Edward Snowden: From zero to exiled zero in three months

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.


Topics: Security, IT Priorities, IT Employment


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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  • Such unbiased journalism

    I almost made it past the first three paragraphs. A more appropriate title for this write up would be "listen to my politcal opinions in 1200 Words"
    • @aclonedsmurf

      Political opinions? Where are they? Can you guess my political affiliation from this article?
      • You're not allowed to question Snowden's motives

        Didn't you know? When anyone says they don't trust Snowden, you get branded as anti-freedom, government stooge, ect.

        I agree with your assessment. The one thing most people here seen to think is that in any argument there is always a truthful person, and a liar.

        It never seems to dawn on them that BOTH sides can be lying their butts off to you as you are their tools to their ends...
        • Never trusted again

          After Benedict Arnold turned on the Americans and joined the British, he was never trusted by the British or even respected by them. Why would they, he was a confirmed liar and back stabber regardless of what benefits he brought them.

          This is a good analogy of Snowden. You can take what he has stolen and it can benefit you and others but in no way would I trust the man or call him a hero. He is a liar who had co-workers who trusted him, befriended him, etc and he back stabbed them to get what he wanted.

          It all boils down to does the ends justify the means?
          Rann Xeroxx
        • re: You're not allowed to question Snowden's motives

          > When anyone says they don't trust Snowden, you
          > get branded as anti-freedom, government stooge, ect.

          Whether he is sincere or not, Obama has started an initiative in his administration about how can we get the intel we need without trampling people's rights - as a direct result of the Snowden leaks. He's also apologized to friendly heads of state we spied directly on, because Snowden's leaks shows we were listening in on the cell phone.

          That's evidence the leaked information is credible.

          What evidence do you have that the documents he released aren't genuine, aren't exactly what Snowden says they are?

          You can "question Snowden's motives" all day long as far as I care. It doesn't make any difference what his motive were if the disclosures are genuine.

          This blog is attempting to distract from the spying by attacking the messenger. It's not anti-freedom to fall for it and question motives. It's just stupid.
          none none
        • Who cares?

          Who cares about Snowden, whether he is guilty or innocent, his motivations, whether he is a Soviet sleeper agent, whether he marries fellow traveler Anna Chapman, or anything else? It does not change what the US Government did.
        • stooges, truth tellers and liars

          Except that in this case, one side has a ton of government documents, and the other side is the government. Those documents expose a possibly rogue agency that does whatever the hell it wants. As we have recently learned, it even hacks the computers of the U.S. Senate agency tasked with their oversight.

          Whatever you think of Snowden, if you think that learning about a rogue U.S. government agency playing on the international stage is bad, if you never want to know when your government or an agency of government is lying to you, in my estimation that is the very definition of a "government stooge".
      • re: @aclonedsmurf

        > Can you guess my political affiliation from this article?

        I don't know and I don't care. But as a journalist it's clear your affiliation is with character assassination. Who cares what you or anybody thinks about Snowden's trustworthiness? The proof of the pudding is in the documents he released. No one is saying they are not genuine.
        none none
        • In other news Dish Network accepts Bitcoin as payment...

          Bitcoin is proving resilient after mt gox.
          • As far as Snowden goes

            I see by using the brookings classification of whistleblower(leaker) you believe that these institutions can do no wrong and that whistleblowers are worthless to the public...I disagree wholeheartedly.
      • Political opinions are...

        different from political affiliation - if we had more than 2 major parties even you, Kenn, would get that.
        But you're right - it's not about politics for you: it's about you feeling impotent to do what Snowden/Greenwald did.
        And no matter what you think about legality or methods Snowden used - he definitely blew the whistle, so to me putting whistleblower in quotes is a sure sign of douchebag, Kenn: why didn't you put "document thief" in quotes? He hasn't been convicted of any crimes yet.
    • Oswald

      If you read further you would have caught the comparison between Snowden and Lee Harvey Oswald. Journalism at its highest.
  • I guess you like the constitutional violations going on then?


    Not even Congress is in control of the NSA - after all, the NSA representatives have been shown to be lying to Congress.

    What keeps them from lying to everyone else?
    • Not the same

      As an American I think we benefited more than we were hurt but we were hurt in that we do need to spy on other countries and that includes their citizens who are not covered by our constitutional rights. This did not have to be, Snowden could have filter the releases and kept US spying outside the US redacted but he chose to be a citizen of the world instead of the US. I don't even begrudge him his choice but that does make him a man without a nation as no nation should trust him.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • re: Not the same

        > that includes their citizens who are not
        > covered by our constitutional rights.

        That's too bad. I thought the rights we have are natural rights granted by the god of Nature. If, as a country, we believe that, then we would act like it. "Not covered by our Constitutional rights" is a technicality. I guess we are not better than that.
        none none
    • re: I guess you like the constitutional violations going on then?

      > NSA representatives have been shown to be lying to Congress.

      Precisely. Our system of self-government relies on us having some knowledge of what's going on in our name. We simply cannot claim to be self-governed if we don't want to know the score or if we let officials lie to us.
      none none
  • @jessepollard

    Well, then, I guess Snowden was an excellent employee, if lying is the norm.
    • What lies?

      So far as I know, he has been revealing only the truth.

      Now I do realize that is from his perspective, a view from the inside - but that is where there is the least oversight.
      • What perspective?

        he lied about his pay, education, work history, ect.

        What kind of perspective makes them not lies?
        • Too funny

          If he can get a job using lies than its obvious that the companies that run the country are to blame for all of this if they are not doing background checks and putting people with no truth into key positions where this can happen. Snowden is not to blame for any of this. you want someone to point a finger at and name call point at your government and the people that accept any one into the inner circle. As to his wages if you believe that nobody that does not have education can make 3 figures that is too funny. I know many politicians with out HS who were making 6 figures.