By the time this is published, the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden might be in Ecuador, or Venezuela, or Libya for all we know. It's all pretty murky, and making it murkier is the Russian connection. It turns out, you see, that Snowden didn't just stumble onto the information he found about the U.S. government's spying activities; he actually took a job at the consulting firm Booz, Allen to gain access to that information.
So is it possible that Snowden was working for Russia all along? Could this be a James Bond style spy caper in the making? Hard to tell, but knowing Vladimir Putin and his gang, it's certainly possible. Welcome to the new Cyber Cold War, where no computer is safe and spies don't look like Sean Connery.
In any case, the following phone conversation that was intercepted by the NSA just before all this began (but inexplicably never taken seriously) might give us a clue:
Russian Voice: тъис ис владимир путин
Snowden: I don't speak Russian.
Russian Voice (now speaking through a translator): Sorry, this is Vladimir Putin.
Snowden: Oh sure, and I'm Julian Assange.
Putin (confused): Apologies, Comrade Assange, we didn't mean to bother you! But this is the best number we had for Edward Snowden from Google.
Snowden: No, no. I was joking. This is Snowden.
Putin: Ah, Comrade Snowden. How nice to meet you! We are big fans of yours in Mother Russia.
Snowden: Why? I'm a nobody.
Putin: Yes, yes, but not for long. Very soon the whole world will know about you. We want your help to embarrass the United States.
Snowden: And why would I do that?
Putin: Because you are sick of the hypocrisy of your government. They lecture us on human rights but look at what they did to that poor boy Bradley Manning! They do all the same things we do but have a better public relations machine than us.
Snowden: With all due respect, Vlad, your public relations machine consists of poisoning journalists with radioactive materials.
Putin: That was a clerical error. But that's what I'm talking about. We have to improve our image and one way to do that is to discredit your government.
Snowden: Exactly how?
Putin: Expose the fact that the NSA spies on its own people, and that they are hacking into computers in China. That will get them to stop bothering us about such things.
Snowden: That's really dangerous. Why should I do it?
Putin: Do it for your people.
[No response from Snowden]
Putin: Do it for the truth.
[Still no response from Snowden]
Putin (a sigh): There is one million dollars in cash waiting for you in a suitcase...
Snowden: Hmmm, I'm listening.
Putin: Here is how it will work. You reveal national security secrets, and then you run.
Snowden: Run where?
Putin: First you go to Hong Kong, where the Chinese pretend to be neutral and put you on a plane to Moscow.
Snowden: And you will give me asylum there?
Putin: Don't be stupid! We will hide you here but a few inches outside the Russian border so that we can say you never actually came here. Then we will put you on a plane to Ecuador.
Snowden: But I don't want to go to Ecuador!
Putin: Oh, you will like it there. Hot latin women, nice warm weather, a lifetime supply of booze courtesy of Mother Russia, and lots of fame.
Snowden: But what if I don't find anything really bad on the NSA?
Putin: Simple. First you find a little truth, and then you make up more truth. Stalin-style!
Snowden: I have to tell you, I'm not comfortable with any of this. What if you use this to harm my country?
Putin (snorting): Would I ever do that to the Americans? I'm actually a good guy; just very misunderstood. Did you know that I used to be a ballet dancer?
Putin: Not at all. I did ballet and am proud of it. People only talk of my KGB days and hardline policies but I was once a sensitive young man prancing around in tights, just like you.
Snowden: But I don't wear tights!
Putin: When the President of Ecuador gets his hands on you, you will.
Snowden (frightened): What?
Putin: Nothing, nothing. Stupid Russian joke. Anyway, are you with us, Comrade Snowden?
Snowden: What if I say no?
Putin (sly): This is the only way you will get to meet your hero, Julian Assange.
Snowden: Wow. You can arrange that?
Putin: Of course, and we can even get you a meeting with Comrade John F. Kennedy.
Snowden: JFK? He's alive?!
Putin: You don't believe that fabricated Zapruder film, do you? That was just an American lie to hide the fact that he defected to Russia. He's in my backyard right now, enjoying a Cuban cigar.
Snowden: But they might put me in Guantanamo for espionage!
Putin: And we will kidnap you and put you in Siberia. Which do you prefer?
Snowden (reluctantly): Well, you do make a compelling argument.
Putin: Good, good. Then please get to work and call me when you get the job at Booz, Allen.
Snowden: How do you know about that?
Putin (a chuckle): We know everything, just like the NSA.
SERIOUSLY SKEWED is brought to you by Sanjay Sanghoee, a political and business commentator. Sanjay is a banker and is the author of two thriller novels, including "Killing Wall Street". For more information, please visit www.sanghoee.com