Is the enemy of your enemy your friend?
President Donald J. Trump, meet fugitive Edward J. Snowden.
Mr. Snowden, famous for divulging the NSA’s illegal domestic spying operations and other secrets to The Washington Post and to Glenn Greenwald with the Guardian in London, is clearly the enemy of the Fourth Amendment-trampling “Deep State.” And that same Deep State appears to work as nothing less than President Trump’s enemy.
“The Justice Department inspector general . . . castigated former FBI director James B. Comey for his actions during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and found that other senior bureau officials showed a ‘willingness to take official action’ to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president,” the Washington Post reported last week.
As G-Man Peter Strzok texted in response to G-Woman Lisa Page’s concern that Trump could possibly become president: “We won’t let that happen.”
These two were more than mere lovers. They were also big players at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ms. Page was legal counsel to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was later fired for allegedly lying under oath — and who now faces possible criminal prosecution for unauthorized leaking. Strzok, then chief of the FBI’s Counterespionage Section (before being demoted), led both the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server and the probe into whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign.
The IG report acknowledged: “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the (Clinton)-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”
Perhaps President Trump isn’t paranoid. Not clinically.
It’s not paranoia when “they” are out to get you.
This week, Ed Snowden celebrates his 35th birthday, still stuck in Moscow five years after Obama cancelled his passport, because Snowden spilled the beans on the Obama administration’s illegal mass surveillance of Americans.
The Justice Department charged Snowden with three felonies: theft of government documents, and, under the 1917 Espionage Act, with “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”
“He is a lawbreaker,” said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at the time running for president. “He violated American law.” And she should know, eh? “He violated his duties that he assumed when he took the job that he had.”
But take a breath. What would you do if you had pledged loyalty to your employer, swearing to keep said employer’s secrets, and then discovered your employer to be involved in breaking the law?
Presidents Obama and Bush agreed that Snowden had harmed the country. And Obama claimed that all of his efforts to look busy about reining in intelligence-gathering abuse were just about to pop when Snowden leaked the truth and forced a public reckoning.
CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin called Snowden “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.” Of course, Toobin likely thinks the same about Trump.
This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Snowden and Trump have at least one thing in common: a mutual distrust of their common enemies.
But relationships are never easy. During the 2016 campaigns, Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I think he’s a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly.” Trump also predicted, “if I were president Putin would give him over.”
Candidate Trump even noted that folks such as Snowden are sometimes executed.
Yet, he said that before becoming commander-in-chief.
He said that before he learned that this same Deep State had used an uncorroborated dossier “bought and paid for” by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign to secure a warrant from a secret FISA court to “spy” on his campaign.
And prior to his administration being hit with a thousand leaks from deep within the state he was in charge of.
Before the official “resistance.”
Other politicians would be deathly afraid of such a public flip-flop. After tough talk, they would never consider making a deal for Edward Snowden to enjoy his next birthday in America — perhaps pardoned in all or in part.
But Trump has shown that he can change his mind, dramatically. Switch course on a dime, as with Kim Jong “Rocket Man” Un.
And he also has the experience of having heard James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence under Obama, pontificate on how “given the massive effort the Russians made, and the number of citizens that they touched . . . and given the fact that it turned on less than 80,000 votes in three states, to me, it just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election, and it’s my belief they actually turned it.”
This is the same official who lied to Congress about the existence of the mass surveillance program, which is what spurred Snowden to act. “I would say the breaking point was seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress,” Snowden has explained. “There’s no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions.”
Well, the president doesn’t have to be Edward Snowden’s bosom buddy. Nor does he have to bring Snowden home simply as a way to hit at the Deep State.
Instead, President Trump could decide that what Snowden did took guts and, moreover, that it is important for the future of freedom in this country that the Deep State not ever be permitted to commit 300 million felonies violating the privacy rights of every American citizen.
Bring Snowden home.
You know you want to, Mr. President.