I was just talking to a friend of mine here at Starbuck’s – who knows my history with the NSA and is curious about my perspective on Snowden’s new movie that came out.
While I can’t download the movie to critique it, yet, I thought I’d offer my perspective on Edward Snowden.
In 2003/2004, I was enrolled in Public Affairs training with the US Army at Fort Meade, Maryland, and I have the DD214 to support this assertion.
There were 48 people in my class there, and every single one of us was in the process of being cleared for a Top Secret clearance to enter either the CIA or the NSA.
Not a single one of us was aware at the time – to my awareness – that our entire class was nothing but spooks.
This is when I met Edward Snowden, with his wife, two people I vividly remembered because of how pale complected they both were.
On meeting them, despite the fact that neither of them talked much, I had learned they both had gone through law school, and they had accumulated a great deal of debt all to learn they hated law, so “The Military” offered complete loan forgiveness all for the small price of 6 to 8 years of their lives.
Training for both the CIA and NSA was HIGHLY individualized, something I had learned MUCH later in my career, but we all – every single one of us – went through the same military training in public affairs – career field 46 Quebec.
In hindsight, what was interesting about this entire class was the age range – and the diversity in the people who had been accepted into this program. We each and every one of us had a story, the education levels varied, but we had one thing in common – we wanted to become better with our people skills.
Even someone as formerly reclusive and sad-sackish as Edward.
But getting to the point about Edward Snowden and my limited interactions with the man:
Nowhere is it publicly stated that Mr Snowden was married. Nowhere is it stated that he was a trained lawyer.
But let me be clear about this:
He was never trained as a programmer. He was trained as a lawyer. And while I’m told he believes he had high level clearance. The simple fact of the matter is: He didn’t.
Everyone in the program at Fort Meade was granted a top secret level clearance.
But not all top secret clearances are the same.
Don’t believe me?
If you ever meet him, ask him to write a simple computer program – the most basic computer program there is in the “C” language, which is the most widely used in the NSA and CIA.
Ask him to write “Hello World”.
The most simple and basic program ANY programmer should know.
It really is that simple.
My bet is he couldn’t program his way out of a hat.
My goal with this little entry isn’t to debunk him. In fact, what he’s observed about the NSA – while not entirely accurate – is suggestive more of an outside perspective of this intelligence agency. The NSA has evolved, greatly, in ways I doubt the man could comprehend, and he’s a part of the legacy mindset that seems to think the only way to make progress is through strife and drama.
A final message to Edward Snowden, should he even exist AND read this:
Mr Snowden, while I don’t pay attention to everything you say, and I don’t claim to know how and if you receive anything from me – WE have a world to conquer. If you think making a few bucks off a movie about you is all you’re good for, then that’s all your good for.
But there’s a reason you and I have two different perspectives on that time period and our respective training that led to it. There’s a reason I remember you being married and you’ve not mentioned it. And to be honest, I think you’re getting my memories confused with your own.
All for reasons I can explain.
If you quit playing the victim and take the time to understand this is our world you’re trying to tear down.