Booz Allen Fires NSA Whistle-Blower Following Leaks
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden is no longer an employee with Booz Allen Hamilton.
The defense contractor released a statement on its website saying that Snowden is no longer employed following him leaking surveillance program documents to British newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post.
“Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii,” the statement read. “Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy.”
Booz Allen said its shocked by Snowden’s actions.
“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter,” the statement read.
Snowden revealed to The Guardian and the Post last week how the NSA spies on millions of Americans.
One of them is a phone records monitoring program in which the NSA gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records each day, creating a database through which it can learn whether terror suspects have been in contact with people in the U.S. The Obama administration says the NSA program does not listen to actual conversations.
Separately, an Internet scouring program, code-named PRISM, allows the NSA and FBI to tap directly into nine U.S. Internet companies to gather all Internet usage — audio, video, photographs, emails and searches. The effort is designed to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas.
Snowden said claims the programs are secure are not true.
“Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector. Anywhere. Where those communications will be picked up depends on the range of those sensor networks and the authority that that analyst is empowered with,” Snowden said, in accompanying video on the Guardian’s website. “Not all analysts have the power to target anything. But I, sitting at my desk, had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president if I had a personal email.”
Snowden told The Guardian that he lacked a high school diploma and enlisted in the U.S. Army until he was discharged because of an injury, and later worked as a security guard with the NSA.
He later went to work for the CIA as an information technology employee and by 2007 was stationed in Geneva, Switzerland, where he had access to classified documents.
During that time, he considered going public about the nation’s secretive programs but told the newspaper he decided against it, because he did not want to put anyone in danger and he hoped Obama’s election would curtail some of the clandestine programs.
He said he was disappointed that Obama did not rein in the surveillance programs.
“Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he told The Guardian. “I realized that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”
Snowden left the CIA in 2009 to join a private contractor, and spent last four years at the NSA, as a contractor with consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton and, before that, Dell.
The Guardian reported that Snowden was working in an NSA office in Hawaii when he copied the last of the documents he planned to disclose and told supervisors that he needed to be away for a few weeks to receive treatment for epilepsy.
Snowden left for Hong Kong on May 20 and has remained there since, according to the newspaper. Snowdenis quoted as saying he chose that city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed it was among the spots on the globe that could and would resist the dictates of the U.S. government.
“I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets,” Snowden told The Guardian, which said he asked to be identified after several days of interviews.
CBS News reports that Snowden has left the Hong Kong hotel room he was holed up in but is still believed to be in the country.
Snowden could face decades in a U.S. jail for revealing classified information if he is successfully extradited from Hong Kong, said Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer who represents whistleblowers. Hong Kong had an extradition treaty with the United States that took force in 1998, according to the U.S. State Department website.
CBS News reports that federal officials are in the process of filing charges against Snowden.
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