Sunday, June 09, 2013

A Peculiar Detail

One, odd angle of this very large story jumped out at me.

We know from the reports in the Guardian and from Booz Allen, itself, that he worked most recently in Hawaii, and OpenSecrets lists an Edward Snowden of Waipahu, Hawaii, making a $250 donation to then-Rep. Ron Paul on May 6, 2012. An Edward Snowden of Columbia, Maryland, made a contribution to the Ron Paul campaign in the same amount two months earlier.
Edward Snowden contributions
Snowden also told the Guardian that "I voted for a third party" on the presidential line in 2008, rather than either of the major party candidates, though he doesn't say which party he supported. He held out hope for Obama, but that was dashed as the new president continued and expanded the surveillance state.
It seems extremely strange to me that an apparently committed Libertarian/Randite*:
In 2003, Snowden enlisted in the United States Army. He was discharged after breaking both of his legs in a training accident. He then went to work as a security guard for a covert NSA facility at the University of Maryland. After that he went to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he worked on IT security. In 2007 the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in GenevaSwitzerland, where he was responsible for maintaining computer network security. Leaving the CIA in 2009, he worked for a private contractor inside an NSA facility on a United States military base in Japan.
At the time of his departure from the US in May 2013, he had been working for defense contractor and private intelligence agency Booz Allen Hamiltonfor less than three months, as a system administrator inside of the NSA in Hawaii. He described his life as "very comfortable", living with his girlfriend and earning a salary of "roughly US$200,000."
The Guardian describes Snowden as intensely passionate about the value of privacy; his laptop is adorned with stickers supporting internet freedomorganizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project. Although he says he "believed in Obama's promises", he "voted for a third party" in the 2008 election. Political donation records indicate that he contributed to the primary campaign of Ron Paul.
  1. Actively seek out employment in the covert government spying field at an age when most people are still interning at large companies, learning the family business in the shipping department or upselling macadamia nut cookies at Starbucks.

  2. Rise like a rocket in the business of prying into other people's secretes so fast that before the age of 30 he would be living in paradise, making nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year at a job that required "very little work" but at which he was able to bug the phone of the President of the United States if he felt like it.
* Updated to reflect the fact that I have not personally spoken to Mr. Snowden and cannot, therefor, gauge the level of his committedness as a Libertarian/Paul supporter outside of what has been reported in the article and my own encounters with a skajillion Libertarians over the years.


Anonymous said...

I'm admittedly not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I'm having trouble understanding your point.

First of all, who says that this Snowden guy is a "committed Randite"? Secondly, assuming he is one, who cares?

For my part, I'm extremely grateful to have my suspicions confirmed. I've long believed that our government was collecting data on not just me but on nearly all Americans. While these latest revelations are extremely disturbing to me, I'm relieved to know I haven't been bat shit crazy and paranoid about believing that these particular type of governments abuses have been taking place.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

250K at age 29?

Peculiarities aside, one thing's for damn sure; the NSA has WAY too fucking much money.

Don P said...

From the Guardian's report:

"After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency's covert facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma."

Ummm... what????

I'm sorry he goes from security guard to CIA IT security in under 4 years without a college degree? and apparently little to no IT training in the service?

Something Smells in Schenectady

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I've long believed that our government was collecting data on not just me but on nearly all Americans.

me, too.

Ever since this was first reported in 2006.

Anonymous said...

"Adorned with stickers." This is incredible to me...that the fact that somebody puts stickers on something--his car, his laptop, his nose--marks him as "passionate." That it's hard to believe such a person could "rise like a rocket" in his career. That making a donation or two marks him as "committed." What the fuck?

What's missing from this fable is an uncomfortable fact: US intelligence is not as competent as you or he represent. The FBI, the CIA, NSA, employ a bunch of "committed," "passionate" people with impressive IQs. They are not, however, especially capable at doing their jobs. Is this surprising? Lots of smart people are massive fuck-ups. Our intelligence agencies have a habit of hiring them.

Anonymous said...

"Rogue IT Spook Flips Out"! Defects to Tech Police State Because "Freedom!"
...with help of petulant, whiny purist libertarian expat opportunist.
Film at 11.

Anonymous said...

Actually, since 2002:

MM said...

It doesn't matter who he supported for President.

How exactly does he get from security guard to a $200,000 a year position in such a short time?

Anonymous said...

William Binney - another NSA blower of whistles - outlined his methodology last year at Hackers On Planet Earth conference for tracing TOR data streams, which are really just piggybacking 3 or more proxies. I do thank him though for pointing out very obvious massive exponential increase in storage and processor power. US network traffic hops out of the country at MAE East in Vienna VA (spookville) and MAE West data centers in San Jose, Silly Con valley. MAE east shares an office building with Naval intelligence and several other government offices. Of course this is merely a coincidence, as they had to put this crucial data point somewhere after all. Network traffic from other countries can be "hijacked" - sorry, no- rerouted from other countries and sent through these american routers and data stations if local traffic over there is too heavy. Nothing funny there, it is just a function and design of the system. And it has all been thus since at least the mid 90s. Happy packet swapping.

