US Government Whistleblower is a High School Dropout

July 26, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. whistleblower 
[HWIS-uh l-bloh-er, WIS-] (n.) – a person who publicly reveals private information
Example: The whistleblower revealed the corruption happening inside the company.

2. top-secret [TOP-SEE-krit] (adj.) – very confidential or known only by authorized people
Example: Details of the top-secret mission were hidden from the public.

3. leak [leek] (v.) – to reveal information without approval
Example: The secretary who leaked private information lost his job.

4. gravely [GREYV-lee] (adv.) – to a very serious or dangerous degree
Example: Lack of education can gravely affect a person’s future.

5. espionage [ES-pee-uh-nahzh, -nij, es-pee-uh-NAHZH] (n.) – the act of secretly finding confidential information from another party
Example: The secret agent was arrested for espionage.


Read the text below.
The whistleblower of the US National Security Agency Surveillance (NSA) has admitted to have worked in various security institutions despite being a high school dropout.

Edward Snowden is a 29-year-old IT specialist who is originally from North Carolina. Although he was never able to finish high school, Snowden managed to get a general equivalency diploma (GED). With a GED, he was able to study computer programming at a community college.

Before revealing the top-secret information of the NSA, Snowden briefly joined the US army reserve for four months. He then worked as a security guard in the NSA. Having knowledge about computer programming, Snowden became an IT security specialist at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

After quitting the CIA in 2009, Snowden started working as a private contractor for the NSA. As a private contractor, Snowden was assigned to several locations in and out the US and worked for consulting firms as well. His last employment was at the Hawaiian office of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Snowden has been working at the firm for about three months when he leaked the confidential surveillance programs of the country. According to Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden has gravely violated the values and the code of conduct of the firm.

In his defense, Snowden revealed that he released the confidential information partly because he thinks that President Obama only continues the oppressive policies from previous administrations.

Complaints such as espionage and theft have already been filed against Snowden.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how can the leakage about the surveillance programs affect the US?
·         Do you think what Snowden did is wrong? Why?

Discussion B

·         Should government information be kept confidential? Why?
·         How do you think a government can keep its information safe and confidential?


July 26, 2013