NSA Security

Privilege is a Hell of a Drug

It has been my suspicion, since it was revealed that he initiated contact with writers at The Guardian as early as January, that Edward Snowden sought the job at Booz Allen Hamilton as a means of obtaining the documents he wanted.

Now we know for sure. via TPM

Snowden made the statement in a June 12 interview with South China Morning Post that was published on Monday.

“My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” Snowden said. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

Snowden did not simply stumble upon information he found troubling after he was hired and then decide to leak it to the public. He engaged in a conspiracy to obtain and leak documents.

I feel that’s an important distinction. And ultimately, the documents he leaked do not say what he thought they said.

Now, if only more Americans had the luxury of taking on a job with a salary of $122,000 with the expressed intent of quitting four weeks later because you’re high on delusions of grandeur while engaged in some ideological crusade in partnership with Glenn Greenwald.

He may have been willing to give it all up, but don’t expect much praise from those who can only dream of pissing away such an opportunity. Now ask me what I really think.

Privilege is a hell of a drug.

  • villemar

    Edward Snowden is the Tyler Kent of our time. And if the Greenwaldian/Liberaltarians deify him as the Baby Jesus (a position formerly held by Bradley Manning), then they must be at least ideologically consistent and place Tyler Kent on an equal pedestal.



  • ChrisAndersen

    Let me say, right off the bat and as someone who has been critical of Greenwald, that there is no evidence (yet) that Greenwald encouraged Snowden in his actions. Nor, as far as I can tell, is there evidence that he knew Snowden took the job at Booz Allen specifically to get the evidence. All I have heard so far is that Greenwald received the information as would any other journalist: as a leak from a confidential source.

    I object to Greenwald’s methods, but I don’t think they (yet) rise to the level of criminality.

  • blackdaug

    “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” Snowden said. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

    You know, I bet if that guy knew a lawyer, he would tell him to stop saying things like that…..

  • Zen Diesel

    To be 29, making over a hundred grand, living in Hawaii working for the NSA, my only concern would be what color my convertible should be. Snowden is no hero, just a fool.

  • Mike Huben

    I’ve got to stop reading the comments here.

    This is as repulsive as anything I’ve seen at LBF or other right-wing places. You folks just seem to delight in demonizing Snowden and comforting the poor eagle whose tailfeathers were tweaked. The hell with privacy, ubiquitous searching and the creation of a police state. You guys would rather focus on having an enemy.

    • Bubble Genius

      Like you’re not focusing on an enemy. All I’m doing is questioning the motives of an individual who has behaved questionably, as well as the person reporting it, who is known for histrionic hyperbole of questionable facts. And every time a question is asked, another half-truth dissolves around the edges.

    • missliberties

      ,,,,,, or ‘us folks’ are just running with the facts.

      The Greenwaldbots have turned Snowden into Jesus and Obama into Hitler.

      Snowden’s actions speak for themselves. If either he or Greenwald wanted to serve their cause celeb, they have certainly demonstrated a strange way of doing so.

    • JMAshby

      ….the creation of a police state.

      If this were actually a police state, most of the blogosphere wouldn’t exist and you wouldn’t have the freedom to say these fantastical things.

      You may find what you’re looking for in one of the countries currently on his itinerary. Try China.

      Snowden claims he likes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, so you can start here per his advice

    • Mike Huben

      Bubble Genius: project much? Just what am I focussing on? What have I written?

      missliberties: All back and white for you, isn’t it. Spew anything you want about your enemies.

      JMAshby: are you stupid or what? We are not in a police state right now. What does the word “creation” imply to you?

      And none of you are talking about the importance of privacy and civil liberties: that’s the real issue, not whether Snowden is a bad boy.

      There’s no “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” here, is there.

      • blackdaug

        “And none of you are talking about the importance of privacy and civil liberties: that’s the real issue,”

        ….and you are?
        Why don’t you explain how Snowden “being a bad boy” vomiting up state secrets to any repressive regime that will have him is furthering the cause of the “real issue” of civil liberties?
        You know who are comfortable? The ruling elite in China…
        You know who are afflicted? The citizens in China
        Please further enlighten us about the “police state” we are all living under?
        Where were these concerns before Jan 20, 2009?
        Nobody here is fooled by your bullshit indignation, we have been treated to exhaustively by a hundred other screen names…
        Repulsive…yes you are.

        • http://www.politicalruminations.com/ nicole


      • JMAshby

        As someone who claims to be focused on “criticizing libertarianism ” you sure are cheering for it pretty hard.

