NSA Security

Snowden May Have Lied About His Education, Got Hired Anyway

The possibility that Edward Snowden may have lied to Booz Allen Hamiliton about his level of education and then proceeded to be hired anyway is not the only interesting bit of information buried in this exclusive story from Reuters.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Snowden, a high school dropout who later passed the high school equivalency test known as the GED, stated on his resume earlier this year he attended computer-related classes at Johns Hopkins University, a Tokyo campus of the University of Maryland and the University of Liverpool in Britain.

According to the sources, the resume stated that Snowden “estimated” he would receive a master’s degree in computer security from Liverpool sometime this year.

Some of the educational information listed on the resume did not check out precisely, said the sources, who are not authorized to comment publicly.

According to Reuters, Johns Hopkins has no record that Snowden took classes there while the University of Liverpool has stated that Snowden was enrolled in an online master’s program but is “not active in his studies and has not completed the program.” And despite knowing this, Booz Allen decided to hire him.

The idea that he may have exaggerated when asked about his level of education, however, does not tweak my melon nearly as much as this does.

Despite that, Booz Allen Hamilton hired him at an annual salary of $122,000 to work as a contractor for the NSA in Hawaii. Snowden had been on the job there for about four weeks when he traveled to Hong Kong last month and leaked the U.S. government secrets that made him known around the world.

Booz Allen previously stated that Snowden had been on the job for “less than three months,” but according to this report from Reuters, he was on the job for about four weeks or one month.

Glenn Greenwald and co-writer Laura Poitras have stated that Snowden initiated contact with them in February and January respectively, and in their original profile of Snowden, they revealed that he walked off the job in the middle of May.

If he was only on the job for four weeks and he left in the middle of May, that would mean he initiated contact with co-authors Greenwald and Poitras long before he began working at Booz Allen Hamilton.

NSA Director Keith Alexander has stated that Snowden compromised security and stole sensitive documents during his training, but what we don’t know is how long that training lasted. It seems unlikely that his training could have lasted nearly two months, which would make up for the time between January and April when co-authors Greenwald and Poitras were in contact with him, but we simply don’t know.

If Snowden initiated contact with writers at The Guardian before he began working at Booz Allen, or possibly even before he began training for it, that suggests to me that compromising security and leaking classified information was his intent all along. At the very least, the timing is highly suspect.

I suspect we won’t have answers to these questions until the Department of Justice files formal charges.