An Assassination in Ukraine: The Unmasking of the Maskirovka has Removed the Need for Subtlety

Towards the end of 2016 a member of Russia’s parliament and his wife defected from Russia to Ukraine. Denis Voronenkov and his wife Maria Masakova sought asylum and he agreed to assist in the Ukrainian investigation into Victor Yanukovych,

KIEV—Only a few months ago Denis Voronenkov and Maria Maksakova were two of the brightest stars in Moscow’s political firmament, trying to improve the system from inside, but very much a part of it. They rode in luxurious cars, dined with the Kremlin’s elite at expensive restaurants, vacationed in Paris and Cannes. Both were members of the Russian parliament, the Duma. He was a colonel in the Russian military—a veteran of the military prosecutor’s office—as well. She, a classic Russian beauty, was a diva at the Mariinsky (Kirov) opera. The couple lived the good life in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But then the system chewed them up and spat them out.

Now they are whistleblowers—defectors hunted by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, who have found asylum in Ukraine. And they say they are ready to open up in court about the inner workings of the Putin establishment.

“Americans should realize that Putin and his guys are convinced that he spins the planet with his feet,” like a soccer ball, Voronenkov told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview. “The FSB cyber forces are quite powerful globally. Now they do not just listen to you (they listened and recorded all my phone calls for eight years). They also attack other states.”

Col. Voronenkov said he and his wife had no choice but to flee Russia late last year to “defeat the designs of the FSB,” which had begun to investigate them on a number of alleged criminal charges related to a contentious real estate deal. A favorite strategy for silencing suspected troublemakers is to charge them with corruption in a system rife with it.

Voronenkov was assassinated early today in Kiev.

The Independent reports that:

A former Russian MP has been shot and killed in the centre of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, in what the Ukrainian president described as an “act of state terrorism” by Russia.

Denis Voronenkov, who testified to Ukrainian investigators and criticsed Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman near the entrance of an upscale hotel.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the killing “clearly shows the handwriting of Russian special services shown repeatedly in various European capitals in the past.”

In a statement released by his spokesman, Svyatoslav Tsegolko, Mr Poroshenko described the victim as a key witness who gave testimony about “Russian aggression” to the Ukrainian authorities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the claim of Russian involvement in the killing as “absurd” in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova went further, saying the “killer regime” in Kiev “will do its best to make sure that no one will ever know the truth about what happened.”

Another former MP and Kremlin critic living in Kiev said Mr. Voronenkov was killed while heading to meet with him.

Mr Voronenkov was “an investigator who was deadly dangerous for the [Russian] security agencies,” Mr Ponomaryov wrote on Facebook, according to a translation from The Moscow Times.

Not subtle at all.

We also know more about the Russian attorney thrown from his building:

And Russia’s covert Little Green Men and overt actions involving Crimea and the ongoing Russian low intensity war with Ukraine continues apace.

146 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    Not.enough.coincidences.in.the.Western.World.

  2. 2
    jharp says:

    Holy fuck.

    Anxious to hear what stupid remarks President Dumbfuck has forthcoming.

  3. 3

    I’m gonna withhold judgment on this until I see what Snowden, hero of my generation, has to say about it.

  4. 4
    Wag says:

    I can’t wait for last night’s troll to show up on this thread and argue that this isn’t war.

  5. 5
    Tom Levenson says:

    I believe a front pager on this top 10,000 blog noted just yesterday that we are in a state of war w. Russia just yesterday. We are–and with a Russian asset in the White House, it’s not going well for the United States. Fortunately, we have a majority caucus in Congress well known for putting country before party.

  6. 6
    dm says:

    @jharp: Or Dumbfuck, Jr. I’ve not been keeping up with the past day’s comment threads, has this come up, yet?

    Don, Jr. tweets obnoxious comment to London’s mayor after yesterday’s terrorist incident.

  7. 7
    MattF says:

    Welp, Putin is just standin’ his ground. And the po’lice all agree, so it’s all OK.

  8. 8
    MFA says:

    Am I crazy to think that the unsubtle message was intended for parties here in the US? People in Eastern Europe and Russia understand subtlety; Trump’s people certainly do not.

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: Coincidence takes a lot of planning.

  10. 10
    piratedan says:

    gotta say this in defense of Putin, he certainly gauged the moral bankruptcy and ethical fibre of the GOP correctly. Those guys and the media that enables them certainly could give a fuck about anything other than being in charge.

  11. 11
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Wag: Is there a Philadelphia in Russia?

  12. 12
    zhena gogolia says:

    “The whole system is built for one man to maintain his power.” Bingo. And that’s what Trump is aiming for here.

  13. 13
    trollhattan says:

    @jharp:
    Those very two words are the first to come to mind. Putin seems to be pulling a slow-motion Pearl Harbor, complete with all the other Japanese actions around the Pacific at that time.

    I know damn well President Hillary would not tolerate this nonsense, so we are now living in Vlad’s preferred future. I can’t wait for Devin Nunes’ take on this.

  14. 14
    Mike in DC says:

    In terms of formulating a long term response to the provocations of the kleptocratic Russian government, I think one thing becomes crystal clear: Putin and the corrupt oligarchs have gotta go and give way to something better, not worse.
    So how does the US/EU/NATO bring that about? I think the sanctions do slowly undermine his position as the economy gets worse and their defense spending declines due to falling revenues. But it’s going to take something more to get them out. Any ideas?