        “skepticism, relativism, positivism, pragmatism, progressivism and humanism.”

        That must be some other Mike Huben with the exact same email address.

      • Mike Huben

        blackdaug: If you had the wit to search the way JMAshby did, you’d have found this: Regarding the NSA…

        JMAshby: if you weren’t so focussed on black/white thinking, you might have noticed this: Ideas Libertarians Do Not Own

        But you guys don’t seem to have room in your tiny little brains for more than the simplest good/bad dichotomies. The possibility that Snowden is showing wrongdoing (legal or otherwise) doesn’t hold the fascination for you that condemning people who disagree with you does.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          Many of us on this site have been protesting and fighting against domestic spying since it was first proposed WAY back under GWB. And we’ll continue to fight it. However, getting behind GG and someone like Snowden is not the answer. They’re too busy telling the world how evil Pres. Obama is instead of focusing their attention on REAL domestic spying abuses and on Congress who makes the damn laws. We have a lot of problems to solve and they’re wasting our precious time and the very limited attention span of the American public. Furthermore, the more we learn about GG and Snowden the more convinced I am that our liberties are the last thing on their minds. My God, they’re giving away U.S. secrets that have nothing to do with domestic spying. This is NOT the way to improve our rights at home–if anything, it will make things worse. You can already see the stupid pols panicking. I’m all for transparency and whistleblowers but Snowden is not a whistleblower. The whistle was blown loud and clear the day the Patriot Act was passed, unfortunately only true liberals heard it. Frothing at the mouth about it now and acting like this administration was the mastermind behind it all while selling other secrets to totalitarian governments does not further liberal causes. It’s the wrong reaction at the wrong time and in the wrong way.

        • blackdaug

          Yes…I can sure tell by your writing you are far more intelligent and have much more “wit” than Ashby or I. What, with all our “black/white” thinking and “good/bad dichotomies” and all.
          …..and I guess
          “The possibility that Snowden is showing wrongdoing (legal or otherwise) doesn’t hold the fascination for you that condemning people who disagree with you does.” ??? (could he be “showing wrongdoing” legally…or something.???)

          Frankly, what “holds my fascination” more at this point is that an obvious “thinker” like yourself, cant seem to construct a coherent sentence.
          Must be my “tiny little brain” huh??

    • nathkatun7

      “….the creation of a police state.”

      Wow! We are now living in a police state, yet you and your leader, Greenwald, are still free to attack the government and publishing classified information?

  • RenoRick

    My old man and I were talking about this over the weekend. We both were suspicious of this dude. Now we know, and knowing is half the battle!

  • blackdaug

    I think he did have the express intent to grab information at his new job, and took the job for that purpose, but I don’t think he intended to leave.
    He thought he could remain there, quietly obtaining these secrets and leaking it to his new found mentor for some indefinite period….maybe forever.
    …..but like most paranoids do….he got spooked….and ran.

    • dbtheonly

      bd, you’re guessing.

      Mr. Ashby, telling point. Does this potentially implicate Greenwald in conspiracy?

      • Mike_Norris

        Wow! This thing is coming unraveled in a hurry.

      • blackdaug

        “bd, you’re guessing.”

        No, I’m really not.
        That transition to Booze from the NSA is pretty much the natural progression that DOD employees do every day. While telling the Chinese newspaper he “sought out” the job, so he could “expose” things sounds really brave and all….Thousands of govt. employees transition to their essentially equivalent civilian contractor jobs… all the time.
        That position was posted….all over the DOD and other government job sites for probably months, it just so happened that his current position at NSA, using the same systems, made him an ideal candidate for the job.
        Most people would have been thrilled to get it, and would be happily lounging on the North Shore right now.
        He rented a house with his hot girlfriend and moved in all his stuff.
        He was settling in for the long haul, of gathering little bits of info at a time, sending it to GG……and staying quiet.
        He got spooked…….and he ran.

  • Badgerite

    “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world that the NSA hacked,…..

    So it wasn’t really about NSA spying on Americans. It was about NSA spying ‘around the world’. Those are really two different things. The US Constitution makes no restrictions on the latter and quite a few restrictions on the former. So was all the initial crap about ‘direct access’, etc just to get an audience for the other ‘revelations’ that damages our ability to get intelligence world wide. If you scream ‘fire’ loud enough, at least people will be paying attention.

