The Edward Snowden saga has confused me. He decided to reveal information about NSA surveillance. He revealed that information in a piecemeal and confusing way. He decided to surface in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is sovereign Chinese territory: we are supposed to believe that Chinese intelligence did not get any information from him while he was there. He then travelled to the Russian Federation. Once the U.S. began extradition proceedings in Hong Kong he might not have had any other options but Russia ... but nonetheless that is where he wound up.
Glenn Greenwald just told me on national television that Russian agents have not had any interactions with Mr. Snowden (or copied his data by other means) because they “want him gone.” I have immense trouble believing that.
The NSA surveillance programs are complicated things that deserve to be brought to light and debated. I am glad that Snowden revealed what he revealed. We now need to debate them. An American court of law seems not a bad place to have that debate. A braver man than Mr. Snowden would have risked going to court, as did Daniel Ellsberg. No?
Still, one can imagine why he would want to remain outside the American criminal justice system. But why then did he not surface in one of the Bolivarian nations in Latin America? Going to Hong Kong seems entirely mysterious unless Mr. Snowden intended to pass information to the Chinese government. And it was not hard to know that Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the United States.
It is possible that Snowden wants to end up in Russia. It is not unreasonable to think that in Latin America he would not be safe from be vulnerable to apprehension by U.S. agents. But going to Russia, I would think, means giving Vladimir Putin all the information that he has. Am I wrong to assume that?
I am glad that Mr. Snowden revealed what he revealed. And I am gratified that the revelations have moved American public opinion despite Mr. Snowden’s odd decisions. But until new information is revealed, the man himself has not got my sympathy.