Snowden spills his guts, again

My old roommate John peers out from our room in Snowden just before the Honeycombs were torn down.

My old roommate John peers out from our room in Snowden in 2006, just before the Honeycombs were torn down.

“Snowden” is one of those names that sticks with you. Or with me, anyway. It was technically the name of the particular one of the Honeycombs I lived in that one semester I went to USC in 1971 — although I seem to recall that a lot of people called it by a letter designation. Was it “J”? I don’t know. Maybe. “Snowden” sticks better.

That’s probably because I was so hugely into Catch-22 at the time. I had first read it the summer before my senior year of high school. Then, at the start of the senior year, our English teacher, Mrs. Burchard, let us pick several of the books we would read. I pushed, successfully, for Catch-22. (not just because I’d already read it — I looked forward to discussing it) We also read Cat’s Cradle and Stranger in a Strange Land, at the urging of some of my classmates. Mrs. Burchard did make us read several of Ibsen’s plays, which I enjoyed — especially “An Enemy of the People” (“A majority is always wrong” seemed so true to me at that early age.)

Snowden, of course, was the pivotal character in Heller’s novel. He only appeared in one scene, but that scene was repeated — or rather, portions of it were repeated — over and over in the novel. All he ever had to say was “I’m cold.” But that was enough.

The novel is structured around that incident, until the very end. The plotline keeps looping around back through time, flashback after flashback, and Yossarian’s memory keeps returning to the incident with Snowden. Each time, that memory is unfolded a little more completely, toward the final, full, horrible revelation that changes Yossarian permanently.

“I’m cold,” said Snowden.

“There, there,” said Yossarian, tending the wounded gunner back toward the rear of the plane. Even after Snowden had spilled his terrible secret, that’s all Yossarian could say.

Anyway, that’s what goes through my mind as I read the name of the guy who took it upon himself to reveal the NSA’s programs. He’s a guy who looks like he could be Yossarian’s Snowden. He certainly looks young enough, unformed enough. Yet he’s a guy who’s taken on a self-righteousness akin to Ibsen’s Thomas Stockman, someone who’s decided he knows better than everyone else, and is prepared to take the burden of revelation upon himself.

Snowden 2

54 thoughts on “Snowden spills his guts, again

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, by the way, if you want to know what I think of this guy, not much. But then I don’t know much. My initial reaction is that people who do what this guy is alleged to have done, and which Bradley Manning is alleged to have done, are creeps. Creeps who take far too much on themselves, presuming to make judgments they are neither equipped nor entitled to make.

    But that’s just a first-blush reaction.

      1. Doug Ross

        Which of the 10 things were unflattering? A donation to Ron Paul? That he has a GED instead of a h.s. diploma? That he made $200K a year on a government contractor job (is that his fault)? That he didn’t talk with his neighbors?

        You want to compare him to your hero, Charles Ramsey? Think he could pass the 10 Things We Know About X test?

        1. Doug Ross

          The next time you think we should raise taxes to pay for some government program you want, think about this kid with a G.E.D. making $200K per year (and the defense contractors he works for making thousands of times that).

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’m not sure what I think of Ellsberg. All of that broke when I was so young — I think I’d have to go back and read a book or two on the subject to refresh my memory before deciding what I think about Ellsberg.

      What Ellsberg did falls into that vast period of time — say, the late 40s through the early 70s — that I lack confidence in making judgments about.

      I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of WWII because I’ve read so much about it. But the early Cold War period, and things that were going on when I was a kid (which includes the Vietnam War) is murkier to me. Later, it was part of my job to be up on what was going on in the world, think carefully about it and understand it to the best of my ability.

      I don’t have as much trust of my judgments of events that occurred when I was very young.

  2. Doug Ross

    What do you think of the newspapers that published the information?

    Me, I believe in the truth. And until what he leaked is proven to be untrue, I appreciate what he did.
    Just as no email should be considered safe from the eyes of the public, no government program should be considered safe from public opinion.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’d like to see an analysis of the decision-making process at the newspapers. The Guardian went first, and everyone over here picked it up. The Washington Post, which had obviously been working on the story itself, was the next to break new information.

      I wonder how close the Post was to publishing when The Guardian broke it, and what sorts of conversations were going on among the editors.

