Permanent Record by Edward Snowden Read Online (FREE)
Read Permanent Record by Edward Snowden online free here.
My name is Edward Joseph Snowden. I used to work for the government, but now I work for the public. It took me nearly three decades to recognize that there was a distinction, and when I did, it got me into a bit of trouble at the office. As a result, I now spend my time trying to protect the public from the person I used to be—a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), just another young technologist out to build what I was sure would be a better world.
My career in the American Intelligence Community (IC) only lasted a short seven years, which I’m surprised to realize is just one year longer than the time I’ve spent since in exile in a country that wasn’t my choice. During that seven-year stint, however, I participated in the most significant change in the history of American espionage—the change from the targeted surveillance of individuals to the mass surveillance of entire populations. I helped make it technologically feasible for a single government to collect all the world’s digital communications, store them for ages, and search through them at will.
After 9/11, the IC was racked with guilt for failing to protect America, for letting the most devastating and destructive attack on the country since Pearl Harbor occur on its watch. In response, its leaders sought to build a system that would prevent them from being caught off guard ever again. At its foundation was to be technology, a foreign thing to their army of political science majors and masters of business administration. The doors to the most secretive intelligence agencies were flung wide open to young technologists like myself. And so the geek inherited the earth.
If I knew anything back then, I knew computers, so I rose quickly. At twenty-two, I got my first top secret clearance from the NSA, for a position at the very bottom of the org chart. Less than a year later, I was at the CIA, as a systems engineer with sprawling access to some of the most sensitive networks on the planet. The only adult supervision was a guy who spent his shifts reading paperbacks by Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy. The agencies were breaking all of their own rules in their quest to hire technical talent. They’d normally never hire anybody without a bachelor’s degree, or later at least an associate’s, neither of which I had. By all rights, I should never have even been let into the building.
From 2007 to 2009, I was stationed at the US Embassy in Geneva as one of the rare technologists deployed under diplomatic cover, tasked with bringing the CIA into the future by bringing its European stations online, digitizing and automating the network by which the US government spied. My generation did more than reengineer the work of intelligence; we entirely redefined what intelligence was. For us, it was not about clandestine meetings or dead drops, but about data.