Ed Snowden; Glen Greenwald’s weak sauce

| June 10, 2013

DrewM sent us a link this morning about the guy who supposedly fed the NSA’s data mining story to Glenn Greenwald last week. And while I do believe that the NSA has been collecting information on completely innocent American citizens inside our borders, I’m not sure this Snowden dude is who he says he is. We’ve applied for a FOIA on his records, but here are my impressions of what he says about his military career. First from the Guardian and Greenwald;

By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework. (He later obtained his GED.)

In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression”.

He recounted how his beliefs about the war’s purpose were quickly dispelled. “Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone,” he said. After he broke both his legs in a training accident, he was discharged.

After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency’s covert facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

From the Army’s Special Forces recruiting page, the first three entries;


To become part of the Army’s Green Berets, you need to be mentally and physically tough, endure difficult training and face all challenges head-on. In addition to that, you must:

Be a male, age 20-30 (Special Forces positions are not open to women)
Be a U.S. citizen
Be a high school diploma graduate

He claims to be 29 now, so, in 2003 when he says he went through SF training, he was 19. He also didn’t have a high school diploma – so those two things disqualified him right there. He says that he “began a training program to join the Special Forces” which could mean anything really – since his training would have begun at BCT (Basic Combat Training), just the wording of that statement makes me think that he didn’t get anywhere near Camp Mackall. Looking at his picture, I don’t think I can imagine him on the 5 mile airport run at Mackall with a ruck packed with bricks.

Then he goes to tell how he thought he would be helping people, but the Army seemed more interested in killing Arabs. That makes me think that he was headed to a civil affairs job and he’s calling it “Special Forces” as we’ve seen phonies do in our pages. And yeah, in basic training they kinda teach new soldiers how to kill people who are intent on killing the new soldiers – hence the name “basic combat training”.

Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden’s leaks began to make news.

“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.

Serious lack of judgement, in that he “admires” Breanna Manning, the rotting corpse of Daniel Ellsberg and Sockpuppet Greenwald. Manning did what he did because he was mad at his boyfriend and Ellsberg clings to Manning hoping to become famous again. Greenwald is doing what Greenwald does best; sockpuppeting to defend himself.

We won’t know the true story about Snowden’s military career until we get his FOIA back, depending on whether or not the National Personnel Records Center wants to give it to us or not (they’re a little slow when the person we’re requesting is in the headlines), but since folks are asking me what I think – there it is – pure speculation.


Snowden service dates

Category: Who knows

Comments (82)

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  1. Mike says:

    I was an 18x. Basically he would have been stuck in out of training med hold status for at least a year before he would have gotten med boarded out. He probably got out in osut.

  2. WOTN says:

    One other thing should be pointed out: If you pay particular attention to particular language used by Greenwald, we only know that at one point after he left Hawaii, Snowden was in Hong Kong. He alludes to the possibility that the next stop would be Iceland.

    If Snowden is half as smart as he portrays that he believes himself to be, Hong Kong would have been a short layover and Iceland would not be the next destination. He would certainly not be in Hong Kong now, if he is as smart as the seems to think he is.

    Costa Rica would be a good choice for him, as it doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US. And if he really is one of the kooks that believes in “world citizenship” and is interested in selling secrets, China would also be a potential destination. But there are literally a few hundred better locations than either Hong Kong, China, or Iceland, or the US, if he wants to disappear.

    My guess is that he’s in neither Hong Kong or Iceland at the moment. And that Greenwald waited until after he departed Hong Kong to break the news of who his source is.

  3. Herbert J Messkit says:

    I hope he doesn’t have a fatal “accident”.

  4. Nik says:


    My guess is that he’s in neither Hong Kong or Iceland at the moment. And that Greenwald waited until after he departed Hong Kong to break the news of who his source is.

    I believe you’re correct. If he has half a brain, he’s not even in that region by any means.

    At that point, you don’t have to give a rat’s ass about freedom of the press, or any other freedom for that matter. You could talk about it, in hopes of throwing the hounds off your scent for a while. You only have to worry about how well your fake name holds under scrutiny when they start looking at passenger manifests.

  5. Ex-PH2 says:

    Is it okay if I yawn when I read about someone like this?

    I can’t even cobble together enough interest in his desperate need to confess his sins to get more attention from the media, to pay any attention to him other than to wish he, and others like him, would find a new hobby.

