Intelligence

Snowden boasts of prominent role in intel IT

Edward Snowden

The NSA refused to comment on Edward Snowden's claims that he worked at the "highest level" in troubleshooting IT problems.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told NBC News anchor Brian Williams that the public does not have an accurate impression of his onetime role as an IT specialist working in government. While Snowden got a lot of media attention for comments that he was "trained as a spy," and that he reached out to internal NSA watchdogs to complain about surveillance programs before he took his trove of highly classified material to the press, he also alluded to having a more central role in developing IT for the intelligence community than is generally recognized.

In an interview that aired May 28, Snowden complained that he is typically thought of as a low-level systems administrator. Snowden said his work in the intelligence community took him to the top levels of the IT hierarchy.

"The reality is -- the government invited me as a Dell employee -- to have meetings with the CTO, the CIO, and other high-level -- technical officers. Actually, the highest level -- executive officers for technology in the entire Central Intelligence Agency. They were asking me to propose solutions, to solve problems that no one else could do," Snowden said.

Snowden said he had a lead role in creating some kind of network resiliency and recovery system for the NSA that is currently in wide use.

"I developed new systems that created new capabilities [to] protect the NSA from disastrous events around the world. For example, the site in Japan where I worked, I created a system that was then later adopted by -- by the headquarters of the National Security Agency, and then rolled out -- it's being rolled out now around the world, that would protect them in case any site experienced a disaster. Now this was me, as an individual, who came up with this plan, who pitched this plan, who ... brought it to the director of the technology directorate, who signed off on it and said this was a good idea, who then said I should really push this back to -- a certain internal unit. And to champion it from sort of cradle to the grave, to bring this up from nothing, and I was the one, the sole one who did that," Snowden said.

The NSA declined to comment on Snowden's role as developer of IT for the intelligence community.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

The 2014 Federal 100

Get to know the 100 women and men honored this year for going above and beyond in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above