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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/4/13

The Mysteries of Edward Snowden

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Much has been written about this young man (although at the time of this writing, 7/2/13, he and his exploits have been seemingly swept out of the news, at least in the US, by the US Supreme Court decisions on voting rights and gay marriage rights, as well as the remarkable battle being waged in Texas on behalf of abortion rights by Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, as well as the "gotta-have-it-on" Zimmerman/Martin trial [and yes, the defense's strategy lies with putting the late Mr. Martin on trial in place of their client]).   It is likely that much will be written about his adventures/achievements for quite some time in the future.   At this time, it is uncertain as to just where he is, although the most probable guess is that he is still a "guest" in the Transit Lounge at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

 

Some remarkable occurrences around this young man and his feats have taken place so far.   The Russian President Vladimir Putin, sticking his finger firmly in President Obama's eye has allowed that Mr. Snowden is not technically in Russia.   Therefore the Russian government could not act on any arrest and extradition request from the U.S. (And in any case, surprise, surprise, Russia and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty.)   Of course, before flying off to Moscow Mr. Snowden was in sort-of China, otherwise known as Hong Kong.   Much was made in the U.S. media about Hong Kong's "separate legal system."   However, if anyone thinks that the Chinese government was not pulling the elastic bands that catapulted Mr. Snowden out of Hong Kong before the U.S. could get its request-for-arrest papers in order has another think coming.   Finger-in-the-eye no. two.   With all of these fingers in his eye(s), Obama will likely be consulting his ophthalmologist soon.   And he might be taking his glorious Attorney-General along with him.

 

As to the mystery of where Mr. Snowden might end up that remains an open question.   There are several possibilities. Putin has offered him asylum in Russia (which is kind of ironic, given the way that Putin treats his own dissidents, even those who just write and sing about him and the way he runs things).   But then he pulled his finger at least part way out of Obama's eye by making that asylum conditional on Snowden's doing no more whistle-blowing/revealing/whatever.   Putin of course has his own concerns in this regard as well.

 

Cuba and Venezuela have been mentioned.   But both, while certainly sympathetic with what Snowden has done, have their own geo-political reasons for not wanting to be the nation sticking the third finger in Obama's eye(s).   Ecuador and Iceland seem to be at the top of the list, and indeed Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone and Tom Hayden are leading a petition drive asking Ecuador to provide him with sanctuary.   Bolivia and even Argentina have also been mentioned as possibilities.  

 

Of course there was that ridiculous incident of the diversion of the Bolivian President's plane from Moscow on its way home.   (I happen to think that that whole thing was a diversion by the Bolivians and that Snowden will somehow end up there.   President Morales has offered him unconditional asylum there.   Assuming that he can deal with the altitude, it might be a good place for Snowden to hole up, at least for a while.)   That there are so many countries on the "possibles" list tells us something about the declining state of the U.S. Empire, especially in Latin America.   This could not have happened even 10 years ago.   By the time this column has been published, we will likely know the answer to this mystery.

 

The next mystery, which I have yet to see addressed (although with the myriad articles flying off the key-boards around the world it may well have been) is where is Mr. Snowden's financial support coming from.   A) he is off the Booz, Allen, and Hamilton payroll, B) his BAH expense account has been shut off, C) his credit cards have presumably   been cut off, and D) presumably his U.S. bank account(s) have been blocked.   (Hey, if the NSA/FBI can spy on you without probable cause, surely they can block your bank account with it.)   The Aeroflot coach fare from Hong Kong to Moscow is $974.10 (actually pretty cheap when you think of the distance).   Moscow to Havana is $1071.90.   (I have not looked further.)   So, unless he is carrying around tons of cash someone paying his way.   Who and Why are very interesting questions.   How much does Wikileaks have to do with the whole enterprise, and where do they get their funding from, since the U.S. has made it impossible to fund-raise in the traditional ways, through Pay-Pal and such.

 

Then there is the matter, not so much a mystery as a major issue raised by this case, of the privatization of U.S. Federal government functions that has occurred on a major scale since BushCheney took over.   Doing so was one of Dick Cheney's major "achievements."   He had two major goals: as U.S. profits declined due to de-industrialization, this strategy was designed to provide for private profit-making in functions not previously open. At the same time the process de-legitimized and shrank the Federal government in the operation of traditional government functions.   Booz, Allen, Hamilton reportedly gets somewhere between 95% and 99% of its income from the Feds.    Then there are mysteries, or shall we say questions that have never been answered (and most often not asked, either in the Congress which has had to approve the switchovers or the mainstream media). They range from what is the functional rationale for the change, to how did Mr. Snowden in particular get his position with BAH, given that his primary motivation for doing seems to have been to get the goods so that he could open up the whole enterprise?   How did Mr. Snowden convince BAH that he, with a GED, was qualified for the job?   Was that an inside job at BAH?

 

Finally, A) What else does he have?     B) We know that the NSA runs a massive, unconstitutional domestic spying program in the U.S., presumably authorized by the Patriot Act (as well as spying even on our "allies," even on the European Union Headquarters --- looking for what, one wonders).   Why has the Democratic Party gone along with this stuff?   Why does a President who was a Constitutional law professor go along with it, and not just go along with it, but enthusiastically go along with it?   (Well, Virginia, it all started with Sen. Joe McCarthy, but that's another story.)   Is there anyone out there who still thinks that Obama is a "librul?"   When the 2016 Presidential election rolls around, and the GOP voter-suppression operation is in full swing, and hopefully a Progressive Democratic Party has split from the current "enabler-of-the-whole-mess" party, given what we now know about Obama/DLC polices, just how many defenders of the traditional party, Obama, the Clintons, and all, will be crying "we must vote for the lesser-of-the-evils."   That, right now, might be the biggest mystery to come out of the whole Affaire Snowden.   What is the future of the traditional Democratic Party in its aftermath?   And oh yes, could you think of a better writer for this one than John Le Carre?

Finally, in my view too much time is being spent in the media considering whether what he has done (and might do) is "right" or "wrong," whether he is a "traitor" or a "hero."  The important matters for discussion concern the massive intellignece/spying network the US operates around the world, the uses to which it has been put, and the uses (supression of domestic protest/anti-government actions, anyone?) to which it might be put in the future.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
 
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