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Gonna be a busy day. I may, by tonight get to the failed North Korean missile test and yesterdays attacks in London and NY and the failed attack in Antwerp. Maybe…

  16. 16
    trollhattan says:

    @dm:
    Hey now, Sasha and Malia would have Tweeted something similar, I’m sure. [eyeroll to the point of pain]

  17. 17
    dm says:

    Since this is an Adam thread, I want to ask if there’s more to the story about Nunes’ winery-partnership and Russian links. Trying to reconstruct the reasoning this morning, I came across the tweet you posted — but it just says:

    a) Nunes is part of a winery partnership (which paid him between $50,000 and $100,000 in the year the form covers), and
    b) the partnership has a Russian distributor

    but it also has Japanese and Swiss distributors, and who knows what other countries on page two of the form we see page one of (which appears to be dominated by distributors in various US states)?

    That’s tempting, yes, but a little insubstantial. On the other hand, there’s this from the Boston Globe profile of Nunes:

    He vied for the chairmanship of the intelligence committee in 2014. While competing against more senior members, he proved a better fundraiser, bringing in far more money for his party than his competitors for the chairmanship. While many congressional committee leadership positions are based on seniority, the House intelligence committee leadership was chosen by then-House Speaker John Boehner.

    Nunes has suggested he pursued the intelligence committee post because it would be good for his constituents. Intelligence can play a key role in trade negotiations, he said, although it is only a sliver of the intelligence agencies’ missions.

    ….which, well, just serves to make me wonder why he’s on the committee in the first place.

    ETA: just noticed your post on a busy day. I’m just curious. No big deal.

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    How many of you are there? Things seem to be snowballing.

  19. 19
    Gravenstone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Pace yourself. You now damn well this is going to be a long week/month/year/decade …

  20. 20

    @Wag: yeah, that sure was fun, wasn’t it?

  21. 21
    trollhattan says:

    @dm:
    Tulare, CA is a known center of international diplomacy and I’m sure the good citizens are all aflutter at the knowledge and prestige they’re gaining.

  22. 22
    Woodrowfan says:

    I’ll wait for Greenwald to weigh in before passing judgement…

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Major Major Major Major: You have that set up as a macro.

  24. 24
    Hoodie says:

    You have to wonder why Putin is being so aggressive. I guess he knows trump won’t do anything, and the GOP is so morally bankrupt it won’t do anything about trump. This way, he makes the US look weak and undermines our relationships with Eastern European states, without any fear of reprisals. He doesn’t need trump to last very long, just long enough to make a political realignment in Europe a fait accompli.

  25. 25
    trollhattan says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    Greenwald to weigh in

    is he a Weightwatchers spokesman now?

  26. 26
    JPL says:

    @jharp: He’ll praise Putin as a strong leader. Same old, same old.

  27. 27
    trollhattan says:

    @Hoodie:
    My guess is he’s been holding back and at a time we’re totally off-kilter is unleashing a rather large “To do list, by Vlad” he’s been carrying around.

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    @Tom Levenson: After the hearing with Comey, I sunk into despair. Fortunately, it appears that Nunes latest stunt to save Trump failed.

  29. 29
  30. 30
    divF says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    @Adam L Silverman:
    He could mix it up a little by using the original Russian (Герой нашего времени)

  31. 31
    Woodrowfan says:

    @trollhattan: BOL. I see him more as a Herbalife type

  32. 32
    Yarrow says:

    Knowing how the Russians operate, Manafort, Page and Stone have to be a little bit nervous.

    I mentioned in a previous thread that Manafort has hired a crisis communications team. Will he be the first to get a plea deal? The first to deal will get the best prison.

  33. 33
    Chris says:

    @piratedan:

    gotta say this in defense of Putin, he certainly gauged the moral bankruptcy and ethical fibre of the GOP correctly. Those guys and the media that enables them certainly could give a fuck about anything other than being in charge.

    I figure he’s realized what Richard Condon realized half a century ago: if you want to make any serious headway into subverting the American political system, then right-wing populism, not left-wing, is what you want to get into bed with. It’s where the power is and where the complete indifference to anything outside of your movement is.

  34. 34
    hovercraft says:

    @dm:
    Well Jr is being hammered in the British press.
    Donald Trump Jr called ‘a disgrace’ for tweet goading London mayor Sadiq Khan

    The tweet earned strong criticisms in the US and the UK, including from Wes Streeting, the MP for Ilford North and former president of the National Union of Students.

    “You use a terrorist attack on our city to attack London’s Mayor for your own political gain. You’re a disgrace,” Streeting wrote. …..

    “Is this helpful @DonaldJTrumpJr?” tweeted Ciaran Jenkins, a correspondent with Channel 4 News. “Did you even read the article before goading London’s Mayor during a live incident?”

    “Headline is based on very first sentence, which if you’d bothered to read it could apply to any major city in the world,” Jenkins added…………

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But later on Wednesday Trump Jr wrote in an email to the New York Times: “I’m not going to comment on every tweet I send.”

  35. 35
    TenguPhule says:

    @Major Major Major Major: To be used as evidence against him when we finally get to execute the bastard?

  36. 36
    Wag says:

    OT but amusing Polling about the GOP health plan.

    American voters oppose the GOP health care bill by a three-to-one margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

    The poll found that 56 percent of respondents opposed the American Health Care Act, compared to only 17 percent who supported the bill. Twenty-six percent did not know or had no answer.

    these guys can’t even get their health care plan to crazification factor!

  37. 37
    TenguPhule says:

    @Yarrow:

    The first to deal will get to live.

    FTFY.

    Just dangle that first pic above in front of their eyes and say very softly “This is your future as it currently stands. Would you like change that future? Then spill everything.”

  38. 38
    hovercraft says:

    @Yarrow:
    I think Adam pointed out that for now they seem to be confining their hit list to their own nationals. Still f I was one of them I’d watch my back, stay away from ledges, tea, streets, basically hide out in a bunker.

