Streetwise Professor

October 12, 2013

The Snowden Farce Continues: It’s Enough to Make Me Hit the Sam Adams Hard

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Professor @ 3:12 pm

The Snowden farce just gets more farcical by the day.  In the most recent episode he was given the “Sam Adams Award.”  No, this has nothing to do with beer, let alone an American patriot.  Instead, it is granted to an American whistleblower.

There was no press coverage inside the event (tell me of another awards ceremony you can say that about).  The attendance was extremely limited, apparently consisting of Ed, his lawyer Kucherena, Sarah Harrison, and four previous recipients of the award.

Conspicuously absent from the event was Snowden’s father Lon, who was in Moscow and had met with Kucherena prior to the ceremony.  Al Jazeera also reports, based on anonymous reports, that Lon and Ed met on Thursday, before the ceremony.  The event must have required some advanced planning, to get all of the Americans there.  Lon’s visit also presumably required considerable planning, just to deal with the visa issues.  The pointed non-invitation of Lon Snowden to an event he could have been invited to and was available to attend is very puzzling.  Even more puzzling if he’d already seen Ed.

The only documentation of the event is a couple of minutes of video fragments provided exclusively to Wikileaks. One of the clips is silent, for crying out loud.

A few thoughts on this charade:

  • The fact that the video was provided exclusively to Wikileaks demonstrates the close cooperation between Assange/Wikileaks and the Russians/FSB.  It bolsters the case that Wikileaks may have been conspiring with the FSB all along to bring Snowden to Russia.  The primary open question is when that conspiracy began.  Perhaps it began in Hong Kong.  Perhaps Assange or his representative Harrison suggested that Snowden go to the Russian consulate.  But it plausibly began earlier.
  • This Wikileaks-FSB nexus is a big deal.  Not that you’d know about it from the media.  Why won’t a single journalist point this out and do some serious investigation here?  Is the Snowden narrative just too good to question?  I’m looking in particular at Luke Harding, who knows first hand the evils of the FSB which he has described in detail, and who works for a publication that Assange screwed royally.  Is it because the Guardian is so invested in the Snowden story that he/they won’t question this connection?
  • Why wasn’t Laura Poitras there to film the event?  You’d think it would be great material for one of the three documentaries she tells sycophantic interviewers she’s working on.  And why wasn’t Greenwald there to hook up with his friend Ed, whom he claims to communicate with daily?
  • Even American civil libertarians should take considerable comfort in what passes for a whistleblower in the US.  If the four present at Ed’s ceremony are those with the most damning secrets to reveal about US evils, we’re in pretty good shape.  The most prominent, Ray McGovern, is a 911 Truther loon.  Thomas Drake is a more equivocal figure, but (a) he hasn’t been able to point out one breathing victim of the surveillance apparatus he disclosed, and (b) has been prosecuted, but due to the protections of the American legal system he succeeded in fighting off the most serious charges, and received a light sentence.  The two women really push the envelope of the whistleblower definition.  Coleen Rowley blew the whistle on FBI incompetence in the Moussaoui investigation, not on any government violation of the law, or of the rights of any American citizen.  (She eventually went off the rails, falling in with Cindy Sheehan.) Jesselyn Raddack was a DOJ attorney who objected to the ethics-not the legality-of the FBI’s questioning of Johnny Walker Lindh (“the American Taliban”) without the presence of an attorney after his capture in Afghanistan.   Contrast this lot to, say, Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars by Russian tax authorities and ended up dead in his cell, or Alexander Litvinenko, who disclosed Russian turpitude in the Caucasus, and alleged that the FSB was behind the bombings of several Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and ended up dying horribly from polonium poisoning.  The comparison between the American and Russian whistleblowers, both with regards to the substance of their disclosures and their fates,  is that there is no comparison.
  • Perhaps because they are starved of independent information on Snowden, due to the very strict control imposed over him, mainstream publications give uncritical attention to participants in the charade, quoting them liberally, without mentioning the very fact that their participation in a Russian-produced piece of agitprop calls into question their reliability.  Nor do they report critically on the backgrounds of these people.  For instance.  Seriously, WSJ: shouldn’t readers know that McGovern is a vehemently anti-American Truther?
  • Finally, won’t anyone point out in a serious publication the utter absurdity of giving Snowden this award in the Land of SORM, which makes Prism and everything else Snowden (and McGovern and Binney and Drake) has disclosed look like a piker?  SORM collects both metadata and the contents of phone and email communication, and you know that there are no procedural or legal or constitutional safeguards in place that limit the use of that information by the FSB in the way that elaborate measures protect the illegal use of material collected by the NSA.  Irony is far too frivolous a word to apply here: even calling it flagrant hypocrisy seems entirely inadequate.

