Rachel Marsden

Meanwhile, everyone knows that defectors are only supposed to leak intel to their new overlords in exchange for protection, and this guy wants to blow out of Russia as soon as he can and go on an international tour?

Putin must be at his wit's end trying to balance all of his interests in this affair. Does anyone believe that if Snowden was a defector from Russia, he'd be permitted to loiter around the pre-customs area of a Moscow airport as if he were under diplomatic immunity? An airport isn't an embassy. Pretending that it is merely serves as a convenient rhetorical buffer for Putin while he figures out how to balance three competing interests: wanting to stick it to the West, denouncing treason in general, and trying to prevent Snowden from hijacking Russia's foreign policy position vis-à-vis the United States.

Putin's trying to do as much as he can with rhetoric, giving himself and Snowden the space they both need to serve their respective agendas, but apparently only one of them is astute enough to realize it. Never before has Putin so often spoken of "our American partners," yet he refuses to arrest or detain the American fugitive who's been loitering in the airport for several weeks. Words aren't consistent with actions. It's reminiscent of the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections, after which authorities promised increased transparency by trotting out actual transparent ballot boxes.

The rhetorical cover is the standard modus operandi of Russian intelligence. And it should be noted that one of the "human rights advocates" appearing at the Snowden press conference, Olga Kostina, founded the human rights organization "Resistance" but is also a Russian domestic intelligence agent, as explained in Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan's 2011 book The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB.

Russian parliament member Ruslan Gattarov recently told the New York Times, "We need to quickly put these huge transnational companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook under national controls. This is the lesson Snowden taught us."

Nice blowback, Ed -- now Russia wants access to the private data of American companies, too.

Snowden is way out of his depth in this house of mirrors, and increasingly he has something in common with Putin's usual summer wardrobe: They're both at risk of getting doffed.

Rachel Marsden

Rachel Marsden is a columnist with Human Events Magazine, and Editor-In-Chief of GrandCentralPolitical News Syndicate.
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