Russia has committed a deliberate, hostile act against U.S.

Lindsey Graham took little time in reacting to the news that Edward Snowden has been allowed to enter Russia technically and officially, and will be granted asylum for a year:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement today on the reports that Russia has granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum.


“If these reports are accurate, Americans in Washington should consider this a game changer in our relationship with Russia.  Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes and has put American lives at risk at home and abroad.


“Today’s action by the Russian government could not be more provocative and is a sign of Vladimir Putin’s clear lack of respect for President Obama. It is now time for Congress, hopefully in conjunction with the Administration, to make it clear to the Russian government that this provocative step in granting Snowden asylum will be met with a firm response.”



Basically, Putin has just flipped a gigantic bird at the United States. He has shown a gross disrespect for the United States and its laws, protecting Snowden from prosecution on charges of doing things for which — and here’s the ironic part — were a Russian citizen to do them to his country, Putin would put him under Lubyanka Square.

So, what do we do about it? For his part, Sen. Graham has suggested that we consider boycotting the winter Olympics to show our displeasure. Some have reacted as though that were crazy talk. I don’t know why. Jimmy Carter kept us out of the real Olympics in 1980 to protest the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan.

But it doesn’t seem to me the best response to this situation. Right off, it would seem to accept the fact that we’re not getting this mutt back before February 2014, because that’s when the games are. On the other hand, if we got him back before then, we could then go ahead to the Olympics.

There must be a better approach, but I don’t know what it is. What does Putin want that we could deny him without hurting our own interests further? Someone must know.

22 thoughts on “Russia has committed a deliberate, hostile act against U.S.

  1. Doug Ross

    There goes Lindsey, rattling his saber again. If there isn’t a war for someone else to fight, he’ll start one.

    We saw how well it worked out for the U.S. to boycott the Olympics before… even suggesting it falls into the deranged end of the neo-con spectrum.

    The truth shall set you free, Lindsey. Stop supporting a government built on spying on Americans.

  2. Doug Ross

    And if you don’t think Snowden exposed activity by the government that goes well beyond the infringement of individual’s rights, read this blog post from today where a writer for Forbes and other
    publications had six FBI agents in her house YESTERDAY because she had searched online for a pressure cooker and her husband searched for a backpack. Nevermind how ineffective this type of investigative work would be.. it’s a practice that must be stopped.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      The policies that Snowden “exposed” are neither here nor there. Even if I agreed with you about the policies themselves — which I most emphatically do not — it would have nothing to do with the fact that, if Snowden indeed did what he and everyone else says he did, he is a criminal. As David Brooks laid out so well, the man betrayed everything and everyone in his life, which includes directly breaking oaths that he took knowing full well that he was agreeing NOT to make disclosures of this kind. He is a serious violator of basic social compacts.

      This is something for which any country in the world would prosecute him, except that this is one of the few countries in which he could expect a fair trial, and something short of cruel and unusual punishment if convicted. Russia is NOT one of those few countries, which adds additional insult to the injury of them granting this guy “asylum,” as though he were escaping persecution by an oppressive regime.

      This is a serious violation of basic civil relations between nations, no matter what you think of the NSA and datamining.

      1. Doug Ross


        Can you speak with absolute certainty that the U.S. would hand over a Russian Edward Snowden immediately with no attempt to gather any information from him? Seriously?

      2. JesseS

        “Even if I agreed with you about the policies themselves — which I most emphatically do not — it would have nothing to do with the fact that, if Snowden indeed did what he and everyone else says he did, he is a criminal.”

        The problem is that he wasn’t the first. Specifically NSA and Prism.

        William Binney went step by step explaining how it worked years ago, with a relatively pragmatic tone. He even went on a short speaking tour with an ACLU lawyer and included off hand things like Federal agents raiding his home and threatened him and his family back in ’07. Yeah, nobody cared other than crypto nerds and conspiracy theorists.

        I suppose both men should have just sent a letter to the GAO, but the GAO’s conclusion in both cases was that the only real problem was that they had too high of a security clearance (SOP for all whistle blower investigations related to national security, I guess; “No problem, nothing to see”). Kinda funny given that Binney was one of the guys who helped build the early framework for PRISM to get around the fallout from the NSC in the 80s. The mechanic said the engine was knocking? Solution: The mechanic shouldn’t look at the car. If neither man had been a whistle blower, I think it is pretty safe to say their letters requesting inquiry would have been file 13’d. Then again, how would we know?

        By design we make sure legal channels go nowhere and that doesn’t even include the problem of the public paying attention.

        No matter the direction we go, there is no solution to the problem of domestic survalience. We could de-fund these programs, but when the inevitable 9/11 pt. 2 happens we will get something much worse. We can continue on our current path, but this will only lead to more problems. Eventually we’ll have to deal with external hacks and abuses of sensitive data though we’ll respond the same way we always do by shifting blame, pouring money and rallying around the flag.

        As for Snowden, playing the international man of mystery card is the only way to get the public’s attention and even then they only want to know what the color of his girlfriend’s underwear or place deadpools on him. His only mistake was not dressing up in spandex and finding a way to ransom Manhattan while dropping print outs of stolen power points from the Goodyear blimp. That really would have gotten the pubic’s attention.

        You could make the argument that it should never make it into the public’s gaze (the Jack Bauer defense?), but for something so big and so nebulous, not shining an occasional light on it will only lead to internal arrogance and flagrant carelessness. As far as concerns that we can no longer catch terrorists because their behavior has changed now that they know our big, dark, kinda vague secrets, if they were dumb enough to use AOL chat to begin with they will inevitably continue to make dumb mistakes in their own nefarious workflows. It is IT and it has always been an arms race. Ignoring that is overestimating yourself and underestimating your enemy.