  3. Mark Stewart

    He isn’t going to have an easy life. Yet, I am more struck that people in every branch of government felt that keeping these records in secret was the American thing to do. This may be fairly benign as government surveillance could go, but it opens the door to future terrible abuses of liberty. That is in itself reason enough to have brought this out into the open.

    What such serveillance does is give the strategic “win” to the Islamic terrorists. It is quite disturbing that nobody in government had the courage to bring this into the public light. That’s what democracies do, even democratic republics. This Snowdon kid is no hero, true, but he did do the wrong thing for the right reasons. It is quite troubling that nobody in the government (executive, legislative or legal branches) seems to have seen this first and foremost as a taint on our American character. This seems to have been accepted on the basis of expediency. That is just how liberties become eroded – and lost. We first must defend the ideals that have made us a unique society in world history. We diminish ourselves when we accept by our own government such as has been alleged, there just is no getting around that. Snowdon isn’t the story here. We shouldn’t brush aside these developments because they are so difficult to grasp and comprehend. These issues matter to the next 250 years of this country’s future.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I think the security people have a bias toward secrecy. If you are a hammer….

      I think the disclosure, while less than ideal (ideal would be more skillful from a PR perspective), was in the public interest. Sunshine is a good thing, in general.

  4. JesseS

    The CIA would hire a contract worker with an EFF sticker on his laptop? Odd, at this point you’d think the EFF would be classified as a terrorist organization. Not that I disagree with them 98% of the time, but you’d think the man would have put the hammer down on them for being pro-Gutenberg’s press.

    Come to think of it, today’s techies are yesterday’s Lutherans. They are:

    -Firmly in the upper and upper middle without the necessity of blue blood, like the Lutheran merchants of yore.
    -Are a tad bit too close to the bomb wielding Anabaptists/”information is free” crowd and are too powerful to terrorize, but not above burning a few at the stake if they step on the wrong feet.
    -For hard technocrati ideologues, DC might as well be the Renaissance Vatican. It is inflexible, monied, corrupt, willing to sell indulgences (lets be honest, if you can pay a fine and start an LLC to avoid liability for less than the cost of asking for permission, you’ve just bought yourself an indulgence).
    -Power structures are happy to accept what the “Lutherans” make cheap and effective, but not what they make easy available, in this case, almost literally, “church documents”).

    We really are reliving an era of unanswered questions. Questions we won’t fully grasp for a couple hundred years. Questions we can’t even realize today.

  5. Doug Ross

    Anyways, anyone with half a brain could come up with ways to counter email surveillance.

    Send five hundred “spam” messages with only one of them containing a character in a certain
    position to identify it as the real one.

  6. Bart

    I won’t argue for or against the release of the existence of the monitoring program, sometimes there is a necessity to maintain secrets due to legitimate security issues and other times, we need to know if our government is in violation of our civil liberties, especially in America. Gathering information from Verizon or a social media to use for intelligence gathering is disturbing and I disagee with Doug unless he is referring to government or political communications via email, what I put in an email is intended for the recipient and is none of the government’s or anyone else’s business.

    There are too many inconsistencies with his story for me to give him any credibility at all. First, it is no secret that the United States of America is engaged in monitoring and listening to domestic and foreign communications whether they are via cellphone, internet, or social media. The now operational National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield has an army base attached to it, Fort Belvoir. The name alone is enough to give even the people who are the least conspiracy oriented pause to consider why a multi-billion dollar, multi-million square foot facility is necessary.

    And when is it in the best interest of the public to know if our communications are being monitored or not? I don’t have the answer nor do I pretend to. When are we going to realize that no matter what we do that is not totally private, Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence, will be recorded somewhere by someone. Every transaction we make using a debit or credit card is recorded, our purchases at the supermarket are recorded and used for targeted marketing purposes. Phone lists are sold every day.

    I agree with Jesse S. about his security clearance and employment at the CIA. Having firsthand knowledge about the defense contractor, Booz Allen, it is highly unlikely that Snowden was able to secure a $200k job with his reported background and education. Even entry level jobs require an extensive background and a BS or BA degree for employment. Most if not all of their jobs involving the military require polygraph tests, extensive background checks, and security clearances that would prevent most from being on their payroll. Then, prior to employment with Booz Allen, he worked for the CIA in IT? Without knowing or having more background information, based on what has been reported, something is simply not right about this guy. No, his background would have raised too many red flags.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Something else I would like to see would be an analysis of what was disclosed over the past week that we did not know before. There are details, which were played very big in the media, to the point that it got the attention of people who weren’t really following such matters before…

    But I seem to recall that we’d known for years that the NSA was “data mining” phone calls and Internet communications, in a process that I associate with what used to be called “traffic analysis.” Once upon a time, we tried to infer what adversaries were up to — when we couldn’t break their codes — by who was talking to whom, and in what volumes, by radio or telegraph. This seems a lot like that, only with technology that greatly increases the capability of the intelligence-gatherer.