The Snowden story is bad enough.  The shockingly ignorant and uncritical coverage is even worse. It’s enough to drive one to drink, and I guess that in the event, Samuel Adams would be the beverage of choice.  As a reminder.

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30 Comments »

  1. For this may I suggest the Sam Adams Triple Bock at 18% by volume.

    I wonder about snowden’s income. Moscow is not the cheapest city in the world.

    Comment by pahoben — October 14, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

  2. > Finally, won’t anyone point out in a serious publication the utter absurdity of giving Snowden this award in the Land of SORM

    Craig, being concerned with Russia, you see things form that perspective. Since the Russian government has much less respect for individual freedoms than the US, the NSA and other US agencies are right in infringing on American liberties. But average Americans don’t care about this relativism. Yes, in most countries – especially in less developed ones – things are even worse. But what does it have to do with the USA? Just because many other countries are even worse, why should the USA try to imitate them? If the NSA monitors all phone conversations and emails of our citizens without a court order, what will prevent it from, say, sharing some dirt (like sexual behavior) on opposition politicians? or sharing with the Feds the information that somebody in Colorado or California is using marijuana? Or NSA employees spying on their spouses and girlfriends and digging up dirt on them?

    You dismiss these fears and calls for court orders, because you believe in the goodness and honesty of the people working for the NSA. And yet, the American laws specifically prohibits the police, the FBI and the prosecutors offices from listening in on people without court’s permissions, and the majority of Americans support this law. If the people don’t trust the FBI enough to give them carte blanche, why should they trust the NSA and its commitment not to share its information with the FBI, police and the prosecutors?

    If something is possible to politicians and government officials, they will sooner or later do it. Take the Watergate, for example. Or the IRS’ witch-hunt against organizations with the word “patriots” in their title. Or Alberto Gonzales and the firings of political opponents: “Politicization of hiring at the Department of Justice. Allegations were that some of the U.S. Attorneys were dismissed for failing to instigate investigations damaging to Democratic politicians, or for failing to more aggressively pursue voter-fraud cases.”

    And as far as the NSA goes, spying on girlfriends is already taking place:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/09/27/loveint_how_nsa_spies_snooped_on_girlfriends_lovers_and_first_dates.html
    How NSA Spies Abused Their Powers to Snoop on Girlfriends, Lovers, and First Dates

    The letter sent to Grassley reveals that there have been at least 12 recorded cases of spies abusing their powers since 2003, with several of these cases involving “Love Intelligence”. In 2004, an NSA spy monitored the calls of a foreign number she found in her husband’s cellphone because she suspected he had been unfaithful… It confirms beyond doubt that NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, whether due to incompetence or complicity, made a false statement when he claimed in August that “no one has wilfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacy.”

    That’s why the majority of Americans side with Snowden. And if Russia is the only country that can keep him out of US jails, then so be it.

    Comment by Vlad — October 14, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

  3. @pahoben, money is not going to be a problem. Ex-pats working in Moscow get enough pay to have a lavish lifestyle. It’s living with a terrible weather, traffic congestion, and a foreign-language culture that will get on his nerves, with no chance to take vacations abroad. But the women are spectacularly beautiful…

    Comment by Vlad — October 15, 2013 @ 12:51 am

  4. Assange seems to have jumped the shark officially and come out as a spy.

    Perhaps therefore he’ll also come out of the Ecuadorean embassy too.

