Snowden’s best option: Come home and talk like there’s no tomorrow

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By Donald Kirk,

We keep hearing about all the countries where Edward Snowden is looking for asylum ― Ecuador and Venezuela would love to have him just to show they can’t be intimidated. Now it seems Ecuador is chickening out while Venezuela vies with Nicaragua for the distinction of defending the rights of this poor, persecuted American while forgetting about the rights of their own people.

Journalists at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on standby for word on the fate of Edward Snowden.  /CNN
Journalists at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on standby for word on the fate of Edward Snowden. /CNN

Too bad the U.S.-ROK alliance would seem to rule out South Korea as an option though he’d find plenty of sympathy among people who want to know if Washington has been snooping on Seoul along with all the other “targets” on the list. Oddly, though, North Korea doesn’t seem to have come up as a place where he might find asylum. Surely the North Koreans would like to know, though, about U.S. cyber-spying considering all the cyber espionage charges the U.S. and South Korea have been making against the North.

There is, however, another option that Snowden doesn’t
seem to have considered. He seems to have forgotten what could be the best idea of all — taking up the U.S. offer of a one-time travel document enabling him to return to the U.S. as a repentant felon.

Except that Snowden would not have to repent. Think of all
he could be saying before, during and after his trial. He
could make his accusers look like still greater fools than
they have already appeared for having given a 29-year-old
kid such access. Would the NSA, caterwauling about exposure
of its innermost secrets, want to provide him with a forum
for spilling still more secrets?

Snowden’s testimony could be far more damaging than the
reports we’ve been seeing in publications ranging from the
German Der Spiegel to The Guardian of Britain about the NSA
spying on friends and enemies alike.

The problem with those reports is not only that they’re
fragmentary but also that they lack real credibility.
What’s really wrong, Americans ask, about trying to figure
out what all those foreigners are doing? The response
in middle America is we can’t trust those people anyway,
and it’s a good the NSA is keeping track of them.

Put Snowden on the stand in a courtroom in the U.S., though,
and he might seem much more convincing as a critic of
surveillance that also extends and possibly endangers all
Americans. He can carry on all he likes about how awful
President Obama and Vice President Biden have been in
persuading foreign governments to balk at giving him safe
haven, but he could call their bluffs totally if he were to
say, Ok, now I want to go home and say still more that will
really fix you guys.

Would the NSA, given that risk, want to put Snowden through
a prolonged trial that could be a real embarrassment to the
dopes who gave him such an opening for access to all their
dark and dirty secrets? At some point in this whole charade
NSA and CIA heads should be rolling — not for betraying the
U.S. Constitution but for being so stupid. And they should
also be held accountable for how many others have had
similar access — and the chance to run off with secrets for
sale to anyone with the money to buy them.

The best reason for Snowden to come home, though, is that he
would get a hero’s welcome. Think of all the academics
from Cambridge, Mass., to Berkeley, Calif., who would be
lionizing him, making him a hero and a martyr, portraying
him as the victim of an imperial America.

Conservatives might want to jail him forever, but how could
they overcome the portrayal of Snowden as one who wanted to
battle for a return to the principles set forth by the
founding fathers in the constitution? If the views of Ron
Paul are indicative, Snowden is guaranteed a strong
conservative following — a fusion of rightists and
leftists with a shared vision of old-time values.

The problem with Snowden’s remarks while overseas is the
suspicion that he’s a man on the lam who’s losing
credibility. He’s soon going to run out of things to say
and then fade into the miasma of trouble-makers whom a lot
of people don’t quite believe, much less admire.

His credibility among Americans will vastly increase once
he’s back on U.S. soil, yakking away in court, in the
media, even from prison. If he’s finally sentenced, he can
be sure plenty of people will be fighting to get him out
while holding him up as a hero for the ages rather than an
oddball who ran off with the company’s secrets.

Not even the North Koreans could show him such respect —
and provide such an opportunity for him to badmouth the
system that entrusted him with all that inside stuff in the
first place.

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