A question that has been swirling around is how it could have happened that the European governments got it all wrong about Edward Snowden being on the Bolivian president’s plane and caused them, in what can be described as an act of air piracy, to close their airspace and force it to land in Austria, creating a backlash around the world at what was seen as a naked act of western imperialism and colonialism.
How could the US government get such a basic fact wrong when the stakes involved were so high?
So far, the various governments involved are being cagey about what caused the fiasco while at the same time trying to pass the buck.
Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane’s unexpected diversion to Austria.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.”
He did not identify who “they” were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries’ decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.
Another possibility is that they were deliberately punked with false information and if so by whom. But whether the US government got it wrong by themselves or were deliberately deceived, it does not reflect well on their much-vaunted intelligence operations.
It would be wonderful if it eventually turned out that Snowden was the man who punked them.