Streetwise Professor

July 1, 2013

Will No One Rid Me of This Meddlesome Geek? A Snowden Snowflake?

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:18 pm

Lots of Snowden news today.  Starting with Putin, who gave a statement that managed to come down on every side of the matter.  Russia never extradites anybody anywhere no way, no how.   But Snowden “must choose a country of destination and go there.”  He can stay in Russia, but on “one condition”: “He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips.”

So Snowden must go; but Putin won’t make him; and if he doesn’t, he has to avoid harming the US.  Got it.

Thanks for clearing that up for us, Vova.

This seems to me to indicate that Putin has put himself in a box here.  It would be totally humiliating to turn over Snowden to the Americans, so that’s not an option.  But the propaganda and intelligence benefits of Snowden’s presence in Russia (and yes, he’s “in Russia” despite legalistic Russian denials) are depreciating rapidly, and his presence in Moscow is becoming a major headache: as satisfying as it is to tweak the Americans, Putin is enough of a realist to understand he has to deal with the US.  He’s gotten the benefits from the tweak, and from here on out Snowden is a total liability.  From Putin’s perspective, the best thing would be for some other country to grant him asylum, but nobody wants to embrace the tar baby, leaving Putin stuck with him.   I can hear him lamenting: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome geek”?

I interpret Putin’s statement as being intended to keep all options open-except for an outright handover.  I wonder what carrots and sticks are being waved around to persuade/cajole/dragoon some other country to take Snowden off Putin’s mitts.

More news: Snowden, via Assange consort/groupie Sarah Harrison (who is allegedly with Snowden in SVO), applied for asylum in Russia, and 14 other countries.  Except the Russian Immigration Service denies this.

And yet more news: Snowden allegedly sent a manifesto proclaiming his intention to fight on.

One interesting part from his snowflake (the Rumsfeld name for one of his memos from on high) comes at the very top: “I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.”  Did he write this before or after Putin made his “American partners” remark?  It was released afterwards, which could be interpreted as a major FU to Putin.  Putin: You can stay if you STFU about the Americans.  Snowden: I’ll say what I want.

Or perhaps I should say “if he wrote this” instead of “did he write this.”  The document came “via Wikileaks”, and Reuters obtained a version in Spanish-which Snowden does not speak.  It sounds suspiciously Assange-ish, and contained an interesting verbal slip: it said the “United States have” instead of the “United States has.”  Now, the former usage was quite common prior to the Civil War.  Since 1865, not so much.  No American would write that c. 2013.  Ecuadoran Spanish translated into English via computer software (e.g., Google Translate)?  (The letter sucks up to Ecuador.)  Or do Aussies sometimes say “the United States have”?  Interestingly, after this was pointed out on Twitter, Wikileaks edited the statement to say “United States has.”  Busted.

And why would Snowden route this through Wikileaks, instead of blasting it to many journalists via email, along with some verification that it came from Snowden?

So did Wikileaks/Assange create this out of the whole cloth?  Or did the Russians, who then sent it to Wikileaks?  I go for the former interpretation, because since Snowden is in Russian control they could easily make it look like it came directly from him.  They wouldn’t need Wikileaks as a cutout, and it would appear more credible if it came from him directly.  And if Assange/Wikileaks has in fact created this, with such friends Snowden could use a few enemies.

After initially breatlhelessly running with the “Message from Snowden” story, the media is now backing off, and saying “attributed to Snowden.”  I think that his authorship is the least likely explanation.

Whoever the author was, he is a grandiose narcissist-a category that includes both Snowden and Assange.  It’s mainly self-righteous bloviation, but this sentence stood out: “Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me in a stateless person.” Um, Eddie, you’re a fugitive who has been indicted, and who has fled precisely to avoid conviction, you twat: if conviction is the big deal here, stand trial  (Yeah, yeah, I know you claim you can’t get a fair trial.  But you’ve admitted taking the material.  Hard to walk that back.  “I’m special” isn’t a defense.)  Believe it or not, governments from municipalities to nation states attempt to do things to restrict the ability of fugitives to escape.  And you’re not stateless.  You’re passport-less: precisely because there is a particular state that wants to claim you as its own, at least for the purpose of prosecuting you.  And although I say “Eddie”, Assange has expressed similar things over his years on the run, which could provide another piece of evidence in favor of Assange’s authorship.

