After playing bad cop with the Chinese, the United States is now playing good cop with the Kremlin in its global pursuit of NSA leaker Edward Snowden
On Tuesday, in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Snowden would not be extradited to the U.S., American officials responded with a flurry of diplomatic pleasantries. "We’ve seen comments by Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin and we understand that Russia must consider the issues raised by Mr. Snowden’s decision to travel there," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. "We agree with President Putin that we do not want this issue to negatively impact our bilateral relations."
Secretary of State John Kerry struck a similarly conciliatory tone during a news conference in Saudi Arabia. "We are not looking for a confrontation," Kerry said Tuesday. "We are not ordering anybody. We are simply requesting under a very normal procedure for the transfer of somebody."
Both Kerry and Hayden insisted that a "clear legal basis" existed to expel Snowden based on the "status of his travel documents and the pending charges against him." But their measured tones contrasted with Monday’s fiery condemnations of China and threats to Russia after Snowden fled from Hong Kong to Moscow.
Those remarks saw Kerry vowing that there would be "consequences" if Russia failed to return Snowden. They also saw White House Press Secretary Jay Carney coming down even harder on China. "This was a deliberate choice by the government to release the fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant," he said. "That decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship … If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem."
When asked why Kerry and other U.S. officials seems to be cooling down their rhetoric, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell pointed out a difference between the Chinese and the Russian predicaments. With Hong Kong, "we had and have a longstanding bilateral extradition treaty," said Ventrell. With Russia, "there’s a slightly different situation … We don’t have a formal extradition treaty."
If one were to read between the lines, it would suggest that Washington is at Moscow’s mercy to send back Snowden, which makes friendly overtures something of a last resort. Officials have been quick to point out that the U.S. has sent numerous criminals back to Russia at the Kremlin’s behest, but that doesn’t guarantee reciprocity.
"We do think that he should be expelled and deported to the United States," said Ventrell. "There’s a basis for this cooperation. There’s been some excellent law enforcement cooperation and we’d like that to continue." When asked why Kerry and other officials seemed to be walking back their rhetoric, Ventrell rejected the characterization. "Our points have been consistent all along."
Noah Shachtman is Foreign Policy's executive editor of news, directing the magazine's coverage of breaking events in international security, intelligence, and global affairs. A Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, he's reported from Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, and Russia. He's written about technology and defense for the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, among others.
Previously, Shachtman was a contributing editor at Wired magazine, where he co-founded and edited its national security blog, Danger Room. The site took home the Online Journalism Award for best beat reporting in 2007, and a 2012 National Magazine Award for reporting in digital media.
Shachtman has spoken before audiences at West Point, the Army Command and General Staff College, the Aspen Security Forum, the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, Harvard Law School, and National Defense University. The offices of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and the Director of National Intelligence have all asked him to contribute to discussions on cyber security and emerging threats. The Associated Press, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, ABC News, and NPR have looked to him to provide insight on military developments.
In 2003, Shachtman founded DefenseTech.org, which quickly emerged as one of the web's leading resources on military hardware. The site was later sold to Military.com. During his tenure at Wired, he patrolled with Marines in the heart of Afghanistan's opium country, embedded with a Baghdad bomb squad, pored over the biggest investigation in FBI history, exposed technical glitches in the U.S. drone program, snuck into the Los Alamos nuclear lab, profiled Silicon Valley gurus and Russian cybersecurity savants, and underwent experiments by Pentagon-funded scientists at Stanford.
Before turning to journalism, Shachtman worked as a professional bass player, book editor, and campaign staffer on Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. A graduate of Georgetown University and a former student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shachtman lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Elizabeth, and their sons, Leo and Giovanni.| The Cable |
Stevens’ diary reveals his brooding, hopeful final days; The Army: more cuts are coming; Why would Russia cough up Snowden?; Did the Pentagon blacklist “Snowden” URLs?; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |