Snowden: NSA Slam Comes as No Surprise

And an ex-colleague calls him a 'genius among geniuses'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 16, 2013 5:11 PM CST

(Newser) – Edward Snowden says he wasn't too surprised by a federal judge's condemnation today of NSA collection of phone metadata, the New York Times reports. "I acted on my belief that the NSA mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge," said Snowden in a statement released by journalist Glenn Greenwald. "Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many." In other Snowden news, USA Today reports that the White House refuses to offer Snowden amnesty, and an NSA staffer contacted Forbes to flesh out details on the rogue contractor:

  • Working at the NSA's underground Hawaii facility, Snowden wore a sweatshirt with a logo mocking the NSA—including AT&T cables in an eagle's claws, and eavesdropping headphones over the bird's ears. Coworkers figured it was meant ironically.
  • Snowden didn't fool NSA colleagues into giving him passwords, as one report stated, or create SSH keys to gain access without authorization. He was simply given access to the NSA's system. Why?
  • "That kid was a genius among geniuses,” the staffer said. "NSA is full of smart people, but anybody who sat in a meeting with Ed will tell you he was in a class of his own … I’ve never seen anything like it."
  • The NSA was so impressed by a backup system Snowden made before joining the agency, officials implemented it to break codes. They also offered him a position on an elite hacking team, which he turned down.
  • Two fascinating details: Snowden kept a copy of the Constitution and used it in arguments over NSA activities that he considered violations. And he liked leaving little gifts anonymously on colleagues' desks.
Click for the full Forbes piece.

In this image made from video released by WikiLeaks on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden speaks during a presentation ceremony for the Sam Adams Award in Moscow.   (AP Photo)
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