    Here’s something I wrote about this in 2011:

    “Wiretap” is a 20th century word that gets kind of mushy in a wireless world. I’m thinking you’re probably referring to the scanning of billions of communications in a process that is actually closer (as I understand it) to another old term (while not being at all the same thing): “traffic analysis.” Certain patterns are looked for, and if they emerge, zeroed in on. This is for me a huge gray area. If you’re referring to the kind of large-scale scanning of communications under the Patriot Act, I generally can live with it. If you’re talking about actually entering someone’s home, or even directly accessing someone’s personal computer remotely, I think the 4th Amendment kicks in and there should probably be a warrant. But at the same time, all sorts of private companies access your data remotely without a warrant, so these are things that require constant rethinking. Our political thinking hasn’t caught up with the technology.

    1. Mark Stewart

      I have to admit that I spent the weekend cocooned in the bubble of a college reunion.

      Did Snowden reveal what he learned at Booz Allen or what he worked with at the CIA?

      What caught my attention was not his background, but his location. Hawaii means trans-Pacific to me. Domestic data gathering from there makes very little sense – to me again. My first inference is that this is not the story itself, but only the tip of the iceberg.

      To Bart’s point above, people tend to be paid well for either or both of two situations; they are (a) well credentialed/connected, or (b) extremely able.

      1. Bart


        To further clarify my comments, according to an impeccable source, to meet Booz Allen’s criteria for employment, it is a standard requirement to have a degree plus experience in the particular area where the applicant is needed. However, as you stated, there are exceptions and in this instance, the exception was not waived by Booz Allen because Snowden did not meet their hiring criteria. Without going into specifics as requested, suffice it to say that Booz Allen was most likely directed to hire Snowden. The only other information I can share is that the Prism power point Snowden took was something he had been made aware of previously and most likely worked on before going to work for Booz Allen. He knew exactly what he was looking for and the timing was crucial because of an impending mandatory psychological re-evaluation and lie detector test.

        This was not something he decided to do on the spur of the moment.

        1. Mark Stewart


          Of course he was hired by Booz Allen because of his prior work experience; consultants are all about billable expertise.

          I also think it no stretch to assume that this guy is both a genius and a troubled soul. But that doesn’t mean the messanger is not credible. In any field, there is a certain madness in those who take on the system and drive innovation and change. Maybe it’s my education in art history. I don’t think that is a central point.

  8. Mark Stewart

    The photos of the Honeycombs are even more striking than the news story; has there even been more awful “major” architect than Edward P. Stone?  Seriously, the guy has inflicted some serious blight across our nation.  I think Frank Lloyd Wright would have disavowed any influence that Stone claimed to have learned from Wright.  

    The photo of your friend looking out is chilling.  Had I entered college to find such a prison cell for a room, I would have transferred immediately.  It isn’t the spartan environment; it is the way that the architect takes such glee in dehumanizing the built environment.   His iconography lulls, but at it’s heart it is a vision of sadistic, meglomaniacal ego.

    You saw a word relation of the name to the news figure; I saw a visual connection of the Honeycombs of USC to the news story…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Ah, but you’re forgetting the lovely cinder-block walls, the cold linoleum floor, the single barracks-style bathroom per floor that was on the opposite side of the building from our room (which presented a problem when I got the flu and could barely crawl out of bed, much less trek to the latrine), with its single big shower room with multiple nozzles, a la high school locker room…

      1. Mark Stewart

        I had all those in college, too, but also double hung windows that opened top and bottom, human scaled architectural features, and a strong sense of both place and of human needs for enveloping shelter – and structures for the theater of community life.

        Bad architecture isn’t like bad art, it is more akin to bad government. Both architecture and government can be aspirational; but that isn’t in evidence in either the Honeycombs or in the Snowden story.

