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6 January 2015. A2 sends:

I was reading the latest article, and I have spotted a factual error: "He hasn't designed any hardware, written any commercial-grade software, developed any unique algorithms or integrated complex systems on his own"

"A" may be unaware of the Vanity Fair article showing that Snowden did indeed design and integrate complex systems.

"In Japan, Snowden worked at the Yokota Air Base, outside Tokyo, where he instructed top officials and military officers on how to defend their networks from Chinese hackers. There he also designed a highly sophisticated data backup system called EPICSHELTER. It used an advanced technology to place a shield around every N.S.A. site in the world, ensuring that the N.S.A. would be able to recover information from any of its locations, even if that site were completely destroyed in the event of war or another calamity."

5 January 2015

Snowden's and NSA's High Salaries for Silence?

A sends:

One aspect of the Snowden story that hasn't received much attention is the outrageous salary that Edward Snowden was receiving. I find that as equally disturbing as the numerous illegal and serious violations of privacy committed by the NSA.

Edward Snowden was reported to be making $170,000 per year when he defected. Considering that his education was a handful of computer science classes from a community college and perhaps several government classes where he was spoonfed information, he seems far less qualified than a lot of people in the IT field, many of whom are unemployed or making an average salary. Contrary to some reports, I see no evidence that Edward Snowden is a genius. He hasn't designed any hardware, written any commercial-grade software, developed any unique algorithms or integrated complex systems on his own. He appears to have been just a low-level support guy earning 3 or 4 times the salary paid to other IT professionals, some of whom have advanced degrees, multiple certifications and decades of experience and additional education.

Now, if Edward Snowden was getting paid such an enormous salary, it seems reasonable to assume that there are many other people in the intelligence community getting paid such enormous salaries too. So why is such a huge sum of money being paid to these people who are violating our privacy and breaking the law with impunity, arrogance and such disdain for the rights of the average American they're supposed to be serving? Are they getting paid astronomical sums of money to keep their mouths shut and not report the outrageous violations of law committed by their bosses and their peers? That's the only reason I can see for the unbelievable sums of money thrown at employees like Edward Snowden, who appears relatively ignorant and unqualifed compared to the average technician or sys admin making $45,000 per year. It seems that the NSA breaks the law and then keeps everybody quiet by rewarding them with vast sums of our money.

This is the second outrageous aspect of the entire NSA mass surveillance story which hasn't been adequately addressed. An overhaul of the overly generous salaries paid to under-qualified personnel at the NSA is long overdue. There shouldn't be anyone at the NSA making a six-figure salary. Congress should have corrected that mistake the first week after Snowden defected.