Two Questions Regarding Snowden

 

Here in Seville, where I’ve been for almost a month, the big stories are Bon Jovi waiving their fee to make their concert affordable for struggling Spaniards, and Edward Snowden. TV and radio news cannot get enough of either story.

Two questions:

1. Do you think Snowden has already received enough punishment during his evasion process to make him regret his decision?

2. Would you ever, and I mean ever, put a person with “I dropped out of high school” on their CV in charge of sensitive information?

I’m sure many Ricochet members have hired people in the “let’s give this one a chance” category, but how is a high school dropout supposed to digest the information this guy had access to? Seems like they were asking for it, and maybe they really were.

Unless it was a middle school drop out that did the hiring, it makes no sense.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JohnAPeabody

    1. Yes, he regrets it. His 15 minutes have extended in a direction that he wasn’t expecting.

    2. I believe he was hired for his technical skills, not analytical. He served as a system administrator. Therefore, he had acess to all the raw data, but he was not an analyst. He just thought the data was ‘bad’, so he did the fun thing and dropped the dime. High School / College degrees not necessary if you have high technical skills. However, to become a SYSADMIN at this level, well, perhaps you would want to see a little more beyond technical skills.

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    @genferei
    Joe Escalante how is a high school drop out supposed to digest the information this guy had access to?

    Does anything Snowden has done indicate he is stupid? A flawed character, quite possibly. But not dumb.

    Indeed, given the state of American high-school and college education, isn’t dropping out the only smart thing to do?

    • #2
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    @Skyler

    A clearance has nothing to do with educational level. Uneducated people can be honest too. I hate to say it but your complaint about his formal education is snobbish.

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    @Skyler

    Did you know that you can have a criminal record and get a security clearance? Generally as long as you admit your past convictions and they don’t directly involve treason or the like, you can get a clearance. If you stole a car in your youth but admit it, they have been known to overlook it. In general you are presumed to be honest unless you have demonstrated otherwise.

    • #4
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    @Skyler

    Also, you have to be an American citizen with a clearance just to touch a secure radio or talk on it. With all the people talking in radios in the military, do you think they all went to Harvard?

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    @user_645950

    Would you ever, and I mean ever, put a person with “I dropped out of high school” on their c.v. in charge of sensitive information?

    Well, I’ll quibble with your “in charge of” statement, but otherwise, sure. Some of the smartest kids have no use, nor need, for the government education system. This is not necessarily a failure in hiring, but in supervision.

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    @JoeEscalante

    Beware of the computer wiz. Screening employees to me is risk management. Sure there are geniuses too smart for high school, but do they have the frame of reference to handle  access to the data? I would look for someone with varied experience. Flat Cheezers are a dime a dozen.

    • #7
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    @Tuck

    “Unless it was a middle school drop out that did the hiring, it makes no sense.”

    I agree with the other commentor, you’re a snob, and a pretty ignorant one at that.  My sister dropped out of high school, and got her GED just like Snowden.  She’s held a high-level job at a logistics company, and is now a buyer for a major furniture company.  She’s smart as a whip.

    Educational credentials have no relation to job performance, as smart people are starting to figure out…  Dropping out of a bad school system could well be an indicator of intelligence.

    One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation…. We found that they don’t predict anything.

    “What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.”

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    @genferei
    Joe Escalante: Screening employees to me is risk management…. I would look for someone with varied experience.

    Is there anything less varied than college experience? Snowden at least appears to have had real jobs (even if he might have lied about them to get hired by Booz Allen).

    Apart from not being a computer wiz what would you look for in a security-cleared sysadmin?

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    @BrentB67

    I think the Bon Jovi story is a bigger deal right now. That is pretty cool of them to cut the fees even though they are a bunch of left wing ALGore worshipping knuckleheads.

    The NSA scandal, like the IRS, and Benghazi only matters to the razor thin sliver of folks here on Ricochet.

    The rest of the country is more interested in dudes getting married and worrying about a 3rd string Senator in Texas giving the Governor a chance to film his first presidential campaign ad for a month on our tab.

    Is it the weekend yet?

