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What Does the Attention Around Snowden's Travels Say About the Obama Administration?


Toward the end of last week federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former CIA-worker and defense contractor employee who leaked top-secret documents about National Security Agency surveillance programs to the Guardian. In the complaint, two charges against Snowden were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.

The leaker revealed himself to the public on June 9 after fleeing to Hong Kong attempting to avoid extradition or work "without being immediately detained." According to The New York Times, Snowden is seen as a hero in mainland China for exposing what they see as hypocritical policies of the U.S. intelligence secretly surveilling the phone and internet records of millions of Americans at home and rivals abroad.

The Chinese government made the final decision over the weekend to allow Snowden to leave Hong Kong without being detained. After originally expressing interest in fleeing to Iceland, Snowden is now reportedly seeking asylum in Russia or Ecuador.

A plane from Moscow to Havana Monday was packed with reporters who ended up being disappointed after the flight's most famous passenger, Snowden, did not board despite buying two tickets and checking in to the flight. The trip was a stepping stone part of an apparent plan to escape to Ecuador.

The media emphasis surrounding the “Moscow-Havana” incident has some asking if we are getting too caught up in the “Where in the world is Ed Snowden?” plot line rather than what he actually leaked.

On 'Real News' Monday the panel discussed if the PR disaster surrounding the 30-year-old IT guy has served to highlight the administration’s flaws. Not only in what Snowden was able to leak, but the larger foreign policy struggles linked to the administration's inability to pin down the fugitive on the run. Are the reactions and lack of cooperation from China and Russia evidence of declining superpower status?

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