back to article Snowden dodges US agents in Moscow, skips out on flight

NSA leaker Edward Snowen's seat on the flight he booked from Moscow to Havana was empty on Monday, but if the throng of reporters who gathered at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport to interview Snowden had done their research, they would have realized he was never likely to board the plane. The flight Snowden booked …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He is a super hero for revealing the wickedness of the US government. He should get a metal.

    1. SteveK

      A metal what? A full metal jacket? It is indeed a possibility.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We need to kick out the treasonous government officials who spy and snoop on all US Citizens, illegally spy on reporters, and give special effort in spying on someone who said that they don't like Obama, and make him president and elect a new congress and get a new supreme court.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia

          That's the most work Kerry has done in 15 years.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            He did however end up with a sore finger, resulting in his 4th purple heart.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


      He was russian the metal in question would be Polonium 210.

  2. JoeF

    Ahh, the hypocrisy. The US chooses "not to live by the standards of the law" by illegally snooping on its citizens without warrant and with just a secret court's rubber stamp, but other countries better do...

    Do as the US says, not as the US does.

    Turning the US into a police state will be the lasting legacy of the Obama administration, unless they stop this illegal snooping now.

    1. Spearchucker Jones

      A snowball has better odds of surviving Jenna Jameson's silicone cleavage that the US doing away with their spying. With enough noise from the media PRISM and it's like will just be broken up, renamed and continue. There's just too much money to be had by the president, congress and the IT suppliers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @spearchucker jones

        I'm sorry, I cannot possibly accept your argument without photographic evidence of snowball non-survival, or alternatively a properly peer-reviewed study involving a statistically significant number of snowballs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not illegal, but it is uncool

      You misunderstand. What the NSA does is not illegal. It is aainst the spirit of the constitution and the concept of freedom but it is not sgsinst the law.

      This is what happens when you let lawyers run a country. They are a group for whom the highest art form is the ability to find loopholes and twist words to suit their desires.

      For most of us, the law is a codification of basic principles of human decency. For politicians, the law is.a straightjacket that prevents them from behaving the way they truly wish.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

        No I think a lot of what they are doing is illegal. But as soon as there is any danger of anyone getting in trouble they get a "get out of jail free card" like all the telcos that got immunity when people started lining up to sue them.

        Any "Problems" that come up will be fixed retroactively so no need to worry about stuff like laws or rules.

        1. TJGeezer

          Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

          True, but they only get out of jail free if they're rich, a corporation or another politician.

      2. sisk

        Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

        What the NSA does is not illegal. It is aainst the spirit of the constitution It's illegal and against both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution. I'm fairly certain that the existence of a secret court goes against the Constitution to, but I'm not completely confident on that one.

        They're not finding loopholes, they're just ignoring it completely.

        1. Kevin 6

          @sisk Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

          True they are not finding loopholes, but they are making them by adding them by tacking them onto other legislation that they claim is there to protect the citizens(the whole 10% they care about)

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool

            "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

            Not Illegal?

            GET. THE. FUCK. OUT.

            1. tom dial Silver badge

              Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool

              Enough of this nonsense. The laws under which the NSA collects communication data were passed by majorities in the elected Senate and House of Representatives, signed by elected Presidents (at least two of them), and the operational procedures were reviewed and approved by the Attorney General who was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate and by a court consisting of Federal judges nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They are the law in any part of the United States where a federal judge has not found them unconstitutional.

              So the NSA's actions are lawful. They may or may not be effective for their stated purpose (I suspect that they are not); they may or may not be constitutional (I believe they are not); and NSA operations may or may not be compliant with the laws and regulations. On the last, I have no opinion, and as far as I am aware the material Edward Snowden released has not been evaluated for that competent attorneys. Since the releases were selective and surely incomplete, that might be pointless.

              For now, it would be better if everyone stopped repeating untruths as if doing so somehow would make them true.

              1. Killraven

                Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool @tom dial

                "Enough of this nonsense. The laws under which the NSA collects communication data were passed by majorities in the elected Senate and House of Representatives, signed by elected Presidents (at least two of them), and the operational procedures were reviewed and approved by the Attorney General who was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate and by a court consisting of Federal judges nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They are the law in any part of the United States where a federal judge has not found them unconstitutional."

                Bull Pucky. No law can be made in opposition to the US Constitution without the express permission of all of the individual states. Period. Such is the rule of the highest law upon which the USA was founded.

                Furthermore, any member of the Executive or Legislative branches that voted/signed to approve "laws" in violation of the Constitution have thus also violated their oaths to uphold said Constitution.

              2. breakfast Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool

                When you talk about how it's an elected Senate and House Of Representatives signed by elected presidents and so on, who could the electorate have voted into power who would have resisted this legislation? Because of everyone in all the parties that the electorate could vote for stands in favour of it, then it's not really relevant whether or not they are elected is it? Voters had no choice at all.

            2. Suricou Raven

              Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool

              But they have a warrant: It says to hand over anything and everything. That makes it legal. The place is described (everywhere) and things specified (all of it).

              It's obviously violating the spirit of the constitution, but that isn't important. The law isn't about spirit, and it's barely about intent. It's about what the words actually say.

              1. Graham Cobb Silver badge
                Black Helicopters

                Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool

                They can make it "legal" (if it isn't already) and they can fool the (supine) American voters with the usual Four Horsemen but they can't undo the damage internationally.