    • #10
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    @Devereaux

    I keep hearing all the “damage” that Snowden has done us. I don’t actually see any. He revealed that the NSA is actually doing dragnet collection of data on ALL Americans. He doesn’t seem to have revealed any real secrets – other than those kept from the people.

    Ron Paul may have it (and you don’t) with his comment that treason is releasing information to our enemies in a state of war. Apparently the American people are the enemy and the government is waging war against us.

    Personally I think Snowden did us all a great favour. The more noise I hear from DC about “irreparable harm” the more convinced I am that he did the right thing. This especially after listening to THREE NSA whistleblowers who got no where trying to use the proscribed channels. The government LIKES power, and everyone in government knows this and condones it. I expect that’s why there is so much angst over his revelations.

    So no, I do not share your degree of umbrage over this. Nor do I think the lack of “education” is an important marker of much of anything. Some of my best troops had GED’s and I trusted them with my life.

    • #11
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    @KCMulville

    Well, speaking as a defense contractor, this guy has really done enormous damage … to defense contractors.

    I have no way of knowing what Snowden knew, what information he may have captured and gave away, or whether China and Russia already had that stuff anyway. But simply from the point of view of a guy who swore an oath to protect information, it’s infuriating to see someone blatantly betray that oath.

    You can’t fool-proof everything. There are some jobs that simply require trust, and for people who work with secrets, trust is fundamental. And when you’re dealing with a large network of people who depend on each but who don’t always know each other, any one breach of trust does disproportionate damage to everyone else.

    This guy hasn’t done me any favors.

    • #12
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    @swatter

    Questions assume he was just a normal Joe who felt he did what he did out of a sense of propriety.

    I’ve heard reports of him possibly getting info from other ‘moles’ inside the complex, China sent him in to look for specific information they couldn’t get by ‘hacking’ and I even read a quote supposedly by him that he joined for the sole purpose of stealing information.

    It would be interesting to know when the Assange/Wikileaks people got their talons on him. He is more a prisoner of them than anyone else.

    I’m just not in a position to know what went down and Mr. “Not Scrambling My Jets” isn’t about to tell me either.

    • #13
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    @AlbertArthur

    I have a friend who’s a high school dropout. He dropped out to be the system administrator at the local hospital. Years later, he now works for American Express in Arizona. I see on his Facebook page he recently purchased a 2013 Ford Raptor. I graduated high school, and got a useless B.A. Man, I wish I could afford a 2013 Ford Raptor.

    • #14
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    @IsraelP

    If Obama bombs the airport in Quito to prevent him landing there, what will the NYTimes, the Congressional chorus and other supporters say?

    • #15
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    @AlbertArthur

    I thought it was really strange how Obama referred to Snowden as “a 29-year-old hacker.” What does that mean? Obamawould scramble jets if Snowden were 30? On O’Reilly last night the Dem guest referred to Snowden as “a 29-year-old kid.”

    29 IS NOT YOUNG. You’re not a kid at 29. Nor at 26, even if you are on mummy and daddy’s health insurance.

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    @JMaestro

    Credentialing hasn’t kept EPA administrators from slipping the mooring of its legal mandate. Nor has it kept IRS officials from executing massive political repression.

    Justice Kennedy has sheepskins — hasn’t kept him from replacing actual law with his own inexplicable framework.

    Snowden did what they did without the crushing student debt. He deserves an honorary PhD — in home economics.

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    @MollieHemingway
    Albert Arthur: I thought it was really strange how Obama referred to Snowden as “a 29-year-old hacker.” What does that mean? Obamawould scramble jets if Snowden were 30? On O’Reilly last night the Dem guest referred to Snowden as “a 29-year-old kid.”

    29 IS NOT YOUNG. You’re not a kid at 29. Nor at 26, even if you are on mummy and daddy’s health insurance. · 5 minutes ago

    I have been wondering why this didn’t get more attention, too. What does his age matter? Particularly since we’re willing and able to drone American teens (and have!), if they’re as bad as Obama says Snowden is.

    Their messaging is confusing.

    • #18
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    @MSJL

    1 – No, I think he needs to have more opportunities to twist in the wind.

