No, NSA Leaks Weren't Due to Sequestration
A small detail from a Washington Post interview with Edward Snowden's father has been seized upon by political observers. Lon Snowden disputes his son's claim that he went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton in order to steal more documents. Instead, Lon blames a scarier opponent: government sequestration, which cost his son his prior contract position.
Lon is probably wrong. But the idea does lend an ironic air to the Defense Department's opposition to cuts. In April, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before a Senate committee on how the sequestration's across-the-board cuts would harm national intelligence efforts.
“Sequestration forces the intelligence community to reduce all intelligence activities and functions without regard to impact on our mission,” the nation’s senior intelligence officersaid, adding that the cuts jeopardize the nation's safety and security, and that the jeopardy will increase over time.
“Unlike more directly observable sequestration impacts like shorter hours at the parks or longer security lines at airports,” he said, “the degradation to intelligence will be insidious. It will be gradual and almost invisible until, of course, we have an intelligence failure.”
At that point, April 18 of this year, the cuts had already begun. (Somewhat oddly, though, that article, originally published by the American Forces Press Service, doesn't mention a failure that occurred three days prior: the bombing of the Boston Marathon.) And also by that point, Snowden was already working for Booz Allen Hamilton. He left for Hong Kong on May 20, having been a contractor with the firm for "less than 3 months," according to the company. It's not clear if Booz considers that time period to have ended on May 20 or on the date of his termination, June 10 (the day Snowden's identity became public). Assuming the latter, it means that he started after March 10th and before April 10th.