously, Obama really looks like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Submitted by lambert on

This caught my eye:

Morales was stranded at the airport for 14 hours amid suspicions that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board his plane. Both the Bolivian and Austrian authorities insisted Snowden was not on the plane, although the extent to which the Austrian police officers searched the jet was unclear.

Yikes. Apparently being a head of state doesn't mean much any more?

transcriber's picture
Submitted by transcriber on

He has thousands of years’ worth of civilization on me. He tells me the situation. “I’m here, in a little room in the airport, and I won’t let them check out my airplane. I’m not a crook.” Simply perfect. Stay strong, Evo.

I still haven't clicked the damn button on Yahoo blackmail saying yes scan my e-mail so I can see it again! Stay strong, me!

(a moment of chicken dance)

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

why did anyone think that Snowden was on a plane that left from a different Moscow airport on the opposite side of the city from the one he's marooned in?

My take is that “they” (whoever “they” are) didn’t—it just had to be a plane that, plausibly, Edward Snowden might be on. The whole incident acts as a warning to any country (e.g., Venezuela) that might consider flying Snowden out of Moscow—“try that and you, too, risk ‘deroutage.’”

Submitted by lambert on

I keep being shocked:

The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden misused his right to digital access and has created problems that outweigh the benefits of public disclosure, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has said.

Speaking to a gathering of the foreign affairs committee of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik on Tuesday, Ban said that in his personal opinion "the Snowden case is something I consider to be misuse." The UN chief added that the opening up of digital communications should not be "misused in such a way as Snowden did".

Ban's remarks, recorded in notes taken by two people present at the meeting and confirmed by a third, provoked expressions of surprise from committee members. His depiction of Snowden as someone who had misused access to information came just hours after the NSA whistleblower made a formal request for asylum to the Icelandic government.

Hardly Moon's right to pre-judge! And if the UN does not recognize whistleblowers, it should!

Jessica Yogini's picture
Submitted by Jessica Yogini on

Regarding Ban Ki Moon, this is another example of those aligned with the current elite instinctively taking the elite side, regardless of any customs or rules to the contrary.
The current system is highly dependent on the the compliance of the knowledge worker class. It needs them to stay in role (kayfabe). It needs them to look the other way at all the corruption and theft they witness. That makes a highly visible defector to truth-telling, such as Snowden, so dangerous for them. It is also unpleasant because it shines a glaring light on many lives lived in half-truths and evasions.
The system is becoming more and more totalizing and also brittle.

Submitted by mgmonza on

For anyone reading this far, the Toronto Star on-line article gives a bit more information on who actually did and said what:

"Spain’s ambassador to Austria even tried to make his way onto the plane on the pretext of having a coffee to check that Snowden wasn’t there, Morales said."

Further down the page:
"European responses shifted throughout the day.

Spain explicitly denied Bolivian charges that it had closed its airspace to Morales.

After initial hedging from France, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius issued a statement Wednesday night acknowledging that Morales’ plane was initially refused and saying he called his Bolivian counterpart to apologize. The statement didn’t explain why."

It's so depressing to see one leader after another, no matter how outraged they say they are, fold to threats Obama doesn't even have to make explicitly, just hint at.

Submitted by Hugh on

This is a comment I made over at NC on Ban Ki-moon shameless shiving of Snowden:

Cases like Snowden's have this all too rare ability to expose the hypocrisy of the elites who rule us. In the US, the courtier media did not go after Obama, the leaders of the intelligence community, and various members of Congress for their parts in running rampant out of control spying programs. They went after Snowden.

Snowden told the Europeans that the NSA was spying on both their leaders and millions of ordinary citizens. European leaders mouthed outrage. But what did they do? They brazenly broke international diplomatic conventions forcing down the President of Bolivia's plane just on the offhand chance that Snowden might be on board so that he might be arrested and turned over to their American masters.

Now to show just how corrupt the elite class globally is, Ban Ki-moon in some of the most profoundly idiotic and evil comments on the whole affair said:

"the Snowden case is something I consider to be misuse." The UN chief added that the opening up of digital communications should not be "misused in such a way as Snowden did."

The NSA is spying on everyone everywhere in any way they can, untold millions, all across the planet, and this sockpuppet Secretary General of the UN says that it is Snowden who is misusing digital communication.

This is a point I have been trying to make for some time now. Kleptocracy is global although its manifestations in countries varies. It is a class phenomenon. The rich form a global ruling class and are served by a servant class of the elites who at once are rewarded by the rich for their efforts and who aspire to join the ranks of the ruling rich. What the Snowden affair does is show how universal (and hypocritic) the condemnation of Snowden is by these classes. He represents a transparency and truth-telling that are anathema to them, like sunlight to vampires. This is why political leaders from Xi in China to Putin in Russia to Obama in Washington to the heads of the EU to the Secretary General of the UN itself want nothing to do with him. It is also why these classes which wage a ceaseless war against the interests of the many can not be reformed, but only overthrown. When any nobody challenges the basis of their power and their lies, they forget their differences and band together in defense of their class interests.

I have to add that if anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be writing about modern politics and economics entirely in terms of class I would have thought them mad. But events are giving us all a learning experience that I bet few of us wanted or anticipated. I cite kleptocracy, class, and class war because the affairs in which we are involved can best be explained by them. It is a I suppose a great blow to our pride that rather than living one of the high points of history we are dwelling in one of its cesspools. The question for us all is whether we will accept living in a sewer or will we strive and fight for something better. Perhaps Snowden's greatest service to us is that his actions have put this question before us.

Submitted by lambert on

Ha ha ha!

Too much. We've got so much state media these days -- RT, Al Jazeera -- but at least they've got a sense of humor. Our guys have no sense of humor whatever.

Gerard Pierce's picture
Submitted by Gerard Pierce on

As always, should you or any of your IM. Force be caught with their pants down, the Secretary will hold his thumb to his nose and issue a resounding Bfstpic the finest tradition of American exceptionalism