    2 – No, when you consider the sensitivity of the information he had access to and the judgment necessary for administering sensitive information, I see no reason why the NSA needed to settle for this guy’s credentials.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand more from those who handle our country’s closest-held secrets than those doing a comparable job in the business word handling commercial data.  I realize we live in the time of a cult of credentials:  they are not sole indicators of talent or intellect, but they are also evidence for many of the ability to perform.

    With Snowden, I don’t see evidence of extraordinary talent to counter issues with his credentials.  Absent evidence of extraordinary talent, why should we otherwise settle for this guy?

    • #19
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    @Franco

    So far I’ve liked just about every comment here and some I would like twice if I could.

    You know, Joe, people have all kinds of perceptions in life. Some people think punk rockers are shitty musicians, some people think lawyers should be eradicated as a good start. 

    As someone who dropped out of high school, I’ve had plenty of chances to meet people who are so lacking in ability to think for themselves they rely on credentials and voice-of-authority to make every decision. The number of vapid drones in HR Departments escalates yearly. The guy from Harvard must be better than the guy from Penn. The recent grad with an MBA is a better businessman than the kid who started a skateboard company and made a million dollars out of his garage. This is how idiots (with degrees) think. 

    So here’s where your skills as a logician (with a degree, no less) fail: Would you ever, and I mean ever, put a person with “I dropped out of high school” on their CV in charge of sensitive information?

    I didn’t know there was a required Managing Sensitive Information course in High School. 

    • #20
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    @Franco

    Now if we can get beyond Snowden and his age and credentials for a moment, let’s be smart and grown-up about this. Snowden is a symptom, not a cause. I think maybe Joe was trying to make this point however clumsily. If not, I will.

    The big news is what was revealed, not who revealed it, why he revealed it or what airport he is currently living. Yes there is an international brouhaha that is somewhat interesting, and we can all speculate as to this guy’s psychology, motives and background. But that’s mostly irrelevant in the face of the magnitude of two things: That this program exists at all, and that someone on his level had so much information.

    It’s likely Snowden isn’t the only person at his level who has/had this knowledge. Given that we exist in time, it is safe to assume that sooner or later someone else would come forward and do something similar. Perhaps that person would be a PhD. like Ted Kazinsky. He might be 59 years old. Maybe it would have been a female or a black guy.  What then?

    • #21
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    @AlbertArthur
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    Albert Arthur: I thought it was really strange how Obama referred to Snowden as “a 29-year-old hacker.” What does that mean? Obamawould scramble jets if Snowden were 30? On O’Reilly last night the Dem guest referred to Snowden as “a 29-year-old kid.”

    29 IS NOT YOUNG. You’re not a kid at 29. Nor at 26, even if you are on mummy and daddy’s health insurance. · 5 minutes ago

    I have been wondering why this didn’t get more attention, too. What does his age matter? Particularly since we’re willing and able to drone American teens (and have!), if they’re as bad as Obama says Snowden is.

    Their messaging is confusing. · 59 minutes ago

    Yeah, the age thing is completely irrelevant. …but… Awkaki’s teenage son was killed as collateral damage because he was next to an adult terrorist. Is there any indication that the teenager was himself targeted? 

    • #22
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    @Franco

    I think that  any smart person, regardless of their credentials, would see that the focus on Snowden himself and his personal attributes indicates something significant, precisely because it is random and irrelevant.

    I’m quite sure if there is anything sordid in his past we would know about it by now. So far, the charges seem to be that he’s 29 and a high-school dropout. While I hold no special affection for this guy, I’d have to say that if that’s all they have on him, he’s quite an upstanding citizen compared to most of our politicians and other pillars of the community.

    Given there is no Anthony Wiener/Bill Clinton angles, no Rudy Guilliani messy divorces, no David Patreaus or Newt Gingrich affaires no George W Bush DWI’s ad infinitum,  it is so obvious they are trying to desparage this guy for something_anything. And some people fall for it. 

    If I were in legal trouble (and I probably am somehow) I know better than to represent myself, since I would have a fool for a client, but if my only other choice was Joe Escalante, I might be tempted to take that chance.

    • #23
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    @MollieHemingway
    Albert Arthur

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    I have been wondering why this didn’t get more attention, too. What does his age matter? Particularly since we’re willing and able to drone American teens (and have!), if they’re as bad as Obama says Snowden is.