    • blackdaug

      “So was all the initial crap about ‘direct access’, etc just to get an audience for the other ‘revelations’ that damages our ability to get intelligence world wide?

      Ding…ding..ding! Bingo!

    • Eric_Jaffa

      There are different definitions of “Direct Access.”

      But the NSA’s own slide uses the phrase, “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook…”


      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        The term “Direct access” does not exclude the fact that the information would be filtered nor that that access would be obtained through a warrant. I’m a computer programmer with forensics experience and a Masters of Criminal Justice. Your bull doesn’t sell here.

        • Eric_Jaffa

          When a secret court grants access to everyone’s data, instead of relying on probable cause, getting a “warrant” doesn’t mean what it used to.

          • Lady Willpower

            Secret Court is my 2nd favorite court show, right behind Judge Joe Brown.

          • JMAshby

            What about Double Secret Court?

          • blackdaug

            Shh….these things should only be discussed under “The Cone of Silence”!

          • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

            I TOTALLY agree. But it still isn’t news. The laws that were put into place to allow this to happen have been there for years and they’ve been doing it for years. And so long as Congress made it legal it is legal. The Patriot Act and all of the laws passed that reduced our rights are an abomination. But why, all of a sudden, is GG, his liberal sycophants and the libertarians on the fainting couch now? Where were GG and his ilk back then? It’s not news.

            What would actually be news? GG actually going after Congress to get rid of these horrible laws instead of going after the Executive Branch, who doesn’t make the damn laws. GG actually explaining what he means when he accuses the President of something….like explaining what “direct access” means? Actually printing something that proves what he’s saying about domestic spying? I’m sorry but airing the spying done on China has nothing to do with domestic spying abuses and tarnishes the whole endeavor.

          • Rita D. Lipshutz

            actually GG was a strong supporter of W and of the patriot act when it was passed, he writes all about that in his book. he also admits that before the W administration he had little or no interest in or knowledge of politics.
            snowden, who aslo tried to pose as a “disappointed Obama supporter” was finally asked point blank whether he had voted for him. first he tried to dodge and say he voted “third party” but when pressed (and when it finally came out that he had donated $500 to his campaign) he finally admitted that he’d been a ron paul supporter all along

      • JMAshby

        This has been debunked repeatedly. It was debunked weeks ago. Greenwald himself even debunked it last week.

        Time to move on.

        • Lady Willpower

          You have to understand something, JM: NO amount of exculpatory evidence will soothe the troubled brows of the paranoid Greenies. NO amount of debunking will get them to come in off the ledge. They WANT to be out there. Living in a police state is sexy. It turns boring, humdrum existence into a Len Deighton novel, and they’re not giving up that existence for anything.

          • Rita D. Lipshutz

            they love to feel important enough for the big bad govt to spy on. POTUS really cares alot about the cute kitteh meme you sent yr mother last week. :/

  • Eric_Jaffa

    RE: “Snowden did not simply stumble upon information he found troubling after he was hired”

    He did at a previous job.

    Regarding associating Snowden with “luxury,” he’s exchanged luxury for being a fugitive, and probably years in prison.

    • Badgerite

      By the way, know what else is ‘policy based’ in our country, just about everything from the authority of the Supreme Court to civilian control over the military.

    • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

      He did at his previous job

      Okay, so where is that info? Where is this earlier intelligence that caused him to betray his country and risk being a fugitive and prison? Why continue on deeper if he already had the goods? Why reveal to foreign nations highly classified info instead of gathering and releasing info on the supposed “domestic spying” that he says motivated him?

      he’s exchanged luxury for being a fugitive, and probably years in prison

      He’s a Ron Paul follower so his willingness to make his government look bad at whatever risk to himself doesn’t surprise me in the least. And of course, it’s regardless of the fact that his information about domestic spying 1) is not news, 2) not what he says it is, and 3) the result of going in to the job with a mindset looking for trouble and planning to betray his oaths at the first opportunity.

      This guys a not a hero and if he’s put himself into legal jeopardy he’s gone about it the wrong way for the wrong reason. PLUS by confirming he went into it with the intention of betraying his country he’s just handed the prosecution a huge weapon that will surely help to convict him. He needs to shut his trap and get a damn lawyer and he certainly could have one. The truth is he WANTS to be a fugitive and martyr. Good luck with that!

