Edward Snowden: From zero to exiled zero in three months

Summary:On Wednesday, NBC's Brian Williams airs an hour long interview with now NSA document thief and 'whistleblower', Edward Snowden. He was also featured at SXSW this year. Do we really want to give him this much air time?

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know the name Edward Snowden. Snowden is the "whistleblower" who gave NSA documents to journalists in Hong Kong back in May 2013, while he was employed by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) in Hawaii. I hope that venues such as SXSW and NBC stop giving this guy air time because basically he's a ne'er-do-well who's managed to fake credentials, fake education, and fake experience to get on the inside of the NSA and steal government documents and then hand them over to the press.

Has no one ever seriously questioned him about his credentials during any of these interviews or are we so caught up in the stink that he's let out that we're now blinded to his lack of credibility?

To liken him to Benedict Arnold, as some have done, is wrong too. Benedict Arnold was at least somewhat reputable before he committed treason. Snowden isn't. Yet, we give him air time as if he actually did something great and he has not. I think we need to refocus on what a hero really is and the name Edward Snowden shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence.

I used to have some respect for SXSW until it aired an hour long Hangout with Snowden, where he talked about encryption and oversight protecting the public from surveillance. Really, Edward? And who told you that would work?

I also used to have some respect for Brian Williams, who until his interview with Snowden tomorrow night proves that he's just another attention-seeking journalist. 

If Edward Snowden is such a hero, why don't we have a parade for him in Manhattan? Why don't we see the President pinning a medal on his chest? Why don't we see him honored in some way except at a geek rally? Simply put, he's a zero who's now an exiled zero.

Going back in time a bit on Mr. Snowden's esteemed past, here is his resume as best as I've been able to piece it together:

  • Born 1983
  • Did not graduate from high school
  • Attended a community college, but never completed his coursework
  • 2003-2004: U.S. Army, discharged after training accident
  • 2005: NSA, Security Guard, University of Maryland
  • 2006: CIA, IT security
  • 2007-2009: CIA, diplomatic cover, Switzerland
  • 2009-2013: NSA Contractor, Dell and later Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Salary: Reported by Snowden to be around $200,000

The truth is that he worked for BAH for less than three months and he lied (surprise) about his salary, which was $122,000. $122K for a guy who never graduated from high school, never finished college, never spent any real time in the military, and was a security guard. He also stated that he took courses at Johns Hopkins University (He did not), took courses at the University of Maryland in Tokyo (Unconfirmed), and that he was going to receive a Master's Degree from The University of Liverpool.

Wow, a Master's Degree without a college degree. Go Edward!

I smell a rat.

Rather than comparing him to Benedict Arnold, I prefer to compare him to Lee Harvey Oswald—another ne'er-do-well who seemed to somehow slip past legitimacy to do what he did.

I've told you before that I'm a bit of a conspiracy type. No, I don't have a foil hat, but I can also put two and two together to get four. Something about Snowden just doesn't add up.

The bottom line is that I believe that someone else is behind all this and Snowden is just a "Patsy" like Oswald was. And like Oswald, he went to Russia. Maybe Oswald is his hero or something. I have some advice for Edward: Choose better heroes.

I have some advice for security contractor companies: Check out your resumes a little better. What ever happened to background checks that were performed by, you guessed it, security contractors.

Do you also smell a rat?

Personally, after hearing Snowden talk, I don't think he was smart enough to propel himself into these jobs nor smart enough to grab any classified documents. I think his strings were being pulled from somewhere else. Like Oswald, Snowden is basically a 'throw away' that someone could use and then discard. Unlike Oswald, Snowden doesn't know enough to be dangerous to anyone.

If you don't believe me, check out his SXSW Hangout video for yourself.

He could have picked up that information from Google searches. It's especially cute for him to have the US Constitution as a video backdrop.

But, thank goodness, I'm not the only one who questions Snowden. Here is an interesting excerpt from a Washington Post article describing whistleblowers' personality types.

"Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution has gone to great lengths to classify those who spill classified information to the news media. There are baskets: 1) the ego leak (for the purpose of self-aggrandizement); 2) the goodwill leak (a downpayment for a “future favor”); 3) the policy leak (“a straightforward pitch for or against” a certain proposal); 4) the animus leak (get back at the bastards); 5) the trial-balloon leak (self-explanatory); and 6) the whistleblower leak (generally deployed by career personnel frustrated by the lack of change)."

The original author (Erik Wemple) of the article offers the following commentary on the list provided by Stephen Hess (Happy coincidence, no relation):

"The grandiose proclamations of Snowden suggest a touch of ego involved in this enterprise, but absent evidence to the contrary, he appears to be laying a legitimate claim on the noble Door No. 6."

I, like Erik Wemple, think it's ego. Further, I think it's ego coupled with something more sinister because, as I wrote earlier, he's not smart enough on his own.

To be fair, here's a quote from Snowden that he made to The Guardian: 

"I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building."

"All of that" is his $200,000 salary, his girlfriend, his home in Hawaii, and his comfortable life.

OK, Edward, we totally believe you. We don't think that you're a ne'er-do-well charlatan who has a questionable past and unverifiable credentials that did sort of raise the hackles at BAH before all this noise went down.

If you don't believe there's a conspiracy behind this Snowden thing, then here's another possibility: He knew he was being caught up with and had to take drastic measures. I mean, to fly to Hong Kong to leak documents to journalists? Really, Edward?

Just doesn't add up.

I don't think he's a hero. I don't think he acted alone. There was more than one gunman (try to keep up folks, it's an ever-changing landscape). And he, Snowden, doesn't deserve the press he's getting except to expose him for being the zero that he is.

While I'm at it, I want people, especially journalists to stop using the term, "Snowden Era". It's just dumb. It's like saying, "Post Oswald America" or something silly like that. Stop it.

I, personally, won't watch Brian Williams' interview. If you do, let me know what happens. Although, I'd be happier if no one watched to show our solidarity in discrediting this throw away character. It's time for the public to ignore this guy and for law enforcement to bring him in, convict him, imprison him, and forget that he ever existed. It would also be nice if we could find the real brains behind this as well. I doubt we ever will.

References:

Topics: Security, IT Employment, IT Priorities

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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