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At age 20, he listed Buddhism as his religion on a military recruitment form, noting that the choice of Agnostic was "strangely absent." Snowden has said that in the 2008 presidential election, he voted for a third-party candidate.
He was disappointed with President Barack Obama, believing his policies were a continuation of those espoused by George W. In accounts published in June 2013, interviewers noted that Snowden's laptop displayed stickers supporting Internet freedom organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor Project.
Assigned to an NSA facility at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Snowden instructed top officials and military officers on how to defend their networks from Chinese hackers. In 2011, he returned to Maryland, where he spent a year as lead technologist on Dell's CIA account. in May 2013, he had been employed for 15 months inside the NSA's Hawaii regional operations center, which focuses on the electronic monitoring of China and North Korea, While intelligence officials have described his position there as a system administrator, Snowden has said he was an infrastructure analyst, which meant that his job was to look for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world.
During his four years with Dell, he rose from supervising NSA computer system upgrades to working as what his résumé termed a "cyberstrategist" and an "expert in cyber counterintelligence" at several U. In that capacity, he was consulted by the chiefs of the CIA's technical branches, including the agency's chief information officer and its chief technology officer. NBC News subsequently reported that the NSA sent a memo to Congress suggesting that Snowden had tricked a fellow employee into sharing his personal public key infrastructure certificate to gain greater access to the NSA's computer system.
He asserted that the NSA had copies of emails he sent to their Office of General Counsel, oversight and compliance personnel broaching "concerns about the NSA's interpretations of its legal authorities.
A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins said that the university did not find records to show that Snowden attended the university, and suggested that he may instead have attended Advanced Career Technologies, a private for-profit organization that operated as the Computer Career Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
The University College of the University of Maryland acknowledged that Snowden had attended a summer session at a UM campus in Asia.
A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a traitor and a patriot.
His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy.
His older sister, Jessica, was a lawyer at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D. Snowden said that "in one way or another", his entire family has been employed by the federal government, and that he "expected to pursue the same path".