Who or what influenced Snowden
The world seen as a chessboard on which skillful players concoct their moves, trying to predict countermoves, the deployment of the other reactions.
“Knight Snowden” presented himself as a knight without fear and without reproach, lit by a sudden democratic feeling, the love for a Country from which he felt betrayed, or rather, it was the homeland that was betrayed by its rulers.
Then suddenly he took the decision of disclosing all the secrets he had come to know, data and classified information that had been subtly snatched from people by a Government, the US Government, which he was no longer willing to serve.
Up to this point, it would be understandable – I no longer believe in the system, I isolate myself and I try to fight it – but the young hacker behavior still leaves doubt that no one will be able to dispel, at least for the moment.
In this document, we will try to analyze, without giving demagogic assessments, the only known elements: personality, environment and effects.
From known facts, it can be assume that the boy, son of an officer of the Coast Guard and of a Clerk of the Federal Court of Maryland, attended the compulsory education until the 10th grade, but failed to complete the computer science course and was forced to graduate from a private school.
The cause of his erratic school attendance is attributed by his father to epilepsy, a disease from which Edward has been suffering from an early age.
With only twenty years, Edward tries to enlist in the American Special Forces with the intention of going to fight in Iraq, but after four months, he is reformed and sent home. In 2004, he manages to find a job as a guard at the University of Maryland, where NSA has offices.
Since the health conditions of the boy were not taken into consideration, it is likely that for this job the boy was helped by his father’s acquaintances. As we said, his father is an Officer of the State Coast Guard. The boy suffers from epilepsy, which detrimental for a job position of security and maybe this may have been the cause his the dismissal from the armed forces.
It is common and consolidated practice for the CIA to recruit its agents and employees at Universities, and so it must have been for Snowden, solely for his skills and especially his computer skills.
Then he was supposedly moved to Geneva, I do not think to the main head quarter, but most likely he was under the cover of one of the many offices of the “Company”.
There is plenty of work in Geneva. The city is an economic hub for international affairs and in addiction to that it is one of the headquarter connection of the International Atomic Energy Agency, but it is very likely that Edward was used as a hacker, not as an operative agent.
In 2009, after being also in Japan on behalf of the CIA, he left the Agency to be hired by a contractor company that performs services on behalf of the NSA.
We could assume that the CIA would hardly let go him if he had been deemed as strategically useful, or he could have been part of a covert project in a private company that handles in outsourcing some intelligence works. This will remain a mystery until Edward decides to talk about it.
Only 26, the boy apparently visited several locations of the US espionage, most likely as a hacker. Then, since he was not an operative agent, he did not have to pass the very strict physical and psychophysical tests that all agents on field have to pass. These tests would have surely revealed the shortcomings of reliability and stability that are necessary for an operative agent.
The current environment changed the weapons and the battleground between the powers, but not only, it also amended the litigations, shifting the targets from physical to metaphysical, from places to tools.
The wars that are fought on the ground, although bloodier, perhaps are not the most strategically important. The battles that are won in the cyberspace, can bring down or can rule statuary, economic, scientific and industrial systems.
Armed and hardly trained men, were replaced by normal or even subnormal kids, who instead of spending their youth in a gym, spend their nights hunched over keyboards and front of video screens, often earning a high myopia. It doesn’t matter if you’re epileptic, you can receive the necessary treatment at any time. It doesn’t matter if you are prepared, ready to die, if you completed your studies at West Point. What matters is that you have the skill of partaking in web environments, you owned a laptop since your childhood, you have a social network profile, and you have the ambition of becoming a hacker.
The new prototype of secret agents is just like Edward Snowden and similar soldiers are needed a lot to analyze and catalog the huge amount of data that every second cross the network and are intercepted, which is why many services are given to private companies in outsourcing.
Allocating such a service to a specialized agent has a much higher cost than using a trained operator only to do that, which is why they turn to the contractors.
It is said nowadays that the network is a sieve; of course, it has always been so, with the only difference that now the need to spy and to get protection from the electronic espionage is much bigger than in the past.
Let’s assume that no telematically transmitted data is safe. The network is like a huge safe where we keep our treasures, our most important data. This safe has a key that is produced or generated by those who built the virtual safe, that is the big electronic software companies. Having control of Microsoft and Apple and or other companies like that, means to know all the keys of access of all the users.
The world can not do without the computer network, if it collapsed it would be total chaos. We all are aware of it, but we hope that does not happen. Governments, the various secret services, engage in this battle with a dual aim: to defend themselves and to try and destroy the enemy.