    Comment by Green as Grass — October 15, 2013 @ 2:38 am

  5. @Vlad
    He isn’t legally an ex-pat. He doesn’t have an ex-pat package from a US oil company nor financial services company so who is his employer? I doubt there are any ex-pats in Russia that live a lavish life style as defined by Russian standards.

    With Snowden it is a question for me about his motivation. I have a very hard time considering him a fearless warrior for human rights considering his known actions.

    Comment by pahoben — October 15, 2013 @ 5:57 am

  6. Vlad, you are trying way too hard. The URL you post says that there were 12 cases of NSA personnel abusing their position to spy on associate since 2003. That’s a shade over one case a year. Trying to make that into a case that Americans’ rights are being abused on a systematic basis is utterly ridiculous. Unfortunately, it’s a pattern with you to concoct “cases” that are really counter-factuals.

    If the guys in the FSB abused their powers about once a year, Russians wouldn’t know what country they were living in.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 15, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

  7. In other news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24545344

    I am wondering what is he up to.

    Comment by LL — October 15, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

  8. @Vlad-

    1. The reason I bring up the failure of Snowden, Greenwald, Assange, Poitras, Appelbaum to criticize Russia is that it calls into question their motives. They claim to be advocates of transparency and liberty. They claim that their’s is a principled position. But if they were truly principled, they would be criticizing Russia, the worse actor-by far-more vociferously than they do the United States. Instead, they not only are silent about Russia, they effectively aid and abet it. They do so by supporting Russia’s propaganda efforts against the US; by distracting attention from Russia’s far worse record on surveillance and egregious violations of privacy; by grievously harming US intelligence (which aids Russia directly and indirectly) most notably by providing Russia with a trove of vital information that seriously compromises US (and UK) sources, methods, and techniques.

    That is, their behavior is not consistent with acting on the principle that they espouse. It is in fact contrary to it. It advances the interests of a country that is far more abusive than the country they target.

    The real motivating belief of this lot is quite clearly an animus-a hatred really-of the US, and a desire to inflict harm on it. In acting on that belief, they routinely distort and exaggerate and lie by omission and selective disclosure. Virtually every one of the Snowden “bombshells” has proved hugely exaggerated, and fails to stand up to scrutiny for more than 24 hours. They hype the capability and insinuate that it is misused, but never provide evidence that it is.

    You commit the same distortion. You say “monitors phone conversations without a court order.” What Snowden revealed was really already pretty well known, namely, that the NSA collects metadata on phone conversations and email: the Supreme Court has ruled that this information is not protected by the Fourth Amendment and the government may collect it without a warrant. NSA may even collect and retain the content of some communications. But no one, least of all Snowden, has provided evidence that it “monitors” those communications in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Collection/storage and listening/reading are quite different things. The latter acts require a warrant.

    With respect to another aspect of your comment, your attitude towards Russia, as revealed in your first paragraph, is a curious one. It is actually quite insulting to Russians. “They’re just Russians. What can you expect from them? They can’t be held to the same standard as the US.” I agree they haven’t met the same standard: not even close. That doesn’t mean this failure should be ignored, or that they should not be held to it.

    2. @Jon livesey hits the nail on the head re your specific criticism of NSA. Indeed, the revelations regarding Loveint strongly suggest that the NSA is indeed an overwhelmingly law-abiding organization that does not trample on the rights of random individual Americans. No organization is perfect. The level of violations is never zero. If Loveint is the worst that can be uncovered, that should be a great relief. It’s the exception that proves the rule. A few NSA people have abused their power by spying on people they know. That’s vastly different than more than a few NSA people spying on people they don’t, and spying on pretty much everyone-which is what Snowden and Greenwald and Poitras and Assange are claiming.

    Your criticism of Alexander is a cheap shot. His use of “no one” is an understandable overstatement, but based on the evidence, a trivial one. And you know the context of his remark. He was not referring to some NSA person snooping on a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend: he was responding to allegations that NSA routinely violates the privacy of you or me or John Smith from Topeka by listening to phone calls or reading emails.

