The FBI Attempt to Enlist Snowden’s Dad to go to Moscow Fails
The FBI tried to enlist the father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden to fly to Moscow to try to persuade his son to return to the United States, but the effort collapsed when agents could not establish a way for the two to speak once he arrived, Snowden’s father said Tuesday.
“I said, ‘I want to be able to speak with my son. . . . Can you set up communications?’ And it was, ‘Well, we’re not sure,’ ” Lon Snowden told The Washington Post. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, folks, I’m not going to sit on the tarmac to be an emotional tool for you.’ ”
In a wide-ranging interview, the elder Snowden offered a vehement defense of the young man some have labeled a traitor. He said that Edward, who is holed up at an airport in Moscow, grew up in a patriotic family in suburban Maryland, filled with federal agents and police officers, and that he “loves this nation.”
Asked what triggered his son’s decision to leak top-secret intelligence documents, Snowden, a retired Coast Guard officer, said he didn’t know. Although Edward had seemed troubled in April during their final dinner together, he said his son had recently put up a “firewall between himself and his family.”
“We had no idea what was coming,” he said.
But he pointed to a possible explanation: what he considers misleading statements by U.S. officials about the surveillance methods that Edward Snowden revealed. “If you could say there was a tipping point, I would say it was what happened in the last six to nine months of this nation,” the elder Snowden said.
He also mentioned a conversation that hinted at his son’s growing political awareness; he said Edward told him that he was “troubled” by the 2010 suicide of a Tunisian street vendor that helped trigger the Arab Spring protests.
In the elder Snowden’s first newspaper interview, conducted with his attorney, Bruce Fein, he offered insight into his son, whose own girlfriend labeled him a “man of mystery.” Snowden, who is divorced from Edward’s mother, said his son was “a gentle child” who was highly intelligent and fascinated by computers and technology but didn’t always do well in school.
Edward has said he took his final government contracting job with Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii to gain access to sensitive NSA information.But his father said Edward told him that his previous contracting job had been eliminated because of the federal budget sequestration.
“As a father, it pains me what he did,” Snowden said. “I wish my son could have simply sat in Hawaii and taken the big paycheck, lived with his beautiful girlfriend and enjoyed paradise. But as an American citizen, I am absolutely thankful for what he did.”
Emphasis is mine. It should be clear by now that Snowden never intended to serve his country, only his own self-interest. And now he is paying the price for it
It is not precisely clear why the negotiations over the trip failed, and FBI officials declined to comment. Nor is it clear why Lon Snowden has not gone to Moscow on his own.
“Sure, I could get on a flight tomorrow to Russia. I’m not sure if I could get access to Edward,” said Snowden, who said he had communicated with his son through unspecified “intermediaries” as recently as two days ago.
What is clear is that relations between Lon Snowden and U.S. officials have since deteriorated. He condemned the Obama administration and members of Congress for labeling his son a traitor and said he now prefers that Edward stay in Russia.
“If he comes back to the United States, he is going to be treated horribly. He is going to be thrown into a hole. He is not going to be allowed to speak,” Snowden said.
Do people, including Snowden’s dad seriously think he will wind up in Gitmo or some such place?