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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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April 18, 2014 - 6:07 am

Former NSA contractor and leaker Edward Snowden, who asked a staged question of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a TV show yesterday, defended his actions in a Guardian op-ed.

Putin was addressing the nation in a four-hour television appearance in which he took a handful of questions, including from a 6-year-old boy who asked Putin if he thought President Obama would save him from drowning.

When told by host Anna Pavlova that he had a “surprise” video call from Snowden, who has been granted indefinite asylum in Russia to escape prosecution in the U.S., Putin said, “Do I really?”

“Does Russia intercept, store, or analyse in any way the communications of millions of individuals, and do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies – rather than subjects – under surveillance?” Snowden asked.

Putin addressed Snowden as “a former intelligence officer, and I have worked for an intelligence agency, too.”

“Russia has laws that strictly regulate the use of special equipment by security services, including for the tapping of private conversations and for the surveillance of online communications. They need to receive a court warrant to be able to use this equipment in each particular case. So there is no, and cannot be any, indiscriminate mass surveillance under Russian law,” he said. “Since criminals, including terrorists, use these modern communication systems for their criminal activity, security services should be able to respond accordingly and use modern equipment to combat crime, including terrorism.”

“Yes, we do this, but not on such a large scale and not arbitrarily,” Putin continued. “Hopefully – I hope very much – we will never act in this manner. Besides, we do not have such technical capabilities and funds as the United States. But the main thing is that, happily, our security services are strictly controlled by the state and society and their operation is strictly regulated by law.”

Snowden wrote that his questions were  ”intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion.”

“Clapper’s lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability,” Snowden claimed, adding that Putin “denied” and “dodged” in his answer in a way “remarkably similar” to Obama.

“I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin’s evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it,” the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor continued.

“…So why all the criticism? I expected that some would object to my participation in an annual forum that is largely comprised of softball questions to a leader unaccustomed to being challenged. But to me, the rare opportunity to lift a taboo on discussion of state surveillance before an audience that primarily views state media outweighed that risk. Moreover, I hoped that Putin’s answer – whatever it was – would provide opportunities for serious journalists and civil society to push the discussion further.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran 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 is an NPR contributor and 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.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Stop engaging in hyperbole. Disagreeing with idiotic slogans like "N-Stasi-A" and the need for intelligence gathering does not mean that I deem all Americans guilty until never proven innocent. If I want that kind of idiocy I can crank up an N.W.A. or Public Enemy album and be entertained to boot.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
This rule is perfect. In all matters of political debate, my opponents are all insane (or idiots). - Mark Twain

Somehow, Charlie, I think you completely miss the underlying point. Rather like those who think 1984 is an instruction manual.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"So why all the criticism?" NSA leaker asks."

The point is to direct as much attention at Snowden as possible, so that the sheeple won't concentrate on what an abomination the N-Stasi-A is, an anti-American abomination that the Founding Fathers, to a man, would consider far worse than King George, whom they fought a long and bloody war against.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (39)
All Comments   (39)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Snowden is a traitor to America.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden's appearance is about as coincidental as Barack Obama being chosen to speak at the 2004 Democrat Convention.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Next the Europeans will be giving Putin and Snowden Nobel Peace Prizes. (Those who've been snowed by Snowden, should at long last realize that this Putin poodle is NO American "hero" -- he is a traitor of the first order).
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Those running the N-Stasi-A are the traitors. As for the employees of the N-Stasi-A, "just following orders" is no excuse. It seems to have somehow escaped the attention of some that just as the IRS, the EPA, the DOJ and the BLM are now part of the Obama Administration, so too is the N-Stasi-A.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, sure -- according to Russians, Americans operate as "stasis." And this said by a Putin who poisons and murders journals. So, yeah, tell me another one. Are you that gullible? I have to laugh -- another item -- while Putin alleges Russian "innocence" with respect to surveillance -- where is Snowden working? Care to guess? He's doing "security" work at one of Russia's largest websites-- the Russian equivalent of Facebook. And as I'm sure all good little Putin admirers will insist that info is in the best of hands!
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"So why all the criticism?" NSA leaker asks."