        /Live Journal

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Even if I were to agree that this needed this sort of “light” shone on it — and I don’t (we knew these sorts of things were going on, and had had many discussions about it — we didn’t need this kind of detail) — I would still say that Snowden broke the law, and should face the consequences.

          Even if he were a martyr to a good cause. Which he isn’t.

    2. Bart

      Very interesting read Doug. It has always been my practice to be careful when doing research for anything on the internet and even though I know it is totally meaningless, I use the “In-Private Browsing” option when I do my inquiries. But, after looking up various plans for gazebos, every time I go to a safe site, guess what pops up in the form of an advertisement? You guessed correctly – ads for gazebos!! Now, if my activities are monitored for the sake of business advertising, just how easy would it be for any government agency to go to the companies offering the service and under a legitimate sounding business name, obtain the same information?

      The good use of the internet to track pedophiles vs. potential threats is a difficult balancing act to engage in when we consider the consequences of abuse at the hands of an invasive government no matter what country is involved.

      Internet privacy is the biggest “LIE” perpetrated on the public in the last 25 years. The same lie applies to cellphones and any other means of communication we use in everyday life. Privacy no longer exists as the author of the linked article is now aware of.

  3. Bart

    Putin has been “flippin’ the bird” at the United States since his first term as president of Russia or however you prefer to describe it.

    I almost gagged when GWB said..” I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.”…

    Before Gorbachev broke the Soviet Union up, when the USSR and the US were at any negotiating table, they were the professionals and we were the rank amateurs. After the break-up and the upheaval in Russia while the country was trying to find a new identity, the US had the upper hand. Now that Putin, a seasoned and hard as nails old Russian veteran is once again at the helm, the tables have been turned back around and once again, the US is the amateur.

    But then you have to ask yourself some questions. What if the tables were turned and Snowden was a Russian citizen who exposed Russia’s version of NSA and he ended up at Dulles International or LaGuardia? Would he be left at the terminal for a month? Would he be allowed to continue his journey to another country? Or would we offer him asylum and them pump him for everything we could? Or would he be turned over to Russia if they made a formal request to the US to extradite him? If we have the right to demand his return based on his actions, then in turn, how could we deny the same request if the tables were turned?

    As much as it pains me to think so, IMHO, he would be put on the next plane out, heading to Russia to face a legal system that is not friendly to “whistle blowers”.

    1. Doug Ross

      Exactly, Bart. The U.S. government would (and does) do everything in its power to gather information on friends AND foes. A Russian defector who had information on their secrets would be given an extended stay at the Four Seasons hotel and unlimited Spectravision movies. You think we’d give him back right away?

  4. Silence

    As I stated in a previous thread – Boycotting the Olympic Games is absurd, and only hurts the IOC, the American public, and especially the American athletes who have trained their entire lives for this particular Olympic games. Many of them will be peaking in 2014, and might not be able to compete anymore in 2018. There are many better ways we could “punish” the Russians for their transgressions….

    Basically, we need to remove… Lindsay from our Senate seat.

    1. Silence

      I’m not impressed by what I’ve heard of Ms. Mace thus far. I hope her campaign materials have a picture of an actual spiky club on them, though.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    I know Nancy. I like Nancy. I would probably never vote for her, though. I say probably because I’ve never had any deep political discussions with her, but I know I have huge objections to the political positions of the people with whom she has associated.

    That makes me wary. No, it’s not fair to judge people by their associates’ opinions, but I’ve been burned being “fair.” I used to think Tom Davis (who is a client of Nancy’s) was this really reasonable guy who just happened to be friends with Mark Sanford and worked for him loyally. Then he got elected himself, and started trying to revive the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s.

    I still think Tom’s a great guy. But I wouldn’t vote for him, unless he was up against someone with even more objectionable views, which is always possible.

    Of course, there’s hardly anyone I would vote for if he or she were running against Lindsey Graham, who is one of my favorite people in Washington. Admittedly, “favorite people in Washington” is a low bar, but he easily vaults over it.

      1. Doug Ross

        Love him or hate him, he drives the discussion of South Carolina politics in the blogosphere.

        He breaks more news stories than The State.

  6. bud

    Lindsey and Brad are way over reacting here. The US and the Russians have been playing this “espionage” game for decades. Snowden did us a service by shining a light on our government’s secret spying antics. He may not be a hero but to condemn him is such harsh terms is absurd. As for the Olympics, pretty dumb idea to boycott. All that will do is hurt the athletes and the fans. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks instead to demonstrate our revulsion to the poor treatment of Colombian coffee farmers. It would make about as much sense. Let’s put this in terms that Brad can appreciate on a more personal level.

  7. Barry

    Can’t blame Russia at all.

    Good move for them. They aren’t interested in helping Obama or America anyway. Would not make any sense to appease Obama and they know it.

    It took them awhile but this was a no brainer for them.

  8. Karen McLeod

    It seems to me that anyone who didn’t know this type of gov’t surveillance would occur when the “Patriot” Act was passed was/is extremely naïve. It’s in the nature of governments to snoop as much a possible. It’s part of any power structure, and legality has little to do with it.

  9. Ralph Hightower

    I don’t know what this means for the International Space Station. Russia has contributed some gear to ISS, but the US is the majority owner/contributor of the space station.

    However, our astronauts cannot get to the space station without Russia’s rocket and Soyuz.

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