back to article 'I was trained as a spy' says Snowden

Government whistleblower Edward Snowden said he was "trained as a spy" by the US government, and that he worked with an assumed name and identity while serving both the CIA and the NSA in overseas positions. In the first part of a larger interview filmed with NBC News, Snowden disputes the idea that he was a "low-level" …

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This is what the news reported first. Everything took a left turn at his stripper girlfriend but for the first day(ish) or so he was reported as a spy.

Meh. It doesn't really matter though. He could have been a spy, a technician, a janitor or a dog groomer, it wouldn't change a damn thing. The State sponsored surveillance, the poor system security and the abysmal HR and PR at the NSA remain the issues. Edward Snowden is only relevant to Edward Snowden now and that's why I suspect he's not been disappeared. Damage is done.

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People keep trying to discredit him, as if it would make the fact that the NSA was overreaching its mandate and treating the whole world as criminals disappear in a puff of smoke.

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According to their Director of Intelligence he was a puff of smoke.

Compared to the real thing James Clapper had to qualify this quote:

"I'm speaking about the most massive and most damaging theft of intelligence in history..." with the words:

"...by Edward Snowden..."

The video was clipped by US journalists to obfuscate any deeper explanation. But you get the picture. You already had it from the horse's mouth even before he fled to a safe country.

Keep on keeping on Mr Ed. Don't listen to the canned laughter or your nosey next door neighsayer.

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Anonymous Coward

Not disputing what he said, but...

I contracted for DIA for a year a bit less than a decade ago. I was only Secret clearance (not Top Secret let alone SCI) but it was not difficult getting cleared. The only reason I didn't go through the Top Secret clearance was that I didn't put my name in when it was available, and budget cuts on the project later stopped anyone else from going through the process (which apparently cost around $10K or so back then, probably more post-Snowden)

I think for a US citizen who doesn't have anything unduly negative in their background it is not difficult to get clearance, and once you've been cleared before it is pretty much a given you'll be cleared again in the future even with a different agency. I'd been arrested for a couple misdemeanors in the past, and admitted to some light drug use, they obviously didn't care.

I wonder if I'd contracted for DIA overseas, and gone through the TS clearance, if they'd have wanted to give me a fake identity. That would have been kind of cool. Bond, James Bond!

Posting AC, just in case I want to get clearance again in the future.

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Re: Not disputing what he said, but...

" I'd been arrested for a couple misdemeanors in the past, and admitted to some light drug use, they obviously didn't care."

They do care, but only in the sense of whether you would try to hide such information or not.

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So Snowden is really James Bond?

Enquiring minds and all that....

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Facepalm

Re: Mark 85 Re: So Snowden is really James Bond?

No, he was a sysadmin, except in his fantasy World. Unless he is now admitting he was trained as a spy by another nation.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No, he was a sysadmin

Thanks for your contribution Mr Clapper ...

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I think what Edward Snowden did is wonderful and necessary...

But he's starting to cross into Julian Assange territory now.

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Re: I think what Edward Snowden did is wonderful and necessary...

More Julian Clary I think

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Re: More Julian Clary I think

So he likes a warm hand on his entrance?

Ahem, to the stage...

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Anonymous Coward

Spy training may be common

It has been argued that moden passport and biometric systemns are good enough that a classic spy, with a false identity, is a use-once asset. If you have been overseas under any identity, that's the only identity you can get away with.

So it doesn't sound crazy to at least train all your staff enough that they know the basics. Real identity or fake, once they cross the border they can't change, Train and assess them enough to know which are worth the effort.

And the Edward Snowden working from an office in the USA might be worth keeping distinct from the guy visiting an overseas embassy.

I wouldn't read too much into this. It could be something quite ordinary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spy training may be common

> It has been argued that moden passport and biometric systemns are good enough that [....]

It has been argued wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Simply amazing !

You have to laugh at how gullible people are when it comes to Snowden's snow job of the media. He could tell them he is The Messiah and many are ignorant enough to actually believe him. Maybe he's Santa Claus also? Ya never know with Snowden but as long as he can manipulate the media, he's happy. It's no surprise the sheeple get exploited daily. They haven't got a clue even when it's right in front of their eyes.