  6. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    The difference between this guy and a burglary who came by the same information and did the same thing with it? Nothing. I would say thanks to each on visiting day at their prison.

  7. TMB says:

    @33 What the NSA has been up disgusts me. There is no way to justify downloading and perusing the phone records of 10 million Americans. I don’t care if they didn’t hear the calls and only know the numbers involved. Without probable cause that info is none of their business. The police in Boston were able to go door to door to search for what’s his face because they had a strong indication he was in the area. Even that was stretching their authority. I can’t imagine FISA giving the NSA permission to search any citizen just to see what they might find. If they did then the whole system is broken. It would be like the police searching the pockets of everyone while they walk down the street and making a database out of what they find for later use.

    If Snowden’s intention was to be a whistleblower and blow the lid of a massive government conspiracy, then leaking the material and running away overseas talking about how noble he is gives the opposite impression. If he truly believed in what he did, he should have exposed the information then stood still and accepted the consequences of his actions.

    As far as his claim that he carefully vetted the information before leaking it, part of me wants to say “thanks for the effort,” but then I’m reminded that he was just an IT guy and not an intel guy. What the hell does he know about what information is dangerous to release?

  8. seaniep says:

    I will weigh in on only the part about lying about his military accomplishments/intentions – only cowards do this. There is no reason to lie about that stuff, unless you want to get credit for something you didn’t do. If you were medsepped at any stage of any training, you still did more than most of the population and you deserve that credit for your efforts and intentions. If you make up something about being destined for reconrangersealsniper school but someone didn’t like you or you sprained your ankle, you are just a liar and an asshat, and you disrespect the guys and gals who wanted to do the high speed stuff but ended up working in the mail room the entire time – they had the guts to do their mission and not lie about it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    @57: He made sure no names were released. After the Wikileaks stuff, that’s a good ‘first pass’ effort. Clearly leaking this is still dangerous, it just isn’t dangerous to specific named people.

  10. Anonymous says:

    @58: On the one hand, I don’t see it as him lying about his military accomplishments – he never claimed to have been SF. He claims to have entered into training for SF, which by some definition -eg, an 18X contract- he did. Sure, he never set foot near the Q course, but still, he signed up to go to SF training.

    On the other hand, I just read an article where he says he’s basically been a spy all his life. This because he worked as a security guy for an NSA facility and an IT guy for CIA. Perhaps he’s a wee bit prone to embellishment after all.

  11. Hondo says:

    HK is a ‘Special Administrative Region’ of China, so while it’s a part of China, it has a huge degree of autonomy when it comes to .. well, pretty much everything except national (Chinese) defense.

    So, Anonymous (50) – what do you think the HK authorities are going to do, hypothetically speaking, when high-level PLA officials in Beijing call HK and say: “We would like to ask Mr. Ed Snowden a few questions that are pertinent to China’s national defense. Have him on the next plane to Beijing.”

  12. streetsweeper says:

    Something nobody seems aware of is, this dude held (holds) at a minimum, secret if not T/S clearance. IIRC, Hong Kong was definitely off limits to those holding said clearance, precisely because the Chinese and USSR (Russia) are/were known to inhabit that region.

  13. Anonymous says:

    @61: I don’t have any clear answers here, Hondo – nobody knows, really, and he might be elsewhere now as it is. I was simply drawing a distinction -and there is a big one- between mainland China and Hong Kong. In fact, HK has its own extradition treaty with the US, but it’s also got a Western-style court system that can tie things up for ages.

    As to your hypothetical about China doing that, honestly, it’s not crystal clear what would happen in that situation. First, I don’t think China would do that for intelligence purposes because it opens an enormous can of worms with respect to US relations — openly taking in for, effectively, interrogation a person with known access to classified intelligence information? Beijing doesn’t want to be seen doing that, and in Hong Kong, it’d be hard to make him ‘disappear’ for that sort of thing. Too many eyes around.

    If they’re saying that to get him out of the HK SAR so he can be more easily extradited, they’re risking tension within HK since it goes against HK’s charter.

    Honestly, if I were Beijing, I’d have some intermediary pose as a friend, get him what he needs to flee elsewhere, and get him out of HK and out of China. Without it tracing back to my involvement. Then Beijing saves ‘face’, which is important there, HK isn’t forced to ignore their own laws and culture, and he’s someone else’s problem.

