High-tech spy agency messes up on basic spying

U.S. intelligence agencies have a technological capability that makes me feel as if I’m living in a science fiction novel.   They capture, record and retrieve millions of telephone, Skype and e-mail conversations, from Brazil to Germany.  Yet they can’t keep track of one high-profile fugitive.

imagesSomehow some higher-up got the idea that Edward Snowden was on a flight to Bolivia with President Evo Morales.   It appeals clear that, in violation of international law, they pressured the governments of France, Spain and Portugal to deny him landing rights, and the government of Austria to demand his plane be searched when he landed in Vienna.

The demonstration of the subservience of these governments to the United States, and the alienation of Latin American governments, did great damage to the effectiveness of U.S. diplomacy, all based on bad information and bad judgment.

Earlier a U.S. request for extradition of Snowden from Hong Kong was rejected because it was not filled out in accordance with Hong Kong law.   An extradition request from Ireland also was rejected for similar reasons.   As Casey Stengel supposedly said, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

The management expert Clayton Christiansen has written about how companies fail, even though they can do things no other company can do, because they scorn maintaining the ability to do common, low-end things that everyone can do.   This is an example of what he meant.  Hubris, meet Nemesis.

Click on Snowden: towards an endgame for brilliant analysis and writing by Pepe Escobar of Asia Times.  If you only have time to read one link, click on this one.

Click on On Snowden, has Putin been playing 11-dimensional chess? for an interesting speculative article on the Corrente web log.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. intelligence agencies were victims of malicious mischief by the Russian FSB.  Neither would I be surprised if the Ecuadorians in their London embassy put some misinformation into the hidden listening device they’ve known about for weeks, but only just now revealed.

At this point, is anybody certain of Snowden’s present whereabouts except the Russian government, Wikileaks and Snowden himself?

Click on Business failure and the neglect of low-end skills for my post on Clayton Christiansen.

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