                Of course anyone who thought about it knew the NSA were tracking everything entering and leaving the US but we didn't think about it. Nor did we realise that they were looking at corporate data from the inside.

                But now we are thinking about it. The backlash has begun: companies and individuals are switching from US IT and cloud providers to ones in their own country, or personal clouds, or third countries with less sophisticated spying capabilities. The EU will be forced to terminate the discussions on companies being allowed to store personal data in the US without telling their customers. Encryption is becoming more routine (and less suspicious) -- how many downloads of Https-Everywhere have happened since Snowden?

                People are thinking and caring more about what data is stored and transferred, by whom, and where.

            3. Robert Helpmann??

              Re: @sisk It's not illegal, but it is uncool

              Sorry, but this doesn't stand in isolation. The process is essentially legal until it is found to violate the constitution by the courts. The SCOTUS does not grant advisory rulings, so this would have to go to trial and make its way all the way up the chain for there to be a change in its legality. Both the other branches of the US government have signed off on this, so that means it is within the bounds of law, including constitutional law, until found to be otherwise. It is a process (I know that sounds trite, sorry).

              I cannot imagine this issue will not be challenged in court, multiple times, so we should get to find out if it is in fact legal. We should also continue see the political ramifications play out. These are, however, mostly separate issues.

      3. Allan George Dyer
        Black Helicopters

        Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

        It might not be illegal in the US, but it is illegal to do it here, and most other places outside the US. Why should we hand the grass over to the gang?

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          @allen dyer

          True, but what countries do you think aren't currently either doing the same or trying to bury plans to do the same. It's not like Russia, China, the UK etc can turn round and say oh we would never do anything like that.

      4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

        "You misunderstand. What the NSA does is not illegal. It is aainst the spirit of the constitution and the concept of freedom but it is not sgsinst the law."

        Oh, it's illegal. The NSA took some of their legal arguments they came up with to expand their data collection to the FISA court several years back, *and the FISA court turned it down*. They went ahead and followed this legal fiction anyway. It's also unconstitutional, as it stands there is not any accountability for how this system is used. The big problem is this system was built without consultation, and operated outside of any sort of oversite now that even FISA did not approve of their behavior.

        I'm glad Snowden got this information out, but really even his being able to get this much information packed away indicates to me the NSA is probably not compartmentalising stuff the way they should be either.

      5. lcb

        Re: It's not illegal, but it is uncool

        "What the NSA does is not illegal."

        I think you what you probably mean (or at least, would mean if you knew) that what the NSA does is not illegal unless caught and any evidence involved can't somehow be demeaned in the courts' version of distant, bureaucratic terms. That's a different concept of legality to the standard one, especially when coming from the authorities, the same institution in vague terms as who, to extents, controls the law.

        There are two meanings of this - that something is "not illegal" because one is not caught at it. And I guess that both are relevant here, the authorities likely at times at least to be involved in the first and attempting to place it in the context of the second.

        The first is simply that something is not portrayed as illegal because it has not been communicated about, acknowledged for what it ought to be, or reprimanded. These kind of terms are weak actually, as this kind of "not illegal" is as good a disturbed strangler's opinion that he is not on the wrong side of the law because it has not told him that. It doesn't need to be said that this type of "not illegal" is only utterly a misnomer.

        The second type of "not illegal" also finds itself based by those who live under its auspices around the idea that one is not on the wrong side of the law because, it can be alleged one can only reasonably conclude one must be told by the law this. It may involved perceiving there are grey areas in the law. It may involve perceiving that parts of the law either have not been interpreted properly yet to clearly mean one thing or the other. Or that one's own interpretation, in the circumstances (always considering the importance of a particular aim) can have to be the right interpretation. Always in the circumstances, placing their context or the aim higher that any other considerations.

        While there can be times when type two "not illegal" might be fair enough (maybe), and also those operating within its assumed "shelter" will suggest that one does not know anyway unless one goes to court, of course many involved persons know that they are only using the idea, and more falsely than in true terms.

        As mentioned at the top, of course type 1 may often be pretended to somehow have been conceived to have been within type 2 "non illegality".

        To answer Nicho, I think there are times when spying, invading privacy and so on are not against the law, you're right. Though is it not the case that this is more the exception than the rule? I think privacy laws and, actually, everyday laws favouring the sovereignty of the citizen can not be flouted generally, as a rule, otherwise it seems they are not really law, but wish and ideal.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What they are fundamentally doing...

      The NSA/CIA/FBI are not snooping on US citizens without respective relevant court order etc, they are getting GCHQ to do it for them, likewise the NSA is snooping on UK citizens for GCHQ.

      Neither are breaking their own regulations, neither is breaking their contractual agreements to share 'intelligence'.

      What they are doing is immoral, but not illegal.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: What they are fundamentally doing...

        Oh? How do they tell the difference between a citizen and a non-citizen when identities on the Internet are so mercurial?

    4. Shannon Jacobs

      The police state of America?

      I don't think you're giving enough credit to the big dick Cheney, but President Obama clearly failed to undo the damage he inherited. In short, the shock of 9/11 had already been used to drive the government to new depths of secrecy and the Constitution had been more undermined than ever before and Obama failed to undo the damage or reverse the trend. I think the historians' question will be whether or not Obama even slowed it down a bit.