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Re: Simply amazing !

Neither. It is his ignorance of the fact that the Messiah is American and Santa clause is Jewish.

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Re: Simply amazing !

He's NOT the Messiah.

Just a very naughty boy!

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Angel

Re: Simply amazing !

Looks like someone got their knickers in a twist :)

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe by the loosest of definitions...

Spy: A person who secretly collects and reports information on the activities, movements, and plans of an enemy or competitor.

If you want to use that definition, everyone in the Intelligence Community is a damn spy, but thats not what people think of when you use that word in common usage. He might have deployed under alias, he might have taken a few classes to protect him while traveling overseas like most everyone does, but it's a far jump from that to an actual operator or agent of the government.

He's really enjoying the hot stone massage people are giving him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Activities_Division

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Anonymous Coward

Looking forward to the interview

I am so happy to be living in a day and age with patriots such as Snowden and Manning making huge personal sacrifices to fight for my personal rights and liberties. It is also humbling to consider my own relative insignificance to society. Hopefully my monetary donations to the various causes supporting their work can make a difference, however small.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Looking forward to the interview

You never know when a small action may lead to bigger things - perhaps only in the sense that the more people that stand up and be counted makes it more likely others will do the same.

I don't necessarily mean go round looking for stuff to do, but if such an opportunity presents itself, would you be prepared to make some kind of personal sacrifice for the cause? Losing a job maybe?

Not everyone is in such a position of course, so supporting those that are is another equally worthy action.

I can remember the reactions of people when the Phorm debacle broke - total ridicule and accusations of tin-hattery, and that was just for targetted ads! Now look where we are, people are much more aware of what is going on at least.

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Anonymous Coward

blah blah blah...

me me me...is all I seem to hear from this naive idiot.

What he revealed in his earth shattering expose was nothing more than most of us could have guessed anyway, except its given Russia, China, Iran et al an excuse to take the moral high ground against western governments, whilst themselves being guilty of exactly the same thing.

What a tw@

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Paris Hilton

Sorry me old septic, but Bond is British

Yes, he did work for the alphabet soup.

Yes, he did obtain classified information.

And yes, he had a crack at bedding Anna Chapman (who really was a spy) and that has to count for something.

But in truth, he's no more James Bond than any other IT guy that's played Bond on Playstation.

For me he's destroyed his own credibility, but that has done no damage whatsoever to the credibility of the information he released. It doesn't diminish or excuse the intrusions into peoples private lives. And it shouldn't be allowed to undermine the need to have a realistic debate about the extent of surveillance the public are willing to accept.

Paris because she's about as credible as a Jane Bond as Snowden is as James Bond.

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Re: Sorry me old septic, but Bond is British

>But in truth, he's no more James Bond than any other IT guy that's played Bond on Playstation.

And in truth, spies aren't like James Bond, either.

Here's a good hour-long discussion with a few contributors, one of them Markus Wolf, former head of the foreign intelligence arm of the East German STASI for 34 years:

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/features/inbedwithphillip/episodes/160-cold-war-espionage/

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Re: Sorry me old septic, but Bond is British

And in truth, spies aren't like James Bond, either.

I quite agree.

The point I should have made clearer, was that for me, he would have been better off embracing the low level employee tag. That low level employee pulled down the pants of intelligence agencies on at least 2 continents, and rodgered them senseless on international TV. So who's the fool? Well, it ain't the low level guy, is it?

Were someone to rip off the secrets of the bank at which I work, it would be a low level IT staffer. The senior managers don't have the technical capabilities to pull it off, and they don't have access to the systems either (legitimate or otherwise).

Low level staff do the doing. High level staff do the talking about the doing. T'was ever thus.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry me old septic, but Bond is British

> But in truth, he's no more James Bond than any other IT guy that's played Bond on Playstation.

Absolutely correct: the subject of this article exists, while "James Bond" is a fictional character.

No, I'm not American, but bringing a fictional character into the discussion on grounds that "he's more credible" is pretty idiotic in my opinion.

