Edward Snowden’s On-Line Presence Revealed

Edward Snowden, model

Edward Snowden, model

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden was thought to have no on-line presence until tonight. But now we know differently.

From Buzzfeed (via Anthony DeRosa), Snowden posted hundreds of comments on the Ars Technica forum over the past ten years under the handle “TheTrueHoohah.” Elle Hall and John Herrman at Buzzfeed:

The last of his 753 posts, first discovered by Anthony DeRosa, was posted on May 21, 2012, in response to a question about creating a “Dead Man’s Switch,” a program that would automatically delete a computer’s contents if its owner failed to log in periodically. Snowden replies, “You could write one. There are also plenty of orphaned Open Source ones out there you could pick up that need to be finished, if you want a head start.” This was the first time he had posted on the forum in six months.

Earlier, in a thread titled, “I’m a screwup,” he writes, “Join the army. Worked for me.” Two days later, in a discussion about emerging industries, he suggests “Counterterrorism” is an area that will expand within the next five years.

A number of Snowden’s posts are reproduced at Buzzfeed. Here’s one where he talks about being a high school dropout:

First off, the degree thing is crap, at least domestically. If you really have ten years of solid, provable IT experience (and given that you say you’re 25, I think it’d probably be best to underestimate), you CAN get a very well paying IT job. You just need to be either actively looking now or get the fuck out of California. I have no degree, nor even a high school diploma, but I’m making much more than what they’re paying you even though I’m only claiming six years of experience. It’s tough to “break in,” but once you land a “real” position, you’re made.

It takes a lot of bullshit to get to that point, though. I was unemployed for a full year and then had to work in a non-IT field for six months before I was able to get back in IT and double my salary.
If you do want a degree, I agree that going overseas is a much better idea than attending some $150k domestic diploma mill.
Also, don’t discount the Foreign Service. Someone already mentioned it, and it’s an amazing deal if you can swing it. I’m not talking Foreign Service Officer, either, just standard IT specialist positions.

They pay for your (ridiculously nice) housing and since you’ll be posted overseas, the first ~$80k you make will be tax-free.
Military is always an option as that door is not likely to close in the future. If you do decide to join, though, I would suggest considering using the opportunity to learn a new skill, as opposed to further specializing in IT. You only live once.


He posted about getting a job as a model.

So I got invited to model for this guy (potentially NSFW) last week, and I just now got the proofs back from him. He shoots mostly guys, and he’s got some… “questionable” people interested in his work, so I was actually a little worried he might, you know, try to pull my pants off and choke me to death with them, but he turned out to be legit and is a pretty damn good model photographer.

It’s only my third shoot, so be gentle.

Here are the photos

He writes that he works for the State Department:


Although I’m not a diplomat, I work for the Department of State. I actually signed up because of the opportunity for foreign travel, so I’m not bent out of shape at all. All of the inflexible terms in the OP were to establish some sort of ground rules for the hypothetical so it didn’t veer off into insanity.

That said, I’m surprised by the showing Australia made in the poll. I have to wonder if it’s really the paradise Arsians seem to think it is, but being that this is a nerds’ forum, I’m suprised ANYTHING beat out Japan. I also don’t see the allure of “Scandinavian” countries, but that’s simply because I don’t want to live in a country where warmth and comfort are only spoken of in bedtime stories.

China is definitely a good option career-wise, and I’ve already got a basic understanding of Mandarin and the culture, but it just doesn’t seem like as much “fun” as some of the other places. Who knows where the “needs of the service” will actually end up placing me, though.

Azerbaijan, anyone?

He writes about being discharged from the Army Reserves:

Discharges do not happen fast. Both of my legs were broken during AIT and they held on to me until the doctors cleared me to be discharged, and then after being cleared they held onto me for another month just for shits and giggles.

Psych problems = dishonorable/BC discharge depending on how much they hate you. Lots of alleged homos were in the hold unit, too, but they only got a general discharge at best.

If they think he is fucking with them, he is going to get screwed. Hard.

JJ was right that Snowden is an old movie buff. I haven’t located any posts about that yet, but someone on twitter told me after I tweeted JJ’s comments about North By Northwest and Citizen Kane. Here’s what she wrote:

JJ Lopez Minkoff
June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm (Edit)
Has anyone noticed lots of this guys stories and quotes seem to come from movies?
North by Northwest? this drunk driving thing
Citizen Kane? That shit about being “An American.”