      My current view on this is that Cheney and Rumsfeld won by basically playing clever bureaucratic poker. It's relatively easy to redirect the government a little bit through your political appointees, but the problem is that your political appointees leave office when you do. The innovation was to use those political appointees to target the career civil service. In theory, the civil service is supposed to be hired on the basis of competence with a focus on doing whatever they are told to do, but Cheney made it a high priority to change the retention and hiring processes. The existing civil servants were actively harassed and encouraged to quit, and the hiring process was "adjusted" so that the post-Cheney government was strongly tilted in a new direction.

      1. virhunter

        Re: The police state of America?

        What incentive would Obama have to do anything but expand the surveillance powers the previous administration gave him? He inherits a lot of power(all that really matters once you get the office) and doesn't have to spend any political capital. He has the added bonus of an American public that is half asleep and half retarded, so he could do anything and still be remembered as the greatest president of our time. It is why laws never get repealed and we can only expect the next president to be even worse, regardless of party or ideology.

    5. Rampant Spaniel

      You are woefully mistaken if you think stuff like this is solely Obama's fault, plenty of it is but if you think electing the other lot will help, it won't. The comments above re lawyers are entirely correct. There is an entire civil and military service behind each administration that by and large doesn't change with each new potus. Whilst the repubs love to act as champions of the constitution they are no better or worse than them dems.

      By all means hate Obama, but don't be fooled into thinking you'll get anything but more of the same elsewhere. The current fad of blaming him for stuff like the IRS (what they did was wrong and they deserve jail for it) is counter productive. Put aside prejudice for a second, the repubs said they would cut irs funding. Do you honestly think Obama needed to say anything to the irs? Go after the real crimes.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Turning the US into a police state will be the lasting legacy of the Obama administration"

      Most of this stuff was started by George Bush, actually. Reagan did some underhand stuff but you could not accuse him of wanting to spy on his own people.

      Agree, however, that despite being a supposed lawyer, Obama acts like a Mafia Boss.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just a matter of time

    The crims always make a mistake and it costs them their freedom.

    1. asdf

      Re: It's just a matter of time

      Might have happened already if the US government bureaucrats weren't incompetent and would have revoked his passport sooner or even more important put him on interpol lists. Not really taking a side in all this but the US government reaction to this has been very strange if this guy really was a big threat as they are making him out to be.

      1. Franklin

        Re: It's just a matter of time

        "Not really taking a side in all this but the US government reaction to this has been very strange if this guy really was a big threat as they are making him out to be."

        I don't find it that strange at all. When a bureaucracy reaches a certain size, it becomes almost impossible for that bureaucracy to act with alacrity no matter how much it may want to. Bureaucracies are cumbersome beasts, and it takes them a while to get their collective arses in gear.

        Even when they're really pissed off.

      2. TJGeezer

        Re: It's just a matter of time

        Very strange? Not really, if you consider that the bureaucrats who pushed it ahead in a spirit of being beyond moral or legal judgment wound up handing a hot potato to all those equally unprincipled politicians. The result is a predictable outcome when no politician or bureaucrat wants to be the last one holding the potato. It's now an avoidance game and has no more to do with being right, effective, moral or legal than building that data-amassing digital spider web did in the first place.

        Have you noticed that in the U.S., at least, criticism of the NSA's actions already centers on their getting caught at it or on their failure to prevent some dangerously principled contractor's employee from telling the truth about them? Even the reg calls Snowden a leaker, not a whistle-blower.

        If you believe the desperately patriotic posturing of those in power, or their twisted legalistic justifications ("Congress passed the law, go talk to them"), you probably believe the Pentagon's little fables about wanting to win wars, too. Unfortunately, the closer I look at any of this the more it seems like it's really about piping money to various favored contractors, building influence and avoiding responsibility. That's all.

        So Snowden's a leaker and a runner, not a whistle-blower. And yet everything he has said in the course of taking the huge risks he took indicates he acted, rightly or wrongly, out of principle. Funny this key question of motive has escaped the notice of everyone in authority and even many who are sympathetic to him.

        I keep coming up against jaw-dropping hypocrisy. I mean really -- 'US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia, saying it would be "deeply troubling" if Russia had advance notice of Snowden's arrival and chose "not to live by the standards of the law."' Good gawd. It beggars credulity.

        So Snowden was principled? Never fear, by the time they're done spinning his character in every direction but the inconvenient truth, we'll all believe he eats babies and sells their skins for soft ladies' gloves, to borrow a riff from Swift. Then all the bureaucrats and politicians will go back to the money pipeline business as usual.

        1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: It's just a matter of time

          Sad but true. Non-techies just don't seem to give a damn about what the NSA and GCHQ were up to between them. It also doesn't explain why the national newspapers (less the Guardian) aren't bothering to follow up the PRISM story and not concentrating on Snowden..

          1. Justicesays

            Re: It's just a matter of time

            I thought they aren't following up because our government, bastion of free speech that it is, sent out a gagging notice to all the papers and major media outlets threatening them with the official secrets act?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It's just a matter of time

              No, because any judge with an ounce of sanity would, as in earlier cases, agree that what you can freely read about on the Internet in publications from countries like Canada cannot be subject to such an order. The last one I remember was when the government tried to D-notice the name of an army officer, and it was in all of the US papers, thus making them look ridiculous. And that's without Spycatcher.

              People don't give a damn because most people have no concept of cause and effect. They cannot draw the path from "Government reading your emails" to "official takes a dislike to you and trawls through for anything they could use to upset you".

