I’m really enjoying this fascist former KGB agent now pretending he’s a stickler for the rule of law.
But not as much as he’s enjoying it, I bet.
Snowden is in the transit zone of a Moscow airport and has not passed through Russian immigration, Putin said, meaning he is not technically in Russia…
“Our special services never worked with Mr. Snowden and aren’t working with him today,” Putin said at a news conference during a visit to Finland.
Putin said that because there is no extradition agreement with the U.S., it couldn’t meet the U.S. request.
“Mr. Snowden is a free man, and the sooner he chooses his final destination the better it is for us and for him,” Putin said. “I hope it will not affect the business-like character of our relations with the U.S. and I hope that our partners will understand that.”
Elsewhere in the same piece, the foreign minister of Ecuador, a country that just last week imposed new restrictions on an already heavily restricted media, praised Snowden for trying to “bring light and transparency to facts that affect everyone’s fundamental liberties.” Wittingly or not, Snowden’s ended up as propaganda gold mine for authoritarians.
I’m with Ace on this one: How is it in Obama’s interest at this point to have Snowden back? He’s famously allergic to capturing and prosecuting prominent enemies of the state because of the legal and political headaches involved. That explains 80 percent of his drone policy towards jihadis. If Russia hands him over, then O has to deal with protests here from Snowden fans and chilly White House coverage from sections of the press that are sympathetic to him. Capturing him now probably won’t stop the leaks, either. Glenn Greenwald was crowing again this morning that “the majority of revelations that are significant have yet to be made,” which I take it means the Guardian already knows all about what Snowden has. Seems strange for a newspaper to sit on national-security bombshells, unless they’re holding them back as leverage to warn the U.S. away from apprehending Snowden. If the feds grab him, maybe that’s the Guardian’s cue to start publishing stuff. In which case, if you’re O, leaving Snowden alone in Ecuador might be the lesser of two bad outcomes. Sure, it’d be a blow to U.S. credibility, but what’s left of U.S. credibility at this point? John Kerry’s already backing off some of yesterday’s tough talk towards Moscow. No one thinks the White House can or will do much apart from freezing extradition of prisoners to Russia, none of whom will be as valuable to them as Snowden is to the U.S. government. As seems so often true, we have few good foreign-policy cards to play.
Here’s Obama pal Tom Coburn reflecting on the fruits of “failed foreign policy.”
Update: How would it benefit the U.S. to have Obama speak up himself to demand Snowden’s return, only to see Russia and China respond with middle fingers? We’ve lost enough prestige abroad. It’s nutty to demand that O forfeit a little more.