    If Lovint is a big problem for you, I suggest you worry about your local PD far more than NSA. And if you’re worried about violations of the privacy of the hundreds of millions of Americans who don’t have a significant other or ex- working for the NSA, then the fact that significant others and exes appear to be the main-and even then rare-victim of any abuse should put your mind at rest.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 15, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

  9. Wow, a whole 12 violations in 10 years.
    It’s endemic!!!
    Vlad, once again, try actually living in Russia.
    Relativism is not comparing like with like, its actually like the Stalinist response to criticism of the Gulag system “But there is racism in the USA!!!”

    Comment by Andrew — October 16, 2013 @ 1:11 am

  10. @Professor,

    You are once again repeating the same arguments that one constantly reads in the Russian anti-liberal press: “If Russian liberals – Kasparov, Prokhorov, Nemtsov etc. – are so concerned about human rights, how come they don’t condemn all those human right abuses going on in other countries?! Why don’t they condemn Guantanamo or Al Ghraib prisons, for example?! That is, their behavior is not consistent with acting on the principle that they espouse. It is in fact contrary to it. “

    But is it the task of Russian whistle-blowers to blow whistles on the USA? Is it the task of Americans like, say, Appelbaum, to devote his efforts to fighting the government in a far-away country of Russia. And if he is obligated to fight for Russia’s liberties, what about 150 other countries with various abuses? Should he be fighting against all of them?

    I know that to you and many of your readers Russia is The Enemy. It is the only thing you can think about. The thing you measure all politics against. But consider things from the point of view of normal people like Appelbaum, people with no “Russia hangup”. To them, Russia is just another country, no more important than, say, India, Brazil or Japan. So why can’t American civil rights activists concentrate on their own country without worrying about India, Russia, Brazil and 150 other countries?

    > They do so by supporting Russia’s propaganda efforts against the US; by distracting attention from Russia’s far worse record on surveillance and egregious violations of privacy

    But aren’t the Republicans in Congress guilty of the same kind of treason? They closed down the Ameircna government without passing any recent respolution on Russia! The US government shutdown has been a bonanza for Russia’s propaganda efforts against the US. Why don’t we measure everything going on in the USA by whether it “supports Russia’s propaganda efforts against the US”? Certainly, in the Soviet Union they condemned people for civil rights actions that “support US propaganda efforts against the USSR”. So why not imitate the Soviet Union, right?

    > What Snowden revealed was really already pretty well known

    If so – then he hasn’t committed any crimes, has he?

    > the NSA collects metadata on phone conversations and email: the Supreme Court has ruled that this information is not protected by the Fourth Amendment and the government may collect it without a warrant.

    If the NSA collects ONLY metadata but not the actual conversations/contents, then how could the NSA employees listen in on their spouses?

    > I agree the Russians haven’t met the same standard: not even close. That doesn’t mean this failure should be ignored, or that they should not be held to it.

    Of course not. And Russian civil libertarians are doing just that. And I am very supportive of them, because I grew up in Russia. But let me ask you a question that has puzzled me for a long time: why are YOU so preoccupied with Russian internal affairs? Did you too grow up in Russia? Are your grandparents immigrants from it? Or did you grow up brainwashed into thinking that all America’s problems are caused by Russia?

    Comment by Vlad — October 16, 2013 @ 4:13 am

  11. @Vlad

    Any claim that the Professor has ever suggested that all of US problems are due to Russia doesn’t even deserve a response.

    Are you implying that unless you are a Russian immigrant then you have no ethical basis to hold a negative opinion about the governance of Russia (and here I am making a clear distinction between Russia and the governance of Russia).?

    Comment by pahoben — October 16, 2013 @ 6:22 am

  12. @Vlad

    California clearly causes far more problems for the US than Russia.

    I look forward to the day when the guest news commentater is not Darryl Hannah live from her tree house in the Hollywood Hills.

    Comment by pahoben — October 16, 2013 @ 6:31 am

  13. Vlad: “So why can’t American civil rights activists concentrate on their own country without worrying about India, Russia, Brazil and 150 other countries?”