              The authorities can, however. How do you feel the average Council official feels about being able to get the goods on those annoying members of the public?

          2. aawelj

            Re: It's just a matter of time

            I would describe myself as a techie and frankly, I don't give a damn about what the NSA and GCHQ were up to. For me, the real question is, knowing what the NSA and GCHQ were set up for, i.e. to monitor communications in order to intercept information on potential threats both eyternal and internal (at least, this is what I have always thought they were meant to be doing), why is anybody surprised that they are in fact doing it? What did people think they were doing?

            I've always assumed that any form of communication I have used is subject to monitoring. I have also assumed that, given the volume of traffic that has to be monitored, any such monitoring cannot be very efficient without either enormous resources or some way of homing in on the rogue elements (which is where MI5, SIS, CIA, FBI etc come in).

            Maybe I'm paranoid, maybe I'm naive to think this is technically possible (although I would argue that as time passes it is increasingly possible to monitor all communication), but should I really be shocked that agencies set up to monitor potential threats might have to monitor everybody in order to find those threats?

        2. I like noodles

          Re: It's just a matter of time

          "Even the reg calls Snowden a leaker, not a whistle-blower."

          Was pondering this myself. Is he a tout, a leaker, a whistle-blower, or a witness?

          They all broadly mean much the same, yet the perceived needle goes from "dirty and unacceptable" to "valued and essential" as you move from left to right.

          Why the majority of the media seems to push the needle over to the left of this scale without questioning if the right of it is the proper place is disappointing.

    2. Christoph

      Re: It's just a matter of time

      What puzzles me is why he didn't pick his refuge country first and go there before releasing his statement. Why make himself a target first?

      1. asdf

        Re: It's just a matter of time

        Because he is just another Assange. Falcon and the snowman all over.

      2. Charles 9

        Re: It's just a matter of time

        He did. That's why he was in Hong Kong, which is technically part of China, a country that would not respect an extradition request from the US (anything from the US would be considered politically motivated to China: grounds for a refusal). Snowden's big fear instead is extraordinary rendition: the CIA simply plucking him out of wherever he's hiding, laws be damned. That's another reason he's in Chinese territory and working through countries like Russia: attempting to perform extraordinary rendition in either country is likely to open a huge can of political worms.

    3. Chad H.

      Re: It's just a matter of time

      ...But the congress and president who were aware are still free

      1. frank ly

        Re: It's just a matter of time

        If a US citizen doesn't have a valid US passport, that would make it very difficult for them to get back into the US from a foreign visit. However, it would not stop them entering a foreign country if the government of that country was sure of their identity and was willing to let them enter.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: It's just a matter of time

          I've come back into the States twice without my passport. There's an affidavit you sign stating your identity and where you have been since you left the country. They validate your info, rummage through your bags, say 'tut-tut don't do this again' and send you on your way; took less than an hour both times. It is illegal for them to deny a US Citizen entry into the country.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: It's just a matter of time

            > It is illegal for them to deny a US Citizen entry into the country.

            Correct. They just put you on the no-fly list while you are abroad.

  4. John 98

    Assyrian Archimedes screw

    I think Bush launched the US down this disastrous path. Whatever, US officials now seem very hazy about the rule of law etc. Consider the demand to Hong Kong that they deny Snowden his right to an extradition hearing "to uphold the rule of law" - law presumably meaning White House diktat.

  5. Captain DaFt

    Just a supposition on my part

    The NSA has much, much bigger problems than Snowden, and that's why they want him so badly.

    All those files that he's leaking just didn't fall into his lap, They've even admitted that he didn't have the authority/clearance to access them.

    So, IMO, somebody higher up has misgivings about the types of things the NSA has been up to, but is working to take down the NSA from the inside, rather than fight it from the outside.

    Whether it's one well placed individual, or a cadre of like minded employees fudging a clearance here, covering a leak there, so that someone like Snowden could pull the coupe he did, who knows? And the NSA is dying to find out.

    That's why they're so keen on getting him. Names, leads, anything he knows that could expose the source.

    Whether they get Snowden or not, there's a good chance the events, or even suspicions of events is going to cause the NSA to implode, and the big guys at the top need something, anything to cover their asses when it does. and right now Snowden is their best key.

    1. asdf

      Re: Just a supposition on my part

      >is going to cause the NSA to implode

      I wish but alas dream on. The name may someday change but short of a collapse of society this route is set.

      1. dssf

        Re: Just a supposition on my part... The name changes to...

        UESPA's/Star Fleet Command's "Section 31"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a supposition on my part

      ....historical note: Admiral Canaris.

      He worked from inside to bring down the Nazi regime and was only found out after the failed assassination attempt in July 1944. Given the US still is a much less totalitarian society than was Nazi Germany, it's reasonable to assume that they have a fair number of similar characters.

      1. All names Taken

        Re: Just a supposition on my part

        I agree.

        It suits ** of * to make it look like a unified front

  6. Christoph

    The Rule of Law

    The US talks about upholding the rule of law?

    UN Convention Against Torture: Article 2

    Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

    No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

    An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

    1. asdf

      Re: The Rule of Law

      Yes yes everybody knows. We get two shitty choices come election time and even when we don't vote for the whiter than white corporate shill this all goes down. Perhaps we should be doing what the Brazilians are doing but for me with it 45 Celsius outside where I am right now the protests better be at night. Ok just kidding but Animal Farm did a good job of showing how most revolutions turn out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Rule of Law

        "Yes yes everybody knows. We get two shitty choices"

        No you don't. You get lots of (shitty?) choices, it's just that idiots only decide from the two big ones.