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          I preferred the centralized bathroom. It was professionally cleaned, plus if my roommate and I wanted to shower, or use the other facilities, separately, at the same time, but no one else did, if we shared a bath, we’d have a problem, but with a central bath….

  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was asked above about whether I thought Daniel Ellsberg was a creep, too. I said I’d have to go back and study the Pentagon Papers episode before answering that. It’s just been too long.

    But I will say that I don’t think much of this oped piece he wrote for The Guardian, headlined “Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America“:

    That has now happened. That is what Snowden has exposed, with official, secret documents. The NSA, FBI and CIA have, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers over our own citizens that the Stasi – the secret police in the former “democratic republic” of East Germany – could scarcely have dreamed of. Snowden reveals that the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America.

    I mean, come on, Daniel. Why didn’t you complete the cliche and spell it “Amerika?”

    Overwrought nonsense such as that does, indeed, creep me out.

  10. Brad Warthen Post author

    I found this point-counterpoint interesting, courtesy of The Slatest:

    Point: Edward Snowden Is a Hero: The New Yorker’s John Cassidy: “Is Edward Snowden, the twenty-nine-year-old N.S.A. whistle-blower who was last said to be hiding in Hong Kong awaiting his fate, a hero or a traitor? He is a hero. … In revealing the colossal scale of the U.S. government’s eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, he has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed. Like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who revealed the existence of Israel’s weapons program, before him, Snowden has brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country.” Read more.

    Counterpoint: No He’s Not: The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin: “[S]ome … are hailing him as a hero and a whistle-blower. He is neither. He is, rather, a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison. … What, one wonders, did Snowden think the N.S.A. did? Any marginally attentive citizen, much less N.S.A. employee or contractor, knows that the entire mission of the agency is to intercept electronic communications. Perhaps he thought that the N.S.A. operated only outside the United States; in that case, he hadn’t been paying very close attention. In any event, Snowden decided that he does not ‘want to live in a society’ that intercepts private communications. His latter-day conversion is dubious. And what of his decision to leak the documents? Doing so was, as he more or less acknowledges, a crime.”Read more.

  11. Bryan Caskey

    There were many other things that Snowden could have done short of going to the newspapers. For instance, he could have contacted Rep. Paul (who he donated money to) or Sen. Rand Paul. Neither of those guys would have swept the NSA issue aside.

    Hypothesis: What are the odds that Snowden was actually spying for the Chinese, and he revealed this NSA story to obscure his true espionage?

    1. Bart


      Mark believes he is a troubled soul with a genius I.Q. and while I am sure he didn’t misunderstand my point, Booz Allen was directed to hire Snowden, he didn’t make reference to anything else but billable’s. On the other hand, your hypothesis is not out of the realm of possibility either. There are simply too many people he could have contacted without leaving his job for two weeks under the pretense of seeking treatment for a disease. And then to make the statement to the press that he might defect to China because of their record of free speech, transparency, and not in the habit of spying on the citizens of China?

      He reminds me of someone I knew years ago when she complained about marijuana laws and how oppressive America was. She actually explored the idea of moving to Russia where she could enjoy a better life, free to do as she pleased. It was not until she met a family who had escaped from Russia did she understand the reality of life in Russia and changed her outlook.

      Our history is rife with secrets and the American government spying on Americans during a crisis emanating from outside our borders. In each instance, at some point, sensible leaders stopped the domestic surveillance of American citizens within our own borders. It happened during WWI, WWII, and at the height of the communist scare of the McCarthy era. Or as a line in the old Chad Mitchell Trio song, “The John Birch Society” goes, “If mommy is a commie then you gotta turn her in.” At one point it went so far that another line from the same song was almost a reality. “We’re meeting at the courthouse at eight o’clock tonight. You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right. Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft but we’re taking down the names of everybody turning left.”

      Time will tell whether Snowden’s motives were pure of conscience and patriotism or whether he is a traitor. Either way, his actions have created a controversy that will create more ripples in the waters dividing the nation and they are unlikely to cease anytime soon.

      1. Bart

        “I have land in Timbuktu to sell you…”….Mark

        Keep to sell to your other clients. I bought mine a long time ago before the prices went up.

  12. Burl Burlingame

    What Brad doesn’t reveal is that Mrs. Burchard was a looker.

    And yes, Snowdon could have released the information in ways that didn’t make him the center of attention.

