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There have been many stand out moments and people who will be remembered long after 2013 ends. The Boston Marathon bombing in April, the death of former UK PM Margaret Thatcher, the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich, the acquittal of killer George Zimmerman, more gun massacres in the USA and the failing health and subsequent death of former South African leader Nelson Mandela were all significant to this writer.
For others more frivolous events such as the birth of another royal in the UK, namely Prince George, a son to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were awesome. In the USA the struggle to implement affordable health care became something of an obsession by supporters as well as those who oppose the changes. The two-year plus Syrian revolution spat out a whole range of issues from the humanitarian standpoint to the use of chemical weapons and more. The conflict continues.
However the two most notable people for this writer were whistle-blower Edward Snowden and US soldier Bradley Manning. And then of course there was also Julian Assange.
Both Snowden and Manning exposed something rotten in the USA and beyond. Bradley Manning, now called Chelsea Manning, exposed US military brutality in Iraq.
His long confinement, pre any trial, included abuse and torture. In 2013 he was sentenced to 35 years in jail following a plea bargain. Without the deal he would have faced a whole-life-term in prison.
He faces allegations of sex abuse in Sweden but claims the accusations are fabricated. He believes that if he is extradited to Sweden he will promptly be sent to the USA and face a similar fate to Bradley Manning.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden also risked a great deal to awaken the world to excessive spying by the USA and other allied countries.
In the months that have followed Snowden’s escape to Hong Kong and temporary asylum in Russia further leaks have followed. He is still a wanted man and his openness has caused huge embarrassment to many leaders and politicians.
What he revealed should also have incensed people who now look set to live in a less private world with an increasing amount of government spying.
The official government line that the spying is all done to protect us is no longer convincing; the extent of the spying, plus the ongoing acts of terrorism, belie that official message.
As yet the public has only glimpsed the tip of the espionage iceberg but it still stinks.
Governments have tried attacking journalists who publish information about Snowden and the NSA, the US national security agency, as well as hounding Snowden.
In recent weeks the Obama administration has attempted a damage limitations exercise. It now admits the spying was excessive and unnecessary. In a vague way it has promised change but will it be too little too late?
Can you believe leaders in a country that will jail a soldier for 35 years for exposing murder by some of their own armed forces; a country that, as yet, has not held the killers to account?
Can you believe an administration that calls one of its former analysts an enemy for exposing wrong-doing, hounds the man and revokes his right to citizenship of the USA?
If such acts were carried out by Russia, even 20 years ago, the US would be banging the human rights drum. Instead it is happily sacrificing its whistle-blowers, instead of using them to rectify errors. That stance alone proves that those involved see nothing wrong in excessive spying of citizens. In other words were politicians complicit? It certainly looks that way.
Those who value their freedom and rights should be actively supporting whistle-blowers instead of damning them. Without them democracy is well and truly dead instead of in the death throes.
How you respond to people such as Snowden could determine the fate of others in years to come.
So Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and others, enemies of the state or friends of democracy? You decide.
Happy New Year whistle-blowers everywhere.
Related reading January 1, 2014, Apple execs deny company helps NSA monitor iPhone users