House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said “a president that can talk more about diplomacy and maybe flex some muscles should.”
“This comes on the heels of the president’s trip to China and Russia. And look at the amount of respect that these two countries are paying to this president,” he added.
McCaul said at this point he could see using “a lot of legal pressure, a lot of economic, a lot of trade pressures” to get Snowden returned. “I think the only thing other than that that we could possibly do would be some sort of rendition, which I think would be very controversial.”
Other lawmakers tried dumping guilt on Russia. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) fired off a letter to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak today urging Moscow “to apprehend [Snowden] and turn him over to United States authorities immediately.”
“The Snowden case is an important test of the ‘reset’ in relations between our two countries,” Graham wrote. “Mr. Snowden’s own statements have made clear his guilt. If our two nations are to have a constructive relationship moving forward, Russian cooperation in this matter is essential.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Russia to turn over Snowden in a statement today.
“Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower worthy of protection, but a fugitive deserving of prosecution,” said Menendez. “He violated his sworn pledge to protect classified information. He jeopardized our national security. And he betrayed the trust of the American people. This man is no hero.”
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the International Affairs Committee in Russia’s Duma, was quoted by Reuters as saying, “Ties are in a rather complicated phase, and when ties are in such a phase, when one country undertakes hostile action against another, why should the United States expect restraint and understanding from Russia?”
The Kremlin claimed it had no prior knowledge of Snowden coming to Moscow or where he currently is — but also made clear that it won’t be jumping in to hand Snowden back to the U.S.
“Snowden did nothing illegal in Russia. There are also no orders for his arrest through Interpol to Russian law enforcement agencies,” RIA-Novosti news agency quoted an unnamed security official.
China’s state-run press agency Xinhua reveled in the moment by leading its site Monday evening with “White House expecting Russia to expel Snowden back to U.S.”
The story opened into a full package of pieces on the Snowden affair, including a Sunday commentary saying “Washington owes world explanations over troubling spying accusations.”
“In the past few months, U.S. politicians and media outlets have thrown out Internet spying accusations one after another against China, trying to make it as one of the biggest perpetrators of Internet spying activities. And those claims were even highlighted during a highly anticipated summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama held earlier this month in California, which had been designed to help the world’s two biggest economies to build a new type of major power relations,” the commentary said.
“The ball is now in Washington’s court. The U.S. government had better move to allay the concerns of other countries.”
Like clockwork, today The Moscow Times ran a photo of Obama at the Berlin Wall last week with the headline “Russia Could Stand in Way of Obama’s Nuclear Cuts.”