Monday, June 24, 2013

Snowden, Maduro and Correa

I'm quoted in this Associated Press story on Edward Snowden. My basic take was that there was high risk for Nicolás Maduro and relatively low risk for Rafael Correa, since he'd already taken the step of protecting Julian Assange. Maduro, however, does not need this headache. (Of course, there is still no word on where Snowden is, so he could still end up anywhere!).

I was asked what risks Correa runs. The main one I thought of was the APTA trade preferences, which I think will not be renewed if Snowden really goes to Ecuador. But otherwise I am not sure the U.S. has all that much leverage over Ecuador. Ham handed sanctions could well end up making the Obama administration look petty and strengthen Correa.


Justin Delacour 1:51 PM  

The Obama Administration might want to be careful about what it wishes for. Snowden has effectively elicited some sympathy from some fairly high-profile U.S. political figures. Even Al Gore came out saying the current level of surveillance is unconstitutional. If the U.S. were to have Snowden languish in a prison cell, there's no telling what kinds of PR problems that could pose for the American state. I wouldn't be surprised if cooler heads in the Obama Administration recognize that having Snowden in their custody is likely to be a real problem. I'm not sure Ecuador wouldn't really be doing the Administration a favor here.

Anonymous,  3:28 PM  

You might be right about the public relations dimension. However the US govt. has a fairly straightforward case about his illegal disclosure of classified information. I don't think that the govt. believes it would serve the fundamental US interest in holding national security personnel to their word. Never mind keeping them from turning material over to US adversaries as Snowden appears to be doing. Future operations might be jeopardized when, wink, wink, he is beyond the reach of our law in Ecuador or Iceland and the US does nothing.

Justin Delacour 4:03 PM  

"Never mind keeping them from turning material over to US adversaries as Snowden appears to be doing."

Pure conjecture. There's no evidence of that, and, until one sees evidence of it, nobody should be taking the conjecture seriously. From what I gather, Snowden knows what cards to play and doesn't intend to besmirch his own reputation by playing the double agent game. The fact that the political establishment and the sock puppets are bent on destroying Snowden's reputation without any real evidence seems to say more about them than it does about Snowden.

Anonymous,  4:30 PM  

Yes, conjecture abounds. Instead we should fall back on the rock solid factual interpretation that he is a principled "whistle-blower." Do you remember the US surveillance plane that landed in Hainan in 2001? It took two months before the Chinese returned it. How long would it take the Russians to separate the information from these 4 computers irrespective of his high-minded principles and noble intentions?

Justin Delacour 5:10 PM  

Yeah, well, when you have hard evidence, feel free to let me know. Until such time, I'm not interested in the conjecture, as I've already heard enough of it from the political establishment and the sock-puppet press.

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