        1. Mark Stewart

          What an interesting sociological snapshot of the Pee Dee circa 1970. I’m surprised at who is, and who was not, among the faculty and staff.

          Looks more like rural Oregon of that era…

          1. Mark Stewart

            Well that explains things! I was thinking Bishopville and I was amazed… I could claim I was distracted while viewing, but I guess I was really just being dense.

  13. Bart


    Your comment about Snowden being a troubled soul is probably on point after reading some of the things he has said to the reporter for the Guardian. He wears a red hood when he signs in on his computer so no one can see what he is doing – and this is while he is alone in a luxury hotel room. He also lined the floor with pillows so no one could hear what he was saying from below.

    Genius, probably not but highly intelligent. Paranoid and a little delusional, most likely. It is doubtful he would have passed his upcoming re-evaluation which must take place every 3 months if one is working on sensitive programs for a government agency, i.e., N.S.A. He had been with Booz Allen for 3 months. You connect the dots.

    1. Mark Stewart

      He appears to have a GED and yet work on a very sensitive NSA project – and be cleared to do it from home for a large salary. Not the signs of a less than exceptional expert. I would think that your more typical Booz Allen consultant would have advanced degrees from top tier schools and would work on site in secure facilities – locked down despite their talents. That’s what really smart people get. But this guy bucked the norm across the board. I would guess >170 IQ, and then also some debilitating personal foibles.

      He was wrong to disclose as he did, but unfortunately our government was even more wrong on this. Whether he would or would not pass a reevaluation is beside the point (and I would guess he would have as this doesn’t appear to be someone in steep decline).

      I personally do not see to what rational end the federal government would spend $150 billion on a clandestine domestic spying program. A sum like that could have – would have – had better uses anywhere else. That is beyond creepy to me. In the light of day, most people would call that excessive and inappropriate. But hidden, nobody had the information to evaluate the effort. That’s why democratic input matters. Left unchecked, government is a voracious beast, as Doug would say.

      1. Doug Ross


        I think you’re starting to come over to the dark side. It’s not about terrorism or national security. It’s about the flow of tax dollars to private entities with strong connections to politicians.

        Peace would be very, very bad for the defense industry. The only way to ensure consistent growth is to create boogeymen to hunt down and foster a sense of fear in the public.

        I don’t spend a moment of any day worrying about terrorist attacks. And it’s not because someone else is doing that for me. It’s because a) the threat is minimal and b) the ability to prevent attacks is limited. Any system can be beaten.

        1. Doug Ross

          Plus how can anyone call himself/herself a Christian and worry about trivial things like terrorism. If God has a plan, you think Obama or George Bush can change it? Maybe we should try acting Christ-like for awhile and see what happens.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, what you say is not really consistent with any interpretation of Christianity with which I am familiar. (I’ve read things that make it sound as though such fatalism is common in Islamic societies — a sort of “Allah has willed it” point of view that makes any effort to prevent something from happening pointless — but I’m not sure that’s a true depiction.)

            In any case, there’s a fallacy here. People don’t institute such things as the Patriot Act or this data-mining because they are personally worried about terrorism. It’s because it is their job to protect other Americans, and they see this as an effective way of doing that job.

            That’s really the proper focus of all policy discussions — not how you or I happen to be personally affected, or how we FEEL about this or that. It’s about what is the best, most effective policy for the society at large.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          Doug, do you really, truly believe what you say? Do you actually believe that al Qaeda was invented for the purpose of someone making a buck? If so, that goes way, way beyond the people who think the moon landings were staged…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually, Doug’s “it’s always about money” unified field theory is held, at least to some extent, by a lot of people. And I think that’s a problem.

            The “follow the money” approach to everything from Watergate to political analysis causes people to miss the real reasons things happen. They look at money changing hands somewhere in the vicinity of an event or an issue, and they say, THAT’S why this happened. And then they quit looking for the real reasons….

          2. Mark Stewart

            Actually, I believe it is something different altogether. The issue is not whether bureaurocrats’ believe that data mining Americans’ communications is the most appropriate way to “protect” our country; rather it is whether Americans have decided that such “protection” is in the best interests of our society.

            And we have not.

            This is an issue which without doubt should have received a public airing and debate. To suggest that the value of the program would be lost if not held in secrecy is a red herring – a sham. An affront to democracy in our republic.

