News / USA

    Edward Snowden: High School Dropout to Intelligence Consultant

    VOA News
    A 29-year-old American man who claims to have exposed top secret U.S. surveillance programs appears to be a high school dropout who rapidly moved through U.S. intelligence circles.

    Edward Snowden grew up in North Carolina and Maryland. In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, he said he never completed high school, but studied computing at a Maryland community college and obtained a General Educational Development diploma.

    Edward Snowden, who has been working at the National Security Agency for the past four years, speaking during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.Edward Snowden, who has been working at the National Security Agency for the past four years, speaking during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
    x
    Edward Snowden, who has been working at the National Security Agency for the past four years, speaking during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
    Edward Snowden, who has been working at the National Security Agency for the past four years, speaking during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
    The Guardian quoted the U.S. military as saying Snowden enlisted in the army reserve as a special forces recruit in May 2004 but did not complete the training and was discharged four months later.

    Snowden told the paper that his military career was cut short after he "broke both his legs in a training accident."

    The Guardian said Snowden got his first job as a security guard for the U.S. National Security Agency, or NSA, which assigned him to a covert facility at the University of Maryland.

    The paper said Snowden's talent for computer programming helped him to move on to a job with the Central Intelligence Agency as an Information Technology security specialist. It says the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland by 2007. The CIA generally refuses to confirm or deny employment with the agency.

    Snowden told the paper that he left the CIA in 2009 and took on several jobs as a private contractor for the NSA, including assignments at the computer company Dell and a U.S. military facility in Japan.

    U.S. defense consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton said it hired Snowden earlier this year at an office in Hawaii. It said he had been employed for less than three months when he told reporters that he was the source of leaks on the U.S. surveillance programs.

    The company expressed shock at the revelations and said that if confirmed, Snowden's actions represent "a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm."

    Neighbors said Snowden lived in a house near Honolulu for several months, sharing it with his girlfriend. They say he kept largely to himself and stored an usually large number of boxes in his garage.

    The Guardian said Snowden is an Internet freedom advocate, placing stickers on his laptop bearing the names of groups such the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor Project.

    It also quoted him as saying voted for a "third party" candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Snowden says he believed in the promises of President Barack Obama, who won that election, and waited to see how Mr. Obama would govern before exposing the secret programs.

    Snowden said he eventually disclosed the information in part because Mr. Obama, in his view, "continu[ed] the policies of his predecessor."

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: oldlamb from: China
    June 15, 2013 1:25 AM
    I don't know US' governent and media hwo to accuse China's hacking into Pentagon and human right after US's false appearance was dismantled.

    by: nn
    June 13, 2013 2:34 AM
    But then if you are not a criminal and you know it they won't wire tap you. They are NOT watching everyone's activity in this country, paranoid people. Facebook and Google are doing that.

    by: Anonymous
    June 12, 2013 11:16 PM
    USA government should not use monitoring system to control to abroad of US peoples in internet. and then if USA government use that system to censor to monitoring others countries of ally people's in cyber worlds example japan or korea or taiwan even europe. we're fear and worries the profile of personal information be leak from USA internet of provider company

    by: steve from: not the USA thankfully
    June 11, 2013 5:59 PM
    ah yes the smear campaign has begun to take away from the REAL discussion on how the NSA SPIED on US and International Citizens in violation of their own constitution. The people who should be on trial are those who set up this system. Who needs the Taliban when you have your own government to screw you over under the pretense of protecting you from terrorism. Your country has become a joke and any one who supports the actions of this and the former government should be hanging their heads in shame. You disgust me.

    by: Keith Rushing
    June 11, 2013 5:44 PM
    'm watching the news, and this so called "hero, whistle blower" chump Edward Snowden, age 29, is a high school dropout, discharged form the military after 5 months, worked at the CIA and then for a private company at NSA. An IT expert? Stated he "had the authority to wiretap, "judges, even the President with a personal email address." (grandiosity) Any basic job such as he claims has a purview and parameters limited by a jurisdiction. The NSA flow-chart he allegedly disseminated betrays nor reveals absolutely anything exactly that isn't presumed by foreign Intel. Nevertheless it is stipulated as "classified information." and meets the criteria for treason. This is a classic misinformation campaign feebly constructed in the timely wake of hacking disclosures by the Chinese military. The constitution of the United States is an anachronistic document. There are some really sick and diabolical people in this era. Every avenue of available investigative resource is now folded into an aggrandized apparatus that by its very structure, is so heavily compartmentalized, that no single person or entity can fully comprehend nor compromise it.

    by: Bearman from: U.S.A.
    June 11, 2013 7:50 AM
    Putting down High School dropouts? Add to your list Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, and Ray Kroc to name a few.
    In Response

    by: Alex from: Kyle tx
    June 14, 2013 10:51 AM
    Those HS dropouts you mention made/are making positive contributions to society. Conversely, Snowden has the IT skills of the adolescent hackers of the Pentagon computers and their immature, irresponsible character. He is a traitor by all means - he is looking to deflect to China, who's government has always denied basic human rights to IT's OWN Citizens!

    by: Greg from: Kansas
    June 10, 2013 8:18 PM
    I am totally puzzled that a young man with a GED diploma and some community college can go to work for the CIA, NSA, and get a job making $200K with Booz Allen Hamilton.
    In Response

    by: James from: New England
    June 11, 2013 6:22 PM
    Many programmers are self taught, some of the best ones are self taught. If you're a good programmer you can get an amazing job. I'm not going to assume he was unqualified just because he was uneducated.
    In Response

    by: BK
    June 11, 2013 6:39 AM
    He is one of those rejects that just does not belong, or deserve his position. Government is full of them.
    In Response

    by: Scott
    June 11, 2013 5:52 AM
    Education has nothing to do with I.Q. If you've got it, you've got it.
    In Response

    by: Frederic Mulika from: Marietta
    June 10, 2013 11:59 PM
    US is gave this man chance in his career, but he let his country down

    by: Edward Penny from: England
    June 10, 2013 4:08 PM
    Put him on trial and let the justice system do its work, Just think Bradley Manning will have a new playmate
    In Response

    by: francis from: leibnitz
    June 11, 2013 9:27 AM
    is education really the final leveller?
    In Response

    by: OshyLike from: Albany
    June 11, 2013 8:55 AM
    The guy lacked certain aspect of epistemology. Education inputs universality. His case is like a technician who is not an engineer. His skill did not make him an Enterpreneur but an employee. His deficiency of certain aspect of knowledge and finding himeslf in a position that made him earn so much as an employee, probably made him to spill the beans and violates his oath of engagement. If he is an enterpreneur like Richard Brandson et al, he will not ruin his business.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora