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NSA Leaker

How’d He Get the Data?

Edward Snowden, a Booz Allen Hamilton employee, says he leaked top-secret NSA intel. But how did a person who wasn’t directly employed by the government get such info? Laura Colarusso explains.

News that the National Security Agency was working with leading tech companies like Verizon, Google, Apple, and Facebook to collect sweeping amounts of telephone and Internet usage data rankled the halls of power in Washington, D.C. Unhappy its secret program became public knowledge, government officials vowed to find the person who leaked the information and asked criminal prosecutors to investigate.


Inside the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Brooks Kraft/Corbis)


NSA Whistleblower Reveals Identity

NSA Whistleblower Reveals Identity Patrick Semansky/AP

29-year-old Booz Allen employee, hiding in Hong Kong.

Days after breaking the story of a massive program by the National Security Agency that involved obtaining private phone and Internet communications from major American telecom and social-media companies, the British newspaper The Guardian revealed the identity of its source: Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden previously worked for both the CIA and the NSA, and gradually became disillusioned with the agencies' callous disregard for civil liberties. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," he said. He escaped to a hotel in Hong Kong, which he hopes will protect him from the U.S. government. Booz Allen confirmed Sunday that Snowden had worked there for "less than three months," and the director of national intelligence referred inquiries to the Justice Department.

Read it at The Guardian

NSA Blowup

The Whistleblower’s Company

The NSA leaker might have been a rogue Booz Allen Hamilton employee. But he made the company’s biggest client, the U.S. government, look terrible—and that can’t be good for business, says Daniel Gross.

Booz Allen Hamilton is a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $2.5 billion, about 24,500 employees, headquarters in McLean, Va., and, as of Sunday, a huge public-relations problem.


Booz Allen's cyber facility on September 25, 2012 in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. (Jeffrey MacMillan/The Washington Post via Getty)

Talk It Out

Is Prism Really a Scandal?

Pundits are ranting about it, but what we really need is a discussion about privacy versus security.

Half a century ago, the great American historian Richard Hofstadter wrote about “the paranoid style in American politics.” He discussed the influence of conspiracy theories and extremism in our collective mindset.

How Life's Changed

Mark Lennihan/AP


Behold the NSA’s Dark Star

It’s the ultimate machine of what’s become our Paranoid State. Clive Irving on the Orwellian mass-surveillance data center rising in the Utah desert.

Remember the Stasi, the secret police who operated in East Germany when it was a communist state? When the Berlin Wall came down, East Germans discovered they had been living in a society so rotted by paranoia that at least one in three of its adult citizens were spying on the other two.

NSA Phone Records

NSA's Utah Data Center shown June 6, in Bluffdale, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

Bad Timing

Who’s the Cyberspy Now?

At this weekend’s summit, Obama was to press Xi Jinping on China’s cyber snooping program. Then the NSA scandals broke. Ever heard of people who live in glass houses? By Josh Rogin.

The startling revelations that the NSA has been collecting Americans’ phone data and tapping into U.S. Internet servers is overshadowing President Obama’s first major summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping and undermining Obama’s number one goal for the meeting: to press China on its cybersnooping on Americans.

US China

Jae C. Hong/AP

NSA Spying Scandal

But Do You Really Care?

Government agencies are collecting our phone records and following our Internet trail. But, The Daily Beast wondered, does anyone actually care? We asked our readers and here are the results.

We learned this week that Big Brother is alive and well in these United States and living at the NSA. After news broke that the agency had collected millions of Verizon records and worked with the FBI in a classified program code-named PRISM that rounded up the data of our online lives, we wanted to know whether everyday Americans actually cared that they were being spied on.

NSA Phone Records

Patrick Semansky/AP

Private Eyes

How to Keep the NSA at Bay

Do government surveillance disclosures have you fearing Uncle Sam’s reach? Winston Ross looks at PGPs, secret phone apps, and burners like on ‘The Wire’ to cloak your digital trail.

It’s a fairly safe bet that most people are in one of four camps about all this National Security Agency-spying-on-Americans business: uninformed, apathetic, pissed off, or paranoid.


Before you know it, Barack Obama will personally be digging through your garbage or hiding in your closet. (Nati Harnik/AP)

Bush III

How Obama Embraced NSA Spying

And why some Bush officials objected to the program back in 2004. Daniel Klaidman reports.

The revelation that the Obama administration authorized the collection of vast amounts of telephone records has the media and experts scrambling to understand the true nature of the program’s intrusion into the privacy of Americans. Earlier today, in an attempt to calm the “hype,” President Obama made his first comments on the surveillance controversy. “Nobody is listening to your calls,” he sought to assure the American people, pointing out that the program sweeps up so-called “metadata,” the time, numbers, and duration of calls rather than the content of communications. But following news of the Justice Department’s spying on reporters to catch leakers, Americans can be forgiven if they are reluctant to simply take the president at his word.

President Barack Obama, May 23, 2013

It was President Obama who said at his recent counterterrorism speech at the National Defense University, in the context of drones, that just because a counterterrorism tactic is legal or effective "is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance." The debate on that question has at last begun. (Getty (2))

NSA Phone Records

Patrick Semansky/AP

This week’s revelations that the National Security Agency has been collecting massive amounts of data from tech companies like Microsoft and Google while culling data on Verizon customers has enraged privacy-rights activists and put Obama once again under the spotlight. But what do the people think of Big Brother? Tell us your thoughts.

First we learned that the National Security Agency has been collecting millions of Verizon records (and sharing at least some of them with British counterparts). Then we learned that both the NSA and the FBI have been tapping nine Internet companies in a highly classified program code-named PRISM that began in 2007. Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple have shared data with the agencies' analysts.

Now we're curious about what you, our readers, have to say.

He's Changed

How the President Made Friends With Big Brother

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The Evolution of Barack Obama

The president has evolved from ardent civil libertarian to surveillance hardliner. With liberals outraged by the Verizon court order, Daniel Klaidman and Eli Lake chart the change.

'Nobody Is Listening to Your Telephone Calls'

After a brief speech on Obamacare Friday, the president was asked about the NSA secretly obtaining Americans' personal information (spying?). Didn't catch his lengthy, wide-ranging response? Here are the important bits, boiled down to a very manageable 129 seconds.

Your Guide

NSA Surveillance Explained

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Behind the NSA Spying Program

Caitlin Dickson on how far it’s gone, who’s involved—and how Obama just defended it at a press conference.

Reader Poll

Do You Care That the NSA Is Spying on You?


Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

We Hear You

Verizon: Happy to Help!


What Spies Read For Fun