Quo Vadis, Edward Snowden?

On the one hand, I’ve vastly amused by the consternation of various US spokescritters at the fact that Edward Snowden has slipped out of Hong Kong and is apparently en route to Ecuador. What good is being a superpower if you can’t stomp world-headline-creating embarrassments like a bug?

On the other hand, Snowden’s latest move is just one play in a continuing drama. I’m not as cheered as most readers are, simply because I have my doubts as to how safe Snowden will be in Ecuador (or Venezuela or wherever he lands). The American security state does not like being made to look impotent and foolish. Getting Snowden rendered or killed has to be a very high priority. The US has been playing that game much longer than the media lets on. For instance, the US tried unsuccessfully to render tax felon Marc Rich out of Switzerland in 1992.

Assuming Snowden manages to stay free for more than the next few months, what happens? Over the near term, he’ll presumably be occupied getting oriented, learning Spanish, continuing to work with the Guardian on information releases, and will probably have enough local supporters so as not to have to worry about his next meal or a roof over his head. But what after that?

Snowden has managed to defy expectations. If I were in his shoes, my next move would be a book. After all, that’s a way to take advantage of his international name recognition, keep the spotlight on NSA/surveillance state overreach, and earn some change. Now imagine the spectacle. Anyone as well-known as Snowden would under normal circumstances command a huge book advance; O.J. Simpson received $900,000 for the scuttled “If I Did It” (and the press reports say this was what he received; “advances” have a payout schedule with a portion paid on contract signing, another chunk on delivery of the manuscript, etc, so if he got $900,000 on signing, the total advance was larger, which is consistent with earlier rumors).

Snowden could try the traditional publication route just to catch out the US government pressuring major publishers to shun him. Would non-US/UK player (think Bertlesmann) defy them? And what if Snowden is (likely) forced to go the self publishing route? Would the US demand that credit cards networks and Paypal to block payments as they did with Wikileaks? Would they be so desperate as to try to interfere with free public distribution? Moves like that would keep Snowden in the public eye and make his book a hot item.

So while I am not optimistic as to how long Snowden will maintain some semblance of freedom of operation, he’s got plenty of ways to keep attention on the overreach of US intelligence services. Let’s hope he can continue to beat the odds.

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  1. sd

    It is unfortunate that the new rightwing government in Iceland has (more or less) made it clear he is not welcome.

  2. Hugh

    The media are beginning to resemble those news readers on North Korean television. They are all reading from the same script and using highly charged language. There is a worldwide manhunt even though it was known Snowden was in Hong Kong. He didn’t leave Hong Kong. He fled and escaped it and was on the run. Meanwhile all the standard Democratic and Republican blowhards were calling him a traitor, not a whistleblower. And the whole group, media, politicians, and intelligence talking about the damage Snowden has done rather than the damage that they and their programs have done to us.

      1. from Mexico

        Funny how the enemies of visible government and democracy lump Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador all together.

        Russia and China might remotely pose some threat to the life of the nation, to United States. But Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador?

        Historically, the doctrine invoked against relatively insignificant players like Venezuela, Cuba and Ecuador is what Noam Chomsky calls the “mafia doctrine,” which he explains here beginning at about minute 36:


        1. Massinissa

          For those too lazy or busy to read Mexico’s link, in summary its the doctrine that the US has to crack down real hard on small places like Grenada so that noone gets any ideas of challenging American hegemony.

          I mean think about it: Grenada was a fraction of the importance of even modern Ecuador. Yet Reagan still invaded the damn thing full force. He didnt want other countries to get the wrong idea that the US was anything but the worlds #1 Hegemon.

          Having places like Venezuela and Ecuador openly resist American influence sends a message the American Empire doesnt like to the rest of the world, big and small. Which is why both Chavez and Correa had to deal with an American sponsored coup attempt.

          1. Gareth

            Reagan’s invasion of Grenada also served the purpose of drawing the attention of the US public away from his disastrous military involvement in Lebanon, which resulted in the death of hundreds of US Marines.

          2. Massinissa

            Thanks Gareth. I didnt even realize Reagan was involved in Lebanon. Reagans presidency was before my time.

  3. psychohistorian

    Snowden will be dead in a month or the effects of his continued existence will multiply geometrically.

    The US and its MIC needs to eliminate Snowden in a manner that keeps others from exposing more of the societal cancer we have. If they don’t get a hand on this quickly the results could go global…..still my beating heart.

    I hope we can remove the cancer from our society without killing the patient.

    1. from Mexico

      psychohistorian says:

      If they don’t get a hand on this quickly the results could go global…

      I think it’s too late for that. There’s a big global court-room of public opinion out there, and the verdict is already in, and it’s not good for the enemies of democracy and visible government like Obama and Cheney. Snowden has already achieved world-wide stature and recognition, and anywhere outside the US the verdict is this: Hero.

      While the pathocrats and kleptocrats may be able to control the debate and ultimately prevail within the United States, that is not true outside the United States, where the battle has already been lost.

      I know that poeple tend to be completely egocentric and nation-centric, living in their little bubble worlds, but I would ask people to consider that the debate outside the US might have greater implicaitons than that going on within the US.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Lets see start a list of losers in this as consumers make choices:

        -No sane European politician is going to allow an American telecom/information company win a contract ever. Its not like its a factory or a port where geography matters.

        -stores will find consumers opt for non-spying companies

        -countries might have to reconsider their NATO status if the U.S. isn’t dedicated to defending its allies

        -my guess is there won’t be many orders for the F-35 or other wunder weapons; does anyone think Brazil will be investing in fighter jets in the near future?

        -I bet even Hollywood takes a hit among young movie goers world wide as they realize most movies are pandering of the highest order.

        Of course, any politician who has ever uttered the word “shared sacrifice” will be asked about the NSA in some way from hiring practices or just inability to catch Snowden.

        Que sera sera!

        1. from Mexico

          Andrew M. Lobaczewski, in Ponerology, did a good job of pinpointing the dilemma that now faces Obama and his cohort:

          There are other needs and pressures felt by the pathocrats, especially from outside. The pathological face must be hidden from the world somehow, since recognition of the deviant leadership by world opinion would be a catastrophe. Primarily in the interests of the new elite and its expansionary plans, a pathocratic state must maintain commercial relations with the countries of normal man.


          The following quesitons suggest themselves: what happens if the network of understanding among psychopaths achieves power in leadership positions with international exposure? This can happen, especially during the later phases of the phenomenon. Goaded by ther character, such deviant people thirst for just that even though it ultimately conflicts with their own life interest, and so they are removed by the less pathological, more logical wing of the ruling apparatus. Such deviants do not understand that a catastrophe would otherwise ensue. Germs are not aware that they will be burned alive or buried deep in the ground along with the human body whose death they are causing.

          1. hunkerdown

            Your second excerpt is a fine antidote to those who would play the ZOMG PALIN!!! card.

        2. Massinissa

          To be fair I think most of those things happening is overly optimistic, but to be fair its getting to the point where im about as pessimistic as JGordon, so what the hell do I know?

          Though I think that one important thing, is the psychological aspect on Obama and some other elites. Even if these things you list dont happen, at least some of the elites will be scared shitless that these things will indeed happen. Any cursory reading of the cold war shows that the american elite were almost irrationally paranoid, and I really dont think this has changed.

          If all Snowden has done is put the fear of god into these men who feel they have the power of gods, then that alone should be something of a success.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            A 10% drop in business overseas is a disaster especially in the age of HFT machines. Much of the plans for growth were in foreign markets with the U.S. being turned into slaves and general saturation of those market places.

