Job Title Key to Inner Access Held by Snowden
By SCOTT SHANE and DAVID E. SANGER June 30, 2013
WASHINGTON - Intelligence officials refer to Edward J. Snowden's job as a National Security Agency contractor as "systems administrator" - a bland name for the specialists who keep the computers humming. But his last job before leaking classified documents about N.S.A. surveillance, he told the news organization The Guardian, was actually "infrastructure analyst."
It is a title that officials have carefully avoided mentioning, perhaps for fear of inviting questions about the agency's aggressive tactics: an infrastructure analyst at the N.S.A., like a burglar casing an apartment building, looks for new ways to break into Internet and telephone traffic around the world.
That assignment helps explain how Mr. Snowden got hold of documents laying bare the top-secret capabilities of the nation's largest intelligence agency, setting off a far-reaching political and diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration.
Even as some members of Congress have challenged the N.S.A.'s collection of logs of nearly every phone call Americans make, European officials furiously protested on Sunday after Mr. Snowden's disclosure that the N.S.A. has bugged European Union offices in Washington and Brussels and, with its British counterpart, has tapped the Continent's major fiber-optic communications cables.
On Sunday evening, The Guardian posted an article saying documents leaked by Mr. Snowden show 38 embassies and missions on a list of United States electronic surveillance targets. Some of those offices belong to allies like France, Italy, Japan and Mexico, The Guardian said.
Mr. Snowden, who planned his leaks for at least a year, has said he took the infrastructure analyst position with Booz Allen Hamilton in Hawaii in March, evidently taking a pay cut, to gain access to a fresh supply of documents.