Obama’s hands-off approach to extraditing Snowden draws criticism

“Nobody’s afraid of this guy,” said former George W. Bush administration adviser Eliot A. Cohen, who argues that Obama should have personally stood up to Chinese and Russian officials. “Nobody’s saying there are any real consequences that would come from crossing him — and that’s an awful position for the president of the United States to be in.”

But some foreign policy experts were more sympathetic to the administration, saying that inserting Obama directly into the negotiations would be folly. It is embarrassing enough that Snowden is on the run, they said; the president’s personal involvement would only further risk the United States’ credibility abroad.

Administration officials have not detailed any actions that Obama has personally taken to bring Snowden to justice, saying only that he has set the administration’s strategic direction and has been briefed regularly by his national security staff…

If Obama spoke out more forcefully, he would endanger the United States’ standing unless he was prepared to retaliate against countries that refuse to detain Snowden, said Anthony H. Cordesman, a former State Department and Pentagon official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.