Snowden's Inconvenient Truth about Spies; Everybody Does It, but Nobody Does It like Barack Obama

Article excerpt

Byline: David A. Keene, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Although many Americans continue to regard Edward Snowden as some sort of traitor, he is seen increasingly by many in Europe as a whistleblowing hero, and for Russia's Vladimir Putin, he is the gift that keeps on giving.

No longer hiding, Mr. Snowden is becoming more and more visible in Moscow, where last week it was announced that he's landed a job with one of Russia's social-networking firms, is increasingly willing to meet with reporters and was even spotted playing the tourist on a Moscow riverboat.

When Mr. Putin's government originally decided to thumb its nose at President Obama by granting the fugitive National Security Agency (NSA) contractor the right to remain in Russia without fear of extradition for at least a year, the Russians relished sticking it to the U.S. president, but apparently didn't expect what's come since.

Mr. Putin said famously at the time that trying to squeeze much benefit out of the affair would be like sheering a pig ... there is lots of squealing and little wool. The Russian president must not have known at the time what Mr. Snowden had arranged to turn over to Western press outlets before landing in Moscow early last summer or he might used a different analogy.

Since then, of course, Mr. Snowden's revelations have shocked many in Congress, put U.S. intelligence officers and administration officials on the spot, disrupted Washington's relations with our most reliable allies, and allowed Mr. Putin, a former KGB operative, and Russian officials to act like outraged ACLU members shocked at the extent of U.S. spying. Russia even went so far as to host the Sam Adams Awards in October, at which Mr. Snowden was honored for promoting integrity in intelligence.

American defenders of NSA spying continue to argue in the face of outrage in Germany, France, Spain and elsewhere that it is hypocritical for any of these nation's leaders to act shocked at learning that governments spy not only on their enemies and adversaries, but their friends. To an extent, they are right. In the real world, gentlemen do read each other's mail, and Europeans have plenty of experience with the organs of state security in their own countries.

The outrage, however, is real and seems to stem from a feeling that neither the East German Stasi, Mr. …