  39. 39
    burnspbesq says:

    @Just One More Canuck:

    Филадельфия

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Yarrow:

    Apparently it’s pretty rare for the Russians to kill anyone who’s not a Russian national — it tends to cause more trouble than it’s worth.

    My completely amateur and uneducated guess is that what would happen first is that one of Manafort’s or Stone’s or Flynn’s close Russian contacts would be killed to send the necessary message.

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dm: There is this:
    http://www.winereport.ru/alcohol-criminal/

    Shocking news stroke Russian wine business several days ago – Ara Khachatrayan, the director of the Saint-Petersburg office of one of the major high volume — low level wines importer and distributor of Armenian cognacs – Luding – was shot in the center of Moscow on the 10th of December 2010. His body was found in his Infinity car. This is not the first time Luding is involved into criminal chronicles – in 2009 a daughter of another Luding CEO was almost kidnapped. Luding was founded in 1993 by two partners – Artur Varzhapenyan and Ara Khachatryan.

    There’s no secret for those acting in emerging markets like the Russian one that most businesses are involved in bribery and corruption, there’s no other way to deal with the government bodies and rivals. Everybody does it. You can say that about huge multinational corporations (remember the recent scandal with Hewlett-Packard purchasing contracts and bribes) and of course about the Russian companies. Alcohol market is not less criminal than any other one. Wines and spirits are a good asset to make good money on, especially when people don’t really realize the real price for the product they buy. This gives the seller an advantage of putting any price he likes and still have the wines sold. Of course, the price will hugely depend on the ethical level of the seller – if this is an importing company, one might expect more fair prices. Still, we know lots of cases of unfair competition with the use of Russian tax police and inspectors, semi-legal raids to the rivals’ warehouses and offices of the Russian Administration for Economical FellonyResistance (УБЭП) and so on.

    Still, there’s a strong competition between the major players of the market. Some companies specialize on the HoReCa segment with more quality portfolio, others would be more efficient in low-level cheap wines for supermarkets. There’s no doubt every CEO needs a couple of bodyguards nowadays to protect his life and business. Just during the last days of November two attempts of murder of two owners of automobile sales centers took place. In most cases the criminal dramas are connected with businessmen from the south of Russia or the bordering south CIS countries – Armenia and Azerbaijan.

  42. 42
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @trollhattan: We are everywhere!

  43. 43
    Jeffro says:

    @Yarrow: page or stone will crack before manafort…

  44. 44
    The Moar You Know says:

    Shit. Well, I guess we’re back to the Cold War, this time with more overt murder. Having done the first one as a child, I doubt the second time around will be an improvement.

  45. 45
    opiejeanne says:

    @Major Major Major Major: There was a troll? And I missed it?

  46. 46
    James Powell says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I’m gonna withhold judgment on this until I see what Snowden, hero of my generation, has to say about it.

    I’m waiting for Greenwald’s condescending warning to Democrats that they should not pay attention to it.

    @Woodrowfan:

    ETA – Great minds and all that.

  47. 47
    Woodrowfan says:

    @The Moar You Know: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.

  48. 48

    @opiejeanne: Yeah, they were making sure we knew that none of this is an act of war, we aren’t at war, shutupimalawyer!

    @James Powell: Then we’ll know we should definitely ignore it and focus on other things, like how awful Cory Booker is.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Especially since, this time around, the US is on the side of the Russians.

  50. 50
    rikyrah says:

    Key Dem points to evidence of collusion between Russia, Team Trump
    03/23/17 08:00 AM—UPDATED 03/23/17 08:08 AM
    By Steve Benen
    Russia’s intervention in last year’s presidential campaign is no longer in doubt. What’s unclear is whether Vladimir Putin’s government received cooperation from the Republican campaign officials in Moscow and was eager to help.

    House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who’s helping lead a congressional investigation into the Russia scandal, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend, and raised a few eyebrows with vague references to circumstantial evidence.

    “There is circumstantial evidence of collusion,” Schiff said, referring to alleged cooperation between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign. “There is direct evidence, I think, of deception and that’s where we begin the investigation…. There is certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation. The American people have a right to know and in order to defend ourselves, we need to know whether the circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception is indicative of more.”

  51. 51
    Timurid says:

    @Jeffro:

    Maybe… but what makes this different from Watergate is that Dean, Haldeman, etc. could disobey or snitch on Nixon without worrying about the Bratva feeding them to a wood chipper, feet first.

  52. 52
    Spanky says:

    @Mnemosyne: Killing’s unnecessary, messy, and actually counterproductive. If Putin wants to keep the US on full boil for a while longer he’ll hang these guys out to dry, one by one. Have one of his moles in the FBI leak damning evidence, either real or conveniently planted on the victim’s laptop. I understand there’s technology to do that nowadays.

  53. 53
    Spanky says:

    @Jeffro:

    page or stone will crack before manafort

    page/stone/manafort::paper/rock/scissors?

  54. 54
    low-tech cyclist says:

    And this is the regime that Trump says we should try to get along with better.

  55. 55
    jonas says:

    Been seeing this meme pop up a lot lately. Seems like it’s more appropriate each time: “This business will get out of control! It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it!

  56. 56
    opiejeanne says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Which thread? I’d like to go and read it, but how annoying.

  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @Spanky: My bet is on Carter Page, since Stone appears to be bright enough to check himself into rehab, for a long stay.

  58. 58
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    We are everywhere!

    Is that SPECTRE or Quantum?

  59. 59
    TenguPhule says:

    @Spanky:

    Killing’s unnecessary, messy, and actually counterproductive.

    And yet the line of Russian bodies in this just keeps getting longer each week.

  60. 60
    opiejeanne says:

    @rikyrah: And according to Rachel last night, he has since said that there is more than circumstantial evidence.

