July 12, 2013
Edward Snowden will seek at least temporary asylum in Russia, confirming the prediction in the article below that by shutting off his asylum routes, the U.S. was pushing him inevitably into the KGB’s arms.
Will Englund, “Snowden says he will seek asylum in Russia, The Washington Post, July 12, 2013 (Updated 9:41 AM).
Ellen Barry and Andrew Roth, “Snowden Is Said to Renew Plea for Asylum in Russia,” New York Times, July 12, 2013.
The United States may have reached the conclusion that the damage Snowden is inflicting and could inflict in the future, by publishing details of its secret intelligence programs, outweighs the damage that might be done to U.S. interests by his eventually collaborating with Putin and Russia’s intelligence agencies.
However, it is far from clear, and even dubious, that the ongoing release of further information about such U.S. operations will cease once Snowden is in Putin’s absolute control (if he isn’t already). Such a conclusion would greatly underestimate the possibility that Snowden has distributed this information to a number of other persons and organizations, and that should he decide to turn the encryption key, or simply fail to deactivate an automatic mechanism, much more damning information could be released.
The Russians, for their part, need not be in any hurry. They have time to wait, until Snowden reaches that psychological point where he is grateful for their protecting him and becomes ready to collaborate.
In the meantime, further revelations are likely, even if Snowden complies with Putin’s condition that he stop harming U.S. interests. The revelations probably do not depend on him anymore.
At this point in the chess match, one would have to surmise that Putin is greatly enjoying the game, while the United States seems to be far behind.
The Trenchant Observer
“Intelligence Matters: Not good at chess—the U.S. pursuit of Snowden pushes him inevitably into KGB’s arms”
Article originally published June 30, 2013
Food for Thought
The longer Edward Snowden is holed up in the transit area of the airport in Moscow, while the U.S. exerts pressure on Ecuador and other potential asylum refuges, the more desperate his personal situation becomes. The Russians, led by Vladimir Putin, an old KGB man, is playing a smart game from their point of view which, when it turns out there is nowhere else Snowden can go, will deliver him and all he knows into the hands of the Russian KGB (whatever its new name may be).
Like Wikileaks, the Snowden affair points to one of the greatest intelligence failures in U.S. history.
Obama, by blindly driving to get America’s hands on a whistleblower who is viewed by the administration as a traitor, has unwittingly magnified the intelligence damage Snowden will ultimately cause in the future. By closing off his asylum routes, the U.S. will have guaranteed the result that the KGB will have him, with complete control over his personal circumstances, and access to everything he knows.
Looking at the Snowden affair through this optic, it may be that much better chess moves by the United States could have been to allow him to secure exile and asylum in Iceland or Ecuador. At least in one of these countries, he would have been less likely to fall into the hands of the KGB.
Whether either of these options is still available is unknown.
The Trenchant Observer