Streetwise Professor

August 2, 2014

Getting the Message, Edward?

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia,Snowden — The Professor @ 7:53 pm

Putin is effing with Edward Snowden. Snowden’s one year of asylum ended on July 31, and he applied in mid-July for another year. As yet, he has heard nothing, except that he will be permitted to stay while his fate is decided.

Putin is most likely sending Snowden a message.

What is the message? That he is in Russia at Putin’s whim and sufferance. That he had better do as he is told, and not get any ideas. That he is owned.

Note that the Russians doubtlessly are deeply suspicious of Snowden, and likely despise him. To give an idea of what they think of those who turn their backs on their own country to assist Russia, consider what it is doing to Ukrainian soldiers captured in Crimea who decided to join the Russian military. Their Russian military records bear the notation: “Prone to treason.”

Last summer Putin made derogatory remarks about the fates of those who defected to the USSR. He specifically sneered at their disloyalty.

So Putin-and the rest of the Russian security establishment-have no respect for Snowden. They are using him. And they are sending him a message that they are using him, so that he understands perfectly his place.

Some have wondered whether Putin is considering using Ed as a bargaining chip with the US. I consider this far-fetched, because he could easily revoke asylum at any time. Moreover, there are many reasons for the Russians to keep Snowden, even if they have already squeezed him dry.

First, reputation: turning over Snowden would make others less likely to defect to Russia with information. (Though it must be noted that many of those who make this choice are sufficiently narcissistic to believe that they are immune to the fates that have befallen others, and others who do so are desperate or corruptible.)

Second, the Russians do not want the Americans to know for certain what Snowden has taken, and what the Russians know.

Third, the Russians do not want the Americans to learn anything from Snowden about how he was handled by the FSB, from the meeting at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong to his final destination in Moscow. Or from perhaps before. If Snowden was a Russian asset before he fled to Hong Kong, he will certainly never leave Moscow.

No doubt Putin will let Snowden twist in the wind for a while. Just to make sure the that message sinks in. Then he will grant another year’s asylum. Probably without the fanfare that accompanied  last year’s announcement. And the process will repeat itself again next year, with even less attention than this year. And the year after that. Until Snowden sinks into obscurity, and likely despair. And someday, Putin will probably prove a prophet, about this, anyways:

“How is he going to build his life? In effect, he condemned himself to a rather difficult life. I do not have the faintest idea about what he will do next,” Putin said.


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  1. I do not why, but all the time I am thinking that this coward will have the fate of all the traitors right after he is no more the useful idiot for Putler.
    Nobody loves cowards and traitors 🙂

    Comment by Europeo — August 2, 2014 @ 8:05 pm

  2. It never ceases to amaze me, how anyone could still have so little self-preservation instinct as to voluntarily become a toy in the hands of consistently one the most brutal regimes on the planet. Must be some suicidal sleeper gene triggered by a tome of Dostoyevsky or something.

    Comment by Ivan — August 3, 2014 @ 1:45 am

  3. @Europeo & @Ivan-I agree with both. He is a narcissistic fool, a fly that voluntarily landed in the spider’s web. I can’t say that he will get what he deserves, but what he gets will be pretty awful. Re not loving cowards and traitors-definitely, and especially those that are so supercilious. The venal ones are less dangerous and more appealing than the ideological idiotic narcissists like Snowden.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 3, 2014 @ 6:09 am

  4. I agree. He is just as narcissistic as the other useful clown of Kremlin propaganda – Julian AssAnge. I hope that the last one stay in his Latin American prison on UK soil till the end of his days.
    P.S. I am a little bit curious how could they both be so critical to the western democracy while tolerating dictators and Latin American commies – well known for oppressing liberty of speech and human rights.

    Comment by Europeo — August 3, 2014 @ 9:31 am

  5. @Europeo-Interesting that you bring up Assange, or AssAnge as you rightly call him. There are suspicions that Assange was the one who arranged for Snowden to go to Moscow, and wind up in Putin’s web. This raises the question of whether Assange tricked/manipulated Snowden on behalf of the Russians. We do know that Assange’s ex, Sarah Harrison, accompanied Snowden and helped make arrangements for him. So it is possible that Snowden was played by Assange.

    The thing that people like Assange, Greenwald, Snowden, Appelbaum, Poitras, etc., have in common is that their overriding hatred is of the US. They are willing to make common cause with regimes like Russia’s that are anti-freedom and anti-privacy and anti-human rights, as long as they are anti-US. They are particularly easy on Russia despite its appalling record because Russia has appointed itself as the leader of anti-US forces around the world.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 3, 2014 @ 10:51 am

  6. As much as I loathe Putin and his frequent insincerity, I think his quote you included at the end was one of the rawest, most hopeless conjectures of Swowden’s future I could imagine. Regardless of the value Putin has squeezed out of Snowden, I really think he was speaking truthfully there and, lo, it was a harsh and cold prediction.

    Comment by Howard Roark — August 3, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  7. @SWP, which reminds me of:

    “The fascists of the future will be called the anti-fascists”
    — Winston Churchill

    The enemies of human rights and privacy of the future will be called human rights and privacy proponents.

    Comment by Europeo — August 3, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

  8. @Howard-Putin can say some very trenchant things. In this way, he is different than Obama, who never does. The key to understanding Putin is to know when he is being brutally frank, and when he is lying through his teeth or spouting propaganda.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 3, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

  9. The privacy and national security reporter Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Edward Snowden story, lives in Rio de Janeiro with his husband and many dogs.

    Comment by LL — August 3, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

  10. Overriding hatred of the US? Maybe they love it enough that they arent as content as you with an overreaching national security apparatus that has no problem spying on either its citizens — some worth on being spied on solely based on their religion — or its senators and then lying to both the public and the electoral bodies of the public for months before inevitably conceding that they have in fact committed acts that can be classified as either criminal or outright treasonous before meekly moving on. Snowden flying to Russia was criminal, he should have stayed and took his pain in the US but the revelations were important to get the conversation about the overreach of the Security-Industrial complex.

    Comment by d — August 3, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

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