The vague suggestions that Edward Snowden is actually a Chinese spy have become something more, as government officials now claim to fear that he will defect to China.
Here’s the thing: regardless of whether his claims are true or not, they’re clearly credible enough to do damage to the US spying program. So every time someone questions his credentials, motivations, and qualifications, it makes the people who put him into a position where he was capable of inflicting so much damage look that much worse.
If his lack of schooling is noteworthy now, why wasn’t it sufficient to keep him out of an analyst position? If he’s being courted by China,or was turned while he had access, whose bright idea was it to let people who could be so bought be placed in such potentially vulnerable places?
And if he was recruited by China *before* being put in place… Well.
If he’s already working for them, he’s already where he’s safe. If he’s not, perhaps trying to arrest, extradite, and Bradley Manning him might just drive him into the arms of the Chinese. It wouldn’t be very good for his message, admittedly, and would give the US a sort of limited plausible deniability. Or at least a distraction to keep the public from focusing on what’s happening (and I’ve already heard many suggestions that this scandal is being used to take attention away from immigration concerns). So if Snowden’s motivation is what he’s said it is, it wouldn’t be his first choice. But sufficient personal fear tends to induce people to make less than optimal choices, isn’t it.
It will be very, very interesting to see what Snowden releases next, as he claims to plan to. At this point, I’m not sure whether it matters much whether he’s a Chinese operative, now or in the past. The revelations about ‘our side’ are worth learning even if they come from erstwhile enemies.