The hunt for fugitive Edward Snowden, wanted on espionage charges, has all the elements of a John le Carre spy novel.
As of Tuesday, Snowden has given U.S. authorities the slip in an international cat-and-mouse chase from the U.S. to Hong Kong to Moscow, with well-laid plans to fly on to South America (by way of Havana), where he is hoping to be given asylum by Ecuador, the country that is harboring WikiLeaks fugitive Julian Assange in its London embassy.
It is a twisted tale in a sea of ironies and hypocrisies in which Snowden sees himself as the lone champion of civil liberties and freedom of speech as he nonetheless seeks protection among some of the world's worst despots and anti-free speech governments, including Communist China and Russia, where you are sent to prison or forced labor camps for daring to criticize the government or its leaders.
In Ecuador, which Snowden hopes will be his ultimate destination and safe harbor from U.S. prosecution, he will be embraced by President Rafael Correa, a vehement and hateful enemy of the U.S. Since his election in 2007, he's launched a war on freedom of the press, imposing a strict new media law aimed at muzzling his critics, dragging them into court with libel suits, and launching a vindictive crusade to weaken media outlets.
Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "no small irony" that Snowden was seeking protection from countries like Russia and China that place strict government limits on Internet access and human rights.
But Snowden's deceptive narrative about what motivated him to steal and expose our most secret defenses against terrorist attacks was as phony as a $3 bill. In interviews,he said he had gradually come to the conclusion that the U.S. international surveillance programs he worked on were a threat to Americans' freedoms and right to privacy.
In fact, in a June 12 interview with the South China Morning Post published Monday, Snowden said that from the very beginning, he sought the subcontractor job with Booz Allen in order to obtain evidence about its surveillance methods.
"My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked. That is why I accepted that position about three months ago," he told the Post.
And what about this administration's feeble efforts to capture Snowden and bring him to justice?
Attorney General Eric Holder made repeated phone calls to his counterpart in Hong Kong, as did other Justice Department attorneys and FBI officials, urging them to detain Snowden, only to be left twisting slowly in the wind for more than a week by foot-dragging Chinese requests for more information and explanations.