Ten years ago, NSA leaker/dropout/fabulist/fillintheblanks Edward Snowden promised to take action against government surveillance.
“I can’t hope to change the way things are going by overtly complaining, writing letters, or blowing things up,” Snowden wrote in 2003 in response to a discussion about corporate greed on the Ars Technica online forum.
“That’s not the way a good person does things. I will, however, do what I can with the tools that are available to me.”
In 2003, Snowden would have been 19 years old. Not yet the security guard turned NSA spy we know today. Back then, he was an online commentator with a mission.
According to sources briefed on the matter, Snowden was employed by an unidentified classified agency in Washington from 2005 to mid-2006, by the CIA from 2006 to 2009, when he primarily worked overseas, and by Dell Inc from 2009 to 2013, when he worked in the United States and Japan as an NSA contractor.
He was also a prolific commentator on technology forum Ars Technica, posting approximately 750 messages using the screen name “The True HOOHA” from late 2001 to 2012.
Chances are, Snowden was using the Urban Dictionary’s second definition of his chosen nickname, which is off-color and comes with a language warning. It fits the sexy geek chic beast image he cultivated online.
Most of the postings were not political in nature: he dispensed advice about government careers, polygraphs and the 2008 stock market crash. He claimed to own the same gun as James Bond and posted glamour photos of himself. He jokingly compared the video console Xbox Live to NSA surveillance.
Obvious question: Given the fact that the surveillance state missed Nidal Hasan’s contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, missed the Tsarneavs, can’t seem to defend congressional offices from illegal aliens, and missed The True HOOHA’s one-man campaign to rip the surveillance state down, just how effective is the surveillance state?
I mean, if we’re going to have an expensive, intrusive surveillance state that shreds the Fourth Amendment, shouldn’t its surveillance at least accomplish something worthwhile?