You can read lots more of Snowden’s musings at the two links above, or just google “TheTrueHOOHA
Ars Scholae Palatinae”

I had a weird feeling about this guy all along. I knew there was something hinky about him. But was he really recruited by the CIA? Is he really a whistleblower? Why didn’t Glenn Greenwald discover his on-line presence? What will we learn next about Edward Snowden?


40 Comments on “Edward Snowden’s On-Line Presence Revealed”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Honestly, I can hardly believe this is happening…

  2. RalphB says:

    I watched part of Chris Hayes tonight and he will not give up the ghost on that original story of Greenwalds they’ve been flogging. No one outside the tribe allowed. The Guardian may have a new story but noit young Chris. I’m starting to think he’s pretty close minded.

    Anderson Cooper qas better and that’s saying something.

  3. RalphB says:

    He’s a futurist, not!

    Ok then, I think it’s pretty well established that residential broadband won’t pan out.

  4. RalphB says:

    I have no degree, nor even a high school diploma, but I’m making much more than what they’re paying you even though I’m only claiming six years of experience. It’s tough to “break in,” but once you land a “real” position, you’re made.

    Is it just me or does this sound like he scammed his career? I dealt with a customer’s Oracle DBA once who knew practically no SQL and that’s impossible. He was a phony.

    • There it is:

      “I like Japanese, I like food, I like martial arts, I like ponies, I like guns, I like food, I like girls, I like my girlish figure that attracts girls, and I like my lamer friends. That’s the best biography you’ll get out of me, coppers!” he wrote circa 2002. “I really am a nice guy, though. You see, I act arrogant and cruel because I was not hugged enough as a child, and because the public education system turned it’s wretched, spikéd back on me.”

      I don’t trust guys who say/consider themselves:
      “I’m a nice guy”

      That’s why my dudebro detector went off….

  5. bostonboomer says:

    From 2006:

    DISCLAIMER: I’m going to come off sounding as an asshole, but I’m not. It’s just the nature of the business. To succeed in a hostile environment, you need to be both confident and aggressive.

    You’re going into IT. Nobody gives a shit what school you go to. Choose the cheaper school.
    Listen to what they say about networking. This is absolutely vital. If somebody likes you, it doesn’t even matter if you put your pants on before your underwear in the morning — you will get the job.

    What you will need is IT work experience. You must get a job in IT while you’re going to school. The sad reality is that an IT degree means DICK in terms of competency to an employer. You need demonstrated, specialized skills to be competitive. SO, you need work experience.

    Get a part-time IT gig anywhere you can. Even if you don’t want to work through college, that’s fine. Get it. Here’s the dirty little secret: you can scale back your hours until you’re only working four hours a week if you need more school time. Take leaves of absence, but remain employed. It doesn’t matter how many hours you work, because the only thing going on your resume is the number of YEARS you worked there. What DOES matter is that you are the absolute best of friends with your supervisor and when your new post-college employer calls them for a reference, they absolutely BLEED love for you.

    As long as you’re good at what you do, you’ll never have a problem, and that work experience will make that degree worth far more than it is on its own.

    People might argue, but they’d be wasting their breath. I speak from personal experience in the most disadvantaged position in the job market. I don’t have a degree of ANY type. In fact, I don’t even have a high school diploma.

    That said, I have $0 in debt from student loans, I make $70k, I just had to turn down offers for $83k and $180k (they’re going in a different directions than where I’m heading), and my co-workers have BSs, MSs, and ten to fifteen years of experience. Employers fight over me.

    And I’m 22.

    That’s networking. Good luck.

    • bostonboomer says:

      He’s a con man.

      • RalphB says:

        He has scammed this whole damn thing I’m afraid.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Based on what I just heard on Lawrence O’Donnell, Snowden was working for the CIA/State Department. I hate to think how many other weirdos are out there with top secret clearances.

          O’Donnell interview a friend of Snowden’s who said she was an intern at the UN with a top secret clearance when she knew Snowden in Geneva.

    • I think this guy is also a Burn Notice fan…which I mentioned jokingly the other day…his way of speech is like one of those voice overs in that series.

    • roofingbird says:

      That’s truth in IT, BB. I might not like how he said it, nor the kind of brain that lets him take advantage of it, but how is it different than the Netroots mentality that was occurring at the same time he was coming up?

      • RalphB says:

        The problem is it’s basically dishonest. I could care less about Netroots.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t understand what you mean by the Netroots mentality. This guy is in China basically trying to harm the U.S. as much as he can before he gets caught. Some security people on Twitter are suggesting he may have stolen the four laptops he has with him from NSA.