    Maybe because they don’t see self-censorship as much of a virtue. Maybe because the US gives financial aid to several of these countries, and yes, even some to Russia to help it dismantle nuclear weapons. Maybe because the US, as a country of immigrants, knows that you sometimes need to put a bit of pressure on other countries to clean up their acts to avoid a flood of refugees bigger than you can handle. Maybe because there are many folk in the US who have relatives back in countries with bad human rights records. Maybe because during the civil rights struggles of the sixties, the US itself came under International pressure, and it had some effect. Maybe because a bit of US pressure helps to empower reformers in other countries. Maybe because although the rest of the World may not welcome US criticism, they certainly welcome liberation from occupation by the US and its allies.

    An interesting thing about your rhetorical questions is that it only takes a second to realise that they have obvious and comprehensive answers that you don’t seem to think of.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 16, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

  14. @pahoben, jon livesey

    It feels very frustrating that my point doesn’t seem to get through. It feels that you are reading my comment as a random collection of independent sentences and instead of one argument.

    I am not saying that Russians shouldn’t worry about civil fights and liberties in other countries. They should. But I see nothing wrong when Russian civil libertarians devote their energies to Russian issues without addressing those in China , Turkey, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and 150 other countries.

    Similarly, I see nothing wrong when American civil libertarians devote their energies to American issues without addressing those in Russia, China, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and 150 other countries.

    You guys do. To you, seemingly, any American citizen who criticizes what’s going on in his own country, is a “traitor”, because he “supports Russia’s propaganda efforts against the US; by distracting attention from Russia’s far worse record”.

    For example, let’s take two Americans listed by Craig: Appelbaum and Greenwald. They have nothing to do with Russia. Both are Americans, One lives in the USA, the other – in Brazil. So why must they investigate Russia? Why?

    > Maybe because the US gives financial aid to several of these countries, and yes, even some to Russia to help it dismantle nuclear weapons.

    First of all, you will be happy to know that it seems that Russia no longer takes US aid to dismantle its nuclear weapons and realized that unilateral disarmament is suicidal in a unipolar world, whee the hegemonic power keeps on attacking one country after another and spends $1 trillion per year on weapons and wars (http://www.npr.org/2012/10/12/162799783/russia-no-longer-wants-u-s-aid-to-secure-nukes).

    Second, explain to me why American citizens like Appelbaum and Greenwald are obligated to criticize Russia because Russia was dismantling nuclear weapons with US aid?

    > Maybe because the US, as a country of immigrants, knows that you sometimes need to put a bit of pressure on other countries

    And every American citizen like Appelbaum and Greenwald is required to put pressure on Russia and 150 other countries? And if they don’t – they are traitors? Do you REALLY think that every American civil libertarian and politician may not deal with his own country of the USA without having to meddle in the internal affairs of 150 other countries?

    > Maybe because although the rest of the World may not welcome US criticism, they certainly welcome liberation from occupation by the US and its allies.

    I agree that nobody likes the invasion and occupation of their countries, and the US and its allies are the ones doing all of the invasions and occupations of other countries these days. But what does it have to do with Appelbaum and Greenwald? They are Americans dealing with their own country’s problems.

    > Are you implying that unless you are a Russian immigrant then you have no ethical basis to hold a negative opinion about the governance of Russia?

    Of course not. I personally hold a negative opinion about the governance of many countries that have nothing to do with me: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Albania etc. But I don’t devote my blog to them. My concern is about the two countries that I have been part of: US and Russia.

    Nor do I claim that if Russian and American civil libertarians don’t speak out in detail about Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Zimbabwe etc – they have no right to fight for their own country’s civil rights.

    Comment by Vlad — October 16, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

  15. Actually Vlad it’s worse than what you stated above – RFE/RL employees like Irina Severin now troll US Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul for being alleged ‘Putin favorites’ plotting to destroy America by having the Congress and Pbama deadlock and default on the debt (oops never mind Irina, the planned KGB/Neoconfederate/Koch bris plot has been averted, for now).

    http://www.twitter.com/irinaseverin

    See, by the ‘logic’ of those presented here, Irina Severin’s propaganda paid for with my tax dollars funding her RFE/RL salary is a ok, because it attacks Putin, despite the fact that is also looney tunes conspiracy theorizing. I mean RT may host people that think ‘9/11 was an inside job’ but Americans aren’t paying for that stuff, Russians through their State Duma are.

