Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Hapless, Powerless President Can't Do Jack About Edward Snowden's Global Jetsetting

I read this piece at Politico last night, and it's devastating, "On Edward Snowden's travel, no good options for President Obama":

Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong comes a day after a senior administration official warned that failure to extradite Snowden “will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong’s commitment to the rule of law.”

The Justice Department had been in continual contact with Hong Kong officials at senior levels since learning June 10 that Snowden had relocated there, the department said Sunday, including a call last week from Attorney General Eric Holder directly to Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen.

The State Department, the U.S. consulate and the FBI had also repeatedly engaged their Hong Kong counterparts during that two-week period.

While Hong Kong’s government said Sunday that Snowden’s departure was via “a lawful and normal channel,” the Justice Department expressed frustration with the decision.

“The request for the fugitive’s arrest for purposes of his extradition complied with all of the requirements of the U.S./Hong Kong Surrender Agreement,” a Justice Department representative said in a statement.

“At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the U.S.’s provisional arrest request. In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling.”

Earlier Sunday, the Justice Department had said it would continue to discuss the matter with Hong Kong and to “pursue relevant law enforcement cooperation with other countries where Mr. Snowden may be attempting to travel.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to allow Snowden to change planes at Moscow’s airport on the first leg of his j0urney comes just a week after an icy bilateral G-8 appearance with Obama, where the Russian leader noted bluntly that on Syria, the positions of the United States and Russia “do not coincide.”

One reason Putin isn’t likely to cooperate now, Talbott said, is that the United States would almost certainly take in a Russian operative who admitted to leaking information about that country’s secret surveillance programs.

“If the shoe were on the other foot, if there was somebody who was wanted in Russia for leaking classified material would we feel obliged to turn them over?” Talbott said. “I don’t know, I kinda doubt it.”

In fact, there is little the United States could do now to secure Snowden’s return that wouldn’t chance creating more problems than it solves.

“I don’t see from my limited knowledge of how the world operates that there is any prospect of getting him back unless we were to interdict one of these flights,” said Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “It’s in the realm of the possible, but not the likely. It would have serious consequences for relations with countries that I don’t think we are interested in poking right now.”

Charles Krauthammer drove the point home on this afternoon's Special Report All Stars.