R. James Woolsey Jr., director of central intelligence during the Clinton administration, said Monday that the United States’ failure to deal strongly with Russia and President Vladimir Putin is setting an example for other countries in the Edward Snowden leak escapade.
“Hong Kong and Ecuador are learning from Russia, which is that if you insult the United States and don’t follow international norms with respect to it, nothing happens,” Mr. Woolsey said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And so they’re behaving appropriately. Nothing’s happening.”
“His general attitude is don’t be weak, and that’s fine, but he’s not really doing anything else except avoiding being weak, simply trying to throw his weight around with respect to the United States,” Mr. Woolsey said. “He’s not cooperating, really, on anything substantial, and there’s no risk in it for him. He doesn’t have anything negative happen when he behaves that way with us, so the kind of cooperative relationship we had from time to time in the past, say with [Mikhail] Gorbachev, is just not here … he’s almost impossible to work with.”
Mr. Snowden, a 30-year-old who had top-secret clearance and disclosed the government’s collection of phone records and a program that tracks some foreigners’ Internet activity, revealed his plans through a statement from WikiLeaks — founded by leaker Julian Assange — after reports he departed from Hong Kong bound for Moscow and then a new haven from American authorities seeking his arrest.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino confirmed on Twitter that his government had received an asylum request from Mr. Snowden, who landed in Moscow on Sunday and planned to travel to South America through Cuba, The Associated Press reported, citing Russian news agencies.