The 5 minute You Tube video from Russian TV at the link below and the title of it in the subject line makes me think that we really need to consider taking a different path than we are currently following. This is not a game nor the US is not going to lose. If I were able to make a recommendation for strategic communications and a strategy for dealing with Edward Snowden it would be along these lines.
First I think we should recognize that beyond Snowden being a narcissist (and I do not mean that as an ad hominem but an objective assessment of his actions that leads to a judgment of his character) he and the people with whom he is working (e.g., Wikileaks and perhaps Foreign Intelligence Services) are trying to do the maximum damage to the United States and our intelligence Community (IC). He is trying not only to expose the methods of the IC but also to discredit and embarrass it by attempting to show that he can be one step ahead of the US government both in terms of his movements as well as in terms of strategic communications. Based on that understanding I would consider the following both as a strategic communications message as well as a transparent explanation of the US government strategy for the way ahead in this ongoing situation.
Statement/strategy: The US has again suffered a compromise of classified information that damages national security. There is a long history of incidents such as this and while damage does occur in every case the United States suffers no long term damage and counterintuitively is often strengthened by such incidents because they reinforce the strength of our democratic institutions.
Edward Snowden has broken United States law and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
However, the US government has assessed the information that Snowden has leaked. It has also assessed the information that he illegally obtained and is known to be in his possession with an intent to release it publicly at some time in the future. Again, while the release of any classified information is illegal and will be damaging on a number of levels, the US government has mitigated the damage that has and will occur and there is no need to further discuss this information. In fact from the US government perspective any future release of information will be a non-news event. There will be no need for US government personnel to respond to the release. It is understood that the release of this information is merely an attempt to call attention to Edward Snowden and the US government will have nothing to comment on regarding him or has actions until after he is apprehended and given a fair trial.
On the other hand the US government welcomes public debate on the best way to support and defend the Constitution of the United States all enemies foreign and domestic. United States government personnel to include those professionals in the Intelligence Community remain committed to its defense. The information that Edward Snowden released concerned the legal actions of the Intelligence Community as authorized by the elected representatives of the American people. The officials of the US government’s three branches look forward to the robust policy debates that this event may inspire and if the electorate demands changes, changes will be made. But rest assured that the Patriots who serve in government are committed to the defense of our nation. That is the nature of democracy in our great Republic.
However, Edward Snowden, by his illegal actions and by fleeing his country has marginalized himself and forfeited his place in the debate and the US government will no longer respond to his accusations, actions, or the public release of information in his possession and will simply get on with the business of protecting our nation and its people from national security threats.
The bottom line is that we have to not play the game that Snowden and Wikileaks are playing. We have to attack his strategy and his strategy rests upon him being a public figure who is made into a hero and a martyr. He is not a patriot or a whistleblower and US actions and statements should not support the development of that narrative. We need to undercut his legitimacy and the best way to do that is to discuss the facts and not discuss him or his actions. We need to quietly pursue him and allow law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel to do their jobs while not making Snowden a news event. The members of the press that continue to do so may in fact marginalize themselves and expose themselves to accusations of sensationalizing the news. The journalists who focus on the issues and the healthy debate surrounding the pros and cons of US policy will have their credibility enhanced.
Game Set Match: 'US loses as Snowden slips from their hands'
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Published on Jun 23, 2013