Message to Snowden – Make More Friends in Russia
One cannot help but be struck by the dichotomy between what is happening to Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, the poster children for leaking U.S. secrets and the dominant chatter on the Internet. In the case of Manning, he was found guilty of enough counts to send him to jail for as many as 136 years. No doubt whatever his sentence will be, it will be for a very long time. And he disclosed information that some believe is far less sensitive than the information Snowden released and still has stored on hard drives he carries around with him like treasured possessions. But for Snowden, rather than being prosecuted and left rotting in a jail cell next to Manning, he’s spending his time somewhere in Russia in what has been described as a “secure location” where Russia’s given him permission to stay for a year. On August 1, 2014, his fugitive visa will end. What will Russia do then? It’s comical that Putin previously placed a condition on any deal with Snowden that he stops harming the United States by releasing information. In response, Snowden is reported to have said he ”…believed he met that condition because he had already given away all his sensitive data.” One can only guess that means Russia has received all it needs to know from Snowden. Was that the quid pro quo for his new found freedom? But that would be cynical, wouldn’t it? Yet what’s more often true than not is that any government announcement implying logic and propriety is the exact opposite. Politicians lie far more often than they tell the truth. They can’t help themselves. It’s only through lies that they can get elected. Anywhere.
So some advice to Snowden: make sure you make lots of friends in Russia over the next year. And keep an eye over your shoulder. There’s a price on your head, albeit a fictional one, but nonetheless a price. The United States wants your butt back to see you chains before a court that will no doubt sentence you to prison for most of the balance of your life.
The world will never know the full extent of damage Manning and Snowden actually did with what they disclosed. That’s the problem with secrets – even when they’re disclosed. We’re never really privy to all the actual damage done. This week, the judge in Manning’s case will hear a litany of witnesses who will testify about damages. What they say may well dictate the term of his imprisonment. Either way, his shenanigans will cost him years behind bars. One wonders if his personal perception of heroism will remain as he grasps the steel of his cell and faces the regimen of incarceration.
Most pathetic of all, however, is Julian Assange, the has-been verbal spokesman for leakers who is currently holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Lucky for him, Ecuador granted him political asylum in 2012, commenting that “…legal evidence clearly shows that, given an extradition to the United States of America, it would be unlikely for Mr. Assange to receive a fair trial, and likely that he would be judged by special or military courts, where there is a high probability of suffering cruel and degrading treatment, and be sentenced to life imprisonment or capital punishment, which would violate his human rights” and that “arguments lend support to the fears of Julian Assange, and it believes that he may become a victim of political persecution, as a result of his dedicated defense of freedom of expression and freedom of press as well as his repudiation of the abuses of power in certain countries, and that these facts suggest that Mr. Assange could at any moment find himself in a situation likely to endanger life, safety or personal integrity.” All this sympathy for human rights from a country Amnesty International cites as rife with its own litany of human rights violations. More cynicism.
Assange, still looking for relevance, commented on Manning’s conviction that, “This is the first ever espionage conviction against a whistleblower. It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated and must be reversed. It can never be that conveying true information to the public is espionage.” On Snowden’s deal, Assange’s WikiLeaks tweeted, “We would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle–now the war.”
Really? Are Assange and his sycophants so insensitive they deny the possibility Snowden and Manning (with Assange’s help) might have actually put other people’s safety in jeopardy? The answer is obviously “yes” because Assange and his toadies don’t care about consequences. But if Assange truly believes in his cause, why is he so fervently fighting extradition to Sweden and avoiding justice? Does he really believe he can’t get a fair hearing in Great Britain, Sweden, or the United States? Or is he just a coward afraid to face his own consequences? Better yet, why doesn’t Assange come to America and visit Manning – a person he describes as “fine young man” – and explain to Manning why he’s now behind bars while Assange, an aider and abettor to what put Manning there, remains free? But Assange can’t come to America without being arrested and tried in a court of law, can he? That’s why he’s hiding in an Embassy. He is afraid to face a judge or jury, preferring to argue his innocence behind diplomatic curtains. That’s quite an accomplishment for his fifteen minutes of fame at WikiLeaks (now a seemingly irrelevant organization) and his self-centered, hypocritical support of leakers like Snowden and Manning. So for now, he should enjoy the hospitality of the Ecuadorians. As long as it lasts. At least Snowden has a countryside he can visit. For now. But have no doubt about it, sooner or later the welcome mats extended by Ecuador and Russia will end for both Assange and Snowden. It’s not a matter of if. It’s simply a matter of when. And those who want the two of them are very patient people with long memories.
We Expert Doug Wood