  61. 61
    jonas says:

    Vladimir Putin’s Russia is less a nation state a more a nation-sized criminal syndicate. With nukes and worldwide intelligence capabilities. How do you even deal with that within the norms of contemporary international relations and geopolitics?

  62. 62
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I’m gonna withhold judgment on this until I see what Snowden, hero of my generation, has to say about it.

    WTF?!

    Seriously, what does this have to do with anything?

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    @Brachiator:

    Is that SPECTRE or Quantum?

    Well, if you’ve seen the last movie…

  64. 64
    opiejeanne says:

    @low-tech cyclist: That was a bit of parody, dear.

  65. 65
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Coincidence takes a lot of planning.

    This quote goes under your picture in the year book…

  66. 66
    jonas says:

    @The Moar You Know: During the Cold War, you at least knew where the lines were and what the stakes were. Also, the American president himself was somewhat less likely to be complicit in Russian interference in US politics.

  67. 67
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Adam L Silverman: to say nothing of the Israeli kid who phoned in all those threats to the JCCs…

  68. 68
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @low-tech cyclist: Sarcasm tags implied.

    @opiejeanne: I saw a clip where Schiff said on camera “more than circumstantial” to Chuck Todd, who looked pretty surprised.

  69. 69
    Miss Bianca says:

    @low-tech cyclist: err…snark meter need a tune-up?

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Spanky:

    Killing US citizens is too much trouble, especially within US borders. But we’ve already seen that the Russians have no scruples about killing their own citizens. That’s why I think that there will be a message to Putin’s US allies in the form of the body of one of their Russian contacts.

    And, yes, Putin has absolutely no reason to want the US to be functional and able to oppose him — quite the contrary, in fact — so I’m fully expecting him to start exposing and embarrassing his US contacts at some point.

  71. 71
    jonas says:

    @piratedan: Ironic, isn’t it? They used to talk about “useful idiots” among leftists in the West. Turned out it ended up being the GOP and their voters.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I really don’t know how anyone can still think that Snowden innocently ended up in Russia with two laptops and several hard drives full of information stolen from the NSA, particularly given events of the last year or so. I mean, come on.

  73. 73
    TenguPhule says:

    @jonas: Call 007 to blow them all up from the inside.

  74. 74
    dm says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks. Luding was the distributor listed on the winery’s forms, as I recall.

    Pretty much all the reporting on this I’ve seen ties back to that tweet.

  75. 75
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Killing US citizens is too much trouble, especially within US borders.

    Hahahahahahah….oh wait, you’re serious.

    Given our lax weapon laws, hits in America are actually easier then in Russia, provided that you don’t care about the fate of the asset used to perform the hit.

    The killing part is easy, the getting afterwards is always the tricky part.

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    @jonas:

    There were always people like that, but there was a fairly strong bipartisan consensus from both center left and center right during the Cold War (not just in the U.S. but in most Western nations) that this brand of leftism was a bad thing and should be pushed back against on national security grounds if nothing else.

    Whatever’s left of our center right, if you can call it that, has by contrast spent the last half century increasingly chasing the votes of the far right, and at this point is so dependent on it that even something as blatant as a pro-Putin president can’t get them worked up. We basically are in exactly the situation that they always said the left-of-center was during the Cold War, but never actually was.

  77. 77
    Kristine says:

    Has anyone ever tried to take out Putin?

    Asking for a friend.

  78. 78

    @Mike in DC:

    So how does the US/EU/NATO bring that about? I think the sanctions do slowly undermine his position as the economy gets worse and their defense spending declines due to falling revenues. But it’s going to take something more to get them out. Any ideas?

    Going after their money is going to be a huge part of it. They keep a lot of their money outside of Russia, largely because the Russian economy is so bad, much of it through various intermediates and shadow companies as part of their money laundering. If we really see ourselves as being at war, we need to go after that money through means fair or foul. Money needs to disappear out of Swiss bank accounts, property needs to change hands, and so forth. We need to get really serious about places like the Cayman Islands that act as money laundering and tax evasion hubs. It wouldn’t hurt if some of the money we steal from them winds up financing opposition groups in Russia.

  79. 79
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @opiejeanne: Well yeah, I understood the sarcasm.

    Or maybe there were different ways to read it as sarcasm, but the obvious one seemed to be a slam of Snowden for…I’m not sure exactly what, but a failure to be as pure as the driven snow.

  80. 80
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @jonas:

    Vladimir Putin’s Russia is less a nation state a more a nation-sized criminal syndicate.

    For quite some time, probably a decade or so, I’ve been calling Putin The World’s Most Successful Gangster™… there’s a good chance he’s the richest man in world right now… he not only got filthy, filthy rich off his criminal enterprise, he took over an entire country… and not only did he take over an entire country, he took over one w/ a nuclear arsenal…

    Talk about hitting the big time… what’s left of the Mafia can only look on in envy…

  81. 81
    Peale says:

    @dm: Yep. Bought himself a chairmanship. So who are these “Large Fundraisers?”

  82. 82
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    so I’m fully expecting him to start exposing and embarrassing his US contacts at some point.

    I’ve been wondering about this too…

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: Yes!

  84. 84
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mnemosyne: Left-wingnut self-delusion is a helluva drug…

  85. 85
    lollipopguild says:

    @Kristine: The problem with taking out putin is what/who will replace him?

  86. 86

    @Yarrow:

    I mentioned in a previous thread that Manafort has hired a crisis communications team. Will he be the first to get a plea deal? The first to deal will get the best prison.

    I doubt any of them will accept a deal that results in prison time, and this assassination shows why. They’re going to want witness protection, ideally handled through some party that is highly resistant to Russian hacking.

