I’m betting Edward Snowden has not been sleeping well these past few nights.
You’ll recall that the former NSA contractor leaked thousands of classified documents to journalists and then fled to Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum. He is wanted by the United States on espionage and theft charges. As Wikipedia puts it, “Snowden has been variously called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a traitor and a patriot. His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy.”
Now, apparently, there are reports Russia might send Snowden back to the U.S. as a “gift” to President Donald Trump, who has reportedly called him a “traitor” and “a spy.”
Snowden, for his part, has said in the past few days that those reports prove he can’t be a spy, because Russia wouldn’t send him back if he was one.
And, according the The Guardian, Snowden has “suggested that a reason why Russia might want to return him was his recent criticism of the Kremlin’s human rights record and his suggestions that its officials had hacked U.S. security networks.”
He is apparently describing all of this as “vindication that he is independent.” And as the Guardian reports: “The fact that I’ve always worked on behalf of the United States and the fact that Russia doesn’t own me. In fact the Russian government may see me as a sort of liability.”
A Snowden tweet on Saturday had this:
Considering that he is biting the hand that has been feeding him in Russia, you have to figure that Vladimir Putin will send Snowden back to the United States if Donald Trump asks him to, especially considering the chummy relationship the new White House administration has with Russia. I imagine Trump has already made the request.
And I’m thinking Snowden will not be receiving a presidential pardon when Trump and company leave office. He will probably spend the next 30 years or so in prison if he is convicted of the charges he faces.
Snowden feels it is worth it, that his personal sacrifice made in leaking documents about secret mass surveillance programs served a greater good.
But is he fooling himself? Will his sacrifice ultimately be for naught?
Personally, it doesn’t surprise me that governments have mass surveillance programs, and I’m doubting it surprised many people. And I’m thinking that despite all the debate and finger wagging that has followed, nothing much will change, at least, not for the better.
Mass surveillance programs will continue and become even more sophisticated. Indeed, the day will come when every single human on the planet will have some sort of microchip embedded in their bodies, and every move they make in life will be tracked and recorded. So, when person A commits a crime against person B, authorities will know exactly who did it.
Of course, this is all assuming that a world war doesn’t return the remnant of mankind to the Stone Age, and that is a high probability considering the people running things in the White House these days.
Meanwhile, Edward Snowden is probably expecting the knock on his front door that will send him back to face a court in the United States.
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Photo: Edward Snowden. (Source: Laura Poitras / Praxis Films/Wikipedia)
I have to wonder if Snowden isn’t second-guessing his decision to flee when he did? His fate certainly has not improved by sitting in Russia while things changed from Obama to Trump. The person Snowden is most often compared to, Daniel Ellsberg and his distribution of the Pentagon Papers during Vietnam, he stayed and faced the charges, and didn’t fare all that badly. Snowden now seems like he’s a fish just waiting to be flipped from the frying pan into the fire.
I certainly hope the relative silence, of late, from Wikileaks and others is not a cowering away from the new administration in Washington. There are some very rich pickings out there with Trump & Co. I do find it odd how active they were in digging up stuff on Clinton, but are showing a good deal of restraint in regards to the new regime.
On a side-note, WGBH public radio out of Boston does a weekly interview with the Editor of the Boston Globe, Brian McGrory, and he just said the Globe’s online subscriptions have grown remarkably, largely due to the Washington Bureau they’ve expanded. They’re doing a lot of fact-checking coverage while others news organizations just regurgitate press statements from the White House and Capitol Hill, (until someone trips over some facts.) So, there may be some profits from solid journalism, still.
Yup. The N.Y. Times, the Globe and others are proving that journalism is far from dead.