After landing his first job in Moscow, U.S. fugitive and National Security Agency leaker 30-year-old Edward Snowden was personally invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin to talk to German authorities about U.S. spy activities. When Putin granted Snowden “temporary” asylum Aug. 1, he said Snowden must refrain from further damaging our “American partners.” Telling Snowden he’s free to talk to German officials, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Russia plans to rub salt in White House’s wounds. Putin already made a point publicly that U.S. authorities had their shot at Snowden for weeks before Putin allowed the self-proclaimed whistleblower to flee to Russia, seeking refuge in the Sheremetyevo airport for 30 days. Paraded around the media, flanked by his WikiLeaks handlers, Snowden had ample opportunity to humiliate the United States.
While Snowden was sold by WikiLeaks as a “whistleblower,” he was anything but, spending his young career as a college drop-out computer hacker, working for a six-figure salary. Snowden was perfectly happy collecting hefty sums of cash for his hacking skills for the CIA or various government contractors like his last employer in Hawaii, Booz Allen Hamilton. Whatever happened to sour Snowden with Booz Allen Hamilton is anyone’s guess. He might have been canned and decided to retaliate exposing what he knew about U.S. spy operations. Selling Snowden as a patriot “whistleblower” is preposterous. He blew no whistles for years while collecting six-figures. “He has temporary refugee status. That status does not foresee any restrictions on his moving around the country or speaking to anyone,” said Peskov, confirming he’s now Moscow’s stooge.
Since the Cold War began after WW II, the U.S. and then Soviet Union played an intriguing cat-and-mouse game. WW II made strange bedfellows, when you consider the U.S. government was so paranoid about the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution spreading to the United States. As Bolshevism threatened Western Europe in the Roaring 20s’ and Depression 30s’ the U.S. backed a little known German named Adolf Hitler who promised to contain the spread of communism to Western Europe and beyond. We all know how that worked out. But the antagonist relationship with Russia continues to the present day, where the Kremlin exploits disgruntled ex-patriots to embarrass the U.S. Nothing gives the Kremlin more satisfaction than to embarrass the U.S. Snowden’s become the latest patsy to highlight the paradox of U.S. democracy, where spying on allies has become a routine practice.
Snowden’s betrayal of spying secrets would be punished in Russia and other countries with a kangaroo court and firing squad. Saying that he’s done the world a service could not be further from the truth. It doesn’t help when 89-year-old former President Jimmy Carter hails Snowden as a legitimate whistleblower or former Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg sings his praises. Snowden’s history of collecting six figures for spying shows anything but someone concerned about the government’s violation of the Constitution or any other global pact. “No one will allow him to use the territory of Russia to harm U.S. interests,” said Peskov, somewhat tongue-in-cheek while Russia stirs the pot over NSA monitoring of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls. Whatever the NSA did with Merkel or any other world leader, it’s all par-for-the-course today.
Foreign governments are no different than corporations looking to get an edge on the latest consumer electronic products or automobiles. If Germany’s Mercedes Benz or Japan’s Lexus were dissecting Elon Musk’s Tesla electric cars would anyone think twice? Snowden’s big revelations about U.S. spying come in a post-Sept. 11 world, where the U.S. constantly battles to stay one-step ahead of international terror syndicates seeking any chink in U.S. armor. When Peskov says he won’t let Snowden “harm U.S. interests,” he’s not referring to more embarrassment. “No one is keeping him here. He is not being held captive here,” said Peskov, referring to Snowden’s mobility to other countries willing to grant him asylum. “He is free to pack up and fly anywhere he wants,” knowing full well that U.S. authorities are seeking any opportunity to redeem themselves and finally get the U.S. fugitive.
Russian authorities have a funny way of protecting U.S. interests. Unable to blackmail U.S. authorities into riches for his silence, Snowden continues to embarrass the U.S. At some point, harboring the U.S. fugitive will be more trouble than it’s worth. For now, Russian officials can barely contain their glee watching the fugitive expat run amok, further embarrassing the U.S. Meeting in Moscow with Green Party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele, Snowden wants to make more waves over the cell phone flap with Merkel. Whether making a mountain out of a molehill, Snowden continues to grab headlines for his WikiLeaks handlers. Already rewarded with a job at a Russian Internet company, Snowden looks like he’s staying put for the indefinite future. If Merkel had any sense, she’d stop Snowden’s media circus, knowing that there’s some things that are better off left unsaid.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.