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Alison Winfield Burns Headshot

Is Edward Snowden an Operative?

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"Double O"... Snowden? Is Edward Snowden an international spy?

Fellow Americans, you decide. Decide our national direction, because the Constitution says: "We the people."

Young Snowden; believed to be resident inside Sheremetyevo International Airport's transit lounge, thought to be under Putin's protection, stewarded by none other than fugitive Julian Assange, and wanted by the FBI -- is he or is he not -- an operative?

(The airport itself is located north-west of Central Moscow. That's right: North West.)

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I peppered this article with a bit of fun, but the dramatic tone shoved forward by the White House is deadly serious. If true that President Evo Morales of Bolivia was forced to land his plane in an unscheduled act because an enraged United States feared young Snowden might be seated, yes sitting down in a seat, on board the plane of President Morales--as reported by the Associate Press--if true?

What would happen if Air Force One carrying President Obama were forced to land on foreign soil? But Bolivia? Is what? Not sovereign? I checked and Bolivia is listed as a sovereign state like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, etc. This smacks of a bullying effort.

I asked some people; mostly strangers, one I roped in from a line in Starbucks, what they think about the den of heavy snow now holed up in Moscow's airport. I could not find one person who thought that Snowden was anything but a hero. And I found a lot of respect for Russia. Here are a couple of typical responses. But then again, I am in Manhattan. People here tend to be socially educated. It's harder to find a boor in Gotham City than in the Senate buildings.

  • Are you an American citizen?
  • [Answer A] Yes.

    [Answer B] Yes.

    [Answer C] Yes.

    [Answer D] Yes.

  • What is your profession?

  • [Answer A] Artist.

    [Answer B] Financial Associate.

    [Answer C] Librarian Assistant.

    [Answer D] Security.

  • Do you hold a US passport?

  • [Answer A] Yes.

    [Answer B] Yes.

    [Answer C] No.

    [Answer D] No.

  • Did you graduate from High School?

  • [Answer A] No. I skipped it and got a quick GED.

    [Answer B] Yes.

    [Answer C] Yes.

    [Answer D] Yes.

  • Are you aware that the men who instigated the America Revolution were not mainstream thinkers, but in fact, considered to be traitors to the Crown of England?

  • [Answer A] Yes. We have statues of Hamilton and Jefferson on campus at my alma mater, Columbia and my ancestor fought in the American Revolution.

    [Answer B] Yes.

    [Answer C] No.

    [Answer D] It sounds probable.

  • Have you read Ian Flemming, author of the James Bond novels?

  • [Answer A] Not really read--I've seen the movies.

    [Answer B] No.

    [Answer C] No.

    [Answer D] No.

  • Who plays the best Bond, in your opinion?

  • [Answer A] Sean Connery.

    [Answer B] N/A

    [Answer C] Roger Moore.

    [Answer D] Pierce Brosnan.

  • How do you take a martini?

  • [Answer A] I don't.

    [Answer B] I don't.

    [Answer C] Straight, with an olive.

    [Answer D] I don't like martinis.

  • What are your thoughts, in general, about bullying?

  • [Answer A] Bullies are often cowards.

    [Answer B] It's wrong, but exaggerated.

    [Answer C] Unacceptable.

    [Answer D] I don't like it.

  • Is the current embodiment of the United States government a bully?

  • [Answer A] Yes.

    [Answer B] Yes.

    [Answer C] That's a good question. I don't think so (not sure).

    [Answer D] It acts like a bully.

  • What is your gut instinct about Snowden?

  • [Answer A] He's an idealist and young.

    [Answer B] He is a hero. There is nothing more heroic than turning your life upside-down to expose an injustice.

    [Answer C] He's on the run--a fugitive.

    [Answer D] I am not sure what he was trying to accomplish, other than telling people what he found out. It clearly wouldn't be good for him.

  • To the male eye, is Miss Moneypenny attractive?

  • [Answer A] Sure. I especially like her name.

    [Answer B] Not sure who she is.

    [Answer C] I don't recall her.

    [Answer D] With a wistful smile, he says, "not very attractive."

  • In your view, do politicians in Washington know that the Cold War is over?
[Answer A] Washington demonstrates ignorance on many subjects.

[Answer B] Yes, but there is more money and power to be had by feeding the military industrial complex, which grew like a teenager during the Cold War.

[Answer C] I think they do, but they act like they don't.

[Answer D] It seems like they always need a war going on someplace.

  • Have you, like Obama and Snowden, ever visited Hawaii?
[Answer A] No.

[Answer B] No.

[Answer C] No.

[Answer D] No. Another smile, "Obama . . ."

  • Snowden: Whistleblower or spy?
[Answer A] Whistleblower.

[Answer B] Whistleblower.

[Answer C] Hhhmmm. I think he's a whistleblower.

[Answer D] A little of both.

My first article in this series, "From Russia with Love" mentioned a few more facts. I raised the idea that another young idealist, Che Guevara, once rocked the boat before Snowden. The US was white-hot with fury:

Che decided that a way forward was through revolution of the social classes. Che said that the violent, guerilla way is appropriate when facing a totalitarian regime where lawful protest is impossible. The Cuban Revolution overthrew the (US backed) Batista dictatorship. The US owned a multinational telecommunications monopoly in Cuba: The International Telegraph and Telephone Company (ITT), which gifted Batista with a gold-plated telephone for raising rates sky high in Cuba.

The United States owned Cuba, more or less. The US owned the majority of assets from utilities to sugar crops to mines and minerals.

Jack Kennedy says it best: In a manner certain to antagonize the Cuban people, we used the influence of our Government to advance the interests of and increase the profits of the private American companies, which dominated the island's economy. At the beginning of 1959 United States companies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands - almost all the cattle ranches - 90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions - 80 percent of the utilities - and practically all the oil industry - and supplied two-thirds of Cuba's imports. (JFK Presidential Library Archives, 1960)

Che Guevara was the 23 year-old medical student who wrote a memoir called The Motorcycle Diaries about his adventures in Latin America. His book as a film premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Guevara spoke out against Apartheid at the United Nations in 1964. Che Guevara was assassinated by CIA led forces in Bolivia in 1967, after 3 months in the jungle.

We all keep killing each other. Forgetting about it. Taking tiny steps. And doing it all over again in an alternative setting.

(Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire)