There's an angle some outlets are taking on this Snowden NSA leak story that focuses less on what he leaked (PRISM, which was nearly public knowledge) and more on how this dude got the access he had. Some think it points out just how risky it is to rely so much on private intelligence multi-national corporations to do our government's spy work. Others think that Snowden can't possibly be who he says he is and must be a plant or a patsy or lying about his past.
Edward Snowden: From GED To NSA? | TPMMuckraker
So far, most of what we know about Snowden’s career comes from what he has told The Guardian. The high school trouble, a brief stint in the Army, then work as a security guard at an NSA facility in Maryland, then to the Central Intelligence Agency, where he worked on IT security, then a job in Japan working for a private contractor at an NSA facility, and then a few years at various contractors, before his latest gig, working for Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii.
Booz Allen Hamilton has confirmed that Snowden worked at the firm for the last few months, with a base salary of $122,000. The company fired Snowden on Monday, citing violations of the firm’s code of ethics and “firm policy.” Mother Jones, meanwhile, got in touch on Monday with Anne Arundel Community College, in Arnold, Md., which said that a student with Snowden’s name and birth date attended classes there from 1999 to 2001 and also from 2004 to 2005. A spokesperson for the college said that Snowden did not receive a degree, and had not taken any “cyber-related courses” or courses in the school’s NSA-certified “Information Systems Security” program.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Bloomberg that the “[the] idea that a 29-year-old individual with so little experience” had access to the material Snowden did is “absolutely shocking.”
There have been a few factors offered up to explain how Snowden ended up where he did. Snowden apparently cited his technical skills. According to The Guardian, “[Snowden’s] 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.” (It is not clear, however, just how much technical skill Snowden’s various career stops demanded.) Media outlets, meanwhile, have pointed to the intelligence community’s increased reliance on private contractors in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. According to the Washington Post, one in four intelligence workers in recent years have been a contractor, and at least 70 percent of the intelligence community’s budget has gone to private firms. (Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, for example, is a Fortune 500 company that receives 98 percent of its revenue from the government.)