Snowden's CIA career taught him that going through channels achieved nothing

In an interview with the NYT's James Risen, Edward Snowden explains what was really going on back in his CIA days, when he was allegedly reprimanded for accessing systems he wasn't supposed to see. It turns out Snowden had found a security vulnerability in their sensitive systems, which he reported through channels, got blown off for, and then kept pushing. In the end, the manager who had tried to cover up the vulnerability took revenge on Snowden by putting a black mark on his record.

Mr. Snowden said that in 2008 and 2009, he was working in Geneva as a telecommunications information systems officer, handling everything from information technology and computer networks to maintenance of the heating and air-conditioning systems. He began pushing for a promotion, but got into what he termed a “petty e-mail spat” in which he questioned a senior manager’s judgment.

Several months later, Mr. Snowden said, he was writing his annual self-evaluation when he discovered flaws in the software of the C.I.A.’s personnel Web applications that would make them vulnerable to hacking. He warned his supervisor, he said, but his boss advised him to drop the matter and not rock the boat. After a technical team also brushed him off, he said, his boss finally agreed to allow him to test the system to prove that it was flawed.

He did so by adding some code and text “in a nonmalicious manner” to his evaluation document that showed that the vulnerability existed, he said. His immediate supervisor signed off on it and sent it through the system, but a more senior manager — the man Mr. Snowden had challenged earlier — was furious and filed a critical comment in Mr. Snowden’s personnel file, he said.

Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files to Russia [James Risen/NYT]

(via Techdirt)

Notable Replies

  1. Freaking clueless middle-management drones; it's the same everywhere. How dare you display skill or initiative; why, you'll make me look like I'm not doing my job. Ten demerits!

    Douglas Adams had the right idea; put 'em all on a spacecraft, and send 'em on ahead to another solar system to pave the way for the rest of us. Yeah, that's the ticket.

  2. This is true of any large company though. You want to change Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Amazon.. you sure as hell won't do that from the inside. Go start a company that competes with them, and suddenly you have their full attention, and things start changing.

    Which is conceptually kinda what Snowden did.

  3. Bucket says:

    Little Bobby Tables, we call him.

  4. Rindan says:

    Since Snowden has leaked, point to one thing Snowden has lied about. Right. You have nothing to point to.

    Okay, now point to something the government has lied about. Oh yeah, basically everything. In front of congress. Under oath.

    If you believe what the government is selling you are either a fool, working for the government, working in the defense industry, or a fool working for the government or in the defense industry. Which one are you? No seriously, don't respond without saying which one you are, because you are one of those.

    It actually doesn't even matter. Snowden could have left a severed puppy head on his managers desk and he would still be a hero. He exposed to the US public the largest warrantless domestic spying by a fucking military organization in US history. He exposed a level of domestic spying that would give the Stasi a boner. He exposed the government curb stomping the fourth amendment. His leak has lead to this shit actually getting challenged in a real court for the first time because the government can't FUCKING LIE anymore and claim that the defendant wasn't being spied on. Because of Snowden, the fucking government is going to actually follow due fucking process and fight this out in a real court... you know, a court with two fucking sides.

    Hrm, could be a conspiracy! Maybe he didn't break his legs and is a fucking robot alien!

    Yup... that is where "Edward Snowden" got all the "files" about the government "taking a shit" on the "fourth amendment" came from...

    UNAMERICAN! NO AMERICAN LEAVES THEIR HOT DANCER GIRLFRIEND AND HAWAII!!111!!! Seriously, I don't give a shit how patriotic you are. Real Americans given a hot dancer girlfriend, a house in Hawaii, and a large pay check just sit down, shut the fuckup and ignore any gross and brutal violations of the constitution by a military spy agency. It is fucking UNAMERICAN to leave that kind of luxury on the principle of defending the constitution. Fuck that guy.

    God, what a pussy. If I just punched the largest spy agency in the world, one which I know spies on all communications world wide and can extrajudicially kill citizens, I would totally just stand there waiting for them to black bag me. Only wusses give up their fat pay checks, girlfriend, house in Hawaii, blow the lid off of the NSA curb stomping of the constitution, and run. Real men just shut up and, take the money, and keep quiet.

    I know, like totally! It is so completely unbelievable! Sure, not even the government has put out an alternate theory other than that Snowden is anything other than a bad ass patriotic hero, but he did leave his hot dancer girl friend and get into an e-mail fight with a manager once... probably is a spy, or a shape shifter, or an alien, or a communist.

    Honestly.

  5. IMB says:

    So he presents facts through documents; the government presents innuendo about his motives and character. I'm going to go with facts. I don't care if underlying his decision was a bad serving of sour grapes. The grapes change nothing about what the government is doing behind our backs.

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