What a collection of pathological characters.  Snowden. Assange. Putin.  And to the mix of the pathological, some righties are reveling in the fact that Snowden “unload[ed] on Obama.”  As little regard I have for Obama, it is beyond stupid to embrace such an anti-American idiot who has traipsed from one anti-American country to another, just because he criticizes Obama.  And for things that they would find perfectly copacetic if a president with an R after his name had done them.  To put an exclamation point on this, Glenn Greenwald will appear on Fox tomorrow.

This seems to be one of those very situations where everyone will lose.  Everyone.

Update.  Here’s Snowden’s list of teams to which he’s willing to be traded:

Te Republic of Austria, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Finland, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swiss Confederation and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Good luck with most of those.  But what a rag-bag collection.  I especially like the juxtaposition of Switzerland and Venezuela.  Question: “What do Switzerland and Venezuela have in common?” Answer: “Nothing, except that Edward Snowden wants them to take him in.”  Oh.  And Switzerland is not in the Snowden fan club, given the president of the country has called him out as a liar.  Finland and Cuba is another excellent pairing.  I am at a loss to find any rhyme or reason in this list.  Does he really think France or Germany or Italy would let him in?  Seriously?  Bolivia-Will he play Butch or the Sundance Kid?

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  1. The unstated subtext here is that there is no reason for Putin and his supporters to be great fans of Snowden. When Putin was first asked about PRISM he said that he sees no problem, so long as everything is “legal”. Now he’s calling Snowden a freedom fighter and a human rights activist, which means a terrorist and a spy in Putinese. Fact is, standing up for the right to privacy like Snowden did is completely anathema to Putin’s worldview.

    Comment by aaa — July 2, 2013 @ 1:50 am

  2. SWP, lighten up on the prose. Can you imagine a more unlikely story with this cast of characters. Putin’s statements to protect his american partners is precious. I wish I could think of 1980s movie reference for this little novella.

    Comment by scott — July 2, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  3. Snowden obviously does not have the same flair for politics as he does for divulging secrets. I think his plea would’ve been more successful had he used a little more tact in selection whom to appeal to.

    Comment by BankBank — July 2, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  4. @scott. Lighten up? Moi? Explain, please.

    Seriously, it is an unlikely story. If you had written the novella, you could have never published it because it would have been so outlandish. The Putin character in particular would have been ridiculed.

    @BankBank. Snowden is incredibly naive, and has been totally used by Assange, Greenwald, and Poitras. They played, I am sure, on his narcissism and grandiosity, and encouraged him on a course that will give them attention and fame, and advance their political agenda, but will leave him imprisoned-either in someplace like Leavenworth or Thomson or Florence or in SVO, or in exile in some shithole country where he will spend every minute of the rest of his miserable life looking over his shoulder, praying that he does not receive a visit from a US operator (and I ain’t talkin’ Ma Bell) and that there is no change in power in the country that takes him in.

    But he really thought, I believe, that he would be lionized as some sort of great hero, rather than abandoned by those who sympathize with him (but who put their own interests first) and hunted by those who don’t. He is a fool. A destructive fool, but a fool nonetheless.

    @aaa. Putin et al are clearly conflicted by Snowden. On the one hand, he is a gift from the heavens: an intelligence trove, and a convenient stick to beat the US with. On the other hand, they despise his type, and realize that a Russian Snowden is their worst fear. Which explains Putin’s rather schizo response.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 2, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  5. @SWP, lighten up on the snowflake and see him more in a lighthearted historical perspective of a forgettable and flawed character. He is not meddlesome, he is adding spunk to the drowning economic drama currently happening in Japan and EU. He takes my mind away from FrankenDodd and death by regulation…. I am too young to have same inspiration of 1980s music or movies that you often come up with. I would bet Sasha Baron Cohen is laughing in his breakfast cereal each morning with the Snowden drama.

    Comment by scott — July 3, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

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