Richard Grenell to Newsmax: Venezuela Wants to 'Stick a Finger' in Eye of US

Saturday, 06 Jul 2013 08:29 AM

By Paul Scicchitano

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U.S. foreign policy expert Richard Grenell told Newsmax that Venezuela’s offer of asylum for NSA leaker Edward Snowden was not a “smart move” and could be chalked up to the rogue nation’s desire to “stick a finger in the United States’ eye.”

“The fact is that Snowden does have valuable information and there are countries that are eager to get that information as well as having the international status of hosting a former NSA staffer who has leaked information and damaged U.S. national security,” Grenell said in an exclusive interview late Friday.

“There’s a prestige for certain countries to stick a finger in the United States’ eye,” he explained. “And Clearly Venezuela is one of those countries.”

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Grenell, who was appointed in 2001 by President George W. Bush to serve as director of communications and public diplomacy for the U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., said that Snowden represents a “priority issue” for the U.S.

He said that Venezuela and Nicaragua, which also offered asylum to Snowden, are both in the position of “drawing a clear line of distinction with the world’s super power.”

Neither country was considering the best interests of its people in making such an offer, he explained.

“I think it’s less about the country and more about the ego of the leader who wants to appear on the world stage as a player,” asserted Grenell, who served as foreign policy and national security spokesman for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“I’m sure that the people in Venezuela who are suffering economically and are in need of more jobs and more economic freedoms, are looking at this decision and asking why would we want to offend such a powerful country for seemingly no reason at all?”

Snowden is believed to be holed up in the transit area of a Moscow international airport.
Grenell declined to speculate as to how Snowden might get from Moscow to Venezuela or Nicaragua. He also declined to speculate as to whether the U.S. might try to apprehend the 30-year-old former CIA employee en route to his chosen country of asylum.

“He’s going to have to get on a plane where the Russian authorities would allow him to board an international flight somewhere without a U.S. passport,” he said. “It’s highly unusual but it can be done.”

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Asked if Venezuela or Nicaragua have anything to gain by granting asylum to Snowden, Grenell said that Snowden potentially has much more information to disclose.

“You can only imagine,” he added. “You’ve got to remember that we know Snowden has only released one percent of what he has.”

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