Rewarded for stabbing the United States in the back, 30-year-old former CIA and National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden landed his first job working as a Web developer for an unknown Russian Internet company. When the 29-year-old released classified information about U.S. spying in the Washington Post and U.K.’s Guradian newspaper May 16, the world gasped at the extent of U.S. surveillance. Snowden knew releasing the information would make him an instant fugitive. Working for Booz Allen Hamilton in Kunia, Hawaii, Snowden took medical leave May 1 before blowing the whistle on U.S. spy operations. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I have done nothing wrong,” said Snowden after fleeing to Hong Kong May 20 to escape arrest for violating U.S. espionage laws, not to mention Booz Allen Hamilton confidentiality agreements.
Snowden insists that he divulged U.S. secrets because the government violated the 4th and 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While applauded by some, like former Pentagon employee and Watergate whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Snowden worked for U.S. spy agencies since dropping out of college. He succeeded exaggerating his credentials and selling himself as a “computer whiz” to U.S. spy agencies, joining the CIA in 2007, working on “network security.” He left the CIA in 2009, eventually working for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in 2010. At no time during his employment at the CIA or any other NSA contractor did Snowden complain about earning $200,000 a year, before dropping down to $135,000 working in Hawaii for Booz Allen Hamilton, before his disclosures and fleeing to Hong Kong.
Working his entire career in the spy business, Snowden had no problem collecting six-figures before something went awry, prompting him to betray his country. After fleeing to Hong Kong May 20, escaping to Moscow June 24, living over 30 days in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport and finally granted temporary asylum by Russian President Vladimir Putin Aug 1, Snowden received his first job offer for a Russian Internet company. “Edward Snowden will start working at a big Russian company Friday, Nov. 1. His job will be to support and develop a major Russian website,” said Snowden’s attorney Anatoly Kucherena, refusing to name the company. Speculation has centered on Vkontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. Putin’s decision to grant asylum irked President Barack Obama so much he almost promised to go to war in Syria before he deferred to Congress Aug. 31.
Snowden’s claptrap, aimed and directed by professional human rights activists from WikiLeaks about his stellar motives for betraying U.S. national security, can’t pass unnoticed. His prior career in the spy businesses can’t be dismissed as a fleeting fantasy. Whether done wrong by the CIA or National Security Agency, Snowden turned tails and ratted out his country. Getting a hero’s welcome in Russia should come as now surprise since thousands of Russians defected to the U.S. from the Cold War days to present. Over the past 65 years, U.S. officials routinely granted asylum requests to Soviet and Russian immigrants. Getting Snowden, who’s reportedly low on cash, a high-paid Russian job rubs more salt in U.S. wounds. It was Russian President Vladimir Putin who lambasted U.S. intelligence and law enforcement for letting Snowden slip through their fingers since fleeing from Hawaii.
Snowden has become a favorite target for Russian paparazzi since granted asylum Aug. 1. Popular tabloid Internet site Life News paid 100,000 rubles for a photo of Snowden pushing a shopping trolley. Each Snowden sighting rubs salt into festering wounds. As Putin pointed out, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement failed to nab Snowden after tracking him from Hawaii to Hong Kong and eventually to Moscow. Snowden’s high-profile escape embarrassed the vaunted U.S. spy network, raising more doubts not about U.S. spying operations but on the competence of intel and law enforcement officials to track down criminals. No one has bothered to ask how much money Snowden was paid by the U.K.’s Guradian or Washington Post for his U.S. spying data. Watching the 30-year-old traitor hailed as a “whistleblower” or become a celebrity in Moscow slaps the U.S. in the face.
When you look at Snowden’s work history, he was perfectly suited and comfortable working for U.S. spy operations. He made a killing for a college dropout working in the “hacking” business as a government employee and contractor. While domestic and foreign U.S.-bashers want to put him on a pedestal, it’s clear that he had some kind of falling out with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. “I’m sure that everyone knew everything or at least guessed,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, minimizing the effect of Snowden’s spying revelations. Both U.S. and former Soviet Security officials recall nostalgically the mutual spying operations that inspired countless novels and endless Hollywood spy thrillers since the end of WW II. Snowden embarrassed the White House and gave Republicans something to crow about heading into next years Midterm Elections.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.