Search News from Limbo

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is Snowden a brilliant hacker
with dirt on high-level officials?

How 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.

However, 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 21.

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.

Unless 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 powerful people.

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:

Several 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.

Some 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.

Snowden’s 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 companies.

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?

No comments:

Post a Comment