So what is the “extremely disappointed” Obama administration, the Orwellian/Panopticon complex and the discredited US Congress to do? Send a Navy Seal Team 6 to snatch him or to target assassinate him – turning Moscow into Abbottabad 2.0? Drone him? Poison his borscht? Shower his new house with depleted uranium? Install a no-fly zone over Russia?
Edward Snowden, under his new legal status in Russia, simply cannot be handed over to Bradley Manning’s lynch mob. Legally, Washington is now as powerless as a tribal Pashtun girl facing an incoming Hellfire missile. A President of the United States (POTUS) so proud of his constitutional law pedigree – recent serial trampling of the US constitution notwithstanding, not to mention international law – seems not to have understood the message.
Barack Obama virtually screamed his lungs out telling Russian President Vladimir Putin he had to hand him Snowden “under international law”. Putin repeatedly said this was not going to happen.
Obama even phoned Putin. Nothing. Washington even forced European poodles to down Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane. Worse. Moscow kept following the letter of Russian law and eventually granted temporary asylum to Snowden.
The Edward Snowden saga has turned the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine on its Hydra-head. Not only because of the humbling of the whole US security state apparatus, but also for exploding the myth of Full Spectrum Dominance by POTUS.
Obama revealed himself once again as a mediocre politician and an incompetent negotiator. Putin devoured him as a succulent serving of eggs benedict. Glenn Greenwald will be inflicting death by a thousand leaks – because he is in charge of Snowden’s digital treasure chest. And Snowden took a taxi and left the airport – on his own terms.
Layers and layers of nuances have been captured in this fascinating discussion at Yves Smith’s blog – something impossible to find across Western corporate media. For POTUS, all that’s left is to probably boycott a bilateral meeting with Putin next month, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St Petersburg. Pathetic does not even begin to explain it.
I did it my way
What a boost for good literature; Snowden spent most of his time in airport transit reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, a collection of Chekhov stories, a history of the Russian state by 19th century historian Nikolai Karamzin – and learning the Cyrillic alphabet.
He did take a taxi to the bright side when he left Sheremetyevo, alongside Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks. He may have gone to a FSB safehouse – with zero chance of the CIA’s Moscow station finding him, although his lawyer said he would choose his place of residence and form of protection. His father Lon may soon visit. Even self-described “pole-dancing superhero” girlfriend Lindsay Mills may soon resurface.
How he must have relished to close the nerve-racking waiting game by having the last word – as in his statement published by WikiLeaks; “Over the past eight weeks we have seen the Obama administration show no respect for international or domestic law, but in the end the law is winning. I thank the Russian Federation for granting me asylum in accordance with its laws and international obligations.”
Snowden is legally allowed to work – and has already received a job offer, by the founder of Vkontakte (Russia’s Facebook), Pavel Durov, to be a member of his “all-star security team”. By 2018 he will be entitled to Russian citizenship. He promised Putin he won’t leak “information that may harm the US” – the key condition for the asylum request to be granted. But then he does not have to; Greenwald has everything since those heady initial days in Hong Kong. What’s Washington to do? Turn Greenwald’s apartment in Rio into a Pashtun wedding party?
The timing could not have been more dramatic. Snowden finally landed in Russia immediately after Greenwald revealed the details of XKeyscore  – once again stressing how US public opinion, US media and the cosmically inept US Congress had no clue about the full extent of the NSA’s reach. “Constitutional checks and balances”, anyone?
There’s got to be a serious glitch with the collective IQ of these people. The Obama administration as well as the Orwellian/Panopticon complex are in shock because they simply cannot stop death by a thousand leaks. The Roving Eye is among those who suspect the NSA has no clue about what Snowden, as a systems administrator, was able to download (especially because someone with his skills can easily delete traces of access). Even the top NSA robot – General Keith Alexander – admitted on the record the “no such agency” does not know how Snowden pulled it off. He could have left a bug, or infected the system with a virus. The fun may have not even started.
Watch lame duck POTUS
Credit to some cynical latitudes, as in South America, where people for years have been joking, “the gringos spy on everything we do”; the Internet, after all, was originally an American military program. Professor John Naughton of Britain’s Open University goes one step ahead,  stressing that “the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered.” What lies ahead is balkanization – geographical subnets governed by the US, China, Russia, Iran, etc.
Naughton also stresses that the US and other Western sub-powers have lost their legitimacy as governors of the internet. To top it off, there’s no more “internet freedom agenda”, as parroted by the Obama administration.
This Big Brother obsession with watching, tracking, monitoring, controlling, decoding virtually everything we do digitally is leading to monumental stupidities like Google searches attracting armed US government’s agents to one’s house, as is pricelessly detailedhere. And still Paranoia Paradise has not isolated Washington from a major ass kicking in Afghanistan and Iraq, or has foreseen the 2008 financial crisis; but then again it probably did, and the elites who arbitraged all that massive inside information royally profited from it.
For the moment, what we have is an Orwellian/Panopticon complex that will persist with its unchecked powers; an aphasic populace; a quiet, invisible man in a Moscow multitude; and a POTUS consumed with boundless rage. Watch out. He may be tempted to wag the (war) dog.
Notes:1. XKeyscore: NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet’, The Guardian, July 31, 2013.2. Edward Snowden’s not the story. The fate of the internet is, The Observer, July 28, 2013.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.