            The issue of whether this pervasive snooping has been outsourced is an important, but entirely secondary question. I also find it shocking that a 29 year old was working on this from his home (although he may well not have been in reality) in Hawaii. It may only appear that this hunt to access all communication data is close to being totally out of control; but it is hard to avoid that conclusion.

            It is completely insane that we as a society would endlessly debate registering firearms (or the death penalty or any number of other core debates) – and then simply stand aside while the government constructs a permanent record (though out of sight) of all our communications, travels, purchases, etc., etc.. This may or may not be okay; but only when considered in the light of day.

            Frankly, I am tired of the garbage done in the name of terrorism protection. 90% of it all is a total waste. The only thing it does is move us closer to accepting the dynamics of a police state. That’s not America. Not at all. Secrets are tactical, and sometimes strategic. But they are never, ever to be political.

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            No, we HAVE decided it — through our elected representatives. Which is how it works in a representative democracy. This is NOT a direct democracy; nor should it be.

            We’ve had years and years to decide whether we want to elect people other than the ones who decided to follow this course, and we’ll have more such opportunities in the future.

            Again, I stress that the fact that the government was doing these things is NOT new information. We’ve had this discussion before. It’s just that some new details have brought it back into headlines, and a lot of people who weren’t paying attention before are startled.

          4. Doug Ross

            No, I believe al Queda is not a threat that requires the level of expenditure that we currently assign to the “War on Terror”. We could get the same results at some fraction of the cost. The cost is a result of defense contractors which are publicly traded companies having to meet objectives for profit and growth. Those public companies invest heavily in lobbying efforts to make sure the funding continues. They don’t ever go in and push for LESS money.

            And then we have congressmen who push for programs that the military does not want just to “bring the bacon” (i.e. buy votes) back home. Or they spread the manufacturing of weapons across many states in the least efficient manner.

            It’s all about money. Profit drives behavior.

          5. Doug Ross

            Think about this – if I was able to wave my magic wand and cut the defense budget by 50% tomorrow, would we be 50% less secure as a nation against a terrorist attack?

          6. Brad Warthen Post author

            We’d be less secure, but I’d be more concerned about losing our readiness with regard to conventional military situations, rather than terrorism. Such everyday, “mundane” things as having a Navy that could deal with Somali pirates, or respond to an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, or any one of thousands of other situations that could arise

            What we’re talking about here isn’t the DEFENSE budget. It’s NSA, Homeland Security, and the like — right?

          7. Doug Ross

            It’s all serving the same purpose, isn’t it? Defending the country from some overblown threat. Somali pirates? Seriously? Is that one of our core missions?

            Every dollar spent on NSA, Homeland Security, TSA, defense, etc. could be spent on roads, schools, healthcare with greater benefit.

          8. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yes, seriously. Assuring the freedom of the seas is one of the first reasons to have a Navy. It was the very first cause in which we deployed our Navy after the Revolution.

            And you may have noticed that the British Empire is not around anymore to sweep the seas and maintain such security around the globe. The slackers.

            But I wasn’t trying to give you a list of major threats. I was trying to give you an idea of all the thousands of reasons why we maintain our military capability.

      2. Bart

        “He appears to have a GED and yet work on a very sensitive NSA project – and be cleared to do it from home for a large salary. Not the signs of a less than exceptional expert. I would think that your more typical Booz Allen consultant would have advanced degrees from top tier schools and would work on site in secure facilities – locked down despite their talents. That’s what really smart people get. But this guy bucked the norm across the board. I would guess >170 IQ, and then also some debilitating personal foibles. “…Mark

        The salary claim has been debunked. It was $122K a year, not a great number when you consider the cost of living in Hawaii. And as already mentioned, Booz Allen does hire individuals with degrees from well accredited schools as the general rule. In this instance, again according to an impeccable source, Snowden’s name was given to Booz Allen by the N.S.A. because he had worked in the CIA and for other contractors in the past and the N.S.A. had already cleared him to work on top secret programs. Working from home is not unusual for Booz Allen depending on the circumstances and geographical location. However, access to the central server is restricted and apparently Snowden downloaded the PowerPoint presentation while he was at the office.

        If you were a defense contractor and one of your clients, the N.S.A., gave you a name and provided the person with top clearance and wanted the person involved in the project, what would you do?

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