Snowden's actions raise ire in defense community

stylized professionals

The public's opinion on Edward Snowden may be split, but security-cleared defense professionals are more united. (Stock image)

While polls show that Americans are divided about whether former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden did the right thing in leaking classified documents that reveal the agency's surveillance capabilities, there is no such ambiguity among members of the defense community.

A survey conducted by, a large career network for professionals with federal security clearances, said 75 percent of 300 such professionals said Snowden's disclosures have been harmful to national security. Of those 300 surveyed, 40 percent held a Department of Defense secret clearance and 60 percent identified themselves as senior level career professionals with 10 or more years of experience.

Of those surveyed, 70 percent said they didn't believe Snowden's revelations were an act of conscience, and 83 percent said they would not grant him asylum were they in charge of a nation Snowden approached for protection.

Security-cleared professionals were less united when asked if they feel the clearance investigation and adjudication process is flawed. Forty-four percent said no, 26 percent said yes and 30 percent weren't sure.

However, a majority agreed that Snowdens' revelations will likely cause a slowdown in the security clearance process after some recent gains.

"It's important to remember the government focused on speeding up the clearance process in part to stop losing qualified applicants that withdraw due to wait times," said Evan Lesser, managing director of  "At a time when the government is hurting for qualified cybersecurity professionals, the clearance process is critical. Our cyber talent is mainly in private industry and bringing that talent into government positions is difficult at best." 

About two-thirds of respondents also believe the governments will insource more highly sensitive work, and the NSA has already begun that process. On Aug. 9, NSA Director Keith Alexander announced it intends to eliminate about 90 percent of its 1,000 system administrators in favor of advanced technology to automate analytical work. In this case, administrators – often contracted employees like Snowden formerly was – will lose their jobs to in-house machines.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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Reader comments

Mon, Aug 12, 2013

"Contary to popular belief, the public does not always have the right or need to know." That's pretty arrogant, and perhaps that attitude is why we're watching this tragedy unfold in front of us. The "need to know" isn't wrong, but when it's used the way this group is using it, something is wrong, very wrong.

Mon, Aug 12, 2013

It's not about what is right or wrong about the surveillance but about the breach of security. If Snowden honestly felt this deserved review, there are procedures involved and Congress would have been the place to start. Contary to popular belief, the public does not always have the right or need to know. Congressional oversight is meant to prevent abuse and while I agree that it is like the fox guarding the chicken coop it is a far sight better than nothing at all.

Mon, Aug 12, 2013

300 people is hardly a significant sample. Of course people that make a living off the the current security theatre would be opposed to an open discussion about what is and isn't proper for the government to do. Sorry, my privacy belongs to ME- not their call to violate it without asking my permission.

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