What will happen to Snowden?

To make it clear what happens to whistleblowers.

I don’t know that anyone knows for sure, but WikiLeaks has claimed he has Ecuadorean travel documents. Cite That’s straight from Assange so trust it as much as you trust him, he says Snowden has “refugee documents of passage.” If Ecuador wants to make him a refugee, as a sovereign State with the involvement of their President pretty prominent in this they could bang out such documents for him that would be accepted internationally pretty damn quickly (in minutes.) So it isn’t that unlikely that he has them.

It’s not at all clear to me what “secret” information Snowden has that makes him such a great liability to the US. I hear the talking heads on the news generating much heat on the subject, but not very much light.

I’m left to speculate…

If I had secret information, the type that would truly expose some real national secrets, would I head off to Hong Kong or Moscow? I would if I was intending to defect there because of some idealogical convictions. I would not if I was trying to keep secrets secret and out of the hands of those who certainly would not have my best interests at heart and would not think twice of throwing me in a some far off gulag as soon as they extracted the passwords to the information I was carrying.

Snowden may have done a stupid and rash thing in collecting this information and sharing it with some western journalists, but running off to Russia with secrets seems too stupid even for him. So my feeling is that he has no deep dark secrets on his laptops. He has piles of marginally useful meta-data about phone calls and internet traffic gathered by the NSA. As others have mentioned, I doubt very much China and Russia aren’t gathering the very same kind of info at home. Furthermore, I doubt there has ever been so much as a discussion about whether or not it’s intrusive with respect to their own population. Just the idea that they would consider privacy rights is laughable.

So the US media is making lots of noise and the US gov’t remains quite mum about this whole thing. Remarkably, not even the usual congress flunkies are talking much out of turn on the subject. Are they? Have I missed something of substance from the US authorities on the subject of Snowden recently?

I suspect that the NSA knows exactly what Snowden copied. Unless he was some sort of magician, his account is all over the activity log on the NSA computers. What he accessed and when. It’s unlikely he’d still be walking around a free man if he had anything vital on those drives. His immediate capture/elimination simply isn’t worth the effort because what he’s got isn’t significant enough to risk far more important assets.

The US authorities will get to him when they get to him. Business as usual until then.

That’s if I’m left to speculate…

Would that not just be super obvious, and cause annoying attention on the policies of the organization?

Yeah, I imagine internationally the biggest bombshell Snowden had was his stuff about the NSA hacking Chinese computers. The Chinese have been openly hacking American government and corporate computers for years. We’ve literally caught them in prolonged, (as in weeks and weeks) attacks from Chinese universities that have significant military presence and in attack patterns that are simply obvious of a State actor. China just waves it away and says, “we have no idea what’s going on.” The idea that they were doing this and we weren’t doing the same thing back is ludicrous.

And what’s China or Russia going to do with some “proof” on the international stage that we’ve been hacking them? They’ll use it to justify their own hacking or whatever. But how does that even matter? They weren’t going to stop hacking us regardless of whether we were hacking them, so it’s all a moot point.

The biggest deal was the way in which domestic “incidental” communication was collected and stored and analyzed. What Snowden did that served a purpose for the American people I think was show that the oversight of this stuff is terrible and needs to be improved.

He will get asylum in Moscow. Like Philby or Blake. He worked for the CIA and NSA. Quite valuable.

It doesn’t matter. A country can let in whoever she wants. Random people like you and me need passports because the country we’re entering wants to know who exactly we are and which country we are citizens of. We might need a visa for some countries because they want to decide whether or not to let us in.

But if the country already knows who we are and for some reason wants us to come, we won’t need any passport or visa. The travel documents are for the airline, the country you’re currently staying in, etc…so that they would know for sure you’re actually allowed to enter the country you want to fly to.

You only need a passport if the country you’re heading to wants you to show one (which obviously is true 99.9999% of the time).

I know that Ecuador can let in whoever it wants. My question was more about airline procedure and what paperwork airlines require before letting someone on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the US government is putting pressure on various airlines not to let Snowden on.

I think the point is that knowledge of specific NSA operations and capabilities would compromise them and allow China,Russia and others to block them. If the WaPo piece is accurate, people are seriously worried about this.

Some interesting detailsabout the files.

I also found this interesting if rather hard to believe:

I have always thought of the NSA as the gold standard in technological capabilities. Did they really allow a single contractor to access valuable information by just “fabricating digital keys”. What next ? Do they use “123456” as their password.:smiley:

I doubt he ends up in Ecuador, and if he does, he won’t be there long. Harboring him, especially if he actually has damaging information, will mean disastrous trade sanctions for them. Forty-two percent of the goods they export go to the US, and I think the treaty moderating a lot of that is up next month. No way they take the risk of losing all that just to stick their thumb in our eye.

I heard today that he apparently (by his own admission?) sought and landed his job specifically with the intent of doing something like this. If that’s true, my guess is the US authorities will deal with him more aggressively (both in terms of seeking his extradition, and throwing the book at him once he’s here) than they would have otherwise, for two reasons: 1. He has now also embarrassed them regarding their ability to vet job-seekers for security clearance; and 2. He can’t quite call himself as much of a whistle-blower if he didn’t know the details about what he would find until he found them – more of a self-appointed Ellsberg wannabe (I like Ellsberg, BTW).

I doubt anyone in authority would care much. In fact they’d want it to be obvious, to create the desired fear.

Good question… But Ecuador’s President Correa might be so eager to demonstrate his thumb-his-nose-at-the-US leftist South Amercan bona fides (in the wake of the vacuum created by Chavez’ death) that he would send a private or government jet to pick up Snowden. (But, see the caveat regarding trade agreements someone else mentioned.)

(And I say this as someone generally in favor of left-leaning Latin American governments…but not in favor of useless anti-US gestures.)

I don’t think the U.S. government is incompetent in this case.
It is the contractor who is incompetent.

I saw an ABC News piece last night - grave-faced white men with unusually deeeep voices - that was extraordinarily biased, like full blown govenment propaganda. Was it was a parody? Anyway, this is an extract of an interview with a guy called Thomas Drake who was also charged under the Espionage Act in 2010 for revealing Trailblazer:

There is no extradition treaty with Russia.

Someone within the U.S. Government awarded the contract without adequately vetting the contractor, then.

Yes, “travel documents” are enough. I traveled internationally on “travel documents” a few times back when I was in a situation when I had no country’s citizenship (or in fact even permanent residency).

President Putin has said Mr. Snowden has not gone thru customs and is not
technically in Russia because Sheremetyevo is an international airport.
How is it that sovereignty can be suspended? If Russian law does not apply
to occupants of the airport, what laws apply? UN laws?
Secretary of State Kerry should pursue this question. If a bomb was detonated
at Sheremetyevo, I am rather sure that Russian authority would apply in an
absolute way.

It’s quite a shame someone can’t remain in their own country having done such a great servcie for the people against a lying, decietful gov agency.