  87. 87
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Kristine:

    Has anyone ever tried to take out Putin?

    i wouldn’t be surprised if someone/s did, and clearly, they failed…

  88. 88

    @Mnemosyne:

    Apparently it’s pretty rare for the Russians to kill anyone who’s not a Russian national — it tends to cause more trouble than it’s worth.

    Anyone who wants to testify against Trump is taking a life or death gamble that they aren’t one of the rare exceptions.

  89. 89
    Miss Bianca says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    the obvious one seemed to be a slam of Snowden for…I’m not sure exactly what, but a failure to be as pure as the driven snow.

    “A failure to be as pure as the driven snow”?

    That’s one hell of an understatement when referring to Driven Snowden. Or how would YOU refer to a guy who skipped the country to a hostile foreign power after dumping a lot of state secrets? I mean, I’d refer to him as a “traitor”, but that’s just me.

  90. 90
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @Roger Moore:

    They’re going to want witness protection, ideally handled through some party that is highly resistant to Russian hacking.

    Want witness protection?

    Shit… they’re gonna NEED witness protection…

  91. 91
    Peale says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah. But we can’t take out those places without exposing our people to the reality that there’s a large hidden global money transfer system and tax avoidance system that pretty much everyone in who is anyone in the world has been using. The more I think about it, the more some kind of temporary anarchy makes sense. But that would only work if we could guarantee that once the dust settles the same people wouldn’t be on the top who are on the top now. Unfortunately, its just likely that when the dust would settle, we’d end up with broken institutions with the same corrupt fools in charge.

  92. 92
    The Moar You Know says:

    Has anyone ever tried to take out Putin?

    @Kristine: The answer is certainly “yes”, although you’ll never see proof or any details. He will have buried any such attempts but good.

  93. 93
    KS in MA says:

    “…a number of alleged criminal charges related to a contentious real estate deal…”

    Hmm, do we know anyone else who’s been involved in possibly shady real estate deals?

  94. 94
    Lee says:

    @Chris:

    Do you think Russia put all their eggs in the Republican basket?

    I’m thinking that there are a few Democrats that are very quickly trying to untangle themselves.

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lee:

    I’m thinking that there are a few Democrats that are very quickly trying to untangle themselves.

    Tad Devine, Sanders’s campaign manager, has ties to Russia and Putin through his work in Ukraine. Jill Stein accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Russia and sat at Putin’s table even though the Green Party in Russia begged her not to. Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann are both employees of Russia Today, the Russian government’s propaganda outlet.

    People to the left of establishment Democrats need to take a hard look at the log in their eye before they start looking for any splinters the Democratic Party might have.

  96. 96
    TriassicSands says:

    Gee. maybe it’s time to consider recognizing Russia both a sponsor of terrorism and a terrorist state in an of itself.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    a slam of Snowden for…I’m not sure exactly what, but a failure to be as pure as the driven snow stealing top secret information from the NSA and giving it to the Russians.

    Fix’d.

    Seriously, at this point you think it’s a coincidence that Snowden and his laptops and hard drives full of information about US national security ended up in Russia, and now the Russians are deeply involved in hacking us and suborning our politicians? How naive are you?

  98. 98
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Or how would YOU refer to a guy who skipped the country to a hostile foreign power after dumping a lot of state secrets? I mean, I’d refer to him as a “traitor”, but that’s just me.

    I’d say a guy who revealed that our government was spying on us far in excess of their legal mandate to do so, was anything but a traitor.

    Now if you’re saying that if his motives were pure, he should have stayed here and served 20-to-life in the Federal pen, rather than absconding to one of the few countries that our government wouldn’t have either extradited him from, or simply snatched him from – well, I damn sure wouldn’t have been that pure.

    And OTOH if you’re saying that he has provided Russia with the tools for their cyberattacks on the U.S. over this past year, I think at least some evidence is called for.

  99. 99
    trollhattan says:

    @Lee: Probably safe to say the Russians throw out a big net and any bycatch is welcome as a future asset. Think of Dems as the ensnared sea turtles of the Russian Republican-tuna fleet, knowing the Russians will happily make turtle soup.

  100. 100
    trollhattan says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    I think at least some evidence is called for.

    You’re soaking in it.

  101. 101
    TenguPhule says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    And OTOH if you’re saying that he has provided Russia with the tools for their cyberattacks on the U.S. over this past year, I think at least some evidence is called for.

    The fact they gave him asylum for one.

    Every bit of information he acquired, he gave it to them. Guaranteed.

    Putin does nothing unless there’s a payoff for him.

  102. 102
    Miss Bianca says:

    @low-tech cyclist: No, I think what I’m saying is, you’re a fool.

    ETA: And do I think a guy who betrayed his oath of service in the name of “whistleblowing” or WTF he wanted to call it should have stayed and faced the music? Yes. The fact that he didn’t – dumped a whole bunch of info and ran not to one, but TWO hostile foreign governments, means that his motives not only weren’t pure, they stink like rotten fish. But you keep hugging your Snowden teddy bear to your breast, sunshine. And thanks for letting us know that in a similar set of circumstances, you’d be a moral coward, too.

  103. 103

    @Peale:
    I keep thinking that David Brin’s Earth was more and more prescient. It was set 50 years in the future from the time he wrote it. He said that when writing a novel in that kind of medium-distant future, an author needs to include at least one plausible but unexpected major historical event that makes the future radically different from the world we’re living in. He chose a war between the big money havens- Switzerland being the biggest in his novel- and the rest of humanity over the control of the world. I’m starting to think we need something like that.

  104. 104

    @Lee:

    Do you think Russia put all their eggs in the Republican basket?

