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Snowden and Russian Intelligence: An Update

January 12, 2015

Now that Ed Snowden has been in Russia for more than eighteen months, having settled into a cosy domestic arrangement with his stripper dancer girlfriend, his long-term presence in Putinistan has become a bit of an embarrassment to Ed’s admirers who possess any sense of honesty and/or decency. His sponsor and protector is a KGB thug who does smash-and-grabs against other countries, and for normals this is a tad incongruous with Snowden’s saintly status as a “human rights activist” without par.

However, rather than moderate their claims, the Snowden Operation has chosen to double-down. In a recent interview, the most famous of all NSA defectors stated, “They talk about Russia like it’s the worst place on earth. Russia’s great,” without clarifying who exactly “they” might be. Ed was at pains to make clear that he has not yet wound up the vodka-swilling basket-case that most Western defectors to Moscow become if they stay for very long.

Now we have one of the members of the Snowden Operation inner circle explaining that Russian intelligence did, in fact, attempt to recruit Ed to work for them, but he declined. According to Sarah Harrison, the pitch came in mid-2013 when Ed was stuck at Sheremetyevo airport for six weeks, but the defector “didn’t give anything to the Russians at all,” and the FSB never tried to recruit Ed again, giving him asylum without anything in return.

Sarah Harrison, of course, is the Wikileaks stalwart who was dispatched by Julian Assange, her collaborator/lover/whatever, to Hong Kong to escort Ed on his fateful trip to Moscow. I’ve pointed to Wikileaks, in particular its transparent ties to Russian intelligence, as a key aspect of the Snowden Operation, and now that Assange’s operation is parroting the latest Kremlin-approved USA-did-it disinformation about the recent Paris terrorist attacks (which today was repeated by none other than Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister), this issue needs to be explored more than ever — not to mention that it was Wikileaks that told Ed to go to Russia and stay there.

Moreover, the notion that Ed was not approached by Russian intelligence until he reached Moscow is transparently laughable to anybody even marginally acquainted with the real-world of espionage, as I explained many months ago. To repeat myself:

What can be dismissed out of hand is the notion that, while staying in Hong Kong a year ago, Ed met with Russian spies – sorry, “diplomats” – at their consulate there and, all of a sudden, decided to hop a flight to Moscow. Espionage simply does not work that way, folks. We can only guess at what was on Ed’s mind, but those who know the Russian “special services” understand that such a scenario is so implausible that it can be ruled out altogether. The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) simply does not allow American intelligence personnel they’ve just met to jump on a flight to Mother Russia. That never happens.

We also have the expert testimony, last May, of Oleg Kalugin, a retired KGB general, that “of course” Snowden is working for Russian intelligence. Kalugin “made his bones” heading Line KR, the legendary foreign counterintelligence arm of the KGB’s elite First Chief Directorate: in other words, his job was recruiting and running agents just like Ed Snowden. Unless you happen to know more about Line KR operations than MajGen Kalugin, I recommend you take his word on this one.

Sarah Harrison, after more than eighteen months of flat-out denials that Russian intelligence had anything to do with her client/buddy Ed, now concedes that the FSB did have a chat with the defector. However, she maintains:

1. Ed said no and gave the Russians nothing, ever.

2. The FSB never asked Ed again to cooperate.

3. The Kremlin was fine with this and allowed Ed to stay in Russia indefinitely despite his non-cooperation.

If you believe any of these assertions, much less all of them, please do not discuss important matters like intelligence when adults are present, since you appear a fool and Putin patsy.

As the wheels long ago came off the Snowden show as anything other than a Russian disinformation operation, Ed and his circle of helpers are now resorting to lies so laughable that you wonder how dumb they think the Western public actually is. To be fair to Putin, if Westerners can believe Ed Snowden is a “human rights hero,” despite mountains of contrary evidence, why wouldn’t they also believe that the Obama administration is “really” behind terrorism in France?

19 Comments
  1. Blackshoe permalink

    Random question about Wikileaks: do you think they were an intel operation from the start, or just were easily co-opted since they were fellow travelers? I read the Vanity Fair bio of Julian Assange; he came across as a complete sociopath who would be easy to turn, but also as someone who could have been recruited from the start.

    • I think the latter, my hunch.

    • Guy Montag permalink

      I wonder if Julian Assange is indeed a sociopath then perhaps that’s the real reason why he’s cowering in the Ecudorean embassy in London, so he could avoid extradition to Sweden to face rape charges?

  2. Netizen permalink

    Just for relevance.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20130905122103/http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/09/dont-leave-home/
    Russia Issues International Travel Advisory to Its Hackers

    By Kevin Poulsen
    09.03.13

    Excerpt:

    For roughly two decades Russia has been something of a safe haven for professional spammers, hackers, phishers and fraudsters hitting the U.S with cyber scams. Now the Russian government has some advice for its cyber criminal class, and any other citizens who might be wanted by U.S. law enforcement: Don’t leave home.

    Yesterday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a public notice advising “citizens to refrain from traveling abroad, especially to countries that have signed agreements with the U.S. on mutual extradition, if there is reasonable suspicion that U.S. law enforcement agencies” have a case pending against them.

    (snip)

  3. Reblogged this on mrmeangenes and commented:
    Snowden re-visited.

  4. Guthlac permalink

    Great explanatory piece.

