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Edward Snowden and National Security

Updated on December 16, 2013
Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden

Early Life

Edward Snowden is a former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

He was born in 1983 in North Carolina.

His father was an officer in the United States Coast Guard and his mother is a clerk at a federal court in Maryland.

Snowden studied at a community college in order to get credits for his high - school diploma but never finished the course, due to illness.

Edward took his GED at a local college and worked online to obtain a Masters degree at the University of Liverpool.

He had worked at a U.S millitary base in Japan, where he studied the language as he had an interest in their culture, martial arts and his religion was said to be budhism.

In 2004 he enlisted in the army as a special forces recruit but did not complete the training and was discharged four months later due to breaking both his legs in a training accident. Snowden wanted to enlist and go to Iraq to fight as he said that he felt like he had an obligation to help free people from oppression.

Edward then joined the National Security Agency as a security guard at the Maryland University before joining the CIA to work on IT security.

"Computer Wiz"

It was said that Snowden was a computer wiz and the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007, where he said that the CIA deliberately got a Swiss banker drunk and encouraged him to drive in order for them to recruit him.

In 2009 Edward left the CIA to work for a private contractor inside the NSA in the millitary base in Japan working for Dell for twelve months, whereafter he moved on to his next job as a consultant with Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information Clearances.

He took a certified ethical hacker course in 2010. Edward stated that his life was very comfortable and he was getting paid very well.

Edward Snowden worked for a consulting firm called Booz Allen Hamilton, based in Hawaii, where he said he was hired to look for new ways to break into internet and telephone traffic around the world. He wanted this job and took a paycut in order to gather information with the intention of leaking it. Snowden's employment was terminated for violating the ethic's and firms policy.

Snowden had apparently done an IT course at the University but never finished and he studied for a Masters degree in technology which was also stated that he never completed.

His Reasons For the Leak

Edward Snowden said that he voted for third parties in the elections in 2008 and he planned to leak information about the NSA surveillance programs but decide to wait as he believed in Barak Obama's promises but was later dissapointed that Obama continued to follow old policies. Snowden believes that he is not a trator or a hero, but an American who thinks that everyone has the right to information and internet freedom.

He began to leak information on internet chat rooms and was told to stop by his father who claims that his son is a sensitive and caring person, completely misunderstood by all.

Snowden stated that he does not want to live in a world where everything you do or say is recorded and that is why he decided to leak information to the public.

Sensitive Government Information

Obama administration allowed the National Security Agency to collect caller information from Verizon on a daily basis including location, time and duration of calls and had been doing so since the Bush administration in 2001. The administration said that the domestic spying was done for an ongoing program for national security.

Secret 41 - PRISM

U.S intelligence personel are trained in a program called PRISM, which is a collection of massive amounts of data from internet companies including emails, search history and file transfers from potential terrorism or espianage suspects.

PRISM began in 2007 and with reasonable suspicion, suspects outside the United States can be surveilled by access of live information, photo's, video chats and data from social networks directly from the companie's servers without permission.

Boundless Informant

This tool allows the NSA to track metadata it collects from around the world and a global heat map sorts the intelligence with a quick analysis of countries most targeted.

America Hacking China

Snowden stayed in Hong Kong after leaving America whilst working with Booz Allen, after saying that his epilepsy was causing problems for him. He left for China without documentation and went to the press stating that he was the leak and would only leave if he was asked to.

The NSA has been hacking computers in Mainland China and Hong Kong since 2009. He said that they hacked the computers at the University in Hong Kong, home of the internet exchange for China and Hong Kong's main terminal for internet traffic.

Hong Kong Security stated that they have not found evidenc of hacking by the Untied States.

Britain Spy's on G20 members

In 2009, the government used real time surveillance of delegates phone communications to gain diplomatic advantages at the meetings which came at the time of the economic crisis in 2008.

They could also read their emails without notice and 15 parties and the Turkish minister were the targets and the British prime minister at the time was said to have been aware of this intel.

South Africa and Russia were also targeted and when asked about this most of the countries delegates said that they obtain information in the same way.

NSA Policy

The NSA is allowed to keep information gathered on citizens for up to five years without a warrant. They are allowed to use the information of necessary, only if it is relevant to preventing national security threats or to aid investigations. This information can be sent to allied governments and foreign organisations as long as it is kept anonymous.

GCHQ and NSA "Hacking"

The British intelligence store data for up to 30 days and they are able to access 21 petabytes of information per day from under sea cables and private companies are required to give the GCHQ access to tap their cables.

They have shared their information with the NSA and have given them unlimited access to the data.

NSA Hacked China's Largest Research Hub

The NSA hacked into the computer networks at the Tsinghua University which is one of the six backbone networks, where internet data for millions of Chinese can be accessed. It is the Education and research network for China.

They also hacked the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, a privately owned company providing fibre optic cables, bringing internet connections to and from the United States.

Spying on Europe

The NSA also hacked into telecommunications for government officials in Europe, especially Germany and throughout Europe they have been monitoring council ministers. The NSA has an occupied building at the NATO headquarters just outside of Brussels.

Hacking the Embassy's

38 embassies and missions were surveilled to gain information and insider knowledge of diplomatic relations between the Untied States and targeted States. Fax machines and phone lines were bugged with listening devices. The French Embassy in Washington and places like Mexico and India also formed part of their "hacking."

Safety Net

Snowden gave information to a journalist and told him that he has made copies of encrypted files and has circulated them to people all around the world. Should something happen to him then he will send passwords to those people to continue spreading the information. The journalist has said that Snowden has many more secret files to expose the government with.


Prison or Political Asylum?

Edward Snowden is now a wanted man and has been running from country to country trying to seek asylum. His theft on the governments most highly kept secrets is against the law and he is carrying four computers with him to gain the information which he has sworn he will leak for the sake of his ethics. He dose not believe that the people of each country should be personally invaded and he wants everyone to know what the government is up to as he believes they have a right to know.

Snowden faces 30 years in prison for his crime and U.S.A are trying to extradite him back to the country to face his sentence.

Edward has been in Hong Kong and is seeking asylum in Russia until he can get to one of the Latin American countries that have offered to take him in. His passport has been revoked and Snowden said in an interview,"I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell U.S. secrets," he said in a statement released through WikiLeaks. "I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice."


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