Edward Snowden escapes Hong Kong drone strike to spy on Ecuador’s enlightened neighbours
EDWARD Snowden the National Security Agency whistleblower, is heading to… Ecuador. That’s where Julian Assange wants to go, should the WikiLeaks head man ever escape his asylum lounge in London’s Ecaudorean embassy. One day, we should know pretty much everything about Ecuador.
That’s if Snowden makes it. He’s been charged with espionage and theft by the US Government. Snowden told us that the NSA can and does incidentally log domestic communications while targeting foreigners. In short, the NSA spies on Americans. And such is the power of the USA, that Britons get spied on, too.
WikiLeaks, which is supporting Mr Snowden, says in a statement:
“Mr Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr Snowden arrives at his final destination his request will be formally processed.”
But isn’t Snowden just a US traitor? He’s not on the side of freedom. He’s just on the other side. He fled to Hong Kong, not exactly a bastion of free expression. He was out to win friends in Beijing:
In an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper, Snowden claims the U.S. has long been attacking a Hong Kong university that routes all Internet traffic in and out of the semi-autonomous Chinese region. Snowden said the National Security Agency’s 61,000 hacking targets around the world include hundreds in Hong Kong and mainland China, the paper reported late Wednesday. The Post, Hong Kong’s main English-language newspaper, said Snowden had presented documents to support those claims, but it did not describe the documents and said it could not verify them.
The New Yorker noted that the Chinese were warming to the grass:
Offering details about America’s cyber strategy on China may not help him much in American public opinion, but it already has in China. After initially attracting muted attention during a Chinese holiday earlier this week, by Thursday, his case was major news, and Snowden was a popular man here. Mo Shucao flagged me to an online survey that found that seventy-eight per cent of respondents regarded Snowden as a freedom fighter who protects civil liberties. As for how the Chinese government should handle the case, eighty-one per cent supported giving Snowden asylum either to protect him or extract more of the intelligence he is able to leak. Only three per cent supported surrendering him to the United States.
So. Why didn’t Snowden head to China? Adam Minter has an idea:
What’s becoming clear is that it’s in China’s best interest that Snowden leave Hong Kong — and soon. No doubt, on Monday there was no small amount of gloating in Beijing at the thought of a former U.S. intelligence analyst contemplating asylum on Chinese territory. But that satisfaction likely gave way to a wary recognition that Snowden is an advocate for digital privacy and against the surveillance state. Whatever benefit he might serve as an intelligence asset, or as a source of national prestige, is outweighed by the prospect of the world’s most famous whistle-blower living out his days in Hong Kong with nothing better to do than turn his attention to the surveillance state across the border.
In Ecuador, Snowden can spy on Peru and Colombia.
China is an easy target for criticism. But at least the US Even can change:
Seeking to drag the shadowy world of U.S. national security law into the light, a bipartisan group of senators has proposed a bill that would declassify significant legal opinions reached by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court… The bill is based on Merkley’s past proposal to declassify important FISA court opinions. He is joined by a small bipartisan group of senators that includes Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Al Franken of Minnesota. Republicans joining the effort include Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada.
And Snowden could have been killed in Hong Kong. Crank up the Drone Strike:
“Hong Kong is an island; it’s a port city surrounded by deep water. In 2008 the Navy demonstrated something called Submarine Over-The-Horizon Organic Capability—launching and controlling a lethal Switchblade drone from a submerged sub. The Switchblade is a one-use drone, powered by a quiet electric motor, that weighs about six pounds and flies up to 50 mph for 15 minutes. Switchblade carries a high-explosive warhead that can blow up everything within a 1-, 5-, or 7-meter range around the drone; it can take out an individual, or a truck. A high-resolution video camera in the nose allows a human operator to verify the target before detonating the drone. This is a far less destructive than the 20-pound warhead on the Hellfire missiles fired by Reaper drones, which can cause considerable collateral damage.”
But they want him alive…