      • Eric_Jaffa

        Regarding the idea the Snowden’s information “is not news,” it was to Senator Jon Tester (D-MT):

        “The information that they wrote about was just the fact that NSA was doing
        broad sweeps of foreign and domestic phone records, metadata. First of all,
        Snowden probably shouldn’t have done what he did. But the fact of the matter is I don’t see how that compromises the security of this country whatsoever,” Tester said. “And quite frankly, it helps people like me become aware of a situation that I wasn’t aware of before because I don’t sit on that Intelligence Committee.”


        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          It’s not news. Ever since 9/11 and the Patriot Act was passed anyone with half a brain should have known that domestic records were being scanned and plumbed for data. We knew about FISA. We knew about the warrant system (GG admitted as much the other day). I knew and I don’t sit on an Intelligence Committee. I just pay attention. Unlike the rest of America who sits around swallowing whatever crap Roger Ailes or Ron Paul or Face the Nation, etc throw their way. Holding Senators (regardless of party) up as the standard for being knowledgeable is the weakest argument you could make.

        • nathkatun7

          Just because Jon Tester was ignorant of the information, and was probably one of those members of Congress who chose not to attend NSA briefings, does not mean that the information Snowden spilled was new.

    • JMAshby

      Aw, poor guy.

      But, you know, there isn’t a single reference to “luxury” above. Privilege is not the same thing a luxury. But if you don’t realize that, I wouldn’t expect you to understand the arrogance of seeking street-cred for being willing to give it up. Like he’s libertarian Jesus on a cross, leaving behind a life most people can only dream so he can gallivant across the glove dishing information to authoritarian governments.

      • Eric_Jaffa

        “Luxury” is in the sentence: “if only more Americans had the luxury of taking on a job with a salary of $122,000 with the expressed intent of quitting four weeks later.”

        • JMAshby

          Privilege afforded him that option. The luxury is in being able to casually toss such an opportunity aside.

          Read properly: most Americans are not so privileged

        • nathkatun7

          Do most Americans have “the luxury of taking on a job with a salary of $122,000 with the expressed intent of quitting four weeks later.”? Was he staying in Motel 6 when he was in Hong Kong? Do most Americans accused of committing a crime have “the luxury” of flying all over the world to escape prosecution?

      • blackdaug

        “My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world the NSA hacked,” Snowden said. “That is why I accepted that position about three months ago.”

        Gee..sure sounds like a brave move..as he tells it to the Chinese newspaper from his hotel room in Hong Kong……

        Hello, Mr.Greenwald, my name is Snowden, and I am a computer “genius” at the NSA. I am a long time fan of you work, and would just like to let you know what a horrible terrible situation it really is….and how I have access to all kinds of nifty stuff exposing this dirty Obama regime for the true authoritarian state they really are….
        GG: Sounds interesting, what have you got?
        Snowden: Well, I have this grainy yet riveting power point training module, that when diced up and taken out of context falsely indicates the NSA is monitoring every digital communication engaged in by every american citizen???
        GG: Yes, that is intriguing…and may be enough to set many scalps afire initially…but we will need more.
        Snowden: Well, as pretty much a natural progression of my career, I am set to leave the NSA and go to work for a private contractor in Hawaii, which is where we monitor the pacific backbone in to Asia…how is that?
        GG: Although that information will have nothing to do with any domestic surveillance…..I say…sure what the fuck! By the way, what is this “backbone” of which you speak? Is that like an exotic sushi dish?
        Anyway, by the time the rubes figure out the domestic angle is ….bullshit…I am sure we will have gathered enough support from Randian moron set ..that they will overlook the fact that everything you gather at Booze will really just be the kind of stuff a spy from another country would get….and we will end up with many notable, previously credible journalists…essentially defending espianoge against their own country! …..But you know anything to knock that Obummer down a few notches..heh?

        • ballerinaX

          and oh ! hey lets set up a super duper secret encrypted communication system. . . just between you and me mmkay ? that would be waay neat-o

        • mrbrink


      • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

        “Privilege” is life in a nice Brazilian neighborhood — you didn’t think Greenwald lived the the favelas, did you? — and writing endless screeds about the imaginary abuses of President Obama while never writing one word about protests going on right down the street. Has Greenwald even MENTIONED police brutality in his adoptive country?

        • blackdaug

          Cultivating the worship of screeching right wing idealoges and far left dupes, while lobbing bricks at the democratic president, is a job best done from a gated mansion on a hill in the third world. Easier to ignore all the wailing of the poor…..or as Ayn would describe them…the leeches.

        • missliberties

          Excellent observation.

      • Christopher Foxx

        He’s “gallivanting”?