The hunt for Snowden and the NSA material: Obama’s boomerang

Some weeks later the tone of these and other discussions changed. There was, by mid-July, an explicit threat that the government would, after all, seek to stop the Guardian’s work and prevent publication of further material by legal means. To have resisted such action would have involved handing over ultimate control of the material to a judge and could have meant that no stories could have been published for many months, if at all. The first amendment of the American constitution guarantees its press protections of which British editors can only dream. For more than 40 years − since the publication of the so-called Pentagon papers in 1971 − it has been accepted that the state will not succeed in trying to obtain prior restraint of the press. So we will in future report this story from New York. We have shared some material with, and will collaborate with, the New York Times.  -The Guardian

Another extremely important editorial by the Guardian. I am kind of glad that things are developing this way. This slowly brings the discussion back to its home soil: the USA.

Obama and his government, in alliance with the UK and other governments, are seeing their bullying behavior turn into a boomerang. To the benefit of the American people. This is my own assessment anyway.

I had anticipated that if Obama kept on pressing he and his administration would find themselves in a very difficult position, and because of this I had speculated -long ago- that Obama did not really want to get Snowden back to the USA. I also thought that if Snowden were to be granted asylum by Putin this would have been the most convenient solution for both Obama and Putin: a win-win solution (limiting the damage, that is). In this line of reasoning, I thought that Obama would have made a deal with Putin to help each other and they would play a media game. (Based on the fact that Obama and Putin have a vast array of other issues to collaborate on).

In this line of reasoning, I interpreted the whole rhetoric of Obama against Putin as just a necessary theatrical act. Biting, albeit without teeth. And I still think that to a certain extent it was that. But as it turns out, I had overestimated Obama’s cleverness and strategic thinking. Some of my friends thought I was completely wrong on assuming that Obama did not really want Snowden back and that Obama was genuinely trying to get Snowden. And from what we see now, indeed the Obama administration’s teeth are out and biting all right. So I was wrong on assuming that Obama did not really want to get Snowden. But I was right to assume that the more Obama bullied and tried to get Snowden, the more of a boomerang this would have been for his administration. And I still think I was right to assume that -strategically speaking, from Obama’s point of view- he would have had an easier way out by leaving Snowden under Russian quasi-control, make him lay low and let the whole NSA debate dissolve.

But probably Obama is not as clever as I thought he was, because he indeed kept pushing. The stronger example of this is what has happened to the Guardian, the U.K. newspaper to which Snowden gave the NSA material.

Why do I think all this bullying is not good for Obama and the NSA? Because Obama should know that the more he presses for the return of Snowden and the NSA material, the more the whole debate will be aggravated and return to US soil: where it was conveniently “not yet”, at least not fully, and where he does not want it to be. If he gets Snowden, then Snowden goes under trial, and then the US public gets a full thematic debate on the way the NSA is spying on them!

The fact that the New York Times now have the Snowden material is a result of too much bullying the US government and its allies applied on overseas (non-US) actors to hand Snowden and/or the material back, without realizing that this would bring the discussion back to the US- with a vengeance. And now?

Now may god bless the New York Times to bring the NSA down, and Obama to his knees.


About Christos Hadjioannou
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