But how is it organized, or rather, how should the work of electronic espionage be organized?
If we consider the profiles of the operators, especially with regards to the contractors, who did not sustain the tests for reliability and confidentiality, the espionage projects are, or at least should be, divided into levels, chopped, and assigned to each individual. This way, only assembling the various pieces you can get a complete picture. The complete picture should be in the hands of the coordinator, the project manager of absolute reliability.
The question is: how did Snowden manage to steal such a large amount of data without anyone noticing, and in a limited period of time? It is not possible, unless you consider that all this is part of a month, maybe year, long project, during which Edward, individually or, more likely guided, collected and stored million data, with hacking activities, taking advantage of his privileged position.
Analyzing his behavior before his escape, you can understands very well that he was part of a well-studied plan.
He had left about a month before the house where he lived with his girlfriend in Hawaii, he had leaked some tiny information, and remained anonymous for a while, as he knew he would not have remained anonymous for long. Then he did not take a flight not for Iceland or for another Country that would have easily granted him political asylum, instead he went to Hong Kong, i.e. is the People’s Republic of China.
Is it possible to imagine that an American subject, certainly filed as a spy by the Chinese secret services, can enter the Chinese territory and then he can stay there quietly in a comfortable Hotel for about 20 days without the Authorities being informed? No, who at least once passed the controls of the Chinese Border Police, knows very well that this is not possible.
Although Hong Kong is a special administration Country and you do not need to obtain a visa before entering, if the visit is for tourism and it does not last more than 90 days, at the Border you are registered and checked.
China diplomatically takes time with the US request of expelling the “traitor”. They verify that he does not appear in any “wanted” list of the INTERPOL and claim they cannot violate the rights of a citizen upon which a request for international arrest has not yet been formalized; all said by the People’s Republic of China!
What did Snowden give to the Chinese Snowden to avoid being kicked out from Hong Kong? It is easy to guess. But the situation becomes more and more tense, and so the young American decides to leave for Moscow.
In order to take a flight for Russia you need a visa or, in case of a transit flight, you need a ticket to another Country. It is impossible that Aeroflot let him board without a defined final destination.
In Moscow he stayed at the only hotel in the transit area, the Kora Vip Hotel, located between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the highly controlled Sheremietievo International Airport. The hotel is rather small with about twenty rooms, the rooms cost from 88 to 158 $.
The US make a bold move and cancel Snowden’s passport, so no airline can let him on board. Try and imagine an common person in Russian territory, if not formally yet physically in Russia, without a passport, without a visa and without a transit ticket? IMPOSSIBLE
Saying that the effects of the Snowden case had not been calculated would be naive; suspecting that the story has distant origins would be legitimate. If this were the case, it would certainly be the most sophisticated intelligence operation presumably orchestrated by the Russian or the Chinese or by both in a joint venture.
The story begins with news of the development of billions of contacts, data, numbers, locations related to communications, some people are shocked, they cry in protest then the world realizes that this is the way of the world.
Then there is something else, the US are spying on the European allies, diplomatic missions, representatives and even the ECB.
It is chaos, the European Parliament President Martin Schulz, a German Social Democratic, called treason; that’s first effect: the suspension of the procedure for the FTA treaty between the EU / USA.
Then French, in favor of the treaty, came into play, but proposed the so-called “Cultural Reserve”.
The free trade agreement between the two sides of the Atlantic would constitute a commercial district that is 50% of the world GDP, this means an increase of about 1% of the GDP and it has a value of about 195 billion for Europe and of 90Mld for the US.
Obviously, the other major markets, Russia and China in the first place, would have the losses and would be affected by the abolition of customs duties. These happen to be the very same Countries where the most wanted man of the moment stayed and is currently staying.
Two birds with one stone, in addition to the rupture of the free trade negotiations, the Snowden’s move produced a climate of mistrust that could affect military reports and defense identity within NATO.
The United States of America have been shifting lately the attention and then the strategic military resources from the Atlantic to the Pacific, considering now the Atlantic axis normalized and under control of the Allies.
The rupture or interruption of relations between the EU and US could delay the positioning accuracy on the Pacific axis of the US forces, thus causing damage in the joint control of the balances in Southeast Asia, one of the commercial and hegemonic objectives of the Beijing policy.
To close up, characters, settings, places and objectives, lead more to consider the Snowden case as an excellent intelligence activity rather than as the initiative of a single patriot animated by good feelings.