            Its already happening. Take Hungary. The purchase of U.S. arms is a big deal. Labour lost in the UK because Gordon Brown was too close to Tony Blair who was too close to the U.S. Its not like Russia or the Chinese couldn’t easily replicate any service offered by an American company, and now the American branding has taken a hit.

            Much of the forgiveness of America in 2008/9 was because it seemed like the adults were back in charge, not those red necks. There is a growing recognition that the difference between the NPR American and the Hannity American is superficial. The same abuses won’t be forgiven so readily because there is no promise of adults coming back.

          2. MRW

            “There is a growing recognition that the difference between the NPR American and the Hannity American is superficial.”

            Smart comment.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        From here inside the bottle everything still looks red, white and blue. As would be expected inside a red, white and blue bottle. But this bottle has a little glass filament* inside with the rainbow coursing through it.

        *tapped obviously, but still

      3. Fiver

        Wish that was the case, but it isn’t. Whatever happens in the US, it is not credible to surmise the US will lose its massive military or economic superiority in real terms for another twenty years – by which time who calls the shots will still be a question of power, not grace. The entire globe in now locked into a vast structure it took the US 70 years so far to build. That structure quite deliberately makes opting out very, very painful. It is all quite crude and brutal, with new nations each year being forcefully integrated.

        They’ve also built and rolled out a security system dressed up like like all our little gizmos for personal communication or entertainment, a system so capable it could literally edit digital reality. Not to mention they have claimed the power to kill anyone, and will.

        But that’s not the worst. The worst is the US refuses to lead vis a vis the complete trashing of the global environment, which must be salvaged within that same 20 years, or we’re all going to hell. The terrifying truth is that so far the US has stayed on plan, which I fear is to put Global US Inc. in full control first, then run a really, really “tight ship” that serves the “now-fully integrated” global elite to the detriment of billions.

        It is one powerful machine, and its run by a combination of utterly technotic deathmakers, political frauds and big money/big corporate extractors who flattened Iraq without qualm, without remorse. That machine is what we’re dealing with.

        That makes somehow changing the US public opinion mindscape vitally important to everyone on earth, like it or not.

    2. Ryan Langmeyeer

      Perhaps a new Mercedes-Benz C250 will come as a “gift” from an unknown admirer. [http://ktla.com/news/stories/journalist-michael-hastings-dies-in-fiery-hollywood-crash/#axzz2X8y7goDS] – Right….. “no foul play”

      They oligarchs are pissed now, and are lashing out, kind of like a cornered wolverine.

      ¡Mis mejores deseos para ti, Edward!

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Where’d the Mercedes come from? That’s an important question. And did anyone see the link I posted the other day about car hacking?


        It’s completely feasible to kill someone by hacking the car’s ECUs. If that’s what happened to Hastings, at least they set the car to go WOT* and deactivate the brakes at 4:30 AM so fewer people would be endangered on the streets. Or they just wanted to create a fog of suspicion he was impaired. Either way.

        *wide open throttle

    3. Banger

      I don’t agree at all. It would be very foolish for the security services to go after Snowden any time soon. They cannot risk further inquiry. Plus, many people are sympathetic to Snowden despite the usual mainstream media propaganda as increasing numbers of people are beginning to realize the mainstream media are the virtual Ministry of Truth in an emergent Orwellian society.

      They’ll hoot and holler for a while–I loved the Senator from Wall Street’s little outburst–if I didn’t have sympathy for the Russians before, I do now–the enemy of my enemy is my friend etc.

      Job 1 of the security services is to maintain the status-quo domestically and internationally so that the oligarchs can feast to their heart’s content. Therefore propaganda is critical and any weirdness that could make a segment of the public react against the killing machines would be madness, particularly when we’re coming up to the 50th anniversary of their killing of our last legit President.

      1. Massinissa

        I agree with Banger.

        If Snowden ends up violently dead, noone will be able to accuse those saying America did it of being tinfoil hats, because it will be so incredibly obvious America did it.

        All the administration can do at this point is damage control, and hope they can flush this down the Memory Hole as soon as possible. Hell, that may even work for the domestic audience, but the damage done overseas is impressive and will be difficult to mitigate.

      2. from Mexico

        I think you might underestimate the degree of the pathologies which inflict US political leadership. Those with severe enough psychopatholgies are not only dangerous to others, but to themselves as well. As Andrew M Lobaczewski explains in Ponerology:

        If the mangerial positions are assumed by individuals deprived of sufficient abilities to feel and understand the majority of other people, and who also exhibit deficiencies in technical imaginaiton and practical skills — (faculties indispensable for governing economic and political matters) — this then results in an exceptionally serious crisis in all areas, both within the country in question and with regard to international relations. Within, the situaiton becomes unbearable even for those citizens who were able to feather their nest into a relatively comfortable modus vivendi. Outside, other societies start to feel the pathological quality of the phenomenon quite distinctly. Such a state of affairs cannot last long. One must then be prepared for ever more rapid changes.

        1. Banger

          Well, maybe–but the leadership of the intel world is distributed and the meta-world involves emergent intelligence not dependent on the individual qualities of managers–that’s what makes it so robust. Remember this world has been growing and networking since even before WWI with a variety of organizations private and public and therefore is a virtual life form–because it has been able to operate away from public scrutiny and accountability.

          I see this community from the viewpoint of systems theory and have noticed the fact (based on knowing someone very well who knew that world) that most of the individual members of that community are not particularly bright but collectively manage to make pretty good decisions nonetheless at least from the point of view of that community.

          1. from Mexico

            But isn’t the theory you’re touting the exact same one that Adam Curtis took a wrecking ball to in his latest movie, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace?

            It can be seen on the internet here:


            Wikipedia did a review which can be found here:

            This episode investigates how machine ideas such as cybernetics and systems theory were applied to natural ecosystems, and how this relates to the false idea that there is a balance of nature. Cybernetics has been applied to human beings to attempt to build societies without central control, self organising networks built of people, based on a fantasy view of nature.


            Adam Curtis closes the piece by stating that it has become apparent that while the self-organising network is good at organising change, it is much less good at what comes next; networks leave people helpless in the face of people already in power in the world.


            I’m throwing my hat in with Curtis on this one. From classical economics to Marxism and then on to the California Utopians, people have dreamed of a power-free and politics-free society. But I think the evidence has already disproved your theory.

          2. Banger

            Really? You think that I propose to have us all under the rule of some large systems theory paradise after the great singularity occurs? I don’t think so. Systems theory is just a way to work with systems and has no moral dimension and can be used for liberation as well as enslavement. How are you going to understand ecology for example, without understanding systems theory? On the other hand, we could understand it if we had an experiential way to connect with the natural world and natural systems form an intuitive point of view which is vastly superior. But we aren’t there today. Most people don’t trust intuition and so need science to replicate what you can learn intuitively.

  4. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

    The crisis shifts, it morphs, but the root cause has been the same since the glory days of peace and prosperity around the Year 2000. Americans have completely lost their moral compass, it’s really as simple as that. Americans can no longer tell the difference between right & wrong. If that compass was intact we would have had the stones to stand up to Bush’s wars. If that compass was intact we would have said No to Bush’s spy programs, now so richly realized under The Manchurian Obomba. We would have said No, Hank Paulson can’t just give $750 billion in TARP money straight to Goldman. We would have said No, we won’t allow pre-crime drone bombing of Afghani & Pakistani children. We would have said No, we won’t spend $2 billion more on tanks the Army says they don’t even want. We would have said No, Obomba can’t railroad Monsanto’s dreams of dominion onto the world. No Hilary you can’t have your nasty little pet war in Libya. No Michele Antoinette it’s not OK to spend $100M frolicing around Africa. No No No No No. Instead the answer that comes from the prostrate Left is “I don’t give even one teeny tiny little sh*t about any of this, I won’t get up off my couch, carry a sign, write a letter, send an email, make a call”. Shame. Shame.