    No, but that seems to be where most of them are. Putin has shown a strong preference for right wing nationalists as his international partners.

  105. 105
    Lee says:

    @Mnemosyne: thank you for that information!

  106. 106
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Mnemosyne: @Mnemosyne:

    Seriously, at this point you think it’s a coincidence that Snowden and his laptops and hard drives full of information about US national security ended up in Russia, and now the Russians are deeply involved in hacking us and suborning our politicians? How naive are you?

    You know, the story of the Russian hacking of our election has gotten a hell of a lot of coverage, and of course Adam Silverman here has written a great deal about the larger cyberwar that this is a part of. And your comment here is the first suggestion I’ve heard that Snowden might have the least thing to do with it.

    If Adam were to say this cyberwar probably utilizes info provided to the Russians by Snowden, I’d take that seriously, because I respect his knowledge and his judgment. But if nobody’s saying it besides some bozo in comments, then I’m going to give that exactly the credence it deserves.

  107. 107

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Now if you’re saying that if his motives were pure, he should have stayed here and served 20-to-life in the Federal pen, rather than absconding to one of the few countries that our government wouldn’t have either extradited him from, or simply snatched him from – well, I damn sure wouldn’t have been that pure.

    I’m going to say that he should have at least made an attempt to bring up his concerns through legitimate channels for blowing the whistle before going public. For example, he could have sent the information he found to a Congressman who was known to be concerned about government spying. Also, if he was acting on worries about the government spying on Americans, he should have limited himself to documents about domestic spying. Instead, he grabbed pretty much everything he could find, including far more material on foreign intelligence- the primary, legal function of the NSA- than on domestic stuff.

  108. 108
    Mnemosyne says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    No, I’m sure it’s all a coincidence that Snowden fled to Russia with multiple gigabytes of data about our national security apparatus and how it works, and then the Russians ran a massive cyberwar operation against us. No connection at all, comrade, no need to think about it. Have some vodka and borscht!

  109. 109

    @Mnemosyne:
    I doubt that Snowden’s stuff was much help to the Russians in their hacking of the DNC, Podesta, et. al. From everything I’ve read, they used fairly standard spear phishing/social engineering, which doesn’t rely on the kind of sophisticated hacks the NSA was using. That’s not to say that the information Snowden provided was useless to them, just that it was likely to be more helpful for security and counterintelligence than for the kind of offensive operation we’ve been witnessing.

  110. 110
    TenguPhule says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    But if nobody’s saying it besides some bozo in comments, then I’m going to give that exactly the credence it deserves.

    Pot, kettle. Irony.

  111. 111
    TenguPhule says:

    @Roger Moore: It would have been extremely useful for their networks to evade and minimize detection from our and our allies counterintelligence, thus giving them time to get as far as they did with Trumpie and friends. Part of the problem in making any kind of legal case about this now is that the hard evidence is slim and vanishing as the Russians knew what to look out for and are now doing cleanup of loose ends.

  112. 112
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    No, I think what I’m saying is, you’re a fool.

    That’s OK, I harbor similar feelings towards you.

    ETA: And do I think a guy who betrayed his oath of service in the name of “whistleblowing” or WTF he wanted to call it should have stayed and faced the music? Yes. The fact that he didn’t – dumped a whole bunch of info and ran not to one, but TWO hostile foreign governments, means that his motives not only weren’t pure, they stink like rotten fish.

    This is exactly the “because he wasn’t pure as the driven snow, he stinks” argument.

    But you keep hugging your Snowden teddy bear to your breast, sunshine.

    I don’t idolize him. But I also don’t go to the other extreme, which is equally naive:

    good and bad, I defined these terms, quite clear, no doubt, somehow.

    And thanks for letting us know that in a similar set of circumstances, you’d be a moral coward, too.

    So if I felt that the government was hiding things that it had no business hiding, and I had a choice between (a) keeping my mouth shut, (b) revealing the truth but going the Snowden route, or (c) revealing the truth but sacrificing the rest of my life in doing so – that if I wasn’t courageous enough for (c), the most responsible thing to do would be (a)?

    Well, I’m glad you’re such a paragon of integrity that (b) would be out of the question. But once you restrict the moral choices to (a) and (c), a lot more people are going to choose (a) if they find themselves in that position. And then the people of this country only get to find out the truth if someone’s going to be the pure as the driven snow hero of option (c).*

    Snowden isn’t that hero. But if he’s not a great man, and if he’s not a good man, but he’s just alright, I still am glad that we know the things we know on account of him. I figure we know what we know on account of option (b). I’m glad it was there for him.

    *There’s not only a lot of seeing the world in black and white in that, there’s a considerable dose of treating people as things in it, too. “And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things.” – Terry Pratchett

  113. 113
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I find it highly unlikely that Snowden’s information was not used to help the Russians figure out how to disrupt our intelligence operations and eventually our election. The fact that there were additional NSA employees who were suborned and caught sending information to Russia after Snowden’s defection makes it even less likely that Russia didn’t use the information he gave them. I think Snowden’s information was one of the building blocks the Russians used against us, and that’s leaving aside the propaganda he and they have been spewing.

    Do you honestly think that Snowden’s defection and the information he provided did not help the Russians and was as harmless to the US as low-tech cyclist is claiming?

  114. 114
    Mnemosyne says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Snowden isn’t that hero. But if he’s not a great man, and if he’s not a good man, but he’s just alright, I still am glad that we know the things we know on account of him. I figure we know what we know on account of option (b). I’m glad it was there for him.

    Given current events, I now seriously doubt that much of Snowden’s “revelations” about domestic spying were true. They certainly did a good job of getting Americans on the left to distrust Obama and the Democrats. I now suspect that they were 90 percent Russian propaganda and American leftists fell for it.

