Fugitive NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has released a statement, published by WikiLeaks, that excoriates President Obama, essentially calls him a liar, and says that the administration is not afraid of leakers like him, but of us.
"On Thursday," Snowden writes, "President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic 'wheeling and dealing' over my case," referring to Obama's comment in Senegal that "I'm not going to have one case with a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system."
Snowden doesn't specifically use the "L" word, but he makes it clear that he believes Obama is not a man of his word. "Yet now it is being reported," he says, "that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
"This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile," Snowden concludes.
The extralegality to which Snowden refers includes the fact that "Although I am convicted of nothing, [the Obama administration] has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person," he writes.
The reason the administration is going out of its way to make life tough for him, he says, is not that it fears him – he groups himself with Bradley Manning and former NSA exec-turned-whistleblower Thomas Drake – but that it fears the US citizenry rising up in anger.
"The Obama administration is afraid of you," he writes. "It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised – and it should be."
One person whom Snowden might be wise to fear – or at minimum to keep a wary eye on – would be Russian president Vladamir Putin. On Monday, Putin said that Russia would not turn Snowden over to US authorities, but that "If he wants to stay here, there is one condition: He must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners, as strange as that sounds coming from my lips."
Of course, Putin will be the sole definer of the bounds of that stricture. Should he decide that a Snowden statement or intelligence release is harmful to the US, there will be no avenue of appeal.
Putin, however, sounded almost wistful about ridding Russia and himself of the annoyance that is Snowden. Should the troublesome whistleblower want to continue his leaky ways and "be a human rights activist," Putin said, "he must choose a country of destination and go there." ®