BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – HONOLULU — The whistleblower who brought the NSA and PRISM into Americans’ living rooms is without a job.
Almost as a postscript to the dramatic story, Booz Allen Hamilton, the federal contractor that employed 29-year-old Edward Snowden in the Hawaii office of the National Security Agency, announced Tuesday that the company had fired the former CIA technical assistant
“Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, was an employee of our firm for less than (three) months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. Snowden, who had a salary at the rate of $122,000, was terminated June 10, 2013 for violations of the firm’s code of ethics and firm policy,” the company said in a press release. “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”
Snowden told The Guardian newspaper that a secret court order demands Verizonhand over records of calls made by millions of customers and that the NSA’s “PRISM” system collects electronic data on U.S. citizens including emails, texts, and instant messages from some of the biggest technology companies in the world.
A resident of Oahu until he fled to Hong Kong three weeks ago, Snowden said he left behind his girlfriend, his family, his home and a job in order to warn Americans of government overreach.
Hawaii’s Democratic congressional delegation, a group typically loyal to President Barack Obama, is expressing alarm about the actions of U.S. intelligence agencies operating under Obama’s purview.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said even in the war on terror, it is unacceptable for the government to spy on its citizens.
“This type of overreach fuels the distrust people have in their government,” Gabbard said.
The federal government has cited section 215 of the Patriot Act to justify collecting phone records from millions of Americans and section 702 of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act to validate Prism, the NSA Internet monitoring program.
Only a fraction of the information collected in this broad sweep is even used to pursue those suspected of terrorism, Gabbard said. He called for a “vigorous debate and review of the Patriot Act, its constitutionality, and its impact on our civil liberties.”
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, said many questions have been posed recently after the Obama administration has claimed authority to run certain surveillance programs under the FISA Amendments Act.
“According to this law, surveillance cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States,” said Hanabusa, a well-known lawyer in Hawaii. “We expect the government to honor our privacy. We cannot forget the constitutional rights that generations have fought to preserve.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who headed up Obama’s presidential election campaign in 2008 in Hawaii, said more oversight is needed.
“While I recognize that the FISA Amendments Act has helped to produce useful intelligence, I am concerned about the impact that this law has on the privacy of Americans,” he said. “We need a comprehensive review of FISA and the PATRIOT Act to ensure that Americans’ privacy and civil liberties are protected, and I intend to work with my Senate colleagues to conduct oversight of this surveillance and the authorities used to acquire the information.”