Thursday, November 26, 2015   

Whistle-blowers and spies

Vanson Soo

Monday, June 24, 2013

The nsa whistleblower Edward Snowden left Hong Kong yesterday en route to Moscow for a connecting flight to another country, believed to be Cuba, Ecuador, Iceland or Venezuela.

Wherever he may end up, the US would have to find new ways to discredit him as the efforts to date have not been fruitful.

The question that lingers: was Snowden a Chinese spy or double agent?

Consider the allegations former US vice president Dick Cheney made last week that Snowden could be a spy for China.

"I'm suspicious because he went to China. That's not a place where you would ordinarily want to go if you are interested in freedom, liberty and so forth," said Cheney. "It raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did this."

Cheney's failure to distinguish Hong Kong from mainland China not only raised eyebrows but amplified his naivety in global geopolitics.

How on earth did one of the largest American Chambers outside the US happens to be in Hong Kong, where Francisco Sanchez, the US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, said in a conference last month that Hong Kong have a long history of rule of law, intellectual property rights protection to be good partners in helping American companies?

Seriously, Mr. Cheney, with all due respect do you honestly think if China had recruited a spy in someone like Snowden, a well-placed highly valuable asset given his access to such classified data, they would be crazy enough to pull him out of
the cold and splash him out of the blue on Chinese turf for maximum global publicity and blunt ridicules like yours?

Objectively speaking, for all the information known and revealed to the world to date, there is still no sufficient evidence to label Snowden as a spy, or double agent, for China or any other countries.

Question for Cheney: if the US had recruited a Chinese spy with all the access like the 29 years old Snowden, would it not be in American interest to protect the double agent so he can continue doing what he does best for as long as possible?

And it is not like Cheney had not experienced this before. In the White House since the Nixon and Ford administrations, holding positions like the White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense and vice president, the name Robert Hanssen must ring a bell.

Hanssen, a former FBI agent, spied for the Soviet and Russian intelligence services against the US.

You heard me right, both the Soviet and Russian era for 22 years between 1979 and 2001, spanning almost the entire Cheney's spell in the White House.

What took you guys so long? was the first remark made upon his eventual arrest, according to a biography on Hanssen.

Hanssen was widely considered the worst intelligence disaster in US history and if Cheney was serious about Snowden being a Chinese spy, he should be praying on his knees that the Chinese, unlike the Russians, are such an impatient lot.

The US Justice Department has charged Snowden for espionage, theft and communicating classified intelligence to an unauthorized person.

So here is the dichotomy: While the corporate world is still coping with US regulations on better corporate governance practices, where does the notion of whistleblowing stand right now?

* Vanson Soo runs an independent business intelligence and commercial investigations practice specialized in the Greater China region.


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