The wild flight of the fleeting leaker — from Hong Kong to the theodolite country of Moscow’s Sherymetyvo Airport. and possibly on to Ecuador — has turned into a public humiliation for the White House. U. S. functionaries publically threatened “consequences” if Snowden wasn’t returned. merely to be openly rebuffed by Chinese functionaries and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. This made embarrassingly clear how small purchase President Obama has in Moscow or Beijing ( and how much wiser it would hold been to bespeak Snowden’s return in private ) .
Most disturbing. the Snowden matter has enabled some of the world’s worst human rights wrongdoers to portray themselves as title-holders of freedom by supporting Snowden while denouncing America as a monolithic lawbreaker of rights.
China’s Xinhua intelligence bureau branded the United States as “the biggest ( cyber ) scoundrel in our age. ” Russian Parliamentarians did similarly. You might believe that such holier-than-thou claims would be dismissed as political posturing. Yet in today’s universe. with America’s image sullied by Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. and by our paralytic political relations. these charges can happen a receptive audience. non merely abroad but at place.
So let’s expression at the records of the states that are offering Snowden the greatest support.
For starting motors. there is something eccentric about the list. While Snowden claims to be supporting personal freedoms. he has sought shelter from crying lawbreakers of human rights. including China. Russia. Cuba. Venezuela and Ecuador. Whatever his motivations. this lends an air of lip service to his claims.
He took safety in Hong Kong. which is portion of China. whose leaders control the country’s Internet portals. block content and proctor single entree. The Chinese censor print and electronic media and have “the largest recorded figure of captive journalists and cyber-dissidents in the universe. ” harmonizing to Amnesty International. Chinese authorities hackers have conducted monolithic commercial and military espionage in the United States ( and presumptively elsewhere ) and even breached Google’s computing machines.
Beijing is evidently delighted that it can fend off U. S. ailments by claiming America does similarly. Such charges are fake — and they know it. Whatever your sentiment about the National Security Agency’s surveillance plans. the fact is that Congress OK’d them and put up particular tribunals to supervise them. The U. S. public can debate whether the controls should be tightened. and demand alteration.
In China. no Congress or tribunals govern surveillance nor can Chinese citizens oppose it. Government hackers break into the package of international companies such as Apple to steal industrial secrets — on a monolithic graduated table. As Obama noted. that’s non normal intelligence assemblage ; “that’s larceny. ”
Then there’s Russia. where the province controls all major newspapers and national Television webs. which are still the major intelligence beginning for the majority of the population. Journalists are beaten up or murdered. and the culprits. handily. are ne’er found. Political dissidents are cowed. arrested. or driven into expatriate.
So when Putin praises Snowden as a “human rights activist” who “struggles for freedom of information. ” it’s hard non to muzzle. Any Russian who did likewise would weave up in the gulag or worse.
Snowden’s concluding finish — perchance Ecuador via Venezuela — is every bit uneven for a guardian of freedom. As pointed out by Bill Sweeney. editorial manager of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Venezuela has shut down independent broadcasters via a system of politicized ordinances.
As for Ecuador. its populist president. Rafael Correa. has criminalized coverage that is critical of his authorities — and prosecuted journalists who attempt it.
That brings us to the bosom of the affair. Snowden’s Jesuss have seized a delightful chance to debar U. S. unfavorable judgment of their ain cyberattacks and rights misdemeanors by branding the United States as the existent evildoer. Dogged by images from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Washington has become an easy mark. Even some Alliess have tired of America’s human rights demands ( which are readily ignored when strategic concerns trump them. as in Syria ) .
So. critics of American hubris may hearten when Putin praises Snowden — or when the People’s Daily proclaims that Snowden “tore off Washington’s holier-than-thou mask. ” It’s necessary to remind them: The states assisting Snowden aren’t making so because they dislike descrying. On the contrary. They don’t want bounds on their ain surveillance. merely on ours.