Suddenly, the Cold War has reappeared. Snowden is charged withespionage, some of his critics alleging that he’s in the service of the PRC and/or Russia or other “enemies.” It in fact appears that Beijing and Moscow both were taken by surprise by this episode, and that both have attempted to handle Snowden’s unexpected presence carefully to avoid annoying the U.S.
But how should they respond to Washington’s logic, thoroughly embraced by the TV talking heads? “Look,” says the U.S. State Department, expecting the world to cower and obey. “This man has been charged with felonies. We’ve gone through the legal process, through treaties we have with other countries, to have him appropriately returned to face justice. We’ve revoked his passport, so he can’t legally travel, except to be returned to the U.S. So damn it, do the right thing. Turn him over!”
That’s supposed to be convincing? The media’s complaining of Russian “defiance.” Senator Chuck Schumer appeared on some show suggesting that Putin never misses an opportunity to “poke America in the eye” (referring no doubt to Russian refusal to cooperate in “regime change” in Syria, and refusal to toe the U.S.-Israeli line on Iran). But imagine if a Russian in the U.S. revealed to a U.S. paper that Putin had a massive surveillance program, and Putin demanded his immediate extradition for breaking Russian law? How would the U.S. public react?
Kerry’s talking tough. He’s demanding that Putin not allow Snowden to fly out the country (presumably to Ecuador via Cuba). His tough talk might explain the reported fact that Snowden missed his planned Monday flight out of Moscow. (Might he have threatened to force the Aeroflot plane to land in the U.S.?)
It all, in my humble opinion, boils down to this. The entirety of the ruling elite and the journalistic establishment are keen on defending the programs Snowden has exposed; keen on punishing him for his whistle-blowing; determined to vilify him as a punk, narcissist, egoist, attention-hungry ne’er-do-well (anything but a thoughtful man who made a moral choice that has enlightened people about the character of the U.S. government); feverishly working on damage control while anticipating more damning revelations; and determined to get those four laptops with their incriminating content back into the bosom of the national security state.
What sort of state is it, that says to its own people, we can invade a country based on lies, kill a million people, hold nobody accountable but hey, when one of us does something so abominable as to reveal that the state spies constantly on the people of the world, we have to have a “manhunt” for him and punish him for treason?
The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has the audacity to tell NBC News, “It is literally gut-wrenching to see” Snowden’s revelations… because of the “damage” they do to “our intelligence capabilities”! As though there were really an “our” or “us” at this point. As though we were a nation united, including the mindful watchers and the grateful watched.
No, there are us, and there are them. The tiny power elite that controls the mainstream press and cable channels, the corporations that dutifully hand over meta-data to the state (and then deny doing so to allay consumer outrage), the twin political parties, are sick to their stomachs that they’ve been so exposed.
We in our turn should feel, if not terrorized, nauseated.