    1. mk

      I disagree, there were lots of people protesting these things, calling our reps, etc. Nothing changes. Diane Feinstein on the Senate floor stated during the Big Bank Bailout during Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008 that 80,000 people called her office to demand she not vote for it and that she was not going to listen to them, she was going to vote for it and encouraged the rest of the senate to do the same.

      we have to create the change we need – focus on building local economies, move money to local credit union, buy real food from local farmers and farmers markets, etc.

      1. Kevin

        Yes, and speaking of credit unions and their health, I got an email on Friday from mine. “Congress … will be considering corporate taxation on credit unions for the first time in history. The big banks view the increasing popularity of credit unions as a threat to their profitability, and see this as an opportunity to weaken us.” They want us to visit connectforthecause.org .

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Disagree with your disagree. I’m an oldtime hippy, and we stopped a war, got a crook president out of office, and completely changed our society. We did so by taking to the streets en masse. It’s time.

  5. Robert Dudek

    If Snowden wants to maximize his safety, he should stay in Cuba when/if he gets there. Yes I realize it isn’t exactly an open society, but in contrast to the US the trend there is towards openness.

    Also the US has been unable to get Roman Polanski out of France or Switzerland when he was there.

    If they do get their mitts on Snowden, then he will join Manning as a martyr to the cause of freedom.

    1. Propertius

      Also the US has been unable to get Roman Polanski out of France or Switzerland when he was there.

      Well, yes, but you’re assuming that the US considers child rape to be as serious as publicly embarrassing the administration – and we all know that isn’t true.

  6. LucyLulu

    I checked in on Fox News Sunday (Chris Wallace) and Meet the Press’s coverage of Snowden today. It was quite depressing. Fox had subtitles about the US government issuing notices to all Western governments that Snowden is wanted for felony espionage and his prompt turnover is expected. They are applying big time pressure, way out of proportion to the crime pressure. The talk from lawmakers and media pundits is focused on the “damage” he has done to our national security and his failure to use the whistleblower protocols in place. One Republican strategist actually said that it has never been easier to be a whistleblower than right now,…… though Chuck Todd disagreed. Todd said in government the path “stinks”. Rodgers mentioned the House Intelligence Committee hears from one to two whistleblowers every week. (So, where has the action been on all those whistleblowers?)

    Greenwald disclosed on MTP that he has a copy of an 80 page FISC decision that revealed NSA’s surveillance of US citizens exceeded the authorization of FISA, the same surveillance that remains in place. Later Rodgers countered in very vague term that minimization strategies had been implemented that satisfied the court, and how dangerous having only a few pieces of the puzzle can be. Which begs the question, “how HAS Snowden managed to obtain all these documents?” Businesses segregate their data so that employees only see the data they need to see. Don’t the government networks operate the same way?

    NOBODY mentioned the complicity with the UK to gather data and thus skirt domestic laws. EVERYBODY is keeping the message focused on Snowden, his latest whereabouts, and his “traitorous” activities against the US. The other focus is on the “50 or so” terrorist acts prevented, how the NSA program is working to keep the American people safe. Nobody questions it’s necessity. There’s a powerful program in place to reframe the message, with journalists even willing to question if another journalist’s (Greenwald) release of info doesn’t make him an accomplice to Snowden’s crime. Have they drugged the drinking water in DC? Will any debate actually take place in the halls of Congress where change can occur?

    1. carol

      “Which begs the question, “how HAS Snowden managed to obtain all these documents?” Businesses segregate their data so that employees only see the data they need to see. Don’t the government networks operate the same way? ”


      It is ridiculous that (almost) all our digital communication and google searches are logged, whereas the 1 million contractors and CIA/NSA/NI/FBI etc. employees can snif around in all that data WITHOUT their searches being logged.

      Keith Alexander, NSA: “We are now putting in place actions that would give us the ability to track our system administrators, what they are doing, what they’re taking, a two-man rule. We’ve changed the passwords. But at the end of the day, we have to trust that our people are gonna do the right thing.”

      It is clear:
      the White House/NSA/NI etc. are prepared to trust the 1 million employees with security clearance, but they are NOT trusting US citizens, let alone citizens in all other countries.

      1. Banger

        Ok, how did he do it? As former IT professional and government contractor I can tell you. The suits don’t know much about IT in any gov’t organization–they leave it to contractors. When you get clearance you can see anything–you’d be amazed of what I was allowed to see of a highly sensitive nature.

        Once you understand how the system operates and have an outline of the security systems you can get into most things if you’re within the firewall of that system. My experience is that there are often many contractors involved and the systems, as they are updated, become more confusing and convoluted over time unless brilliant engineers are involved but that may not happen for a lot of reasons–usually questions of corruption in contracts. This makes form a hacker’s paradise.

        The IT situation in government is very wasteful and often very dumb with, again, many contractors often working at cross-purposes. Some agencies have good people and the systems work–I think NSA and DHS both have bad reputations.

      2. cwaltz

        My bet? It’s a private contractor that he worked for. They figured they could save money by having fewer employees and they didn’t have great firewalls in place(again, to save money.)

        Let’s hear it for government on the cheap, LOL. It may give us transparency after all.

    2. Ned Ludd

      In a debate over a documentary called, ‘El Diario de Agustín’, which was produced by a journalist named Fernando Villagrán, Faride Zerán (the 2007 winner of the National Journalism Award of Chile) made a larger point about censorship: “It is not because the right have such great tentacles of power that they can silence citizens. It’s that bureaucrats and politicians look after their jobs, their relationships and their networks, and they don’t want to upset the powers that be.”

      A strange paradox in Chilean media is the contrast between the thriving alternative scene that, despite censorship and intimidation by security forces, proliferated in the late-1980s and the comparatively low number of independent publications today.

      Villagrán is unequivocal about the limits of Chilean media today, saying that key issues are often neglected by the homogenous and conservative mainstream.

      “It is not exaggerating to say that for a time during the dictatorship there was more diversity in the press than we have today in democracy. This speaks very badly of Chilean democracy,” Villagrán said.

      1. Banger

        Beautiful point. However, in the U.S. which is the home of modern propaganda (Creel Committee) on which all totalitarian/authoritarian gov’t modeled their various Ministry of Truths, the propaganda is engineered as a mind control-regime with dictates coming out of a virtual Ministry of Truth that uses emergent intelligence not a top-down hierarchical structure. You have to have attended Washington parties to see how it works in practice–messages are given by “senior” figures in the media and in government, particularly the “fixers” who are much prized as story sources. What the less senior editor and writer hear at these informal gatherings or at work will be the basis of their story lines. They know certain things and lines of inquiry are strictly forbidden and, after awhile, they assume that these lines don’t exist.

        Sometimes you see, on TV, what happens when a freer mind encounters these people. There was a segment of Morning Joe where Russel Brand was sitting with the crew on that show. and you could see the utter confusion on the faces. By his very presence he showed them to be the apparachnicks they are. What was said was unimportant it was utterly confusing for them to be confronted by someone who lives in truth, as far as he knows it. I’m not a big fan of Brand–but he is a good talent–and I know someone close to me who got to know him–an he does genuinely seek truth and is not a bullshitter except for fun.

