Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What if Snowden was played by the Russians all along?

 Vladimir Putin "Who, me?"
Is Edward Snowden a “noble crusader bravely risking his career and freedom in the pursuit of truth and transparency”? Or is he a “useful idiot”? Edward Lucas of the Economist comes down firmly on the side of idiocy. In his new e-book, The Snowden Operation, Lucas argues that Snowden’s revelations “should be seen not as a heroic campaign but as a reckless act that has jeopardized our safety and played into our enemies’ hands.” Moreover, he hypothesizes that the entire operation was orchestrated by Russian intelligence from the very beginning. (Disclosure: Lucas and I were colleagues at the Economist for a little over a year.)

The first part of Lucas’s book will be familiar to anybody who has read the anti-Snowden arguments: that it should come as no surprise that spy agencies spy; that the scope of the disclosures has gone far beyond the vacuuming up of Americans’ data and is now revealing operational details that have no public interest; that the legitimate work of Western defense has been paralyzed, endangering America and its allies. Even the most ardent defenders of Snowden—whom Lucas disparagingly calls “Snowdenistas”—wouldn’t deny that the disclosures have done tremendous damage to Western intelligence agencies.

But Lucas goes further. He posits that Snowden would have been noticed by Russian intelligence as soon as he arrived in Geneva as an employee of the CIA. “They are very good at spotting naïve, gullible, dissatisfied, junior officials in important positions,” says Lucas. Somebody like Snowden, he writes, “would be a beacon to them.” Lucas’s theory is that the Russians, through intermediaries, would have encouraged Snowden’s growing worries about the American surveillance state “by increasing his sense of dissatisfaction and his alienation from his employer” until it was time to broker a meeting with someone who could release the documents for him. The Russians also needed to ensure Snowden wouldn’t talk too much about his time in Geneva, Lucas says, “and for that reason he would need to be bounced into going to Moscow where he could be looked after.” 

For the rest of the story: http://qz.com/180388/what-if-snowden-was-played-by-the-russians-all-along/

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