        USA politics is more religion than religion. Pah! A pox on you all :)

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: The Rule of Law

          That's not realistic. Each State determines its own rules for who can be on a ballot; they make it nearly impossible for 'off-brand' candidates to meet the requirements. Hell, some of the major establishment players couldn't get on the primary ballots in some States for the last election. In the State where I vote, there was only one (1) third party candidate on the entire ballot!

          For a Presidential election there is almost zero chance of a third party candidate ever winning. Even if they won the popular election the Electoral College would not vote for a third party candidate and the Electoral College is all that matters in those races. It is all screwed up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Rule of Law

            The electoral college is not a problem to third party victory. The electors from each state are basically the most loyal members/supporters of the winning candidate in that state. Really, what you are voting for when you vote for a President are that candidates slate of hyper-partisan supporters for your state, or in rare instances for your congressional district.

            So it is extremely rare that electors vote against their candidate in the actual electoral college.

            1. Best Before:
              Thumb Down

              Re: The Rule of Law

              Bollocks, whilst the chips have been stacked over the last 100 years against 3rd party candidates it is not impossible but America, like most modern democratic societies these days, lack the desire or will to overturn the status quo by forcing the issue.

              Everywhere you look there is division, purposefully created by manipulation of the media, (and no not by some conspiracy theorist cabal of people manipulating the media in a coordinated fashion but by by the very nature of information overload at every media source), that ensures a united focus on 3rd party candidates could never be achieved.

              NB: That is not to say that the media are the sole contributors to divided opinion but they certainly do exacerbate the issue...

              That division of popular opinion is the sole reason the two party system will continue to lead the day

              1. tom dial Silver badge

                Re: The Rule of Law

                Third party movements in the U. S. historically have tended to fail because psychologically, most people know their party preference before they are 6, and that is difficult for a new party to disrupt. Further, any time a third party gets significant voter recognition. its platform begins to be diced up and adopted piecemeal by the two dominant parties. Single member districts also play a role: third parties may win some districts on local issues, but extending that geographically is difficult. It is worth noting, also, that the meaning of "Republican" and "Democrat" mean vastly different things across the country, so the national parties are mainly coalitions of state parties of the same name but often dissimilar beliefs.

                And, of course, the current two dominant parties have written preferential treatment for themselves into the election laws.

    2. Clive Harris
      Black Helicopters

      "Those who make the law have no need to break it"- G K Chesterton

      "Those who make the law have no need to break it."

      G K. Chesterton

      (Quoted from one of his short stories - I forget which one)

      In other words, if you've got the power then you can just change the rules whenever you need to.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Rule of Law

      But the US doesn't torture people. The adhere to exactly the same rule as the Propaganda Fides aka the Holy Inquisition - it isn't torture if the victim isn't bleeding.

      Hence rubber hoses rather than bicycle chains.

  7. Michael Habel

    My bet is hes either gonna take a slow Boat to where ever.

    Or possibly more likely hes safely tucked away in inside the Bulk Crew Rest Cabin in the down in the Hold.

  8. mIRCat
    Black Helicopters

    US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia, saying it would be "deeply troubling" if Russia had advance notice of Snowden's arrival and chose "not to live by the standards of the law."

    Is that U.S. law or an international law?

    In an interview with CBS's Face the Nation program on the matter on Sunday, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Diane Feinstein (D-CA) told reporters, "The chase is on."

    For the politicians it's all a game.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Its "deeply troubling"

    That countries like the US and the UK can snoop so broadly and so secretly and call it "lawful" when they make the laws themselves.

    Its akin to giving a thief the keys to a bank and saying please look after it.

    This guy is a bloody hero for exposing what a lot of people knew but could not prove was happening, read the "Puzzle Palace" by James Banford for one and the "Shadow Factory" to understand it has been going on for a very long time all under the guise of "lawful".

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Its "deeply troubling"

      MInor problem in UK side - UK does not quite make the laws. It has to comply with EU directives and some of the snooping programme has snooped on internal Eu-Eu links which are subject to Eu regulations.

      Eu wheels do not turn fast. However, once they get rolling in a particular direction they are nearly impossible to stop as Microsoft and many others can testify - they bribed their way out of multiple US trials and failed to do that in Europe. I would not expect Germany and other key Eu players to sit a take a slap on the face of that size and smile. There will be paybacks and repercussions and it will get very very ugly for UK business in general as a result.

      US business will be on the receiving side too. We can start from the Eu/US customs union currently under negotiations. I suspect that is now totally dead in the water. I just do not see someone like Germany or the Scandinavian countries putting their sig on it under the circumstances. So the snooping program (I am not going to say Snowden as that would have gone out sooner or later) is quite likely the US (and UK as the main treatie driver) north of 10s (if not 100s) of billions annually in lost trade over the next decade.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Its "deeply troubling" @ Voland's Right Hand

        Yes - the response of the EU and our (NATO and other) "allies" is going to be a treat to watch. I'm expecting any country with a west coast on the Atlantic to be getting a lot of new business building and operating trans-Atlantic comms cables (I have always thought it odd that the UK was allowed to have the lion's share of that business in light of the well-documented WW1 interception of German traffic).

