Snowden: Oh for 20
America's Traitor, Edward Snowden has allegedly applied for asylum in 20 countries.
None have granted it.
But late yesterday afternoon, there were suspicions that Snowden had boarded the aircraft carrying the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, from Moscow to Bolivia. Those suspicions were so strong that, according to the International Herald Tribune:
"Bolivia's foreign minister told news outlets that France and Portugal had both blocked airspace access to the Bolivian presidential plane on suspicion that Mr. Snowden might been on board."
Of the 20 countries to which Snowden, apparently through the offices of Wikileaks (which has been acting like a sovereign country during this affair), only two, according "have held out any hope:" The aforementioned Bolivia and the always popular Venezuelans.
Venezuela, you will remember, was the home of the late, and notoriously anti-American ruler Hugo Chavez.
After Chavez died of a heart attack while suffering from cancer, the Venezuelan government, according to the Washington Times, "claimed U.S. hit-men took him out with a cancer implant."
According to the Reuters news agency, Chavez' successor, Nicolas Maduro, said at the time:
"We will seek the truth. We have the intuition that our Commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way,"
Maduro is still carrying Chavez' anti-American tune with the Washington Post reporting yesterday:
"Maduro and a large Venezuelan delegation [were] in Moscow on Tuesday for an energy conference. Many observers of the Snowden affair were taking bets that the former National Security Agency contractor might find his way back to Caracas on the official Venezuelan presidential plane. Maduro did little to dampen such speculation."
While all that is going, apparently Vladimir Putin has had a change of heart as to whether its worth souring long-term relations with the U.S. over granting asylum to Snowden.
After making it clear that he was enjoying the discomfort of the United States over the Snowden affair and refusing to admit Snowden was holed up at a Moscow Airport, Putin said that the only one way Russia would grant Snowden asylum:
"If he likes to stay here, there is one condition: He should cease his work aimed at damaging our American partners. No matter how strange it will sound from me."
That sounds so strange that I wonder what pressure the U.S. State Department (or CIA or NSA or NCIS) has brought to bear on Vladimir Putin and the Russians.
Since the beginning of this saga I have believed there was too much tradecraft involved for Snowden to have been acting on his own.
He said the other day that he applied for, and accepted, the job in Hawaii with Booz Allen Hamilton with the specific goal of getting his hands on the NSA documents.
The notion of a 30-year-old relatively junior employee of the NSA working all that out, then actually doing the deed, then making his way to Hong Kong before getting to Moscow all on his own would make him an Intelligence Savant.
If Snowden did all this on his own without any outside help, President Obama should issue a full pardon in return for Snowden promising to take the job of Director of National Intelligence.
At first, I thought his collaborators must have been the Chinese - and it still might turn out they have had a role - if only because Snowden was in Hong Kong and the Chinese allowed him to board a Russian aircraft knowing the U.S. wanted them to hold him for extradition.
Then I thought I might be the Russians who, after all, allowed him on their airplane with the knowledge that the plan was headed for Moscow.
Now I believe that Snowden reached out to Wikileaks after the Bradley Manning story broke back in 2010 and someone or some people there have been running Snowden as a double agent ever since.
By the way, the prosecution in the Bradley Manning trial rested its case yesterday after having called 80 witnesses. Manning is charged with 21 counts stemming from his having stolen and sent to Wikileaks, according to ABC News "700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and State Department diplomatic cables" while an active duty member of the U.S. Army working in Baghdad.
Manning's trial is being held at Fort Meade, Maryland the home of … the NSA.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Herald Tribune and the Washington Post stories. Also a remarkable Mullfoto from the George Washington Parkway during a downpour the other day.