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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2013
THE SPY COUPLE
BY BOB FRANKEN
Why wouldn’t Edward Snowden marry Anna Chapman? She’s asked him to via Twitter. That may not be the traditional way of proposing, but Snowden and Chapman are not your standard-issue couple anyway. For starters, they have never met. But when it comes to Americans with Russian spouses, there’s a lot of that going around. There’s a whole industry devoted to mail-order brides who really, really want a U.S. green card and are willing to take on a lonely American husband to get one. This could work the other way around. If Ed and Anna tie the knot, he could gain a Russian resident permit and start down the road to citizenship.
Not only that, but Ms. Chapman is a real looker. We’re all aware of that from the pinup shots and other pictures we saw when the story broke that she was an intelligence operative, part of a group that was conducting espionage on the United States -- or trying to -- while posing as middle-class Americans. Come to think of it, the espionage game is something she and Snowden have in common.
It’s a match made in public-relations heaven. He needs a place to live; she has an amazing talent for self-promotion. He needs to avoid prison; she needs to avoid having her TV career fade away. She was kicked out of the U.S.; he is desperate to stay away. So of course they should get hitched. Even if Moscow is not exactly paradise, it’s way better than supermax. If the wedded bliss turns to misery, though, supermax may be better. It certainly would be an incentive for couples’ therapy.
What’s also a plus is that he wouldn’t have to fly to another country. President Barack Obama dismissively insisted that he is “not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” but as Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, found out, the mere rumor that Snowden was on his plane caused just about everything short of scrambling. Suddenly, U.S. allies in Europe denied permission to fly through their airspace as it departed Russia, which sure seems like a lot of bother for a “29-year-old hacker.” Obviously, there’s no sense risking all that hassle when he can just take a brief stroll out of the transit zone and into the warm embrace of the Motherland -- and more importantly, Anna’s arms. The simple fact he’d finally be escaping Sheremetyevo airport would be incentive enough.
By the way, thanks to Snowden, we all know a lot more than we did. First of all, most of us had never heard of Sheremetyevo. More important, we had no idea that the National Security Agency was massively snooping into our private lives. Nor did many realize how shamelessly our government officials were willing to dissemble about this snooping. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper flat-out lied about the surveillance during a March Senate hearing. He’s now written a letter of apology for his “clearly erroneous” testimony, but that could be because, thanks to Snowden, Clapper got caught being “erroneous.” When Obama says he “welcomes debate” about his national-security policies, he conveniently leaves out the fact that just about all the pertinent information is classified. What a great “debate” that would be. No substance, only an argument over whether all the secrecy was necessary, which wouldn’t amount to much, since rules about that are also off-limits to everyone without the right security clearance.
Snowden has had the audacity make public these invasions of our privacy. For that, he needs to find another place to live. Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are among the possibilities; Ecuador also is still in the running perhaps, but choosing any of them raises an important question: Would Anna be willing to relocate again?
© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.