“They’re reporting classified [expletive],” Snowden wrote. “You don’t put that [expletive] in the NEWSPAPER.”
At the time of the posting, in January 2009, Snowden was 25 years old and stationed in Geneva by the CIA.
“Are they TRYING to start a war?” he asked of the New York Times. “Jesus christ they’re like wikileaks.”
Snowden’s libertarian and dogmatic online persona adds to the emerging portrait of a shape-
shifting young man whose motivations and decision-making remain in flux.
When he burst into public view in the second week of June, Snowden cast himself as a lonely crusader reconciled to capture and prison but determined to use what freedom he had left to expose what he said were omniscient U.S. surveillance powers that threatened individual privacy.
“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” Snowden told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in a report that was published June 9 and revealed that he was in Hong Kong.
Two weeks later, the former NSA contractor is on the lam, presumed to be at a transit zone at a Moscow airport and forced to depend on a government the likes of which he had earlier seemed eager to avoid.
Although Snowden seems to have started out with a carefully considered plan to steal highly classified material and abscond to Hong Kong, he has since undertaken unscripted dodges to keep U.S. investigators at bay.
He has formed an unsurprising but impromptu alliance with WikiLeaks, gambled on Hong Kong’s desire to be rid of him as well as on the Kremlin’s benevolence, and turned for asylum to Ecuador.
The maneuvers have left the 30-year-old open to charges that the idealism he first professed has given way to self-preservation.
Critical parts of Snowden’s biography remain opaque, particularly his entry into the intelligence community without even a high school diploma. He somehow made the jump from security guard at the federally funded University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language, which conducts classified and unclassified research, to CIA recruit in 2007.
The CIA assigned him to Switzerland, and in his commentary on his first taste of life abroad, he complained about bad hamburgers and intermissions in movies.
“God I hate metric,” wrote Snowden on #arsificial, a channel on Ars Technica’s public Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server. “Why can’t they use real numbers over here?”