  115. 115
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No, I’m sure it’s all a coincidence that Snowden fled to Russia with multiple gigabytes of data about our national security apparatus and how it works, and then the Russians ran a massive cyberwar operation against us. No connection at all, comrade, no need to think about it. Have some vodka and borscht!

    You’re welcome to keep repeating yourself.

    But if it’s so obviously true, why is it only being said in the comments section of a blog?

    See the ‘quick links’ up top? Click on it. There’s a ‘contact a front-pager’ link in there. You clearly care about this more than I do, so drop Adam a line. I was just taking a minute to respond to what seemed like an obvious non-sequitur, and didn’t figure on spending my afternoon arguing over Snowden, because frankly I don’t care about him that much. You do, Miss Bianca does, and a few others too. Your move.

  116. 116
    TenguPhule says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    But if he’s not a great man, and if he’s not a good man, but he’s just alright, I still am glad that we know the things we know on account of him.

    The price was only your dignity, your soul and your freedom. But aside from that, I assume you enjoyed the play, Mrs. Lincoln.

  117. 117
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Given current events, I now seriously doubt that much of Snowden’s “revelations” about domestic spying were true.

    More bullshit backed by your own opinion. Wow.

    I’m so impressed.

  118. 118
    Mnemosyne says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Well, keep your head in the sand, then. I’m sure Comrade Putin appreciates your inability to add 1 and 1 together.

  119. 119
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Pot, kettle. Irony.

    You’ve got absolutely no more reason to believe what I say than to believe what Mnemosyne says. There’s your grounds for ‘pot, kettle, irony.’

    The place it fails is, I’m not the one making assertions. When I do, I try to bring more evidence for them to the table than ‘A preceded B.’ I am not asking you to believe anything that isn’t already known. Mnemosyne is, and on the basis of essentially nothing. I have a fundamental problem with that. If your problem is with me rather than him, that tells me all I need to know about you as well.

  120. 120
    TenguPhule says:

    I’m not the one making assertions.

    But you are.

    You’re asserting that Snowden didn’t turn over to the Russians intel and data that they then turned around and used against the United States.

    It not only fails the laugh test, it fails the common sense test, the “surely nobody can be that stupid” test and the “are you blind!” test.

  121. 121
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Well, keep your head in the sand, then. I’m sure Comrade Putin appreciates your inability to add 1 and 1 together.

    Because failing to believe some theory espoused only by some bozo in comments is “keeping my head in the sand.”

    ISTM that the bozo in comments demanding that everyone else believe his theory that nobody else is pushing, is the equivalent of that old movie trope of “I’m not the crazy one, everyone else is crazy! I’m the only one who’s sane!”

    Let me explain: you have no special knowledge or insight. (I don’t either, but I’m not the one making the claims.) If this is so obviously true, other people who know more about such things should be seeing it too. Who are they? Where are they? Apparently they don’t exist. You’re the only sane one. Sorry about that.

  122. 122
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @TenguPhule:

    You’re asserting that Snowden didn’t turn over to the Russians intel and data that they then turned around and used against the United States.

    No. I’m asserting only that the claim that he did do so, is not backed by any evidence, beyond ‘A preceded B.’

    (Logic. What do they teach in schools these days?)

    Produce the evidence, and I’ll admit I’m wrong. Your move.

  123. 123
    Mnemosyne says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    The only insight I have is what people who know more than me were saying back in 2014.

    But, hey, that’s just some random arms control blogger on the internet — what would someone versed in international relations and Russia know about such things, amirite?

  124. 124
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @The Moar You Know: @Chris: I am too old and tired (b. 1940) to have to deal this mess. My son, b. 1968, and my niece, b. 1991, are too old and tired to deal with this. Everyone is.

  125. 125
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: And what ever happened to the GOP rallying cry of the 50s Better dead than red?

  126. 126
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Well, Mnemosyne, I’ve read so far that the bullshit in this thread about Snowden choosing to be in Russia was just that – bullshit. He wanted to be in Ecuador, but the U.S. blocked that move. He’s in Russia because he’s stuck there. (I thought I remembered that, but wasn’t sure enough of my recollections to say. And had work to do.) So you and your buddies are 0 for 1 so far.

    It’s a long piece. If I keep reading, what else am I going to find?

  127. 127
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Oh, and this:

    And transiting Moscow? The US canceled his passport, true. But the Russians could have let him go to Ecuador. They stopped him because he is an amazing intelligence prize.

    Can’t forget that the U.S. intercepted and diverted a plane from Moscow that they thought Snowden was on. Regardless of what the Russians were doing, we were forcing him to stay there if he wanted to remain free.

    So already I’m finding inaccuracies in this piece.

  128. 128
    TenguPhule says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Regardless of what the Russians were doing, we were forcing him to stay there if he wanted to remain free.

    And naturally they did so out of the goodness of Putin’s heart, amirite?

    Pull the other one, its got bells on.

  129. 129
    Captain C says:

    @Hoodie: A lot of it, I suspect, is distraction for the benefit of his own people. He’s been in power over 16 years, and other than Moscow and St. Petersburg, the country’s economy and living conditions haven’t improved over the Soviet days. Plus, the constant trickle of deaths in Ukraine can’t be totally covered up and isn’t popular with the soldiers’ families and friends. So he has to do something to make himself the One Indispensable Man.

  130. 130
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Thru the Looking Glass…:

    …there’s a good chance he’s the richest man in world right now…

    It’s possible that he’s working on becoming the world’s first Trillionaire.

  131. 131

    @Mnemosyne:

    Do you honestly think that Snowden’s defection and the information he provided did not help the Russians and was as harmless to the US as low-tech cyclist is claiming?

