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 executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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