Edward Snowden, want my advice?
POSTED: Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 7:20pm
UPDATED: Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 3:08pm
(CNN) — Edward Snowden, you need help! And I'm here for you. I enjoy offering people suggestions -- which you may even be aware of if you read my e-mails when you were working at the NSA.
I don't know where you thought you'd end up after disclosing classified documents detailing our government's surveillance program, but I doubt you thought you'd be roaming the halls of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport checking out the wide range of restaurants there-- the Russian cuisine at "Mama Rashas;" maybe the Burger King or the restaurant in Terminal D called, "Hippopotamus" -- which, I think you'll agree, is a horrible name for a place that serves food.
It must drive you crazy to know that the airport even offers a fear-of-flying treatment center for people afraid to fly while you are begging for just a seat in coach. I know you grow bored browsing for hours at the duty-free shop, wishing you had a plane ticket so you could at least buy tax-free caviar or vodka.
So Edward, I want to propose some creative suggestions that you may find helpful.
1. If you can't get out of airport, pitch a reality show about being stuck there. It could be an international version of "Project Runway" -- how to get on one. How hard could it be to get a Kardashian to sign on?
2. At this writing, you have applied for asylum in -- depending on whom you ask -- 21 countries. WikiLeaks claimed Friday that you have applied to six additional unidentified countries. Some of these are nations where you clearly have no shot. It's not unlike when I was graduating high school with mediocre grades and applied to Harvard. Barring a clerical error, I was not getting in and I'd say it's the same for you. So say goodbye to countries like Germany, Italy, and Spain.
But it appears your "safety school" nations are Venezuela and Ecuador. You may end up getting into both, but which do you pick?
Here's my take. Forget legal issues, like extradition treaties. What will really matter to your quality of life is what people have said about those two countries on Expedia.com and Trip adviser.
Sure, Ecuador offers a quaint old section of its capital, Quito, which does look picturesque. But Venezuela offers more. For starters, TripAdvisor tells us about a great selection of bed-and-breakfasts in Caracas, the best rated being the Beuenavista Inn. People noted online that it's "nice and cozy," close to the airport and has free Wi-Fi -- which, word has it, is something you would really treasure. And I'll bet you could get a great deal on Priceline for this place.
And listen, the city has terrific restaurants, with many raves for the Maute Grill -- a steakhouse with an extensive late-night menu, for those sleepless nights spent looking over your shoulder. Also if you get bored in Caracas, there are always the beautiful beaches of Playa el Aguan where few will recognize you because everyone looks different with their clothes off.
But don't limit youself! Why not consider asylum in a few countries you have not applied to yet? For example: Egypt. Sure it seems a bit unstable now but who will notice you entering? Plus, I'm friendly with comedian/talk show host Bassem Youssef, the "Jon Stewart of Egypt." No promises, but I think I can get you on his show.
There's also Turkmenistan -- J-Lo just sang there last week, so apparently they will allow anyone enter the country.
3. Another option: Return to America and face the criminal charges against you. You could possibly win the case or be offered an acceptable plea deal.
Or you can follow the lead of James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence. When Clapper was questioned under oath by Congress in March about whether the National Security Agency collects "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans," he answered "no...not wittingly." Obviously the documents you leaked show that Clapper was being less than fully honest with Congress.
BUT, this week he defended his misleading answer to Congress by stating: "My response was clearly erroneous -- for which I apologize."
So just say you're sorry. It seems to have worked out well for Clapper, because congressional leaders are not calling for him to be criminally prosecuted. Instead, they are just focused on pursuing you for revealing details about the spying program that Clapper was hiding from Congress.
So, Edward, you have a lot of options. Give it some thought. Maybe while enjoying some "pan seared pot stickers" at the T. G. I. Friday's in Terminal F.
But don't take too long, because I sense that you're just like the friend you let stay on your couch while he gets his life in order. Soon the Russians will soon want you to crash somewhere else.