Obama immediately rejected that possibility, by insisting that Russia was obligated under international law to hand over Snowden (funny how international law is operative when Obama needs it, and not in matters like Kalugin, the force-feeding of Gitmo detainees, or drone murders of children in Pakistan). He also said:
I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker…I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally and the reason is … No. 1, I shouldn’t have to.
No. 2, we’ve got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia, and I’m not going to have one case of a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I’ve got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues.
So what’s happened since then? Well, Obama didn’t scramble jets personally, but if you think the diversion of Evo Morales’ plane wasn’t America’s doing, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. And even though Putin had said “no extradition” in the clearest manner possible, Obama wasn’t willing to get the message. I’ve pointed to this passage from Moon of Alabama a couple of times, but it deserves all the attention it can get:
Putin has made it clear from the very beginning that any extradition of Snowden is not going to happen. Fullstop. Russian officials have repeated that again and even today:
Asked by a reporter whether the government’s position had changed, Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that “Russia has never extradited anyone and never will.”
Is that so difficult to understand? Why then is the U.S. even trying?
It seems that this an Obama personality issue. He personally asked Putin to extradite Snowden even after Putin had publicly (thereby leaving zero chance to later change that decision) said he would not. Now Obama is miffed. How can HE get rebuked by country like Russia?
Two weeks ago, Obama phoned Putin and asked him to send Snowden back to the U.S., but Putin refused, according to one official who was briefed on the call. Following that perceived rebuke, the Obama team doubled down on its new policy to show the Russian government the cold shoulder.
“The Snowden affair is definitely affecting U.S.-Russia relations, no question. When you make it clear that something is very important to the U.S. and we are asking for cooperation and that request is rejected, that rejection is going to have an impact on the broader relationship,” said Samuel Charap, senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “There’s only so many times you can thumb your nose at a U.S. president and not expect consequences. When the president himself has gotten involved personally and been rebuffed, the rule book kind of goes out the window.”
Ahh – the rule book is out of the window. Screw public diplomacy. Just don’t care how the world sees the U.S.. It is all about Obama miffed that Putin is “thumbing his nose” at him. Who is this President of the Russian Federation that dares to do so to King Obama of the United States?
Apparently Obama forgot Russia still has nukes.
This is of course the reason Snowden had to go to a country like Russia instead of a reasonably free country. All such countries have leaders who are too spineless and/or too dependent on the U.S. to dare to say no to Obama.