Monday, July 29, 2013

This Haunted Land

"When the last red man has become a myth among the white men, when your childrens' children think themselves alone in the field, upon the highway or in the silence paths of the woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities are silent, and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land."
-Chief Seattle, 1786-1866

The Ghost of Sheremetyevo

"By Natalia Gevorkyan , Translated By John Amor
July 15, 2013Gazeta - Russia - Original Article (Russian)

Russian spy Anna Chapman: After a Chapman imposter tweeted a marriage proposal to Snowden last week, the global media found it worthy of headlines. But would the real Chapman turn down a starring role in 'The Ghost of Sheremetyevo'? As of today, we have had 53 days of Snowden. Boy, would Sydney Pollock be excited if he still lived. The script of a thriller is there to be had, and I'm sure it is already being written. We haven’t seen bugging like this since the war criminal Nazis. Isn't that so? I can’t remember another worldwide manhunt on this scale. If you try telling me the guy brought this on himself, I won’t put up much of an argument. But following this to its logical conclusion, I’m not sure where I stand toward him personally, less so toward what he has done.

 On May 20, he flies from Hawaii to Hong Kong; on June 23, to Moscow. Moscow of all places. It’s pure cinema: The Ghost of Sheremetyevo.One minute it’s the transit zone, the next it’s a capsule hotel, then ABC’s latest "secret location." Anna Chapman, heroically prepared to marry the guy, provides the obligatory touch of eroticism. Obviously this should be set at transit zone E, the newest and therefore best suited to filming, right there on the floor, no hotels or beds, just pure hardcore. His passport is revoked, Cuba is tense, and a couple of countries south of Cuba are deep in meditation. A number of brooding presidents demand a plane flying over Europe be brought down when they think he's on it. Western journalists are provided Cuban visas and take every flight from Moscow to Havana - just on the off-chance. Their colleagues monitor the paths of these flights, which suddenly deviate from the north so as to avoid U.S.-controlled airspace.

Meanwhile, Snowden remains on the neutral territory of Sheremtyevo, escorts Brad Pitt and meets Johnny Depp, and is now himself a star. Either of them, incidentally, could play him in the upcoming film. Our compassionate Russian gals feed the former foreign agent in the business class lounge, where there are showers and free Internet all night long. Russian leaders gives the former foreign agent an opportunity to meet and explain himself to Russia’s present-day foreign agents, whom it is now fashionable to call human rights activists. The latter, in their turn, demand that rather than creating competition in this already-crowded field, the former should be sent home, to a court, to prison. Snowden immediately seeks political asylum in five countries, and meanwhile, to the displeasure of many, is prepared to live in Russia, with or without Chapman. 

Here, documentation is prepared for his future life in Venezuela, where he will likely have to be transported on the president’s aircraft (one of them, at least), via an indirect, hard to track route.The intelligence services of a world struck dumb by Snowden, starting with Russia's, promptly uncover their dust-covered typewriters and go unequivocally offline, back to record keeping on paper. No more virtual toys, no more gadgets, and no more Internet-enabled phones, either. Just dependable, tried and true old stuff. Terrorists recruit the well-connected: dedicated, preferably dumb, and most importantly with no experience working with computers. There is no more e-mail, no more social or any other online networks, or Skype. The world changes before our eyes.

Snowden begins to enjoy buckwheat porridge and piroshki with cabbage. Bouts of epilepsy give way to attacks of panic. But he’s at his computer the whole time all the same. He keeps going, although he takes up smoking on the sly. He spends long Moscow nights dreaming of his native home in Maryland, hacking school, cherry blossoms, Hawaiian women, and a car ambling slowly behind him, and he knows what will happen next: A press conference in Washington D.C., and (for reasons that remain unclear) unencrypted files, which he transfers over and over again. Close by, behind a wall, on their own home turf, Russian intelligence officers sit reading information again and again extracted long ago from his computer. Far off in China, countless hours are spent at the same work by Chinese intelligence officers. And from time to time, they gently whisper in their own language: "what the fuck!

"Meanwhile, France has unearthed its own Big Brother with which it outright illegally monitors, if not the content of conversations, at least the details of conversations.Aaron Sorkin hurriedly writes and films one more episode for the new season of Newsroom, which starts literally the day after tomorrow, because he simply must delve into the Snowden affair. Barack Obama in his heart of hearts is just glad people have temporarily forgotten about Guantanamo.Vladimir Putin, with mixed joy and disgust, flies to his Sochi dacha, taking with him a package of pre-translated transcripts. He loathes traitors, but he adores top secret material. 

Robert Redford for the first time laments that age has taken its toll. Snowden’s lonesome girl shoots sandy landscapes, drinks cocktails with umbrellas and sends encoded SMS messages (as opposed to files). Microsoft justifies itself thus: yes, we gave away information, but only in accordance with court orders. Google and the rest quickly dismiss agents planted at the NSA who it knows by name. Life carries on, but will never be the same.

The Ghost of Hunter S. Thompson

There is nothing weird or wrong with doom. In fact, in a country of used car salesman, steered by bankers and drone pilots, doom is the only answer. Without doom we are truly lost as a nation. Doom is the final wake up from that awfully wonderful American Dream. And there is plenty of doom to go around for now, but if we aren’t careful, one day we’ll find that even doom isn’t free anymore. You don’t want to find yourself alone in a sweating basement, bashed by monster weather, burning your furniture for warmth and paying out the ass for doom, so take it while it’s still hanging from trees and full of seeds. You’ll thank yourself for making it too late before it becomes too late. “Another doom is possible”, and “Collectivize Doom” must not only the watchwords screamed from the mouths of Maoist hipsters, anarchists, rednecks and wackos of all breeds, but also from their extended families and their psychiatrists.

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