    3. Pete

      Watching “Meet The Press” has become too vexing for me. It should be called “Meet the Goose-Stepping Nazi Propagandists”. Absolutely shameless narrative framing. Snowden is being tried on network TV, and the judge and jury panel on MTP were lockstep on a ‘guilty of a crime’ verdict. Known criminals like Rogers and Durbin invoking the law, that’s rich. The chief whore, Mike Rogers (Michigan?), actually said… “he stole ‘secrets’, those secrets belong to ‘The American People’…” Are you listening to yourself you idiot? That doesn’t even make any sense. The totally secret data-mining of ‘the people’ by privately contracted NSA subsidiaries – belongs to the people??? (which only works if they don’t know about it and it is being illegally gathered from them for a pretty penny??) Scratch your head real hard on that one… Rogers was frothing at the mouth at one moment, you could tell he was itching to just come out and say we need to hunt down and kill Snowden as he hides in countries that are “hostile to the U.S.”. Meet The Press, ha!!! Meet the obedient system cogs who have sold their souls to the highest bidder.

      1. from Mexico

        Pete says:

        Snowden is being tried on network TV, and the judge and jury panel on MTP were lockstep on a ‘guilty of a crime’ verdict.

        Just like the enemies of decmocracy and visible governemnt did to Bradley Manning.

        Notice, however, that Manning’s court martial is being conducted under a veil of secrecy and with strict rules of evidence in place, designed to prevent any evidence from coming out which might reveal the truth. But despite this, the truth is leaking out, and what the evidence shows is a completely different Bradley Manning than the one created by the military, Obama, and MSM propagandists. Of course nobody knows about this chasm between the media trial of Manning and the actual trial, because the MSM has buried the latter.

        1. LucyLulu

          Notice, however, that Manning’s court martial is being conducted under a veil of secrecy and with strict rules of evidence in place, designed to prevent any evidence from coming out which might reveal the truth.

          As will Snowden’s trial should he ever be apprehended alive. I couldn’t help but notice his warrant was issued under seal and not made public for a week. Much is made about his choice of China, Russia, and Cuba as choices for asylum, America’s political foes, and used to paint Snowden as a traitor. C’mon, where would he be had he chosen London or Tokyo?

          In my original post, I had meant to mention the comment by Rodgers about the stolen secrets “belonging to the American people”. I found his admission absolutely stunning. How can one steal something that already belongs to you? And if they belong to the people, why don’t the people have any rights to access them?

      2. Banger

        Because that is what the press does now–it is mad eup of political players who are jockeying for position within the nomenklatura. There is absolutely no “free” mainstream press in this country they are all apparatchiks and want to brown nose the authorities and the public by, every now and then, providing red-meat (off with their heads) to the public to howl at–lately it’s been Snowden and poor Paula Deen (not a very sympathetic person but not deserving of a public lynching).

    4. Peter Pan

      I watched the Sunday morning shows as well. It was so one sided that it reminded me of the build up to the invasion of Iraq. Lies, lies and more lies.

  7. Gerard Pierce

    So far, the US government has managed to embarass itself in front of most of the world.

    We have a large number of countries that have received Snowden’s disclosures showing how they have been spied upon. Snowden and Greenwald have used the tactic of releasing some information, and after the lies and BS releasing further info that documents the lies.

    With some careful planning, information can be leaked as to what courntry Snowden is located it. After the US government gets through beating up on politicians in the suspect country it might turn out that he was never there.

    I wish Snowden the best. The US government might find that thay should be careful of what they wish for. Unless they gun him down, trying him is likely to be more embarassing than the original disclosures.

    Whatever happens, for the next few years, a large number of countries are going to make major efforts to secure their communications and US corporations are likely to find themselves excluded from the Internet of the future.

    And there is always the faint small chance that the US public will wake up and smell the coffee.

    1. Banger

      It’s a gradual movement but I think the public has been gradually waking up. Large numbers of people outside the power-elite distrust the gov’t and the mainstream media. That’s a start–and their numbers are increasing.

  8. change agent

    were a colleague or two of Snowden’s step forward in similar fashion we would have more public outrage and the paradigm shift we need to turn the media around.

  9. carol

    Somehow I do not like the mentioning of O.J. Simpson – convicted to paying damages in a civil lawsuit related to murder – in relation to Snowden, a courageous whistleblower.

    If I read the blogs correctly, even at the Netroots Nation liberal/progressive meeting, people give Obama lots of excuses (“somehow I always expected my email was read”; “It was started by Bush”; “disfunctional Congress”).
    This suggests there is a big chance that Snowden has risked it all for nought :-(.

    At that same meeting a protester was taken away!
    While Pelosi was defending the spying, an attendee shouted: “It’s not constitutional! No secret laws!”

    Security guards then dragged the man away.


    Please read the 21 questions that same protester has for the NSA/White House ( http://marc.perkel.com/ )

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, I was quite aware of using OJ. Even though most NC readers feel otherwise, Snowden is seen by a fair swathe of Americans as a traitor. So the fact that someone who was less famous (only a domestic reputation) and was seen more negatively by most of the public (as opposed to Snowden being polarizing) still got a big advance proves the case that Snowden would clearly be 7 figure book advance material.

      1. Banger

        Perhaps, but I think it’s a big question–will a big publishing house be willing to publish such a book? I think that’s an open question. Plenty of juicy stories don’t get told because the big publishers (and big media) refuse to publish for fear of upsetting the security services who are, increasingly, all powerful in this society.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          That is PRECISELY why I mentioned Bertelsmann. Although it has US imprints, I believe it’s still more a European media company than a US media company. Clearly a book by Snowden would sell well in a lot of countries.

          So (on the assumption that Snowden is interested in/able to write a book) there’s one publisher who might be less subject to pressure. The operative word is might. They still might be afraid, or they might see this as being a pro-EU move.

          I’m agreeing with you otherwise, I think the UK and UK publishers (MacMillan Palgrave is UK) would be too chicken. That’s why it would be highly amusing to expose their self or actual censorship.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Have the book printed in HK or the PRC. Force the administration into the lose-lose of either having it censored by administrative fiat upon entry at enormous global political cost or letting it through wholesale to be read by millions. Imagine them trying to control the sale of contraband copies on Ebay! And if they ban it from entry, release it as an e-book and put anyone trying to prevent Americans buying and reading it on the hotseat. More political capital spent. Release excerpts for republication and troll those in front of media outlets starved for content that will garner eyeballs or clickthroughs. Do a controversial promotional series of interviews remotely. Oh yeah, baby. How is this idea not a total winner?

          2. Lambert Strether

            Snowden might be more interested in writing (or I suppose commissioning) a computer game…. This chase narrative certainly reads like one, and the branding is a no-brainer.

        2. MRW


          C’mon. Publishers are whores. They would fellate a donkey to get that book. And I’m talking Knopf.

    2. jrs

      As mentioned the hope is in the rest of the world. There are enough goose steppers in the American public to give anyone pause (but perhaps there are also enough who aren’t? I don’t know). If the whole world was America I’d despair that he’d done it all for people who in many cases are not worth saving – a bunch of good germans, frankly I don’t recognize this country. And I’d despair at what the point even was, pearls before swine. But the rest of the world, they haven’t quite fallen for the American regime of total information control yet :)

  10. carol

    ” Let’s hope he can continue to beat the odds. ”


    But what to make of the sudden death of journalist Michael Hastings, whose “last published piece had been about the widely reported NSA scandal for Buzzfeed, which ended with: ‘Perhaps more information will soon be forthcoming.'”

