Is Snowden a brilliant hacker
with dirt on high-level officials?
could a person without a college degree obtain an important post at the
CIA? How could a systems administrator at an outpost NSA station obtain
documents meant for 30 or 40 high-level officials?
Why would the
CIA give diplomatic cover to a man with no academic credentials for a
short stint in Switzerland, especially as a systems administrator?
These are questions raised by intelligence sources interviewed by the Washington Post.
this reporter knows personally a high school drop-out whose computer
savvy vaulted him to a high-level corporate position by the time he was
So a good bet is that Edward Snowden was hired by the CIA after 9/11
because of his reputation among peers as a first-rate hacker. Somehow
he ended up as a contractor (more money maybe) on a pleasant Pacific
island. But then, one can guess, he found that he had a lot of time on his hands
and was curious to see what he could see in the NSA system.
Snowden was extraordinarily naive, one would expect that he downloaded
all sorts of sensitive data on specific persons in order to try to protect himself. Does he
have dirt on top intelligence gurus, FBI people, judges and justices, members of the Senate
intelligence committee, leading pubishers and financiers, and so forth?
Hard to know. But one would think he's got something on at least a few very
Of course, he may have after all been terribly naive,
especially in light of his self-declared epilepsy which might indicate a
brain-damage syndrome affecting judgment.
From the Washington Post:
former officials said he easily could have been part of a surge in
computer experts and technical hires brought in by the CIA in the years
after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as its budget and mission swelled.
former CIA officials said they were troubled by aspects of Snowden’s
background, at least as he described it to The Post and the Guardian.
For instance, Snowden said he did not have a high school diploma. One
former CIA official said that it was extremely unusual for the agency to
have hired someone with such thin academic credentials, particularly
for a technical job, and that the terms Snowden used to describe his
agency positions did not match internal job descriptions.
claim to have been placed under diplomatic cover for a position in
Switzerland after an apparently brief stint at the CIA as a systems
administrator also raised suspicion. “I just have never heard of anyone
being hired with so little academic credentials,” the former CIA
official said. The agency does employ technical specialists in overseas
stations, the former official said, “but their breadth of experience is
huge, and they tend not to start out as systems administrators.”
A former senior U.S. intelligence official cited other
puzzling aspects of Snowden’s account, questioning why a contractor for
Booz Allen at an NSA facility in Hawaii would have access to something
as sensitive as a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Cour don’t know why he would have had access to those . . . orders
out in Hawaii,” the former official said. The Guardian initially
reported the existence of a program that collects data on all phone
calls made on the Verizon network. Later in the week, the Guardian and
The Post reported the existence of a separate program, code-named PRISM,
that collects the Internet data of foreigners from major Internet
Among questions is how a contract employee at a distant NSA
satellite office was able to obtain a copy of an order from the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court, a highly classified document that would
presumably be sealed from most employees and of little use to someone
in his position.
A former senior NSA official said that the number
of agency officials with access to such court orders is “maybe 30 or
maybe 40. Not large numbers."
Or is the NSA just incompetent?