The point is to direct as much attention at Snowden as possible, so that the sheeple won't concentrate on what an abomination the N-Stasi-A is, an anti-American abomination that the Founding Fathers, to a man, would consider far worse than King George, whom they fought a long and bloody war against.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yet, even during the Revolutionary War the Founders collected intelligence, some of which included spying on fellow Americans (Benedict Arnold, everyone?). I think many libertarians, just like Leftists, are in love with a United States that never was and never will be.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
And I think you are in love with deeming all Americans to be presumed guilty until never proven innocent, just like Obama's N-Stasi-A.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stop engaging in hyperbole. Disagreeing with idiotic slogans like "N-Stasi-A" and the need for intelligence gathering does not mean that I deem all Americans guilty until never proven innocent. If I want that kind of idiocy I can crank up an N.W.A. or Public Enemy album and be entertained to boot.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is such a dog and pony show. Anyone who believes this will help me retire young, because I've got a few bridges to sell them.

And, the Pulitzer goes to a Spy!
http://nyyrc.com/blog/2014/04/and-the-pulitzer-goes-to-a-spy/
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Say what you want, Snowden has guts. He stuck his neck on the line with his comments to the Guardian about the leader of the nation that now offers him asylum. How would you like to be compared to Obama?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're an idiot. I mean, seriously? Anna Pavlova announces a "surprise" call from Snowden? And they just *happen* to have picked up his call and have a cam ready? And Putin has a ready answer that fits his current propaganda plan.

The only way Snowden would have stuck his neck out is if he'd deviated from the script, and even then I'll bet they were on a delay.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
An idiot, Charlie? LOL.

So you don't think Putin is going to hear about the comments in the Guardian? You don't think Putin's opponents aren't going to get access to them. Spread them around? You think that Putin has no opponents? If Putin meant to use the Snowden question as propaganda -- and I have no doubt he did -- it just backfired on him.

If Snowden feared the consequences of angering Putin he would have kept his mouth shut after his televised question.

Props to Snowden.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yup. Who saw the TV thing? How many people in Russia read the Guardian? Do you think Putin's propaganda machine is *only* aimed *outside* the [del]Soviet Union[/del] Russia?.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
You really don't believe Snowden's Guardian comments are going to get translated into Russian and get spread through the populace via Twitter, Facebook and other sites?

How many people watch Congressional hearings here on C-Span? You don't think what James Clapper said in his got filtered through the public?

How is the question Snowden asked Putin different than what Wyden asked Clapper?

Wyden asked: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

He gave the question to Clapper a day before the hearing.

Was it a softball? Was Wyden a tool of a government propaganda machine?

26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"If Putin meant to use the Snowden question as propaganda -- and I have no doubt he did -- it just backfired on him."

And, pray tell, how has it backfired on Putin? What exactly is Snowden going to do when Putin makes his surveillance program completely public?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pray tell, how did it work for him?

If Snowden's appearance was propaganda, which I think it was meant to be, the point obviously was to make Putin's Russia appear enlightened to the world especially with regard to us.

Snowden's Guardian statements have made that plan kaput. For those who consider Snowden to be an authority, Putin is the same as Obama now. That's a big backfire.

If Putin's goal is to make his surveillance program public why did he give the answer he gave?



26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
"If Putin's goal is to make his surveillance program public why did he give the answer he gave?"

Because he knows there will be fools in the West who will take his answer at face value. How's that working out for you, Bill Lawrence?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you are saying that Putin's secret goal is to make his surveillance program public and that he is trying trick us into thinking otherwise, I'd have to say that is, well, a sure interesting theory. I'll let you run with it.

26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who's said it's Putin's secret goal? I believe that assumption was made by you.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
You implied that Putin was going to his surveillance program "completely public". What did you mean by that?

26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
And before you come back with some more idiotic claptrap:

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/04/18/snowden-i-asked-putin-that-softball-question-on-surveillance-to-start-a-public-debate-in-russia/

Yeah, that Snowden traitor sure did stand up to his KGB/FSB/Authoritarian benefactor.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I didn't imply anything. I stated it matter-of-factly. Authoritarians NEVER keep their surveillance programs secret.