    More information about NSA scandal will not be forthcoming from him, has he has died.

    Take a look at the photo of his burning car: a very heavy fire. Isn’t that weird?

    A witness to the crash said that he seemed to be driving at the car’s maximum speed before the car fishtailed and crashed into a palm tree. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Hastings_%28journalist%29)
    Driving a car to maximum speed? And then a very heavy car fire? Is this suspicious or what?

    1. Ned Ludd

      You might be interested in this talk by Dr. Kathleen Fisher, a DARPA Program Manager, about maliciously taking over the computers that control modern cars. CNET has an article about the original research from 2010 that Fisher talks about. The New York Times has an article about updated research from 2011. Stephen Checkoway, one of the researchers from UC San Diego, gave a presentation about their research at the 20th USENIX Security Symposium, in August 2011.

      We can just call the car and then transmit our malicious payload to it and take it over… We could just record the data into a MP3 and then play our ‘song’ right out of an iPod and directly into the phone, and this was sufficient to take over the car.

      1. Banger

        Excellent point–cars and planes can be remote controlled and that technology is very rich right now but in basic form it has been available for a long time.

          1. hunkerdown

            Fixed, you mean? Probably not. Consumer electronics, and vehicle telematics definitely falls under that rubric, are only fortified against foreseen attackers and only as strong as the value of what is being protected. mp3s crafted to exploit the telematics computer environment aren’t yet enough of a Problem for them to Fix. Some with sway over manufacturers might even find them a Feature.

          2. Yves Smith Post author


            How old does a car have to be not to be full of electronics that can be targeted? Any idea?

          3. skippy

            Connectivity is the issue, ECU with connectivity to mods ie Bluetooth, in car multimedia, etc or hard access can be made via ports, real time or programmable.


            Modern ECUs

            Modern ECUs use a microprocessor which can process the inputs from the engine sensors in real-time. An electronic control unit contains the hardware and software (firmware). The hardware consists of electronic components on a printed circuit board (PCB), ceramic substrate or a thin laminate substrate. The main component on this circuit board is a microcontroller chip (CPU). The software is stored in the microcontroller or other chips on the PCB, typically in EPROMs or flash memory so the CPU can be re-programmed by uploading updated code or replacing chips. This is also referred to as an (electronic) Engine Management System (EMS).

            Sophisticated engine management systems receive inputs from other sources, and control other parts of the engine; for instance, some variable valve timing systems are electronically controlled, and turbocharger wastegates can also be managed. They also may communicate with transmission control units or directly interface electronically-controlled automatic transmissions, traction control systems, and the like. The Controller Area Network or CAN bus automotive network is often used to achieve communication between these devices.

            Modern ECUs sometimes include features such as cruise control, transmission control, anti-skid brake control, and anti-theft control, etc.

            General Motors'(GM) first ECUs had a small application of hybrid digital ECUs as a pilot program in 1979, but by 1980, all active programs were using microprocessor based systems. Due to the large ramp up of volume of ECUs that were produced to meet the Clean Air Act requirements for 1981, only one ECU model could be built for the 1981 model year.[3] The high volume ECU that was installed in GM vehicles from the first high volume year, 1981, onward was a modern microprocessor based system. GM moved rapidly to replace carburation with fuel injection as the preferred method of fuel delivery for vehicles it manufactured. This process first saw fruition in 1980 with fuel injected Cadillac engines, followed by the Pontiac 2.5L I4 “Iron Duke” and the Chevrolet 5.7L V8 L83 “Cross-Fire” engine powering the Chevrolet Corvette in 1982. The 1990 Cadillac Brougham powered by the Oldsmobile 5.0L V8 LV2 engine was the last carbureted passenger car manufactured for sale in the North American market (a 1992 Volkswagen Beetle model powered by a carbureted engine was available for purchase in Mexico but not offered for sale in the United States or Canada) and by 1991 GM was the last of the major US and Japanese automakers to abandon carburation and manufacture all of its passenger cars exclusively with fuel injected engines. In 1988 Delco (GM’s electronics division), had produced more than 28,000 ECUs per day, making it the world’s largest producer of on-board digital control computers at the time.[4] – wiki

    2. Ray Duray


      I’ve been following hte Hastings story as well. It does not seem to be a closed case quite yet. Still, there’s no smoking gun implicating Hastings’ enemies in any direct wet work.

      1. jerry denim

        It certainly has caught my attention and imagination, but just what is there to follow right now?

        Considering the treatment Snowden has received in the media and also considering that there never was a REAL investigation into the events of 9/11, what are the chances a fearless journalist or experienced crash investigator with integrity will be given full access to Hasting’s car/crash site to truly investigate?

        Sometimes a tragic car crash is just a tragic car crash but this one does smell extremely fishy. Keep in mind a hit that looks like an accident without any evidence to the contrary is exactly what you WOULD expect from a truly professional hit job. Just saying…

        Conspiracies of this sort never come to light until those in the know are on their deathbeds and the people who ordered the crimes are long gone from power or dead themselves. Maybe your grandchildren will have the chance to read about it, but I think this one will be yet another conspiracy “theory” for many years to come.

        1. Take 'em Down with Ya

          Well, the FBI shot Ibragim Todashev. Shooting people in the US is famous. Fred Hampton, among other examples. But gun play is for spectacular affect, there are far more subtle ways to take care of dissent. Setting up people for failure is a time honored military/corporate mechanism, blacklisting, financial predation, and banishment. Who needs water boarding to torture?

          1. Jerry Denim

            Smoking guns are for: 1.) patsies ( 2. ) unknown personalities not in the media spot light ( 3. ) known personalities that have been successfully vilified by the news media and condemned in the court of public opinion.

            Otherwise there never is a smoking gun… just a corpse

          2. psychohistorian

            And in this case I read that there is not even a corpse let.

            I would think that Mercedes would want to make some sort of statement about the reliability of its cars…..at least that model.

        2. Banger

          Russ Baker points out that it does appear that plane crashes and other accidents tend to happen to people on the left.

        3. Banger

          Well, most of the great conspiracies, the assassinations, 9/11, Gulf of Tonkin etc have all been revealed through an overwhelming amount of evidence. As I point out–the evidence is as obvious as the coroners report written by Thomas Noguchi who was LA coroner–it was never entered in to evidence in the Sirhan trial–it showed that the fatal shots were fired from behind at point-blank range. This obvious evidence like all the obvious evidence is simply suppressed by the power-elite by decree. Go ahead, try talking to people on the Stasi-left about 9/11 and see what happens–they’ll scream and howl at you that you suffering from mental illness and will ban you from their blogs. Evidence is there and abundant that the official stories are utterly false about most of those events.

    3. Ned Ludd

      Researchers at UC San Diego and the University of Washington were able to maliciously, and remotely, take over the computers that run modern cars. This includes the following components:

      • Engine Control Module
      • Electronic Brake Control Module
      • Transmission Control Module

      Check out our discussion on the Links page for 6/22/13. Unfortunately, my comments today with links on this topic are triggering moderation, so I thought I would try positing this without links.

      1. LucyLulu

        Law enforcement uses this technology to capture car thieves, from what I understand. Normally, the doors just lock the thieves in the car but IIRC, they can also gain control of the car should the thief drive off.

    4. Banger

      The Hastings story is an interesting one–it has been barely covered by the press with virtually no follow up by anyone as I expected, other than Alex Jones. I’m beginning to doubt there will be any investigation into his death which is clearly suspicious and, sadly, occurred in LA which may have one of the most corrupt PDs in the country.

