Edward Snowden's Lengthy Online Commenting Past

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 13 2013 11:42 AM

Snowden Wrote 700-Plus Posts on Chat Boards About Everything From Government to Girls

170248179
In this handout photo provided by The Guardian, Edward Snowden speaks during an interview in Hong Kong

Photo by The Guardian via Getty Images

So much for Edward Snowden's lack of an online profile. In the immediate aftermath of his self-outing over the weekend, reporters fired up their computers and went looking for the obvious—Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts—with no luck. But after a little more digging, it looks like the Internet has stumbled across Snowden's rather extensive commenting past on Ars Technica message boards. The trove of comments—roughly 750 of them in all—provides us with our best (and, no doubt, most unfiltered) peek to date into the 29-year-old former defense contractor's life and worldview.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The comments offer plenty of evidence to suggest that the handle does indeed belong to the now-famous Snowden, as already noted by BuzzFeed, Ars Technica and others. The posts describe the author as a male with the same age (22 in 2006), educational background (no high school degree) and profession (working for the government in IT) as Snowden. If that weren't enough, there are even photos of what certainly looks like a young Edward Snowden posted back in 2006.

Advertisement

Snowden's comments on the tech website were discovered by Anthony DeRosa after Reuters reported that the now-famous leaker had previously used the online handle "The True HOOHA" on an anime site. From there, it wasn't exactly a leap to his Ars username of "TheTrueHOOHA." This being an online message board we're talking about, many of his comments can be a little hard to follow and most are even more mundane. Still, they span a relatively wide range of topics, from online anonymity to the NSA, and from where he'd like to live to his love life. Here are few of the highlights.

On society's "unquestioning obedience towards spooky types," from a 2004 post in a thread about wiretapping:

It really concerns me how little this sort of corporate behavior bothers those outside of technology circles. Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types.
I wonder, how well would envelopes that became transparent under magical federal candlelight have sold in 1750? 1800? 1850? 1900? 1950? Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop, or was it an relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy?

On countries he wouldn't mind moving to, from a 2006 post (a topic that's still relevant):

My list, in order (just like in the poll!) would be:
Japan
Thailand
Korea
China
Australia
China, Korea, and australia might be swapped, though. They’re sort of nebulous.

Later in that same thread:

WINNAR!
Although I’m not a diplomat, I work for the Department of State. I actually signed up because of the opportunity for foreign travel, so I’m not bent out of shape at all. All of the inflexible terms in the OP were to establish some sort of ground rules for the hypothetical so it didn’t veer off into insanity.
That said, I’m surprised by the showing Australia made in the poll. I have to wonder if it’s really the paradise Arsians seem to think it is, but being that this is a nerds’ forum, I’m suprised ANYTHING beat out Japan. I also don’t see the allure of “Scandinavian” countries, but that’s simply because I don’t want to live in a country where warmth and comfort are only spoken of in bedtime stories.
China is definitely a good option career-wise, and I’ve already got a basic understanding of Mandarin and the culture, but it just doesn’t seem like as much “fun” as some of the other places. Who knows where the “needs of the service” will actually end up placing me, though.
Azerbaijan, anyone?

On working for the State Department, from a 2006 post:

Work yourself up to Europe.
Say, Department of State. They're understaffed right now, but Europe posts are competitive, but you can get in the door much easier if you express an interest in going to near-east hellholes. Once you're in, tough out the crappy tour and you should be able to pick from a list of preferred posts.
Alternately, get a clearance. If you're cleared, have a lifestyle, and have specialized IT skills, you can go anywhere in the world right now.
Thank god for wars.

His love life, from a 2006 post:

My [ex?] girlfriend is the most amazing girl I’ve ever dated. She’s one of those who even wanted it more than me, sometimes, and would kind of sadly paw at my man-totem like a cat after it has killed the prey. Some of it comes from natural sex drive, yes, but this same girl took like six months to get into bed the first time.
A great deal of a successful sexual relationship is taking the time to properly build up to things and establish their comfort level. After the honeymoon phase, things do slack off sometimes, but the more sex you have, the longer you should last and the better you should be for one another. vafarmboy is not shitting you. There have been times when I’ve have sex marathons from sundown til sunrise.
Once you establish the comfort zone where you don’t care when or how many times or how long or who climaxes when or what they’re wearing, the sex will be better, longer, and more available. You and her will BOTH know when it’s no longer about being horny. The only down side is coming to terms with the idea of losing it.
Damn, I miss her.

He said he owns a gun in a 2006 post:

I have a Walther P22. It’s my only gun, but I love it to death. It’s super cheap to shoot (to the tune of $15/500rds), and I don’t intend to be in combat anytime soon.
I could still use it put ten tiny holes in important parts of a home invader if necessary, though.

And in his last post on the site, on May 21, 2012, in response to a question about creating a "Dead Man's Switch," a program that would automatically clear a computer's contents if its owner did not log within a set amount of time:

You could write one. There are also plenty of orphaned Open Source ones out there you could pick up that need to be finished, if you want a head start.

We'll update with any others of particular note as people continue to sift through the message boards.

Read more on Slate about the NSA’s secret snooping programs, and follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.