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Who Is Edward Snowden?

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Who is Edward Snowden?

Edward Snowden, 30, was a three-month employee of a government consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. At Booz Allen (he has since been terminated), he worked as a systems administrator at an NSA Threat Operations Center in Hawaii, one of several facilities detect threats against government computer systems. In other words, he was a low-level intelligence government contractor. Background: Edward Joseph Snowden was born June 21, 1983, he grew up in Wilmington, N.C., but later moved to Ellicott City, Md., he told The Guardian. His mother, Wendy, is the chief deputy clerk for administration and information technology at the federal court in Baltimore, a court official told NBC News. His father, Lonnie, is a former Coast Guard officer who lives in Pennsylvania, the Allentown Morning Call reported. A neighbor said he has an older sister who is an attorney.
Education: He did not complete high school. He told The Guardian that he studied computers at a community college and obtained a general equivalency degree. A spokesman for Anne Arundel Community College confirmed that a student with the same name and birth date took classes there, from 1999 to 2001 and again in 2004 and 2005.
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.
Here's some of what we know about the bespectacled self-proclaimed "spy" who is being called both a traitor and a hero: Edward Joseph Snowden is an American fugitive who leaked details of several top-secret United States government mass surveillance programs to the press. Snowden is a former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Snowden leaked the information, primarily to Glenn Greenwald of Britain's The Guardian, in spring 2013 while employed as an "infrastructure analyst" at NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. The Guardian in turn published a series of exposés in June–July 2013 and revealed programs such as the interception of US and European telephone metadata and the Internet surveillance programs. Snowden's disclosures are said to rank among the most significant NSA security breaches in United States history.
Speaking from a Hong Kong hotel that he reportedly has since left, Edward Snowden told The Guardian that he had enjoyed a "very comfortable life," but one marked by mounting disillusionment with what he views as government intrusion into the private lives of American citizens.
Snowden also has stated "I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under,"
• Russia has granted asylum for one year to Snowden that allows him to live, travel, and work there
• Finally left the Moscow airport where he had been residing since June 23
• Has been offered permanent asylum by four other countries — Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador though he has no plans to leave Russia
• Snowden has been issued an international arrest warrant on espionage charges from the U.S.
• U.S. asked Russia for Snowden’s extradition, they refused causing an even more strained relationship
What information did Edward Snowden leak?

Snowden leaked information about two different NSA operations called PRISM:
• Collection of data from U.S. phone call records to search for possible links to terrorists abroad
• Surveillance of online communications to and from foreign targets to detect suspicious behavior
Snowden got his hands on a set of briefings and reports detailing how the NSA’s PRISM program retrieves information from prominent tech companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.) without court orders or subpoenas.
What is the PRISM program and how can they access our information like that?
Shortest answer: Monitors private Web data if they feel it’s a threatening foreign exchange.
PRISM is used to monitor private Web data, but it cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen. However, analysts need to only be at least 51% confident the exchange they’re monitoring is foreign to access the information.

PRISM is a computer program used to collect and analyze data legally requested by the NSA and divulged by nine Internet companies (e.g., they asked for easy access to users’ information, the big tech guys said sure).
Companies include:
• Microsoft
• Yahoo
• AOL
• Facebook
• Google
• Apple
• PalTalk
• YouTube
• Skype
The government can still access other companies’ servers that didn’t agree to this access if they have a legitimate request, but the tech companies are under no legal obligation to make that process easier.
How can you avoid this? You can’t.
Why did Snowden leak the NSA documents?
Snowden said he leaked the information to expose abuse and protect the public, not to cause damage.
If he really wanted to harm the U.S he could’ve leaked “the rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world, the locations of every station, what their missions are and so forth”.
How did Snowden get access so easily to these documents?
Snowden claims he was given access; admin officials say otherwise.
The leaked documents were highly classified that would presumably be sealed from most employees. Snowden claims he had authorized access, administration officials say otherwise.
Supposedly the NSA employs layers of security to scrutinize employees, including keystroke-monitoring systems to identify potential breaches or unwarranted searches of NSA databases. Yet, he got through these.
Basically, no one is sure or at least admitting to giving him access.
Why is Snowden’s NSA leak a big deal? Is the NSA leak damaging to the United States?
Potential damage to national security.
Government is currently running an internal review of the potential damage to national security. There are still unanswered questions about whether this information actually gives terrorists and other countries a leg up. On the other side, revealing these surveillance programs gives terrorists who are paying attention a head’s up on how to avoid detection.
Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor? Some think he gave an advantage to our enemies, others say he sacrificed himself to expose government snooping.
His leak has sparked a mix of disapproval and praise.
Traitor
• “Americans are at risk, it shows our adversaries what our capabilities are, and it’s a giant violation of the law,”
• Some believe PRISM violates the 4th Amendment (the right to privacy). Lawmakers say it’s necessary to prevent terrorism.
• He broke an oath of secrecy that he took willingly and he broke the law by disclosing government secrets.
Hero
• Social media overwhelmingly hailed Snowden as a hero for sacrificing himself to expose the government snooping.
• The Guardian (the newspaper that Snowden gave the interview to) says he “will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers.”
• He realized humanity was being compromised by the blind implementation of machines in the name of making us safe.
• “I think most Americans don’t want this surveillance. The civil disobedience happened when Snowden felt like he had no other options.
• Thousands of Americans have signed a White House petition to pardon him
• Any terrorist who doesn’t think they’re under constant surveillance anyway, is an amateur.
Is the NSA surveillance program good or bad?
On the good side – surveillance has helped stop attacks in the past. On the bad side – Americans deserve to know how much information the government has access to.
What is the government going to do?
Snowden has been officially charged with espionage in the U.S. though Russia refuses to extradite him. Snowden fled to Moscow from Hong Kong after his interview despite having a revoked U.S. passport in late June. While Snowden has officially been charged with espionage and theft of government property, Obama has said he refuses to play games with Russia in order to get Snowden back.
As of now, there is little the government can do though it does increase the already strained relationship of Russia and the US.
What will happen to Edward Snowden?
Shortest answer: He will live in Russia under the one year asylum approval for now.
Snowden is currently in Russia on a one year asylum (when one is afraid to live in their own country, they can requested to live in another country, become a refuge) approval that will allow him to work, live and travel in the country.
Has been offered permanent asylum by four other Latin American countries — Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador though he has no plans to leave Russia
If Snowden is extradited back to the U.S., he will stand trial on charges of espionage and theft.
Why did Edward Snowden choose Hong Kong to give the interview?
Shortest answer: Because of their commitment to free speech.
Snowden said he chose Hong Kong because of its commitment to free speech and political dissent (freedom to express dissatisfaction with the government).
Some argue that Hong Kong was a risky choice since they have an extradition treaty (agreement to surrender person(s) accused of a crime under the laws of the requesting state) with the United States.
How is the rest of the world affected by NSA’s surveillance program? How do they feel about the leak?
Shortest answer: Some aren’t very happy and will re-examine the information they give the U.S. access to.
Some foreign governments and groups (Asia, Europe) aren’t very happy with the United States.
• The European Union has data protection laws in place and do not want mass surveillance. They may re-examine and limit the data they have given the U.S. access to.
• Groups in Asia, including three supported by the United States, said they were worried the data collected in the surveillance programs could someday be used against them as they share a lot of sensitive, election-related data using online programs.

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