Based on conversations with high-level intelligence sources, NBC News reports that the Kremlin is considering whether to “curry favor” with Donald Trump by returning Edward Snowden to the United States for trial and a potential death sentence.
Snowden, who recently deleted his tweet proclaiming the 2016 election “a choice between Donald Trump and Goldman Sachs” in shame, has tried to put on a brave face. But this tweet will not save him from a wrathful administration predisposed to charge him with treason.
Finally: irrefutable evidence that I never cooperated with Russian intel. No country trades away spies, as the rest would fear they’re next. https://t.co/YONqZ1gYqm
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 10, 2017
Contrary to his fabulist biographers, Edward Snowden was never trained as an actual spy or policymaker and has a facile understanding of his role in Vladimir Putin’s universe.
To the Moscow oligarchy, Snowden is just another fungible commodity like oil or gas. He has served Russian purposes since 2013 and might prove even more valuable as a political weapon detonated in the United States.
— Doremus Jessup (@DoremusJ) February 10, 2017
NBC spoke to former deputy national security adviser Juan Zarate, who advised the Trump administration to be wary of accepting Snowden.
“For Russia, this would be a win-win. They’ve already extracted what they needed from Edward Snowden in terms of information and they’ve certainly used him to beat the United States over the head in terms of its surveillance and cyber activity,” Zarate said.
“It would signal warmer relations and some desire for greater cooperation with the new administration, but it would also no doubt stoke controversies and cases in the U.S. around the role of surveillance, the role of the U.S. intelligence community, and the future of privacy and civil liberties in an American context.
“All of that would perhaps be music to the ears of Putin.”
Edward Snowden may be a popular figure, but his greatest cultural contribution has been to validate mass paranoia about government mass surveillance. While his actions have done real harm to American interests, Snowden clearly did not set out to land in Russia when he decided to become Glenn Greenwald’s source.
Rather, Russian stooge and internet cult leader Julian Assange is widely understood to have arranged Snowden’s departure for Moscow from Hong Kong after Snowden found himself stranded without the secondary passport a professional espionage agent would know to obtain in advance.
Snowden’s Russian sojourn has served Putin’s propaganda interests, but his ultimate goal is a weaker American civil society.
By returning Snowden to the United States, Putin would guarantee both draconian government overreach by the Trump administration and a long trial process that burns up plenty of media oxygen.
When progressive organizations spend resources defending Snowden, they have less time and money and energy to resist mass deportations and travel bans and other horrific executive orders. When news outlets cover the Snowden trial, they won’t be investigating Russian influence operations against the 2016 election.
See how that works out? See who benefits in the exchange?
As evidenced by Jill Stein’s candidacy, a small but election-critical slice of Americans have already proven willing to ignore genuine threats to basic freedoms because Edward Snowden told them that the NSA was committing history’s greatest crime against civil rights.
Imagine what Eddie could achieve in martyrdom, then, because Putin has undoubtedly visualized the prospect.
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