Edward Snowden’s great travel adventure
By John Toth / Editor and Publisher
I like writing about irrelevant, entertaining subjects, but I have been following the Edward Snowden saga, and I have to jump in.
I know that to my loyal readers it’s not going to be as exciting as my ramblings about family matters, or even the repeated anecdotes about our 20th year of publishing (got that in), but I have to chime in on this issue.
Snowden is a former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British government mass surveillance programs to the press.
At this writing, I don’t know where he is, but he’s not in the United States, where federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.
Snowden is a pretty smart man. He probably has burned up more brain cells than most of us have, but he didn’t think about one thing.
After squealing on the federal government secret stuff and then skipping out to Hong Kong, he had no game plan.
Snowy, come on. Hong Kong? You didn’t hear? They are now part of communist China. Now, that’s a bastion of free speech right there. Remember Tienanmen Square? All those college students massacred because they protested for freedom?
What made you run to Hong Kong?
But, wait. The Chinese used you and threw you away. Where now?
How about Russia?
That’s a great choice. Remember the Soviet Union, the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis?
That’s another bastion of free speech, right? Even now, they have that czar mentality, with Putin being the unofficial czar.
Go ahead. Pull the same prank over there. Hack into their computer and disclose a bunch of government secrets to some paper. Let’s see what happens to you then. I’d venture that you would disappear in a matter of hours.
Not disappear in a sense that you hide somewhere. Disappear in a sense that some big guys jump out of a big car and make you disappear.
It’s a good thing that these secrets you stole were U.S.A. secrets. I think the Russians also poison their enemy spies with radioactive matter and then deny it.
And, while in Hong Kong, Snowy granted interviews to the local papers there.
Are those the same papers that are government censored? That’s a perfect example of a free press, a free society.
So, over there in Russia, Putin, the unofficially anointed czar, said in public that Snowden can stay, but only if he stops leaking any more secrets, because the United States is Russia’s friend.
For being a geek and a hack, Snowden really has not kept track of current events. The Cold War is over, Snowy. We won that one.
The Iron Curtain fell, and Russia underwent a transition that included free elections ... sort of. Anyway, Russia doesn’t hate us anymore. We’re not trying to blow each other up. Things have changed. And, Russian papers don’t print anything Putin doesn’t want them to print, so let’s move on.
By the time this is published, Snowden may have made it to one of the South American countries that has offered him asylum. No surprise there, if he actually made it out of the Moscow airport.
But the last time we thought you were on a plane, Snowy, it was forced to land in Austria, and was searched. Several countries prohibited the plane from entering their airspace.
And, the plane belonged to the leader of Bolivia. Now, what do you think your chances are of just hopping on an airplane to Venezuela if the top guy in Bolivia was forced to land because there was a rumor that you were on board?
I’m just saying, this is not a good situation for a hacker who may be smart, but not street smart.
Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua? Really? Some more bastions of freedom and a free press, right?
Those countries may not be that friendly to us, but you must realize that the potential of longevity there is very slim. Making a living is going to be hard. Maybe you can write government press releases about how bad the United States is, and how little freedom exists there.
Just be careful of what you write, and make sure you run it by government censors.
Here is a solution: Come back and face the charges. Get yourself a good lawyer. No matter what happens, unless you are sentenced to death, you’ll be able to write books. Plenty of people will pluck down $29.99 to buy those hardcovers.
There is a slight problem, though.
Remember Julius and Ethel Rosenberg? They were convicted of conspiracy and espionage for passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, and sentenced to death. Both were executed on June 19, 1953, way before your time, Snowy.
This releasing secret information to the enemy business didn’t work out too well for them, so good luck, and enjoy your stay, whether it’s in an airport, a jail cell here, or somewhere on South America. Bon voyage.