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Snowden Snowballs Into Colossal Embarrassment for Obama and his Foreign Policy

Negotiated whats? Russia and China all too happy to show the world that they hold the cards, not Washington.

Bridget Johnson


June 24, 2013 - 8:09 pm

Not even a week ago, President Obama was at the Berlin Wall vowing to scale back the U.S. arsenal in good faith that Moscow would follow suit in “negotiated cuts.”

Before that, Obama was meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Palm Springs for a bilateral sit-down that he confidently branded as a positive step forward in U.S.-China relations.

Buoyed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations of U.S. intelligence activities and after reportedly milking the hard drives of four laptops he carried into his Hong Kong hotel, the Chinese government defied a Washington extradition request and let Snowden leave the former British territory.

Once safely at the airport in Moscow, his U.S. passport revoked, Snowden had cover from Russia as he obtained financial and legal assistance from WikiLeaks and petitioned Ecuador for asylum.

Even if the Ecuador claim is intended to throw pursuers off his trail, any number of countries less than friendly with the Obama administration may be lining up to give the former NSA contractor safe haven. Considering Snowden was charged under the Espionage Act, there are enough political loopholes in extradition treaties to ensure the administration will have a hard time getting him back.

And considering these disastrous turns for a president who declared first-term success in improving America’s image across the globe while resetting relations with old foes, America’s superpower image has taken a super hit with these Snowden snubs.

“We understand that he departed Hong Kong yesterday and that he arrived in Russia. Beyond that, I would refer you with regards to his whereabouts to Russian authorities,” a testy Jay Carney told reporters at the White House briefing today.

“I would say that we are, obviously, in conversations, and that we are working with them or discussing with them and — or rather, expecting them to look at the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged,” Carney continued.

On Hong Kong, Carney gave a lengthy explanation of contacts the U.S. had with the special administrative region of China regarding the provisional arrest request.

“On June 17th, Hong Kong authorities acknowledged receipt of our request. Despite repeated inquiries, Hong Kong authorities did not respond with any request for additional documents or information, stating only that the matter was under review and refusing to elaborate. On June 21, Hong Kong authorities requested additional information concerning the U.S. charges and evidence. The U.S. had been in communication about these inquiries and we were in the process of responding to the request when we learned that Hong Kong authorities have allowed the fugitive to leave Hong Kong,” the press secretary said.

“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official. This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant. And that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”

Give past capitulations, the main question hanging in the air was what standing the U.S. has to express said displeasure with China and Russia in any meaningful way. Carney had “no presidential communications to report out,” indicating Obama had not intervened with his counterparts at the presidential level.

“But, obviously, we are communicating with our counterparts at the appropriate levels,” Carney added.

When pressed repeatedly for more information about what the U.S. has done and what actions it might be willing to take — would the U.S. force a plane carrying Snowden to land? — Carney referred back to his prepared statements about Washington’s outrage.

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.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
Wow, the brat was going to lower sea levels, apply a healing balm, and save the world. How's that working?

Anyway, it would seem that the narcissistic brat has lost all credibility with world leaders, and is now considered a child among adults.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are you sure?

- Russia and China are thumbing their noses at us.
- We are bystanders in the Middle East thanks to no action at the outset of the Syrian civil war and the wrong action in Libya and Egypt.
- We are negotiating with terrorists in Afghanistan and excluding Karzai.
- A 30-year-old leaker has made an ass of the U.S.
- We're set to begin unilateral nuclear arms reduction vis a vis Russia.
- We will be ceding more economic superiority and security in the form of global warming "preventive" measures.
- Our allies are eyeing us askance because of the NSA leak.

I'd say Soros got more than his money's worth and Jarrett is due for a bonus.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone who expected that America's status would not be tarnished under the reign of Obama has been hallucinating. NSA's unfettered spying (atop all the other scandals brewing) has evinced a deep violation of basic freedoms and more in line with repressive regimes. It is a black eye on America.

To be sure, while America is founded on liberty and freedom, much of this is eroding at warp speed.

So whatever Snowden's motives, one has to realize that it was the Radical-in-Chief's who apologized all over the world for America's conduct, thus tarnishing the nation's image But at least Snowden blew the whistle on what must, at the very least, be considered as nothing short of a grave blow to privacy rights for ALL Americans, under the guise of security -

Simply put, Obama Inc has done more damage to America's standing than any one whistle blower can!

Adina Kutnicki, Israel
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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Is it not evident that this Obama and his troops are absolutely immune to embarrassment. And "what difference does it make anyway?" Embarassment that is.

All comment about current fiascoes still, still, refuse to countenance examination of that first action of this Obama and his enablers. Notably the Chair of the DNC nominating Committee Nancy Pelosi, and her second Hillary Clinton.

That first action that was and remains a shot across the bow of the Constitutional Republic of the United States. An act of war.

Who in 2008 "certified" this BH Obama as "eligible" as nominee for POTUS. Omitting, ODDLY given that both Pelosi and Clinton are lawyers, a "primary" qualifier as "eligible IN LAW per Constitution".

Since when much money and energy has been spent by Obama, his enablers and champions, to dismiss and deride requests to submit PROOF of legal eligibility PER Constitution.

