Edward Snowden is a douche.
Let me start by saying that domestic surveillance is a serious issue, and I am all for protecting the civil liberties of American citizens and the respecting the 4th amendment of the constitution.
But holy fuck. They're not spying on you. How do I know this? I spent ten years of my goddamn life over a span of 12 years working at that soul sucking pit of despair they call the National Security Agency. 4 years in the the military, 2 years in college to finish my degree that I started in the service and another 6 as a defense contractor, like Snowden, but unlike Snowden, I was actually an analyst, not an IT help desk wannabe analyst that doesn't understand the fundamental nature of the intelligence community.
The only real perk of the job is having access to cutting edge technology and real global news. Completely unadulterated, beautiful, raw data.
Now, my beef with Snowden is this. This chump has failed at everything in his life, not entirely his fault. He got sick in high school, so sick he had to get a GED instead of a regular diploma. But after being so sickly for so long in his formative years, he decided to go special forces? That's just brilliant. Even gifted athletes wash out of SF training, he had to have been either incredibly full of himself or more likely, having delusions of grandeur to think he could cut it. He has been quoted as saying he wanted to fight against oppression in the Iraq War, noble I guess…naive, uninformed, quixotic… All the while I'm in the military and watching in horror as the Bush administration is presenting forged imagery intelligence to the UN Security Council and seriously contemplating filing for conscientious objector status.
I served with a lot of people, people you could tell instantly if they had what it took inside to live the SF lifestyle and Ed clearly just doesn't have it.
I still don't know whose eyes he pulled the wool over at the CIA to get him hired on there, but it smells of bullshit to me. I've known guys way more intelligent and better put together than Snowden who couldn't get in edgewise at the CIA. I have also yet to see any proof of his employment there.
I'm pretty sure he only got the job at Booze Allen Hamilton because he had an active clearance from his time as a security guard. The background check system was (and still is) so backlogged it makes getting people on the job incredibly difficult. Forging his resume was all it took to get his foot in the door at that point. The only real qualification he had was his active clearance, some natural talent behind a keyboard, and an ability to bullshit convincingly. Had he stayed any longer than he did he likely would have been fired, if not prosecuted for forging his resume. They take that shit pretty seriously when your lies grant you access to sensitive information. But, he knew that.
His plan all along was to dig for something he knew had to be there, scouring the systems he was entrusted to be maintaining, not reading, he found a bunch of PowerPoint presentations from meeting minutes that had been placed on public shares accessible from the office pc's that primarily handle interoffice bullshit and are connected to the projectors in the conference rooms so upwardly mobile kiss asses can schmooze the brass and add a few bullet points to their evals and resumes. No real intel work is done on them.
Everything Snowden released is mostly bullshit meeting slides to which a lot doesn't actually happen or occurs differently than planned.
Which brings me to the biggest problem, Snowden just released a bunch of PowerPoint slides and some document files. If he truly could do as he said, and spy on anyone he wanted, then where's the actual intercepts of the data collected by PRISM? Wouldn't it have been a lot easier just to take a screenshot or a printout of the data? Why didn't he just do that? Oh yeah, because he never had access to it.
Snowden never actually saw how the program worked, what it collected, never sat at the system, nothing. You know how I know that? Because the fucking system isn't accessible from Kunia where a Snowden worked!
Snowden cherry picked information that fit his narrative, saved it off and ran with it, and everyone just ate it right up. Because the idea of a shady government being evil is a narrative nobody (including me) questions with any regard to the actual truth. It's David and Goliath, the little guy taking on the man… it's a compelling story, but it's not the whole truth.
The whole truth is pretty benign, boring, soul sucking, like everything else at the NSA:
Anything outside the border of the United States is game. Including our allies, the NSA is primarily a repository for data. Massive amounts of data for analysts to sift through and try to find any significance of enemy activity.
I think the PowerPoint slide old Snowjob released that sticks out to people is the one with the corporate brands on it, Yahoo, Google, etc… What people forget is that these are not specifically and solely American businesses just for Americans, these are global conglomerates with global reach and global access. It's just as easy for a member if Al Qaeda, ISIS, or any other members of any other terrorist organizations, or lone wolves, to open a Gmail or Yahoo mail account as it is for anyone else, and they do.
All you have to do is think about it for a minute and Snowden’s whole privacy paranoid conspiracy theory falls apart. Intelligence analysts are not granted any special protections by law, if we were spying on Americans, we would be spying on ourselves, we would be opening the door to not only getting spied upon ourselves, but those in this country with the real power would be opening themselves to being spied upon as well. Do you really think they would allow that to happen? No way.
I've never liked how our intelligence collection platforms suck up everything including American data, it's not usable, clogs up our systems, and wastes resources. But you can't fight the laws of physics, and international boundaries don't register on the electromagnetic spectrum and we need to be able to calibrate our systems.
In the end Snowden has done really nothing but increase paranoia and make life harder for those who work tirelessly everyday who can't even discuss what they've done at work that day with their spouses or children. The increased scrutiny, blanket policies, required training, just make the job that much harder to do an even more thankless job. Thanks douche.