      The point is that the security services are capable of anything–and I’m not talking just abut NSA, CIA or any of the others. I’m including organized crime, corporate security services and so on–they all have the advantage of being linked into various networks–you work for the gov’t then retire and work for a private security firm that can be hired by anybody at all as long as they are part of the power-elite.

  11. Ned Ludd

    The Guardian is reporting that Snowden was not on the plane from Moscow to Havana.

    My colleague Miriam Elder didn’t manage to get on that plane to Cuba – but she’s very glad, since it seems Edward Snowden never got on it either. I just spoke to her.

    She said Aeroflot officials had told her “with a little smirk” that they had been expecting Snowden too.

    But Miriam pointed out that Snowden had never actually been sighted in Moscow, and there was actually no real evidence that he had ever been in Russia at all.

    Meanwhile a planeload of journalists are now off to spend the day in Cuba …

    1. from Mexico

      That’s true. We have little actual evidence as to where Snowden is or where he is headed. The whole thing could be an elaborate diversion. None of the passengers on the flight from HK to Moscow seem to have seen Snowden:


      And I’m sure there are plenty of other folks like this man who offered to fly Snowden to Iceland in a private jet:


      Outside the US, Snowden is an international figure of quasi-divine status, with many, many friends.

      So why the circuitous route on commercial airliners if Snowden had the option to fly direct by private conveyance? The facts don’t seem to add up, and there may be more going on here than meets the eye. One way or the other, the way it’s being orchestrated creates a great deal of suspense and intrigue, keeps the issue in the headlines, and perpetuates a global stage upon which US politicans can continue to put their stupidity and ignorance on display.

      You have to admit that Snowden is playing his cards masterfully, that is if his goal is to shine a spotlight on the moral depravity of the US government. Take this, for instance, from your link:

      Earlier, Ecuadoran foreign minister Ricardo Patino Arocam read some kind of statement from Snowden, in which he compared himself to Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks source currently on trial on a number of charges, including “aiding the enemy”. Here’s what Patino said:

      Manning has been subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment. The trial of Bradley Manning is taking place now and secret witnesses have been summoned to court and secret documents have been submitted.

      The communication ends, Mr Snowden says: I think that because of the circumstances it is unlikely that I will have a fair trial or humane treatment before trial, and also I have the risk of life imprisonment or death.

      This is the end of the communication signed by Mr Edward J Snowden.

      Surely there has not been anything that can compete on the international stage with the travesty of justice that is the Manning trial since the Moscow show trials staged by Joseph Stalin between 1936 and 1938. Snowden is now dragging out Manning’s trial, which is being conducted under a veil of secrecy and with grotesquely prejudicial rules of evidence, and throwing a spotlight on it for the world. Masterful. Simply masterful.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        If I were Snowden, I’d be wary of whomever was offering a ride in a private jet. He may find himself doing an involuntary D. B. Cooper caper without a parachute.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I’m tossing my hat in the ring for the theory (following LeCarre) that Snowden left Hong Kong by sea for Macau (another S.A.R. like Hong Kong) and or more likely Hanoi. Ecuador’s Foreign Minister is in Hanoi, and would be able to give all necessary travel documents for a flight to either Guayaquil or Havana.

          Where’s Snowden? is fun to play, but the underlying subtext is again secret law, lack of Constitutional government or even interest in such things, and the baying of such as Greggers.

    2. Thor's Hammer

      Well at least there was no need to have the fuel tanks explode as the plane passed Cape Cod—-.

  12. Juneau

    I am sorry to be so negative but I think it is important to remember (everyone knows this already but…) there are other ways to hurt him and give a message to other potential whistleblowers. Remember the ending to that famous mob film, part III? How did the mob punish Michael?

    Of course everything is fine and that kind of thing never happens. It’s not like we’re talking about organized crime…

    1. Banger

      Maybe, but there are several things you need to know about the intel services–they are often engaged in internal conflicts as well as external conflicts with other agencies for power and influence. Then there are the strange alliances each of those factions have with other countries and organized crime–it’s a very murky and very complex world that, because the mainstream media will not cover it, is a mystery to almost everyone. It’s not like there is one side and then another side like in the Cold War–in fact, even then it was more complicated than was apparent.

  13. Snider

    Maybe the Obama’s police state will get a chance to try out their killer drones in South America?

  14. S. Haust

    Doesn’t anyone understand that the world is round?
    If Edward were in Moscow and if the intention were to
    fly him to Havana on a scheduled Aeroflot flight, just how
    would this be accomplished.
    There is such a thing as air traffic control and to the best
    of my knowledge (it could be checked out though I haven’t
    gone that far) any such flight would almost certainly
    pass over U.S territory. Would the U.S. dare to force
    down a Russian airliner proceeding in an expected manner
    in controlled space.
    Airline routes are not often what you might think they
    are. I remember in 1977 flying from Tokyo to Shanghai
    which, at the time was the only air gateway to China.
    Agreements were in early stages and ATC was not fully
    developed but you can’t just take off and fly from here
    to there. That flight was over four hours long as it had
    to go way south, then turn and fly up the Chinese coast
    for over an hour.
    I guess I’m not surprised Edward was not on that flight.
    Somebody is playing three-card monte here and the entire
    US power structure is the willing dupe.

    1. S. Haust

      Just checked flightstats.com for SU150 6/23 (arrived)
      and it shows a path over Cape Cod, Long Island,
      Md, VA, NC and pretty close to Miami before dropping
      in on HAV. DOes anyone really still believe this?

    2. S. Haust

      And SU150 6/24 shows directly over Helsinki headed to
      cross Sweden and Norway. Nato anyone? Seriously folks,
      US is looking like the cat in a Tom & Jerry cartoon.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Fascists and really anyone who thinks secret organizations can be run effectively aren’t known for their competence. The greatest spy in American history was a 12 year old run away slave, not any of the cocktail party commandos. David Niven, the actor, was the basis of James Bond, not just the guy Ian Fleming wanted to play Bond but the actual basis for Bond. The guy who kept the Soviets apprised of everything related to the atomic bomb was a janitor. The janitor and the slave were too inferior to understand anything, and David Niven was going up against the all might Gestapo and German supermen.

      They may be good at thuggery and intimidation, but without oversight, the inmates will eventually run the asylum. In many ways, the real story of the NSA is Congressional failure to even pretend to do their jobs. Its quite obvious they just like to hear good reports and be done with it. They aren’t angry because they think Snowden is a traitor. Snowden exposed what frauds our electeds are on a bipartisan basis especially when government cuts are going to kick in.

      9/11 could have been prevented by locks on cabin doors, and the same government wanted to allow people to bring box cutters and small knives on planes, the weapons the hijackers used. I imagine the ignoramuses in the House and Senate were tired of losing pocket knives or nail clippers for trips to their originating district.

      1. Gerard Pierce

        It’s not really worth mantioning, but Fleming was recorded in a printed interview around 1963 as saying that Bond was patterned after a character named Pechorin in a Russian novel by Lermontov titled “A Hero of Our Time”.

        Lermotov (int the preface to the novel) declared that Pechorin was his attempt to come up with a unique Russian example of a Byronic hero.

        In a literary sense, these two documents prove that Lord Byron was James Bond’s grandfather.

      2. Thor's Hammer

        911 could have been prevented by Dick Cheney’s first heart attack having been successful.

  15. washunate

    One of the ironies of the way that Manning and others have been treated is that it probably focused Snowden’s mind on being extremely careful and strategic in his own efforts and bringing even more attention to the matter. Plus if Greenwald had been less ostracized in the US, he might never have started writing for the Guardian.

