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Opinon: Covert Matters

Alexandria’s Welcome Mat for Mr. Snowden

— Aw shucks. Just when it looked like Alexandria would be “home” to another spy he’s slipped through the grasp of authorities.

The late night bulletin hit all news media. A federal espionage warrant for Edward Snowden had been issued. It came under the direction of the federal court in Alexandria. Heavy duty business.

It was quite certain, many thought, that U.S. Marshals would be on the job, allowed to do their job and swiftly nab him. Problem No. 1? The fellow was still in Hong Kong.

Still it was exciting to know the alleged computer wizard was going to have his day in court and everybody would be glued to the reporting how this guy could get lots of secrets onto thumb drives. Now, it appears his arrival will be later instead of sooner.

The reason for the delay? Complications with extradition rules and political derring-do with Russia, Cuba and Ecuador.

Through no fault of the U.S. Marshals, Mr. Snowden was enjoying the courtesies of the Hong Kong government, overseen by the Chinese government. Not good.

Alexandria’s history with secret-stealing Americans for the former Soviets goes back many years. These people, convicted as traitors, were tried in the city’s fast-action federal court. They now reside in the highest security federal prisons. The life terms are not being served in sweet and nice penitentiaries or what some would like to describe as houses of correction. There are no work release programs for them. They are fortunate to have avoided the ultimate prices of times past.

While the U.S. Department of Justice seems to have bungled Snowden’s arrest and extradition plans for the moment, those charged with rounding up such dangerous people are champing at the bit. As this is being written, the subject, Mr. Snowden, is awaiting political asylum in Moscow, Havana or Quito, capital of Ecuador.

Stealing secrets is not a good thing. Such conduct is more than whistleblowing.

Snowden grew up in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County. It is interesting that his computer wizardry landed him highly-paid jobs with the CIA, NSA and a government contractor for such agencies.

If history is to be remembered, his future is not bright. No matter how he and/or his legal counsel want to portray his leaking secrets, he will become a blip on a computer screen. He seems to be bragging on how he has hurt the U.S.

He will not be considered a patriot.

The day will come when he is captured, placed in handcuffs and leg-irons and brought by a marshal’s Learjet to the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.

His outward appearance may be smug and without regrets, but the bottom line is he could pay with a severe life of scorn, incarceration and solitude and be well-acquainted with restraints.

For a short while he may enjoy life in a South American refuge. He will always be looking over his shoulder. The day he makes a slip, let’s his guard down, the marshals will be there. His computer days will be over and his home could be in a cell ranging from 77 to 87 square feet in the Florence, Colorado Federal Supermax prison. No rehab there.

Among the former inmates of the Alexandria jail now in the Supermax are Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent convicted of spying for the Soviets, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the 9/11 terrorist. These two are not role models of any sort.

There will be no welcoming party for Snowden in the Alexandria Jail with the exception of the duty commander and deputies. The serious business of law enforcement, federal prosecution and jail reality will be the order of the day or night under the efficiency of Sheriff Dana Lawhorne’s staff.