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Snowden the Heroic Outlaw
President Vladimir Putin of Russia did one of his Q&A sessions on Live TV and guess who just happened to participate? His boy Edward Snowden, the spy most famous for stealing America's hi-tech secrets from the NSA. Once again Snowden appeared via live television, in a scene reminiscent of his recent "Max Headroom" appearance at a Ted Talk.
In a moment full of irony for the whole world but especially Europe right now, Snowden asked Putin if Russia uses surveillance. Yes, that really happened. As a child who grew up during the Cold War, the thought of asking a Russian Leader about oversight on citizens is a waste of a question. Of course they use surveillance! And Snowden knows good and well that every modern country has cameras everywhere. But the ultimate irony is that we are supposed to believe that Snowden asked that question of his own accord, and that none of it was a staged set-up to once again poke Obama in the eye. In the same live interview Putin proudly speaks of renaming Ukraine "Novorussia" - I guess Edward Snowden doesn't care about wars and aggression, as long as Putin doesn't have cameras everywhere. Oh wait - remember the Sochi Olympics when journalists and athletes discovered cameras in their rooms, even in the showers?
By the way, Ed - your friend Vlad is watching you right now.
From the New York Times
In a stunningly bold poke at the White House, the Kremlin arranged for Mr. Snowden, who is wanted on espionage charges, to ask Mr. Putin about Russia’s surveillance practices. Told there was a question from Mr. Snowden, Mr. Putin responded slyly, saying, “Well, how could we do without this?”
. . . “So I’d like to ask you,” he continued, “does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?”
Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. agent and director of the Russian intelligence service, played up their experience in spycraft.
“Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent,” the president replied. “I used to work for an intelligence service. Let’s speak in a professional language.”
“Our intelligence efforts are strictly regulated by our law,” Mr. Putin said. “You have to get a court’s permission first.” He noted that terrorists use electronic communications and that Russia had to respond to that threat.
“Of course we do this,” Mr. Putin said. “But we don’t use this on such a massive scale, and I hope that we won’t.”
After Twitter erupted with disbelief and mockery, Snowden responded - where else? - in the Guardian UK, a newspaper that just shared a Pulitzer Prize with Washington Post, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras for releasing Snowden's secrets to the public. According to Snowden he was trying to hold Putin to the same standards as the United States. Or you could see it another way - it was just another opportunity for Snowden to get face-time on TV for the "cause" of praising his rescuer Putin and shaming America from a nice hidey-hole in Russia.
I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin's evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.
The investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, perhaps the single most prominent critic of Russia's surveillance apparatus (and someone who has repeatedly criticised me in the past year), described my question as "extremely important for Russia". It could, he said, "lift a de facto ban on public conversations about state eavesdropping."
'Think I'll just give Vlad a call. Hello, Reception?'— Jeremy Duns (@jeremyduns) April 17, 2014
Is there a Pulitzer Prize for Trolling? Because Putin and Snowden just won it. http://t.co/Da6vkwAXPL— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) April 17, 2014
Former ? @olacicho: Putin: "Mr Snowden, we are both former secret agents""— Matthew Kaminski (@KaminskiMK) April 17, 2014
#Snowden is another worthless piece of shit. Funny he didn't ask about the privacy of Ukranians.— Angry Arb (@AngryArb) April 17, 2014
Let's be clear: Snowden stole thousands of pages of US intel and brought it Russia, but he *asks* Putin as though he'd tell the truth.— Lex (@LuthorCEO) April 17, 2014
Snowden should storm the Kremlin, take their surveillance docs & demand to be sent to the US: just like his brave patriotic critics would do— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 17, 2014
No @ggreenwald but maybe its not such a good idea for a civil liberties hero to be a tool of a leader like Putin in a country like Russia— Ken Gude (@KenGude) April 17, 2014
Useful idiot Snowden offered Putin a fantastic propaganda opportunity to whitewash Russia's intelligence activities. http://t.co/AXAWw7VA6E— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) April 17, 2014
Snowden in The Guardian: I totally didn't mean to give Putin, conquerer of Ukraine, a major PR coup. Seriously I didn't. Seriously.— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) April 18, 2014
First week after winning Pulitzer: Greenwald shills for the Kochs on twitter, Snowden participates in Kremlin domestic propaganda event— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) April 17, 2014
#Snowden looking like a member of the animatronic band at Chuck E. Cheese, playing back prerecorded dialog on an 8 track tape. What a hack.— nzmrmn (@nzmrmn) April 18, 2014
Really Ed, you have access to the Internet, your answer to the question you posed to Putin is right here. http://t.co/fmYx6DQOSm— Fenrir (@semibogan) April 17, 2014
So what's going on here? Putin is using Snowden to build legitimacy, create further rift with U.S.?— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) April 17, 2014
Snowden is a narcissist, appears in Putin's show to make himself important. @igorvolsky— William Ocasio (@WillChicago) April 17, 2014
I am going to ask Putin if he is really a big meanie. Going to stick it to him with truth to power!— trifecta (@3fecta) April 17, 2014
Putin called E.Ukraine "Novorussia" today. "Novorossiya" was region conquered by Russian Empire in 18th Century. pic.twitter.com/kuHsRqVT4e— Chris Sand (@YadaZoo) April 17, 2014