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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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March 8, 2014 - 9:55 am

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is on quite a run in 2014. His country just finished hosting the successful Sochi Winter Olympics. No sooner than Mischa the bear left the stadium, Putin dispatched 16,000 troops in unmarked uniforms to take the strategic Crimean peninsula, which belongs to neighboring Ukraine. Putin’s troops took their prize without firing a shot, and while the surprised U.S. and EU have scrambled for a response, Putin has consolidated his hold on Crimea in two ways. One, he has sent in more troops — as many as 30,000, along with helicopters and armored vehicles — to warn off the weak Ukrainian army against any attack. Two, Crimea’s parliament voted unanimously to break off from Ukraine and formally join Russia. Putin has a third move in the works, which is as purely a Soviet move as he as ever made during either of his reigns in the Kremlin. Crimea will have a referendum on the question of joining Russia. The ballot that will be used on March 16 for that vote offers voters two choices — yes now, or yes later. There is no “no” available, even if Crimea’s majority ethic Russians should want it. So the outcome of that vote is a done deal unless Putin is somehow forced to force a ballot change, and that doesn’t seem likely.

On Monday, Putin will strike right at the heart of American prestige and security. Exiled NSA leaker Edward Snowden will address SXSW 2014 in Austin from wherever Putin is protecting/holding him in Russia. Snowden’s address by web video link is already controversial enough that Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) wants SXSW to uninvite him. That doesn’t seem any more likely than anyone forcing a ballot change in Crimea.

While probably only Snowden knows what he will say on Monday, the content of his address may not matter a lot. The mere fact of his address is another knife twisted into President Barack Obama’s side. Snowden fled the United States after leaking a massive amount of information regarding the Obama administration’s surveillance of Americans’ online and cell phone activities in the name of stopping terrorists. The Obama administration tried in vain to catch him, and then when he arrived in Russia, petitioned Putin to hand him over to American authorities. That has not happened, obviously. Putin granted Snowden a year’s asylum in Russia. Meanwhile, the massive American surveillance effort missed signs that Putin was about to invade Crimea. That’s a pretty big miss.

Now, as Putin ignores the West over Crimea, Snowden will address SXSW and, via video streams, the rest of the world. Given Russia’s massive surveillance state, it is clear that Snowden’s address is not only known to Putin, but has been sanctioned by him. Snowden thus becomes, through Monday’s address, yet another unmistakable snub to Obama. Putin is saying to Obama, “Here’s your most wanted man. I have him. And I am letting him speak to your people in the heart of your country.” There’s no getting around the symbolism. Obama has the choice to look impotent, or try shutting Snowden’s feed down, and look tyrannical. Either way, Putin wins.

The question ahead of Monday is, does Snowden understand that he is being used against the United States by a strongman whose own surveillance state is even worse than ours? Does he understand that he is being made a puppet for Putin? If he doesn’t understand that, then his is a naif and a fool. If he does, then he has truly become an agent of our geopoligical foe and an enemy of the American people. Either way, while some of his leaks have been good for the cause of disclosure and rolling back our overpowering government, ultimately Edward Snowden is no hero at all.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
Snowden is no hero. I would hang him and hang the traitors he exposed.

He gave away national security as well as government abuses.

Sleaze vs sleaze. Hang them all and let God sort out which ring of Hell they deserve.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK Snowden is no hero, so ignore him and focus instead on the NSA and Obama. When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
No matter what Snowden has to say, the man is a whistle blower and a bona fide American hero. And martyr.

Free Snowden. Imprison the NSA employees.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (62)
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40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden and Greenwald support Putin because of his stance on gay marriage.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
In 1964, the NSA played a major, probably pivotal, role in expanding America's huge troop commitment to the Vietnam War, escalated within a few years to over half a million men, by providing "evidence" of a major North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the "Gulf of Tonkin Incident".

Congress basically gave authorization for the then ensuing massive escalation of the Vietnam War with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a resolution based on ‘events’, part of which were highly exaggerated and part of which never happened. 50,000 more Americans then went on to die for nothing in large part due to the lying and/or incompetence of the NSA.

