February 14th, 2014
03:53 PM ET

NSA memo alleges co-worker unwittingly provided Snowden password for classified data

By Shimon Prokupecz

The National Security Agency forced out a civilian employee who unwittingly provided password access to former agency contractor Edward Snowden that he later used to obtain classified information he normally couldn’t access, according to an NSA memo.

The memo was sent to members of Congress and reveals for the first time that a Snowden coworker was essentially tricked into giving up his password.

“At Mr. Snowden’s request, the civilian entered the PKI password at Mr. Snowden’s computer terminal. Unbeknownst to the civilian, Mr. Snowden was able to capture the password, allowing him even greater access to classified information,” the memo said.

NBC News first reported on the memo.

The FBI interviewed the unidentified civilian employee, who admitted he entered his password but said he didn’t know what Snowden was up to, according to the memo.

By capturing the password, Snowden was then able to get to highly classified information that he normally couldn’t access.

Snowden has claimed responsibility for leaking a vast trove of NSA documents describing classified surveillance programs, and prompting the Obama administration to overhaul some of the government’s surveillance data collection.

The memo also said two other people may have inadvertently given Snowden access, a contractor and a military employee.

The memo didn’t say what role they may have played, but they have lost their access to the NSA’s database.

The civilian employee resigned in January, according to the memo.

Snowden, who now lives in Russia under asylum, has denied that he stole passwords access government databases.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. bitty31985

    You know what ?! CNN you are the worst news provider in the world. Hey anybody, everybody check out the Intercept. Have you ever visited the Wikileaks site? If yes you are under surveillance. They have deemed Wikileaks a "malicious actor" site or a terrorist site and therefore are being watched. Don't believe me? Than read it for yourselves. I am sick of this. This is not a democracy, and if you still think it is then you don't know the definition of the word.

    February 19, 2014 at 1:04 am | Reply
    • WERTWERT32452345

      Thank you, bitty. Yes, America has effectively ceased to be a true democracy as the all powerful Military-Industrial-Complex slowly takes over this government with both the White House and the majority in Congress in it's pocket! The NSA is part of this problem and those who vomit out their ignorance over Edward Snowden being a "traitor" evidently never finished grade school!

      February 19, 2014 at 9:42 am | Reply
      • bitty31985

        Thank you :) I know it's so sad. What can we do ? They're cracking down on everyone now and it's so so wrong. Everything we have been told our whole lives is a sham :(

        February 19, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
  2. Jay Hughes

    AS LONG AS the NSA can blame someone, anyone (other than Alexander or Clapper), it makes them look good.

    How many times have you signed in to a network using someone else's computer – most likely a completely innocent act on the victims part?

    February 17, 2014 at 8:40 am | Reply
  3. aurelius

    Can't wait to see that Snowden trash before a court for treason.

    February 17, 2014 at 6:47 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Good grief Phunnie boy, just how many names here are you posting under? Your stupidity gives you away!

      February 17, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply
      • WERTWERT32452345

        Just ignore the joker above, George. He obviously didn't get past the 5th grade in school!

        February 19, 2014 at 9:44 am |
  4. Rosanna

    The us is just trying to find somebody to blame for snowdens act (hats off to u edward, a real patriot) since they can't get snowden himself. All snowden did was say the truth, and that is totally legal so I see no reason why they should persecute him. It says in the first amendment freedom of speech and the universal rights that everyone has privacy from the government, both which are being violated by the government itself. Filthy hypocrites, I call them. And don't u dare say I'm talking biased cuz I live in the us so I'm talking just the truth.

    February 16, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      Good posting, Rosanna. Thank you.

      February 17, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
  5. Noshel

    They force him out just because he was not willing to be the fall guy for them so they could use him as evidence to get Snowden back.

    February 15, 2014 at 11:56 am | Reply
  6. Nodhel

    This is just a Phishing scam the government is running, they want to find some one who will take the fall so they can say to the Russians that 'See you are harboring a criminal. and they must send him back.
    Snowden did not trick any one.

    February 15, 2014 at 11:54 am | Reply
    • worldlypatriotusaveteran

      Let's be perfectly clear. Snowden allegedly violated numerous federal statutes involving unauthorized disclosure of classified information, theft of government property, and the Espionage Act. All of the violations are felonies.

      For you or anyone else to believe otherwise says you are either ignorant or you are in complete denial about the truth.

      February 15, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Reply
      • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

        Another hateful, right-wing fanatic above, belching out a bunch of stupid technicalities as to why we should get Edward Snowden back here to be persecuted by the right-wing thugs in Washington for taking the lid off the garbage can, so to speak. If I were the Pres. instead of this politically "correct" Obama, I'd exonerate this man on the spot! Enough of this hateful mumbo-jumbo here!

        February 15, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
  7. George patton

    Whoever this person was, my hat's off to him(or her) even if they did do it inadvertently. Now we all know what NSA is and has been up to.

    February 15, 2014 at 8:42 am | Reply
    • worldlypatriotusaveteran

      So, you condone the acts of anyone who compromises billions of dollars of LEGAL and extremely productive intelligence sources and methods against known adversaries who want to decapitate (terminate) you and your way of life?

      I believe you have no idea what you're talking about.

      February 15, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Reply
      • Tom Posey

        Of course he does, worldlypatriotusveteran. At least he read his history books and know quite a bit about recent German history. Do you? It doesn't appear that way! That makes George a scholar and you a dumbbell.

        February 15, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
      • Zoop

        "...extremely productive intelligence sources..."

        There has yet to be any proof that the disclosed programs have provided *any* useful intelligence that could not have been procured through traditional means.

        February 16, 2014 at 8:50 am |
  8. Mr. Balls

    Military intelligence = OXYMORON.

    February 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  9. Ken

    Unwittingly...pretty much covers the whole Obam Admin...that's all...

    February 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Reply

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