If you can't get it through your thick skull that Snowden played your dumb ass for a patsy is a personal problem.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
As I said claiming that Putin's secret goal is to make his surveillance program public and that he is trying trick us into thinking otherwise, is sure an interesting theory. LOL.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doofus, he can do BOTH. Do you not recall how the original Soviet Union operated. Do you not see how this site's founder, Roger Simon, mocks Walter Duranty for doing EXACTLY that on behalf of the Soviet Union? Vlad Putin is operating under the same motif. Why you act like this is new or some "interesting theory" shows the depth to which you are cognitively dissonant regarding Edward Snowden and who is true master is.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Suuuuure, he can do both.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now you are just being obtuse.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I really do not believe you understand how a Stasi state operates. And, no, I'm not talking about America. Do you really believe Snowden "risked his life" to ask Putin a question on Russian surveillance? Good grief. Who do you think has the upper hand here and must do Putin's bidding? It's all under Putin's dictates. Snowden was probably given a script to read (with a "read this on air or else"), he was obliged to read it -- a person in Snowden's position is not at liberty to make a tyrant look bad.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think he risked his asylum by saying what he said in the Guardian.

And do you really think this was a script, or he had to be coerced to ask it? “Does Russia intercept, store, or analyse in any way the communications of millions of individuals, and do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies – rather than subjects – under surveillance?”

And really if asking that required coercion why would he say what he said in the Guardian?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are you aware that Russia is one of the most dangerous nations for dissident journalists? You cross Putin and you'll be "disappeared." The extent of Snowden's coercion (whether it is overt or covert) is only one factor. (Perhaps Snowden is so stupid and so dense he is unaware of what happens to those who act in opposition to Putin). The bottom line is this -- the Guardian rag is an anti-American leftist rag. They despise Americans. The propaganda talking point (of Snowden, of Putin, of the dim wits of the Guardian) is that Amerikkka is in a far, far worse state of surveillance than that of Russia. I suppose if you buy that argument, you can then argue that Putin only murders the "terrorist" journalists, or for those nasty female dissenters he'll have them horse whipped by Cossacks -- yeah, let's hear it for "debate" Russian style.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure Russia is a dangerous place for dissident journalists. That's why it's rather gutsy for Snowden to criticize Putin in a way where he's going to see it.

As noted the propaganda that America a worse surveillance state than Russia backfired when Snowden said Putin and Obama are one and the same. Why would you think it didn't?
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look, the Guardian rag is written for an English speaking public. Can you grasp that? That Guardian article was giving its slobbering endorsement of the liar, thief and anti-American traitor, Snowden. No Russian journalist (including Snowden) is going to publicly fault Putin. Do you understand that? It is the same propaganda game that is played by radical Muslims. They tell the West one thing -- "Ja. Ja, we are all about peace." And quite another to their Arab audience. Again, is this too difficult to comprehend? An interesting synopsis of the tv moment (that obvious propaganda exercise), with Snowden as Putin's poodle is provided by Howard Kurtz. I'll look up the link. Here it is http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/18/ed-snowden-russian-tv-star-hands-putin-propaganda-coup/. It was a "propaganda coup" by Putin.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, and nobody knows how to translate it to Russian /s.

Snowden asked a question that was never asked. Putin gave the expected answer and then Snowden said he was no different that Obama and Clapper.

If you want to claim that makes Snowden a dupe or a traitor there is absolutely nothing I can do to convince you otherwise.

Reason fails. You want to believe so you do.

Regarding the below comments, Snowden most recently addressed Americans at SXSW. Those are techies with jobs not OWS. The Atlantic is as left-leaning as the Guardian.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another aspect of Snowden one should also consider is this -- when speaking to North Americans -- who is Snowden's audience? What venues does he choose? He directs his hatred of America to the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd, and he presents himself (lying cowardly thief that he is) as "the victim." He did the same in Vancouver -- in his robotic "telepresence" -- no doubt hoping for a receptive anti-American audience who'd lap up his rhetoric about the demonic nature of America. That is who Snowden appeals to -- anti-American Leftists (whether in the U.S. Or Canada).
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
This rule is perfect. In all matters of political debate, my opponents are all insane (or idiots). - Mark Twain

Somehow, Charlie, I think you completely miss the underlying point. Rather like those who think 1984 is an instruction manual.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
See above. Putin has just had the "great hero" Snowden on TV in Russia to ask him about surveillance and let him answer "oh, no."
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're naive if you think that Snowden is standing up to Putin. Russia has mastered the art of propaganda.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or at least they're good enough at it to make you think they have.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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