        He has also appeared in more Chinese newspapers. Guardian is reporting: Snowden revelations on NSA strain US-China relations, says Beijing — State-run China Daily points to countries’ ‘soured relationship’ on cybersecurity and suggests huge surveillance net is unjustified

        I may disagree with a lot of what the government is doing, and I could support whistleblowing. I can’t support what Snowden is doing now.

      • roofingbird says:

        I’m only referring here to the 2006 insert above, not the rest of this saga.

        Ralph, you depressed me with your comment, but maybe you were referring the entire saga as well.

        I was trying to point out that in the last 15 years there has been a great rush to IT with few restrictions on requirements other than what you know and who you know, not unlike many businesses. Animae and video games were the teachers of his generation. In our capitalist society those that get in first reap the rewards and have few rules.

        So, one dishonesty here is capitalism. Another is the idea that we need to send vast numbers of more people to school to learn this trade. What’s going to happen in ten years when we figure out how to consolidate all these security subcontractors and people are laid off? First in will be last out unless they have an upcoming pension to disallow. Just graduating folks will be living at home, unemployed.

        Same old shit, except for some reason Snowden didn’t go along quietly.

        • RalphB says:

          What I meant was Snowden was fundamentally dishonest. The system sucks but most of the people I’ve known in it are honest, reliable people and much better than the corporate structure deserves.

          The entire saga from start to now is also pretty screwed up. It appears to me as if very few, if any, people in the MSM understand this story so they’re all just playing to their agendas.

          • roofingbird says:

            Ok, I haven’t decided yet, though I fundamentally lean in your direction. I suspect you and I have a lot of similar ethical values. However, having been in the position of whether to be a whistle blower I can empathize with a lot of the comments he has made. Running your concerns up the ladder doesn’t always work. He did legal wrong and he knows it. He expects retribution. I heard one snide comment about martyrdom on Pete Rose last night. Everything including the kitchen sink is going to be thrown at him.

            I don’t like him or his personality much and I think Mona’s “Faverau” comment is apt.

            I did note that at least two of Rose’s guests thought it was a good time to have an open discussion about the nature of security in the US. Subcontracted private security corporations by their nature were considered problematic.

            For all our discussion against his act, there have been positive actions occurring out of it.

    • RalphB says:

      There are ways around most of the problems they cite and I’m surprised the NSA wasn’t buttoned up tight. Whole security issue is a good argument for an old style mainframe where security was a lot better and more granularly controlled.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    DARPA’s far-out, high-tech plan to catch the next Edward Snowden


  7. RalphB says:

    Salon: Libertarians: Still a cult

    My previous Salon essay, in which I asked why there are not any libertarian countries, if libertarianism is a sound political philosophy, has infuriated members of the tiny but noisy libertarian sect, as criticisms of cults by outsiders usually do. The weak logic and bad scholarship that suffuse libertarian responses to my article tend to reinforce me in my view that, if they were not paid so well to churn out anti-government propaganda by plutocrats like the Koch brothers and various self-interested corporations, libertarians would play no greater role in public debate than do the followers of Lyndon LaRouche or L. Ron Hubbard.


  8. mjames says:

    Something can be “hinky” about him and the government can still be collecting all our data – allegedly legally. One does not preclude the other. And one is far worse than the other. That’s why I fail to understand the focus on the messenger.

    • bostonboomer says:


      No one has suggested that the government isn’t collecting all of our data. We have known that since William Binney first revealed it more than 10 years ago.

      We’ve known it since Thomas Drake blew the whistle.

      I’ve been outraged about the domestic spying for years. Snowden and Greenwald have not revealed anything new yet. But I still have not ignored the main issue, and I’ve argued repeatedly that I can be outraged by the spying while at the same time thinking (as I have for a long time) that Glenn Greenwald is a narcissistic asshole and that Edward Snowden is a flake. Despite that, I can be glad for any significant revelations they make. I’m waiting to see if they have anything really new. But so far, what we’ve gotten has been information we already knew and some serious misinformation.

      On the other hand, we do have a new and fascinating whistleblower. He is over in China right now showing classified documents to Chinese newspapers. He is carrying around four laptops that many have been stolen from the NSA and may contain copies of classified software. The Chinese government could already have hacked into those computers. That’s news, and while I can support whistleblowing, I’m not in the camp that thinks there should never be government secrets or that it’s OK to hand over classified information to the Chinese government.

      Furthermore, I–your humble blogger–am a psychologist. I am fascinated by people and personalities. When I write about events, that interest is going to come into play. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but that’s who I am and it’s not likely to change. I have a life-long interest in people and what makes them tick.