by Rachel Marsden
"A traitor is always useful," a Russian security service friend said to me while discussing NSA contractor turned defector
Snowden has fallen into the open arms of Mother Russia, where he was greeted at
Officially, Russian President
Is Snowden even remotely aware of this setup? Probably not. After all, we're talking someone who was shocked that the U.S. government passively mines and collects data. Sure, there are countries on earth that don't do that, but they mostly fall into the
How do you think Putin, a diehard Russian patriot and former KGB chief, views those with access to intelligence who steal and spill state secrets to foreign authorities? When 10 Russian deep-cover spies were rounded up in America in 2010, allegedly as a result of a Russian turncoat's tip, Putin said, "Just think of it. A person sacrificed his life and then some scum pops up to betray his people. Swine!" Imagine the level of respect he has for someone like Snowden.
Snowden may or may not have any intelligence of actual value to the Russians, whose intelligence capabilities rank among the world's best. Recent French celebrity tax refugee and new Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu could very well be of greater intelligence value than Snowden. I'm not joking --
In any case, Snowden is rapidly approaching the classic profile of a defector. That is, someone with a security clearance and access to classified information, serving with an intelligence service, who flees to another country and allows foreign entities access to that information. The only thing new here is that previous defectors didn't try finding excuses for breaching the Espionage Act, or try to dress it up in altruism.
It used to be that a defector was limited to what he could stuff down his pants. This is Defection 2.0: Snowden reportedly is carrying four laptop computers' worth of information between multiple hostile intelligence jurisdictions that are, ironically, at least as adept as the
Snowden still considers himself a "whistleblower," but he's fleeing a drama entirely of his own making. Hostile intelligence services see him as a willing and useful tool suffering from fortuitous delusion. They probably can't believe their luck, since defectors are usually pretty direct about wanting cash for information. But Snowden's self-perceived altruism makes him the Mother Teresa of defectors -- and