Vladimir Putin’s expendable asset: Edward Snowden

Andrew Mitrovica writes: Surely, Snowden knows that the Doomsday clock is inching towards 12 o’clock not only for an insecure world, but for himself as well.

He knows that Trump’s pick for CIA chief, veteran congressman and rabid NSA cheerleader, Mike Pompeo, wants the “traitor” shipped back to the US quickly, tried perfunctorily, and executed swiftly.

“[Snowden] should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence,” Pompeo told a television host in February.

Apparently, the congressman’s Wild West-like notion of “due process” is meting out a “death sentence” to Snowden after what will certainly amount to a token show trial.

Of course, in February, the earth’s geopolitical axis was such that Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama weren’t sharing a shot of vodka or horseback rides in the rustic Russian countryside.

Snowden is expendable. If he’s part of the price Putin might be obliged to pay to win more than just Trump’s admiration.

In this frosty context, reminiscent of the Cold War, Snowden, the former NSA spook, was a welcomed, if not useful, asset to the Russian leader, who was a KGB spy himself in the bygone, but not forgotten, Soviet era.

While alarming, Pompeo’s predictable, politically charged rhetoric could be dismissed at the time as, well, predictable, politically charged rhetoric.

Eight months later, the geopolitical axis shifted unexpectedly and breathtakingly. Trump’s once inconceivable victory will reverberate – to borrow Donald Rumsfeld’s cockeyed vocabulary – in unknown and known ways.

Still, Snowden must know that the budding bromance between Trump and Putin – nurtured before, during and after an election that possibly saw Russia’s security services tilting the scales in the “Manhattan Mussolini’s” favour – will likely mean that Pompeo’s vengeful hopes could be realised sooner rather than later.

Snowden must also know that the Trump-Putin bromance is the natural consequence of the ties that bind: money and mutual authoritarian pathologies.

The pending rapprochement between these two temperamentally unalike, but otherwise like-minded figures – if it comes – will have other direct and perhaps immediate consequences for Snowden.

First, Snowden’s value to Putin as a real or symbolic slap to America’s haughty face will have run its profitable course. [Continue reading…]

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