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Tuesday 25 June 2013

Edward Snowden – What Did He Do Wrong?

Edward Snowden told the world that the USA’s security agencies routinely trawled through the social media content of millions and millions of people. Some of these – although the assertion is disputed – may have been US citizens. Most were not, although whether their number includes those resident in the UK and the rest of the EU is not told. But he did not endanger anyone’s life.
Yet, following Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong, where he first made his revelations, all hell has broken loose, and the order has clearly gone out to paint him as the bad guy. In the UK , much of the Fourth Estate has acquiesced because he went to the deeply subversive Guardian, and they are definitely the bad guys for many who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet.

Secretary of State John Kerry, not normally used to using plain language when verbal complexity serves his cause better, has been unusually forthright: “it would be ‘disappointing’ if Russia and China had helped him evade an attempt to extradite him”, he said after Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow, after the US had tried to get him extradited from HK beforehand.

Kerry said of China (now in charge in HK) allowing Snowden to leave that “There would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences”, maybe without thinking who it is who holds enough US debt to do the latter country’s economy serious damage. Then Kerry turned his attention to Russia, where Snowden is still reported to be.

He called on the state now ruled by Vladimir Putin, former KGB man and increasingly less than concerned what anyone thinks of him, especially given the dependence of much of eastern Europe on the natural gas his country produces, to “live by the standards of the law because that's in the interests of everybody”. Vladimir Vladimirovich was unavailable for comment.

That may have been because he was too busy doubled up laughing. Sure, he could have Snowden detained – assuming he’s still in Russia – but then, perhaps the USA would like to make a gesture of his liking on the subject of, oh I dunno, how about Syria? Or would they like to talk about Iran? They wouldn’t? Then they can say dasvidaniya to getting their man on the next plane to NYC.

It’s not just that the influence of the USA has declined over the years – and we in the UK know all about that kind of thing, thanks – but that other countries have their own self-interest at heart first, and any kind of special pleading second. It ain’t going to change the world for the worse to let Edward Snowden get on a plane to somewhere in Central or South America, so he can enjoy a little freedom.

Something to think about for those who represent The Land Of The Free.


Anonymous said...

Indeed. In terms of decline of influence, one interesting point from a UK perspective is the revelations about GCHQ. It seems that Britain had agreed to spy on Americans for America, giving the US a handy get-out clause - plausible deniability and all that. It's one thing to be a nation in decline; it's quite another to agree to do others' dirty work for them with no apparent reward (not that that would make it acceptable).

rob said...

What used to go around usually comes back to bite you when it comes around again.

The USA doesn't have the benefit of slow travelling news that the UK had when it used to take advantage of its formerly powerful position in the world.

Will they take as long to apologise over their "misdemeanours" as we have done for some of our history? It's much easier to apologise for someone else's decisions.

all at sea said...

Well said, Tim. Would do no harm for Cameron et al to realise we are not the power we once were and to think accordingly. A Russian diplomat recently laughed when an MP said 'you need to be more forthright in your dealings' and replied, 'This. From the UK'. We are a laughing stock and so is the USA. We talk the talk and that's it.

Chris Neville-Smith said...

I have some sympathy with the arguments over the way Bradley Manning was treated, but he went down in my estimation when he chose Ecuador as his preferred destination for asylum. The's regard for civil liberties is sometimes iffy, but that's nothing compared to Ecudor which frequently imprisons journalists who criticise the government.

It might not do the Americans much harm if Edward Snowden enjoys a little freedom in Ecuador, but it will certain do harm for people in Ecuador. The more chances they get to pull stunts like this, the bigger a smokescreen the Ecuadorian government gets to carry on oppressing dissidents at its leisure.

If he pops up in, say, Switzerland and fights extradition there I'll shut up. Cozying up to dubious regimes in the name of freedom is a very poor show.