Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

How To Hide From Uncle Sam

You know the problem.

One moment you're minding your own business and the next thing you click the wrong icon and find you're revealed the dirty secrets of the CIA, launched a terrorist attack or inadvertently gassed a major city. The Man is looking for you and suddenly it's a very small world. Where do you hide?

Here are the five most popular options.

5. A Cave

An old favourite and still a very reliable fall back.

What about Saddam Hussein you may ask? Well technically that wasn't a cave, but a hole in the ground. The only caves in Iraq are in Kurdistan, where they had been successfully used by the locals to hide from Saddam's forces for years. Light a fire in the entrance and you can even survive a nerve gas attack.

Which brings us to the first rule of hiding in caves; make sure the natives are friendly. There was a reason Saddam didn't make his way to the Kurds.

However if you are on reasonably good terms with the locals - and being hunted by the Americans can make you lots of new friends - you can do worse than your old cave. Osama bin Laden survived two close shaves whilst living in his. The first time was in December 2001 when he was spotted by Britain's Special Boat Squadron, but escaped as the Yanks had told the SBS that they had to be the ones to kill him. The second time was when the Northern Alliance surrounded the Tora Bora complex and he escaped by bribing the tribemen to let him go.

Which brings us to the second rule of hiding in caves. You may think all you need is a roll mat, the complete works of Mohammed and a sack of the finest Afghan hashish, but in reality you'll need your credit card, gold bullion, a large supply of porn or something else that you can trade with the indigene.

That said old Osama survived his years in the mountains and only died when he traded in his trusty cave in for the comfort of home. Very dangerous places homes.

4. The Ecuadorian Embassy

Those who, like Osama, prefer more creature comforts, or who put more faith in legal systems, may prefer to try their luck in one of the world's numerous embassies.

You need to choose carefully. Pick a country too friendly, or too scared, of Uncle Sam and you could find yourself on your way back to him in the diplomatic bag.

However get the right one and you could find yourself drinking Pimms in comfort whilst the agents of your enemies guard you.

The advantages are obvious. Your friends and supporters can drop by, you can read the papers and you get as many Ferroro Roche jokes as you can stand.

That said it's not totally safe. Countries can change their politics, and cruise missiles have been known to go off course and hit embassies.

3. Moscow

Once upon a time a very popular destination.

In days not long gone there were enough former Cambridge and MI6 spooks in Moscow that they could have had their own club.

However they had to earn their keep by working for Soviet intelligence, so if your particular thing is exposing the wrong doings of unaccountable spy agencies, you have to either ignore the suppression of dissent and occasional assassination carried out by those of your hosts and accept being called a bloody hypocrite, or find they've served you Polonium 210 in your vodka.

That said Russia isn't as grim as it uses to be and as long as you don't criticise the government, drink yourself to death or fall in love with someone of the same gender you should do all right.


Possibly not the first choice, but going to jail does have its advantages. 

Navy SEALS probably aren't going to drop in a fill you full of lead, you get the sort of free health care most working Americans would die for (or will die without) and you may well get out sometime - which is not guaranteed with any of the above options.

On the down side they'll probably put you in solitary confinement, which means if you weren't nuts before you went in you will be when you come out. And if they don't, then taking a shower becomes a potentially life changing activity.

On the plus side it's not impossible that you'll win you win your case and get out sooner rather than later. That happened to Daniel Ellsberg, the person who leaked the Pentagon Papers in seventies. That said it was rumored that G Gordon Liddy and some of the Watergate "plumbers" planned to bump him off at a rally shortly afterwards, which just goes to show how much safer it is to be behind bars.

1. Hampton Country Club

Again, not an obvious choice. The conversation is lousy and the drinks are overpriced, but you have to admit, it's better than the others on this list.

That's probably why it was chosen by Warren Anderson, a man wanted by the Indian government for 14,000 cases of manslaughter after his company, Union Carbide, was found responsible for the Bhopal disaster.

India had asked the USA to help find him, but they'd told New Delhi they couldn't.

However Greenpeace tracked him down - to a Country Club on Long Island, New York where he had been cunningly hiding out for 20 years.

Now cynics will say that Uncle Sam wasn't seriously looking for Anderson, even though the Indian courts had issued an arrest warrant. However that would be to suggest that releasing 32 tons of toxic gas in a built up area through cost cutting and gross negligence is a less serious crime than releasing classified data to the press through a desire to reveal an unconstitutional surveillance program, and that surely cannot be true of the Land of the Free.

Can it?

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