Edward Snowden has constructed a brilliant fantasy world and has turn the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald into a shameless promoter. I hope he gets a book deal bef0re some foreign intelligence agency kills him to make it look like the NSA got him.
It’s hard to find a good summary on him, but here is what I could sort out based primarily on this Buzzfeed summary and this Guardian article.
- Didn’t graduate high school, but got a GED.
- Joined the Army in 2003, but discharged after breaking a leg in training.
- Became an NSA security guard.
- At some point he supposedly worked for the CIA. Some places says “Technical Assistant” (here – which also says it verified he had a CIA ID and an expired Diplomatic Passport) others say he worked in “IT Intelligence”. (NOTE: I would be shocked if the CIA just let people walk away with their ID cards after they leave.)
- According to him, he was stationed in Geneva with the CIA and was involved in this incident: “CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to successful recruitment.” -Snowden in Business Insider article
- Again, according to him, he left the CIA in 2009 to join a private contractor. Presumably Dell.
- The private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. –Guardian
- In 2012, he donated $500 to Ron Paul. (from Buzzfeed political contributions list)
- In 2012, he worked for Dell in Maryland. (from Buzzfeed political contributions list)
- Later in 2012, he was a “Senior Advisor” in Hawaii. (from Buzzfeed political contributions list)
- Worked for Booz Allen in Hawaii for 3 months in 2013. (Booz Allen Press Release)
- He was fired by Booz Allen, which reported he made $122,000 – not the $200,000 he claimed. (Booz Allen)
Snowden is prone to extreme hyperbole:
“I’ve been a spy for almost all of my adult life — I don’t like being in the spotlight.” –Washington Post
Based on the facts established above, this seems over the top. He probably worked for the CIA for about five years. He was a contractor on government projects for Dell. And then, for three months, he was a contractor for the NSA via Booz Allen. Based on his education experience and background, my guess would be that he is an IT support guy, not a true sys admin. This means his job is to make sure computers are running, set up new computers, fix hard drives, answer questions, etc. So he probably interacted with spys. He may have seen things on desks and heard things in passing that were interesting. I don’t know how he got the information he got, but my guess would be he stole it and then hyped it up.
Then there are these statements:
This would imply that the internal controls at the NSA are horrible. It would also imply that the NSA does not practice any compartmentalization. It seems unlikely that the most technologically advanced intelligence organization would not have significant controls in place that would prevent this. Add to the fact that he was a low level contractor and it seems even more unlikely.
“Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of the sensor networks and the authorities that analyst is empowered with. Not all analysts have the ability to target everything. But I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail.” -Snowden Inteview (from Text Version)
Here is what the NSA director had to say about that:
“False,” Alexander said, when answering a question from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) about Snowden’s claim. “I know of no way to do that.” –Business Insider
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/nsa-director-edward-snowden-james-alexander-2013-6#ixzz2W3jeN5vp
This can’t possibly be true:
“If I had just wanted to harm the US? You could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon. But that’s not my intention.” -Snowden (Interview)
See comments above. If a contractor can take down the NSA’s surveillance system that easily, why hasn’t someone done it? Not to mention, again the NSA is the most technologically advanced intelligence organization in the world, that the system security is probably pretty strong.
And this is totally ridiculous for the same reasons:
“I had full access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world,” Snowden said. –Business Insider
Here is another interesting element:
Former NSA and CIA director retired Gen. Mike Hayden called Snowden’s claim “absurd legally and technologically.” Former NSA Inspector General Joel Brenner also doubts it. “I do not believe his statement,” Brenner (Former NSA Inspector General) said. “And if he tried, I believe he would be discovered, stripped of his clearance, and summarily fired.” –AP Report
This guy has spent months fabricating this story and weaving enough truth into it that it is both a compelling story and generally fits with what everyone believes is happening anyway (IE: the NSA is spying on us – duh!). There is an NSA system called PRISM = true. It probably does 10% of what he says it does. No one will believe an outright NSA denial. No one will believe when the CIA, NSA, and Booz Allen, reveal what his real job was and that he could not have done (or had access to) most of the things he says.
That’s what really makes him a brilliant liar.
Great article. I think most of us have been operating under the assumption that many things he said are true but your comments make me think of him more as a kid who is just dying for attention and will say whatever it takes to get his 15 minutes of fame. Too bad for him that fame also equals living in Russia in the winter.
I would just like to say that although the NSA is looked upon as a facility with extremely good security, that very same security was developed by humans, and humans make mistakes. An example of a place that supposedly had high security, and yet was easily hacked, would be NASA. I’m not saying the NSA may have weak security, I’m just saying that it is quite possible that there was a security flaw in which he could use to his advantage. And, him being an IT support guy, it is also highly probable that he knows how to do the opposite of helping. Also, as for why no one else has exposed the NSA, there could be various reasons. I mean, look at Edward Snowden now. He has had to leave his girlfriend, his life, and his source of income to run away from the NSA, and it’s also quite possible that others never knew that what the NSA was doing was illegal? Or they were tricked into believing that? Either way, Edward Snowdens story is still entirely believable. Even the best security has it’s flaws.
Snowden was a CIA psyop that served two main purposes…
1. Get some of that sweet NSA funding to flow back toward the CIA (they hate each other)
2. Convince the irreligious internet dorks that the all seeing eye is watching (god doesn’t work on smart-ish people)
It’s crowd control. Neat article though. I’m glad people can see what a PR guy Snowden is.