    Again, all I was saying though is that HK is definitively not ‘Red China’.

  14. streetsweeper says:

    And, if China gets hold of him, it could be a very,very long time before the boy see’s light of day.

  15. DaveO says:

    Snowden fled to the PRC. Tells me all I need to know.

    I am sure there are fanclubs, roadie chicks, and paeons to his magnificence pimpling Facebook and the Prognazi blogosphere.

  16. WOTN says:

    Have no doubt, the Chinese Communist govt would not blink an eye about getting ahold of Snowden. While they not be willing to publicly hold him against his will, they would eagerly flout him as a political dissident. And they would not likely publicize if they had him, if that’s what it took to get some secrets out of him, and knew they could keep it under wraps.

    Hong Kong is a different beast, than the mainland, but it is still somewhat under the thumb of the dictatorship.

    For perspective, take note of how quickly they returned classified parts of the Blackhawk that went down in Abottabad, or the recent releases of information that already stole about classified US military systems including the F22, which they have already cloned.

    China may be a trading partner, but they are NOT an ally.

  17. Pat says:

    I think NPRK would grant him asylum.

    And WOTN, I think your explanation in #42 is spot on. If PRISM was in fact spying on US citizens, then it’s illegal – but endorsed by WH, Congress et al. Seems like the right thing to do, albeit with wrong reasons and motivations.

  18. Nik says:

    Yah, he went about it all the wrong-ass way. It looks for all the world like he defected to China taking some classified intel with him.

    There’s safety valves in these types of organizations to prevent someone from having to go outside the agency to report something like this. Now it may well be that nobody he talked to would listen to him…wait…I don’t recall him saying he talked to anyone in the NSA about it. Well surely appropriate folks exist outside the organiz…wait. I don’t recall him saying he talked to anyone outside the NSA either.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he did and I didn’t hear about it. I have a hard time believing he did.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think the government is doing something totally legal and totally unconstitutional. It might be allowed, but it shouldn’t be.

    But the two things are almost utterly unconnected. The wrongness of what the government is doing does not excuse the wrongness of what Snowden did.

  19. FatCircles0311 says:

    Nobody becomes an operator aka trigger puller to “help” people unless that help comes in the form of killing baddies.

    Locate. Close. Destroy.

    I’m sure the Army puts it in different terms, but it’s essentially the same.

    If you’re not pumped about killing baddies and your job is to be that man with a gun to do just that, you’re in the wrong job, son.

    Anyway this is all irrelevant. He was no operator. He didn’t graduate anything either. His military status in my view isn’t anything. I don’t think think he rates the designation as a military veteran.

  20. Army Career??
    Shouldn’t you at least earn a MOS and get through an enlistment to call it a career?

  21. FrostyCWO says:


    Military service: He spent four months in the Army reserves, from May to September 2004 as a special forces recruit to a 14-week training course, the Army said. “He did not complete any training or receive any awards,” an Army statement said. No other details were given, but Snowden told The Guardian he was discharged after breaking his legs in an accident.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Douche… we have to stop force-feeding our kids left/libtard BS before they learn to be responsible adults; this bullcrap is what we get out of that.

  23. Andy says:

    oh good god, this tells me so much about him. his girlfriend is a “professional pole dancer” lulz http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/snowden-girlfriend-nsa-mills-photos-131840670.html

  24. DeweySquid says:

    Don’t care what his record is or what his girlfriend’s profession is, or any other dirt on this guy. Who hired him? Who chose this resume’ out of thousands to have high security clearance? Who is in charge of hiring for these positions? Further, making a convict out of a whistle blower reflects badly upon us. Maybe your preference would be that you never knew you were being watched.

  25. WTF says:

    Let’s not worry about the government spying on all of us. Instead let’s compare cock sizes with the whistleblower to establish if his military creds stack up to ours.

  26. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Um, WTF, WTF, indeed. This blog, in case you didn’t notice, focuses on people who lie about or embellish their military careers. No one is measuring dicks here, it’s just that we all know that people who lie about their military careers have other character flaws. This guy is embellishing, so we all know that there’s something else wrong with him.

  27. OWB says:

    And for the record – I have never claimed to have a dick.

  28. PintoNag says:

    And when it comes to being spied on…it sounds to me like NSA and CIA are late to the party. WALMART knows more about me than they do, fer cryin’ out loud!