    I can forgive a Russian national for not knowing that she is violating the Hatch Act by engaging in crazed partisan speech at American taxpayers expense. Her employers in Prague and DC, not so much. Hey, maybe some of those who post here know of Irina’s sock puppets, up to Rachel Madow? This tea party as the new Bolsheviks who love Putin theme has been peddled aggressively lately by lame stream media. Can we just discuss the issues of our respective countries without dragging Oceania or Eurasia as the eternal enemy into them?

    Comment by Not All Who Wander Are Lost — October 16, 2013 @ 9:22 pm

  16. Vlad: I’ll keep it short. I could not care less what you “see nothing wrong with”. Nor do I care what you choose to put on your blog. Your choices don’t limit mine. Your preferences don’t limit mine.

    And I am very uninterested in you putting words in my mouth. I gave a list of very plausible reasons why American civil rights activist could be concerned with what’s going on outside the US and I said *nothing*, *zero*, *nada* about anyone being a traitor for criticising what happens in the US.

    I also said nothing about what “every” civil rights activist “have” to do. Nor did I suggest that anyone is “obligated” to criticise other countries. I simply gave a list of reasons why they might reasonably be interested in what’s going on in other countries.

    As to whether someone is a traitor who steals security related documents and ships them overseas, I am quite happy to leave that to the Courts.

    And finally, if you are frustrated that your points aren’t getting over, maybe you should improve two important skills, reading and writing.

    Comment by jon livesey — October 17, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

  17. @jon livesey

    Please allow me to humbly suggest that it is you who needs to improve reading skills. My original post addressed Craig’s assault against American “civil libertarians” like Appelbaum and Greenwald. It seems that every second post here attacks them. Craig wrote to me:

    > The reason I bring up the failure of Snowden, Greenwald, Assange, Poitras, Appelbaum to criticize Russia is that it calls into question their motives. … But if they were truly principled, they would be criticizing Russia. Instead, they not only are silent about Russia, they effectively aid and abet it. They do so by supporting Russia’s propaganda efforts against the US; by distracting attention from Russia’s far worse record; by grievously harming US intelligence (which aids Russia directly and indirectly) most notably by providing Russia with a trove of vital information that seriously compromises US (and UK) sources, methods, and techniques.

    This is paramount to declaring Appelbaum and Greenwald “traitors” and even “spies” and giving them the electric chair. But AFAIK Appelbaum and Greenwald don’t even have a security clearance and haven’t revealed any secret information. They simply fight for a better protection of privacy here in the USA, using perfectly legal methods, that’s all. Craig’s accusation that these two “ grievously harm US intelligence” and “provide Russia with a trove of vital information that seriously compromises US sources, methods, and techniques” appears to be an egregious libel.

    So, the only valid “accusation” against these two is that their political activism is about their own country – USA – and not about 150 foreign countries. And I argued:

    > So why CAN’T American civil rights activists concentrate on their own country without worrying about India, Russia, Brazil and 150 other countries?

    Or, equivalently:

    Why should every American civil right activist be obligated concentrate on India, Russia, Brazil and 150 other countries?

    Then you responded to me arguing the following point:

    > I also said nothing about what “every” civil rights activist “have” to do. Nor did I suggest that anyone is “obligated” to criticise other countries.

    Of course! That’s my point: human rights activists have a full right to choose which country to criticise. So what in my original post are you objecting to?

    Comment by Vlad — October 17, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

  18. With all respect to the commentators, and I am not joking or belittling anyone, this conversation does not call for a Sam Adams Triple Bok, but a boilermaker with the same.

    Comment by Sotos — October 18, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  19. На здрове!

    Comment by pahoben — October 18, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  20. @sotos. One bourbon. One scotch. And one beer. Then do it again. And again. A how-how-how-how (apologies to John Lee Hooker).

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 18, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  21. @pahoben
    >He isn’t legally an ex-pat. He doesn’t have an ex-pat package from a US oil company nor financial services company so who is his employer? I doubt there are any ex-pats in Russia that live a lavish life style as defined by Russian standards.