        This is likely to be good, long, popcorn-eating session.

  10. sisk

    Right Kerry

    Because as we all know the NSA collecting broad swaths of phone records is completely 'within the bounds of law' and doesn't violate that pesky need for a warrant at all.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the US have been acting legally and have nothing to hide, why all the fuss? After all, as they are so fond of telling everyone, if you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide.

    What's "deeply troubling" is the fact that, as usual, the US expects everyone to jump and do their bidding - even Russia and China. I'm quite sure if they had issued valid and legal arrest warrants to Russia or China - that's valid and legal according to those countries respective laws - they would have detained Snowden.

    Throwing your toys out of the pram and yelling what a bad boy he's been isn't sufficient to prevent the lawful transit of anyone in most countries - no matter what muppets like John Kerry think.

    1. ian 22

      Nothing to hide?

      Official: If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.

      Me: I've done nothing wrong!

      Official: We will be the judge of that.

    2. Charles 9

      "If the US have been acting legally and have nothing to hide, why all the fuss? After all, as they are so fond of telling everyone, if you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide."

      Well, one BIG justification is, to use poker parlance, "telling" the enemy (the terrorist). It's hard to fool or bluuf your opponent when they can see your cards. That's the main reason for black and secret projects: knowledge of its very existence gives the game away. Let's use a historic example: the Manhattan Project was black until at least the Trinity Test. Would the Germans, Japanese, Soviets, etc. have strategized differently if they knew America was actively developing an atomic bomb? Probably. Will rogue agents alter their communications strategies if they suspect America has a massive data store and is working on a quantum computer to crack historic encrypted data? I would think so.

  12. John Riddoch
    Black Helicopters

    America is content to help Chinese escape from the country (Chen Guangcheng), but not so happy when other countries decide to grant the same aid to US citizens they want.

  13. Stratman

    Secret? Really?

    I still cant believe the NSA thought their snooping on email and web habits was a secret that only they knew.

    1. Michael Habel
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Secret? Really?

      Growing up in the Shadow of Fort G. Mead md, and with something like 1:5 People with-in that region actually working for the NSA. It was like an open secret. Everyone knew it and just went on.

      Really the only One(s), I can see harmed outta this are MicroSoft. and their new FailBOX.

      No it wasn't bad enough that they wanted to bust your nutz on used Games. Which to their credit did latter (i.e. were forced to), retract. Sadly no word was given about the always on and always snooping Kinect though....

      As if their Used Policy wasn't enough to keep me away, you can be as sure as sh!t the Kinect(ed) Prism FailBOX WILL be enough to keep me away!

      So I wonder if the US Government would try to add financial terrorism to his rap sheet as well?

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Secret? Really?

        Gee ya know its a full moon out when the Shrills are out in force...

  14. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    PHEW! What's that stench?

    Oh, just Jerry Kerry and Yawn Feinstein.

    Where's the inimitable Nancy Lugosi? Always meek and obliging during the Bush years, now dutifully defending the Obamaster (he invented FISA or something).

    They make Repubs looks nearly acceptable again.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: PHEW! What's that stench?

      Oh hey Schumer is showing up:

      Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, warned that Russia could face serious consequences if it harbored Snowden. If Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered him asylum, it could impact negotiations to reduce nuclear arsenals, Schumer said.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: PHEW! What's that stench?

        Considering that Putin was not that excited about the new arms control initiative. Reducing maximum warheads from 1500 to 1000 is not all that impressive considering that both sides used to be up around 10000+ warheads. Plus Putin wants to have enough warheads to swamp any nascent U.S. missle defenses in case something should ever happen.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PHEW! What's that stench?

        The making of the connection between whistleblowers and MAD is surely evidence of unfitness for the job.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The internet version is a bit slow paced

    I think I'll just wait for the Hollywood movie. The one where the US government saves the world (i.e. the US) from the deadly threats of Freedom and Privacy.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: The internet version is a bit slow paced

      Your message will now be retconned to talk about "Free Porn and Piracy"

  16. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "I do think that when history looks at this, they are going to contrast the behavior of James Clapper, our national intelligence director, with Edward Snowden. Mr. Clapper lied in Congress, in defiance of the law, in the name of security. Mr. Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy. So I think there will be a judgment, because both of them broke the law."

    [Sen. Rand Paul]

  17. shawnfromnh


    I am shocked with all this going on we haven't had a public BOFH story. I've been waiting for it since this Snowden stuff could make it the best story ever. Please enlighten us all with a tale you wonderful Bastard.

  18. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Should have flown to Britain

    Then Aeroflot could have refused the police permission to enter the plane to arrest him and Jack Straw would have apologised to them for trying

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With all this surveillance...

    How come 'They' didn't see what Mr Snowdon was up to?


    It's (well past) time to crank up the surveillance WITHIN the NSA et al. Amusingly, that's exactly what they must and will now do. They're going to get themselves wrapped around the axle over the next year or two. How do you run the world's largest IT project when all the (other) sys admins have had their privileges curtailed. It'd be popcorn-and-chair material except they won't let us watch.

    Anon - not that it matters. Hi guys!!

  20. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    But there's an elephant in the room, crapping on the carpet

    There's public backlash against government spying and all I hear politicians saying is how hard they're working to punish the whistleblower. Diane Feinstein's buddy Nancy Pelosi keeps saying that it's all about the economy. How much money does all that illegal spying cost? I'm guessing it's enough money to give every US citizen fast Internet, cleaner energy, and a good education.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: But there's an elephant in the room, crapping on the carpet

      Perhaps Nancy could tell everyone just how the NSA make all that spying pay dividends.