Nancy Pelosi with her second Hillary Clinton so enraged at the loss for their PARTY of the Millenium election that she Pelosi vowed revenge against those Americans described by Hillary Clinton as "that vast right wing conspiracy".

Are Pelosi and Clinton then counted among those dismissed and derided by the "best and brightest" as "conspriacy theorists"?

2000 to 2008. Eight years, Long enough to design plans and means for their revenge. So in 2008 a man - we can only hope these champions know and respect more of his provenance, character and aims than the rest of us - became the anointed flagbearer of their PARTY.

That they admire his means and aims. INCLUDING in that pursuit his secreting as first act on becoming POTUS documents. The WHAT and WHY evoking NO curiosity. Curioser and curioser.

Aims he admitted without provocation as "The FUNDAMENTAL Transformation" of the nation. This America. Of which during his campaign he without prodding volunteered he "is ashamed".

Despite which direct and deliberate insult to them, new age browbeaten Americans elected him POTUS.

Talk about abused wives, children, victims, whatever. No Stockholm Symdrome here. A voluntary non-threatened, non compulsory submitting the neck to the yoke.

WHY should this Obama and his enablers, champions and troops be embarrassed?

When the people who voted for him, vote for him, defend every move he makes, refuse to accept that virtually everything he says is patently untrue, and who want him to continue to do what he does to whomever he does it.

THE most culpable are those in Legislature, Judiciary who refuse to do their job to STOP his encroachments on the rights of Americans. Encroachments with every smirking move and comment he makes.

Those like John Boehner and those who follow his "lead". Those like his praetorians Pelosi, Reid,and those who follow their demands with menaces. Those like John Roberts?

ARE they embarrassed? The "Honourables" of Congress, Senate and Judiciary?

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I resent that someone on here has said that an opponent of this administration could have a "Hastings" pulled on him. Where is the dignity and respect due our leaders? The correct term is "Breitbarted."
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow. Putin must be having one heck of a laugh at the expense of Obozo. Remember when Obozo, the liar, was claiming that he knew nothing about the IRS scandals, and that he only found out about it through the television news? Yeah, like anyone would believe that whopper. Well, it appears that Putin has now adopted a similar tact. Putin claims he had no idea Snowden was bound for Russia, and that he knew nothing -- nothing -- about Snowden other than what he heard on the Tv news.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin and Obama are both narcissists. The difference is Putin is tough and Obama is a wimp
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think another difference is that Putin defends his country and wishes it to succeed. I could never imagine a Putin going on an apology tour, or actively de-arming, weakening the country militarily. Yet Obama destroys the economy, goes around the world apologizing for America's imaginary "sins", announces unilateral defeat in Afghanistan, caving in to the Taliban, etc. Yes, such a weakling and a numbskull...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would also suggest that if the US were to get him back, he would have a pretty tale about the incompetent clearance system that let him run wild.

If you think he has been bad for O until now, wait until we get him state side.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official. This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant. And that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”

Yet we are supposed to believe that some low level IRS bureaucrat in Ohio made the decision to delay action on Tea Party group applications for tax exempt status. This was a deliberate choice to harass Obama's political opposition, despite the legitimacy of that opposition. That decision unquestionably has had a negative impact on relations between conservative groups and the Obama administration.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't think he cares. He's got his eye on the ball - implementing the Progressive agenda in America. Snowden is just a distraction, as are all the scandals. As long as the immigration bill passes, in a form that includes lots of amnesty and benefits for the poor little brown people, Obama will have fulfilled his mission.

One man and his problems are not important. The Cause is what matters. Think of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the other big Democrat players, as Progressive kamikazes.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
What goes around comes around!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well we all now know how Wile E. Coyote felt when chasing the Road Runner. Any illusion that Mr. Obama has "restored America's prestige" in the international community is now revealed for what is is - just cheap cheerleading by the lapdog media. Putin and the Chinese have nothing but contempt for this administration and know that they can pursue their own interests without any interference from DC. The whole world is laughing at us and we deserve it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hung onto hope for each serial debacle, each embarrassment, each bad and wasteful decision of this admin. for 5 years. That THAT ONE would be the straw breaking the camel's back and the society & the press would come to their senses.

Now, finally, I laugh at us, too.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our totally corrupt and criminally complicit media protects this man-child embarrassment of a president to the inevitable, bitter end. Due to his half-blackness he cannot be criticized or held to account for any mistake, shortcoming or transgression; Dear Leader possesses a laughingstock/nincumpoop evasion pass issued by the traitorous estate charged with exposing to light all threats to freedom and liberty...good job, guys. You created this disaster and then shielded him from any legitimate scrutiny thusly ensuring our continued national decline in world standing.

Remember BENGHAZI!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Paraphrasing Clarence Thomas in comments following yesterday's SCOTUS Affirmative Action decision (or non-decision), there is no relationship between race & skin color and competence/intelligence.

All these passes given to Obama from PC'ers, pundits, the press & self-anointed élites as a function of his half-blackness are beyond absurd.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
--“We understand that he departed Hong Kong yesterday and that he arrived in Russia. Beyond that, I would refer you with regards to his whereabouts to Russian authorities,” a testy Jay Carney told reporters --

So much for the NSA's massive surveillance program LOL. Hey, maybe he's hiding in a mosque.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
hahaha.... that's great. They'll never look there.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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