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Foreign Service Exam Question: What to Do With Edward Snowden on the Fourth of July in Moscow?

Good luck with your exam, but don't expect USG employment until you pass the security clearance!
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Tech-whiz Edward Snowden, who for years served the USG (directly and indirectly) and now is stranded in Russia due to unfortunate circumstances, sends a handwritten request to U.S. Embassy Moscow asking that he be invited to its Fourth of July celebration, which is attended by both Russians and Americans. He also asks that he be joined by the Russian lady who has asked to marry him; see "Ex-Russian spy Anna Chapman tweets marriage proposal to Edward Snowden: Chapman, 31, was outed as a Russian spy posing as a real estate agent in New York City in 2010. Now, she's a model and celebrity with the hots for the NSA leaker."

As an Embassy official assigned to deal with this issue, how should you respond to a request from a disoriented U.S. taxpayer:

  • Should you check on what to do with your supervisor?
  • Should you coordinate your response with NSA staff ? If so, how would you answer the potential question from an NSA employee: "You say you're a Foreign Service officer ... what the f--- is that? I need to check with my boss. What's your ID number, by the way?"
  • To what extent would you consult with your Embassy public diplomacy colleagues about this potentially headline-making issue?
  • If it's decided that you do reply to Snowden, how would you make sure that your return message reaches him? Via an Embassy "safe" courier? The Internet? Regular/reliable Russian mail (if there is such a thing)?
  • If there are press inquiries (both Russian and international) about Snowden's request, how would you reply? Would you use the social media to communicate with the public about this matter?

You may refer to this item in response to the above questions. Good luck with your exam, but don't expect USG employment until you pass the security clearance!