Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (NYSE:BAH), the company that employs National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden, released an official response to the revelation of Snowden’s identity. According to Booz Allen, Snowden had been employed with the firm for less than three months when he began leaking information on NSA surveillance programs to the Guardian newspaper in the U.K.
“Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than three months, assigned to a team in Hawaii,” the company said in its statement. “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.”
Soon after Booz Allen posted the statement, its website appeared to briefly crash.
In the past week, Snowden has revealed two large-scale, top-secret NSA surveillance programs. First, Snowden leaked news to the Guardian and the Washington Post that the NSA is collecting the phone records of millions of Americans who are customers of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ). Then, Snowden leaked news of PRISM, a top-secret surveillance program with direct access to the servers of tech giants such as Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL), Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq:FB), Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) and the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT). Snowden remained anonymous until Sunday, when the Guardian and the Washington Post publicly revealed his name and background with his consent.
The leak of NSA information is particularly troubling for Booz Allen because of its close relationship with the CIA and other American intelligence agencies. As the Guardian noted, Booz Allen Vice Chairman Mike McConnell served as director of national intelligence under the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. McConnell was also a Booz Allen employee before taking the DNI job.
Other Booz Allen employees with high-level ties to the intelligence community include James Woolsey, who has been both a CIA director and a Booz Allen vice president at various times in his career; Melissa Hathaway, a former Booz Allen executive who served as an aide to McConnell during his time in government; and Dale Watson, the former assistant director of the counterterrorism division of the FBI who began working at Booz Allen after his retirement from the FBI in 2002.