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Obviously still sore...

Interesting that The Register comments have become a target for pro nsa types.... It is all too obvious chaps...do piss off and play elsewhere...

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Re: Obviously still sore...

Interesting that The Register comments have become a target for pro nsa types.... It is all too obvious chaps...do piss off and play elsewhere...

I'm unashamedly pro NSA, DoD, CIA, MIx etc They have done a great many positive things (you're reading this on one of them) and have much to offer in future. Even the best of the best make mistakes and get things wrong. In this case, quite possibly very wrong. That, however, doesn't mean they got the Snowden thing right, and it doesn't excuse the apparent reluctance to learn from it.

It is all too obvious chaps...do piss off and play elsewhere...

It's supposed to be obvious. Did you imagine people would be universally anti-agency? Really? Nobody is disputing that lessons should be learned and a direction change may be needed, but that doesn't mean the world would be better without the intelligence agencies.

I was going to suggest that I presume you'll change username when you grow up in order to distance yourself from the digital record of your petulent childhood, but much like you that would have been playing the man not the ball, and that rarely enhances credibility.

Unless of course you actually own the The Register or indeed the internet?

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Re: Obviously still sore...

The cri de cour of the naive " we are doing evil to do good" - doing evil IS doing evil, simples

New tricks and methods established and used to sustain a regressive and aggresive regime will be instrumental in its demise.

The greater the enforcement of "purity", the greater the dysfuntion.

For the record I am a reader and NOT an owner of The Register. I am encouraged to pass comment. When there appears to be a cack handed coordinated attempt to play the man and not the ball , a la Mr. Snowden, in this case, I chipped in...obviously some are still very sore indeed...

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In the nicest way possible - I simply don't give a frig.

He could be trained by Ronald McDonald to flip burgers for all I care. Yes, he showed the world the techniques through a prism, but in all honesty as someone else has said. ANYONE could of guessed.

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ANYONE could have guessed indeed, but proving it is another thing entirely.

Everybody knew, deep down inside, that the Government could do shady things in order to ensure Order and Peace. We all knew, but had no proof and no way of getting any. Nor did we really have an issue with it.

But Snowden pulled the curtain and now we know what kind of ugly is sitting behind. And it is fearsomely ugly.

That is worth a frig in my book.

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"ANYONE could of guessed"

I could guess the lottery numbers for next week, I believe they will come from limited pool of numbers ranging from 1-49 - doesn't mean I can *prove* what the six that are picked will be.

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Valerie Plame Momentum in El Reg Great IntelAIgent Gamesplay

Everybody knew, deep down inside, that the Government could do shady things in order to ensure Order and Peace. We all knew, but had no proof and no way of getting any. Nor did we really have an issue with it. … Pascal Monett

What is the reason then, PM, for them not doing shady things to ensure Order and Peace, for Madness and Mayhem in Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems is what they deliver in spades.

Is it quite simply, a lack of ESPecial IntelAIgents?

I'm unashamedly pro NSA, DoD, CIA, MIx etc They have done a great many positive things (you're reading this on one of them) and have much to offer in future. …. TopOnePercent

We look forward to all that Agent El Reg and the future has to creatively offer, TOP, but do note that positive forward motion and virtual drive momentum appears to be at something of an XSSXXXX Xroads, with its IT vehicles stalled and/or out of MoJo GoGo Juice ..... SMARTR JuJu.

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Alien

FTFU?

Bond is Brutish?

What is it with you humans that you wish and dream and fantasise of exterminating fellow humans with (in fantasy) the most brutish means of extreme violence.

US pays more in defense budget than countless other nations combined sort of implies that legislated murder and mayhem upon other humans is a formal guvmint main-major interest - why spend money on it otherwise?

And that the biggest money spenders on brutality to other humans tend to be those nations that actually do those acts in formal or informal, declared or undeclared wars and conflicts?

And when a human makes you aware of this attempt is made to minimised/diminished the awareness and eventually to deny it the oxygen of existence?

Would your human psychiatry services not call this a serious case of "homicide by denial"?

Strange ol' world innit?

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