WILLY NILLY

Posted in Quick Hits on July 2nd, 2013 by Ed

Having said very little about it so far, I have to admit that I find it hard to root for Edward Snowden or feel any real affinity for him because of his apparent lack of planning. I'm a planner, a recipe-follower, and a control freak in remission. Watching someone run around the globe like a beheaded chicken is off-putting to me in the same way that a sink full of dirty dishes would put off someone with OCD. His most recent statement underscores that he decided to leak all of this stuff (which is good!) without any sort of plan for what to do next.

Which makes sense, right? Because why would you need any sort of escape plan after pissing off the entire U.S. government, military, and surveillance apparatus.

He appears to have put some forethought into his data collection, taking a large paycut to work for a private contractor in a position that would let him get more of the dirt he wanted. Yet other than "Fly to Hong Kong without securing any sort of asylum or coming up with a final destination" I think that's as far ahead as he planned. WTF, man.

Here are the three options confronting him as he prepared to leak the information, in (as I see it) descending order of preference.

1. Walk into an FBI office and turn himself in. Wait, wait. Hear me out. It's highly unlikely that they can successfully charge him with treason or espionage, as he doesn't work for any foreign power. Surrendering might also give him an important Patrick Henry-esque "Do your worst to me, King George" moral high ground that would have earned him both public and Congressional support. When the furor dies down, he's probably be out of prison in a couple of years at most. It would be a bold move and not for the risk averse, but…I'd rather take my chances here than to go hat-in-hand to the world's most repressive governments asking for help.

2. Hide. HIDE. Either hide in the U.S. – don't tell me someone like Snowden couldn't figure out how to communicate with the outside world without giving away his location – or make contact with the Assange/WikiLeaks types and secure some type of foreign hideout. Maybe he could have even been smart enough to leave the country and/or secure himself in a safe hiding place before leaking the information.

3. Drop a huge bombshell, rile up the U.S. government, and then fly around the world willy-nilly sitting on airport tarmacs and asking various governments to take him. Yeah, it sounds pretty stupid when it's put that way.

By the way, if you missed the "private contractor" aspect of the story mentioned earlier, do check out some of what has been written about Booz Allen since the story broke. The intelligence establishment has always been keen on farming out the dirty work, but recently it has been taken to a new level much as Private Military Contractors have become indispensable to the military.

Oh, and he's going to end up in Cuba. Russia derives no benefit from keeping him and we'll coerce/bribe Ecuador into refusing to take him. In the long run he may find a way into Iceland but right now, I don't see who else is going to take him.