The story of NSA leaker Edward Snowden's flight has officially overtaken the content of his leaks in the news cycle. And the question sitting atop the pile: where is he, anyway? That question still wasn't answered as a Havana-bound flight full of a handful of Snowden-seeking journalists landed in Cuba Monday evening.
Here are things as they stand right now: after apparently missing a planned flight to Cuba, Snowden's exact whereabouts are unknown, but the U.S. thinks he's probably in Russia. So, they're pressuring the government there to cooperate. Meanwhile, CNN is comparing Snowden's flight to the brief escape of a red panda from the National Zoo, and some seem pretty worried about the journalists now in Cuba, who apparently had to take their pointless flight without any booze.
The Guardian ably took on the narrative of the mad dash to find Snowden after he (allegedly) left Hong Kong this weekend. Here's how the situation at the Moscow airport devolved as journalists became more and more desperate to spot Snowden:
Those chasing Snowden resorted to following ridiculous leads – was that group of Russian agents milling around a handicapped people's bathroom hiding Snowden? That airport employee, rolling a tray with three plates, was she about to feed Snowden, Harrison and an unknown third party? That man with the sunglasses, he kind of looks like him, doesn't he? By 4pm on Monday, after spending 27 consecutive hours inside Sheremetyevo's barely air-conditioned halls, Lidia Kelly, a journalist with Reuters, squinted her eyes in the direction of an overweight senior citizen and asked: "Wait, is that Julian Assange?"
No reports yet on whether the journalists who made it onto the flight are faring much better. But as the New Yorker's John Cassidy noted in a post making the rounds Monday night, while the flight makes headlines, there are many more pressing threads out there to this story, patiently awaiting the world's journalists.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, on the other hand, has used the NSA story to re-introduce some of the greatest hits of congressional calls to reign in the NSA, proposing a bill on Monday that would force FISA to come up for renewal in 2015, the same time as the Patriot Act; make it harder to use Section 215 to obtain records (i.e. the method used by PRISM), and commission an unclassified report on the programs' effect on American privacy, among other things.
Update, 9;20 p.m.: Meanwhile, officials are worried about the scope of the NSA material still in Snowden's possession. According to the Post, one unnamed official said that the NSA "think(s) he copied so much stuff — that almost everything that place does, he has," adding, "Everyone’s nervous about what the next thing will be, what will be exposed.”
Update, 10:34 p.m.: The New York Times weighed in with their own chronicle of the search for Snowden in which the whole Cuba flight becomes the center of a story worthy of a Russian novel: "somewhere in Moscow, it was clear, someone was laughing," they write.