If Russia lets NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden stay in the country on a grant of political asylum, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants President Barack Obama to boycott next year’s winter Olympics in the resort city of Sochi.
On Tuesday, Snowden requested temporary asylum in Russia – agreeing to a condition set by President Vladimir Putin that Snowden stop with the leaking of sensitive information about how the U.S. spy program vacuums up information about Americans’ private lives. As of late Wednesday, Russia had not approved or declined Snowden’s request.
Earlier Wednesday, Putin countered the notion that a grant of asylum, under his gag-order condition, would further mar already-frosty relations between Russia and the U.S. “Bilateral relations, in my opinion, are far more important than squabbles about the activities of the secret services,” he told reporters. “We warned Mr. Snowden that any action by him that could cause damage to Russian-American relations is unacceptable for us.”
Graham, sticking with the official line that Snowden’s a traitor and not a whistleblower, said any move by Russia to aid Snowden deserves a clear signal that the U.S. won’t tolerate its Cold War nemesis harboring a fugitive – and that an Olympic boycott makes for a terrific diplomatic tool.
“I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them. It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous. We certainly haven’t reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it’s a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States,” he told The Hill.
Even fellow RINO John McCain (R-Ariz.) thought Graham’s idea was about as smart as bringing a kitten to a dog fight. “I think the experience of canceling the Olympics the last time around [in the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Summer games] wasn’t very good,” said McCain.
Last month, Graham told Fox News he welcomed Verizon, his cell service provider, “turning over records to the government if the government’s going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States…I don’t think you’re talking to terrorists, I know you’re not, I know I’m not, so we don’t have anything to worry about.”