Streetwise Professor

July 5, 2013

Mystery, Riddle, Enigma: Edward Snowden & Sarah Harrison Edition

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 1:03 pm

Some of the bizarre aspects of the Snowden Moscow story:

Snowden and Harrison have allegedly been in the transit terminal at Sheremetyevo airport for almost two weeks now, and despite the presence of many prying eyes, neither has been seen.  How is that possible?  They were reported to have flown from Hong Kong to Moscow, but in this age of cellphone and iPad cameras, there is not one piece of photographic evidence that they were on the flight, or got off it.  Snowden is allegedly in communication with his legal team, but Julian Assange is the source of that information, and the intermediary in communications between Snowden and the outside world.  His father wants to contact him, but can’t do so directly.  Harrison’s parents haven’t heard a word from her.

One of the reasons that Snowden left Hong Kong was the fear that he would be jailed pending extradition hearings, and would lose access to the Internet.  He was obviously not publicity shy while in Hong Kong.  Being silent and offline are obviously not his MO.

So why is he incommunicado now-except for the alleged communications with Wikileaks/Assange, and we know how reliable they are/he is? How is he communicating with Assange, and why can’t he use the same means to communicate with anyone else in the world, including his family?  Did he not think there was a risk that he would be cut off from the Internet in Russia? (If so, the question arises: Is he on crack?)

If he is under Russian control, and they are restricting his ability to communicate-and Harrison’s ability to communicate-why would they permit him to connect with Assange, of all people?  Why would they hold him incommunicado, even preventing him from contacting his father?  If they really want him to go, you’d think that maybe they’d give dad a shot at talking him to coming back to face justice.  They could obviously choose whatever level of outside contact he could have with the world: why choose zero, except for possibly Assange?  Has he been in contact with Greenwald? Poitras?

How did Harrison deliver the 20 requests for asylum?  Interestingly, some of the most likely candidates-notably, Bolivia-claim not to have received any such request.  Did she deliver them by hand to embassies in Moscow?  How could she have done this without being seen?  Did she email them or fax them?  If so, how come she can’t use those means to communicate with anyone else?  Or did Wikileaks/Assange disseminate them?

Did Harrison have a visa?  If not, how could she leave the transit terminal, and why would the Russians allow her to stay there indefinitely?

Is Assange/Wikileaks just making sh*t up about communication with Snowden, and knowledge of his condition?  Are the bulletins about him and his alleged missive made up out of the whole cloth?  (The grammar-“United States have”-and using European convention to date his statement are consistent with that.)

Consider some possibilities.  Snowden and Harrison are actually in SVO: I consider this highly doubtful.  They are in Russia, in accommodations that could range from a comfy FSB safe house to a not-so-comfy cell in Lubyanka.  They aren’t in Russia at all, or they aren’t in a condition to be seen in public.

The middle option seems most likely: perhaps the Russians are keeping him incommunicado because they are engaged in negotiations with the Americans, or with countries that might offer asylum.

The last option seems crazy, but things are so crazy that it can’t be ruled out.

But it’s clear the standard story that he’s reenacting The Terminal makes no sense whatsoever.  In particular, it would require considerable cooperation between Russia and Assange: given his track record of screwing over anyone who cooperates with him, would the Russians really rely on this guy at all?  And no, having a lame RT interview show doesn’t show the Russians trust him in the least.  They don’t trust anybody, particularly the likes of him.

My current hypothesis: he’s in Russia; the Russians are squeezing him for information and negotiating with governments-including the US-to get him off their hands; and Assange is  engaged in a massive disinformation operation.

In one bit of actual news, Snowden’s asylum of choice-Iceland-has frozen him out.  The country’s parliament rejected his asylum application, despite the efforts of Wikileaks fellow traveler Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and six Pirate Party whackjob legislators.  Tough luck. Tough luck.

He has also allegedly applied for asylum in six unnamed countries.  But again, the source of this information is Wikileaks, which says that it won’t disclose the countries to protect them from US pressure.  Well, the Norks and Iranians have proved pretty resistance to US pressure, so maybe they’re not on the list.

The Russians are the key here.  They could answer a lot of the questions, but quite pointedly aren’t doing that.  Playing to form, in other words.  Mystery, Riddle, Enigma is a cliche, but cliches become so because they are true.

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  1. But the cliche, before it was a cliche, was Churchill’s way of saying that a monstrosity such as Stalin, or rather the system he perfected, was allegedly inherently unknowable, even to those most deeply involved (e.g. was there a coup de grace given to him by his inner circle after his stroke?). As such it was a profound way of looking at a key player on the world stage.

    Now it is used todescribe a pr farce.

    Comment by Sotos — July 5, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  2. @sotos. To quote the master: history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 5, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

  3. An official at the Russian consular office in Sheremetyevo stated that they received the asylum requests from Harrison, and that they will be transferred to the corresponding embassies in Moscow.

    Comment by aaa — July 6, 2013 @ 1:26 am

  4. @aaa Thanks for that. So countries that require asylum requests be made in person by people on their territory received them third hand in a foreign country. Well played!

    Interestingly, Iceland’s Interior Minister said he could not be certain that the request actually came from Snowden. What a clown show this has become.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 6, 2013 @ 11:18 am

  5. I think it is quite plausible that he is in a SVO bunker singing like a canary when the bag is pulled off of his head.

    Comment by MJ — July 6, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

  6. Rumour has it that the FSB wanted to torture Snowden by making him read Sublime Oblivion’s “predictions”, but Putin intervened on the grounds that such cruel and barbaric practices could not happen on his watch. He did sign off on electrodes attached to the knackers, though.

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 6, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

  7. @Tim. I am fucking dying here! Hails of derisive laughter, Bruce. (Hey-I know you are in Oz now.) TFF.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 6, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

  8. My prediction:

    Russia will see positive population growth starting from 2010 at the latest.
    Natural population increase will occur starting from 2013 at the latest.
    Russia’s total life expectancy will exceed 68 years by 2010 and reach 75 years by 2020.

    Buttboy Newman’s idol Ed Lucas prediction:

    Russian rouble would collapse to 10,000/$, the economy would contract by at least 25%,the Communist hordes would sweep through Moscow taking the Kremlin, as the RussianFederation – held together with string and sticky-tape – broke up into four nuclear-armed, mutually antagonistic sovereign mini-states.

    Comment by S/O — July 7, 2013 @ 3:34 am

  9. I’m sorry, I must be missing the connection between me and Ed Lucas. Care to point it out? Or is this something you’ve just pulled out of your arse, along with everything else you witter on about?

    And how’s your prediction that melting arctic ice will catapult Russia into a new era of prosperity looking? Heh heh!

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 7, 2013 @ 4:08 am

  10. S/O fairy tale:

    “Natural population increase will occur starting from 2013 at the latest.”

    Russia’s harsh reality:

    After a blip of positive natural population growth during last year, natural population growth is negative again since December of 2012, and the cumulative growth for 2012 was also slightly negative.

    So much for Russian demographic engineering.

    Comment by Ivan — July 7, 2013 @ 5:05 am

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