Europe again stuck saying, “They told us they were sure”

The NATO members who refused overflight privileges for Bolivian President Evo Morales are, in the process of trying to justify what they did, revealing more details of what led them to risk such a diplomatic affront. Among other explanations, the Spanish foreign minister explained that “they” told the Spanish “they were sure” Snowden was on board Morales’ plane.

“They told us they were sure… that he was on board,” Mr Garcia-Margallo told Spanish television, without indicating who “they” are.

“And so the reaction of all the European countries that took measures – whether right or wrong – was because of the information that had been passed on. I couldn’t check if it was true or not at that moment because it was necessary to act straight away.”

In point of fact, it’s not yet clear Snowden wasn’t on the plane. While Austrian authorities checked the passports of the known passengers on the plane, they apparently did not conduct a thorough search. And 3 Spaniards who showed up to conduct a search were denied entry (though Morales did stop in the Canary Islands, which would have provided another opportunity to conduct a search on Spanish territory, but by that point Morales was already making a literal international incident about his treatment).

Then yesterday the heads of state from 5 other South American countries gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia (why not La Paz?) to bitch about the actions of those NATO countries that had insulted Morales. If Snowden was on Morales’ plane, he may well be in any of 6 other countries by now (Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff sent an advisor — and note several attendees would have had to fly over Brazilian airspace to return home).

Or Snowden could be in Austria, which was one of the countries that had said Snowden would need to be in their country before it could consider an asylum request (there were pictures of Morales and Fischer from Morales’ layover that made them look quite jolly).

Or Snowden could still be in Sheremetyevo, though no one has ever seen him there. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov signaled impatience with Snowden today, even though in the past Putin said he would not extradite the leaker. But who knows whether the Russians, who are enjoying this game, are telling the truth?

So Snowden could foreseeably be in Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Russia, Suriname, Uruguay, or Venezuela. And there’s no reason to believe we’d know one way or another.

Meanwhile Ecuador chose yesterday, in the wake of the Morales slight, to complain about a bug placed in its Embassy in London. A bug they claim to have found last month.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told a news conference in Quito the bug was found last month when Ecuadorean technicians reviewed the embassy’s wiring.

Now, Ecuador reportedly found the bug in connection with Patino’s trip to London June 16. Which ought to raise questions about why they’ve chosen this moment to make a stink about it. Did they leave it in place to sow disinformation? In any case, the bug has given Ecuador reason to raise tensions with England, which has avoided the badgering the other NATO European countries have.

So who knows where Snowden is? But in the meantime, US intelligence (presumably the “they” who were “sure” Snowden was on Morales’ plane) has been exposed in another potential false certainty, and the South American nations skeptical of the Washington consensus have reasons to make fun of Europe for playing Washington’s poodle.

This entire stink is supposed to be about America’s omnipotent SIGINT dragnet (the power of which is presumably one of the reasons the NATO members are being so compliant with US demands). But somehow that SIGINT hasn’t pinpointed Snowden yet, and may have gotten badly embarrassed by listening into one of its own bugs.

Update: Nicolas Maduro has granted Snowden asylum, as has Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. Which leaves the logistics of getting Snowden to Venezuela if he is not already there.

 

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

26 Responses to Europe again stuck saying, “They told us they were sure”

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz .@AdamSchefter Be honest, by placing the burden on Rice and then STILL finding in his favor, it was a complete indictment of Goodell.
21mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @DougHaller: Sparky is back on the helmet for today's Territorial Cup. (@FootballASU photo). http://t.co/fCzvZH6ZtG
25mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @KellyFlood3 I almost went down for game, but it is really ugly for Devil fans down there. They STILL need to swap QBs if want to win.
27mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz ASU, the play calling and Taylor Kelly are just terrible. For the love of god, put Becovici in. It is like ASU and Graham enjoy this crap.
32mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @kevinjonheller Nope, the decision to give him diversion was not only proper but quite regular.
46mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz That is a pretty stinging rebuke for Goodell and the NFL. They were just found to be arbitrary and capricious liars, and Ray Rice honest.
49mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz So arbitrator, Judge Barbara Jones, put the FULL burden on Ray Rice, and still found in his favor over Goodell+NFL http://t.co/MQb0OY8KQ0
50mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team http://t.co/MQb0OY8KQ0 via @espnnfl
51mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield She dismantled the bad immigration law here previously, so state caved knowing what she would do.
57mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield Sue Bolton is a great judge. Was one of my favorite Superior court trial judges before she went to District Court.
58mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @ColMorrisDavis & David Passaro was denied precisely the docs he needed to prove techniques covered under Finding @chucktodd @Krhawkins5
1hreplyretweetfavorite
July 2013
S M T W T F S
« Jun   Aug »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031