    No, which is why I specifically said that I wasn’t saying his information was harmless. I just think it was more likely to be useful for security and counterespionage (i.e. foiling NSA attempts to spy on them) than for spying on us. They need to know about the NSA’s hacking skills to defend against them. They don’t need to know about them to trick Podesta into giving them his email password.

  132. 132
    Captain C says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Apparently it’s pretty rare for the Russians to kill anyone who’s not a Russian national — it tends to cause more trouble than it’s worth.

    Kind of like how the Five Families wouldn’t go after cops, judges, and DAs, as that kind of thing would lead to a lot of problems for them, ranging from clampdowns on business to “shot while resisting arrest.”

  133. 133
    Miss Bianca says:

    @low-tech cyclist: Yes, I am saying that if I had been in Snowden’s situation, I would either have honored my oath of service by saying nothing, or by documenting my concerns to the appropriate parties, or if I had felt I couldn’t do either, I would have revealed my concerns publicly and TAKEN MY GODDAMN LUMPS FOR IT like an actual civil rights hero/martyr, not run away to a hostile government and spent the rest of my miserable life whining about how because the US is so awful, I’m forced to live with and give its secrets to its enemies.

    In other words, if I’m “not courageous enough for option (c)”, then maybe I got no goddamn business deciding that *I* am the arbiter of what information the US government should or shoudn’t be collecting?

    Gee, morality and ethics, how do those things work again? Maybe Terry Pratchett has an opinion on the matter that he could posthumously give you, since you don’t seem able to formulate one for yourself.

  134. 134
    Captain C says:

    @Brachiator: Or a bunch of people in Guy Fawkes masks not realizing that he was actually trying to blow up Parliament in order to re-establish an absolute Catholic monarchy (as opposed to an Anarchist Paradise).

  135. 135
    Mnemosyne says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Can’t forget that the U.S. intercepted and diverted a plane from Moscow that they thought Snowden was on.

    Yes, it’s almost like the US government thought Snowden had stolen much more vital information than what he publicly admitted to, isn’t it?

    Nah, they must have gone to those lengths because they hate whistleblowers just that much. That’s a much more logical explanation.

    But, hey, if the articles explaining why actual experts are pretty sure that Snowden was a Russian operative are too long for you to read, you just don’t bother your beautiful mind about those things, comrade.

  136. 136
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Roger Moore:

    To be clear, I don’t think we ended up where we are today solely because Snowden defected to the Russians. Adam has pointed out that there have been other, more recent defections by NSA contractors that were probably more directly consequential.

    But it’s hard for me to look at what Snowden did and where he ran to and assume it was a coincidence completely unrelated to what happened last year. At a minimum, I think the information he gave the Russians was a building block and starting point for them that we were never quite able to overcome.

  137. 137
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @low-tech cyclist: I have no idea and would never have been in a position to know. And, of course, if I did I couldn’t tell any of you (well isn’t that convenient… 😉). Just based on the time hacks, I would doubt it.

    The issue with Snowden is that the timelines don’t match up for what his benefactors (and I don’t mean the Russian ones) say happened. There is significant, openly reported in the news documentation that makes it clear that it is possible, though I cannot put a number on probable, that what happened was what he planned to happen. Take what he took, book it, and hand it over to the Russians. The image put forward by his handlers in the media, as well as in the hagiographic biopics are, I think, as much fiction as fact. I can and will say no more.

  138. 138
    Captain C says:

    @TenguPhule: When gangsters are killing their own, most people don’t worry too much; if bystanders (or people seen as not in the gang) start getting offed or too many bodies pile up in otherwise pleasant streets, then people start demanding that something be done. As long as it’s Russians seen as dirty, it usually won’t cause enough of a stir outside Russia to worry about. At least, that’s probably Putin’s calculation.

  139. 139
    Captain C says:

    @jonas: Unless you were living in a Philip K. Dick novel and the President’s name was Feris Fremont. Come to think of it, it does kind of feel like we’re in such a novel these days…

  140. 140
    TenguPhule says:

    @Captain C: They were killing them in New York. Diplomats, remember. I don’t think Putin is caring where or who, if they know too much they’re headed for the grave.

  141. 141
    Captain C says:

    @Roger Moore:

    They keep a lot of their money outside of Russia, largely because the Russian economy is so bad

    This, and also because if it’s inside Russia it’s much easier for Putin (or one of his cronies) to confiscate.

  142. 142
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The image put forward by his handlers in the media, as well as in the hagiographic biopics are, I think, as much fiction as fact.

    I’m sure a lengthy bout of enhanced extreme interrogation can ring the truth and a confession from Snowden’s cracked, bleeding lips when we finally get our hands on him.

  143. 143
    Captain C says:

    @TenguPhule: Yeah, but if he gets to the point where he makes a habit of that, it’ll attract a lot more scrutiny on both Russian diplomats and mafia in NYC, and he doesn’t want that unless to him the alternative is worse.

  144. 144
    Debbie1 says:

    @jharp: TR*mp will probably say something pithy like the former Russian PM obstructed justice​ by interfering in the path of that bullet. Sad.

  145. 145
    Anonymous patient says:

    @low-tech cyclist: So, you would need Adam’s words to tell you the sun is shining outside?

    If it isn’t obvious to you that Snowden gave away every bit and byte of code he ever worked with then I can’t help you – no one can!

  146. 146
    Anonymous patient says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    So, here’s another guy who’s not a common commenterror here, a guy with slang that’s a little off.

    So tell me, what is your Mother tongue low-tech guy? Not Russian I don’t think, maybe Polish or, well, I’m not a Slavic linguist, my expertise is English, and yours is not.

    What does your gig pay in, $$, Roubles or Swiss pounds?

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