Stuck behind the former Iron Curtain in dreary Russia, 30-year-old National Security Agency pirate Edward Snowden continues to weasel his way to asylum, anything but stay permanently in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backyard. While working for Booz Allen Hamilton in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2012, Snowden stole 1.7 million classified documents from the NSA, then leaked the contents methodically to the U.K.’s Guradian and Washington Post newspapers May 16, 2013. When U.S. authorities got wind of the breach to U.S. national security, Snowden fled May 20 to Hong Kong with the FBI, CIA and other federal agents on his tail. Touted as a hero-like whistleblower by the fugitive gadfly Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks and such organizations as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Snowden’s insisted he’s a true patriot to save face.
Had any of Snowden’s shenanigans happened under Putin’s watch—or practically any other country—he would have faced a kangaroo court and prompt execution. While there were many dynamics at play with Putin allowing Snowden to land June 23, stay in the “transit” areas of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and eventually grant him temporary asylum Aug. 1, Russian authorities aren’t happy. Charged June 14 with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and “willful communications of classified intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” Snowden became an international criminal fugitive, taking U.S. authorities on a perilous joyride, eventually landing in Moscow. Had it not been for frazzled U.S.-Russian relations because of the Syrian conflict, Putin would have gladly turned over the traitor to U.S. authorities.
Whether it’s right or wrong for the government to spy in a post Sept. 11 era on its own citizens or foreign governments, Snowden violated his employment contracts and ratted out the U.S. government. Speaking on “60 Minutes” Dec. 15, NSA’s head of the Snowden debacle Rick Ledgett suggested he was open to granting Snowden amnesty or immunity to prosecution in exchange for returning all classified docs by to the U.S. While talking out of hat and expressing only his own opinion, Ledgett prompted a strong White House rebuke, insisting Snowden should return home and face the U.S. justice system. After all of Snowden’s carefully calculated disclosures, it’s highly doubtful that the 30-something-year-old wouldn’t pull another fast one on the U.S. government. Proving that Snowden only looks so save his own hide, he’s putting out the feelers for foreign asylum deals.
Hoping to find a country, like Russia, that seeks to slap the U.S. in the face, Snowden shops around his asylum options. “I’ve expressed my willingness to assist where it’s appropriate and legal, but, unfortunately, this U.S. government has been working hard to limit my ability to do so,” said Snowden as in special appeal to the Brazilian people in the Folha de S. Paulo Newspaper. “Until a country grants me permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak out,” said Snowden, showing there’s no limit to the damage he wants to inflict on the U.S. When Putin granted temporary asylum Aug. 1, he told Snowden emphatically that he can no longer divulge anything to further embarrass the U.S. government. Promising to give Brazil all the dirt on U.S. spying on Brazil doesn’t sound like Snowden’s shut up.
Snowden’s leaked documents showed that the NSA scoured the emails and phone calls of Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff and Brazil’s Petrobras national oil company. Catering to outrage in Brazil, Snowden hopes to cajole an asylum deal to extricate himself from Mother Russia. “Brazil should not miss the opportunity to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, who was key to unraveling the U.S. espionage system” said Sen. Reicardo Ferrao. “The Brazillian government should grant him asylum and the U.S. government must understand that the NSA violated the rights protected in the Brazilian constitution,” said Sen. Eduardo Suplicy, agreeing that Snowden should be granted asylum to get to the bottom of U.S. spying operations. Rousseff and other Brazilian officials are seeking options away from the U.S. Internet and to laying private fiber optic cables across the Atlantic for all communications.
Snowden’s ongoing blackmail should remind all U.S. officials, including Rick Ledgett, that there can be no deals with a manipulative traitor. “Our position has not changed on that matter—at all. He [Ledgett] was expressing his own opinions; these decisions are made by the Justice Department,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. No government, especially Brazil, should feel safe granting asylum to Snowden. If he got the chance, he’d toss Brazil under the bus too. “Today, if you carry a cellphone in Sao Paulo, the NSA can track where you are, and it does—it does so 5bn times a day worldwide,” said Snowden, making his case for Brazilian asylum. “Six moths ago, I revealed that the NSA wanted to listen to the whole world. Now the whole world is listening, and also talking back. And the NSA does not like what it is hearing,” said Snowden, proving he’s not close to shutting up.
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.