El Cid said...

Did you think this through at all?

Why do you presume a timeline of him being a committed, partisan Libertarian first and then all else following?

2012 isn't 20 years ago. It's last year.

Look at his life timeline. He's a young guy. I served in the military (which he apparently joined but broke both legs in training). Lots of people came in very young with few political opinions but picking some up later, often of a Libertarian bent.

Why? Partly a lot of young people don't like to identify as *either* D or R, seems 'old fogie'.

Why would he 'rocket up'? Because partly a lot of what is done is not so astoundingly complicated in many tech jobs, and he appears to have gotten a couple of gigs where people liked his work or some such.

If I had to guess it sounds more to me as a buddy-buddy type promotion scheme than one based on presumed prodigious technical skills -- the sort of excellence in hiring we saw in, say, Iraq occupation hiring by the Bush Jr. administration. They didn't really give a shit, they handed out large amounts of money as they wished.

It's a wealthy contractor which can throw money around easily and without much question. Maybe he 'rocketed' to $200K / yr because his contractor employer makes so much money that they don't hold back from taking a guy they like and offering him a shitload of money to work in Hawaii because they don't really have a limited budget and they don't see $200K as that much money, because they probably were being handed billions hand over fist.

I don't know much at all about this guy -- but I think the reading of this as him having to have been a Libertarian mole from way back in order to explain this 'mysterious' narrative is utterly absurd.

Anonymous said...

He broke both legs in a training exercise , who was responsible for that , was it faulty equipment or human error or what ....
It seems that he was well taken care of after this accident ..

mahakal said...

What El Cid said.

David said...

JESUS GOD Driftglass!

What in the unholy hell is with you and smearing everyone who is not totally pro-current-democratic party as a "libertarian/Randite"?

Good God, it's like a fucking broken record with you. It's your version of "But both sides."

"But he's a Randite." "But he's a libertarian."

This sort of unthinking pointing "Not one of us, not one of us!" is precisely why you get those labels like "O-bot" thrown at you. I don't like throwing slurs around myself, but you get what you dish out. If you'd rather shout "Libertarian!" than look at the actual revelations from the leaks, don't bitch about being called an O-bot.

David said...

Addendum: I should've brought this up on the whole "Glenn Greenwald is a CATO libertarian" stuff, but:

No he ain't a Cato-ite. Whichever way you want to draw the line, Glennwald is either a left-libertarian, or a classical leftist with some (very few) libertarian leanings. The biggest thing that I think democratic party members have a problem with is his focus like a laser beam on everything bad about the Obama presidency. And yup - he's a lawyer, he's prosecuting a case, he doesn't blog about forests he writes about trees. But 95% of the time what I see him writing about is critiques about Obama from the left.

And yeah, he could still use an editor, you've still pointed out some legit faults with him. But for Chrissake dg, focus on the arguments not "Oh, but he's a secret Ron Paul Ryan Rand libertarian goldbug dicksledge." How's that different from a character smear?

mahakal said...

And what David said.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

@El Cid and David and Mahakal: I can't figure Drifty out these past five years or so, either. Did someone leave a pod in his pad in 2008?

(Hey, at least I didn't drag out the Borg metaphor this time.) ;)

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I can't figure Drifty out these past five years or so, either.

He didn't join you guys on the irrational-unfettered-Obama-hate wagon. Not too hard to figure out.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

ZRM defines "hate" more broadly than I do.

I don't wish Obama any harm; I merely don't think much of him as a president.

Apparently, "refusal to revere" = "hate" to ZRM.

I never did understand Obama Fever. In 2008, I felt like a deaf mouse in Hamelin.

I didn't understand it in 2012, either, so I voted for the Green candidate both times.

mahakal said...

@Hamfest, I like DG and appreciate his posts and perspective, even when I disagree with him, and really other than his personal dislike of GG in some cases being in my opinion a bit more emphasized than it should be, I haven't got much problem with his work these past five years.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Apparently, "refusal to revere" = "hate" to ZRM.

Not at all. it's not a binary choice.

I know you are unlikely to believe, this, but I don't revere Obama either.

The difference is that I don't refuse to acknowledge the things he's worked toward that I do appreciate, and I don't immediately lay every bad thing at his feet.

Greenwald is another matter, of course. My favorite assessment is from matoko_chan: "GREENWALD is just doing his job, although he is a pompous narcissistic assclown."

basilbeast said...

And Bobo has a big big sad:

Judging by his comments reported in the news media so far, Snowden was obsessed with the danger of data mining but completely oblivious to his betrayals and toward the damage he has done to social arrangements and the invisible bonds that hold them together.

Now, who's done what "damage" to what "social arrangements"?


A kid who got a lucky gig with serious money who somewhere somehow got the morality or whatever to give this story another shot of publicity it deserves?

Oh noes!!

Chautauqua said...

Who is the Snowden of yesteryear? And, does it really matter?