Under the dome: Edward Snowden and Washington's secrecy bubble

Does the case of Edward Snowden point to other problems in Washington? Photo: CBS

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 ― Are the secrets leaked by Edward Snowden really that damaging to the United States or are they more damaging to those who live in our national political bubble — or what I like to refer to as “life under the dome”?

Peeling back the layers of the Edward Snowden saga reveals secret courts, secret agencies, secret contractors, and secret programs, all spending and earning incredible sums of money with little oversight. If Edward Snowden lived outside the dome with a GED would he earn such a big paycheck courtesy of the Federal Government? And how many more high school drop outs are getting paid this well?

His job situation is a symptom of whats wrong with Washington and its isolation from the rest of the country. Washington today, exists under a dome of paranoia. Those who live, work and earn their livings under the dome are suspicious of what they can’t control. They routinely see a need to spy on everyone, without provocation, outside of the dome.

Today, it’s a city teeming with young adults, like Edward Snowden, who earn $75,000 or more pushing paper and feeling important while performing duties in the name of National Security. Are there more like Snowden, lacking qualifications, degrees, or certificates to justify such salaries? Is the General Accounting Office responsible for NSA hiring? If not , who is the responsible party that not only hired Edward Snowden but also contracted  Booz Allen-Hamilton to handle this job?

According to the U.S. Census Department, Washington is a high wage Mecca, attracting the highest concentration of so called “Millennials,” the age group between 25 and 34. Over 12 percent of people living in the District of Columbia are in this group, compared to three percent nationwide. Echo boomers in Washington earn the second highest median income for this group, only behind San Francisco. 

Edward Snowden fits neatly in this demographic. This Washington area of privilege explains why a high school drop out without a GED could start work as a security guard and become a well-paid contractor. Snowden’s career started as a private in the U.S. Army. He moved on to become a security guard at the National Security Agency (NSA) Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland. 

From there he made the jump to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A few years later, Snowden was stationed in Geneva Switzerland with diplomatic cover. He ended up with Booz-Allen-Hamilton which, according to CNN/ Money, pays its associates an average of $99,000.

Snowden’s career path is very unusual to those Americans who don’t live in Washington. The people there who work for government, its contractors and other hangers-on earn high salaries, siphoned from the trillions of dollars that course through Washington, creating an atmosphere of privilege. 

To the school teacher in the Southern United States, Snowden’s income seems unobtainable no matter how advanced the degree. How can this school teacher motivate students about the value of a high school diploma when poster child Edward Snowden contradicts this very value?

Snowden was fortunate and privileged  to be a product of a government town that he felt above the law in releasing information about Prism. He felt smarter than his bosses because they paid him well to produce very little tangible work product. It’s the same in a Congress, the ultimate bubble in the dome, where Senators, Congress and staffers gets paid well to stall and make excuses.

It’s now time for some accountability over the secret agencies and a reformation of hiring practices so the the American people get what they pay for, qualified employees.


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