Sorry, I'm going to be relentless on this -- because it's so fake.
"I'm your worst enemy. I'm an American who cares."
Here's my critique of Snowden's TV stunt with Putin -- a feint and distraction designed ultimately to make it seem as if you "can" have what is termed "a national conversation on mass surveillance in Russia" -- but you can't.
Here's my exposure of Snowden's op-ed piece in the Guardian as more active-measure style manipulation from this agent of influence --- just just plain agent, we don't know yet.
Here's my explanation of why any hopes that now we can expect more "balance" of Greenwald are dashed instantly.
Here's my post about how Michael Kelley, who has been such a good critic of Snowden, fell for this latest gambit - it was alluring, I guess.
Here's my Storiful on the debate with Robert MacKey on how he cut off the more critical debate about Snowden's op-ed piece.
So here we are all, and instead of talking about this lovely "national conversation on mass surveillance in Russia" -- or, as Michael Kelley is now restructuring it to look better, i.e. moving the goal-posts -- "the global conversation we need to have on mass surveillance" -- let's see how it is really doing! In Russia, where it counts!
I noted yesterday that I wasn't seeing much press coverage in Russia proper about Snowden's TV stunt -- there was "OMG Snowden" from snob.ru as they live-blogged Putin's call-in show -- they were basically snickering through the whole thing. There was the funny sidebar we discovered via @RobertMackey's feed whereby RT.com operative Ivor Crotty pretended Snowden was spontaneous and he didn't know anything about it.
Now there's something in colt.ru - a good independent web site, always critical and thoughtful - and we'll see how it is seen by actually independent thinkers in Russia.
Mind you, lots and lots of Russian intellectuals who are perfectly decent and perfectly independent in their context in fact don't criticize Snowden as I do. I accept that. I'm in a minority, for sure, even in the US -- a tiny one.
They see Snowden in a context that is a mixture of revulsion at globalization, that they see as harming their culture and as "American" (never German or Japanese); they see Snowden as an American imperialist phenomenon "owning the Internet" and snooping on them, and that bothers them as Russian patriots -- they're more like Europeans here. Of course, Snowden, Greenwald et.al have served all this up in the most tendentious, propagandaistic manner -- of course not without WikiLeaks' and Russian intelligence's help -- and it works.
But even so, few Russian dissidents have anything remotely like my views on Snowden - that's not the norm. The norm for the independent Russian intellectual who marches against the war in Crimea or media censorship is to say, Snowden has done something useful, he's a civic activist, a whistleblower, etc. -- although they'll hasten to add that of course he's now being manipulated in some way. None of them seem to be beating a path to his door; none of them have written a book about him; none of them have produced a single scoop on him; none of them have any fresh insights on him. Everything is steered by Putin and the Western Snowdenista press, and they merely read it in translation. All this is itself a phenomenon, of course.
But if anything, this outright active measure with Snowden has now changed their view of him for the worse, as colt.ru shows us.
Keep in mind that most of this article is devoted to other issues that Putin raised that are far, far more worrisome for Russians than the exoticisms of server artifacts in geekland - the war in Crimea, the cultural policy for Russia, media suppression, the economy, etc. Snowden comes at the very end of this piece as a sort of oddity. Here's what they say:
First, they talk about Putin's fear that unrest -- Bolotnaya, Medvedev reforms, Kasyanov, etc. were going too far and he better rein things in. And he became disappointed in his Western partners they said:
Belkovsky: Because he believed the "Arab spring" was wrong, and American had organized it for reasons unknown. It created problems for itself and the whole world, especially in the countries where it organized it.
Moryev: That is, he perceived the events on Maidan as an "Arab spring" which was now creeping up on the Kremlin.
Belkovsky: Yes. And then there was Snowden, which was also a very important element. Snowden is not a great historical figure, but he opened up Putin's eyes to the fact of how cynically America intrudes on the private lives of the greatest people. Today at a press conference, Putin returned to that repeatedly, speaking of how Andres Fogg Masmussen taped him...And that the Western, European leaders were forced to speak in a whisper at home because the Americans were wiretapping them and so on. This topic for him turned out to be very painful, because the Americans, it turned out, were wiptapping him and knew his personal secrets and that meant they could use this.
Morev: But they more likely use that if he winds up in the status of enemy, and not partner.
Belkovsky: I think that he thinks the opposite, that if gets rid of all dependencies on America, then it won't matter. For example, he has not left Moscow for a long time.
Morev: On the whole, the situation is very reminiscent of the late Stalin, when the role of Poskrebyshev here is played by Dmitry Peskov, and Putin sits in Novo-Ogaryovo and never comes out.
See? Snowden is merely reinforced as someone who has exposed America's evil -- and Putin can use that again and again. His question to Putin about his own surveillance is just brushed off, even by these critics of Putin's -- it doesn't matter.