    Everybody loves a good suspense chase, whether it’s the government or the criminals that are the bad guys. There’s no way the media would be paying this much attention without the element of drama.

    I think Enemy of the State is one of the most underrated movies of all time. Snowden’s story should totally be the sequel.

    1. cwaltz

      If this were the 1700s Snowden would be considered a “revolutionary” like those that started this country. They didn’t always employ “legal” tactics to get the attention of the crown.

      I’m always amused that so many people who revere our founders could fail to understand that they didn’t start out playing by the rules and only started playing by the rules when they became the rule makers vs. rule followers.

  16. b2020

    On a related note, as long as any citizen accepts the proposition that it is OK to conduct massive surveillance of non-citizens, the transnational collaboration between agencies and executives will make a joke out of any attempt at “oversight”. If you do not want the NSA to create a life record of you, you will have to stop them from doing it to everybody else. Surveillance is not a substitute for investigation. The NSA has not better track record re: 9/11 than the FBI, but then, none of this is about 9/11.

  17. Thor's Hammer

    Shoot the Messenger! Protect the international terrorist Obama. Make the world safe for assassination by remote control. Free bankster capital from the threat of taxation.
    Glorify the great God Ponzi.

    Is that Paul Revere riding by to shout that Fascism has arrived?

    Fascism: “The merger of State power with corporatist economic organization. Typically accompanied by mobilization of ideological belief systems across class lines in support of expansionist military actions.”

    1. MaroonBulldog

      Who says that’s what “fascism” is? Benito Mussolini? I guess he might know a thing or two about it.

  18. Rich R

    He should stay in Russia a few years….let things blow over. He will be much safer there. The Russians could help him establish a new identity, and the FSB could provide superior protection.

    The only risk is that he could be used as a political pawn by the Russians, and traded back to the United States in exchange for some “persons of interest” by the Russians, being held in the US.

  19. Dino Reno

    All those showing support or sympathy for Snowden will be investigated and punished. Heard that today out of the mouth of some official or politician.
    You’ve been warned. This is how it begins…and ends.

    1. Banger

      There are too many of us and not enough resources. Snowden’s revelations are not a big deal for anyone–this is a tempest in a teapot. The only real issue is that the security services want to make an example of Snowden to discourage the next whistleblower. I can assure you that gov’t seen no greater enemy including terrorists than whistleblowers and will do and has done anything it can to discourage that whether it is revealing secret information or corrupt practices. This is true with Bush and even more true with Obama who is the “good cop” in contrast to the “bad cop” of Congress.

    2. Rich R

      I’ve been thinking about that. Does that mean if you were to contribute to his legal defense fund, you would be providing material support to “terrorism” (so to speak)…and thus, a terrorist also…????

      1. Thor's Hammer

        Actually when you pay your federal income taxes you are materially aiding and abetting terrorism. Or don’t you believe that continually flying drones over a foreign country that we are not at war with and randomly engaging in “signature strikes” upon civilians who have the misfortune to look the wrong way is terrorism?

    3. coup de disgrâce

      Ha ha, good luck making Snowden an outcast. He’s obviously getting world-class help: rhetorical, legal, and geopolitical. Some of it is coming from the outside world. Some of it is coming from inside. When you’re mobilizing shame against a rogue state, there’s only so much that NGOs like Wikileaks can do. NGOs depend on supranational institutions and on coordinated action by states. Look at the precursors: UN special procedures; demarche by victims of US aggression; intelligence actions aimed not at discreet national advantage but at exposure. Snowden is just the mediagenic centerpiece of a cascade of leaks. TWA 800 is back. 9/11 is about to bob up to the surface. Sibel Edmonds is sitting safe at home ticking like a bomb. The world is going to explode the biggest of Big Lies, “It’s a free country.” Americans are going to see the US as it is.

      It’s weaponized disgrace. Suck. On. This.

      1. Kunst

        Where do I contribute to Snowden’s support and legal defense? And does that make me an accessory to his “crime”? No? You sure?

    4. cwaltz

      Meh. Pretty sure I’m already on a watch list anyways. Could care less whether some blowhard calls me a traitor. Heck, I’m actually used to it at this point since they were calling those of us opposing Iraq “traitors” too.

      Screw the whole lot of them and their attempts at control. Furthermore, it isn’t like any of their attempts to root out subversives actually work out like they ‘plan’ anyway. I’m pretty sure the current lot of politicians couldn’t plan a Sunday brunch let alone figure out who is a hazard to their “story line” that the citizens exist to be the government wallet and should be allowed little say in how it operates.

  20. Lambert Strether

    The Bobblespeak Translations on Meet The Press:

    Gregory: Snowden – good or bad?

    Ignatius: this kid just released this
    stuff will nilly – we’re still a nation of laws

    Mitchell: Snowden is undeniably
    brilliant but his internet chats
    showed he was very edgy but
    still he got top secret clearance

    Gregory: I heard he had hipster
    glasses and listened to
    Mumford and Sons

    Mitchell: oh my god

    Alrighty then.

  21. EmilianoZ

    Maybe they’re heading towards Ecuador the other way round, through Siberia, eastern Russia and the Pacific. But they would probably have to refuel over the pacific.

    Does Russia have any military base in the pacific? The US has a lot. That’s the advantage of being an empire. If Russia doesn’t have any bases, then they could go by ship.

          1. Kurt Sperry

            There must be thousands of freighters sailing back and forth between China and South America. Why not just use international waters?

            1. Lambert Strether

              Seems risky to me… Although I have to say that the prospect of Snowden strolling off a pier on Guayaquil two weeks from now is pretty funny. I don’t know what the rules are for boarding a boat in international waters and seizing a passenger are, though. The US does have a pretty big Navy, lots of airplanes, satellites, etc. Also too drones.

  22. mcgee

    Snowden has become the underdog with all the accompanying meaning of holding that position. The MSM propaganda is going balls out to paint him as a traitor and spy but I am not sure that is doing anything but adding to his status of outlaw on the run.

    Run,Snowden,run. Many in the stands cheering you on.

  23. Hugh

    We need to distinguish between the reactions of the 99%s around the world to the fact that the US is spying on them and those of their elites. They may sound the same but are quite different. While the reactions of the 99%s are undoubtedly sincere and outraged, those of the elites are hypocritical since those elites allied with the US have almost certainly been working with the US in these and other spying programs and those elites not allied with the US have been working on similar programs of their own.

    Internationally, this will change the image of the US, and Obama in particular. Domestically, the clucks from both parties are squawking in unison. Again they are not interested in any “damage” to us. They haven’t cared about the damage that high debt, high unemployment, lost houses, poor jobs, poor healthcare, poor education, poor retirements, and decaying infrastructure have had upon us. When they talk about “damage to us”, they are really talking about damage to themselves, thus the impassioned nature of their outrage.

    As for Obama, the Snowden affair is a defining, perhaps the defining, moment of his Presidency. It is the one event he will not be able to give a speech about and then walk away from. This looks like it is going to stick. The Obamabots in the Democratic party will stay with him to the end just as the Bushbots stayed with Bush, but for the independent voters, they may have had enough of Obama over this. It is not that this is their most important issue or that Obama will suddenly lose the unilateral powers of the imperial Presidency, but the calculus of power will change. The majority of voters may simply give up on Obama as they previously gave up on Bush. The issue will not be what Obama is doing or may do but how long until he is gone. In other words, the Snowden affair may mark the point where the Obama Presidency ended. (The kleptocracy it served will, of course, live on.)

