After 40 days and 40 nights sleeping and eating in the international terminal at the Moscow airport, Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who was once the most interesting man in the world, has disappeared into the landscape of Russia, a forgotten historical footnote. The Russian Government says Snowden will live in a secret location for security reasons.
I think if I was told that I was going to be put in a secret location by Russian authorities, I may opt for door number two. Siberia has been the “secret location” of choice for the Russian government in the past.
Of course, Snowden didn’t have too many other options. Venezuela, Bolivia and possibly Iceland are the only countries that would have him. To get to any of those countries would require flying over international waters, where the United States could intercept his plane with an F14 or two.
The United States has charged the former NSA contractor with theft and espionage for leaking classified government documents that exposed a massive domestic surveillance program that accumulated the phone records and Internet activity of most Americans. The U.S. actively put pressure on countries to deny Snowden asylum and filed for Snowden’s extradition from Russia. Russian President Vladimir ignored the request and scored high points with the Russian press and people for thumbing his nose at America.
But does any of this ring true? Would Putin really chance putting Russian-American diplomatic relations in jeopardy over Edward Snowden?
If our government really wanted Snowden, Russia would give him up after some negotiation. America would rather have Snowden disappear for a while and that is exactly what is happening with the help of Putin. Had Snowden been extradited, NSA surveillance would once again dominate the news. A Snowden trial would have put the surveillance program on trial with demand for evidence the Obama administration does not want to give up. President Obama’s approval ratings have already taken a hit because of the NSA story, especially among the under-30 crowd, who once were the President’s staunchest supporters.
Vladimir Putin granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum only after Snowden promised not to leak any more information that would hurt the United States government. Kind of a strange request from a guy allegedly thumbing his nose at America, don’t you think?
This is a cleverly devised international scheme that puts Snowden and the whole NSA mess in a box wrapped with a bow and put away in the attic. Snowden disappears and stays silent under careful watch of the Russian government. Putin looks strong in Russia for standing up to America. America looks tough on leakers by charging Snowden with espionage and filing for extradition. And the whole story slowly dies as the domestic surveillance program continues.