      Corporate espionage on a global scale....but of course we must hang the goat first.

      I hope Snowden finds a safe bolthole.

  21. herman Silver badge

    Sandy Island

    My sources tell me that Snowden opted to settle on Sandy Island off the coast of New Caledonia and that the famous island will be renamed to the Wiki Leaks Free State.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It suddenly occurs to me that the place for the US to look for Snowden is in Yossarian's tent.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Catch-22

      Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

      Let's just hope that he hasn't spilled any really important secrets....oh, wait!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Catch-22

        Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is Snowden a hero....?

    Does he represent the true every-man? Assange is too much the wannabee pop-star, and Manning, too anonymous an unknown-soldier. But Snowden is the tech for every Reg reader. We can relate to his situation... We can ask ourselves what would we have done in the same circumstances....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is Snowden a hero....?

      I know what I did in his situation...I blew the fucking whistle and paid the price.

      But I'd do it again, though it nearly cost me my sanity.


      If you hear anyone saying that this guy is a traitor, I encourage you to encourage them to imagine for a split second the courage it takes to take a stance like this against the NS fucking A and have the entire US government nipping at your heels, forcing you to leave everything you know behind for an uncertain future.

      Mr Snowden, I salute are not completely alone.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To those who say there's nothing new here, that the NSA has always spied on us...

    Some have commented that there's nothing new here. That this type of snooping has been going on for decades, with the NSA vacuuming up our data. Not so! What's different this time is how personal the information is. All exchanges of intimacy, all ideas and correspondence, from sharing of interests and hobbies to intimate correspondence betweens lovers, friends, colleagues, and family. All of this is being sucked up indiscriminately and being fed to the intelligence monster... So it is different this time....

    Why so? Because Its data that we hold dear. Data that we attach a personal value to. Data that has emotional value. You can't say that was always the case. Previously the raw data simply wasn't there to capture, not in raw format and not in such vast quantities. It had to be assimilated from old-school methods: wiretaps, cameras and real-world surveillance etc.

    To those who feel satisfied that they won't be caught in the net, I say this. With online accounts hosted all over the world and high levels of people-movement through work and travel, isolating US versus non-US accounts will be impossible to guarantee, thanks to the 5-eyes exchanging data: US, UK, Can, Auz, NZ.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be afraid- Be very afraid.... 'We only need your info to catch Terrorists'

    The problem is that there is an implicit assumption that 5-Eyes intelligence will be used for good and not evil i.e. solely to capture terrorists. But what do we mean by terrorist? One man's definition can quickly morph from 'terrorist' to 'traitor' to just 'target'. How magnificently laws are amended in 'Animal Farm'!

    Two examples from history where intelligence was abused. A. The IRA hit on the RUC with collusion in the "widest sense of the word" being investigated by the Smithwick Tribunal. B. The illegal methods used to track the whereabouts of a US senator's plane in the early days of the Patriot Act.

    Should there be more US 'traitors', you can be bet your life that Prism will be used to hunt down the offender using extreme prejudice! But what if that traitor is in fact a whistleblower, divulging abuses by our elected officials, such as the Pentagon Papers bringing the Vietnam War to a close? ... What then?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Braveheart-- 'they'll never take our FREEDOM!'

    What we value the most is our Freedom. We know what its like to live in truly totalitarian regimes. But the 5-Eyes intelligence agencies may use our data is ways we'd never expect and that won't be caught by the safeguards. So what's our privacy going to be like in 20 years? Will all the spying be worth it?

    Statistically, what is the greatest risk to you or me? Is it a theoretical terrorist or a crazy man or gang-banger with a gun in a major US city today? The problem is there's very little self-examination in the 5-Eyes countries. There's little internal questioning begging answers to questions such as: is there anything we are doing overseas regarding foreign policy that exacerbates hatred against our great nation? If we drone women and children by accident or deliberately in order to get high value targets, what could happen? Will some of the surviving families grow up seeking revenge? I recall Bush railing against the use of abortion, but he had little remorse for dead babies from his two wars in the middle east...

    The US is still the number one county, barely. It doesn't have the resources anymore to be the world's policeman. Hence-why its new foreign policy has quietly shifted away from the middle east and towards Asia. The aims of its intelligence program are a cruel joke considering its borders are so porous. I have no doubt that terrorists could land in the Americas and work their way up through Mexico or by sea into Miami. So what is this really about? The US refuses to beef up its own borders, but claims its all about National Security... It doesn't make any sense. If you don't properly secure your own borders, how can you claim that all of this Prism info-grabbing is in the name of bolstering security.... ?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also on Monday, US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia,

    Oh Putin must be shitting himself....then again, he's proberbly enjoying a nice relaxing vodka in a hot tub

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Also on Monday, US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia,

      Putin doesn't drink. Complete teetotaler.

