Edward Snowden, the 30-year-old former contractor who leaked U.S. intelligence secrets, didn't show up for a flight from Moscow to Cuba today.
Many members of the media did show up, however, and they're now presumably floating across the world to Havana looking and feeling like fools.
According to media reports, which may not be worth much in this case, Snowden left his hideout in Hong Kong on Saturday night and flew to Moscow, where, to the chagrin of some American politicians, he was apparently welcomed with open arms. Later reports said that Snowden had been booked on today's flight to Cuba and, from there, would fly on to Venezuela or Ecuador, where he is said to be seeking asylum.
But now that Snowden isn't on the Cuba plane, no one is sure where he is, or what his plans are. Suddenly, it's hard to be certain that he actually left Hong Kong. The Washington Post is even wondering aloud whether he even exists.
Assuming Snowden does exist, and that this isn't one of the greatest red-herring hoaxes ever, his great escape is another finger in the eye of the United States, the country that he once swore to be loyal to.
Although some Americans still support Snowden and consider him a patriot, most Americans now want him tossed in jail. Snowden's initial leaks focused on data that the U.S. National Security Agency is collecting about Americans, which triggered perfectly reasonable questions about whether the NSA is collecting too much data and whether Americans' privacy rights are being violated.
But in the past week, Snowden's leaks have turned to exposing U.S. spying on world leaders at a G20 conference and, according to a Chinese newspaper, detailing computer hacking attacks by the U.S. on Chinese targets. These leaks seem self-serving and motivated not by concern about Americans but by a desire to curry favor with China and a personal dislike of spying of any kind.
According to Wikileaks, the organization run by another government-hating fugitive, Julian Assange (who is himself hiding from authorities in the arms of Ecuador), Snowden is being escorted to "a democratic country." Once there, Snowden will presumably continue to try to avoid facing the consequences of committing what most people agree were serious crimes.
And, perhaps, if he is treated well in his new country, Snowden will continue to believe that the U.S. government's imperfect efforts to protect Americans are reprehensible and that only in other countries do governments understand what democracy, freedom, and privacy really mean.
It appears that Snowden is driven by a personal philosophy that most mainstream Americans would consider extreme, one that is arguably anti-American, idealistic, and naive.
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