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Bryan Preston


April 21, 2014 - 7:22 am

In which the NSA leaker does damage control from the neo-USSR.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden instantly regretted asking Russian President Vladimir Putin a softball question on live television about the Kremlin’s mass surveillance effort, two sources close to the leaker tell The Daily Beast.

“It certainly didn’t go as he would’ve hoped,” one of these sources said. “I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that he made an error in judgment.”

“He basically viewed the question as his first foray into criticizing Russia. He was genuinely surprised that in reasonable corridors it was seen as the opposite,” added Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who serves as one of Snowden’s closest advisers.

According to Wizner and others, Snowden hadn’t realized how much last week’s Q&A—with Putin blithely assuring Snowden that Moscow had no such eavesdropping programs—would appear to be a Kremlin propaganda victory to Western eyes. And so the leaker quickly decided to write an op-ed for the Guardian to explain his actions and to all but label Putin a liar for his televised response.

It isn’t just Snowden’s public softball game with Putin that has raised suspicions of him. Snowden is suspect because, first, he chose to run to Hong Kong and then to Russia after he leaked the NSA’s surveillance programs to a leftwing journalist.

Following that, he had nothing to say about Russia’s mass surveillance of journalists and presumably athletes and visitors during the Socchi Olympics.

Following that, Snowden appeared at SXSW via video conference from Russia. During that talk, he again had nothing to say about Russia’s surveillance programs, its suspected assassinations of journalists, its recent clampdown on the last of Russia’s free press, nothing.

Everything about that SXSW talk carried bad optics. Snowden spoke from Russia shortly after Putin had invaded and taken Crimea. Snowden had nothing to say about that. Snowden assailed US domestic spying policies — fair enough — but from Russia at a time when his very appearance made the US appear impotent against Russia, and when Russian forces are menacing Ukraine and the stability of Europe.

Neither of Snowden’s two 2014 appearances can possibly have happened without Kremlin approval.

Ever since Snowden landed in Moscow under the watchful eye of the Russian surveillance state, he’s been represented in Russia by a man deeply connected to the Kremlin in addition to his American counsel. It’s one of many reasons why critics have accused the leaker of being a Putin patsy. That criticism has been accompanied by a whisper campaign from both the American and Russian governments alleging that Snowden was under the thumb of Putin’s intelligence services, a claim Snowden and his camp have strongly denied.

He can deny it all he wants. The fact is, the Russian government knows where he is and has total control over whether it extends his asylum in August or not. Russia could have shut down Snowden’s SXSW talk, but didn’t, because it presented the images that Putin wanted presented. Russia could have shut off Snowden’s direct question to Putin, but again, it didn’t, because it provided invaluable domestic and international propaganda for the Putin regime.

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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All Comments   (6)
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Certainly this blundering [error in judgement] of Snowden's regarding what question to ask Putin speaks volumes about Snowden's maturity and reaffirms the doubts about his wisdom and judgement [not the same as being merely smart] in general.
Snowden's bitten off more than he can chew; and the terrible irony for us is that he's caused so much more damage than we're ever likely to know generally.
In other words, his splendiferous ego has had consequences he himself didn't likely imagine, although he can't be displeased at his havoc.
His superiors/employers made huge errors in judgement with granting this oh-so-clever young man such access. That's our lesson we should take from all of this, but it ain't over yet.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
He served his usefulness.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Snowden is merely an idiot. I can live with that.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden's job is America. Let Russia rot. Snowden is a whistle blower and a bona fide American hero.

Thank you, Snowden.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, in this case Snowden's job was only Snowden, disguised here as blowing a whistle on something he happened to disagree with.

Yours is also a twisted and convoluted, disproportional sense of human judgment.
There are degrees of this blowing of alert whistles about procedures and then having that chest-thumping attitude applied to the very security of the Nation which [presumably] is your home.

Would you like to join him in exile?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ya Dun Goofed, Snowden.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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