And the NSA did utterly nothing to prevent the deaths of around 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. Since then the head of the NSA has claimed that the NSA has stopped over 150 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, but when called on that claim, he changed it to 2 and could offer no substation for the one and very little for the other.

The NSA is yet another high cost government agency/plan that causes more damage than good. I do not think it would be at all unfair to say that the NSA is to security what ObamaCare is to medical care control - a weapon to be used against the American people. It is unfortunate to note that many Americans, on the right as well as on the left, seem to love that kind of thing.

* The NSA was formally established by Harry Truman in an October 24, 1952 memorandum that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive 9. Since Truman's memorandum was highly classified, the existence of the NSA was not publicly known at that time. Due to its high secrecy, U.S. intelligence agencies would refer to the NSA as "No Such Agency".
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40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Putin's own surveillance state is worse than ours?

That's quite a leap given what we presently know in large part thanks to Snowden.

Careful Bryan, you don't want to become a puppet of the NSA crowd.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The bit about the Crimean referendum being a choice between "Yes, now" or "Yes, later" is incorrect. The source Kiev Post site has an image of the ballot which shows that the two choices are "Join Russia" or "Remain part of Ukraine per 1992 constitution". The latter means retain Crimea's status as an autonomous region in Ukraine.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The CIA in Moscow must be busy these days.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The world changes but institutions continue to thrive. Sometimes they evolve, mostly they morph into an auto-immune disease or turn cancerous, especially when they are reactive. The Dept. of Homeland Security, created to 'prevent terror.' What is it doing now but sowing seeds of discontent and INsecurity. Or, consider the EPA, it's not about clean air and water anymore.

The origins of the NSA have already been mentioned. Can anyone make the case that they stuck with their original mandate? Onward to the IRS, whose mandate was to collect tax revenue. See any changes, there? The changes never stop. In earlier days, doctors entered the profession to heal. Enter the 'Health Industry.' The skillful, then, used the medical industry as a path to wealth, but they didn't escape scrutiny. Now they start to understand that they will not long be their own stewards. They, too, will be working for the IRS.

The NSA, the FBI, the CIA---all were, at one time instruments populated exclusively by persons who saw the advancement and protection of the U.S. as the paramount cause of their life, their reason for being. Those organizations are still populated by competent, moral people...who will never advance their professional status. The LEADERSHIP of all these organizations is awash with leftists who see those organizations as means to larger ends. The mandates of these organizations are fading into obscurity by the same thinking that brought you The Constitution as a 'living, breathing, document.'

So, how do I feel about Snowden? My thoughts aren't on Snowden.





40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree, and in fact, we really should ban leftists from holding any positions in Government, and probably send leftists to a penal colony to prevent them from doing any further damage, as well a reform those groups. However, that doesn't mean Snowden's feet shouldn't be put to the fire for committing treason by leaking information to the Communists.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howabout, instead of banning leftists from government, we support the people who are worth a damn that will rebuild the culture of these institutions or, failing that, eliminate those institutions altogether.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
That as well, particularly destroying the institutions as they were bad to begin with, since at least 1789, especially when it was thanks to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his contemporaries that both the massacre known as the French Revolution and modern education came to be, and Voltaire even created a blueprint to weaken if not outright shatter the Catholic church, or any Christian sect for that matter.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Bryan, what happened to my post? Is comparing Snowden to Hiss verboten? Or is faux Libertarian now a banned concept? Or did a reference to JWICS get a phone call? Or is it just an error?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well at least you didn't say SCAMPI. Oh krap.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course Snowden must realize he is being used but he is in Russia being given sanctuary. What did he expect? As for Russia being a worse surveillance country than the US, pneumonia is worse than the flu but either one can kill. A government that spies unimpeded on it's citizens is in the process of killing democracy no matter what the spin.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden is a thief, a spy and an out and out traitor, pure and simple.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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