Forget Hong Kong.
Edward Snowden should have gone to Santa Monica.
If the man who leaked the massive U.S. government telephone spying secrets to the world really wanted to evade capture by the FBI, he could have rented Whitey Bulger's old two-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment at the Princess Eugenia on Third Street.
He could have lived there quietly for the next decade or so before the FBI or anybody else got around to finding him, just like Whitey and his partner, Catherine Greig.
Seek and you shall find, the biblical adage goes. But if you do not seek, you shall not find. In Whitey's case, the FBI did not seek very hard, and only captured the South Boston mobster, on the run and hiding for 15 years, after going after Greig on television ads.
Had Snowden gone to Bulger's old digs, who knows what might have happened? He might have found a forgotten Beretta under the bed or some loose cash left lying around from the $800,000 stash that Bulger had tucked away in a hole in the wall.
Instead Snowden goes into "hiding" in Hong Kong and gives interviews to the South China Morning Post, interviews that make news all over the world. The only way crack agents from the FBI, CIA, DEA, NSA, TSA, IRA, IRS, ERA, FEMA, MEMA or SCHEMA do not find this guy is if they don't look.
Have you been to Hong Kong? Hong Kong is a Chinese city of some 7 million people, 94 percent of whom are Chinese, while 4 percent are Filipino or Indonesian. The rest, listed as "others," are Caucasians, like Snowden, a strapping 29-year-old white man whose face has been plastered on television screens all over the world, including places like China and Hong Kong. He is a celebrity.
Hong Kong also belongs to the People's Republic of China ever since the colony was turned over to the China by the British in 1997. Although it is autonomous and capitalistic, and has an independent judiciary, it is a special administrative region of Red China. This means that that China can crush it like a bug. Think Tibet.
What Snowden has going for him is that if the Obama administration and FBI go after him the way they went after the terrorists who killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, or the way they searched for Whitey Bulger, charged with killing 19 people, then he has nothing much to worry about.
After all, the FBI is headed by Robert Mueller, who last week told a congressional committee that he had no idea who was heading the FBI's investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, or how many agents were assigned to the probe.
The Princess Eugenia would have been perfect for Snowden. It was even named after a Russian princess, Eugenia Maximilianovna of Leuchenberg. Everybody knows that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, has a weak spot for Russian nobility, and is willing to grant Snowden political asylum, if the Chinese do not scoop him up first. Staying at the Princess Eugenia might help.
Snowden said he blew the whistle on the NSA and its spying on American citizens to expose the fact that the U.S. government is secretly spying on its citizens. "I do not want to live in a society that does these sort of things" he said, which is why he fled to Hong Kong.
"I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American," he said. Which is all well and good. It is even to the good that Snowden helped expose the vastness of the government's secret spying on average, innocent Americans who have done no wrong and committed no crimes.
However, Snowden's actions would have had a much more profound effect had he made his revelations on U.S. soil rather than flee his country to make his remarks at China's doorstep.
One of Snowden's heroes is Daniel Ellsberg, the man who in 1971 leaked the highly classified Pentagon Papers to The New York Times that revealed the many lies and cover-ups of U.S. policy makers over the secret escalation of the war in Vietnam.
The release of the secret papers caused a national uproar and eventually helped lead to the downfall of President Richard Nixon..
Unlike Snowden, however, Ellsberg did not flee the country, but took responsibility for his actions on American soil. Nor did he seek political asylum in Hong Kong, China or Russia. Snowden acts more like a defector than a patriot.
Americans don't flee America.
Peter Lucas' political column appears Tuesday and Friday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.