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Edward Snowden, Part 3: An Anti-American in Limbo

J. Christian Adams, Bryan Preston, Ron Radosh, and Richard Fernandez start to make sense of PRISM and the morally confused man who revealed the program.

Ron Radosh


June 25, 2013 - 7:33 pm
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Editor’s Note: I’ve decided to cross-post together these four PJ articles about the NSA PRISM surveillance program. My colleagues J. Christian Adams, Bryan Preston, Ron Radosh, and Richard Fernandez each deliver compelling analyses and I agree with their conclusions. I’ve been disappointed as many conservatives and Republicans have sought to minimize the severity of what PRISM is, even siding with Democrats to support the program while encouraging focus on the IRS and other Obama scandals. They’re wrong.

At this point the Ron Paul radical anarchist Edward Snowden who initiated this story in the most irresponsible means possible has overextended his 15 minutes of fame. He has ceded any scrap of moral authority he may have once had. Everything about him is a distraction from what really matters. In the coming weeks let’s hope the sad tabloid story about him and his personality can pass and we can get to the serious discussion about the necessity of limiting the powers of government surveillance.   - David Swindle

Click here for Part 1 by J. Christian Adams

Click here for Part 2 by Bryan Preston

Russian President Vladimir Putin has now explained the status of Edward Snowden. He is not technically in Russia; rather, per the Associated Press:

[He] is in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and has not passed through Russian immigration, Putin said, meaning he is not technically in Russia.

Once again, the Russian president has humiliated the United States. Putin also claims that the Russian security services have not met with Snowden and are not working with him. Moreover, he cannot grant the United States request for extradition since the U.S. and Russia do not have an extradition treaty.

Writing in The Guardian (Glenn Greenwald’s paper), Tom McCarthy explains that Putin’s excuse for not grabbing Snowden is not exactly accurate. He cites the report of their Moscow correspondent Miriam Elder, who says:

Passengers transiting through Sheremetyevo are usually given 24 hours to pass through the international transit zone. Snowden arrived Sunday.

If Elder is correct, then obviously Russian security services are allowing the rules to be stretched in Snowden’s case. Like that African man who lived in JFK Airport for a few years since he was legally stateless and no country would grant him exile, Snowden could be living in Moscow’s airport for quite some time, dining on the horrendous food available at that notoriously subpar international airport.

President Putin could not pause from sticking the knife in President Obama and the United States, suddenly becoming a defender of human rights. Elder quotes Putin:

Assange and Snowden consider themselves human rights activists and say they’re fighting for the spread of information. … Ask yourself this: should you hand these people over so they’ll be put in prison?

With that argument, Putin reveals himself to be a master of hypocrisy. Cathy Young, who grew up in the old Soviet Russia and follows the country regularly, points out:

[Russia] is in the grip of an intense crackdown on dissent since Vladimir Putin’s return for a third presidential term a year ago. …  This crackdown includes draconian penalties for unauthorized protests; legislation requiring non-governmental organizations that receive any money from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and submit to punitive regulations; a vague new treason law that could target dissent; legislation criminalizing insults to religion; and widespread harassment and persecution of opposition activists and leaders.

As for Mr. Snowden, any pretense of his being motivated by a desire to protect the fundamental freedoms that Americans enjoy has evaporated completely. Yesterday, he gave an interview in which he now claims he got a job with Booz Allen in the first place precisely so he could gain access to NSA secrets that he could then share with the world. That new explanation contradicts his earlier claim — that only after working there and learning what American security services could do did he decide on principle to leak classified data. Perhaps wandering in an international transit zone in a bad airport has gone to his head, and we should take anything he says at this point with a grain of salt.

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Ron, you are the only one (out of j. and Bryan; haven't read wretchard yet) who sees this in a proper perspective. Bryan says that the U.S. is morally the same as China and Russia now. Does he really believe this or is this journalese for the die-hard libertarians? As you point out the NSA program infringes on American liberty, but does not destroy it. China simply lacks the sort of liberty that Americans have, and Russia lacks the greater part of it too. Despite past U.S. administration attempts to surveil its people, by and large, the U.S. has maintained its basic freedoms for over two hundred years. Only a handful of other countries can make that boast, and certain not China and Russia.

More and more the evidence (including the interview you link to) points to Snowden being a Chinese spy, and these turns of events as being part of a stratagem to weaken the U.S. both at home and abroad. Only you of the three PJMedia commentators can see this. It takes someone with a broader perspective, longer historical view, and greater experience dealing with international totalitarianism like yourself, to see this.

As for the NSA PRISM program it should be stopped and the Patriot Act repealed or replaced. But let's not take our eye off the race because of a problem with the gauges! Of course we need to fix this problem of over reach by the NSA and others, but we must never lose cognizance that we face international opponents bent on our destruction.
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