    1. Expat

      You are surely correct in your analysis, but imagine Obama suddenly seizing the political power he has by virtue of being popularly elected (as opposed to the imperial control which he inherited) and breaking with the Washington consensus.

      Instead of punishing Snowden, he could drop the charges, explain that debate over surveillance opened his eyes to American values, and announce a ten-point plan to bring majority rule to the Capitol by, e.g., purging Washington of darkness-loving Bush-Reagan leftovers, de-privatizing government operations to bring costs under control, auditing the Pentagon (can’t be done, but make the generals explain why on national television), getting rid of all the Reagan/Bush patronage judiciary positions, cleaning up voting so that the US is closer to one-person, one-vote, etc., etc.

      Maybe he could announce a new political party to advance the majority’s agenda with himself at the head.

      None of this is unconsitutional and it would restore America’s reputation around the world, except maybe with those 12 million people whose net worth is over $1 million and whose kleptocratic values you so clearly explicate.

      Ironically, I think, he’d probably need to keep Guantanamo and the universal surveillance network to ensure the success of the transition. Guess it depends on your values….

      1. Thor's Hammer

        If Obama did as you suggest he would have to purge his administration of 99% of his cabinet appointees, arrange for the resignation or imprisonment of 90% of all Senators and Representatives, fire all the Supreme Court judges, and face instant assassination by the NSA. I’m betting on little green men descending from Mars to retrain the human race in moral behavior as the more likely event.

        Still there is hope. What if he starts smoking weed at his former frequency and discovers the fabulously potent varieties that forty years of genetic experimentation have created?

    2. Banger

      I guess I just don’t see how this harms Obama in a serious way. He is not the chief power in Washington–the National Security State along with the finance industry is the power in Washington–Obama’s job is to be an a good excecutive VP and get things done as per the corporate line. His power is not in his person–his Office (the Executive branch) like Bush’s works with or without him.

  24. TC

    “The American security state does not like being made to look impotent and foolish?”

    Then how is it the media this security state heavily influences is fawning all over the boy? Generally speaking, when the security state reviles someone, they do not allow their media outlets to pump up that person’s credentials. Rather, they smash them.

    “Getting Snowden rendered or killed has to be a very high priority?”

    Not if the objective is creating a triple agent. Or a patsy. Let’s see where he lands and what follows before we speculate on priorities.

    This is not to suppose he will not otherwise be killed. It’s possible he has already served the purpose of his CIA/NSA handlers. Nevertheless, if his murder possibly could be tied to those today living, who, like JFK, understand the nature of public-private partnership animating covert branches of the national security apparatus and who seek to break this, or if his murder could further compromise/weaken the institution of the U.S. presidency, then he’s a dead man.

    Contrarily, if some other [major] foreign figure’s murder (I’m thinking Putin) could be tied to the intelligence operation Snowden likely is part of, thereby elevating conflict imperialist advocates of permanent war desire, then who cares about Snowden’s fate? Odds then would be raised many of us soon afterward would be at risk of premature death in an unimaginable global conflagration.

    Have folks here seen Naomi Wolf’s skepticism re: Snowden? Definitely worth checking out. As we all know, odds are infinitely small that, parallels to the totalitarian state apparatuses of the 20th century she details in her documentary “End of America” were broken once W and Darth Vader left town. Indeed, we probably are better served considering Snowden in the light of these still functioning, subversive apparatuses. “We” particularly being those who prefer not being duped.

    1. Jeoff

      Naomi didn’t really say much of anything, but that’s the magic of the cause celebre, cheering from the bleachers and light on substance entries. She has a critically acclaimed Vagina, which was released in September of last year.
      But Snowden is directly criticizing one of the world’s worst thoroughly catastrophic events, the Iraq war.

    2. Banger

      I wouldn’t say Naomi is “wrong” however she make interesting points and the fact is the world of spooks is very strange indeed with hundreds or thousands of operative wandering around in various organizations around the world from a variety of intel services, some are patsys some are sleepers, the whole nine-yards of traidtional espionage only more massive today than ever before. Yes, Snowden, even Assange could be operatives and all this is a strange drama. Or maybe they they are part of an internal struggle within the intel community–who knows.

      I have said before that this is not important–what is important is that there is a secret community that is not answerable to anyone but themselves and that they, largely, rule the U.S. or at least are one of the big players in Washington. I know this–the national security state is the main game in Washington and I say that as a former contractor. You want to have a guaranteed career in DC get top secret clearance–I had it along time ago before 2001-I doubt I could get it now.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Wolf looks to have come up with a desperately strained argument to get attention, and she’s succeeded in that.

      Plenty of reports the intel community is completely batshit over this. The indictment came out in record time. All indications that this is not some sort of too clever by half inside plant. See here for details:


      And far more consequential. the damage to American companies is enormous. Will take a while to play out, but Snowden is the biggest gift imaginable for EU and Asian electronics manufacturers, and for the EU and China getting the US out of their communications backbone.

      1. optimader

        And far more consequential. the damage to American companies is enormous. Will take a while to play out, but Snowden is the biggest gift imaginable for EU and Asian electronics manufacturers, and for the EU and China getting the US out of their communications backbone.

        that’s the real deal.. these firms are furious

        1. psychohistorian

          When is Mr Market going to integrate this reality?

          Maybe the same time that the environmental reality of Fukushima is publicized……..

          I will say that my speculation a few years ago about the US as Reserve Currency ending within 5-10 years (I think I said 5) maybe prescient.

          They hate us for our Imperialism. You don’t have to do a study creating some new Big Lie about it.

    1. grayslady

      Not routine, I suspect, but not abnormal either. A friend of mine was doing some consulting in Romania a few years ago and all the electricity in the airport went out as he was waiting in the passport line before leaving the country. Airport officials finally allowed everyone to leave, even though they couldn’t officially stamp their passports. My friend still had to sit on the runway for two hours since all flights were on visual. The next time he flew into the Bucharest airport, the passport people told him he couldn’t come into the country because he’d never left! After a lengthy explanation of what had happened, they grudgingly let him in–probably didn’t like to admit the weaknesses of their electrical grid.

      1. p78

        Well, those Romanians are just following the Empire’s lead, like any good vassal nation. If you leave the US as a foreigner on a temporary visa and forget to surrender your I-94 attached to your passport, you may be considered as overstaying your US visa (although evidently you were not in the country); the punishment is, if you visit in the future, the US customs may forbid you to enter for the next 10 years.

  25. Kunst

    Well, if the Evil Empire does manage to catch Snowden, I hope they crucify him as an example to others. I worked well for the Romans against that Jesus guy, didn’t it?

  26. Kunst

    Maybe this is all just a big conspiracy to flush out those who would support someone like Snowden. You know, those 100,000 of us who signed the petition on Obama’s web site, a lot of the commenters here. The real danger of what Snowden revealed is not as much what they are doing now as what use this information can be put to in the future. Think blackmail (J Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King), imagine the Stasi or KGB having this kind of information gathering capability, consider a list of those to pick up and tuck away when the “state of emergency” arrives. I used to think the conspiracy theorists were too far out there. Now I’m not so sure. Things can change a lot in a short time. Are you sure the US couldn’t be a de facto dictatorship ten years from now?

  27. Fiver

    I’m wondering why, if the NSA is tracking political enemies, they were not tracking a journalist as “dangerous” as Greenwald, and did not have Snowden under surveillance the moment he made contact?

    Could this be all about getting Greenwald on the way to all of us losing press and other freedoms in a Supreme Court case that makes all this despicable stuff legal? Has anyone done an analysis of the current Court’s likely view of the issues a suit would bring into play?

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