    I have to admit I initially and gullibly fell for it.

    However, reading more serious stuff, including yours, about this affair, and listening to Ed’s lame phone
    questions to VVP during his April 2004 Putin-a-thon show and the latter’s deadpan answers concerning
    mass surveillance in Putinland (“No, we don’t do this”) finally opened my eyes.

    Regarding Lavrov, this tidbit:

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/514215.html

    I bet he does!

  5. unixgrl permalink

    It is my personal opinion that Ed is trying to make himself sound more important then he really is. I don’t believe for one minute that Russian intelligence tried to recruit Ed..

  6. requiredname permalink

    And how did the Russians know that he is not working for the US when they granted him asylum? The “human rights hero” hypothesis is ridiculous.

    Also, look at this v-for-vendetta iconography; the hero is addressing the people through the channels of the bad guys: http://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/snowden-2.jpg

  7. Alex permalink

    Random observation: Snowden could not pursue a career as a soldier because he broke his legs during training–am I the only one who believes that this failure constituted part of his psychological motivation to leak and then defect?

    • That is one of the many questions in the “things to be explained about Ed” file.

    • I thought of that as well. In my opinion, he has pretty much failed at everything he tried. My goodness, the man couldn’t finish HS.. I believe there are some deep psychological issues that should have been caught. Seriously, who honestly believes that he held “HIGH” positions. I don’t have clearance nor do I know what type of “administrator” he was. I believe from what I’ve seen and read he had access to a SharePoint server and stole a bunch of PowerPoint slides. Oh, aside from fooling his co-workers with a higher level access into giving him their passwords. In some respects, I feel sorry for him as I believe there are some serious psychological issues going on. However, he made the choice to do what he did. He realized from his numerous failures he wasn’t going to amount to much, so taking these documents and releasing them gave him what he always truly wanted fame and admiration.

    • I don’s see the connection. Had I broken my legs in basic training, or at any later point, such that I couldn’t not pursue a military career, I would not have held that against my country. The military would not have casually gotten rid of someone who wanted to make a career of the military.

      It wasn’t a moral or intellectual failing that the military acted upon. He broke his legs. They would have acted on a straightforward assessment of the long-term consequences of his injuries. Bad luck doesn’t translate into huge grievance against the nation.

  8. Blackshoe permalink

    Re: your 1:20pm (Twitter) tweet about the RU disinfo machine. I was just thinking that they were getting awfully aggressive about the “mercenary”/”false flag” idea, which is odd, considering that going with the slightly different Lavrov theory (“these guys represent the opposition in Syria, you should be helping us with them, not supporting them”) is a lot more palatable, and would have a lot more credibility in the West.

    It’s almost like the Russians are believing the effectiveness of their own dezinformatsiya in influencing the West because all they hear is feedback from RT. It’s bizarre, to say the least.

  9. Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
    The latest on the “Snowden operation” from Mr. Schindler. Of most interest to me is the possibility/probability/certitude that Wikileaks cooperates with Russian intelligence, if it isn’t just a front.

  10. E.J. Mohr permalink

    My biggest question when this unfolded was how did he “disappear” in Hong Kong for almost one month. No one will convince me that the Chinese did not know exactly where he was. I’m assuming Beijing was well aware of his presence, likely talked to him, and perhaps helped him get in touch with the Russians. That’s my opinion and I suspect there’s something to it. Ultimately it may be decades until the “true story” comes out but it will be interesting.

    • Ed’s “missing time” in Hong Kong is a big question that should lead to many doubts about what he was really up to, and why. Decades indeed to find out, I fear.

  11. Snowden has surely his worth for the US-Republicans against Obama. So even lefties don’t want anymore vote for Democrats.

    For me was interesting, that after the refugee wave of underaged from right-wing countries of Latin-America, Moscow has signed a visa-free agreement with Honduras. The Republicans have used this affair to bring down Obama. Short after that you have heard of security lacks in the White House.

    So, I think, that Snowden could happen, while the Republicans need a strong Putin, showing a weak Obama, but on the other hand they must show a hardy hand against him. Not to forget, that for Putin is quite handy the armed conflict in Ukraine, like Chechnya has served him to establish his power structure.

    Such a contradiction you can detect by the Tories in England. Cameron shows with the mouth a opposing against Putin, but in reality he does nothing, having good connections to Russian oligarchs. You might add that British oil firms have lucrative contracts with Moscow. It is quite interesting how this dependencies work out by low oil prices. They will certainly lose influence in London. And who knows, how this will shake the British economy, which is already heavy struck through the pressure on offshores.

    WikiLeaks with Assange might be a question, what harm they can do in addition to the self-conflicted damage of US-politics? If the US understands WikiLeaks as a challenge, then the US will be only stronger, modernizing its infrastructure. The counter effect of Snowden and Assange related to the Russian Federation hasn’t taken place. Instead we get a danger of new bred generations under the influence of Putin, Kadyrov.
    The infiltration of WikiLeaks might not be more dangerous than the infiltration of US secret services themselves.
    An interesting fact might be Sweden with his grown right-wing movement. And here we have parallel a development of the Swedish economy with the Russian Federation.

    At least, Snowden will be of interest to the US election in 2016.

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