    Their messaging is confusing. · 59 minutes ago

    Yeah, the age thing is completely irrelevant. …but… Awkaki’s teenage son was killed as collateral damage because he was next to an adult terrorist. Is there any indication that the teenager was himself targeted?  · 8 minutes ago

    Well, what did Robert Gibbs say? That he chose the wrong father? That he wouldn’t have been killed by drone if he’d chosen a more responsible father?

    But yes, your point stands,

    Big Drone Obama should just target Snowden’s laptops, I guess, and if Snowden is also killed, even though he’s, uh, 29, then that’s that.

    • #24
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    @Misthiocracy
    Joe Escalante

    Two questions:

    1. Do you think Snowden has already received enough punishment during his evasion process to make him regret his decision?

    Being fawned over by media, Julian Assange, and foreign governments is punishment?

    I think he’s having a grand old time.

    I have little doubt that he has little emotional attachment to the United States and he’ll be happy settling down in any country willing to give him a life of luxury.

    Just look at how easily he abandoned his smoking hot girlfriend. That’s not the action of a man who intends on ever returning home.

    • #25
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    @Devereaux
    Misthiocracy

    Joe Escalante

    Being fawned over by media, Julian Assange, and foreign governments ispunishment?

    I think he’s having a grand old time.

    I have little doubt that he has little emotional attachment to the United States and he’ll be happy settling down in any country willing to give him a life of luxury.

    Just look at how easily he abandoned his smoking hot girlfriend. That’s not the action of a man who intends on ever returning home. · 0 minutes ago

    ?Really. He hasn’t sounded like he is having “a grand old time”. Nor has he sounded like he has no attachment to the US. And I haven’t seen any offers out there that would give him “a life of luxury”.

    To the contrary, he left a life of luxury, even to the “smoking hot girlfriend” (I haven’t seen a pic, but take your word for it). He has consistently defended his actions as exposing the extent of NSA action. There were 3 NSA whistleblowers recently interviewed, and they ALL said he will pay, but basically did good – while ALL their attempts at exposing the NSA excesses, all by the book, were rebuffed.

    • #26
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    @MSJL

    I’m not buying the misguided whistle-blower schtick. He didn’t need to run to Hong Kong to make this information public and I don’t see how exposing “NSA excesses” includes disclosing foreign operations that are fully within the NSA’s mandate. Reverse the sequence of these disclosures and there would be far less sympathy and patience. He is doing far more harm in damaging our intelligence operations than he is helping in our debate on our rights.

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    @LeslieWatkins

    I agree. I don’t think the high school dropout thing amounts to much. I would be more concerned about someone who dropped out of college—except, oh, didn’t Gates drop out of Harvard? I do think, though, that the situation suggests collusion with others or that within government agencies, protocols and such exist only on paper.

    genferei

    Joe Escalante how is a high school drop out supposed to digest the information this guy had access to?

    Does anything Snowden has done indicate he is stupid? A flawed character, quite possibly. But not dumb.

    Indeed, given the state of American high-school and college education, isn’t dropping out the only smart thing to do? · 4 hours ago

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    @Skyler

    I don’t care a whit about Snowden.  Wasn’t he in Catch 22?

    What I care about is the NSA and what they are doing spying on me and my neighbors.  This is not what I have meant to defend in my time in the USMC.  

    I only care about the substance of his claims, and so far they seem to have been truer than they’ve been false.  And to the degree that his claims are true, I’m thankful to know about them.

    • #29
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    @Brian

    There are two points here: The “damage” to the NSA and the USA, and the criminal action of Snowden.  The damage is debatable, but the term “Top Secret” is defined as the release of the information WILL cause damage to the United States of America.

    The criminal action is not debatable.  Snowden was granted a very high security clearance.  He took at least one polygraph, and a very thorough background investigation was conducted.  He SIGNED all sorts of documents when he was granted access that specifically stated the rules and punishments for violating the rules.  When they get their hands on the guy, it will not be difficult to lock him up for the rest of his life.  If he wanted to be a whistleblower, there are processes for that.  He took TS codeword material to the press and foreign nationals.  There is no blurry line here.

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