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.
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."

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Comment Sorting
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.

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