Beltway Confidential

Ex-NSA chief: I hope Edward Snowden doesn’t drink himself to death

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Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden recalled that asylum for Western defectors to Russia doesn’t always end well, as he noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has revived Cold War-era tensions by receiving Edward Snowden.

“We’ve had defectors in the past end up in the old Soviet Union,” Hayden said on Morning Joe. “Remember the Cambridge Five? Quite a few of them ended up there. Now, they ended up unhappily. They drank themselves to death. I don’t wish that on young Mr. Snowden, but you do see echoes of that period in what’s going on now, despite the so-called reset.”

Hayden said that Putin has succeeded in turning “an American president actually [into] a supplicant to the Russian president in order to get this young man back,” but maintained that the Russians are in a fundamentally inferior position.

“Putin and his team are in charge of a declining power,” Hayden said. “Russia’s power right now is confined to the ability to say no; it’s confined to the ability to obstruct.”

He also denied that Snowden is a whistleblower. “ ‘Whistleblower’ is a technical term,” Hayden explained. “It’s raising your hand and telling people in authority that this isn’t right, I disagree with this, and giving them a chance to either respond or correct it. He didn’t do any of it.”

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