      One of the advantages of past Russian and Soviet leaders was that they perfectly fit the stereotype of the vodka fueled strongman. Putin is all the more dangerous because he doesn't drink and all his decisions are made after clear headed contemplation and calculation. He doesn't make brash alcohomotional decisions which makes him scary and his shirtless crossbow wielding photo ops even stranger.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Also on Monday, US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia,

        "Putin is all the more dangerous because he doesn't drink and all his decisions are made after clear headed contemplation and calculation"

        When you've got your finger on 1000 nukes, I don't think being sober makes you all the more dangerous. It may be irritating to Western governments to have someone in the Kremlin who is essentially sane, competent and loyal to his own country, but it's better than the alternative.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Also on Monday, US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia,

        The pictures are calculated too - they're not intended for the West, but for all the Russians who see the fat drunks around them and think that at least he's not like that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also on Monday, US secretary of state John Kerry wagged his finger at Russia,

      Вы не босс из нас!

  28. Salts

    While we are all distracted

    The UK Gov will slip through all the laws it needs to make it's snooping retrospectively legal, we are all throwing Sh*te at the US when we should be making sure we clean up our own house first, while all of this is high profile and media worthy.

  29. Barely legible
    Thumb Up

    He is a brave, brave man.

    A nice bit of double play from the wikileaks team. They seek him here, they seek him there....

    I look forward to watching the film of this with the end credits stating Edward has been living freely and happily out of the reach of the United States of Hypocrisy for many many years. Good luck to him!

  30. bexley

    patriot act

    As i understand it, this is legal under the patriot act.

    It's about time that was repealed and that politicians stopped using patriotic acronyms to target peoples patriotic sense of right and wrong to make grossly offensive laws palatable.

    That and using terrorism to justify everything.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who want's the book/film rights - slight plot issue though?

    Sounds like that this will make an excellent film/book at some point... just trying to work out however who the bad guy though ;)

  32. Graham Jordan
    Thumb Up

    He can stay at mine if he likes

    The spare rooms a shit hole thanks to my wife and the 5 meeelion pairs of fucking shoes she owns but we live in a quiet area, you'll be fine.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: He can stay at mine if he likes

      I commented about the size of my wife's shoe collection once. She primly responded that I owned several computers. When I attempted to justify why, she just smiled and said her shoes were all purpose specific too and sashayed away in her 'haha husband logic fail' shoes.

      1. Graham Jordan

        Re: He can stay at mine if he likes

        Bitches be loco my friend. Bitches be loco.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: He can stay at mine if he likes

        "sashayed away in her 'haha husband logic fail' shoes"

        You're married to Eadon?

  33. W. Anderson

    Actual laws in play for Snowden apprehension

    It is unclear just what "Rule of Law" John Kerry states that Russia is breaching. Is it US Law or Russian Law, since the UN Charter cannot override US, Russian, Uruguay or any other sovereign Law, he therefore cannot be quoting any UN regulations that do not apply or have any real affect on a country's constitution.

    An international legal expert in Europe has told me just in last few days that declarations and quotes in US media are very misleading, and give the American people a false sense of just what authority and concrete influence their country really has abroad, other than military. These statements basically amount to (toothless) arrogant bravado from US officials.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actual laws in play for Snowden apprehension

      The US constantly tries to give the impression to US citizens and others that US law applies all over the world. It is exactly analogous to the Roman Empire, which did exactly the same thing. No matter who you were, unless you were prepared to risk an early death at the hands of the Persians or the Germans, you were within reach of the power of Caesar.

      If people start to get the idea that that is not the case, who knows what might happen?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is incredibly easy to go to an airport and get on a plane without anyone knowing exactly where you went to. Let's say you buy a ticket to Cuba and have a friend buy a ticket to Finland. Both of you go to the airport, pick up your ticket/boarding pass and go through the security areas. In the lounge area you trade passes. Your friend then leaves the airport meanwhile you board the plane that the friend had purchased a ticket for.

    They don't check IDs at the gate in most airports.

    The thing called airport "security" is such a cluster f**k that Snowden's ability to not be where the US agents think he is akin to Bugs Bunny running rings around Elmer Fudd. Some people have claimed this drama is similar to the Enemy of the State movie. That only makes sense if the main protagonist is played by Jacques Clouseau.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Accurate and satisfying summary of the issue

    "The United States has gone from a 'model of human rights' to 'an eavesdropper on personal privacy', the 'manipulator' of the centralised power over the international internet, and the mad 'invader' of other countries' networks." - Chinese newspaper article, quoted by the BBC - Also described Snowden as "tearing off Washington's sanctimonious mask".

  36. asmith

    NSA Actions Are Completely Illegal

    To the fellow posting about the supposed legality of the NSA's actions:

    Dating back to the Magna Carta era, a fundamental tenet to any civilized society is the prohibition of military action on domestic soil. In U.S. jurisprudence, this sentiment was firmly grounded in the Posse Comitatus Act which until recently abolished had prohibited NSA surveillance on U.S. soil without a FISA court order. The Patriot Act purports to skirt these fundamental protections despite the clear and prevailing Constitutional standard that requires a clear line of demarcation between DoD and domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.

    What the FBI and NSA are doing is dead wrong and completely illegal, rampant abuses of power. Never mind the fact that the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper point blank lied to the Congress which is completely illegal as well. He should be charged with contempt and thrown out of office.

  37. Rampant Spaniel

    How does the law work 'flightside'?

    The comments from the Russian's about him not being on Russian soil etc, flightside must have laws, and I'm assuming they largely follow the laws of the country the airport is in and are policed and prosecuted by that country. I understand they have some grounds for not taking action (and a huge dose of spite, if the ruskies wanted him they would take him), just curious how the law works in airports.

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