    You don’t have to work for a US company to make good money. A lot of Americans work for Russian financial and oil companies and make at least as much. In the case of Snowden, he can work for some high-tech company, for example, Kaspersky. Some things in Moscow are cheap. Taxi will cost you 5-10 times less than in NY. For maybe $40-50 per day you can have a personal driver with his car. A house cleaner may cost you $20.

    Re California and my home city of Palo Alto:

    https://www.facebook.com/amb.mcfaul/posts/10151700953679856

    Michael McFaul:
    My home– best place in the US to live ! I had thought so for a long time, but now have “data” to prove it!

    Palo Alto, CA ranked #1 on America’s Top 100 Places To Live 2014

    Take mild weather, a thriving economy, great cultural and natural amenities; add in not one, but two downtowns surrounded by housing; and finally, drop in one of the highest-ranked universities in the world, and you’ll find yourself in Palo Alto, Livability.com’s 2014 Best Place to Live.

    Comment by Vlad — October 18, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

  22. Professor:

    Do you plan to see Fifth Estate film? From what you know, which is more than Vlad knows, will it be a joke or worth watching? Julian Assange is not the type of character Vlad would do business with, based upon the comments & opinions of those who have worked with/for him.

    Respectfully,
    Vlad

    Comment by ObamaPutin — October 18, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

  23. @vlad-Welcome back. Long time, no hear. The movie is apparently critical of Wikileaks and Assange, which is a good thing, I guess. Assange is freaking out at the negative portrayal, but of course he’d think anything other than a fawning or lionizing portrayal would be an outrage. Vlad has good judgment: I wouldn’t do business with Assange either. Anyone who has regrets it, because he uses people ruthlessly. He’s a psychopath. I mean that literally, not as hyperbole.

    But that’s why I will not see the movie. I don’t need subject myself to spending couple of hours watching a portrayal of such a loathsome person, and such a virulent anti-American who is almost surely a tool of the Russians.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 18, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

  24. @Vlad

    That is great info about Palo Alto.we will put that in the brochure for the Chinese.

    That was my question. Who is Snowden’s employer. If he has experience with wet work I am sure he will find something. His experience with fraud will be a huge plus on his resume.

    Comment by pahoben — October 19, 2013 @ 10:45 am

  25. His resume would be a hell of a read. Heck who wouldn’t give him access to systems with sensitive information? The guy has proven himself to be so incredibly trustworthy.

    Comment by pahoben — October 19, 2013 @ 11:09 am

  26. I wonder who he puts down for recommendations- Captain Crunch (George Washington of hackers who steadfastly points out that bathing is a crime against nature), Gary Mckinnon (hacker who confirmed that NASA is conspiring with an alien civilization against mankind), and Julian Assange (maintains condoms should NOT be part of a rapist’s kit). These guys should lend support. Dread Pirate Roberts is probably not in a position to help at this particular point in time.

    Comment by pahoben — October 19, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

  27. @pahoben

    Please do put it in the brochure for the Chinese, because right now we have to drive all the way to Cupertino to get to great Chinese restaurants and supermarkets.

    Could you please also advertise Palo Alto for the Russians and the French? The French restaurants here are few and expensive.

    Palo Alto needs all the PR you can muster. Except for being the world’s capital for science and technology, this town is hardly known worldwide, as opposed to your own town which is world famous for… let me guess! … the world’s greatest pro wrestling fans.

    Comment by Vlad — October 19, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

  28. @Vlad

    Thanks for the compliment but I should be realistic-there are probably better wrestling fans elsewhere.

    You have used two of the favorite stereotypes of enlightened liberals but two still to go. Religion and professional wrestling are done but that still leaves racism and guns. Good progress.

    Comment by pahoben — October 20, 2013 @ 10:24 am

  29. @pahoben, you are still not telling me where you live. You aren’t ashamed, are you? :-) The reason I ask is that I would like to know where “religion is done”.

    Comment by Vlad — October 20, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

  30. @pahoben, please ignore the second sentence above. My use of stereotypes about the South was in response to yuor stereotype about the Silicon Valley and the Chinese:

    > That is great info about Palo Alto.we will put that in the brochure for the Chinese.

    Comment by Vlad — October 21, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

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