Thursday, August 01, 2013

Snowden Granted Asylum In Russia

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has left his improvised quarters at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow after the Russian government granted him temporary asylum for one year.

The U.S., of course, wanted him extradited for revealing the details of secret and highly intrusive NSA domestic surveillance programs as well as a number of other details on how the agency operates. And they had been pressing the Russian government hard to send Snowden back.

Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela offered Snowden refuge, but there are no direct commercial flights to Latin America from Moscow and he was concerned the United States would intercept his flight.Especially after the Obama Administration pressured four U.S. allies in Europe to refuse to let a plane carrying Bolivia's president home from Moscow to use their airspace because Snowden might have been on the plane.

Needless to say, that did not win us any friends in Latin America.

However, the Russians said 'nyet' and Snowden has now taken up residence in a secret location.He's going to need to stay very under the radar to avoid a convenient accident, although I have a feeling he may have informed the feds that there are a number of highly classified and juicy items that will come out if anything happens to him...sort of a personal insurance policy.

His residence permit allows him to live anywhere in Russia. His Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena told the press that he gave Snowden his certificate and that he left in a taxi accompanied by Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks.

According to his lawyer,Snowden has been passing the time while he was holed up in the airport learning Russian. Another incentive for him to do this is pictured here:

Yes, it's Anna Chapman, the gorgeous Russian spy with the 180 IQ who was arrested by the U.S. back in 2010 and later deported back to Russia in a prisoner swap..and who has already said publicly she finds Snowden "very attractive."

So the question remains...why would Russian leader Vladimir Putin agree with this, at the risk of straining ties with the U.S.? Because there is no risk.

Here's something that's not exactly a secret to anyone with any knowledge of foreign affairs. President Obama is not exactly regarded with much in the way of respect by either our allies or our foes.

In fact, as he's proven on numerous occasions, he's regarded as amateurish, arrogant, easily manipulated and downright deceitful when it comes to anything he says, no matter what public niceties are mouthed before the cameras in the photo-ops.

There is hardly one U.S. ally who now has better relations with the U.S. than they did back in 2009, and in many cases the relationship is far worse.

Putin in particular has every reason to regard him in this way.From the ridiculous START treaty to his cynical abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic after they went out on a limb and committed themselves to helping our missile defense system to the Russians simply laughing at the Iran sanctions, he's more than proven he's flexible when Putin cracks the whip. Not only that, but the one time Putin actually tried working on something serious with him, a diplomatic resolution to the Syrian Civil War, the entire project collapsed when Putin found out that President Obama had secretly shipped 1,800 U.S. Marines behind his back to the Jordan-Syria border.

Aside from destroying any vestige of trust between Putin and Obama, the president's actions also torpedoed an agreement between Putin and the Israelis not to introduce certain advanced weapons systems like the S-300 missile defense systems into the region in exchange for an Israeli pledge not to attack Assad's troops and facilities in Syria.

So in Putin's eyes this is just one more way to twist the knife as payback. And who knows...if Snowden becomes a Russian citizen, (especially if he gets together with the fetching Ms. Chapman) Vladimir Putin may find a way to put his knowledge and talents to use.


B.Poster said...

"Needless to say this did not win us any friends in Latin American." I should say it likely did not, however, this can be expressed another way. "The actions on the part of certain Latin American countries to grant an accused spy asylum did not likely win any friends in the United States." This may not be true. Most of the news media and much of the American public regards Mr. Snowden as a hero. The truth of such matters is usually not as simples as the talking points propaganda.

Not being a legal expert on these matters I can't say for certain but it seems that spying on the American people even if it only meta data is very likely VERY illegal and if proven would likely lead to Mr. Obama's impeachment and a very long prison term for Mr. Obama and other top American officials. At least the citizens would demand it and at some point Congressional officials would be forced to impeach and prosecute even if they really did not want to.

With that said the three mentioned Latin American nations inserted themselves into an issue that they neither understood nor did it affect them. America is often justly accused of meddling in things it shouldn't be. Here these countries did exactly what America is often justifiably criticized for and they are exalted in the world media for these actions. While I do not support the actions of Mr. Obama, it seems very likely this base betrayal of American interests by these Latin American nations will not be forgotten by future American leaders. As such, I don't think Latin America made any friends either.

The fact is its well known that nations including so called allies spy on one another. In this regard America was not doing any thing others do not do with at least as much fervor and perhaps more. As such, it's unlikely that American leaders would need to "pressure" any European "allies" to deny a plane passage that might be believed to carry an accused spy. Simply ask politely. After all if they had an accuses spy they would want us to cooperate with them to apprehend the accused. If they United States tried to shelter an accused spy of any Latin American country, the media would froth with rage at the United States and there would very likely be a UN resolution condemning the United states for its actions.

I'm not defending the actions of the US government here simply trying to illustrate the mass hypocrisy that seems to be at work here. Again, spying on American citizens is very likely against the law. Not only this but it has limited to no utility. A better approach would be to profile those likely to harm US national security and monitor those individuals. Such a program as this appears to be is very expensive, resource intensive, and has little marginal utility.

B.Poster said...

Why would Vladimir Putin risk straining ties with the US? A better question to ask or at least as good of a questions to ask would be why would the US risk straining ties with Russia or Mr. Putin? I can think of several areas where this has been done. 1.)Why did the US feel it needed to insert itself into the Sergei Magnitsky affair? 2.)Why put missile interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic that were completely inadequate to deal with Russian nuclear missiles whose only benefit could be to antagonize Russia? 3.)Why flirt with the idea of Russia joining NATO? Why have other former Soviet or former Eastern Bloc countries in NATO? Such countries are riddled with spies and the move would only serve to antagonize Russia. 4.)Why arm rebels in Syria in a move that would only serve to antagonize Russia? Furthermore why send them only small arms that aren't going to alter the balance of power any way all while antagonizing Russia?!!? I could go on.

It seems very likely that Mr. Snowden is a Russian spy. The very likely true and very criminal allegation of domestic spying, while a major problem, was exposed first as a ruse to distract the American people. It seems his actions have been to well orchestrated for him not to have help from the Russians and the Chinese.

With regards to missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic the populace of these countries realized very quickly that these would have no utility for them against Russia and would only serve to antagonize the Russians. As such, they opposed this action. Furthermore I still have not forgotten the condescending manner in which Polish leaders dealt with US leaders when the agreements were first made back during the Bush Administration.

Whether justly or not the US is viewed by much of the world as a pariah nation. To an extent, at least in areas where our national security is at stake, we might do better if we actually lived up to that label. However, antagonizing Russia does not seem to be an actin that can end well.

I'm not suggesting Russia is more powerful than the US at this time but they do have the ability to hurt us very, very badly. We should seek to avoid conflict with them when possible. A great place to start would be a withdrawl of all US forces and support personnel from former Soviet and Eastern Bloc countries as well as all of Western Europe. The withdrawl of troops form Western Europe would have the added benefit of improving our relations with those countries as well.

Finally, I don't see Mr. Snowden having an accident. Such an event would require inserting the appropriate personnel into Russia, carrying out the act against a well defended target, and getting back out again. A very difficult thing to do and it's unlikely the US has the appropriate trained personnel.