Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How did NSA whistle blower get his job?

Don’t take this the wrong way.  I’m troubled by the National Security Agency’s data-collecting program. I understand why both Democrats and Republicans want to throw the book at Edward Snowden for leaking the NSA’s internet and phone programs.  I also understand why people are troubled about protecting their Constitutional rights.

I get all of that, but I have a different question.  How did Snowden, 29, get the job?

I’ve been tussling with that question since I read the background of the North Carolina native. I don’t get it.  Could this be yet another case of white privilege?  Maybe his computer skills are way off the charts.  I don’t know.  I hate speculating, but I don’t know many people capable of obtaining the job he had with his shallow credentials.

Let’s start with his education.  Snowden never completed high school.  He did enroll at a community college to take computer classes and obtained a GED.

Not bad, but not impressive.  There’s no college degree. No bachelors in computer science or other course work to warrant an interview with the NSA. 

Wait. You haven’t gotten his salary yet.  Hold on.  Let me share the rest first.

Snowden spent four months in the Army reserves back in 2004.  He was enrolled as a special recruit to a 14-week course.  He failed to complete any of the training and did not receive any awards.  Snowden claims he was discharged after breaking his legs in an accident.

Conclusion. No special military experience.

 Snowden took a job with the NSA as a security guard.  From there he took a job with the CIA working in information-technology.  He was stationed in Geneva in 2007 and left the CIA in 2009 to work as a private contractor for Dell and Booz Allen.  His work with Booz Allen landed him the assignment with NSA in Hawaii.

Now the drum rolls.  Snowden says he was making about $200,000 a year.

Help me understand how he got the job. My techy friends tell me it’s not uncommon for people to make that high a salary without a college degree.  Really?  It’s normal for a dude with a GED to walk into that type of job without proving themselves beyond a few classes at the community college.

How do you get the interview?  Maybe it’s about connections. Maybe ole dude is just that good.

I don’t deny any of those possibilities, but something smells like spoiled fish.  Snowden left for Hong Kong to await the fallout from the leak.  He told the NSA that he was taking a break for treatment of epilepsy.  Snowden’s story reads more like I-Spy than the hero Libertarians want to make him out to be.

Snowden self-identifies as a spook.  "I've been a spy almost all of my adult life," he told a reporter at the Washington Post. He used a code name — "Verax," or truth-teller in Latin, and told a reporter with the Guardian he worried he's being watched and puts a red hood over his head and laptop when he enters passwords.

Strange as it may be, Snowden has described himself as one who suffers from paranoia.  I’m not saying he’s mentally ill, but isn’t his self-definition consistent with a mild form of mental illness?

Just asking, how did he get the job?

He’s classified as an entry level employee.  Keep in mind he’s claiming that whopping salary.  Could it be one among other embellishments?  Maybe it’s a case of liar, liar, pants on fire.

If not, how did he get the job? How did he pass the vetting process?  Who determined to grant that salary given his lack of formal education?

Maybe education only matters when determining the worth of a select few.  Maybe certain people get a free pass when the section on the application says GED.

Don’t look at me.  I’m just asking.

How did he get the job?


  1. I've asked the same questions as you: basically, how did he get his job, given his poor academic and performance record? His self reported history as a "spy" collecting a high salary, sounds suspiciously self-aggrandizing. Perhaps his motives for his actions will prove to be merely an attempt to make himself important.

    As this matter is investigated, we'll no doubt get to the bottom of what is his truth and what is not. Certainly the person who hired him at Booz, Allen will come under extensive scrutiny.

  2. Thanks for this. You put into words a real fog that the facts of this has created in my brain. Aside from what we know now about info the gov't is collecting there is this other very weird, very mysterious story.

  3. Uneducated and unintelligent white ppl are spoon fed upper middle class lifestyles because they are hired and promoted to jobs where they lack the qualifications to do the job and the intelligence to figure it out. Surely, these agencies and companies could have found someone with an advanced degree in technology/computers and a stellar military record. But, being dumb and white has its advantages...I guess